SKETCH

OF

THE SIKHS;
Si

lingular Ration,
WHO
INHABIT THE

PROVINCES OF THE PENJAB,
SITUATED BETWEEN

C6e

Etocttf

3[umna anD 3[ntw&

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL MALCOLM,
AUTHOR OF THE POLITICAL SKETCH OF
INDIA.

LONDON:
PRINTED FOR JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET,
By James Moyes,
Greville Street, Hatton Garden.

1812.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS

INTRODUCTION.

W^HEN

with the

British

army

in the

Penjab, in 1805, I endeavoured to collect
materials that would throw light
history,

upon

the

manners, and religion of the Sikhs.
this

Though

subject

had been treated by
none of them had

several English writers,

possessed opportunities of obtaining more

than
this

very

general

information

regarding

extraordinary race;
therefore,

and

their narra-

tives

though

meriting

regard,

have served more
curiosity.

to excite than to gratify

In addition
lected while the

to

the information

I

col-

army continued

within the

:

2
territories

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
of the Sikhs, and the personal during

observations I was able to make,

that period, upon the customs and manners

of that nation, I succeeded with difficulty
in obtaining a

copy of the Adi-Grant'h *,
historical
tracts,

and of some
essential

the
I

most

parts of which,

when

returned

to

Calcutta, were

Sikh priest of the

me by a Nirmala order, whom I
explained to

found
cative,

equally

intelligent

and

communiand

and who spoke of

the religion
less

ceremonies of his sect with

restraint

than any of his brethren
with in
the

whom

I

had met

Penjab.

This slender stock

* The sacred volume of the Sikhs.

The

chief,

who

gave

me

this

copy, sent

it

at night,

and with either a

real or affected reluctance, after

having obtained a proI

mise that
stand,

I

would

treat

it

with great respect.

under-

however, that the indefatigable research of
not

Mr. Colebrooke has procured

only

the

Adi-

Grant'h, but also the Dasima Padshah ka Grant'h

and

that, consequently,

he

is

in possession of the

two

most sacred books of the Sikhs.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
of materials was subsequently
riched by

3
en-

much
who

favoured

my friend me with a

Dr. Leyden,

has

translation of several
in the

tracts written

by Sikh authors

Pen-

jabi

and Duggar
and

dialects, treating of their
;

history

religion

which, though
all

full

of

that

warm imagery which marks

oriental

works, and particularly those whose authors
enter on the boundless field of
thology,
fications

Hindu myveri-

contain the most valuable

of the different religious

institu-

tions of the
It

Sikh nation.
first

was

my

intention to have endea-

voured to

add

to these materials,
I

and to

have written, when
of the Sikhs
;

had

leisure, a history

but the active nature of

my
to

public duties has

made

it

impossible

carry this plan into early execution, and
I

have had the choice of deferring
;

it

to

a distant and uncertain period
ing,

or of giv-

from what

I actually possessed, a short
their history, customs,

and hasty sketch of and
religion.

The

latter alternative I

have

4
adopted
:

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
for,

although the information I

may convey
defective,
it

in

such a sketch

may be

very

will

be useful at a

moment
the Sikhs
sti-

when every information regarding
is

of importance

;

and

it

may, perhaps,

mulate and aid some person, who has more
leisure

and

better

opportunities,

to

ac-

complish
templated.

that

task

which

I

once

con-

In composing
Sikhs, I have
difficulties.
still

this rapid

sketch of the

had
is

to encounter various

There

no part of oriental
is

biography in which
separate truth from

it

more

difficult to

falsehood, than
history

that

which

relates

to

the

of religious
their lives
is

impostors.

The account of

generally recorded, either
ciples

by devoted

dis-

and warm adherents, or by

violent
for-

enemies and bigotted persecutors.

The

mer, from enthusiastic admiration, decorate

them with every quality and accomplish-

ment

that can adorn

men

:

the latter mis-

represent their characters, and detract from

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
all their

5

merits
I

and pretensions. This general

remark
liar

have found to apply with pecu-

force to the varying accounts given,

by

Sikh and

Muhammedan
As

authors, of
it

Nanac

and

his successors.

would have been

an endless and

unprofitable task to have
all

entered into a disquisition concerning
the points
in

which these authors

differ,

many

considerations have induced

me

to

give a preference,

on almost

all

occasions,
re-

to the original Sikh writers.

In every

search into the general history of mankind,
it

is

of the most essential importance to
to

hear what a nation has

say of

itself;

and

the knowledge obtained from such sources

has a value, independent of
utility.

its

historical

It aids the promotion of social

intercourse,

and leads

to the establishment

of friendship between nations.

The most

savage states
prejudices,
easily

are

those

who have most

and who are consequently most
or

conciliated

offended:

they are

6

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
flattered,

always pleased and
find,

when they
but
are

that

those

whom

they cannot
intelligence,

admit to possess superior

acquainted with their history, and respect
their belief

and usages

:

and, on the con-

trary, they hardly ever

pardon an outrage

against their religion or customs, though

committed by men who have every

right to

plead the most profound ignorance, as an

excuse for the words or actions that have

provoked resentment.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

SECTION

I.

SKETCH OF THE HISTORY AND PRESENT STATE OF THE SIKHS WITH OBSERVATIONS ON THEIR RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS, USAGES, MANNERS, AND CHARACTER.
;

Nanac Shah,
since distinguished

the founder of the sect,

by the name of Sikhs*,
of Christ 1469, at
in the

was born
a small
district

in the year

village

called Talwandi-f,

of Bhatti, in the province of Lahore.

His father, whose

name was CaldJ, was of

* Sikh or Sicsha,
disciple,

is

a Sanscrit word, which means a
In the Penjabi
it is

or devoted follower.
:

corrupted into Sikh

it is

a general term, and appli-

cable to any person that follows a particular teacher.

f This
become,
is

village,

or rather

town, for such
It is situated

it

has

now

called

Rayapur.

on the

banks of the Beyah, or Hyphasis.
J

He
is

is

called,

by some authors, Kalu Vedi

;

but

Vedi

a

name

derived from his tribe or family.

8
the

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Cshatriya
cast,

and

Vedi

tribe

of

Hindus, and had no family except Nanac,

and

his sister

Nanaci, who married a Hindu
that

of the

name of Jayaram,

was em-

ployed as a grain-factor by Daulet

Khan

Lodi, a relation of the reigning emperor of
Delhi.

Nanac

was, agreeably to the usage

of the tribe in which he was born, married
to a

woman

of respectable family, at an

early age*,

by

whom

he had two sons,

named Srichand and Lacshmi Das.
former,

The

who abandoned

the vanities of the

world, had

a son called

Dherm Chand,
;

who founded

the sect of Udasi

and

his

descendants are yet

known by

the

name of

Nanac Putrah,

or the children of Nanac.
to the plea-

Lacshmi Das addicted himself
sures of this world,

and

left

neither heirs

nor reputation.
* Several Sikh authors have heen very precise
establishing the date of the
riage,
in

consummation of

ihis

marthe

which they

fix in

the

month of Asarh, of

Ilind6 aera of Vicramaditya, 1545.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Nanac
is

9

stated,

by

all

Sikh

writers, to

have been, from
devotion
;

his

childhood, inclined to
this

and the indifference which

feeling created towards all worldly concerns,

appears to have been a source of continual
uneasiness to his father
;

who endeavoured,
mind from
the

by every

effort, to divert his

religious turn

which

it

had taken.

With a

view to

effect this object,

he one day gave
to

Nanac a sum of money,
one

purchase

salt at

village, in order to sell it at

another;
business,

in the

hope of enticing him

to

by allowing him
mercial
the
profit.

to taste the sweets of

com-

Nanac was
the

pleased with

scheme, took

money,

and

pro-

ceeded, accompanied by a servant of the

name

of Bala,

of the tribe of Sand'hu,

towards the village where he was to
his purchase.

make

He
fall

happened, however, on

the road, to

in with

some

Fakirs, (holy
to

mendicants,) with

whom

he wished

comso

mence a conversation; but they were
weak, from want of
victuals,

which they

10

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
for three

had not tasted

days, that they

could only reply to the observations

of

Nanac by bending
civil

their heads,

and other
af-

signs

of acquiescence.

Nanac,

fected

by

their situation, said to his
:

comhas

panion,

with emotion

"

My
this

father

" sent

me
;

to deal in

salt,

with a view to

" profit

but the gain of
;

world
wish
is

is

" unstable, and profitless

my

to

" relieve these poor men, and to obtain " that gain which
is

permanent and
"
its

eter-

" nal."

His companion* replied:
is

Thy
exe-

" resolution " cution."
his

good

:

do not delay

Nanac immediately

distributed
;

money among

the hungry Fakirs

who,

after

they had gained strength
it

from the

refreshment which

obtained them, entered

into a long discourse with

him on the unity

of God, with which he was

much

delighted.

He

returned next day to his father,

who

* Bala Sand'hu,

who gave
to

this advice, continued,

through Nanac's
disciple.

life,

be

his favourite attendant

and

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
demanded what
profit

H
" I

he had

made ?

" have fed the poor," said Nanac, " and " have obtained that gain "
will

for

you which
father hap-

endure
to

for ever."
little

As the

pened

have

value for the species of

wealth which the son had acquired, he was

enraged at having
wasted,
struck

his

money

so fruitlessly

abused

poor

Nanac,
the

and even
mild repre-

him

;

nor could

sentations of

Nanaci save her brother from
For-

the violence of parental resentment.

tune, however, according to the Sikh narrators of this

anecdote of their teacher's

early

life,

had raised him a powerful pronot only rescued him from
his

tector,

who

punishment, but established
respectability

fame and

upon grounds
all

that at once

put him above

fear of future

bad usage
father.

from

his

low-minded

and

sordid

When Nanac

was quite a youth, and emcattle in the fields,

ployed to tend

he hap-

pened to repose himself one day under the
shade of a tree
;

and, as the sun declined

;

12

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
its

towards the west,

rays

fell

on

his face,

when a

large black snake*, advancing to

the spot where he lay, raised itself from the

ground,

and

interposed

its

spread hood
rays.

between Nanac and the suns
Bolar-f , the ruler of the

Ray
Nanac

district,

was pass-

ing the road, near the place where
slept,

and marked,

in silence,
this

though not

without reflection,

unequivocal sign of
This chief overheard

his future greatness.

Calu punishing
to

his

son for his

kindness

the Fakirs.

He

immediately entered,

and demanded the cause of the uproar
and,

when informed of

the circumstances,

he severely chid Calu

for his

conduct, and

*

The
is

veneration which the Hindus have for the
well

snake

known

;

and

this tradition, like

many

others, proves the attachment of the Sikh writers to

that mythology, the errors of which they pretend to

have wholly abandoned.

f Ray, a
applied
district.

title inferior to

that of a Rajah, generally

to

the

Hindu

chief of a village, or small

;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
interdicted

13
lifting his

him from ever again

hand

to

Nanac, before whom,
all

to the asto-

nishment of
with every
ration.

present, he

humbled himself

mark of

the most profound venethis event,

Though Calu, from

was

obliged to treat his son with more respect

than formerly, he remained as solicitous as
ever to detach

him from
in

his religious habits,

and

to fix

him

some worldly occupation
his son-in-

and he prevailed upon Jayram,

law, to admit him into partnership in his
business.

Nanac, obliged

to acquiesce in

these schemes, attended at the granary of

Daulet

Khan
;

Lodi, which was in charge of
his

Jayram

but though
this

hands were em-

ployed in

work, and his kindness of
all

manner made

the inhabitants of Sultan-

pur, where the granary was established, his
friends, yet his heart

never strayed for one
It

moment from
fixed

its

object.
;

was incessantly
as

on the Divinity
in

and one morning,

he sat

a contemplative posture, a holy

Muhammedan

Fakir approached, and ex-

14
claimed

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
:

"

Oh Nanac upon what
!

are thy

" thoughts

now employed

?

Quit such oc-

" cupations, that thou mayest obtain the

" inheritance of eternal wealth."
said to

Nanac

is

have started up at

this

exclamation,
in the face
;

and

after looking for a
fell

moment

of the Fakir, he

into

a trance

from

which he had no sooner recovered, than he
immediately distributed every thing
granary
in

the

among

the poor*

:

and, after this

act, proceeded with loud shouts out of the

gates of the city,

and running

into a pool of
;

water, remained there three days

during
inter-

which some

writers assert

he had an

view with the prophet Elias, termed by the

Muhammedans,
While

Khizzer, from

whom
the

he

learnt all earthly sciences.

Nanac remained

in

pool,

* This remarkable anecdote in Nanac's

life is

told

very differently by different Sikh authors.
followed
the
narrative of Bhacta

I

have
all

Malli.

They

agree in Nanac's having, at this period, quitted the

occupations of the world, and become Fakir.

;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS
abstracted from
all

1$

worldly considerations,

holding

converse

with

a

prophet,

poor

Jayram was put

in prison

by Daulet Khan

Lodi, on the charge of having dissipated
his property.

Nanac, however, returned,

and

told
;

Daulet
that he

Khan

that

Jayram was

faultless

was the object of punishhe held himself

ment
ready

;

and
to

that, as such,

render the
lost.

strictest

account of

all

he had
posal
:

The Khan accepted
accounts
all,

his pro-

Jayram's

were settled
a balance was

and, to the surprise of

found in

his favour

;

on which he was not

only released, but reinstated in the employ-

ment and favour of
told,

his

master.

We

are

by

the Sikh authors, that these won-

derful actions increased the

fame of Nanac

in a very great degree

;

and that he began,
practise
all

from

this

period,

to
;

the au-

sterities

of a holy
in

man

and, by his frequent of the
virtue,

abstraction

the

contemplation

divine Being, and his abstinence

and

16 he soon
all

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
acquired great celebrity through

the countries into which he travelled.
re-

There are many extravagant accounts
garding the travels of Nanac.

One

author*,

who

treats
in

of the great reform which he

made

the

worship of the true

God,

which he found degraded by the idolatry
of the Hindus, and the ignorance of the

Muhammedans,
the different

relates

his

journey to

all

Hindu

places of pilgrimage,

and

to

Mecca, the holy temple of the

Mu-

hammedans.
It

would be

tedious,

and foreign

to the

purpose of

this sketch, to

accompany Na-

nac

in his travels,

of which the above-men-

tioned author, as well as others, has given

the most circumstantial accounts.

He was
cele-

accompanied (agreeable
brated musician, of the

to

them) by a

name

of Merdana,
;

and a person named Bala Sand'hu
* Bhai

and

it

Guru

Vali, author of the

Gnyana

Ratnavali,

a work written in the Sikh dialect of the Penjabi.

:

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
is

17

on the

tradition of the latter of these

disciples, that

most of the miracles* and
are related.

wonders of

his journies

In
all

Bengal, the travellers had to encounter
kinds of sorcerers and magicians.

Poor

Merdana, who had some of the propensities
of Sancho, and preferred

warm

houses and

good meals

to deserts

and

starvation,

was

constantly in trouble, and

more than once

had
and

his

form changed into that of a sheep,
several

of

other

animals.

Nanac,

however, always restored his humble friend
to

the

human

shape,

and

as

constantly
It

read him lectures on his imprudence.
is

stated,

in

one of those accounts, that

a Raja of Sivanab'hu endeavoured to tempt

Nanac, by

offering

him

all

the luxuries of

the world, to depart from his austere habits,

but in vain.

His presents of rich meats,

* Though

his biographers

have ascribed miracles
to

to

Nanac, we never

find that

he pretended

work any

on the contrary, he derided those who

did, as deriving

power from

evil spirits.

C

;;

18

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
fair

splendid clothes, and

ladies,

only af-

forded the Sikh teacher so
tunities

many

opporof this

of decrying the vanities

worid, and preaching to the Raja the blessings of eternal
in
life
;

and he at last succeeded
at

making him a convert, and resided
two years and
five

Sivanab'hu

months

during which period he composed the Pran
Sancali*,
lowers.
cities

for

the instruction

of his
all

fol-

After

Nanac had

visited

the

of India, and explained to

all

ranks

the great doctrines of the unity

and omni-

presence of God, he went to

Mecca and
miracles,

Medina, where

his

actions,

his

and

his

long disputations

with
saints

the most

celebrated
tors, are

Muhammedan
He
is

and doc-

most circumstantially recorded by
stated, on this oc-

his biographers.

casion, to have maintained his
ciples,

own

prin-

without offending those of others
dis-

always professing himself the enemy of
* It
believed
this

is

th.it
first

work of Nanac has been

incorporated in the

part of the Adi-Grant'li.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
cord,

19

and

as having
faiths

no object but to reconof the

cile the

two

Muhammedans
;

and Hindus
deavoured
great
to

in

one

religion

which he en-

do by

recalling

them

to that

and

original tenet, in

which they both

believed, the unity of

God, and by reclaimerrors into
his travels,

ing

them from the numerous
fallen.

which they had

During
to
is

Nanac was introduced
Baber*, before

the

emperor
have

whom

he

said to

defended his doctrine with great firmness

and eloquence.

Baber was pleased with

him, and ordered an ample maintenance to

be bestowed upon him ; which the Sikh priest
refused; observing, that he trusted in

him

who provided
alone a

for all

men, and from

whom

man

of virtue and religion would

consent to receive favour or reward.

When
he cast

Nanac

returned from his travels,

* This interview must have taken place
1527
;

in

1526 or

as

it

is

stated to have been immediately after

Daulet Khan

Lodi had

visited

Paniput, in

1526;

where that prince had fought, and subdued Ibrahim,
emperor of Hindustan,

20
off the

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
garments of a Fakir, and wore plain

clothes,

but continued

to give instructions
;

to his
at

numerous
period,

disciples

and he appears,

this

to

have experienced the

most violent opposition from the Hindu,
zealots,

who reproached him

with having

laid aside the habits of

a Fakir, and with

the

impiety of the

doctrines

which

he

taught.

These accusations he treated with
;

great
cited,

contempt

and an author, before
states,

Bhai Guru Das Vali,
visited

that

when he

Vatala,

he enraged the
all

Yogis waras* so much, that they tried
their

powers of enchantment to
this

terrify

him.

" Some," says

writer, "

assumed the

" shape of lions and tigers, others hissed

" like snakes, one

fell

in

a shower of

fire,

" and another tore the stars from the firma-

" ment;" but Nanac remained tranquil:

and when required

to exhibit

some proof

of his powers that would astonish them, he
* Recluse penitents, who, by means of mental and
corporeal mortifications, have acquired a

command

over the powers of nature.

:

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
replied
:

21

" I have nothing to exhibit worthy

" of you to behold.

A

holy teacher has

" no defence but the purity of his doctrine
" the world

may

change, but the Creator

"

is

unchangeable." These words, adds the

author, caused the miracles and enchant-

ments of the Yogiswaras
all fell

to cease,

and they

at the feet

of the humble Nanac,
all

who was

protected by the

perfect

God.

Nanac, according

to the

same

authority,

went from Vatala to Multan, where he

communed
the

with* the Pirs, or holy fathers of

" I

Muhammedan religion of that country. am come," said he, when he entered
full

that province, " into a country

of Pirs,

"

like the sacred

Ganga,

visiting the ocean/'

From Multan he went
he threw
off his

to Kirtipur*,

where

earthly shape,

and was

buried near

the

bank of the

river Ravi,

which has since overflowed his tomb.

Kir-

tipur continues a place of religious resort

* Kirtipur Dehra, on the banks of the Ravi, or
Hydraotes.

22

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
;

and worship
garment
relic,
is

and a small piece of Nanac's

exhibited to pilgrims, as a sacred

at his

Dharmasala, or temple.
difficult to give the

It

would be

character

of

Nanac* on
yet possess.

the authority of

any account

we

His writings, especially the
if

first

chapters of the Adi-Crant'h, will,

ever translated, be perhaps a criterion

by

which he

may

be

fairly

judged

;

but the

great eminence which he obtained,

and the

success with which he
sition

combated the oppo-

which he met,

afford -ample reason to

conclude that he was a

man

of more than

common

genius

:

and

this

favourable im-

pression of his character will be confirmed

*

He

is,

throughout
historians

this

sketch,

called

Nanac.

Muhammedan

generally term

him Nanac

Shah, to denote his being a Fakir, the name of Shah

being frequently given to
sect.

men

of celebrity in that

The

Sikhs, in speaking of him, call

him Baba

Nanac, or Guru Nanac, father Nanac, or Nanac the
teacher; and their writers term

him Nanac

Nirinkar,

which means Nanac the omnipresent.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
by a consideration of the object of

23
his life,
it.

and the means he took

to accomplish

Born

in

a province on the extreme verge
reli-

of India, at the very point where the

gion

of

Mnhammed

and the idolatrous

worship of the Hindus appeared to touch,

and

at

a

moment when both

these tribes

cherished the most violent rancour and ani-

mosity towards each other, his great aim

was

to

blend

those jarring

elements

in

peaceful union, and he only endeavoured
to effect this

purpose through the means
His wish was to recall
to

of mild persuasion.

both

Muhammedans and Hindus

an
all

exclusive attention to that sublimest of
principles,

which inculcates devotion

to

God, and peace towards man.
to

He had
of the
all

combat the
the

furious bigotry of the one,
superstition

and

deep-rooted

other;

but he attempted to overcome

obstacles

by

the force of reason

and hu-

manity.

And we

cannot have a more con-

vincing proof of the general character of

24

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

that doctrine which he taught, and the inoffensive light in which
it

was viewed, than

the knowledge that

its

success did not rouse

the bigotry of the intolerant and tyrannical

Muhaminedan government under which he
lived.

Nanac

did not

deem

either of his sons,

before mentioned, worthy of the succession
to
his

spiritual

functions,

which he be-

queathed to a Cshatriya of the Trehun
tribe, called

Lehana, who had long been

attached to him, and

whom

he had

initiated

in the sacred mysteries of his sect, clothed

in the holy mantle of a Fakir,

and honoured

with the
ing
body.
to

name

of Angad*, which, accord-

some commentators, means own

Guru Angad,
*

for that

is

the

name by
the

This

fanciful

etymology represents

word

Angad

as a

compound of

the Sanscrit Jug, which
signifies
in

signifies body,

and the Persian Khiid, which
is

own.

This mixture of language

quite

common

the jargon of the Penjab.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
which he
is

25

known by

all

Sikhs, was born

at the village of

Khandur, on the bank of

the Beyah, or Hyphasis, in the province

of Lahore.

His

life

does not appear to

have been distinguished by any remarkable
actions.

He

taught the same doctrine as

Nanac, and wrote some chapters that now
form part of the Grant'h.
sons,

He

left

two

Vasu and Datu, but
initiated
;

neither of

them
at

was
his

and he was succeeded,

death*, which happened in the year

A. D. 1552, and of the

Sam vat

1609, by

Amera Das, a
B'hale,
nial

Cshatriya of the tribe
the duties of a

of

who performed

me-

towards him for upwards of twelve
It
is

years.

stated,

that the daily occuto bring water

pation of

Amera Das was
river,

from the Beyah
miles, to

a distance of six
;

wash

the feet of his master

and

that one night, during a severe storm, as he

*

Angad

died

at

Khandur, a village about forty

miles east of Lahore.

;

26

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
his journey, his

was returning from
slipped,

foot

and he

fell

and broke the

vessel

that contained the river water, opposite the

door of a weaver,
to

who

lived next house
startled

Angad.

