I come from a devout Sikh family, and studied in a Sikh School, but my serious study of Sikh History, started only in 1990’s.
The essays in this small book are an attempt to share with general readers and scholars, my readings of some of the issues or problems in Sikh History, that had intrigued or interested me — presumably many others also.
For example, it was difficult to accept an erroneous view, carried from one writer to others, that Guru Gobind Singh helped Prince Muazzam, against his brother, in their war of succession — the same Prince Muazzam, under whose governorship forces of Lahore and Jammu, together with those of Sirhind had joined Hindu Rajahs to oust Guru Gobind Singh from his beloved Anandpur.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was known to be a military genius, yet he treated his mother-in-law, Sada Kaur, so badly that she started hobnobing with the British, and was willing to pawn his state to them. It was his failure to see beyond his own life-span, that the British, in whom he had invested his immense trust, and the Dogras, on whom he showered his stupendous favors, swallowed his empire, within a few years after his death — in comparison, the reigns of self-serving cis-Sutlej Rajahs lasted three times the period of his rule.
To understand these and many other incomprehensible events, it was essential for me to go back to primary sources of the entire Sikh period.
Located in United States, devoid of such sources, it was essential for me to equip myself with a comprehensive library.
Apart from recent books, gazetteers and reprints of early works, I procured all available back issues of various scholarly journals, such as the Journal of Sikh Studies of the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar; Abstracts of Sikh Studies of the Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh; the Punjab Past and Present of the Punjabi University, Patiala; and proceedings of previous Punjab History Conferences, held under the auspices of the Punjabi University. Books on Indian History, British History, Medieval History by various authors were essential to understand parallel events and trends. Collection could not have been complete without Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist scriptures and their translations.
Reading through these books, when a comprehensive data base, or a comprehensible chronology was developed, answers to several historical questions were shouting loudly at me. Connecting the dots, some of the pictures that emerged, I am sharing with my readers through the following pages.
Some of the articles, herein, are loaded with quotes and references. Some readers/reviewers might differ with my style of not paraphrasing reference material, for easier reading. But, in interest of authenticity, I have chosen to retain the originals. Not taking lines out of context, I have highlighted the points, which I wish to make editorially.
I would be looking forward to comments and suggestions from readers, to enrich my understanding of Sikh heritage.
Harbans Singh Noor
October 1, 2004