History, Literature, and Identity - Four Centuries of Sikh Tradition

History, Literature, and Identity - Four Centuries of Sikh Tradition

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By: Jaswant Singh Grewal

Published in 2011, this is a first edition book by Oxford University Press (india).  It is a new hardcover book in excellent condition, with small dents on the corners.  Size:  9 " x 5.5".  332 pages.  

This book examines the core Sikh sacred literature produced between the sixteenth- and nineteenth century to give a comprehensive account of the Sikh tradition. Divided into five parts, it discusses the historical context of the production of Sikh literature and also the development of Sikh identity. The first part of the book (1500-1605) explores the compositions of the first five Gurus and the second analyses the literary genre characterizing the 'phase of confrontation' with the writing of Bhai Gurdas and Guru Tegh Bahadur (1606-75). The third (1675-1708) reveals how Sikhism responded to the external threats highlighting the Bachittar Natak, the Sri Gur Soba, and the Rahitnamas,and the fourth part (1765-1849) discusses the literature produced during the period of Khalsa Raj including Bhai Chhibber’s Bansavalinama and Bhangu’s Guru Panth Prakash. The last deals with works that have gained entry into the Sikh panth during the colonial period.

“It discusses the processes of community formation, social transformation and politicization and also the cumulative implications of these processes for the evolution of Sikh identity.

On the basis of this study, Grewal concludes that ‘the consciousness of identity among the Sikhs was a product of their religious beliefs and institutions, their social order, and their role’ and that, although present even in the literature of the earlier period, it crystallized “in the 18th century as the ‘tisar panth [third community],’ a term used to distinguish the Khalsa from Hindus and Muslims.”  Book review from www.sikhphilosophy.net