The weaver,

at

the

noise,
wife,

demanded, in a loud
from

voice, of his

whence

it

proceeded.

The

woman, who was
daily toils

well acquainted with the

and the devotion of Angad's
was poor Amera Das,

servant, replied, " It

"

who knows

neither the sweets of sleep
rest

by

" night, nor of

by day/'

This conver;

sation was overheard by

Angad

and when
to per-

Amera Das came, next morning,
form
his usual duties,

he treated him with
:

extraordinary kindness, and said

"

You

" have endured great labour; but, hence-

" forward, enjoy

rest/'

Amera Das was

distinguished for his activity in preaching

the tenets of Nanac,

and was very sucand followers

cessful in obtaining converts

by the aid of whom he

established

some

temporal power, built Kujarawal, and sepa-

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
rated from the regular Sikhs the

27
sect,

Udasi

which was founded by Dherm-Chand, the
son
of Nanac,

and was

probably con-

sidered, at that period, as heretical.

Amera Das had two
known by

children,

a son

named Mohan, and a daughter named M6hani,

the

name
and

of B'haini; reis

garding whose marriage he

stated to

have

been very anxious
rise to

:

as this event gave

a dynasty of leaders, who are almost

adored
with

among

the

Sikhs,

it

is

recorded

much

minuteness by the writers of

that nation.

Amera Das had communicated his
men, who was
rected

wishes,

regarding the marriage of B'haini, to a Brahhis

head servant, and
inquiries.

di-

him

to

make some

The

Brahmen
that he

did so, and reported to his master
successful,

had been

and had found

a youth every

way

suited to be the

husband

of his daughter.

As they were speaking

upon

this subject in the street,

Amera Das

28

SKETCH OF THE

SIKHS.
" About

asked what was the boy's stature

?

" the same height as that lad," said the

Brahmen,
near them.

pointing to a youth

standing

The

attention of

Amera Das

was and

instantly

withdrawn from the Brahmen,

intently fixed

upon

the youth to

whom
The
that

he had pointed.
his tribe, his

He

asked him regarding
his family.

name, and

lad said his

name was Ram Das, and

he was a Cshatriya, of a respectable family,
of the Sondi tribe, and an inhabitant of the
village of

Gondawal.

Amera Das,

pleased

with the information he had received, took

no more notice of the Brahmen and

his

choice of a son-in-law, but gave his daughter
to the

youth

whom fortune had

so casually

introduced to his acquaintance*.
*

Amera

Though a

contrary belief

is

inculcated by Nanac,

the Sikhs, like the Hindus, are inclined to be predestinarians, and this gives their

minds a great tendency
it

to
is

view accidents as decrees of Providence; and

probable that this instance of early good fortune in

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Das

%g

died in the year A. D. 1574, and of the
16*31, at the village

Sam vat
in the

of Gondawal,

province of Lahore, and was suchis son-in-law,

ceeded by

Ram

Das*,

whom
of

he had
his

initiated in the sacred mysteries

holy profession, and

who became famous
more from the im-

for his piety,

and

still

provements he made at Amritsar, which

was

for

some time

called

Rampur,

or

Ram-

daspu'r, after him.

Some Sikh

authorities

ascribe the foundation of this city to him,

which

is

not correct,

as

it

was a very

ancient town,

known

formerly under the

Ram
to

Das, by impressing his countrymen with an idea

of his being particularly favoured of Heaven, gave rise

an impression that promoted,
it

in

no

slight degree,

that success which

anticipated.

*

No

dates of the events which occurred during the

rule of

Ram

Das
this

are given in any of the authorities
is

from which

sketch

drawn.

One

author,

how-

ever, states, that

he lived in the time of Akber, and was

honoured with the favour of that truly tolerant and
great emperor.

30

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
of Chak.

name
to
its

He, however, added much

population, and built a famous tank,

or reservoir of water, which he called Araritsar,

a

name

signifying the water of im-

mortality,

and which has become so sacred,
its

that

it

has given

name, and imparted

its

sanctity, to the

town of Ramdaspur, which

has become the sacred city of the Sikh
nation,

and

is

now

only

known by the name

of Amritsar.
After a
life

passed in the undisturbed

propagation of his tenets, in explanation of

which he wrote several works, he died,
the year A.

in

D. 1581, and of the Samvat

1638, at Amritsar, leaving two sons, Ar-

junmal and Bharatmal.

He was

succeeded

by

the former*,

who

has rendered himself

* Arjunmal, or Arjun, as he
called, according to B'hai

is

more commonly
B'hale, the author
initiated in

Guru Das

of the

Gnyan

Ratnavali, was not

the

sacred mysteries of his father.

This author says, that

Arjun, though a secular man, did not suffer the office
of Guru, or priest, to leave the Sondi tribe.

" Like a

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
famous

31

by compiling the Adi-Grant'h *.
or
first

The Adi-Grant'h,

sacred volume of
:

the Sikhs, contains ninety-two sections

it

was

partly

composed by Nanac and
its

his

immediate successors, but received
sent form

pre-

and arrangement from Arjunmalf,

" substance," he adds, " which none

else

could
in

di-

" gest, the property of the family remained « family."

the

* Grant'h means book
riority to all others,
is

;

but, as a

mark of its supe-

given to this work, as "
first

The

" Book."
book, and
guish
it

Adi Grant'h means, the
is

Grant'h, or

generally given to this work to distin-

from the Dasama Padshah ka Grant'h, or the

book of the tenth king, composed by Guru Govind.

f Though

the original Adi-Grant'h was compiled

by

Arjunmal, from the writings of Nanac, Angad, Amera
•Das, and

Ram Das,

and enlarged and improved by

his

own

additions and commentaries,

some small

portions

have been subsequently added by thirteen different
persons,

whose numbers, however, are reduced, by the
last contriis

Sikh authors, to twelve and a half: the

butor to this sacred volume being a woman, admitted to rank in the
ungallant writers.
list

only

as a fraction,

by these

32

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
has blended his

who

own

additions
in the
It
is

with

what he deemed most valuable
positions of his predecessors.

com-

Arjun,

then,

who ought, from

this act, to

be deemed

the

first

who gave

consistent form
:

and order

to the religion of the Sikhs

an act which,

though

it

has produced the effect he wished,

of uniting that nation more closely, and of
increasing
himself.
their

numbers, proved

fatal to

The jealousy of the Muhammedan government was excited, and he was made
its sacrifice.

The mode of his

death, which

happened

in the year of Christ 1606,
is

and

of the Samvat 1663,
ferently

related very dif:

by

different authorities

but several

of the most respectable agree in stating,
that his martyrdom, for such they term
it,

was caused by the active hatred of a

rival

Hindu

zealot,

Danichand Cshatriya, whose

writings he refused to admit into the Adi-

Grant'h, on the ground that the tenets incul-

cated in them were irreconcileable to the

pure doctrine of the unity and omnipotence

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
of God,
taught in
that

33
volume.

sacred

This rival had sufficient influence with the

Muhammedan
is

governor of the province to
;

procure the imprisonment of Arjun
affirmed,

who

by some

writers, to
his

have died
;

from the severity of

confinement

and,

by

others, to

have been put to death

in the

most cruel manner.
life

In whatever way his

was terminated, there can be no doubt,
its

from

consequences, that
his

it

was

consi-

dered,

by

followers,

as

an atrocious

murder, committed by the

Muhammedan

government ; and the Sikhs, who had been,
till

then,

an

inoffensive, peaceable sect, took

arms under Har Govind, the son of Arjunmal, and wreaked their vengeance upon
all

whom
The
against

they thought concerned in the death
priest.

of their revered

contest carried
the

on by Har Govind
chiefs
in

Muhammedan

the

Penjab, though no doubt marked by that
animosity which springs from a deep and

implacable sense of injury on one part, and

D

34

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

the insolence and violence of insulted power

on the other, could not have been of great

magnitude or importance,

else

it

would

have been more noticed by contemporary

Muhammedan
fruits

writers

;

but

it

was the

first

of that desperate

spirit

of hostility,

which was soon

after to

distinguish the

wars between the followers of
those of

Nanac and

Muhammed
his

:

and, from every aclife,
it

count of Har Govind's

appears to

have been

anxious wish to inspire his

followers with the

most irreconcileable hatred

of their oppressors.
It
is

stated, that this warlike*

Guru, or

* Several historical accounts of the Sikhs, particularly that published
in general,

by Major Browne, which

is,

drawn from authentic

sources, appear to be

in error with regard to the period at
first

which

this race

took arras, which the last author states to have

occurred under

Guru G6vind; but

several Sikh au->
in

thors, of great respectability

and information, agree

ascribing to the efforts of

Har Govind,

the son of

Arjun, this great change in the Sikh commonwealth;

and

their correctness, in this point, appears to

be placed

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
priest
girdle.

35
his

militant,

wore two

swords in
:

Being asked why he did so
said he, "
is

" The

" one/'
" of

to revenge the death

my

father

;

the other, to destroy the

" miracles of

Muhammed."

beyond
B'hai

all

question,

by a passage
;

in the Ratnavali of

Guru Das B'hale who

observes, "

That five phials

" (of divine grace) were distributed

to five Pirs (holy
(priest).

" men), but the sixth Pir was a mighty Guru " Arjun threw
off his

earthly frame, and the form

" of Har Govind mounted the seat of authority.

The

" Sondi race continued exhibiting their different forms " in their turns.
" armies, a martial

Har Govind was
Guru
(priest),

the destroyer of

a great warrior, and
of some

" performed great actions."

The mistake

European

writers

on

this subject

probably originated
;

in a confusion of verbal accounts

and the similarity

of the

name of Har Govind,
last

the son of Arjunmal, and

Govind, the
son of

and greatest of the Sikh Gurus, the
In the Persian sketch, which

Tegh Bahadur.

Major Browne
not mentioned.

translates, the

name

of

Har Govind
is

is

The son
is

of Arjunmal

called

Guru

Ram

Ray, which

obviously a mistake of the author

of that manuscript.

3(5

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Har Govind
is

reputed, by
first

some

authors,
his fol-

to

have been the

who allowed
all

lowers to eat* the flesh of
the exception of the
:

animals, with
it

cow and

appears not

improbable that he made
in their diet at the time
still

this great

change

when he

effected a
in

more remarkable revolution

their

habits,

by converting a race of peaceable
band of
sol-

enthusiasts into an intrepid
diers -f.

He had

five

sons,

Babu Guru-

daitya, Saurat Singh,

Tegh Bahadur, Anna

Ray, and Atal Ray.

The two

last

died

* Nanac had forbidden hog's

flesh,

though a com-

mon
in

species of food

among
the
it

the lower tribe of Hindus,
prejudices

compliance

with

of

the

Mureconper-

bammedans,
cile

whom
faith

was

his great wish to

to

bis

by

every

concession

and

suasion.

f

It is stated,

by a Sikh author named Nand,

that

Har Govind, during
tice of

his ministry, established the pracdeities,

invoking the three great Hindu
is

Brahma,

Vishnu, and Siva: but this
other authority which
I

not confirmed by any

have seen.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
without descendants.

37

Saurat Singh and

Tegh Singh,

or

Tegh Bahadur, were, by

the cruel persecution of the
forced to
fly

Muhammedans,
to the

into the

mountains

northward of the Penjab.

His eldest son,
left

Gurudaitya, died early, but

two

sons,

Daharmal and Har Ray

;

the latter of whom

succeeded his grandfather,

who

died in the

year A. D. 1644, and of the Samvat 1701.
It

does not appear that

Har Ray enjoyed

much temporal
into

power, or that he entered
with the

any
:

hostilities

Muhamme-

dans

his rule

was tranquil, and passed

without any remarkable event; owing, probably,
to

the

vigor

which the
in

Muhamthe
early
his

medan power had

attained

part of the reign of Aurungzeb.

At

death, which

happened

in

the year

A.D.

1661, and of the Samvat 1718, a violent
contest arose

among
to

the Sikhs, regarding
office

the

succession
for

the

of spiritual
their

leader;

the temporal

power of

ruler was, at this period, little

more than

;

38
nominal.
or, as

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
The
dispute between his sons,
state, his

some Sikh authors

son and

grandson,

Har Crishn and

Ram

Ray, was

referred to Dehli, whither both parties

went

and, by an imperial decree of Aurungzeb,
the Sikhs were allowed to elect their
priest.

own

They chose Har

Crishn,

who died

at Dehli in the year A.

D. 1664, and of the
his

Samvat 1721
uncle,

;

and was succeeded by

Tegh Behadur.

He, however, had

to encounter the

most violent opposition

from

his

nephew,

Ram

Ray*, who remained

*

The

violent contests of the Sikhs are mentioned
their writers
;

by most of

and, though they disagree

in their accounts, they all represent
falling the innocent
sacrifice
;

Tegh Behadur

as

of

Muhammedan
Muhammedan
fact.

des-

potism and intolerance
of
all

which, from the evidence
au-

respectable contemporary

thors, would appear not to be the

Tegh Be-

hadur,

agreeable to them, provoked his execution

by a

series of crimes.

He

joined, they state, with a
;

Moslem

Fakir, of the

name of Hafiz ed Din

and,

supported by a body of armed mendicants, committed the

most violent depredations on the peaceable

;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
at Dehli,

39
art

and endeavoured, by every
to
effect his ruin:

and

intrigue,

he was
conse-

seized,

and brought
his

to

Dehli,

in

quence of

nephew's misrepresentations

and, after being in prison for two years,

was released at the intercession of Jayasingh, Raja of Jayapur,
to Bengal.

whom

he accompanied
afterwards took

Tegh Behadur

up

his

abode at the

city of
to

Patna*

;

but

was pursued, agreeable
his retreat, with

Sikh authors, to

implacable rancour, by the

jealousy

and ambition of

Ram Ray who
;

at last accomplished the destruction of his
rival.

He was
put

brought from Patna, and,

by

the accounts of the
to death,

same

authors, puballe-

licly

without even the

gation

of a crime,

beyond a

firm

and

inhabitants of the Penjab.

The author of
in

the Seir

Mutakhherin says he was,

consequence of these

excesses, put to death at Gwalior,
into four quarters, one of

and

his

body cut
at each

which was hung up

gate of the fortress.

*

A

Sikh college was founded in that

city.

40

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

undaunted assertion of the truth of that
faith

of which
is

he was the high

priest.

This event

said to

have taken place in

the year A.

D. 1675, and of the Samvat

1732

:

but the Sikh records of their

own

history,

from the death of Har Govind to

that of

Tegh Behadur,
The
in

are contradictory
to merit

and unsatisfactory, and appear
little

attention.

fact

is,

that the sect
their

was almost crushed,
first effort to attain

consequence of

power, under Har Go-

vind

;

and, from the period of his death to

that of

Tegh Behadur,

the

Mogul empire

was, as has been before stated, in the zenith of
its

power, under Aurungzeb

:

and the

Sikhs,

who

had never attained any real
rendered
still

strength,
their

were

weaker by
Their writers

own internal

dissensions.

have endeavoured to supply
their history

this

chasm

in

by a fabulous account of

the

numerous miracles which were wrought by
their priests,

Ram

Ray, Har Crishn, and

even

the

unfortunate

T6gh Behadur,

at

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Dehli,
all

41

of

whom

are said to have asto-

nished the emperor and his nobles, by a
display of their supernatural powers
their
:

but

wide difference from each

other, in

these relations, would prove, if

any proof

was wanting,

that

all

the annals of that

period are fabricated.

The
of
It

history of the Sikhs, after the death

Tegh Behadur, assumes a new
is

aspect.

no longer the record of a sect, who,

revering the conciliatory and mild tenets of
their founder, desired

more

to protect
;

them-

selves than to injure others

but that of a

nation, who, adding to a
injuries they

deep sense of the

had sustained from a bigotted
all

and overbearing government,
of

the ardour

men commencing

a military career of

glory, listened, with rapture, to a son glow-

ing with vengeance against the murderers

of his father,
to the

who

taught a doctrine suited

troubled state of his mind, and called
his followers,

upon
hood,

by every

feeling of

man-

to lay aside their

peaceable habits, to

42

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
on

graft the resolute courage of the soldier

the enthusiastic faith

of the devotee, to

swear eternal war with the cruel and haughty

Muhammedans, and
to steel, as the

to devote themselves

only means of obtaining
this

every blessing that

world, or that to

come, could afford to mortals.
This was the doctrine of
the son of

Guru Govind,

Tegh Behadur; who, though
his

very young at his father's death, had

mind imbued with
that event,

the deepest horror at
spirit

and cherished a

of im-

placable resentment against those

whom

he
his

considered as his murderers.
life

Devoting

to this object,

we

find

him, when quite

a youth, at the head of a large party of his
followers,

amid the

hills

of Srinagar, where

he gave proofs of that ardent and daring
mind, which afterwards raised him to such
eminence.

He was
whom

not, however, able to

maintain himself against the prince of that
country, with
hostilities;

he had entered into
it,

and, being obliged to leave

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
he went to the Penjab,

43
he was
in re-

where

warmly welcomed by a Hindu chief
bellion against the

government.

This chief

gave Govind possession of Mak'haval*, and
several other villages,
his followers,

where he

settled with

and repaid
his

his benefactor

by

aiding

him

in

depredations.

Govind

appears, at this moment, to have been universally

acknowledged by the Sikhs, as
;

their

Sat-gurti, or chief spiritual leader

and he
his

used the influence which that station,
sufferings,

and the popularity of his cause,
effect

gave him, to

a complete change in

the habits and religion of his countrymen-)-.
It

would be tedious and

useless to follow

the Sikh writers through those volumes of
fables
in

which they have narrated the
rise

wonders that prognosticated the
*

of

this,

A

town on the

Satlej.
is

+ Guru Govind
spectability,

stated,

by a Sikh author of
B'hale,
to

re-

B'hai

Guru Das

have been

fourteen years of age
death.

when

his father

was put

to

;

44
the

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
most revered of
to enter,
all

their

priests,

to

power; or
those

at

any

length,

into

accounts which they, and
is

Govind

himself, for he

equally celebrated as an

author and as a warrior, have given of his
exploits.
It will

be

sufficient, for the

pur-

pose of this sketch, to state the essential

changes which he effected in

his tribe,

and

the consequences of his innovations.

Though

the

Sikhs had already, under
initiated
in

Har Govind, been

arms, yet
self-

they appear to have used these only in
defence
the
:

and as every tribe of Hindus, from
to the lowest of the Sudra,

Brahmen

may,

in cases of necessity, use

them without

any infringement of the

original institutions
insti-

of their tribe, no violation of these
tutions

was caused by the

rules of

Nanac

which, framed
carefully

with a view to conciliation,

abstained

from

all

interference

with the
lus

civil institutes

of the Hindus.

But

more daring

successor,

Guru Govind,

saw that such observances were at variance

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
with the plans of his lofty ambition
;

45

and

he wisely judged, that the only means by

which he could ever hope to oppose the

Muhammedan government
tribes,

with

success,
all

were not only to admit converts from

but to break, at once, those rules by
;

which the Hindus had been so long chained
to arm, in short, the

whole population of

the country, and to

make

worldly wealth

and rank an

object to

which Hindus, of

every class, might aspire.

The

extent to which Govind succeeded

in this design will

be more

fully noticed in

another place.

It is here

only necessary to

state the leading features of those changes

by

which he subverted, in so short a time, the
hoary institutions of Brahma*, and excited

#

The

object of

Nanac was

to abolish the distincto bring

tions of cast

amongst the Hindus, and

them

to the adoration of that
all

Supreme Being, before whom

men, he contended, were equal.
all

Guru Govind,

who adopted

the principles of his celebrated prede-

cessor, as far as religious usages

were concerned,

is

46
terror

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
and astonishment
in the

minds of the

Muhammedan conquerors of India, who saw
the religious prejudices of the Hindus, which

they had calculated upon as one of the
pillars

of their safety, because they limited of the population to
fall

the great majority

peaceable occupations,

before the touch

of a bold and enthusiastic innovator,

who

opened

at once, to

men

of the lowest tribe*,
All

the dazzling prospect of earthly glory.

who

subscribed to his

tenets were upon a

reported to have said, on this subject, that the four
tribes of

Hindus, the Brahmen, Cshatriya, Vaisya,
like

and Sudra, would,
sitpari (betle-nut),

pan

(betle-leaf),

chunam

(lime),

and khat

(terra japonica, or catechu),

become

all

of one colour,

when

well chewed.
tribe,

* Some

men

of the lowest Hindu

of the occu-

pation of sweepers, were employed to bring away the corpse of

Tegh Behadur from

Dehli.

Their success
Several

was rewarded by high rank and employment.
of the same tribe,

who have become

Sikhs, have been

remarkable for their valour, and have attained great
reputation.

They

are distinguished,

among

the Sikhs,

by the name of Ran-Rata Singh.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
level,

47
his sect

and the Brahmen who entered
to

had no higher claims
lowest Sudra

eminence than the
his house.

who swept

It

was

the object of Govind to

make

all

Sikhs

equal*, and that their advancement should
solely

depend upon

their

exertions:
it

and

well aware

how

necessary

was

to inspire

men

of a low race, and of groveling minds,

with pride in themselves, he changed the

name
or

of his followers from Sikh to Singh,
thus giving to
title
all

lion;

his

followers

that honourable

which had been before

exclusively
first

assumed by the Rajaputs, the
of Hindus
:

military class

and every
wished to
re-

*

That

is,

equal in civil rights.

He

move

the disqualifications of birth, and do

away

cast.

That he did not completely
that

effect this object,

and
parstill

some

distinctions

of their

former

tribes,

ticularly those relating to intermarriage, should

be kept up by the Sikhs, cannot be a matter of asto-

nishment to those acquainted with the deep-rooted
prejudices of the Hindus upon this point; which
is

as

much

a feeling of family pride as of religious usage.

48
Sikh
felt

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
himself at once elevated to rank
this

with the highest, by

proud appellation.
to

The

disciples of

Govind were required

devote themselves to arms, always to have
steel

about them

in

some shape
;

or other

;

to

wear a blue dress

to allow their hair to
other,
ki

grow

;

to exclaim,

when they met each
!

Wd !
futteh

Gurdji kd khdlsah
!

Wd

!

Guruji

which means, " Success to the
Victory attend the

" state of the Guru!
"

Guru*

!

The
is

intention of
:

some of

these

institutions

obvious

such as that prin-

ciple of devotion to steel,

by which

all

were

made soldiers

;

and that exclamation, which

made

the success of their priest, and that

of the commonwealth, the object of their
hourly prayer.
It

became,

in

fact,

the

watchword which was continually
in the

to revive,

minds of the Sikh
he

disciple, the obli-

gations

owed

to

that

community of

* Spiritual leader.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

49

which he had become a member, and to
that faith which he

had adopted.

Of the
the

causes which led Govind to enjoin
to regard
it

his followers

as impious to cut

hair

of their heads,

or

shave

their

beards, very different accounts are given.

Several

Muhammedan
ordination,

authors state, that

both

this

and the one which

directed his followers to wear blue clothes,

was given
to
his

in

consequence of

his gratitude

some Afghan mountaineers, who aided
escape from a
fort,

in

which he was
in a

besieged,

by

clothing

him

chequered

blue dress, and causing him to allow his
hair to grow, in order to pass him for one

of their

own

Pirs, or holy fathers

;

in

which

they succeeded.
is

This account, however,

not supported by any Sikh writer; and
in-

one of the most respectable and best

formed authors of that

sect

states,

that

when Guru Govind

first

went

to

Anandpur

Mak'haval, which was also called Cesgher,
or the house of hair, he spent

much

of

his

E

50
time
in

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
devotion,
at

a temple of

Durga

Bhavani, the goddess of courage, by

whom
and

he was directed to unloose

his

hair

draw
of

his

sword.

