Education, Gender Codes, and Politics

Doris R. Jakobsh

in Relocating Gender in Sikh History

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195679199
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081950 | DOI:
Education, Gender Codes, and Politics

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This chapter examines the education-for women enterprise of the Singh Sabha reformers which became the common goal uniting various the factions of other reform movements both within the Sikh community and outside it. The help of European women from the Western missionary organizations was sought to teach Sikh women from elite families, while schools for a specifically Sikh education for girls (e.g. the Sikh Kanya Mahavidyala) were set up. How the language issue—Gurmukhi vs. Hindi—got implicated in the education for women are also discussed. The author describes the difficulties facing reforms in education in the light of the Jat Sikh belief in a virile masculinity and which saw education as an effeminizing process. The author also focuses on the Sikh Educational Conference in Gujranwala of 1908. The differences between the Arya Samaj women's educational endeavour (which went back sources in the Vedas) and those of the Tat Khalsa (which went back to the teachings of the Sikh gurus) are also analyzed. While the reformers consistently maintained the ‘proper’ place of their womenfolk was at home, they also encouraged Sikh women to become teachers and headmistresses. ‘Service along with duty’ increasingly became the slogan of the Singh Sabha reformers in their transformational exercise of Sikh women. After a discussion of Bhai Vir Singh (in whose writing there is a concerted effort to create role models for Sikh women), the chapter concludes with a discussion of how the colonial state made sure that continuing loyalty to the Crown was not eroded in the educational endeavours of all reformers.

Keywords: educational enterprise; Singh Sabha reformers; Sikh Kanya Mahavidyala; Gurmukhi language; Sikh Educational Conference in Gujranwala of 1908; Arya Samaj; Tat Khalsa; Bhai Vir Singh

Chapter.  20975 words. 

Subjects: Sikhism

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