Singh Sabha



Singh Sabha and social reforms
Movements like Nirankari could not achieve intended reforms.
Caste continued
Rich continued to drink and lived in debauchery
Brahmanical Hinduism in the forms of gods, goddesses, Sanskrit mantras, soothsayers, astrologers etc continued.
People averse to sects also prostrated before gurus other than the ten.

There was moral decline and decline in the number of Sikhs.

When Kalsa was in ascendency many Hindus grew their hair and beards and paid lip-worship to the Sikh gurus.
After annexation they returned to Hindu fold.
Sikhs who developed a friendship with Hindus either followed suit or became clean-shaven sahajdharis.
Sikhs who were earlier Hindus saw the prospect of being reabsorbed in to Hinduism.

The factors of the disintegration of Sikhs:
Sikh body politics
Christian missionaries
Proselytization by Arya Samaj
Rationalism

1835, an American Presbyterian Mission had been established at Ludhiana.
Church Missionary Society opened centers around Amritsar and Lahore and in the hill districts.
There were SPG, Salvation Army, etc for converts.
Missionaries were actively supported by the English officials.
Conversion of Maharaja Dalip Singh in 1855 was shock to Sikhs.
Same year a Christian school was opened in Amritsar (The exiled Maharaja supported it).
Apart from the Maharaja the early Sikh converts were from the untouchable castes.
Isai meaning Christian, synonymous with cuhra (Punjabi) the word for untouchable sweeper.
Conversion could not help the stigma. Thus conversion declined.
Then the missionaries converted notable well-to-do people from Jat and kshatriya cast.
Conversion of educated and aristocratic families disturbed the Sikh leaders more than the loss of their untouchable brethren.

Arya Samaj:
Dayananda’s  back to the Vedas, no idol, no caste impacted the people.
He was a forceful orator.
His iconoclastic monotheism and egalitarianism had special appeal for the Sikhs.
1877 he opened a branch at Lahore.
Through proselytization (sudhi-purification)  he gained many Sikhs and Hindus.
He said Granth was secondary to the Vedas
Sikh gurus had little learning and had no Sanskrit knowledge.
Nanak was dambi (Hypocrite)
Criticized Sikh theologians for not having Sanskrit knowledge.
 Thus Sikhs joined with Muslims and Christians in demanding the suppression of his book ‘satyarath Prakas’ which maligned all the three prophets.

Next, there was an influx of Brahmo Samaj ideals.
Opened branch in Lahore in 1864.
Similarly , Theosophists, Annie Besant lectured in Punjab.

There was translation of Hindu scriptures by orientalists, but not successful in Sikh scripture.
Even in literacy and educational movement, the Sikhs lagged behind Hindus and Muslims.

Four years before the setting up of the Arya Samaj, the Sikh gentry of Amritsar, convened meeting to protest the Hindu Orator who made scurrilous remarks against the Sikh gurus.
These protest meeting had been organized by a society which described itself as the Singh Sabha.

Objectives of society:
Revival of the teaching of the gurus
Production of religious literature in Punjabi
Campaigning against illiteracy
To get support from the government for education the saba the society cultivated loyalty to the crown.

In 1879 another Singh Saba was formed at Lahore
1883 the Lahore and Amritsar sabhas merged, but the association proved a failure.
The Amirtsar sabha was quite easy-going while the Lahore sabha was radical.
Both clashed on the issue of caste (allowing the low caste to worship).
The orthodox left the sabha.


The rapid spread of Arya Samaj and the anti Sikh bias of many of its leaders was another challenge.

The two sabhas again rejoined. Met at Lahore and decided to start their own college.
Funds raised .
On March 5, 1892, ‘ foundation stone of the Khalsa College at Amritsar was laid.

Singh sabha lounged its own political party.
It crystallized in the formation of “Chief Khalsa Diwan” in 1902. It pledged loyalty to the crown to safeguard Sikh rights and to get adequate representation in services.
Its effective leader was Sunder Singh Majithia.
Most important aspect of the sabha were educational and literary.
The sabha checked the relapse of the Sikhs into Hinduism.
It retaliated by carrying proselytizing activities into the Hindu camp.
Many Hindus became Sahajdhari Sikhs.
They were baptized to become the members of Khalsa.
Expansion of the Arya Samaj had much bearing on Hindu-Sikh relations.
Sikhs fiercely resisted the Sudhi crusade.
Arya Samaj claimed Sikhism to be a branch of Hinduism.
Sikhs insisted that they were distinct.


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