Govind,

in

consequence

this

pretended divine order, vowed he
preserve
his
hair,

would

as

consecrated
his followers

to that divinity,
to

and directed

do the same*.
dress,

The

origin of that blue
at

chequered f

which was

one time
is
still

worn by

all

Govind's followers, and

worn by the

Acalis, or never-dying,

(the

most remarkable class of devotees of that
sect,)
is

differently stated
it

by

different au-

thors

:

but

appears probable, that both

these institutions proceeded from the policy

f The goddess Durga Bhavani
author, to be represented, in
hair long and dishevelled.

is

said,

by a Sikh

some images, with her

f This
the

institution

is

also said to be

borrowed from

Hindu mythology.

Bala Ram,
;

the elder brother
is

of Crishna, wore blue clothes

from which he
;

called

Nilambar, or

the clothed in

dark blue

and

Shitivas, or

the blue clothed.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
of Govind,
lowers from

51
fol-

who
all

sought to separate his

other classes of India, as

much by
gion
:

their

appearance as by

their reli-

and he judged with wisdom when

he gave consequence to such distinctions;
which,
forms,
belief;

though
soon
and,

first

established
the

as

mere

supersede

substance of

when strengthened by usage,
points to which ignorant
all

become the

and

unenlightened minds have, in
world,

ages of the

shown the most

resolute

and uncon-

querable adherence. Guru. Govind inculcated his tenets upon
his followers

by
;

his preaching, his actions,

and

his

works

among which is

the

Dasama

Padshah ka Grant'h, or the book of the
tenth king or ruler;

Guru Govind being
Nanac.
reli-

the tenth leader of the sect from

This volume, which
gious subjects, but
his

is

not limited to

filled

with accounts of

own. battles, and written with the view
stirring

of

up a

spirit

of valour and emu-

lation

among

his followers, is at least as

52

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
revered,

much

among

the

Sikhs,

as
is

the
said

Adi-Grant'h of Arjunmal.
to

Govind

have

first

instituted the

Guru Mata,
Sikhs
;

or

state

council,

among

the

which

meets at Amritsar.

The

constitution

and
be

usages of this national assembly will
described hereafter:
sary to observe,
it is its

here only necesinstitution

that

adds

one more proof to those already

stated, of
this

the comprehensive and able mind of

bold reformer,

who

gave, by

its

foundation,

that form of a federative republic, to the

commonwealth of the

Sikhs,

which was
from

most calculated to rouse

his followers

their indolent habits, and deep-rooted pre-

judices,

by giving them a personal share

in

the government, and placing within the

reach of every individual the attainment of

rank and influence
It

in the state.

could

not be expected
all

that

Guru

Govind could accomplish
schemes he had planned.
tree
;

those great

He

planted the

but

it

was not permitted, according to

:

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Sikh writers, that he should see
maturity which
it

53
it

in that

was destined

to reach

and
to

this,

these authors state,

was

foretold

him by some Brahmens,
It

skilled in necro-

mancy.

would be tedious to dwell on
it is

such fables*; and

time to return to the

*

One

of the most popular of these fables states,
the year

that in

of the Hijerah
the directions

1118,

Guru Goreceived

vind, agreeably to

he had

from two Brahmen necromancers, threw a number of
magical compounds, given him by these Brahmens,
into a
fire,

near which he continued in prayers for

several days.

A

sword of lightning at

last burst

from

the flame of fire; but Govind, instead of seizing this

sword

in

an undaunted manner, as he was instructed,
its

was dazzled by
in

splendour, and

shrunk from
;

it

alarm.

The sword

instantly flew to heaven
to say, "

from

whence a loud voice was heard
" vind! thy wishes shall be

Guru G6posterity,

fulfilled

by thy

" and thy followers shall daily increase."

The Brah-

mens were

in despair at this failure

;

but, after deep
still

reflection, they told

Govind, there was

one mode

of acquiring that honour for himself, which appeared,

by the decree that had been pronounced, doomed
his posterity. If he

for

would only allow them to take off his

54

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
of

political life

Go vine!
by

,

which

is

marked

by but few events of importance. These are
either

related

Muhammedan
all

authors,

who

detract from

the pretensions of this

enemy of their

faith

and name

;

by

his dis-

ciples, .who exalt the slightest of his actions

into

the achievements
for

of a divinity

;

or
his
is

by himself,

he wrote an account of
last

own

wars.

This

work, however,

more calculated
his followers,

to inflame the

courage of
in-

than

to

convey correct

formation of actual events.

Guru Govind
tac,

Singh, in the Vichitra

Na-

a work

written

by himself, and inserted

in the

Dasania Padshah ka Grant n, traces

lhc descent of the Cshatriya tribe of Sondi,
to which he belongs, from a race of

Hindu

head, and throw
citated to the

it

into the fire,

he would he resus-

enjoyment of the greatest glory.
this

The

Guru excused himself from trying

experiment,

deelaring that he was content that his descendants

should enjoy the fruits
planted.

of that tree

which he had

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Rajas*,

55

who founded

the cities of Casur

and Lahore.

He was

born, he stales, at

Patan, or Patna, and brought

up

at

Madra

Des,

in

the Penjab.

lie went, after his

father's death, to the

banks of the Cal'mdi,
himself to hunt-

or

Yamuna, and addicted

ing the wild beasts of the forest, and other

manly

diversions

:

but

this

occupation, he

adds, offended the emperor of Dchli,

who
race,

ordered chiefs, of the
to attack him.
this

Muhammedan

Guru Govind

describes, in

work, with great animation, his

own

feats,

and those of

his friends -j-, in the first

* These Rajas appear, from the same authority, to

be descended

in

a direct line from Hindu gods.

f The following short extract from the translation
of the Vichitra Natac, will show that Govind gave his
friends their full

meed of
:

praise,

and

will also exhibit

the character of his style

" Cripal rages, wielding his
fierce

" mace

:

he crushed the skull of the

Hj'at

" Khan.

He made

the blood spurt aloft, and scat-

" tered the brains of the chief, as Crishna crushed the

" earthen vessel of butter.
" in dreadful
ire,

Then Nand Chand raged

launching the spear, and wielding

56

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
;

of his actions
the

in which,

by

his account,

arrows

of

the

Sikhs

were

victori-

" the sword.

He

broke his keen scimitar, and drew

u his dagger, " Then

to support the

honour of the Sondi

race.

my

maternal uncle, Cripal, advanced in his
skilful war-feats of a true

u rage, and exhibited the " Cshatriya.

The mighty

warrior,

though struck by
fall

" an arrow, with another made a valiant Khan

" from his saddle, and Saheb Chand, of the Cshatriya

"

race, strove in the battle's fury,

and slew a blood-

" thirsty Khan, a warrior of Khorasan." After recording the actions of
his

many

others,

Govind thus describes

own deeds

:

" The blood-drinking spectres and
fierce

¥ ghosts yelled for carnage; the

Vetala, the

" chief of the spectres, laughed
" prepared for his
repast.

for joy,

and sternly
hovered

The

vultures

" around, screaming for their prey.

Hari Chand, (a

" Hindu chief " drawing
" arrow
:

in the emperor's army,) in his wrath,

his

bow,

first

struck

my

steed with an

aiming a second time, he discharged his
it

" arrow; but the Deity preserved me, and
" me, and only grazed "

passed

my

car.

His third arrow struck

my

breast

:

it

tore

open the mail, and pierced the

" skin, leaving a slight scar; but the
" adore saved me.
" was kindled;
I

God whom

1

When
drew

I felt this

hurt,

my

anger

my bow

and discharged an

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
ous
over the
sabres

57

of the

Muhamme-

dans *.
This
first

success appears to have greatly

increased
followers,

the

number of Guru Govind's
he established at Anand-

whom

pur, Khilor, and the towns in their vicinity
;

where they remained,

till

called to

" arrow

:

all

my

champions did the same, rushing
battle.

" onwards to the

Then

I

aimed at the young

" hero, and struck him.
"

Hari Chand perished, and

many

of his host

;

death devoured him,

who was

" called a Raja among a hundred thousand Rajas. " Then
all

the host, struck with consternation, fled,
field

" deserting the

of combat.

I

obtained the vic-

" tory through the favour of the Most High; and, " victorious
" triumph.
in the field,

we

raised aloud the song of
like rain,

Riches

fell

on us

and

all

our

" warriors were glad."

* Hyat Khan and Nejabet

Khan

are mentioned as

two of the principal chiefs of the emperor's army that
fell

in this first action.
latter, says
:

Govind, speaking of the

fall

of the

"

When
!

Nejabet

Khan

fell,

the

" world exclaimed, Alas

but the region of Svvarga

" (the heavens) shouted victory."

58

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Nadon*, Bhima Chand,

aid the Raja of

who was

threatened with an invasion by

the Raja, of
to hostilities

Jammu

;

who had been

excited
chief,

by Mia Khan, a Mogul

then at

war with Bhima Chand.
gives

Guru Govind

an account of

this

war, which consisted of attacking and de-

fending the narrow passes of the
tains.

moun-

He

describes

Bhima Chand and himtheir warriors,

self as leading

on

who

ad-

vanced, he says, to battle, " like a stream
" of flame consuming the forest."

They
expe-

were completely successful
dition
;

in this

the Rajd of

Jammu, and

his

Mu-

*

A

mountainous tract of country, that borders on
It lies to the

the Penjab.
S. E. of

N.

W.

of Srinagar, and the
is

Jammu.

The

present Raja, Sansar Chand,

a chief of great respectability.

His country has

lately
1

been overrun by the Raja of INcpal and Gorc'ha.

derived considerable information regarding this family,

and

their territories,

from the envoy of Sansar Chand,
in

who attended Lord Lake,
army was
in the

1805,

when

the British

Penjab.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

59
defeated,
Satlej.

hammedan

allies,

having been

and chased with disgrace across the

Guru Govind next
of the son of Dilawer

relates the

advance

Khan

against him.
chief

The

object

of the

Muhammcdan
but,

appears to have been, to surprise Govind

and

his followers at night

:

when

that

project

was defeated,

his troops

were seized

with a panic, and fled

from the Sikhs withenraged at the
all

out a contest.

The

father,

disgraceful retreat of his son, collected
his followers,

and sent Ilusain Khan, who

made

successful inroads

upon

the

Sikhs,

taking several of their principal

forts *.

A
a

*

Though

the account of this war

is

given

iti

style sufficiently inflated for the

wars of the demons

and angels

;

yet, as

Govind

relates, that

Husain Khan

returned a messenger, which one of the principal liajas

had sent him, with
"

this

message

to his

master

;

"

Pay

down

ten thousand rupees, or destruction descends

" on thy head ;"

we may judge, both from

the demand,

and the amount of the contribution, of the nature of
this contest, as well as its scale.

It

was evidently one
4

of those petty provincial wars, which took place in

50

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

general action at last took place, in which

the

Khan,

after

performing prodigies of
lost his life.

valour,

was defeated, and

Guru
battle.

Govind was not present
" The lord of the
" tained
earth/'

at

this

he says, " de-

me

from

this conflict,

and caused

" the rain of " quarter/'

steel to

descend in another

Dilawer

Khan and Rustam Khan

next
to

marched against the Sikhs, who appear
have been disheartened at the
loss

of some

of their principal chiefs, and more at the

accounts

they

received

of

Aurungzeb's

rage at their progress, and of his having

detached

his

son to the district of Madra*,
was

every remote part of the Indian empire, when
distracted
:

it

and, at this period, Aurungzeb was wholly

engaged

in the

Dek'hin, and the northern provinces
their

were consequently neglected, and
in a

governments

weak and

unsettled state.
in

# This must have been

the year

1701,

when

Bahader Shah was detached from the Dek'hin

to take

charge of the government of Cabul, and was probably
ordered, at the same time, to settle the disturbances in

the Penjab.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
in order to take

61

measures to quell them. At

the prince's approach, " every body," says

Guru Govind, " was

struck

with terror.

" Unable to comprehend the ways of the
" Eternal, several deserted me, and
fled,

" and took refuge in the lofty mountains.

" These

vile

cowards were," he adds, " too

" greatly alarmed in mind to understand

" their own advantage;
" sent troops,

for

the emperor

who

burnt the habitations of
fled."

" those that had

He
all

takes this oc-

casion of denouncing
this

every misery that
the pains and

world can bring, and

horrors of the next, on those
their

who

desert

Guru, or
this,"

priest.

"

The man who
have

" does

he

writes, " shall neither

" child nor

offspring.

His aged parents

" shall die in grief and sorrow, and he

"

shall perish like

a dog, and be thrown
After

" into

hell to lament."

many more
genius

curses on apostates, he concludes this ana-

thema by

stating,

that the good

of prosperity in

this

world,

and eternal

62

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

blessings in the next, shall be the certain

reward of

all

who remain

attached to their

Guru

:

and, as an instance, he affirms, that

not one of those faithful followers,

who had
had

adhered to him at

this trying

crisis,

received the least injury*.

Guru Govind

closes his

first

work, the

Vichitra Natac, with a further representation

on the shame that attends apostasy,

and the rewards that await those that prove
true to their religion
;

and he concludes and a declaration

by a prayer

to the Deity,

of his intention to compose, for the use
of his disciples, a
still

larger

work

;

by which

* There

is

a remarkable passage in this chapter,
appears
to

in

which Guru Govind

acknowledge the
says, "

supremacy of the emperor. " God," he

formed

" both Baba (Nanac) and Baber (the emperor of that
" name).

Look upon Baba

as the

Padshah (king) of

" religion, and

Baber, the lord of the world.

He

"

who

will

not give

Nanac a

single damri, (a coin the

" sixteenth part of an ana,) will receive a severe

a punishment from Baber."

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
the Sikhs conceive that he

5*3

meant the
Grant'h,

rest

of the

Dasama Padshah ka

of

which the Vichitra Natac forms the
section.

first

An

account of Govind's war with the
is

Raja of Kahilur*,

found in a work writ-

ten in the Dugar, or mountain dialect of
the Penjabi tongue, which gives

an account

of some other actions of this chief.
this

Though
it

account
states

is

greatly exaggerated,
facts correctly,

no

doubt

some

and

thereto

fore merits

a brief notice.

According

this authority, the

Rajas of Kahilur, Jiswal,

and

others, being defeated

and disgraced in
the

several

actions,

applied to

court of

Aurungzeb
from

for aid against

Guru Govind,
that

whom,

they

stated

they had

received great injuries.

When
is

the

emperor

*

Kahilfir, or Kahlore,
It
is

situated on the Satlej,

above Mak'haval.

near the mountains through
into

which that
place of the

river flows

the Penjab.
or Kahlore,
is

Another
situated a

name of Kahlur,

short distance from Lahore, to the N. E. of that city.

64
asked who

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
made
is

the complaint, the answer

was:

" It

the chief of Kahilur, thy

" servant,

who

has been despoiled of his

" country by violence, though a faithful

" Zemindar (landholder), and one who has
" always been punctual in paying his con" tributions."
tions,
this

Such were the representastates,

author
the
aid

by which they

obtained

of an

army from

the

emperor.
Their combined forces proceeded against

Guru
were

Govind
obliged

and
to

his

followers,

who
up
in

shut

themselves

their fortresses,

where they endured every

misery that sickness and famine can bring

upon a besieged
suffering

place.

Govind,

after

the

greatest

hardships,

deter-

mined

to attempt his escape.

He

ordered

his followers to leave the fort,

one by one,

at midnight,

and

to separate the

moment
separa-

they went out.
tion,

The misery of this

which divided the father from the
the husband

child,

from

the

wife,

and

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
brothers from sisters,

6$
it

was horrible; but

was the only chance which they had of
safety,

and

his

orders were

obeyed.

He

himself went,

among

the rest;

and, after

undergoing

great

fatigue,

and

escaping

many

dangers, he arrived at

Chamk6ur, by

the Raja of which place he was received in

a kind and friendly manner.

His enemies
left,

had entered the
the

fortress
fled,

which Govind

moment he
;

and made many
his

pri-

soners
his

among which were
children,

mother and
carried
to

two

who were

Foujdar Khan, the governor of Sirhind,

by whose orders they were inhumanly massacred*.

The army of

the emperor, aided

by the Rajas
to

hostile to Govind, next

marched
it

Chamkour, and encompassed
Govind, in
called
despair,

on

all

sides.

clasping his

hands,

upon

the

goddess of the

sword -j\
*
this

"

The world

sees,"

he exclaimed,
Vizir

The Muhammedan authors blame

Khan

for

unnecessary and impolitic act of barbarity,

f Bhavani Durga.
F

66
" that

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
we have no help but
thee " saying
!

which, he prepared, with his few followers,
to

make

the most desperate resistance.
at this

The emperor's army, employed
period against Govind, was

commanded by

Khwajeh Muhammed and Nahar Khan,

who deputed,
siege,

at the

commencement of the

an envoy

to the Sikh leader, with the
:

following message

"This army

is

not one
it is

" belonging to Rajas and Rands " of the great Aurungzeb
:

:

that

show, therefore,

" thy respect, and embrace the true faith."

The envoy proceeded,

in the execution of

his mission, with all the pride of those

he

represented.
self to

" Listen/' said he, from him" to the words of the

Guru Govind,
:

"

Nawab

leave off contending
infidel
;

with us,
evident

" and playing the

for

it is

" you never can reap advantage from such " an unequal war."

He was
seizing

stopped by

Ajit Singh, the son of Govind, from saying

more.

That youth,
:

his

scimetar,

exclaimed

" If you utter another word, I

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
"
will

67
smite

humble your pride

:

I

will

" your head from your body, and cut you
" to pieces, for daring to speak such lan" guage before our chiefs/'

The blood of

the envoy boiled with rage, and he returned

with

this

answer

to his master.

This effort to subdue the fortitude and
faith of

Govind having

failed,

the siege

commenced with
description
is

great vigour.

A

long

given by

B'hai

Guru Das

B'hale and other Sikh authors, of the actions that

were performed.

Amongst

the

most distinguished, were those of the brave,
but unfortunate, Ajit Singh*, the son of

* In the Penjabi narrative of B'hai Guru Das
B'hale, the actions of Ajit Singh,

and Ranjit Singh,
;

sons of Govind, are particularly described

and, from

one part of the description,

it

would appear that the

family of Govind, proud of their descent, had not laid
aside the zunar, or holy cord, to

which they were,

as

belonging to the Cshatriya race, entitled.
of these youths, the author says
:

Speaking

" Slaughtering every

" Turk and Pahlan

whom

they saw, they adorned

68

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
is

Guru Govind, whose death
"

thus recorded

r

A second
fled.

time the

Khan
Some

advanced, and
fought,

" the battle raged.
"
Ajit

some

Singh,

covered with glory,

" departed to Svvarga (heaven).

Indra*,

"

first

of the gods (Devatas),

advanced
;

" with the celestial host to meet him

he

" conducted him to Devapur, the city of " the gods, and seated him on a " throne
:

celestial

having remained there a short

" time, he proceeded to the region of the
" sun.

Thus/' he concludes, " Ajit Singh
;

" departed in glory

and

his

fame extends

" their sacred strings, by converting them into sword-

"

belts.

Returning from the

field,

they sought their

"

father,

who bestowed

a hundred blessings on their

" scimetars."
* The Sikh author, though he
stitious idolatry

may

reject the super-

of the Hindus, adorns his descriptions
its

with every image

mythology can furnish

;

and

claims for his hero the same high honours in Swarga,
that a
race.

Brahmen would expect

for

one of the Pandu

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

69

" over three worlds, for the fame of the

" warrior

lives for ever/'

Though Govind showed an
spirit,

invincible

and performed prodigies of
killed,

valour,

having

with his

own

hand, Nahar

Khan, and wounded Khwajeh Muhammed,
the other leader of the emperor's troops,
it

was impossible

to

contend longer against
;

such superior numbers

and he

at

last,

taking advantage of a dark night, fled from

Chamkour, covering

his face,

according to
at his

the Sikh author, from
disgrace.

shame

own
comof

This sketch of the
piled

life

of Govind

is

from

his

own works, and

those

other Sikh writers, such as

Nand and

B'hai

Guru Das

;

and the events recorded, allow-

ing for the colouring with which such narratives are written in the East,

appear to be
all

correct

:

the leading

facts are almost

established

by the evidence of contemporary
writers, to

Muhammedan
trust for the

whom we must
his

remainder of

history

;

as

70

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

the authorities

we have

followed end at the

period of his flight from Chamkour.

Most accounts agree
after his flight, was,

that

Guru Govind,
his

from a sense of

misfortunes, and the loss of his children,
bereft of his reason,
for

and wandered about
in

a considerable time
condition.

the

most destates,

plorable

One account

that he died in the Penjab; another, that

he went to Patna, where he ended a
third,

his

days

;

taken from a Sikh

authority*, as-

serts

that

Gtiru Govind, after remaining
in the Lak'hi-Jungle, to

some time
he had

which

fled,

returned without molestation

* Mr. Foster has followed this authority in his

account of the Sikh nation
believe that the part of
vind's
it

:

and

I

am

inclined

to

which

relates to

Guru G6-

dying at Nader, in the Dek'hin, of a wound
is

received from a Patan,

correct; as

it is

written on

the last page of a copy of the Adi-Grant'h, in

my

pos-

session, with several other facts relative to the dates of

the births and deaths of the principal high priests of
the Sikhs.

SKETCH OF THE

SIKHS.

71
;

to his former residence in the
that,

Penjab

and

so far from meeting with any per-

secution from

the

Muhammedan

govern-

ment, he received favours from the emperor,

Bahader Shah

;

who, aware of

his

military talents, gave

him a small

military

command

in the Dek'hin,

where he was

stabbed by a Patan

soldier's son,

and ex-

pired of his wounds, in the year 1708, at

Nader, a town

situate

on the Godaveri

river,

about one hundred miles from Haiderabad.
It
is

sufficiently established,

from these

contradictory and imperfect accounts of the
latter years

of

Guru Govind,

that he perafter

formed no actions worthy of record
his
flight

from Chamkour: and when we

consider the enthusiastic ardour of his mind,
his active habits, his valour,

and the
he

insa-

tiable

thirst

of revenge,
life,

which

had
mur-

cherished

through

against the

derers of his father,
his sect,

and the oppressors of
that leading
in-

we cannot think, when

passion of his

mind must have been

:

72

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
children,
his

creased by the massacre of his

and the death or mutilation* of
attached
followers,
;

most
have

that

he

would

remained inactive

much

less that

he would

have sunk into a servant of that government, against which he had been in constant rebellion
:

nor

is

it

likely that such a

leader as

Guru Govind

could

ever have

been trusted by a

Muhammedan

prince

and there appears,

therefore, every reason

to give credit to those accounts

which

state,

that mental distraction, in consequence of

deep

distress

and disappointment, was the

cause of the inactivity of
declining years.
all

Guru Govind's
conclusion at

Nor is such a

at

variance with the fact of his being

killed at

Nader, as

it is

probable, even

if

he was reduced he continued,
till

to the state described, thai

the close of his existence,

* Both at Chamkour, and other
the

forts,

from which

famished Sikhs attempted

to

escape,

many
and

of

them
cut
off.

were

taken,

and

had

their

noses

ears

;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
that

73
life

wandering and

adventurous

to

which he had been so early accustomed.
In the character of
Sikhs,
it

this

reformer of the
to

is

impossible
features

not

recognise
dis-

many

of those

which have

tinguished the most celebrated founders of
political

communities.

