Into the Nineteenth Century

Anne Murphy

in The Materiality of the Past

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199916276
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980253 | DOI:
Into the Nineteenth Century

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This chapter presents sections of two exemplary nineteenth-century texts from prior to the formal institution of colonial rule, and one from the British period, to suggest the transformations that occur in that century in the imagination of the past and its forms of evidence. From the mid-nineteenth century, it examines Santokh Singh's Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth, with references to a source text, available in its earliest published form in English as “The Travels of Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh”, and Rattan Singh Bhangu's Prācīn Panth Parkāsh. These texts reveal how the Guru's interaction in the world is described, how this narration of the Guru's life relates to the formation of the community, and how this history is found in its forms of evidence. A third text considered here is Bhaī Vīr Singh's novel Sundarī from 1898, which provides entry into how the imagination of the past was rendered after the annexation of Punjab by the British and the concomitant expansion of European and British influence in the region. The broad historical vision discerned in these texts is examined. Understanding this overall approach to the past is crucial, because it is within this broader historical imagination that the meanings of objects and sites begin to change in the colonial period.

Keywords: nineteenth-century texts; colonial rule; Santokh Singh; Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth; Rattan Singh Bhangu; Prācīn Panth Parkāsh; Guru; Sikh history; Bhaī Vīr Singh; Sundarī

Chapter.  18946 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sikhism

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