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The Sikhs [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Sikhs by Raghu Rai Khushwant Singh...

Never before have the Sikh's way of life, their modes of worship, their baptisms, weddings and rustic dances and their attempts to keep alive their marital traditions been more vividly captured by the camera or as clearly explained in words by India's foremost author. Here is a rare collection of photographs taken by one of the country's best photographers.

Sikhism is one of the world's gentlest religions--a sort of eastern version of Anglicanism. It is as though someone had taken the best bits of Hinduism and Islam and merged them into a religion accessible even to the most secular of souls. There is no class or caste system, hence the men are all called Singh (Lion) and the women Kaur (Princess), and it makes no great claim to be the only way; indeed, unlike most religions, it actively promotes the idea that its followers may learn from other faiths. And yet, the popular image of Sikhs as fierce warriors is almost diametrically opposed to the tenets of their faith. Just how this came to be is wonderfully told in Patwant Singh's history of the Sikhs, published to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the Khalsa--the most important date in the Sikh calendar.

As may be expected, Singh is a highly partisan narrator. The Sikhs are always bold and noble, and those who oppress them--the Moghuls, the Hindus, and the British--are conniving and duplicitous. But this aside, he tells a truthful story of the early days of Sikhism up to the 20th-century partition of the Punjab and the diaspora to East Africa and Britain. But the book really takes off when we reach the modern era. He provides a moving account of the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by Hindu troops acting on the authority of the Indian government in 1984. This led directly to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards, which in turn brought swift and widespread retribution, as thousands of Sikhs were rounded up and massacred.

What Patwant Singh doesn't answer, though, is why so many people have felt so threatened by Sikhism over the centuries. Sikhs do not proselytize their religion and they make up only two percent of the Indian population, yet they have been persecuted throughout their history. Maybe, just as nature abhors a vacuum, so religions abhor moderation. --John Crace,

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Item Specifications...

Pages   144
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 12.28" Width: 12.26" Height: 0.86"
Weight:   3.72 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2004
Publisher   Roli Books
ISBN  8174361324  
ISBN13  9788174361325  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > General
2Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > Photo Essays
3Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > Travel > Asia
4Books > Subjects > Reference > General
5Books > Subjects > Travel > Asia > India > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Sikhs?

A Sikh Snapshot   Jan 25, 2007
Patwant Singh provides a thumbnail of Sikh religious and political developments from the 15th century to the present. I found the last two chapters particularly instructive given America's current Middle East challenges. The resentment created by colonial powers on indigenous societies and the irresistible urge for fledgling democracies to abuse state powers are amply described. A glossary of Indian terms, which were adequately explained for an English reading audience within the text would have been helpful.
A fantastic book  Nov 3, 2006
If you are planning to buy a book on Sikhism this is fantastic. It gives an overview of the important facets of Sikhism and leaves the reader to further refine their search for more information on Sikhism. It is a book that i highly recommend to read if you want to understand Sikhism but of course to further understand Sikhism you have to further delve into the writings of the Guru's themselves, in the Guru Granth Sahib.

This book is based on factual information and leaves no doubt about what Sikhi is about and the school of thought of Sikhi..
"The Sikhs" by Patwant Singh  Jan 3, 2004
In the wake of the September 11th tragedy, Sikh-Americans have been the target of misguided attacks due to their appearance. An appearance comprised of articles of the Sikh faith - a turban and unshorn beard.

Patwant Singh's book provides a vivid account of the origins, beliefs and subsequent history of this 500 year old, egalitarian faith that originated in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent.

The book explains the significance behind the unique identity of the Sikh people - their turbans and beards - and brings to mind the sad irony that they are being mistaken, by some in the US, for the very Islamic fundamentalism that they have been fighting against since their beginnings.

The Sikhs are disciples of Guru Nanak (1469-1539), the founder of the Sikh faith, who was succeeded by nine other Gurus (spiritual masters). Guru Nanak likened all religions to different travelers aiming at one and the same destination but following different paths and diverse ways. Guru Gobind Singh was the tenth and last living Guru who lived from 1666 to 1708. It was this tenth prophet, that gave the Sikhs their present form and appearance, which was a culmination of the constant endeavor, struggle and sacrifices of the Gurus as well as of their innumerable followers.

In Singh's analysis of Sikh relations with Hindus, he points out that the monotheistic and egalitarian principles upon which the Sikh faith was founded proved to be in direct conflict with the philosophy and thought of the "caste-conscious" ruling Hindu-Brahmins i.e. Indira Gandhi. Singh's point is not a new one; there have been other faiths in Indian history that have been repressed by the hands of Brahmin ideology. For example, a study of Buddhism's growth (or lack of) in the country of its birth, India, would also reveal a similar thesis.

This exceptionally well-written account is a must for every Sikh household seeking to attain a glimpse of its stoic and spiritual past, or for any individual wishing to gain an insight to the history and way of life of the Sikh people.

A must read to understand the misunderstood  Jul 15, 2003
THe Sikhs are the least understood of the great religions of the world. In bookstores across America shelves and shelves are given over to Buddhism and Taoism but it is rare to find even one book on the Noble warriors, the Sikhs. Yet these people are in many ways a unique and amazing religious group that inhabits northwest India and has followers all over the globe(a diaspora due to their persecution). The story of the Sikhs, as painted so well in this book, shows how they have fought so hard against the attempts of the Muslims to create genocide upon them. Their Hindu neighboors have also been hostile, although this hostility has become more blatent recently under Indira Gandhi. The Sikhs were slughtered like animals during partition in 1948 by the Muslims who cleansed them from Pakistan, where not one Sikh remains in what had been their ancestral homeland. In the west Sikhs have been the target of racist attacks partly because neo-nazis think they are Muslim(due to the turbans) and partly due to jealousy since they own so many businesses. I recommend this book wholeheartedly. It is obviously partisan but the author has an intricate understanding of Sikh lure and history. The author does not touch on Sikh militism unfortunatly to an extent that should be touched upon. He does not explain the Sikh revenge attacks upon Muslims in 1948. He does not explain Sikh terror which is the reason so many Hindus dislike them. But the book is nevertheless excellent.
Informative if somewhat biased account  Nov 29, 2001
Mr Singh's survey is brief. He does justice to the nationalist aspirations of the Sikhs and the various forms of discriminations against them, but does not address the more common or everyday 'stereotyping' as nouveaux riches, dagger carriers and turban wearers. Mr Singh is good at explaining the Sikh's view of their own history but tends to be impartial in praising their causes or worldview. Indeed, he begins by attacking one of the oldest world religion - and rival -Hinduism by criticizing, among other things, its caste system and particualrly the Brahmins who have dominated the Indian subcontinent for much of its history. He also dismisses other competing religious groups in india - i.e. Buddhists. Overall, despite the understandable bias I found the book informative, if unbalanced. It is also worthwhile as America becomes more embroiled in central Asia. After all the Sikh region prevails in the Punjab, a region which India shares with Pakistan.

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