The

object he atIt

tempted was great and laudable.
the emancipation

was

of his
;

tribe

from op-

pression and persecution

and the means

which he adopted, were such as a comprehensive

mind could alone have

suggested.
as to

The Muhammedan conquerors of India,
they added to their
their strength,
territories,

added

by making proselytes through
force

the double

means of persuasion and

and

these, the

moment

they had adopted

their faith,

became

the supporters of their

power against
who, bound
in

the efforts of the

Hindus
civil

;

the chains of their

and
to

religious institutions, could neither
their

add

number by admitting

converts,

nor

74
allow

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
more than a small proportion of the

population of the country to arm against
the enemy.

Govind saw that he could

only hope for success by a bold departure

from usages which were calculated to keep
those,

by

whom

they

were observed, in
to

a degraded subjection
intolerant race.

an insulting and

"

You make Hindus Muby your

" hammedans, and are justified " laws," he
is

said to have written to
I,

Auselfall

rungzeb

:

"

now

on a principle of
is

" preservation,

which

superior

to

" laws,

will

make Muhammedans Hindus*.
rest,"

"

You may
:

he added, "
!

in fancied

" security

but beware

for I will teach

" the sparrow to strike the eagle to the
" ground."

A fine

allusion to his design of

* Meaning Sikhs; whose

faith,

though

it

differs

widely from the present worship of the Hindus, has

been thought

to

have considerable analogy to the

pure and simple religion originally followed by that
nation.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
inspiring the lowest races

75

among the Hindus

with that valour and ambition which would
lead

them

to perform the greatest actions.
in

The manner

which Govind endea-

voured to accomplish the great plan he

had formed, has been exhibited
perfect sketch given of his
to establish that temporal
life.

in the

im-

His

efforts

power

in his

own

person, of which he laid the foundation for
his tribe,

were daring and successful
degree
as

in as

great

a
:

circumstances

would

admit

but

it

was not possible he could
in

create means,

a few years, to oppose,

with success, the force of one of the greatest

empires in the universe.
ever,

The

spirit,

how-

which he infused into

his followers,

was handed down as a
their children
;

rich inheritance to

who, though they consider

Baba Nanac

as the author of their religion,

revere, with a just gratitude,

Guru Govind,

as the founder of their worldly greatness

and

political

independence.

They

are con-

scious, indeed, that they

have become, from

76

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
and
;

the adoption of his laws

institutions,

the scourge of their enemies

and have con-

quered

and

held,

for

more than half a

century, the finest portion of the once great

empire of the house of Taimur.
.

Guru Govind was

the last acknowledged

religious ruler of the Sikhs.

A

prophecy

had limited

their

spiritual

guides to the

number of

ten;

and

their superstition, aided,
spirit

no doubt, by the action of that
independence which
introduced, caused
cess,
its

of

his

institutions

had
suc-

fulfilment.

The

however, of Banda, a Bairagi,

who
of

was the devoted follower

and

friend

Guru Govind,
his banners.

established their union under

A
is

short period after Govind's

death, the grief of

Banda

at the misfortune

of his priest,

said,

by Sikh

authors, to

have
desire

settled into

a gloomy and desperate

to

revenge his wrongs.

The con-

fusion which

took place on the death of
in

Aurungzeb, which happened

the year

1707, was favourable to his wishes.

After

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

77

plundering the country, and defeating most
of the petty

Muhammedan

chiefs that

were
suffi-

opposed

to

him, he thought himself

ciently strong to venture

on an action with

Foujdar Khan, the governor of the province
of Sarhind, and the

man

of

all

others

most

abhorred by the Sikhs, as the murderer of
the infant children of

Guru Govind.

This

action was fought with valour

by the Mu-

hammedans

;

and with

all

that desperation

on the part of the Sikhs, which the most savage spirit of revenge could inspire and
:

this,

aided

by the courage and conduct

of their leader, gave them the victory, after

a severe contest.

Foujdar

Khan

fell,

with

most of

his

army, to

whom
Nor was

the enraged
their savage

Sikhs gave no quarter.

revenge satiated by the destruction of the

Muhammedan army:
almost
all

they

put to death

the wife and children of Vizir

Khan, and

the inhabitants of Sarhind.

They

destroyed or polluted the mosques of that
city
;

and, in a

spirit of wild

and

brutal

78
rage,

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
dug up the
carcasses of the
to

dead,

and exposed them
beasts of prey.
cess,

be

devoured

by

Encouraged by
by
the

this suc-

and

hardened

lessons

of

Banda
city,

to deeds of the

most horrid

atro-

the Sikhs rushed forward, and suball

dued

the country between the Satlej
river,

and the Jumna; and, crossing that

made

inroads

into
It
is

the

province of Sato
state

haranpur*.

unnecessary

the particulars of this memorable incursion,

which, from

all

accounts, appears to have

been

one

of the severest scourges with
afflicted.

which a country was ever

Every

excess that the most wanton barbarity could

commit, every cruelty that an unappeased
appetite of revenge could suggest, was inflicted

upon the miserable

inhabitants of

the provinces through which

they passed.

Life was only granted to those

who

con-

* This province

lies

a few miles to the N. E. of

Dehli, between the rivers

Jumna and Ganges.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
formed to the
habits
religion,

79

and adopted the
;

and dress of the Sikhs

and

if

Be-

hadur Shah had not quitted the Dek'hin, which he did
to
in

A. D. 1710, there

is

reason

think

the

whole of Hindustan would
in-

have been subdued by these merciless
vaders.

The

first

check the Sikhs received was

from an army under Sultan Kuli Khan.

That chief defeated one of

their

advanced

corps at Panipat'h, which, after being dispersed, fled to join their leader Banda, at

Sarhind.

The death of Behadur Shah
this

pre;

vented

success from being pursued

and the confusion which followed that event,
was favourable
feated Islam
to the Sikhs.

Banda

de-

Khan, the viceroy of Lahore,
his

and one of

fanatic followers stabbed

Bayezid Khan, the governor of Sarhind,

who had marched out
encounter
the last
this

of that town

to

army.

This, however,
successful

was

of Banda's

atrocities.

Abdal Samad Khan, a general of great

80

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
was detached, with a
large army,

reputation,

by the emperor Farakhseir, against the
Sikhs,

whom
;

he defeated

in

a very des-

perate action

in which, agreeable to

Muproto

hammedan
way

authors,

Banda performed

digies of valour,

and was only obliged

give

to

the superior numbers and

dis-

cipline of the imperialists.

The Sikhs were

never able to

make a

stand after this defeat,

and were hunted,

like wild beasts,

from one

strong hold to another,

by the army of
their leader,

the emperor;
his

by whom

and
last

most devoted

followers,

were at

taken, after having suffered every extreme

of hunger and fatigue*.

Abdal Samad Kh&n put

to death great

*

They were taken

in the fort of

Lohgad, which

is

one hundred miles to the north-east of Lahore.
fortress

This

was completely surrounded, and the Sikhs

were only starved into surrender, having been reduced
to

such extremes, that they were reported to have

eaten,

what

to

them must have been most

horrible, the

flesh of the

cow.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
numbers of the Sikhs
Lohgad, the
refuge
;

81

after the surrender of

fortress

in

which they took

but sent Banda, and the principal
to

chiefs of the tribe,

Dehli, where they

were first treated with every kind of obloquy

and

insult,

and then executed.
relates

A Mu-

harnmedan writer*

the intrepidity

with which these Sikh prisoners, but particularly
their

leader,

Banda, met death.
" thai these

" It

is

singular,"

he writes,

" people not only behaved firmly during
" the execution,

but they would dispute

" and wrangle with each other

who should

" suffer

first

;

and they made

interest with

" the executioner to obtain the preference. " Banda/' he continues, " was at last pro-

" duced, his son being seated

in

his lap.

" His father was ordered to cut his throat, " which he did, without uttering one word.
" Being

then brought nearer the magis-

*

The author

of the Seir Mutakherin.

G

;

32 "
trate's

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
tribunal,

the latter

ordered his

"

flesh to
it

be torn off with red hot pincers
:

" and

was in those moments he expired
its flight,

"

his

black soul taking

by one of
for

" those wounds, towards the regions

" which

it

was so well

fitted."

Thus perished Banda; who, though a
brave and able leader, was one of the most
cruel

and

ferocious

of men, and endea-

voured to impart

to his followers that feel-

ing of merciless resentment which he cherished
race,

against

the

whole

Muhammedan

whom

he appears to have thought

accountable for the cruelty and oppression

of a few individuals of the persuasion*.

* It

is

necessary, however, to state, that there

is

a

schismatical sect of Sikhs,

who

are termed Bandai, or

the followers of Banda,

who

totally

deny

this

account

of the death of Banda, and maintain that he escaped
severely

wounded from

his last battle,

and took refuge

in B'habar,

where he quietly ended

his days, leaving

two

sons, Ajit

Singh and Zorawcr Singh, who success-

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Though the
by a
first

83

Sikhs, from being animated

similar feeling,

and encouraged by

his

successes, followed

Banda

to the field,

they do not revere his
is

memory; and he
their

termed,
;

by some of

authors,

a

heretic

who, intoxicated with victory, eninstitu-

deavoured to change the religious
tions

and laws of Guru G6vind, many of
this

whose most devoted followers

fierce

chief put to death, because they refused
to

depart from those usages which that

revered spiritual leader had taught them to
consider sacred.

Among
make
to refrain
;

other changes,

Banda wished

to

the Sikhs

abandon

their blue dress,

from drinking

and eating
ing
ki

flesh

and, instead of exclaim-

Wd I

Gdruji
!

ki

Futteh

!

Wd !

Khdlsaji

Futteh

the salutations directed by

G6-

vind, he directed

them

to exclaim, Futteh

fully

propagated his doctrine.

This sect chiefly recities

sides in

Multan, Tata, and the other

on the

banks of the Indus.
but not the

They

receive the Adi-Grant'h,

Dasama Padshah ka

Grant'h.

84

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
!

D'herm

Futteh

dersan

!

which

means,

" Success to piety!

Success to the sect!"
re-

These innovations were very generally
sisted
;

but the dreaded severity of
to his

Banda
The

made many conform
class of Acalis*,

orders.

or immortals,

who had

been established by Guru

Govind, con-

tinued to oppose the innovations with great

obstinacy

;

and many of them
than

suffered

martheir

tyrdom, rather

change either
or dress
their
;

mode

of salutation, diet,

and,
tri-

at the death of Banda,

cause

umphed.

All the institutions of
:

Guru Go-

vind were restored

but the blue dress,
first,

instead of being, as at

worn by

all,

appears, from that date, to have become
the
particular
its

right of the

Acalis,

whose

valour, in
clusive

defence, well merited the ex-

privilege

of wearing this original

uniform of a true Sikh.

#

An

account of

this class

of Sikhs will be hereafter

given.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
After the

85

defeat and death of Banda,
that

every measure was taken,

an active

resentment could suggest, not only to destroy the power, but to extirpate the race,

of the Sikhs.
that sect

An

astonishing

number of
two

must have

fallen, in the last

or three years of the contest with the imperial armies,

as

the irritated

MuhammeAfter
the

dans gave them

no quarter.

execution of their chief, a royal edict was
issued, ordering
all

who

professed the

reli-

gion of
death,
to this

Nanac

to

be taken

and put
give

to

wherever found.

To
and

effect
for

mandate, a reward was offered
;

the

head of every Sikh

all

Hindus
under

were ordered to shave
pain of death.

their hair off,

The few

Sikhs, that escaped

this general execution, fled into the

moun-

tains to the N. E. of the Penjab, where

they found a refuge from the rigorous persecution by which their tribe was pursued
;

while

numbers bent before
resist,

the

tempest

which they could not

and abandoning

86

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
satis-

the outward usages of their religion,

fied their consciences with the secret practice

of its

rites.

From
till

the defeat and

death of

Banda

the invasion of India

by Nadir Shah,

a period of nearly
nothing of the Sikhs

thirty years,
;

we

hear

but,

on the occur-

rence of that event, they are stated to have
fallen

upon the peaceable

inhabitants of the

Penjab,
to

who sought

shelter in the hills,

and

have plundered them of that property

which they were endeavouring to secure
from the rapacity of the Persian invader.

Enriched with these
the
hills,

spoils, the

Sikhs

left

and

built the fort of

Dalewal, on

the Ravi, from tory incursions,

whence they made predaand are
stated

to

have

added both

to their wealth

and reputation,
rear

by harassing and plundering the
Nadir Shah's army, which, when
to Persia,
it

of

returned

was encumbered with

spoil,

and

marched, from a contempt of
with a disregard to
all

its

enemies,

order.

;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
The weak
state to

87

which the empire of
;

Hindustan was reduced
into

and the confusion

which the provinces of Lahore and

Cabul were thrown, by the death of Nadir
were events of too favourable a nature to
the Sikhs to be neglected by that race,

who

became

daily

more bold, from

their

num-

bers being greatly increased

by the union
shelter in the

of

all

those

who had taken

mountains; the readmission into the sect
of those who, to save their
lives,

had ab-

jured, for a period, their usages; and the

conversion of a

number of

proselytes,

who

hastened to join a standard, under which

robbery was

made

sacred

;

and

to plunder,

was to be pious.

Aided with these
extended

recruits, the

Sikhs now-

their irruptions over
:

most of the
it

provinces of the Penjab

and though

was

some time before they repossessed themselves of Amritsar, they began,
after

immediately

they quitted their fastnesses, to flock
city

to that holy

at the periods of their

88
feasts.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

Some performed
and
in disguise
:

this

pilgrimage in

secret,

but in general, ac-

cording to a contemporary

Muhammedan

author, the Sikh horsemen were seen riding,
at
full

gallop,

towards " their favourite

" shrine of devotion.

They were

often

" slain in making

this attempt, and some;

" times taken prisoners

but they used, on

" such occasions, to seek, instead of avoid-

" ing, the crown of martyrdom

:

and the

" same authority states, that an instance
" was never
"

known

of a Sikh, taken in his

way

to Amritsar, consenting to abjure his

"

faith."

It

is

foreign to the object of this sketch
into a detail of those
efforts

to enter

by

which the Sikhs rose into that power which
ihey

now

possess.

It will

be

sufficient lo

glance at the principal events which have

marked
their

their progress,

from the period of

emerging from the mountains, to which
been driven
after the death

they had

of

Banda,

to that of the conquest

and subjec-

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
tion of those fine provinces over
rule
is

89
their

which

now

established.
stated,

This

sect, as

has

been before
a

have never admitted
death of

spiritual leader since the
It

Guru

Govind.

was success, and the force of

a savage but strong genius, which united

them,

for a period,

under Banda; and they

have, since his death, had no acknowledged
general, leader, or prince.

Each

individual

followed to the

field

the Sirdar or chief,

who, from

birth, the possession

of property,

or from valour
his superior.

and experience, had become
These
chiefs

again were of

different

rank and pretensions: a greater
followers, higher reputation, the

number of

possession of wealth, or lands, constituted
that difference
;

and, from one or other of

these causes, one chief generally enjoyed a

decided pre-eminence, and, consequently,

had a lead

in their military councils.

But,

nevertheless, they always

went through the
their

form of selecting a military leader at

Guru-mata, or

national

council;

where,

90

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

however, influence prevailed, and the most
powerful was certain of being elected.

Such a mode of government was
little

in itself

calculated to give that strength and
re-

union which the cause of the Sikhs
quired
:

but the peculiarities of their usages,

the ardent character of their faith, the power

of their enemies, and the oppression they

endured, amply supplied the place of
other ordinances.

all

To

unite and to act in

one body, and on one principle, was, with
the
first

Sikhs, a law of necessity

:

it

was,

amid the dangers with which they were
surrounded, their only hope of success, and
their sole

means of preservation
causes,

:

and

it

was

to

these

combined with

the

weakness and internal contests of
mies, to which this sect owes
its

their ene-

extraordi;

nary

rise,

—not

to their boasted constitution

which, whether

we
;

call

it

an

oligarchy,

which it

really

is

or a theocracy, which the
;

Sikhs consider

it

has not a principle in
it

its

composition that would preserve

one day

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
from
this

gx

ruin, if vigorously assailed. their

But of
the
best

history

will

furnish

example.

Encouraged by the confusion which took
place on the
first

Afghan*

invasion, the

Sikhs

made

themselves masters of a con-

siderable part of the
Jalendra-f-,

Duab

of Ravi and

and extended

their incursions

to the neighbouring countries.

They, how-

ever, at this period received several severe

checks from Mir Manu, the governor of

Lahore,

who

is

said,

by Muhammedan

authors, to have been only withheld from

destroying them
minister,

by

the

counsel

of his

Koda Mai, who was
tribe.

himself a

Sikh of the KhalasaJ

Mir Manu

* A. D. 1746.

f The country between
and that
J
river

the rivers Ravi and Beyah,

and the

Satlej.

A

sect of non-conformist Sikhs,

who

believe in the
insti-

Adi-Grant'h of Nanac, but do not conform to the
tutions of

Guru Govind.
is said,

They
to

are called Khalasa.
khalis,

This word

by some,

be from

pure or

92

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Beg Khan
to the charge

appointed Adina

of the countries in which the Sikhs maintained themselves
;

and, as that able but

artful chief considered this turbulent tribe

in

no other

light

than as the means of

his

personal advancement, he was careful not
to reduce

them altogether;
in

but, after defeat-

ing

them

an action, which was fought

near Mak'haval, he entered into a secret

understanding with them, by which, though
their excursions

were limited, they enjoyed
they had been unac-

a security to which

customed, and from which they gathered
strength

and resources

for future efforts.

At
took

the death of
all

Mir Manu*,

the Sikhs

those advantages, which the local

distractions of a falling

empire offered them,

of extending and establishing their power.
by others,

select,

and

to

mean

the purest, or the select
to

:

from khalas,free, and

mean

the freed or exempt,

alluding to the tribe being

exempt from the usages

imposed on the other Sikhs.
* A. D. 1752.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

93

Their bands, under their most active leaders,

plundered in every direction, and were successful in obtaining

possession of several

countries,

from which they have never since
:

been expelled
period,

and

their success,

at this

was

promoted,

instead

of being

checked, by the appointment of their old
friend,

Adina Beg Khan,

to

Lahore; as

that brave chief, anxious to defend his

own

government against the Afghans,

imme-

diately entered into a confederacy with the

whom he encouraged to plunder territories of Ahmed Shah Abdali.
Sikhs,

the

The Afghan monarch,
datory warfare,
in

resenting this pre-

which the governor of by the court of

Lahore was supported
Dehli,

determined upon invading India.
to

Adina Beg, unable

oppose him,

fled

;

and the Sikhs could only venture

to plunder

the baggage, and cut off the stragglers of the Afghan

army

;

by which they so

irritated

Ahmed

Shah, that he threatened them with
his return
;

punishment on

and,

when he

;

94
marched

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
to Cabul,

he

left his

son,

Taimur

Khan, and

his vizir,

Jehan Khan, at La-

hore, with orders to take vengeance on the

Sikhs for

all

the excesses which they had

committed.

The

first

expedition of Taimur

Khan was

against their capital, Amritsar,
filling

which he destroyed,
tank, and polluting ship:

up

their sacred

all their

places of wor-

by which action he provoked the
all

whole race to such a degree, that they
assembled at Lahore,

and not only
the

at-

tempted to
between the

cut
fort

off

communication

and country, but collected

and divided the revenues of the towns and
villages

around

it.

Taimur Khan, enraged

at this presumption,

made

several attacks

upon them, but was constantly defeated
and being at
last

reduced

to the necessity

of evacuating Lahore,

and

retreating

to

Cabul, the Sikhs, under one of their celebrated leaders, called Jasa Singh Calal, im-

mediately took possession of the vacant

Subah of Lahore, and ordered rupees

to

be

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

95

coined, with an inscription to the following

import:
" sah
ji,

" Coined by the grace of Khalin the

country of

Ahmed,

con-

" quered by Jasa Singh Calal."

The

Sikhs,

who were

so deeply indebted

to the forbearance of Adina

Beg Khan,

now

considered themselves above the power
his

of that chief; who, in order to regain

government from them and the Afghans,

was obliged

to invite the

Mahrata

leaders,

Raghunat'h Rao, Saheb

Pateil,

and Malhar

Rao, to enter the Penjab.
chiefs,

Aided by these

he

first

advanced to Sarhind, where

he was joined by some Sikhs that remained
attached to him.

Samad Khan,
left

the officer

who had been

in charge

of Sarhind
to

by Ahmed Khan, found himself obliged
evacuate that place
sooner done,
plunder.
;

which

he had no

than

the

Sikhs

began

to

The Mahratas, always

jealous of

their booty,

determined to attack and punish

them

for this violation of

what they deemed
:

their exclusive privilege

but Adina Beg

96
receiving

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
intelligence
it

of their intentions,
;

communicated

to the Sikhs

who, taking

advantage of the darkness of the night,
saved themselves by
After the
fall

flight.

of Sarhind, the Mahratas,
ad-

accompanied by Adina Beg Khan,
vanced
to

Lahore, and soon expelled both

the Sikhs and the Afghans from the principal towns of the provinces of Sarhind

and

Lahore

;

of which they not only took pos-

session, but sent

a governor to the province
to

of Multan

;

and Saheb Pateil advanced

the Attock*, where he remained for a few

months.
tan and

But the commotions of Hindusthe

Dek'hin soon obliged these

foreigners to

abandon the Penjab; which

they did the same year they had reduced
it.

They appointed Adina Beg Khan

go-

vernor of Lahore.
#

He

died in the ensuing

The empire of
its

the Mahratas had, at this proud
zenith.

moment, reached

The

battle of Panipat'h
it

took place soon afterwards; since which
declined.

has rapidly

;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
year
;

97

and, by his death, afforded an opporto

tunity

the

Sikhs,

which they eagerly

seized, to

make

themselves again masters

of the province of Lahore.
was, however,

Their success

soon

checked by

Ahmed
unsub-

Shah Abdali

;

who,

irritated

by

their

dued turbulence, and obstinate

intrepidity,

made

every effort (after he had gained the

victory of Panipat'h, which established his

supremacy

at Dehli) to destroy their

power

and, with this view, he entered the Penjab
early in 1762,

and overran the whole of

that country with a

numerous army, defeat-

ing and dispersing the Sikhs in every direction.

That

sect,

unable

to

make any

stand

against the

army of the Abdali, pursued

their old plan of retreating near the

moun-

tains

;

and collected a
districts

large force in the

northern

of Sarhind, a distance of

above

one

hundred miles from Lahore,

where the army of

Ahmed Shah was

en-

camped.
to

Here they conceived themselves
perfect safety
:

be

in

but that prince

H

98

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
of those rapid movements for

made one
the Sikh

which he was so celebrated, and reaching

army on

the second day,
it

com-

pletely surprised,
slaughter.

and defeated

with great

In

this action,

which was fought

in February, 1762, the Sikhs are said to

have

lost

upwards of twenty thousand men,
fled into the hills,

and the remainder
doning
ghans,
all

aban-

the lower countries to the Af-

who committed

every ravage that a

barbarous and savage

enemy could

devise.

