In response to the expansion of the Mughal Empire in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Sikh community began a process of militarization which would culminate in a dramatic rebellion and the foundation of the Sikh Empire in 1799 on the Indian subcontinent. Images of a despotic Mughal state, religious intolerance and a vulnerable Sikh minority would come to characterize the period's historiography. But, as Hardip Singh Syan argues, the development of Sikh militancy was neither natural nor inevitable. Drawing on a range of contemporary sources, this book focuses on the intellectual dialogues within the Sikh community and its relationship to the wider Islamic world. Identifying significant distinctions within the Sikh community, Syan questions the irredentist visions of Sikh and Mughal society, thereby challenging the grand narratives of Early Modern South-Asian History. An essential revisionist work for students and scholars of Mughal India and Political Sikhism.
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Hardip Singh Syan has a PhD in South Asian History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has taught and worked at the University of London, the British Museum and the Institute of Historical Research.Review:
'Hardip Singh Syan is concerned to go beyond the current dominant historical narrative of the shift of Sikh society from peace to militancy, and does so by revealing the role of Sikh agency in this change. Throughout, one feels one was in the company of a well-developed historical imagination, tempered by a good mind and wide-ranging acquaintance with the secondary literature. This is an outstanding piece of work, which amounts to a major contribution not just to Sikh history but also to the history of seventeenth-century India.' Francis Robinson, Professor of the History of South Asia, Royal Holloway, University of London 'Through a very diligent and sensitive reading of Sikh and Mughal sources, his grounding in South Asian history and intelligent forays in intellectual history, anthropology and religion, Hardip Singh Syan produces an innovative argument which substantively reinterprets the Sikh and Mughal history of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. There is a great need for the telling of this story. In providing the answers to many of the key questions, and suggesting modes of analysis that other scholars can follow, Hardip Syan's contribution is a great work of history.' Sunil Kumar, Professor in the History of Medieval India, University of Delhi 'This is the first detailed study of seventeenth-century Sikh history. Dr Syan has done a major service to the field by filling this gap. Furthermore, the nature of research that has gone into the making of Dr Syan's work is outstanding - his use of primary Sikh sources, many of which are being incorporated in scholarship in English for the first time, is superb. The book expands our understanding of the period as well as contributing toward a better grasp of the way to interpret it.' Gurinder Singh Mann, Professor of Sikh Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
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