Religion and Nationalism in India: The Case of the Punjab

By Harnik Deol | Go to book overview

Notes

Introduction

1
Sikh religion has evolved by a succession of ten gurus. The first Sikh guru was Guru Nanak (1469-1539) and the last Sikh guru was Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708).
2
Operation Bluestar was the codename for the Indian army assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984.

1

The trouble with classic theories of nationalism

1
The kes-dhari Sikhs are those who maintain kes, or 'the unshorn hair of the Khalsa', but have not received baptism. The majority of Sikhs in Punjab are kes-dhari Sikhs. Those Sikhs who have taken amrit, or 'received the baptism of the Khalsa', are called amrit-dhari Sikhs. Only a small proportion of the Sikh population is amrit-dhari.
2
In Chapters 4 and 5, the historic and social developments that gave rise to this distinct Sikh self-identification will be discussed. This study challenges Richard Fox's (1985) view that the British view of the Sikhs as a 'martial race' created a distinct Sikh identity. Also, the view espoused by Harjot Oberoi (1994) that the Sikh commercial class of town dwellers was an indispensable element in the growth of Sikh communal consciousness and that it was, in fact, the vigorous Sikh bourgeoisie who created a new episteme, a standard discourse of modern Sikhism.
3
The Akali Dal and the SGPC, or the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabahandak Committee, are the foremost Sikh institutions. The SGPC is the guardian of most Sikh religious institutions, and the Akali Dal is a major political party in Punjab. The formation of these historic institutions of the Sikhs will be examined in Chapter 3.
4
Although Ernest Gellner's theory of nationalism (1964) is widely influential in explaining the origins of nationalism in Europe, it is tangential to the argument of the book.
5
Here, print capitalism is emblematic of a process when a book becomes a commodity. It is circulated and exchanged like any other commodity in a market.
6
According to the anthropologist Louis Dumont, India's jajmani system is a hierarchical and cosmic system of relations of production and exchange, whereby the lower castes provide ritual and non-ritual services to the high-caste jajmans in exchange for specified products of the land. This highly controversial concept is regarded by many scholars as a European myth to describe a non-European society. See Simon Commander, 'The Jajmani System in North India: An Examination of Its Logic and Status across Two Centuries', in Modern Asian Studies,

-177-

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