Amritsar was razed to the ground, and the
sacred
ruins.

reservoir

again

choaked with
erected,

its

Pyramids* were

and covered
:

with the heads of slaughtered Sikhs
is

and

it

mentioned, that

Ahmed Shah
washed with

caused the

walls of those

mosques, which the Sikhs
their blood,

had polluted,

to be

# This

is

a very

common

usage amongst eastern

conquerors.

The

history of Jenghiz

Khan, Taimur
this

and Nadir Shah, afford many examples of
of treating their vanquished enemies.

mode

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

99

that the contamination might be removed,

and the

insult offered to the religion of

Mu-

hammed
to

expiated*.

This species of savage retaliation appears

have animated, instead of depressing, the
;

courage of the Sikhs

who, though they

could not venture to meet

Ahmed

Shah's

army

in action, harassed

it

with an inces-

sant predatory

warfare

;

and,

when

that

sovereign was obliged,

by the commotions

of Afghanistan, to return to Cabul, they
attacked and defeated the general he had
left in

Lahore, and

made themselves

masters

of that city, in which they levelled with the

ground those mosques which the Afghans
had, a few months before, purified with the

blood of their brethren.

Ahmed

Shah, in 1763, retook Lahore,
it
;

and plundered the provinces around
being obliged to return to his

but,

own country in

the ensuing year, the Sikhs again expelled his

* Foster's Travels, Vol.

I. p.

279.

10
garrison,

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
and made themselves masters of the

Penjab; and, from that period until his death,
a constant war was maintained, in which
the enterprise

and courage of the Afghans

gradually gave
activity

way

before the astonishing

and
;

invincible perseverance of their
if

enemies

who,

unable to stand a general

action, retreated to impenetrable mountains,

and the moment they saw an advantage,
rushed again into the plains with renewed
vigour,

and recruited numbers.

Several

Sikh authors, treating of the events of this
period, mention a great action having been

fought,

by

their

countrymen, near Amritsar,

against the whole

Afghan army, commanded
in

by Ahmed Shah

person

;

but they

differ

with regard to the dale of this battle, some
fixing
it

in

1762, and others
the Sikhs,

later.

They
by the
this

pretend

that

inspired

sacredness

of the

ground on

which
for

action was fought, contended
against

victory

superior

numbers with

the

most

desperate fury, and that the battle termi-

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
nated in
both
parties

iQl
the
field,

quitting

without either being able to claim the least
advantage.
are,

The

historians of

Ahmed Shah

however,

silent

regarding this action;
all

which, indeed, from

the events of his

long contests with the Sikhs, appears unlikely to

have occurred.

It

is

possible the

Sikhs fought, at Amritsar, with a division of
the

Afghan army, and

that might

have been
it is

commanded by

the prince;

but

very
en-

improbable they had

ever force

to

counter the concentrated army of the Abdalis
;

before which, while

it

remained in
first

a body, they appear, from the
last

to the

of their contests with that prince, to
fled.

have always retreated, or rather

The

internal state of Afghanistan, since

the death of

Ahmed

Shah, has prevented

the progress of the Sikh nation receiving

any

serious

check from that quarter; and

the distracted and powerless condition of
the empire of India has offered province
after

province to their usurpation.

Their

10 2
history,
little

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
during
this
latter

period, affords

but a relation of village warfare, and
Their
hostilities

predatory incursions.
first

were

directed

against

the numerous

Mu-

hammedan
Penjab, and

chiefs

who were

settled in the

who defended,

as long as they

could, their jagirs, or estates, against them:

but these have either been conquered, or

reduced to such narrow
their

limits, as to

owe
or

security

to

their

insignificance,

the precarious friendship of

some powerful
they

Sikh

chief,

whose
who,

support

have

gained;

and

by protecting

them

against the other leaders of his tribe, obtains

a

slight

accession

of strength and

influence.

The Sikh

nation,

who

have, throughout

their early history,

always appeared, like a
rise into

suppressed flame, to

higher splen-

dour from every attempt to crush them,

had become, while they were oppressed,

as

formidable for their union, as for their deter-

mined courage and unconquerable

spirit

of

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
resistance
distress
:

103

but a state of persecution and
for the

was the one most favourable
constitution like theirs
;

action of a

which,

formed upon general and abstract principles,
fices

required constant and great sacri-

of personal advantage to the public

good; and such can alone be expected
from men, acting under the influence of
that enthusiasm, which the fervor of a
religion, or

new

a struggle for independence, can

alone impart,
readily
all,

and which are ever most
it

made, when

becomes obvious

to

that a complete union in the general
is

cause
safety.

the

only

hope

of

individual

The Sikhs would appear, from
historians, to

their

own

have attributed the conquests

they

made

entirely to their valour,

and

to

have altogether forgot that they owed them
chiefly to the decline of the

house of Tai-

mur, and the dissensions of the government
of Cabul.

Intoxicated with their success.

;

104

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
way
to all those passions

they have given

which

assail the

minds of men in the pos-

session of power.

The

desire,

which every

petty chief entertained,
territories,

of increasing his
strong forts,
his
;

of building

and

adding to the numbers of

troops, in-

volved them in internal wars

and

these,

however commenced, soon communicated
to numbers,

who engaged

in the dispute as

passion or interest dictated.

Though such

feuds have, no doubt, helped to maintain
their military
spirit,

yet their extent and

virulence
that

have completely broken down

union,

which

their

great legislator,

Govind, laboured to

establish.

Quarrels

have been transmitted from father to son
and, in a country where the infant
is

de-

voted to
as
his

steel,

and taught

to consider

war

only occupation, these could not
;

but multiply in an extraordinary degree

and, independent of the comparative large

conquests in which the greater chiefs occa-

;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
sionally engaged, every village* has

105

become
if

an object of dispute

;

and there are few,
is

any, in the Penjab, the rule of which
contested
tions f.

not

between
In such a

brothers or near relastate, it is obvious, the

Sikhs could alone be formidable

to

the

most weak

and

distracted

governments.
till

Such, indeed, was the character,

within

a very

late period, of all their neighbours

and they continued

to

plunder, with im-

* All the
as they

villages in the

Penjab are walled round;

are in

almost

all

the countries of India that

are exposed to sudden incursions of horse,

which

this

defence can always repel.

f

When

the British and Mahrata armies entered

the Penjab, they were both daily joined

by discon-

tented petty chiefs of the Sikhs,
to the

who

offered their aid

power that would put them
fort,

in the possession of

a village or a
statement,
father
or

from which, agreeably to their
been
unjustly

they had
brother.

excluded by a

Holkar encouraged these applihis advantage.
all

cations,

and used them to

The

British

commander abstained from
disputes.

interference in

such

106

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

punity, the upper provinces of Hindtistan,
until

the

establishment of the

power of
bri-

Daulet Rao Sindia, when the regular
gades,

commanded by French

officers in

the service of that prince, not only checked
their inroads, but

made

all

the Sikh chiefs,

to the southward of the Satlej, acknowledge

obedience and pay tribute to Sindia: and
it

was

in

the

contemplation of General

Perron,

had

the

war

with
to

the

English

government not occurred,
the Penjab, and

have subdued

made
:

the Indus the limit

of his possession

and every person acand with the

quainted

with his means,

condition and resources of the Sikhs, must

be

satisfied

he would have accomplished
with great ease, and at a very

this project

early period.

When
British

Holkar

fled

into the

Penjab, in

1805, and was pursued by that illustrious

commander, Lord Lake, a comwas given of observing

plete opportunity

the actual state of this nation, which

was

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
found weak and distracted,
in

107
a degree
It

that could hardly have been imagined.

was altogether

destitute

of union.

And

though a Guru-mata, or national council,

was

called, with

a view to decide on those
best avert the

means by which they could

danger by which their country was threatened, from the presence of the English and

Mahrata armies,
chiefs
:

it

was attended by few

and most of the absentees, who had
in their
this

any power, were bold and forward
offers to resist

any resolution

to

which

council might come.
negotiations of
all

The

intrigues

and
this

appeared, indeed, at

moment,

to be entirely directed to objects

of personal resentment, or personal aggran-

dizement; and every shadow of that concord,

which once formed the strength of

the Sikh nation, seemed to be extinguished.

108

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

SECTION
Neither
admit of

II.

the limits of this sketch, nor
it is

the materials from which

drawn,

will

my

giving a particular or correct

account of the countries possessed by the
Sikhs,

or of their

forms
:

of government,

manners, and habits
these
excite
subjects

but a cursory view of

may

be useful, and

may
il

and

direct that curiosity
gratify.

which

cannot expect to

The country now

possessed by the Sikhs,
latitude

which reaches from

28° 40'
all

to

beyond

latitude 32° N.,

and includes

the

Penjab*, a small part of Multan, and most

*

A

general estimate of the value of the country

possessed by the Sikhs
stated,

may he

formed, when

it

is

that

it

contains, besides other countries, the
;

whole of the province of Lahore

which, agreeable to

Mr. Bernier, produced,

in

the reign of Aurungzeb, two

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
of that tract of country which
the
lies

109
between
to

Jumna and

the Satlej,

is

bounded,

the northward and westward, by the
tories

terri-

of the king of Cabul

;

to the east-

ward, by the possessions of the mountaineer
Rajas of

Jammu, Nad6n, and
by the

Srinagar;

and

to the southward,

territories

of

the English government, and the sandy
deserts of Jasalmer

and Hansyd Hisar.
inhabit

The

Sikhs,

who
Satlej

the

country

between the
called

and the Jumna, are
all

Malawa

Singh, and were almost

converted from the Hindu tribes of Jats

and Gujars.

The

title

of

Malawa Singh
for their

was conferred upon them

extra-

ordinary gallantry, under the Bairagi Banda,

who

is

stated to have declared, that the

countries granted to

them should be

fruitful

hundred and
rupees
;

forty-six lacks

and ninety-five thousand

or

two millions, four hundred and sixty-nine

thousand, five hundred pounds sterling.

HO
as

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
in India.

Malwa, one of the provinces*
principal
chiefs

The

among

the

Malawi

Singhs, are, Saheb Singh, of Patiala; B'hang&

Singh, of Thanesur

;

B'hag Singh, of Jhind

;

and

B'hailal

Singh, of Keintal.

Besides

these, there are several inferior chiefs,

such

as

Gurudah
;

Singh, Jud'h Singh, and

Carm

Singh

all

of

whom

have a few

villages,

and some horse, and consider themselves
independent; though they, in general, are
content to secure their possessions by attaching themselves to one or other of the

more powerful

leaders.

The country of
some
it,

the

Malawa Singh

is,

in

parts, fruitful: but those districts of

which border on Hansya and Carnal, are
;

very barren
and, in
water.

being covered with low wood,
places, almost destitute of

many

Sarhind was formerly the capital of

* This province now forms almost the whole
tory of Daulet

terri-

Rao

Sinclia.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
this

m
ruin,

country

;

but

it is

now a complete
recovered

and has

probably

never

the

dreadful ravages of the Bairagi Banda,
is

who
its

stated

not only to have destroyed
all its

mosques, but to have levelled

palaces

and public
Patiala
is

buildings

with

the

ground.
flourishit

now

the largest

and most

ing town of this province, and next to
T'hanesur, which
is
still

held in high
;

reli-

gious veneration by the Hindtis
also

who have

a very high reverence for the river

Serasweti,
vince.

which flows through
territories

this

pro-

The

of the chiefs of

Ma-

lawa Singh are bounded to the N.
the Satlej
is
;

W. by
Beit,

between which and the Bey ah,
the Jalendra

the country called

or Jalendra

Duab;

the

Sikhs inhabiting

which are called the DtiaM Singh, or the
Singhs

who

dwell between the rivers*.

The

*

With

the chiefs of the Sikhs in the Jalendra
are
little

Duab we

acquainted. Tara Singh

is

the most

112

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

country of Jalendra Duab, which reaches

from the mountains to the junction of the
Satlej

and the Beyah,

is

the most fruitful
;

of

all

the possessions of the Sikhs

and

is,

perhaps, excelled in climate and vegetation

by no province of

India.
:

The

soil is light,
is

but very productive

the country, which

open and
grain.

level,

abounds with every kind of
is

That want of water, which
felt in

so

much
here
in

other parts of India,
;

must be

unknown

as

it

is

found every where

abundance, within two, or at furthest
from the surface of the
soil.

three, feet

The

towns of Jalendra and Sultanpur are the
principal in the

Duab.
the

The country between
Ravi
rivers
is

Beyah and
or Manj'ha
are
;

called Bari

Duab,
it

and the Sikhs

inhabiting

called

considerable

;

but he and the others have been greatly
their

weakened by
divisions.

constant and increasing internal
v

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Manj'ha Singh.

113

The

cities

of Lahore and
it

Amritsar are both in

this

province; and

becomes, in consequence, the great centre
of the power of
of Lahore
;

this nation.

Ranjit Singh,
;

Fateh Singh*, of Alluwal

and

Jud'h Singh, of Ramgadia-f ; are the principal chiefs of this country.

The country of Bari
fertile,

is

said to be less

particularly towards the mountains,
;

than Jalendra
level, it

but, as

it lies

on the same
cli-

must possess nearly the same
soil.

mate and

The

inhabitants of the country between

the Ravi and Chanhab, are called D'harpi

Singh,

from

the

country

being

called

D'harpi.

The D'hanigheb Singh

are be-

yond the Chanhab J, but within the Jehalam
river.

/

* Fateh Singh

is,

like

Ranjit Singh, of a Jat family.
is

f Jud'h Singh, of Ramgadia,
I

of the carpenter cast.

The term Gujarat Singh

is

sometimes given to

the inhabitants of this Duab, of which the chiefs of

Gujarat and Rotas are the principal
I

rulers.

1X4

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
is

The Sind Singh

the term

by which

the

inhabitants of the districts under the Sikhs,

bordering on the Sind, are

known; and

Nakai Singh

is

the

name

given to the Sikhs

who reside in Multan. With the leaders of the
Sikhs in these provinces, the extent of their
possessions, or the climate

and productions

of the country under their rule, I

am

little

acquainted.

Those in Multan,

as well as

those settled on the river Jehalam, are said
to be constantly

engaged in a predatory

warfare, either with the officers of the Af-

ghan government, or with
chiefs

Muhammedan

who have jagirs
may,

in their vicinity.

The government of the
in
its

Sikhs, considered
has, been

theory,

as

before

stated,

be termed a theocracy.
it
is

They obey

a temporal chief,
preserves his

true

;

but that chief

power and authority by pro-

fessing himself the servant of the Khalsa*,

*

The word Khalsa, which has

before been
is

exsup-

plained to

mean

the state or commonwealth,

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

115

or government, which can only be said to
act,

in

times of great public emergency,

through the means of a national council, of

which every chief
is

is

a member, and which

supposed to deliberate and resolve under

the immediate inspiration

and impulse of
believe,

an

invisible being;

who, they

always

watches over the interests of the commonwealth.

The nature of

the

power

established

by

the temporal chiefs of the Sikhs, has been
sufficiently

explained in the narrative of
It will be necessary, before
is

their history.

any account

given

of the forms and

actions of their Guru-mata, or great national
council,

which

is

intended to have a sutheir federative
re-

preme authority over

posed, by the Sikhs, to have a mystical meaning , and
1

to imply that superior government, under the protec-

tion of

which " they

live,

and to the established rules
it

" and laws of which, as fixed by Guru G6vind,

"

is

their civil

and religious duty to conform."

ng
public,
to

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
take a view of that body of

Acalis, or immortals,

who, under the double

character of fanatic priests and desperate
soldiers,
all

have usurped the

sole direction of

religious affairs

at Amritsar,

and

are,

consequently,

leading

men

in

a council
place,

which

is

held at that sacred
all

and

which deliberates under
religious enthusiasm.

the influence of

The Acalis*

are a class of Sikh devotees

;

who, agreeably to the
nation, were
first

historians of that

founded by Guru Govind,
it

whose

institutes, as

has been before stated,

they most zealously defended against the
innovations of the Bairagi Banda.

They

wear blue chequered

clothes,

and bangles,

*

Aca.li,

derived from Acal, a

compound term
a,

of

cal, death,

and the Sanscrit privative
It
is

which means

never-dying, or immortal.

one of the names of the

Divinity; and has, probably; been given to this re-

markable
ing Acal
!

class of devotees,

from their always exclaim

Acal

!

in their devotions.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
or bracelets of steel*,
initiate converts,

117

round

their wrists,

and have almost the

sole

direction of the religious ceremonies at
ritsar,

Am-

where they

reside,

and of which they
;

deem themselves

the defenders

and, conunless in

sequently, never desire to quit
cases of great extremity.

it

* All Singbs do not wear bracelets

;

but

it is

indis-

pensable to bave steel

about their persons, which they
In

generally have in the shape of a knife or dagger.

support of this ordinance they quote the following
verses of

Guru Govind
Saheb bea
ki

:

rach'ha hamne,

Tuhi

Sri Saheb, churi, kati,
ki rach'ha

katar—

Acal puvukh

hamne,

Serv loh di rach'ha hamne,
Servacal di rach'ha hamne,

Serv lohji di sada rach'ha hamne.

which may be translated
" "
infinite
lass,

:

" The protection of the
thou art the lord, the cut-

Lord

is

over us

:

the knife, and the dagger.
is

The
:

protection of

" the immortal Being

over us

the protection of

" all-steel "
is

is

over us

:

the protection of all-time
is

over us

:

the protection of all-steel

constantly

u over us."

H8

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
or

This order of Sikhs have a place,

Bunga*, on the bank of the sacred
voir of Amritsar,

reserresort,

where they generally

but are individually possessed of properly,

though they
charity
;

affect poverty,

and

subsist

upon

which, however, since their

num-

bers have increased, they generally extort,

by accusing the principal
imposing
fines

chiefs of crimes,
;

upon them

and, in

the

event of their refusing to pay, preventing

them from performing

their

ablutions, or

going through any of their religious cere-

monies at Amritsar.
It will not,

when the above circumstances

*

The Shahid and Nirmala, two

other religious

tribes

among

the Sikhs, have Bungas, or plaees, upon

the great reservoir of Amritsar;

but both these are
is

peaceful orders of priests, whose duty

to address the

Deity, and to read and explain the Adi-Grant'h to the Sikhs.

They

are, in general,

men

of some education.
into either of
all

A

Sikh, of any tribe,

may be admitted
the Acalis,
to

these classes, as
their

among

who admit

into

body who choose

conform

to their rules.

;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

||g

are considered, be thought surprising, that
the most powerful of the Sikh chiefs should
desire to conciliate this

body of

fanatics,

no

individual of which can be offended with

impunity, as the cause of one

is

made

the
is

cause of the whole

;

and a

chief,

who

become unpopular with the Acalis, must
not only avoid Amritsar, but
is

likely

to

have
their

his

dependants taught, when they pay
at

devotions

that

place,

that

it

is

pious to resist his authority.

The

Ac&lis have a great interest in main-

taining both the religion

and government of

the Sikhs, as established
as,

by Guru G6vind

on

its

continuance in that shape, their
political influence

religious

and

must de-

pend. of

Should Amritsar cease to be a place

resort, or

be no longer considered as the which
all

religious capital of the state, in

questions that involve the general interests

of the commonwealth are to be decided,
this

formidable order would at once

fall

from that power and consideration which

;

120
they

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

now

possess,

to a level

with other

mendicants.

When
council,
to be,

a Guru-mata, or great national
is

called, (as

it

always

is,

or ought

when any imminent danger

threatens
is

the country, or any large expedition

to

be undertaken,)
at Amritsar.

all

the Sikh chiefs assemble
is

The assembly, which
is

called

the Guru-matd,

convened by the Acalis

and when the
occasion,
it

chiefs

meet upon

this
all

solemn
private
sacri-

is

concluded that

animosities cease, and that every
fices his

man

personal feelings at the shrine of
;

the general good
ciples of

and, actuated by prin-

pure patriotism, thinks of nothing
religion,

but the interests of the

and com-

monwealth,

to

which he belongs.

When

the chiefs

and principal leaders

are seated, the Adi-Grant'h and

Dasama

Padshah ka Grant'h are placed before them.

They
tures,

all

bend

their

heads before these scrip!

and exclaim, Wli
Giiriyi hi Fat eh
!

Guruji ka Khalsa

!

W& !

A

great quantity of

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
cakes,

121
sugar,

made of wheat,

butter,

and

are then placed before the volumes of their

sacred writings, and covered with a cloth.

These holy cakes, which are

in

comme-

moration of the injunction of Nanac, to eat

and

to give to others to eat, next receive

the salutation of the assembly,
rise,

who then
when the

and the A calls pray aloud, while the
play.

musicians

The

Acalis,

prayers are finished, desire the council to

be seated.

They

sit

down, and the cakes
all

being uncovered, are eaten of by
of Sikhs:
tribes,

classes*

those
are,
this

distinctions

of original

which

on other occasions, kept
occasion laid aside, in

up, being on

token of

their general

and complete union

*

A

custom of a similar nature, with regard
is

to all

tribes eating promiscuously,

observed

among

the

Hindus, at the temple of Jagannath, where
all

men

of

religions

and

casts,

without distinction, eat cf the
i.

Maha

Prasad, the great offering;
idols,

e.

food dressed
stairs

by the cooks of the
the temple.

and sold on the

of

122
in

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
The A calls then exclaim
this
is
:

one cause*.

" Sirdars! (chiefs)

a Guru-mata!"

on which prayers are again said aloud.

The

chiefs, after this, sit closer,
:

and say
is

to

each other
" us,
let

"

The

sacred Grant'h

betwixt

us swear by our scripture to forget

"

all

internal disputes,

and

to be united/'

This

moment
is

of religious fervor and ardent

patriotism,
mosities.

taken to reconcile

all

ani-

They then proceed

to consider

the danger with which they are threatened,
to settle the best plans for averting
it,

and

to choose the generals

who

are to lead their

*

The Sikh

priest,

who gave an account of
;

this

custom, was of a high Hindu tribe

and, retaining
that

some of his

prejudices, he at

first said,

Muham-

medan
sweeper
eat a

Sikhs, and those
cast,

who were

converts from the
this occasion, to
:

were obliged, even on

little

apart from the other Sikhs

but, on being

closely questioned, he admitted the fact as stated in

the narrative;

saying, however,

it

was only on

this

solemn occasion that these
with the others.

tribes are

admitted to eat

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
armies* against the
first

123

common enemy.
was called

The

Guru-mat& was assembled by Guru
;

Govind

and the
British

latest

in

1805,
into

when the

army pursued Holkar

the Penjab.

The

principal chiefs of the Sikhs are all
tribes.

descended from Hindu

There

is,

indeed, no instance of a Singh of a

Mu-

hammedan

family attaining high power-f-:

a circumstance to be accounted for from
the hatred
still

cherished, by the followers

of

Guru Govind,

against the descendants of

* The army

is

called,

when thus assembled, the
state.

Dal Khalsa, or the army of the

f The Muhammedans who have become
and
their

Sikhs,

descendants,

are,

in

the

Penjabi jargon,

termed Mezhebi Singh, or Singhs of the faith; and
they are subdivided into the four classes which are
vulgarly, but erroneously, supposed to distinguish the
followers of

Muhammed, Sayyad

Singh, Sheikh Singh,

Moghul
tions the

Singh, and Patan Singh; by which designa-

names of the particular race or country of
affixed,

the

Muhammedans have been

by Hindus, as

distinctions of cast.

