SIKH, by Rajanīkānta Gupta, is a brief monograph in Bengali on the history of the Sikhs from Gurū Nānak (1469-1539) to the conquest of the Punjab by the British in 1849. Gupta had earlier published in one of his books in 1880 a life-sketch of Gurū Nānak. In March 1883, he gave a lecture on the Sikhs in the City College, Calcutta, which was published as a monograph under the title Sikh (April 1883). For his source materials, the author depends mainly on Malcolm and Cunningham. Although he treats of the Sikhs as part of the Hindu complex, his description of events such as the birth of the Khālsā (1699) and Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's armed resistance to the Mughal rule under which Hindus and Muslims suffered alike is fairly critical. The monograph also alludes briefly to the 18th century Sikh struggle for liberation and attributes the Sikhs' triumph in the end to their superior military organization, able leadership and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice. The rise of Raṇjīt Siṅgh is traced in the background of the declining authority of the misls. The extinction of Sikh power is blamed on the intrigues of the British and the treacheries of courtiers such as Lāl Siṅgh and Tej Siṅgh. In a subsequent edition, the author took into account later developments such as the conversion and migration to England of the deposed sovereign, Duleep Siṅgh, his eventual disillusionment with the British and his bid to return to the Punjab to receive the rites of the Khālsā.

Himādrī Banerjee