Crystallization of a Religious Tradition: The Sikh Panth

Pashaura Singh

in Life and Work of Guru Arjan

Published in print September 2006 | ISBN: 9780195679212
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080687 | DOI:
Crystallization of a Religious Tradition: The Sikh Panth

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Wilfred Cantwell Smith argues that it is somehow incorrect to refer to Guru Nanak as ‘the founder of Sikhism’. This chapter shows that the pattern of development and consolidation of the Sikh Panth is more continuous than what Smith claims. It considers the social constituency of the early Panth and how Guru Nanak's creative ideas and strategies at Kartarpur triggered the process of institutionalisation under his successors. It also considers Guru Nanak's views on ethical responsibility and argues that his ideology contained a singular appeal that might be understood in terms of ‘prophecy’ in Max Weber's sense of the term. The Adi Granth advocated the doctrine of the unity of Akal Purakh and was a decisive factor for Sikh self-definition. A radical egalitarianism in the Gurus' teachings was the crucial factor underlying the extensive Jat allegiance to the Panth. The chapter also discusses Max Weber's theoretical insights to understand the crystallization of the Sikh Panth during the tenure of the first five Gurus, particularly during the period of Guru Arjan.

Keywords: Wilfred Cantwell Smith; Guru Nanak; Max Weber; Sikh Panth; Akal Purakh; Jat allegiance; Adi Granth; Guru Arjan

Chapter.  14038 words. 

Subjects: Sikhism

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