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Author: Prithipal Singh Kapur
J S Grewal/
Translator(s)/ Editors(s): Karamjit K Malhotra
Publisher: Punjabi University
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788130202549
FROM THE BOOK INTRODUCTION:
The papers of this felicitation volume cover the period from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Their contents relate to social order, economic life, cultural orientation, politics and partition. A broad chronological order has been adopted in the hope that this arrangement would provide better understanding of the historical processes which shaped the various aspects of the society in the north-west of the sub-continent. The first paper deals with Dr Kirpal Singh's own work over the past six decades.
Four papers out of the remaining sixteen relate to the pre-colonial period. Professor J.S. Grewal has analyzed the Mahima Prakash (Vartak) after discussing the date of its compilation and its authorship. He points out that three sakhis of this work are in verse and one of these, sakhi 107 of the Vartak, is the same as sakhi 7 of Guru Har Rai in Sarup Das Bhalla's Mahima Prakash which is firmly placed in 1776. This clearly shows that the Vartak was compiled after 1776. Of the two dates mentioned in the Vartak itself, Professor Grewal suggests that the only acceptable date of compilation of the Vartak can be the second which comes after 1776, and not before. There is no internal or external evidence in support of the generally accepted view that Kirpal Singh or Kirpal Das was the author of this `Granth', but there is no reason why Nihal Singh, who has been seen as a copyist, should not be regarded as the composer or the compiler of the Vartak.
In other words, Professor Grewal comes to the conclusion that Nihal Singh compiled this work in 1824. The title in the Vartak itself is Pothi or Pothi Sahib, and the title Mahima Prakash appears to have been given simply due to the earlier but wrong assumption that it was merely a prose version of the Mahima Prakash of Sarup Das Bhalla which is in verse.
In his comprehensive paper Professor Grewal has examined the sakhis of the first eight Gurus for the basic significance of their contents. These sakhis are considered separately for each Guru. The bulk of the information on the first eight Gurus comes from the Mahima Prakash of Sarup Das Bhalla, a direct descendant of Guru Amar Das. For Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh, the compiler had a dated copy of the Parchian of Sewa Das originally composed in 1708. The quantum of new information is rather small. Sikh ideology and Sikh identity are so diffused that there are no sharp lines of internal differentiation. Moreover, every sakhi does not have a profound import. There is a certain degree of trivialization of Sikh ideology and ethics in some of the sakhis. On the whole, it is hard to maintain that the Vartak projects authentic Sikh history or tradition. Nevertheless, the Vartak appears to be important because it presents largely an eighteenth century perspective on the earlier period of Sikh history through sakhis of all the ten Gurus.
The Persian and European works have less information but it pertains to some of the basic features of the Khalsa ideology and praxis as evident from Sikh literature of the eighteenth century. In other words, much that is stated in the Persian and European sources confirms the normative statements of the Rahitnamas.
Dr Mandeep Kaur Samra examines Ganesh Das Wadehra's Char Bagh-I Punjab, a mid-nineteenth century Persian work, for configuration of Islam. The author points out that Ganesh Das takes notice of persons with extraordinary merit among the religious and secular classes. The Islamic social order in the work broadly consisted of the ruling class, the religious leaders, and the large land holders at the higher echelons. The administrators at the pargana level, the educated elite, professional individuals, and the traders-were somewhere in the middle. The lower rungs consisted of peasants and the artisans, followed by servants and slaves. However, Ganesh Das was more concerned with ruling and middling classes than with artisans and peasants. He indicates a kind of rapprochement among Hindus and Muslims in the Punjab. He brings out also the sentiment of rivalry between them. The author suggests that Ganesh Das was in favor of the freedom of conscience and shows no resentment over voluntary acceptance of Islam.
1. The Making of a Historian: Dr Kirpal Singh
2. The Basic Significance of the Mahima Prakash (Vartak)
3. Religious Beliefs and Practices: The Eighteenth-Century Sikhs
4. The Configuration of Islam in the Char Bagh-i Punjab
5. Personality and Vision of Ranj it Singh
6. Ideology of the Political Elite in the Punjab (1900-1920)
7. Mahatma Gandhi and Akali Politics
8. Politicisation of the Punjabi Chamars: Early Twentieth Century
9. Politics of the Sanatanist Hindus of the Punjab (1885-1947)
10. Agricultural Development in the Punjab (1849-1947)
11. Partition of the Punjab: The Role of Master Tara Singh
12. Situating Baba Kharak Singh in the Punjab Politics (1940-1947)
13. The Demand for Pakistan and Sikh Politics at Cross Roads
14. The Struggle for Pakistan: Before and After
15. An Awesome Mission: A Memoir of Recovering Abducted Women during the Partition of Punjab
16. A Tale of Two Cities: Lahore and Amritsar (1947-1957)
17. Anandpur: The City of Guru Gobind Singh