124
his

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
persecutors
is
:

and that

this

rancorous

spirit

undiminished,

may

be seen from

their

treatment of the wretched

Muhammeterritories.

dans

who

yet

remain in

their

These, though very numerous, appear to be
all

poor, and to be an oppressed, despised

race.

They

till

the ground, and are
all

em-

ployed to carry burdens, and to do
of hard labour
:

kinds

they are not allowed to eat

beef, or to say their prayers aloud,

and but

seldom assemble

in

their

mosques*; of

which few, indeed, have escaped destruction.

The lower
:

order of Sikhs are

more

happy

they are protected from the tyranny
chiefs,

and violence of the
they
live,

under
their

whom
coun-

by the precepts of

common

religion,
try,

and by the condition of
to

their

which enables them
The Muhammedan

abandon, when-

*

inhabitants of the Penjab used

to flock to the British

camp; where, they

said, they

enjoyed luxuries which no

man

could appreciate that
aloud,

had not suffered privation.
and feast upon beef.

They could pray

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
ever they
dislike;

125
they

choose,

a

leader

whom

and the distance of a few miles

generally places

them under the protection
It
is

of his rival and enemy.

from

this

cause that the lowest Sikh horseman usually

assumes a very independent
highest chief treats

style,

and the

his military followers

with attention and conciliation.
officers,

The

civil

to

whom

the chiefs intrust their

accounts,

and the

management of

their

property and revenue concerns, as well as
the conduct of their negotiations,
general, Sikhs of the

are, in
;

Khalasa cast

who,

being followers of Nanac, and not of

Guru

Govind, are not devoted to arms, but educated
they
for

peaceful occupations, in

which
in^

often

become very expert and

telligent.

In the collection of the revenue in the

Penjab
that

it

is

stated to be a general rule,
to

the

chiefs,

whom

the

territories

belong, should receive one half of the pro-

; : :

126

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
:

duce*, and the farmer the other

but the

chief never levies the whole of his share

and

in

no country, perhaps,

is

the Rayat,

or cultivator, treated with

more indulgence.

Commerce

is

not

so

much encouraged
it

heavy duties are levied upon
rulers

by
it

all

petty

through whose

districts

passes
state in

and

this,

added to the distracted

which the Penjab has been, from the internal
disputes of
its

possessors, caused the rich

produce of Casmir to be carried to India

by the

difficult

and mountainous
Srinagar.

tract of

Jammu, Nad6n, and
chiefs have,

The Sikh

however, discovered the injury

which
cause,

their interests

have suffered from

this

and have endeavoured, and not withto restore

out success,

confidence to the

merchant

;

and great part of the shawl trade
through the
cities

now

flows

of Lahore,

Amritsar, and Patiala, to Hindustan.
* Grain pays in kind; sugar-cane, melon?, 8cc. pay
in cash.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
The
tries

127

administration of justice in the counis

under the Sikhs,
;

in

a very rude and
their scriptures

imperfect state

for,

though

inculcate general

maxims of

justice,

they

are not considered, as the
is

Old Testament

by the Jews, or the Koran by the Muas

hammedans,

books of law

:

and, having

no fixed code, they appear to have adopted
that irregular practice, which
is

most con-

genial to the temper of the people,
best suited to the unsteady

and

and changing

character of their rule of government.

The

following appears to be the general outline

of their practice in the administration of
justice.

Trifling disputes

about property are
village,

set-

tled

by the heads of the
or

by

arbitra-

tion*,

by the

chiefs.

Either of these
the

* This
general
ferences

is

called Penchayat, or a court of five

;

number of

arbitrators chosen to adjust difIt is usual to

and disputes.

assemble a Pan

cbayat, or a court of arbitration, in every part of India,

under a native government; and, as they are always

12 8

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

modes, supposing the parties consent to
refer to
it, is

final

;

and they must agree

to

one or other.
perty
is

If a theft occurs, the pro-

recovered, and the party punished

by the person from

whom
or
is

it

was

stolen,

who

is

aided on such occasions by the inhavillage,
his
chief.

bitants of his

The

punishment, however,

never

capital*.

Murder

is

generally revenged by the rela-

tions of the deceased,

who,

in

such cases,

rigorously retaliate on the murderer,

and

often

on

all

who endeavour

to

protect

him.
chosen from

men

of the best reputation in the place
this court

where they meet,
justice.

has a high character for

*

A

Sikh

priest,

who

has been several years in Cal-

cutta,

gave
his

this outline

of the administration of justice

among
and

countrymen.

He

spoke of

it

with rapture

;

insisted, with true patriotic prejudice,

on

its

great

superiority over the vexatious system of the English

government; which was, he
and
expensive,

said, tedious, vexatious,

and

advantageous

only

to

clever

rogues.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
The
character of the
is

129

Sikhs, or rather

Singhs, which
followers

the

name by which
are
is

the
all

of

Guru Govind, who

devoted to arms, are distinguished,

very

marked.

They

have, in general, the

Hindu
by
as

cast of countenance,
their long beards,

somewhat

altered
full

and are
;

to the

active as the

Mahratas

and much more
and enjoying

robust, from their living fuller,

a better and colder climate.
is

Their courage

equal, at

all

times, to that of

any natives

of India; and when wrought upon by prejudice or religion,
are
all
is

quite desperate.

They

horsemen, and have no infantry in
country, except for the defence

their

own

of their

forts

and
as

villages,

though they geneforeign armies.
in their

rally serve

infantry in

They

are bold,
;

and rather rough,
to

address

which appears more

a stranger

from

their invariably speaking in a loud tone*

* Talking aloud

is

so habitual to a Sikh, that he
ear.
it

bawls a secret in your

It

has often occurred to

me, that they have acquired

from living in a country

K

13

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS
:

of voice

but

this is quite

a habit, and
the

is

alike used

by them

to

express
hatred.

senti-

ments of regard and

The Sikhs
;

have been reputed deceitful and cruel
I

but

know no grounds upon which they can
tribes
all

be considered more so than the other
of India.

They seemed

to

me, from

the

intercourse I

had with them,

to be

more

open and sincere than the Mahratas, and
less

rude and savage than the Afghans.
indeed, become, from national

They have,
success, too

proud of

their

own

strength,

and too

irritable in their

tempers, to have
;

patience for the wiles of the former

and

they retain, in spite of their change of manners

and

religion, too

much

of the original

where internal disputes have so completely destroyed
confidence, that they can only carry on conversation

with each other at a distance
to

:

but

it is

fairer,

perhaps,

impute

this boisterous

and rude habit to their living

almost constantly in a camp, in which the voice certainly loses that nice

modulated tone which
cities.

distin-

guishes the more polished inhabitants of

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
character of their

131

Hindu

ancestors, (for the

great majority are of the

Hindu

race,) to
latter.

have the constitutional ferocity of the

The Sikh

soldier

is,

generally

speaking,

brave, active, and cheerful, without polish,

but neither destitute of sincerity nor attach-

ment

;

and

if
it is

he often appears wanting in
not so

humanity,

much

to be attributed

to his national character, as to the habits of

a

life,

which, from the condition of the
is

society in which he

born,

is

generally

passed in scenes of violence and rapine.

The Sikh merchant,
soil, if

or cultivator of the
differs
little

he

is

a Singh,

in cha-

racter from the soldier, except that his oc-

cupation renders him
boisterous.

less

presuming and
is,

He

also

wears arms, and

from education, prompt to use them whenever his individual interest, or that of the

community

in

which he

lives*, requires

him

* The old Sikh soldier generally returns
village,

to his native

where

his

wealth,

courage, or experience,

always obtains him respect, and sometimes station and

132
to

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
so.

do

The

general occupations of the

Khalasa Sikhs has been before mentioned.
The second march which
the British

consequence.

army made

into the country of the Sikhs, the heador'

quarters were near a small village, the chief

which,

who was upwards

of a hundred years of age, had been
all

a soldier, and retained

the look and
to

manner of

his

former occupation.
his anxiety to

He came

me, and expressed
I

see

Lord Lake.

showed him the

general, who was
3iniled,

sitting alone, in his tent, writing.

He

and

said

he knew better

:

" The hero

who had

" overthrown Sindia and Holkar, and had conquered " Hindustan, must be surrounded with attendants, and
" have plenty of persons to write for him."
I

assured
lordship

him

that

it

was Lord Lake; and, on

his

coming

to breakfast, I introduced the old Singh,

who

seeing a

number of

officers collect

round him, was at
said
;

last satisfied of the truth of

what

I

and, pleased

with the great kindness and condescension with which

he was treated by one
great a man, sat
talkative,

whom

he justly thought so

down on
all

the carpet,

became quite

and related

he had seen, from the inva-

sion of Nadir

Shah

to that

moment.

Lord Lake,

pleased with the bold manliness of his address, and the

independence of his sentiments, told him he would
grant

him any favour he wished.

"

I

am

glad of

it,"

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Their character
differs

133

widely from that of

the Singhs. Full of intrigue, pliant, versatile,

and

insinuating, they have

all

the art of the
are usually
:

lower classes

of Hindus, who
transacting

employed

in

business

from

whom,

indeed, as they have no distinction
it

of dress,

is

very

difficult

to

distinguish

them.

The

religious

tribes

of Acalis, Shahid, Their

and Nirmala, have been noticed.

said the old
4<

man

;

" then march away with your army

from

my

village,

which

will otherwise
spirit

be destroyed."
of the request,

Lord Lake, struck with the noble

assured him he would march next morning, and that,
in the mean-time,

he should have guards, who would
Satisfied

protect his village from injury.

with this

assurance, the old Singh was retiring, apparently full

of admiration and gratitude at Lord Lake's goodness,

and of wonder
meeting two

at the scene he

had witnessed, when,
tent,

officers at the

door of the

he put a

hand upon the breast of each, exclaiming
time, " Brothers
<(
!

at the

same

where

zcere

you

born,

and where are
for

you

at this

moment?" and, without waiting

an

answer, proceeded to his village.

134

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
is

general character

formed from

their habits

of

life.

The Acahs
:

are insolent, ignorant,
rights

and daring
which
their

presuming upon those

numbers and
their

fanatic courage
is

have established,

deportment

hardly

tolerant to the other Sikhs,
to
strangers,
for

and insufferable

whom

they entertain a
little

contempt, which they take
conceal.

pains to

The Shahid and
the latter,

the Nirmala,

particularly

have more know-

ledge, and more urbanity. They are almost
all

men
There

of quiet, peaceable habits;

and

many

of them are said to possess learning.
is

another tribe

among

the Sikhs,

called the

Nanac

Pautra, or descendants of

Nanac, who have the character of being a
mild, inoffensive race
;

and, though they do
institutions

not acknowledge the

of Guru.
his

Govind, they are greatly revered by
followers,

who

hold

it

sacrilege to injure the
;

race

of their

founder

and,

under the

advantage which
fords them, the

this general veneration af-

Nanac Pautra pursue

their

;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
occupations
cants,
is
;

135

which,

if

they are not mendi-

generally that of travelling mer-

chants.
fess,

They do not

carry arms

;

and pro-

agreeably to the doctrine of Nanac, to
all

be at peace* with

mankind.
it

The Sikh
stated,

converts,
after

has been before

continue,

they have quitted

their original religion, all those civil usages

and customs of the

tribes to

which they

belonged, that they can practise, without
infringing the tenets of
tutions of Gurd

Nanac, or the

insti-

Govind. They are most par-

ticular with regard to their intermarriages

and, on this point, Sikhs descended from

Hindus almost invariably conform

to Hindti.

customs, every tribe intermarrying within

*

When

Lord Lake entered the Penjab,

in 1805,

a

general protection was requested, by several principal
chiefs, for the

Nanac Pautra, on

the ground of the

veneration in which they were held, which enabled

them,

it

was

stated, to travel all over the

country with-

out molestation, even when the most violent wars
existed.
It

was, of course, granted.

136
itself.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
The Hindu
usage, regarding diet,
;

is

also held equally sacred

no Sikh, descended
it,

from a Hind 6 family, ever violating

ex-

cept upon particular occasions, such as a

Guru-mata, when they are obliged, by
tenets

their

and

institutions, to eat promiscuously.

The

strict

observance of these usages has
of the Sikhs, particularly of

enabled

many

the Jat* and Gujarf* tribes, which include

almost

all

those settled to the south of the

Satlej, to preserve

an intimate intercourse
;

with their original tribes

who, considering
but as

the Sikhs not as having lost cast,

Hindus that have joined a
*

political associa-

are Hindus of a low tribe, who, takinc 7 ' o advantage of the decline of the Moghul empire, have,

The

Jats

by

their

courage and enterprise, raised themselves into
parts of Hin-

some consequence on the north-western
dustan, and

many

of the strongest forts of that part of

India are

still

in their possession.

f The Gujars, who

are also Hindus, have raised

themselves to power by means not dissimilar to those
used by the Jats.
are of this tribe.

Almost

all

the thieves in Hindustan

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
tion,

137
to

which obliges them to conform
its

general rules established for

preservation,

neither refuse to intermarry* nor to eat with

them.

The

higher cast of Hindus, such as BrahCshatrijas,

mens and

who have become

Sikhs, continue to intermarry with converts

of their

own

tribes,

but not with Hindus of

the cast they have abandoned, as they are

polluted

by eating animal food

;

all

kinds

of which are lawful to Sikhs, except the

cow, which

it

is

held sacrilege to slay-f.
to conciliate the

Nanac, whose object was

Muhammedans

to

his
it

creed,

prohibited

hog's flesh also; but
his

was introduced by

successors, as

much, perhaps, from a

spirit

of revenge against the Moslems, as
to

from considerations of indulgence

the

*

A

marriage took place very lately between the

Sikh chief of Patiala, and that of the Jat Raja, of
B'haratpur.

f Their

prejudice regarding the killing of cows

is

stronger, if possible, than that of the Hindus.

138

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

numerous converts of the Jat and Gujar
tribe,

among whom

wild hog

is

a favourite

species of food.

The Muhammedans, who become

Sikhs,

intermarry with each other, but are allowed
to

preserve none

of their usages, being

obliged to eat hog's flesh, and abstain from
circumcision.

The
but

Sikhs are forbid the use of tobacco*,
to

allowed

indulge

in

spirituous -j*
all

liquors,

which they almost

drink

to

excess

;

and

it is

rare to see a Singh soldier,

after sunset, quite sober.

Their drink

is

an

* The Khalasa Sikhs,

who

follow Nanac, and reject

Guru Govind's
f Spirituous

institutions,

make

use of

it.

liquors, they say, are allowed

by that

verse in the Adi-Grant'h, which states, " Eat, and give

" unto others to eat.

Drink, and give unto others to

" drink.

Be

glad, and

make

others glad."

There

is

also an authority, quoted

by the Sikhs, from the Hindu

Sastras, in favour of this drinking to excess.

Durga,

agreeably to the Sikh quotations, used to drink, because
liquor inspires courage; and this goddess, they say,

was drunk when she slew Mahishasur,

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
ardent spirit*,

139

made

in

the Penjab; but

they have no objections to either the wine
or spirits of Europe,

when they can obtain

them.

The use of opium,

to intoxicate,

is

very

common

with the Sikhs, as with most of the

military tribes of India.

They

also take

B'hang-f, another inebriating drug.

The conduct of the Sikhs
differs in

to their

women
that of

no material respect from
or

the tribes of Hindus,

Muhammedans,
Their

from

whom

they

are

descended.
to

moral character with regard
#

women, and

When

Fateh Singh, of Aluwal, who was quite a
British army, Lord

young man, was with the
gratified

Lake
ele-

him by a
I

field

review.

He

was upon an

phant, and

attended

him upon another.
I

A

little

before sunset he became low and uneasy.
it
;

observed

and B'hag Singh, an old
once
said,

chief, of frank,

rough man-

ners, at

" Fateh Singh wants his dram, but
I

"

is

ashamed

to drink before you."

requested

lie

would follow his custom, which he did, by drinking a
large cup of spirits,

f Cannabis

sativa.

140

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

indeed in most other points, may, from the

freedom of
sidered as
ancestors,

their habits, generally

be con-

much more
who
lived

lax than that of their

under the

restraint of

severe restrictions,

and whose
their

fear of ex-

communication from

cast,

at

least

obliged them to cover their sins with the
veil

of decency.
:

This the emancipated
is

Sikhs despise

and there

hardly an indissolute

famy which

this

debauched and

race are not accused (and I believe with
justice) of

committing in the most open

and shameful manner.

The Sikhs

are almost

all

horsemen, and
Their
;

they take great delight in riding.
horses were, a few years ago, famous

and

those bred in the Lak'hi Jungle, and other
parts of their territory,

were justly

cele-

brated for their strength, temper, and activity
:

but the internal distractions of these
has

territories

been

unfavourable to the

encouragement of the breed,
consequently declined
;

which has

and the Sikhs now

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
are
in

141

no

respect

better

mounted than
of their
ten
to

the Mahratas.

From a hundred
difficult to

cavalry

it

would be

select
fit

horses that

would be admitted as
troopers
in

mount
service.

native

the

English

Their horsemen use swords and spears,

and most of them now carry matchlocks,
though some
still

use the

bow and arrow

;

a

species of arms, for excellence in the use of

which which

their forefathers

were celebrated, and

their descendants

appear to abandon

with great reluctance.

The education of

the Sikhs renders them

hardy, and capable of great fatigue; and
the condition of the society in which they
live, affords

constant exercise to that restless

spirit

of activity and enterprise which their

religion has generated.

Such a race can-

not be epicures

:

they appear, indeed, gene-

rally to despise

luxury of

diet,

and pride
Their dress

themselves in their coarse
is

fare.

also plain, not unlike that of the Hindus,

142

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
and
divested

equally light

of ornament.
;

Some
this
is

of the chiefs wear gold bangles
rare ;

but

and the general

characteristic of

their dress

and mode of

living, is simplicity.

The

principal leaders

among

the Sikhs

affect to

be familiar and easy of intercourse
inferiors,

with their

and

to despise the

pomp
:

and
their

state of the

Muhammedan
to

chiefs

but

pride often counteracts this disposi-

tion;
in

and they appeared
to
state,

me

to have,

proportion

their

rank and conseto maintain equal,

quence, more
if

and

not more, reserve and dignity with their
is

followers, than
chiefs.

usual with the Mahrata

It

would be

difficult, if

not impracticable,

to ascertain the

amount of the population
or even to

of the Sikh
the

territories,

compute

number of

the armies which they could

bring into action.

They boast

that they

can

raise

more than a hundred thousand
if it

horse: and,

were possible

to

assemble

every Sikh horseman, this statement might

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
not be an exaggeration
haps, no chief
:

143
is,

but there

per-

among them, except

Ranjit

Singh, of Lahore, that could bring an effective
field.

body of four thousand men

into the

The

force of Ranjit Singh did not,
to eight

in 1805,

amount

thousand; and

part of that was under chiefs

who had been

subdued from a

state of

independence, and

whose turbulent minds
pation which they

ill

brooked an usur-

deemed subversive of the
commonwealth.
than
it

constitution of their

His
was,

army
but

is

now more numerous
and the

it is

composed of materials which have
;

no natural cohesion
check which
its
it

first

serious

meets, will probably cause

dissolution.

144

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

SECTION
There
is

III.

is

no branch of

this

sketch which
or
that

more curious and important,
more
difficulties to

offers

the inquirer, than

the religion of the Sikhs.

We

meet with a

creed of pure deism, grounded on the most

sublime general truths, blended with the
belief of all the absurdities of the

Hindu

mythology, and the fables of

Muhamme-

danism;

for

Nanac

professed a desire to

reform, not to destroy, the religion of the
tribe in

which he was born

;

and, actuated

by the great and benevolent design of
reconciling the jarring faiths of

Brahmd and

Muhammed,

he endeavoured to conciliate

both Hindus and Moslems to his doctrine,

by persuading them

to reject those parts of

their respective beliefs

and usages, which,

he contended, were unworthy of that

God

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

145

whom
and

they both' adored.

He

called

upon

the Hindus to abandon the worship of idols,
to return to that pure devotion of the

Deity, in which their religion originated.

He

called

upon

the

Muhammedans

to ab-

stain

from practices, like the slaughter of

cows, that were offensive to the religion of
the Hindus, and to cease from the persecution of that race.
to conciliate them,

He

adopted, in order
of the

many

maxims

which he had learnt from mendicants, who
professed the principles of the Sufi sect;

and he constantly
writings of the

referred to the

admired

celebrated

Muhammedan
Stifi,

Kabir*,

who was a

professed

and who

* This celebrated Sufi, or philosophical deist, lived
in the time of the Ernperor

Shir Shah.

He

was,

by

trade,

a weaver;

but has written
all

several admired

works.

They

are

composed

in a strain of universal
;

philanthropy and benevolence

and, above

all,

he

in-

culcated religious toleration, particularly

between the

Muhammedans and Hindus, by both
memory
is

of

whom

his

held in the highest esteem and veneration.

L

;

146

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

inculcated the doctrine of the equality of
the relation of
Creator.
all

created beings to their
all

Nanac endeavoured, with
his

the

power of

own genius, aided by such
impress

authorities,

to

both

Hindus and

Muhammedans

with a love of toleration
;

and an abhorrence of war

and

his life

was

as peaceable as his doctrine.

He

appears,

indeed, to have adopted, from the hour in

which he abandoned
pations
to

his

worldly

occu-

that

of his death, the habits

practised by that crowd of holy mendicants,

Sanyasis and

Fakirs,

with

whom

India

swarms.

He conformed
extraordinary

to their customs
austerities*

and

his

are

a

constant theme of praise with his followers.

His works are

all in

praise of

God

;

but he

* Nanac was celebrated for the manner in which he

performed Tapasa, or austere devotion, which requires
the mind to be so totally absorbed in the Divinity, as
to

be abstracted from every worldly thought, and
long a period as

this

for as

human

strength

is

capable of

sustaining.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
treats the

147

polytheism of the Hindus with

respect,

and even veneration.

He
its

never
fabric,

shows a disposition

to destroy the
it

but only wishes to divest
tinsel
its

of

useless

and

false

ornaments, and to establish

complete dependence upon the great

Creator of the universe.

He

speaks every

where of Muhammed, and
with moderation
;

his successors,

but animadverts boldly
their errors;

on what he conceives to be
and, above
all,

on

their

endeavours to pro-

pagate their faith by the sword.

As Nanac made no

material invasion of

either the civil or religious usages of the

Hindus, and as
store a nation
their original

his

only desire was to re-

who had degenerated from
pure worship* into idolatry,

he

may

be considered more in the light of a

reformer than of a subverter of the Hindu

* The most ancient Hindus do not appear

to

have

paid adoration to idols; but, though they adored God,

they worshipped the sun and elements.

