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  Gur Panth Parkash
Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh





In the light of the study made in the preceding pages hypothesis of some of the western scholars regarding the militarization of the Sikh movement is untenable on more than one account. The very basic assumptions on which their thesis rests are belied by facts. There is no data to infer that Jats were the predominant element among the Sikhs when Guru Hargobind decided to militarize the movement, or in the battles of Guru Gobind Singh and those of Banda. Rather, all the available historical evidence points to the contrary. Similarly, there is nothing to suggest that the Jats used to come armed when they came to pay homage to the Gurus. Even this is a presumption that the Jats were the only people who bore arms, if the population was not disarmed, and the Khatris and the castes lower than the Jats did not.

Similarly, the other two assumptions are equally baseless.The keeping of sword (kirpan) and hair was not a speciality of the Jat culture, which the Sikh movement is supposed to have borrowed from there. Nor did the Sikh movement need the inspiration of the Devi cult for its militancy. Guru Hargobind went to the hills after finishing all his battles in the plains, and no Devi cult survives among the Sikh Jats. Besides, it remains a mystery, how the Jats, without control of the leadership and the organization of the Khalsa in their own hands could possibly manoeuvre it according to their own predilictions.

The most important consideration, however, is that the Sikh militancy has to be viewed not in isolation, but in its relation to the Sikh egalitarian Revolution. The Sikh movement aimed at capturing political power by the Khalsa and the Sikh-militancy was geared to achieve this purpose. The two should not be divorced from each other arbitrarily. As we have seen, the peasantry have lacked political initiative throughout the world, and peasants in India, including the Jats, were additionally inhibited by the caste ideology. Also, the Jat pattern of egalitarianism, which was limited to the Jat Bhaichara, cannot be equated or confused with the egalitarian character of Khalsa brotherhood in which the ‘lowest were equal to the highest’. Therefore, it becomes pure speculation to assume that the Khalsa egalitarian political goal, and the militarization of the Sikh for achieving that objective, evolved out of the interaction of Jat cultural traits with the environmental factors. Moreover, neither the Jat pattern of social organization, nor their factional spirit, fit in with the organizational set-up of the Khalsa and the spirit of fraternization that prevailed in the Khalsa ranks.

It is surprising that some of the scholars have completely ignored the basic issue noted above. Possibly, they have fallen into the error which Lefebure cautioned historians to avoid. There can be no revolution, much less an egalitarian one like the Sikh Revolution, without a “revolutionary psychology”. And “there is no true revolutionary spirit without the idealism which alone inspires sacrifice.” The Jats, in common with the peasantry in general, lack political initiative. They are governed by caste considerations in their dealings with the Sudras and they are generally indifferent towards idealism or higher religious aspiration. Therefore, it is too much to surmise that the revolutionary psychology of the Sikh Revolution was a creation of the Jats. It is the Sikh ideology which inspired and sustained the Sikh Revolution. It is the hold of this ideology which was the dominant feature of the revolutionary phase of the movement, and it was the extent to which this hold loosened which marred its post-revolutionary phase.

Another possible reason which misleads such scholars is that they either ignore the revolutionary phase altogether, or they lump it together with the post-revolutionary phase in a manner so as to undermine its distinctiveness, or they interpret it in the light of the latter. It is true that revolutionary upsurges do not last long because of the inherent limitations of human nature of the environmental factors. But, to evaluate the revolutionary aspect of a movement in the light of its post-revolutionary developments would be no more valid than it would be to ascribe the rise of waves in the ocean to the very gravitational pull of the earth which brings them back to their original level. The French Revolution, as already pointed out, loses all its glamour and historical significance if it is judged in the light of its sequel-the Bonaparte regime. Besides inching humanity forward towards its ultimate goal of freedom and equality, the revolutionary movements provide a perpetual source of inspiration for future efforts. Nor are the revolutionary upsurges inconsequential in terms of tangible achievements. They are an integral part of the so-called ‘historical process’. Without the impulse supplied by Islam, the Bedouins might have been content in plucking dates in the Arabian desert and not aspired to vast empires. Similarly, there would probably have been no Misals or Ranjit Singh without the guerrilla warfare waged by the Sikh revolutionaries. And this prolonged revolutionary struggle is inconceivable if we take away the ideological inspiration and the deep commit. ment to the revolutionary cause provided by the Sikh ideology.

This is also true that such periods, when ideologies swayI the minds of vast masses, are rare in history. But, they are to be valued on that,very account. Because, they are exactly the occasions when humanity, or a section of it, is ‘on the move’ towards its progressive goals. The Sikh Revolution was such a one.


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