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Copyright Date: 2012
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    Book Description:

    This volume offers a comprehensive overview of Sikhism, which originated in India's Punjab region five hundred years ago. As the numbers of Sikhs settling outside of India continues to grow, it is necessary to examine this religion both in its Indian context and as an increasingly global tradition. While acknowledging the centrality of history and text in understanding the main tenets of Sikhism, Doris Jakobsh highlights the religion's origins and development as a living spiritual tradition in communities around the world. She pays careful attention to particular events, movements, and individuals that have contributed to important changes within the tradition and challenges stereotypical notions of Sikh homogeneity and stasis, addressing the plurality of identities within the Sikh tradition, both historically and within the contemporary milieu.

    Extensive attention is paid to the role of women as well as the dominant social and kinship structures undergirding Punjabi Sikh society, many of which have been widely transplanted through Sikh migration. The migration patterns are themselves examined, with particular focus on Sikh communities in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Finally, the volume concludes with a brief exploration of Sikhs and the Internet and the future of Sikhism.

    10 illus.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6034-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Editor’s Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Chronology
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-xxii)

    The idea for this book came while I was listening to a concert in Delhi highlighting some of the ancient musical instruments of India, in particular therabaab,a stringed instrument of exquisite sound and beauty. Its haunting notes transported me back five hundred years to the very beginnings of the religion known as Sikhism, when a mystic known as Nanak composed hymns expounding the glory of the Divine. Accompanied by the Muslim minstrel Mardana playing therabaab,Nanak—known later to his followers as Guru Nanak—wandered the vast countryside of what was then the northern reaches of India,...

  7. CHAPTER 1 The Sources of the Sikh Tradition
    (pp. 1-7)

    Scholars of Sikhism generally turn to the Sikh scripture known as the Adi Granth (Original Volume). Sikhs refer to this scripture as the Guru Granth Sahib or Sri Guru Granth Sahib. They view their scripture as much more than a mere book; it is the abode of the gurus, the repository of the words of Akal Purakh (Eternal Being) transcribed by their Sikh masters. It is the Divine in material form. As such, the text is understood as the eternal and living guru of the Sikhs.

    The term “guru” in Indian religious contexts refers to an enlightened master, one who...

  8. CHAPTER 2 Sikh History
    (pp. 8-47)

    The writing of history is a difficult, complex activity. Different assessments of what is historically accurate tend to offer varied accounts of what actually took place in a particular community or religion. For historians, the factuality of an incident or event is obviously central. Attempts are made to analyze as many perspectives and counterperspectives as possible to ensure an incident actually occurred. Scholars of history are acutely aware that at times accounts depicting a certain incident have a great deal to do with subsequent interpretations of the event. Thus, the dating and authentication of texts is crucial in historical research....

  9. CHAPTER 3 Sikh Beliefs, Institutions, and Rituals
    (pp. 48-71)

    Central to Sikh teachings is the belief in the oneness of God. Yet the Sikh gurus used a variety of names for the divine from both the Hindu and Muslim traditions. Common names for the Ultimate used by the gurus included Formless One, Nirgun, and Akal Purakh, Eternal Being. According to their teachings, Akal Purakh is manifest in the world as well as within the human heart. From this perspective, Akal Purakh can be understood as both having and not having attributes. Guru Gobind Singh’s Khalsa order ushered in another representation of divinity, Sarab Loh (All Steel), the burnished steel...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Sikh Society
    (pp. 72-83)

    Visitors to Punjab are often amazed at the warmth and openness of its people. My family and I have been welcomed into strangers’ homes and enjoyed hearty meals cooked on the spot for us on countless occasions. The work ethic that Punjabis take great pride in is apparent as one drives through the thriving farmlands and bustling cities. Through conversation and observation, one also becomes aware of the traditional and largely patriarchal values and practices holding sway in present-day Sikh families, whether in India or in the vast Sikh diaspora. While there is much of Punjabi Sikh society to explore,...

  11. CHAPTER 5 The Sikh Diaspora
    (pp. 84-104)

    This chapter examines the three countries with the largest Sikh communities outside Punjab, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, with emphasis on key landmarks of Sikh migration to each of these host countries. I begin with a brief overview of a number of dominant characteristics of Sikh diasporic communities worldwide.

    The term “diaspora” originally denoted the dispersal of Jews worldwide but is now widely used to describe other religious communities outside their homelands. While there is little consensus with regard to actual numbers, it can be safely said that of about 23 million Sikhs, between 1 and 1.5...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Sikh Diversity
    (pp. 105-111)

    There have been differences in Sikh identity and Sikh loyalties since the time of the living gurus. Although the Khalsa Sikh identity has often been presented as normative and the only authentic expression of what constitutes Sikh identity, there is no such consensus in this regard among Sikhs. The term “sect” is often applied to Sikhs outside mainstream Sikhism, but the term is viewed pejoratively by such Sikhs. Labels such as “orthodox” and “nonorthodox” are also problematic given their association with Judaism and Christianity. It is perhaps most reasonable to think in terms of there existing a variety of groups...

  13. CHAPTER 7 Conclusion: Sikhs in the Twenty-first Century
    (pp. 112-118)

    Sikhism in the twenty-first century is entering a new era that promises to be both challenging and rewarding. In terms of numbers, Sikhism has now replaced Judaism as the fifth largest religion worldwide. The regional character of Sikhism is being altered by characteristic migration patterns of Sikhs worldwide. This has led to greater attention given to the possible effects on the tradition of global economics, politics, and religion. New cultural, diasporic, anthropological, and religious studies are emerging based on a renewed interest in Sikhism.

    Politically and economically, the Sikhs of Punjab are attempting to find ways to fit within the...

  14. Sources Cited and Recommended Readings
    (pp. 119-124)
  15. Index
    (pp. 125-134)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 135-139)