!48
religion
tenets,
;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
and those Sikhs who adhere
to his

without admitting those of

Guru
among
differ,

Govind, are hardly to be distinguished from
the great

mass of Hindu population
are

;

whom

there

many
that of

sects

who

much more than

Nanac, from the
at

general and orthodox worship
established in India.

present

The

first

successors of

Nanac appear

to

have taught exactly the same
their

doctrine as

leader;
all

and

though
it

Har

Govind
prinfully

armed

his followers,

was on a

ciple of self-defence, in
justified,

which he was

even by the usage of the Hindus.
for

It

was reserved
character
;

Guru Govind

to give a
fol-

new

to

the religion of his

lowers

not by making any material

altera-

tion in the tenets of

Nanac, but by

esta-

blishing institutions

and usages, which not

only separated

them from other Hindus,
all

but which, by the complete abolition of
distinction of casts, destroyed, at

one blow,

a system of

civil

polity, that,

from being

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

149

interwoven with the religion of a weak and
bigoted race,
fixed the rule of
its

priests

upon a
of ages.

basis that

had withstood the shock
the code of the

Though

Hindus

was calculated

to preserve

a vast

commuto
its

nity in tranquillity
rulers, it

and obedience
effect

had the natural
it

of making

the country, in which

was

established, an

easy conquest to every powerful foreign
invader; and
it

appears to have been the
this effect that

contemplation of

made Guru

Govind

resolve

on the abolition of cast, as

a necessary and indispensable prelude to

any attempt

to

arm

the

original

native

population of India against their foreign
tyrants.

He

called
in

upon

all

Hindus

to

break those chains
bigotry

which prejudice and
to

had bound them, and

devote

themselves to arms, as the only means by

which they could free themselves from the
oppressive government of the

Muhammehis

dans; against whom, a sense of

own

wrongs, and those of his tribe, led him to

150

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
His religious doc-

preach eternal warfare.
trine

was meant

to

be popular,

and

it

promised equality.
lations of

The

invidious appel-

Brahmen, Cshatriya, Vaisya, and

Sudra, were abolished.

The

pride of descent
distinc-

might remain, and keep up some
tions
;

but, in the religious code of
(for

Govind,

every Khalsa Singh
followers)

such he termed his
like title to

was equal, and had a

the good things of this world, and to the
blessings of a future
life.

Though Guru Govind mixes, even more
than Nanac, the mythology of the Hindus
with
his

own

tenets;

though

his

desire

to conciliate

them, in opposition to the
against

Muhammedans,

whom

he always

breathed war and destruction, led him to

worship

at

Hindu
peculiar

sacred

shrines

;

and
dress

though

the

customs

and

among

his followers, are stated to

have been

adopted from veneration to the Hindu goddess of courage,

Durga Bhavani
the

;

yet

it is

impossible

to

reconcile

religion

and

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
usages, which

151

G6vind has

established, with
It does not, like

the belief of the Hindus.
that

of Nanac,

question
disciples

some

favourite

dogmas of the

of Brahma-, and

attack that worship of idols, which few of
these defend, except

upon the ground of

these figures, before which they bend, being

symbolical representations of the attributes of an all-powerful Divinity
at once to subvert the
;

but

it

proceeds

foundation of the
religion

whole system.

Wherever the
prevails,
fall.

of

Guru Govind
Brahma must

the institutions of pro-

The admission of

selytes, the abolition of the distinctions
cast, the eating

of

of

all

kinds of

flesh,

except

that of cows, the form of religious worship,

and the general devotion of

all

Singhs to

arms, are ordinances altogether irreconcilable with

Hindu mythology, and have

ren-

dered the religion of the Sikhs as
to the

obnoxious
of the

Brahmens, and higher
it

tribes

Hindus, as

is

popular with the lower
class of

orders of that

numerous

mankind.

152

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
rapid sketch of the
general
Sikhs,
its

After this

character of the religion
shall take

of the

I

a more detailed view of

origin,

progress, tenets,

and forms.

A

Sikh author*,

whom

I

have followed
is

in several parts of this sketch,

very par-

ticular in stating the causes of the origin of

the religion of
different

Nanac

:

he describes the

Yugas, or ages of the world, stated

in the

Hindu mythology.
is

The

Cali

Yug,
it

which

the present,

is

that in which

was

written that the

human
:

race would

become

completely depraved
author,

" Discord," says the
will

speaking of the Cali Yug, "
world,
sin

"

rise in the

prevail,
;

and the

" universe become wicked " tend with cast "
friction,
;

cast will con-

and, like bamboos in
to embers.
will

consume each other

" The Vedas, or scriptures," he adds, "

" be held in disrepute, for they shall not

" be understood, and the darkness of igno-

*

B'hai

Gdr6 Das

B'hale.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
" ranee
this

153

will prevail

every where f

Such

is

author's record of a divine prophecy

regarding this degenerate age.
to state

He

proceeds
fol-

what has ensued
his
;

:

" Every one

" lowed

own

path,

and

sects

were

" separated

some worshipped
;

Chandra
;

" (the moon) " prayed
"
air,

some Surya

(the sun)

some

to the earth, to

the sky, and the
fire,

and the water, and the

while
(the

" others worshipped " judge of the dead)
;

D'herma Raja
and

in the fallacy of

" the sects nothing was to he found but " error.

In short, pride prevailed in the

" world, and the four casts* established a

" system of ascetic devotion.

From

these,

" the ten sects of Sanyasis, and the twelve " sects of Yogis, originated.
" the
Srivira,

Thejangam,

and the Deva Digambar,

" entered into mutual contests.

The Brah;

" mens divided into different classes

and

# Brahmen, Cshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra.

.

154

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

" the Sastras, Vedas, and Puranas*, con-

" tradicted each other. " (philosophical
sects)

The

six

Dersans
enmity,

exhibited

" and the thirty-six Pashands (heterodox " sects) arose, with hundreds of thousands
" of chimerical and magical
(t antra

mantra)

" sects

:

and

thus,

from one form, many
evil

" good and " and
error

many

forms originated,
in

prevailed

the

Cali

Yug,

" or age of general depravity."

The Sikh author pursues

this

account
fell,

of the errors into which the Hindus
with
origin

a

curious

passage

regarding

the

and progress of the Muhammedan

religion

" The world," he writes, " went on with
" these numerous divisions, when

Muhamorigin

"

med Yara-f

appeared,

who gave

* Different sacred books of the Hindus.

t Yar
titles,

signifies friend;

and one of the prophet's
is

among

his followers,

Yar-i-Khuda, or the friend

of God.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

155

" to the seventy-two sects*, and widely
" disseminated discord and war. " blished the Rozeh o Aid
(fast

He
and

estafesti-

" "

vals),

and

the

Namaz

(prayer),

and

made

his practice of devotional acts pre-

" valent

in the world, with

a multitude of

" distinctions, of Pir

(saint),

Paighamber

" (prophet),

Ulema

(the

order of priest-

" hood), and Kitab (the Koran).

He

de-

" molished the temples, and on their ruins

" built

the

mosques,

slaughtering

cows

" and helpless persons, and spreading trans-

" gression " Cafirs

far

and wide, holding
Mulhids

in hostility

(infidels),

(idolaters), Ir-

" menis (Armenians), Rumis (the Turks), " and
Zingis

(Ethiopians).
itself in

Thus

vice

" greatly diffused " Then," " two races
this

the universe."

author adds, " there were

in the

world

;

the one Hindu,
;

" the other

Muhammedan

and both were

*

The Muhammedan

religion

is

said to

be divided

into seventy-two sects.

; :

156

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS,

" alike excited by pride, enmity, and ava-

"

rice, to viotence.

The Hindus
;

set their

" heart on
"

Ganga and Benares

the

Mu-

hammedans on Mecca and

the Caaba:

" the Hindus clung to their mark on the

" forehead

and brahminical
their

string;
:

the the

" Moslemans to
" one cried

circumcision

Ram

(the

name
(the

of an Avatar),
;

" the

other

Rahim

merciful)

one
it

" name, but two ways of pronouncing
" forgetting
equally the

Vedas and

the

" Koran "

:

and through the deceptions of
the world, and Satan, they

lust, avarice,

" swerved

equally

from the true

path

" while Brahmens and Moulavis destroyed " each other by their quarrels, and the
" vicissitudes of
life

and death hung always

" suspended over their heads. "

When

the world was in this distracted

" state, and vice prevailed," says this writer,
" the complaint of virtue, whose dominion " was extinct,

reached the throne of the
to en-

" Almighty, who created Niinac,

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

157

w lighten and improve a degenerate and

" corrupt age
"

:

and that holy man made
to
all,

God

the

Supreme known

giving

" the nectareous water that washed his feet " to his disciples to drink.

He

restored to

" Virtue her strength,

blended the four

" casts * into one, established one

mode

of

" salutation, changed the childish play of

" bending the head at the

feet of idols,

" taught the worship of the true God, and
" reformed a depraved world/'

Nanac
author, to
sanctity

appears, by the account of this

have established

his

fame

for

by the usual modes

of religious

mendicants.
living

He

performed severe Tapasaf*,

upon sand and swallow- wort, and
;

sleeping on sharp pebbles

and, after attain-

* There

is

no ground

to

conclude that casts were
his doctrines

altogether abolished by

Nanac; though

and writings had a tendency and unite
"t*

to equalize the

Hindus,

all in

the worship of one God.

A

kind of ascetic devotion, which has been before

explained.

158

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
kind
of penance,

ing fame by this

he

commenced

his

travels,

with the view of

spreading his doctrine over the earth.
After
trial

Nanac had completed
he
is

his terres-

travels,

supposed to have

as-

cended

to

Sumeru,
all

where he
in

saw the
These,

Sidd'his*,

seated

a

circle.

from a knowledge of that eminence for

which he was predestined, wished to make

him assume
their sect, to

the characteristic devotion of

which they thought he would

be an ornament.
to effect
this

While means were used

purpose, a divine voice was
:

heard to exclaim
««

"

Nanac
from
his

shall

form

his

own

sect, distinct

all

the Yatis-fshall

" and

Sidd'his;

and
Cali

name

be

" joyful to the

Yug."

After

this,

* The Sidd'his
gods.

(saints) are
is

the attendants of the
to those

The name

most generally applied

who

wait on Gauesa.
is

+ The name Yati
priests of the Jainas;

most usually applied
it is

to the

but

also applicable to San-

yasis,

and other penitents.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Nanac preached

159

the adoration of the true
to

God

to

the

Hindus; and then went

instruct the

Muhammedans,

in their sacred at

temples at Mecca.
the holy

When

that place,

men

are

said to have

gathered
their
?

round him, and demanded, Whether
faith, or that

of the Hindus, was the best

" Without the practice of true piety, both/'
said

Nanac, " are erroneous, and neither
will
;

" Hindus nor Moslems
" before the throne of

be acceptable
for the

God

faded

" tinge of

scarlet, that

has been soiled by

" water, will never return.

You

both de-

" ceive yourselves, pronouncing aloud

Ram

" and Rahim, and the way of Satan pre"
vails in the universe."

The courageous independence with which

Nanac announced
hammedans,
biographers.
is

his religion

to the

Muhis

a favourite topic with

He was one day

abused, and
relates,

even struck, as one of these

by a
his

Moullah, for lying on the ground with
feet in the direction of the sacred

temple of

160

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
"

Mecca.

How

darest thou, infidel!" said
priest,

the offended

Muhammedan
if

" turn

" thy feet towards the house of

God

V

s

" Turn them,

you can,"

said the pious

but indignant Nanac, " in a direction where
" the house of

God

is

not."

Nanac
hammed.
said,

did not deny the mission of

Mu-

" That prophet was sent," he
this

" by God, to

world, to do good,

" and to disseminate the knowledge of one
"

God

through means of the K6ran

;

but

" he, acting on the principle of " which
all

free-will,

human

beings exercise, intro-

" duced oppression, and cruelty, and the

" slaughter of cows*, for which he died.

"

lam now sent,"
shall

he added, " from heaven,

" to publish unto mankind a book, which "
" "

reduce
to

all

the

names given unto
is

God
who
*

one name, which

God

;

and he

calls

him by any
this,

other, shall fall into

Nanac appears on

and every other occasion,
this

to

have preserved his attachment to
of the Hindus.

favourite

dogma

:

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
" the path of the
**

i6'l

devil,

and have

his feet

bound

in

the

chains

of wretchedness.

**

You

have/' said he to the

Muhammeand
of

dans, " despoiled the temples, and burnt

"

the sacred Vedas, of the Hindus;

" you have dressed yourselves

in dresses

" blue, and you delight to have your u praises sung from house to house but I,
:

" who have seen " that

all

the world,

tell

you,

the Hindus equally hate you and
I

" your mosques.
" your jarring

am
and

sent to reconcile
I

faiths,

implore you to

u read

their scriptures, as well as
is

your own

" but reading " "
to

useless without obedience

the

doctrine

taught;

for

God

has

said,

no

man
will

shall be saved except he

" has performed good works.

The Al-

" mighty

not ask to what tribe or

" persuasion he belongs. " ask,

He

will

only

What

has he done ? Therefore those

"
"

violent
subsist

and continued disputes,

which

between the Hindus and Mosleas

" mans, are

impious as they are unjust."

M

; :

162

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
doctrines,

Such were the
his disciples,

according to

which Nanac taught to both

Hindus and Muhammedans.

He

professed

veneration and respect, but refused adoration to the founders of both their religions
for which, as for those of all other tribes,
;

he

had great
" of

tolerance.

"

A hundred

thousand

Muhammeds,"

said

Nanac, " a million

u of Brahmas, Vishnus, and a hundred " thousand Ramas, stand at the gate of the
"

Most High. These
is

all

perish

;

God

alone
in

"

immortal.
praise

Yet men, who unite
are

" the

of God,

not

ashamed

" of

living in contention with

each other
spirit

" which
*<

proves
all.

that

the

evil
is

has

subdued

He
is

alone
just:

a true Hindu

" whose

heart

and

he only
life

is

" a

good

Muhammedan whose
stated,

is

" pure."

Nanac

is

by the Sikh author from
is

whom

the above account of his religion

taken, to have had an interview with the

supreme God, which he thus describes


;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
" One

163

day Nanac

heard a voice from

" above exclaim, N&nac, approach!"
replied, "

He
I to

Oh God

!

what power have

" stand in thy presence?"

The

voice said,

" Close thine eyes."

Nanac

shut his eyes,
:

and advanced

:

he was told to look up

he

did so, and heard the word
done, pronounced five times
;

Wa !

or well

and then

Wa !

Guruji, or

well done

teacher.

After this

God

said,

" Nanac! I have sent thee into

" the world, in the Cali " age)
said,
;

go and bear
!

Yug (or depraved my name/' Nanac

"

Oh God how can I bear the mighty burthen? If my age was extended to
"
if

" tens of millions of years,

I

drank of

" immortality, aud

my

eyes were formed of

" the sun and moon, and were never closed,

"
*'

still,

oh God!

I

could not presume to

take charge of thy wondrous name."
will

" I

be thy

Guru

(teacher)," said

God,

" and thou shalt be a

Guru

to all

mankind,

M and thy sect

shall
is

be great in the world
Puri.

"

their

word

Puri

The word

; !

164

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

" of the Bairasi
4C

Sanyasi,

Ram Ram that of the Om Nama Narayen and the
is
!
! !

!

!

" word of the Yogis, Ades

!

Ades

!

and the
is

" salutation of the Muhainmedans " Alikam
"
;

Salam

and that of the Hindus,

Ram
be

Ram

!

but the word of thy sect
will forgive

shall

" Guru, and I

the crimes of

" thy disciples.
" the Bairagis
is

The place of worship of
called
;

Ramsala; that of

" the Yogis, Asan "

that of the Sanyasis,

Mat

;

that of thy tribe shall be

Dherma
fol-

" Sala.

Thou must teach unto thy
:

" lowers three lessons "

the

first,

to worship
;

my name

;

the second, charity

the third,

" ablution. They must not abandon the " world, and they must do ill to no being;
" for into every being have I infused breath

" and whatever I am, thou

art, for

betwixt

" us there

is

no

difference.

It is

a blessing

" that thou art sent into the Cali Yug."
After
this,
!

"

Wa Guru I
Guru

or

zvell

done,

" teacher

was pronounced from the mouth
or teacher (God),

u of the most high

;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
" and

165

Nanac came

to give light

and

free-

"

dom

to the universe."
will give

The above

a sufficient view of

the ideas which the Sikhs entertain regarding the divine origin of their faith
as
first
;

which,

taught by Nanac, might justly be
the religion of peace.

deemed

" Put on armour," says Nanac, " that

"

will

harm no one

;

let

thy coat of mail

" be

that of understanding,

and convert

" thy enemies to friends.

Fight with va-

" lour, but with no weapon except the
" word of God."
All the principles

which

Nanac

inculcated, were those of pure deism

but moderated, in order to meet the deeprooted usages of that portion of

mankind
error.

which he wished to reclaim from

Thou<m he condemned
of the

the lives and habits

Muhammedans, he approved

of the

Koran-,
* This fact

He
is

admitted the truth of the
It
is,

admitted by Sikh authors.

how-

ever, probable, that Nanac was but imperfectly ac-

quainted with the doctrines of that volume.

166
ancient

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Vedas,
religion

but

contended

that

the

Hindu

had been corrupted, by the

introduction of a plurality of gods, with
the

worship of images

;

which led

their

minds astray from that great and eternal
Being, to
paid.

whom

adoration should alone be

He, however, followed the forms of

the Hindus, and adopted most of their doctrines

which did not
tenet.

interfere with his great

and leading

He

admitted the claim

to veneration, of the

numerous catalogue of
or
inferior

Hindu Devas, and Devatas,
deities
;

but he refused them adoration.

He

held

it

impious to slaughter the cow

;

and he

directed his votaries, as has been seen, to

consider ablution as one of their primary
religious duties.

Nanac,

according to

Penjabi authors,

admitted the Hindu doctrine of metempsychosis.

He

believed, that really
;

good men

would enjoy Paradise

that those,

who had

no claim to the name of good, but yet were
not bad, would undergo another probation,

:

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
by
revisiting the

167

world in the

human form
but

and

that the

bad would animate the bodies
:

of animals, particularly dogs and cats
it

appears, from the same authorities, that
the
fall

Nanac was acquainted with
medan
doctrine regarding the
state
;

Muhamof man,

and a future
it

and that he represented
as a

to his followers

system, in which
in

God, by showing a heaven and a hell, had,
his great

goodness, held out future rewards
to

and punishments had

man, whose

will

he

left free, to incite

him

to

good

actions,

and deter him from bad.
reward and punishment
in
is

The

principle of

so nearly the

same
reli-

the

Hindu and
it

in the

Muhammedan
this

gion, that

was not

difficult for

Nanac
:

to

reconcile his followers

upon

point

but

in this, as in all others,

he seems to have In
all his

bent to the doctrine of Brahma.
writings, however,

he borrowed indifferently
;

from the Koran and the Hindu Sastras

and

his
;

example was followed by

his suc-

cessors

and quotations from the scriptures

168

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

of the Hindus, and from the book of

Mu-

hammed,
into
all

are

indiscriminately

introduced

their sacred writings, to elucidate
it

those points on which

was

their object to

reconcile these jarring religions.

With the exact mode
instructed his
followers

in

which Nanac
address
their

to

prayers to that supreme Being

whom

he

taught them to adore, I

am

not acquainted.

Their D'herma Sala, or temples of worship,
are, are, in

general,

plain

buildings.

Images

of course, banished.

Their prescribed

forms of prayer are, I believe, few and
simple.

Part of the writings of Nanac,

which have since been incorporated with
those of his successors, in the Adi Grant'h,
are
read,

or rather recited,

upon every
praise of
;

solemn occasion.

These are

all in

the Deity, of religion, and of virtue
against impiety

and

and immorality.
first

The Adi

Grant'h, the whole of the
is

part of which

ascribed to Nanac,

is

written, like the

rest

of the

books of the Sikhs, in the

!

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Gurumuk'h*
character.
I

169

can only judge
:

very imperfectly of the value of this work

but some extracts, translated from

it,

apis

pear worthy of that admiration which

bestowed upon

it

by the
is

Sikhs.

The Adi-Grant'h

in verse;

and many

of the chapters, written by

Nanac, are
a ladder

termed Pidi, which means,
or flight of steps
;

literally,

and, metaphorically, that

by which a man

ascends.
literally trans^

In the following fragment,

lated from the Sodar rag asa mahilla pehla

of Nanac, he displays the supremacy of the
true

God, and the
and

inferiority

of the

De-

vatas,

other created beings, to the uni-

versal

Creator;

however they
deities

may have

been elevated into
superstition.

by ignorance or

Thy

portals,

how wonderful

they are,
sittest

how wonderful
all

thy palace, where thou

and governest

Numberless and

infinite are the

sounds which pro-

claim thy praises.

*

A

modified species of the Nagari character.

!

;

17 q

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
numerous are thy
song
Peris, skilful in

How

music and

Pavan (air), water, and Vasan tar (fire), celebrate thee

D'herma Raja

(the

Hindu Rhadamanthus)

cele-

brates thy praises, at thy gates.

Chitragupta (Secretary to D'herma Raja) celebrates
thy praises
;

who,

skilful in writing, writes

and

administers final justice.
Iswara, Brahma, and Devi, celebrate thy praises
;

they declare in
gates.

fit

terms thy majesty, at thy

Indra celebrates thy praises, sitting on the Indraic
throne amid the Devatas.

The

just celebrate thy praises in profound meditation, the

pious declare thy glory.
the Satis joyfully celebrate thy might.

The Yaris and
The

Pandits, skilled in reading, and the Rishiswaras,

who, age by age, read the Vedas,
praises.

recite thy

The Mohinis

(celestial courtezans), heart alluring,

inhabiting Swarga, Mritya, and Patala, celebrate thy praises.

The Ratnas

(gems), with the thirty-eight Tirt'has

(sacred springs), celebrate thy praises.

Heroes of great might celebrate thy name; beings
of the four kinds of production celebrate thy
praises.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
The

171

continents, and regions of the world, celebrate

thy

praises

;

the

universal

Brahmanda

(the
firm.

mundane
All

egg),

which thou hast established
praise thee, all

who know thee
of thy worship.

who

are desirous

How numerous they are who praise thee my comprehension: how, then,
describe

!

they exceed
shall

Nanac

them
is

?

He, even he,

the Lord of truth, true, and truly just.

He

is,

he was, he passes, he passes not, the preserver
all

of

that

is

preserved.
is

Of numerous

hues, sorts and kinds, he

the original

author of

Maya

(deception).
creation,

Having formed the

he surveys his
greatness.

own

Avork, the display of his

own

What
He

pleases

him he

does, and no order of

any

other being can reach him.
is

the Padshah and the Fudsaheb of Shahs;
resides in his favour.

Nanac

These few verses
to show, that
it

are, perhaps, sufficient

was on a principle of pure
his

deism that Nanac entirely grounded
religion.

It

was not

possible,

however,

that the minds of

any large portion of man-

kind could remain long fixed in a belief

;

172

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

which presented them only with general
truths,

and those of a nature too vast

for

their contemplation or

comprehension. The
his death,

followers of

Nanac, since

have
is

paid an adoration to his name, which

at

variance with the lessons which he taught

they have clothed him in
of a
saint:

all

the attributes
as the se-

they consider

him
to
;

lected instrument of

God

make known
and, as such,
not only

the true faith to fallen

man

they give him divine honours;

performing pilgrimage to his tomb,

but

addressing him, in their prayers, as their
saviour and mediator.

