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The Sikh Psyche

A well-crafted history marred by a digression from facts

The Sikh Psyche
The Sikhs In History
By Sangat Singh
Uncommon Books Not Mentioned
OPINION is divided amongst the Sikhs on whether after 1947 they got their due at the hands of Congress, given the various promises made by leaders like Gandhi and Nehru. Sangat Singh's book belongs to what is currently the minority point of view. It has won a certain amount of popularity and has sold reasonably well; more particularly outside the country than in India. Sikhs living outside India by and large tend to see things within India in terms of what they were familiar with when they left the country and not what is the situation today.

As a study in history, it is impressive. It has a lot of data, particularly from the writings of Gandhi and Nehru which show them as being suspicious of the Akali view, Master Tara Singh in particular. Nehru did not trust him and dealt with him as an uneasy political ally—if that—who had to be kept in good humour but not conceded anything.

The weakness of the book is that the writer does not always stick to facts. For instance, there is the traditional story of Gangu Brahmin, a cook to Guru Gobind Singh, who betrayed Sirhind. In the bargain, they were bricked alive. This is something which stirs deep emotions amongst Sikhs. What the author does is to suggest that Gangu Brahmin was one of Nehru's ancestors. But the evidence provided is flimsy.

This apart, anyone who wishes to understand the Sikh psyche should read this well-crafted and well-written book. It provides with considerable detail the ideological substratum on which that whole hypothesis is built. It must be said that the author has also not spared the contemporary Sikh leadership for its failure either to understand the complexity of the issue or devise a line of approach which would protect and promote Sikh integrity.

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