The Making of a Sikh Sardar

Purnima Dhavan

in When Sparrows Became Hawks

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199756551
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918881 | DOI:
The Making of a Sikh Sardar

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Two martial traditions existed by the mid-eighteenth century within the Khalsa. Peasants had had a history of earning livelihoods as soldiers in the armies of local chiefs and Mughal officers. As Khalsa Sikhs began to define their own code of conduct for soldiers, they came to view such paid mercenary service (naukari) as contemptible. Texts written to instruct Khalsa Sikhs attempted to reduce the complicated choices facing Sikh soldiers and commanders or sardars to a stark moral view that valorized fidelity to the Khalsa while strongly condemning any collaborations with non-Sikhs. By examining how two chiefs in this time period attempted to navigate the complicated realities of surviving the civil conflict while still demonstrating respect for Khalsa ethical injunctions (rahit), this chapter highlights the complex ways in which such competing pressures shaped the actions of Sikh chiefs.

Keywords: Jassa Singh Ahluwalia; Jassa Singh Ramgarhia; naukari; military labor market; Khalsa Sikhs; sardar; rahit

Chapter.  10655 words. 

Subjects: Sikhism

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