The

religious

tenets

and usages of the

Sikhs continued, as they had been established

by Nanac*,

till

the time of

Guru

* Certainly no material alteration was made, cither
in

the belief or forms of the Sikhs, by any of his sucbefore

cessors

Guru Govind.

liar

G6vind, who

armed

his followers to repel aggression,

would only

appear to

have made a temporary

effort to

oppose

his

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Govind; who, though he did not

173
alter the

fundamental principles of the established
faith,

made

so complete a change in the
civil

sacred usages and

habits of his folentirely

lowers, that he gave

them an

new
all

character

:

and though the Sikhs

retain

their veneration for

Nanac, they deem Guru

Govind

to

have been equally exalted, by

the immediate favour and protection of the

Divinity

;

and the Dasama Padshah ka
or

Gran th,

book of the tenth king, which
is

was written by Guru Govind,

considered,

in every respect, as holy as the of
I

Adi Grant'h

Nanac, and
cannot
better

his

immediate successors.
the

explain

pretensions
to the

which Guru Govind has made

rank

of a prophet, than by exhibiting his

own

account of

his mission in

a

literal

version

from

his Vichitra

Natac.

enemies, without an endeavour to effect any serious

change

in the religious belief or

customs of the sect to

which he belonged.

:

174
" I

SKETCH OF THE
now
declare

SIKHS.
history,

my own
austerities

and
have

" the multifarious
" performed.

which

I

" Where the seven peaks

rise

beautiful

" on the mountain Hemacuta,
" place takes the

and the

name

of Sapta Sringa,

" greater penance have I performed than
" was ever endured by

Pandu

Raja, mediCalica,

" tating constantly on " "
till

Maha Cal and
into

diversity

was changed

one form.

My

father

and mother meditated on the
till

" Divinity, and performed the Yoga, "
"

Guru Deva approved
Then
the

of their devotions.

Supreme

issued his order,

and

" I was born, in the Call Yug, though " inclination " world,

my
the

was not

to

come
fixed

into

my

mind being

on the foot

" of the Supreme.

When

the

supreme
was sent

" Being

made known
The

his will, I

" into the world. " addressed

eternal Being thus

this feeble insect

"

I

have manifested thee as

my own

M son, and appointed thee to establish a

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
" perfect Pant'h
(sect).

175

Go

into the world,

" establish virtue and expel vice/' "

—I

stand with joined hands, bending
at thy

"

my

head

word

:

the Pant'h shall
lendest

" prevail in the world,
" thine
aid.
:

when thou
I

—Then

was

sent into

the

" world

thus I received mortal birth.

As

" the Supreme spoke to me, so do

I speak,

" and to none do I bear enmity.. Whoever " shall
call

me Parameswara,
:

he

shall sink
I

" into the pit of hell

know, that

am

only

" the servant of the Supreme, and con" cerning
this entertain

no doubt.

As God

" spoke, I announce unto the world, and

" remain not " As

silent in the

world of men.
I

God

spoke, so do I declare, and
I

" regard no person's word.

wear

my

" dress in nobody's fashion, but follow that

" appointed by the Supreme.

I

perform

" no worship to stones, nor imitate the
" ceremonies of any one.
I

pronounce
to

" the

infinite

name, and have attained
I

" the supreme Being.

wear no

bristling

176

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

H locks on " ear-rings.

my
;

head, nor adorn myself with

I receive

no person's words

in

"

my
my

ears

but as the Lord speaks,

I act.

" I meditate on the sole name, and attain
"
object.

To no

other do I perform
I

" the Jap, in no other do
" meditate on the
infinite

confide

:

I

name, and attain
other do I
other

" the supreme
" meditate;
the

light.

On no

name of no

do I

" pronounce. " For
this sole reason, to establish virtue,

" was I sent into the world by Gur(i Deva. "
'

Every where/

said he,

'

establish virtue,

" and exterminate the wicked and vitious/ " For
" birth
this
;

purpose have I received mortal
this let all the virtuous

and

under-

" stand. To establish
" and
to

virtue, to exalt piety,

extirpate

the

vitious

utterly.

" Every former Avatar established his

own

" Jap
" no

;

but no one punished the

irreligious,

one established both the principles

" and practice of virtue,

(Dherm Carm).

" Every holy

man

(Gh6us), and prophet

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

177

" (Ambia), attempted only to establish his

" own reputation

in the

world

;

but no one
or

" comprehended the supreme Being,

" understood the true principles or practice
" of virtue.

The
;

doctrine of no other

is

of

" any

avail
is

this

doctrine
in

fix in

your minds.
doctrine,

" There

no benefit

any other

"

this fix in

your minds.

"
".

Whoever reads the Koran, whoever

reads the Puran, neither of them shall

" escape death, and nothing but virtue

"

shall avail at last.

Millions of

men may
be of no

" read the Koran, they
" merable Purans;

may
it

read innu-

but

shall

" avail in the

life to

come, and the power

" of destiny shall prevail over them."

Guru Govind,
origin of

after this

account of the
a short account

his mission, gives

of his birth and succession to the spiritual
duties at his father's death.

" At the
f

command

of

God

I received

f

mortal birth, and came into the world.

178
" This I

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
now
declare briefly;

attend to

" what I speak. "

My father journeyed
ablution

towards the East,
all

" performing

in

the sacred

" springs.

When

he arrived at Triveni,

" he spent a day in acts of devotion and " charity. On that occasion was I mani" fested.

In the town of Patna I received

" a body.

Then

the

Madra Des

received

" me, and nurses nursed me tenderly, and " tended me with great care, instructing

"

me

attentively

every

day.

When

I

" reached the age of

Dherm and Carm

" (principles and practice),

" parted to the Deva Loca.
" invested
with

my father deWhen I was
of Raja,
I

the dignity

" established virtue to the utmost of " power.

my

I addicted myself to every spe-

"

cies

of hunting in the forests, and daily

" killed the bear and the stag.

When

I

" had become acquainted with that coun-

"

try, I

proceeded to the city of Pavata,

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

179

" where I amused myself on the banks of " the Calindri, and viewed every kind of " spectacle.

There

I slew a great

number

" of tigers ; and, in various modes, hunted " the bear."

The above passages
of that

will

convey an idea

impression which

Guru G6vind
I

gave

his followers of his divine mission.

shall shortly

enumerate those

alterations

he

made
it

in the usages of the Sikhs,
his object to

whom

was

render, through the

means of
race.

religious enthusiasm,

a warlike

Though Guru Govind was brought up
the religion

in

of Nanac, he appears, from

having been educated
priests of

among

the

Hindu

Mathura,

to

have been deeply

tainted with their superstitious belief;

and

he was, perhaps, induced by considerations
of policy, to lean
still

more strongly

to their to be-

prejudices, in order to induce

them

come

converts

to

that religious

military
it

community, by means of which

was

180
his

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
object to

destroy

the

Muhammedan

power.

The
of

principal of the religious institutions
is

Guru Govind,

that of the Pahal,
is

—the

ceremony by which a convert
into the tribe of Sikhs
;

initiated

or,

more properly

speaking, that of Singhs.
this

The meaning of
the convert a

institution

is

to

make

member
wealth,

of the Khalsa, or Sikh

common-

which

he

can only become by
;

assenting to certain observances

the de-

voting himself to arms for the defence of
the commonwealth, and the destruction of
its

enemies

;

the wearing his hair, and put-

ting

on a blue dress*.

*

It]

has

been before

stated,

that

all

the

fol-

lowers of G6vind do not

now wear

the blue dress,

but they
gard of
it

all
is

wear their hair; and
not to be described.
chiefs

their jealous re-

Three
in

inferior

agents of Sikh

were

one day

ray
the

tent;

one

of them

was a Khalsa Singh,

and
I

two

others of the Khalasa tribe of Sikhs.

was laugh-

ing and joking with the

Khalsa Singh,

who

said

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
The mode
in

181
first

which Guru Govind
is

initiated his converts,

described by a Sikh
it

writer;

and,

as I believe

is

nearly the

same
state

as that
it

now

observed, I shall shortly
it.

as

he has described

Guru
Mak'-

Govind, he says,

after his arrival at

he had been ordered to attend

me

to Calcutta.

Among
the

other subjects of our mirth, I rallied him on trusting

himself so

much

in

my

power.

"

Why, what
to
I

is

" worst," said he, " that you can do

me, when
passed

"

I

am

at such a distance

from

home

?"

my

hand across

my

chin, imitating the act

of shaving.

The man's
and

face was in an instant distorted with rage,

his sword half drawn.

"

You

are ignorant," said
I

he to me, " of the offence

you have given.

cannot

"

strike you,

who

are above me, and the friend of
state.

my

" master and the

But no power," he added,

" shall save these fellows," alluding to the two Khalasa Sikhs, " from

my

revenge, for having dared to
It

« smile at your action."
difficulty,

was with the greatest
offices of

and only by the good

some Sikh

chiefs, that I

was able

to pacify the

wounded honour

of this Singh.

182
haval,

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
initiated
five

converts,
to

and gave
others.
is

them

instructions
is

how

initiate

The mode
told that

as follows.

The convert

he must allow

his hair to grow.

He must
the five

clothe himself from head to foot

in blue clothes.

He
:

is

then presented with
firelock,

weapons
arrow,

a sword, a

a
of

bow and
those

and a pike*.

One
"

who
is

initiate

him then

says,

The

"

Guru

thy holy teacher, and thou art

" his Sikh or disciple."

Some

sugar and

water

is

put into a cup, and
knife,

stirred

round

with a steel

or dagger, and

some

of the

first first

chapters of the Adi-Grant'h, chapters of the
;

and the

Dasama Padand those who

shah ka Grant'h, are read

*

The goddess of

courage, Bhavani Durga, repreGrant'h, or book of

sented in the

Dasama Padshah ka

kings of

Guru Govind,
is

as the soul of arms, or tutelary

goddess of war, and

thus addressed

:

"

Thou

art the

" edge of the sword, thou

art the arrow, the sword,

" the knife, and the dagger."

; ;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

183

perform the initiation exclaim, WaJ Guruji

ka Khdlsa! TVa! Guruji
to the state of the

ki
!

Fateh! (Success
Victory attend

Guru
this

the

Guru

!)

After

exclamation

has

been repeated
" sherbet
is

five times,

they say, " This

nectar.

It is the

water of life
;

" drink
sherbet,

it."

The

disciple obeys

and some
is

prepared in a similar manner,

sprinkled over his

head and beard.
is

After
if

these ceremonies, the disciple

asked

he

consents to be of the faith of

Guru Govind.

He

answers, " I do consent."

He

is

then
all
sit

told, " If you do, you must abandon

" intercourse, and neither eat, drink, nor

" in company with
" I shall name.

men

of five sects which
the

The

first,

Mina

D'hir-

" mal

;

who, though of the race of Nanac,

" were tempted by avarice to give poison
" to Arjun
;

and, though they did not suc-

" ceed, they ought to be expelled from

" society.
" a sect

The second

are the

Musandia
or

who

call

themselves Gurus,

"

priests,

and endeavour

to introduce he-

184
" terodox
" Rayi,

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
doctrines*.

The
of

third,

Ram
Ray,

the

descendants

Ram
ruler,

" whose intrigues were the great cause of " the destruction of the holy
" Singh.

Tegh
i-niar,

The

fourth are the

Kud

" or destroyers -f of their " Fifth, the Bhadani,

own

daughters.
the hair
disciple,

who shave
The

" of their head and beards/'
after this

warning against intercourse with
is

sectaries, or rather schismatics,

instructed

in

some general

precepts, the observance of

which regard the welfare of the community
into

which he has entered.
all

He
with

is

told to

be gentle and polite to

whom

he

converses, to endeavour to attain wisdom,

and

to

emulate the persuasive eloquence of

Baba Nanac.

He

is

particularly enjoined,

whenever he approaches any of the Sikh
temples, to do
spect,
*
it

with reverence and reto

and

to

go

Amritsar, to pay his

Guru Govind put

to death

many

of this tribe.

t This barbarous custom
Rajaputs
in

still

prevails

among

the

many

parts of Hindustan.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
devotions
interests

185
;

to

the

Khalsa,
is

or

state

the
all

of which he
to
is

directed,

on
to

occasions,

consider
instructed

paramount
to labour

his

own.

He
and

to in-

crease the prosperity of the
ritsar;
told,

town of Arnplace of

that

at every

worship which he

visits

he

will

be con-

ducted in the right path by the Guru (Guru
Govind).
it is

He
or

is

instructed to believe, that

the duty of

all

those

who belong

to the

Khalsa,

commonwealth of

the Sikhs,

neither to lament the sacrifice of property,

nor of

life,

in support of

each other

;

and

he

is

directed to read the Adi-Grant'h and

Dasama Padshah ka
received from

Grant'h, every morn-

ing and every evening.

Whatever he has
is

God, he

told

it is

his

duty

to share with others. ciple has heard

And

after the disall

and understood
is

these

and
duly

similar precepts, he
initiated.

declared to be

Guru Govind

Singh,

agreeably to this
first

Sikh author, after initiating the

five

186

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

disciples in the

mode above

stated, order-

ed the principal persons among them* to
initiate

him exactly on
did.

similar occasions,

which he

The author from whom
is

the

above account

taken, states, that

when

Govind was
claimed,

at the point of death, he ex-

" Wherever five

Sikhs

are

as-

" sembled, there I also shall be present!"

and, in consequence of this expression, five

Sikhs are the

number necessary
convert.

to

make

a Singh,

or

By
and

the

religious

institutions of

Guru
all

Govind, proselytes are
casts in the

admitted from
universe.
at

tribes

The

initiation
life,

may

take place

any time of
all

but the children of the
this rite at

Singhs
age.

go through

a very early

The

leading tenet of

Guru Govind's

reli-

• Agreeably to this author,
tiated on Friday, the 8th of the

Guru Govind was
month B'hadra,

ini-

in the

year 1753 of the sera of Vicramaditya; and on that

day his great work, the Dasama Padshah ka Grant'h,
or

book of the tenth king, was completed.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
gious
institutions,

187
his
folis

which obliges

lowers to

devote themselves to arms,

stated, in one of the chapters of the

Dasama

Padshah ka Grant'h, or book of the tenth
king, written in praise of

Durga B'havani,
" Durga,"

the goddess of courage

:

Guru
I

G6vind

says, "

appeared to
all

me when
hilt

" was asleep, arrayed in

her glory.

The
of

" goddess put into

my
'

hand the

" a bright scimitar, which she had before
" held in her own. "

The country of the
'

Muhammedans/

said the goddess,

shall

" be conquered by thee, and numbers of
" that race shall be slain/
After I had

" heard

this, I

exclaimed,

'

This steel shall
followers,

" be the guard to

me and my

" because, in

its

lustre,

the splendour of
is

" thy countenance, « reflected*/"

O

goddess!

always

*

An

author,

whom

I

have often quoted,

says,

Guru

Govind gave the following injunctions to his
:

followers

"

It is right to slay a

Muhammedan

wher-

188

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.

The Dasama Padshah ka Grant'h of

Guru Govind
which
I

appears, from the extracts
it,

have seen of
Its

to

abound

in fine

passages.

author has borrowed largely

from the Sastras of the Brahmens, and the
Koran.

He

praises

Nanac

as a holy saint,
his faith,

accepted of
like

God

;

and grounds
predecessors,

that

of his

upon the

adoration of one
attributes

God; whose power and

he however describes by so

many

Sanscrit

names, and with such constant

allusions to the

Hindu mythology,

that

it

appears often
belief

difficult to

separate his purer

from

their gross idolatry.

He, how-

ever, rejects all worship of images,

on an

opinion

taken

from

one of the ancient

Vedas, which declares, " that to worship

" ever you meet him.

If

you meet a Hindu, beat
and divide
his

" him and
"

plunder

him,

property
destroy
If they

among

you.

Employ your constant

effort to

" the countries ruled by

Muhammedans.

" oppose you, defeat and slay them."

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
" an idol

139
is

made

of wood, earth, or stone,

" as foolish as
"
is

it is

impious

;

for

God

alone

deserving of adoration."
great points,

The

however,

by which

G6ru Govind
for ever

has separated his followers

from the Hindus, are those which
;

have been before stated

-the

destruction

of the distinction of casts, the admission of
proselytes,

and the rendering the pursuit of
religious

arms not only admissible, but the
duty of
the
all his

followers.

Whereas, among
to

Hindus,

agreeable

the

Dherma
their

Sastra, (one of the

most revered of
all

sacred writings,) carrying arms on
sions, as

occa-

an occupation,

is

only lawful to

the Cshatriya or military tribe.

A

Brah-

men
arms,

is

allowed to obtain a livelihood by

if

he can by no other mode.

The

Vaisya and Sudra are not allowed to make

arms

their profession,
in self-defence.

though they

may

use

them

The

sacred book of

Guru Govind

is

not

confined to religious subjects, or tales of

;

190

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
related in his

Hindu mythology,

own way

but abounds in accounts

of the battles

which he fought, and of the actions which
were performed by the most valiant of
followers.
his

Courage

is,

throughout

this
;

work,

placed above every other virtue
vind, like

and G6-

Muhammed, makes martyrdom
which he taught, the shortest
certain road to

for the faith

and most

honour in

this

world, and eternal happiness in the future.

The opinion which
Govind
will

the Sikhs entertain of
their

be best collected from

most esteemed authors.
" Gurti Govind Singh/' one* of those
writers
states,

"

appeared

as

the

tenth

" Avatar.

He

meditated on the Creator
eternal,

" himself,

invisible,

and incom-

" prehensible.
" his

He

established the Khalsa,

own

sect,

and, by exhibiting singular
his

" energy, leaving the hair on " seizing the
scimitar,

head, and

he

smote

every

* B'hai Gtirvi Das Bhale.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
" wicked person.

igi

He bound
loins,

the garment

" of chastity round his

grasped the

" sword of valour, and, passing the true
" word of victory,

became

victorious

in

" the

field

of combat;
his foes,
;

and seizing the
inflicted

" Devatas,

he

on them
dif-

" punishment

and, with great success,

" fused the sublime

Guru

Jap (a mystical

" form of prayer composed by

Guru G6As he was

" vind) through the world.

" born a warlike Singh, he assumed the " blue dress
;

and, by destroying the wicked
the

" Turks, " (God).

he exalted

name

of Hari

No

Sirdar could stand in battle
all

" against him, but

of them fled

;

and,

" whether Hindu Rajas, or

Muhammedan

" lords, became like dust in his presence. "

The mountains,

hearing of him, were
;

" struck with terror

the whole world was

" affrighted, and the people fled from their

" habitations.

In short, such was
all

his

fame,

" that they were

thrown into conster'

" nation, and began to say,

Besides thee.

192 "

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
Sat Guru!
there
is

O
his

no

dispeller

of

" danger/
"

— Having

seized

and displayed
resist

sword,

no person could

his

" might."

The same
sage,

author, in a subsequent pas-

gives

a very characteristic account
of hostility which the religion
against the
in

of that

spirit

of Guru Govind breathed

Mu-

hammedans
it

;

and of the manner

which

treated those sacred writings,

upon which

most of the established usages of Hindus
are grounded.

"

By

the

command

of the Eternal, the
the true

" great

Guru disseminated
Full of strength

know-

" ledge.

and courage, he

" successfully established the Khalsa (or

"

state).

Thus,

at

once

founding

the

" sect of Singh, he struck the whole world

" with awe

:

overturning temples and sacred

" places, tombs and mosques, he levelled
" them
all

with the plain

:

rejecting the

" Vedas, the Purans, the six Sastras, and " the

Koran

;

he

abolished

the

cry

of

;

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
"

193

Namaz (Muhammedan
the Sultans
;

prayer),

and slew

reducing the Mirs and Pirs
priests of the

*

(the

lords

and

Muhamall

'

medans) to

silence,

he overturned
(professors),

1

their sects; the

Moullahs

and

'

the

Kazis (judges),
benefit

were confounded,
from
their studies.

'

and found no

<

The Brahmens,

the

Pandits,

and

the

'

Jotishis (or astrologers),
relish for

had acquired a
:

'

worldly things

they worship-

4

ped stones and temples, and forgot the
Supreme.

6

Thus

these

two

sects,

the
in-

8

Muhammedan

and Hindu, remained

4

volved in delusion and ignorance,
the third sect of the
purity.

when

Khalsa originated in
the

When,

at

order of

Guru

Govind, the Singhs seized and displayed
the
scimitar,

then

subduing

all

their

enemies, they meditated on the Eternal

and, as soon as the order of the

Most

High was manifested

in the world, cir-

cumcision ceased, and the Turks trembled,

when they saw

the ritual of

Mu-

194
"

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
destroyed
:

hammed

then the

Nakara

" (large drum) of victory sounded through-

" out the world, and fear and dread were " abolished. " established,
" might."

Thus
and

the

third

sect

was
in

increased

greatly

These

extracts,

and what

I

have before

stated, will sufficiently

show the character

of the religious institutions of
vind
;

Guru G6-

which were admirably calculated to

awaken, through the means of fanaticism,
a
spirit

of

courage

and

independence,
content,
for
in

among men who had been
ages,

with
to

that

degraded
they

condition

society,

which

were

taught

to

believe themselves born.

The end which
have

Govind sought, could

not, perhaps,

been attained by the employment of other
means.
rights,

Exhortations respecting their

civil

and the wrongs which they

sus-

tained,

would have been wasted on minds

enslaved

by

superstition,

and who could

only be persuaded to assert themselves men.

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
by an impression
that
it

195
will of

was the
so.

Heaven they should do
is

His success

a strong elucidation of the general cha-

racter of the
race,

Hindu

natives of India.

That

though in general mild and peaceable,

take the most savage and ferocious turn,

when roused

to

action

by the influence

of religious feeling.
I

have mentioned,

in the narrative part

of

this

Sketch, the attempt of the Bairagi
to alter the religious institutions of
its failure.

Banda

Guru Govind, and
Acalis (immortals),

The

tribe

of

who have now assumed
all

a dictatorial sway in

the religious cere-

monies at Amritsar, and the Nirmala and
Shahid,

who

read the sacred writings,

may

hereafter introduce

some changes
:

in those

usages which the Sikhs revere

but

it

is

probable that the

spirit

of equality, which

has been hitherto considered as the vital
principle of the Khalsa or

commonwealth,

and which makes

all

Sikhs so reluctant to

own

either a temporal or spiritual leader,

196
will

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
tend greatly to preserve their
:

insti-

tutions from invasion

and

it

is

stated, in

a

tradition

which

is

universally

believed

by the

Sikhs,

and

has,

indeed,

been

in-

serted in their sacred writings, that

Guru
fol-

Govind, when he was asked by
lowers,

his

who surrounded

his death-bed, to
?

whom he would
'

leave his authority

replied,

I

have delivered over the Khalsa (comto

'

mon wealth)
serve
to
its

God, who never

dies.

I

'

have been your guide, and

will still pre-

'

you

;

read the Grant'h, and attend
;

'

tenets

and whoever remains true
will I aid."

'

to the state,

him

From

these

dying words of Guru Govind, the Sikhs
believe themselves to have been placed,
their last

by

and most revered prophet, under

the peculiar care of

God

:

and

their attach-

ment
them

to to

this

mysterious
the

principle,
(or

leads

consider
as
is

Khalsa
;

comsuch

monwealth)

a

theocracy

and

an impression
serious

likely to
if

oppose a very
an
insuperable

obstacle,

not

SKETCH OF THE SIKHS.
barrier,
chiefs,

197
of their

to

the

designs

of any

who may

hereafter

endeavour to

establish

an absolute power over the whole

nation.

THE END.

Printed by J. Moyeg, Greville Street, London.