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When Sparrows Became Hawks: The Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition, 1699-1799


When Sparrows Became Hawks: The Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition, 1699-1799 Cover


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Challenging the commonly accepted belief that the distinctive rituals, ceremonies, and cultural practices associated with the Khalsa were formed during the lifetime of the Tenth and last Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, Purnima Dhavan reveals how such markers of Khalsa identity evolved slowly over the course of the eighteenth century. By focusing on the long-overlooked experiences of peasant communities, she traces the multiple perspectives and debates that eventually coalesced to create a composite Khalsa culture by 1799.

When Sparrows Became Hawks incorporates and analyzes Sikh normative religious literature created during this period by reading it in the larger context of sources such as news reports, court histories, and other primary sources that show how actual practices were shaped in response to religious reforms. Recovering the agency of the peasants who dominated this community, Dhavan demonstrates how a dynamic process of debates, collaboration, and conflict among Sikh peasants, scholars, and chiefs transformed Sikh practices and shaped a new martial community.

About the Author

Assistant Professor of History, University of Washington

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Origins of the Khalsa

2. Early Narratives of the Last Guru and the Creation of the Khalsa

3. (Re)making the Khalsa, 1708-48

4. The Making of a Sikh Sardar: Two Jassa Singhs and the Place of Sikhs in the Eighteenth-Century Military Labor Market

5. Rereading Alha Singh: Rebel, Raja, and Sikh Sardar

6. From Peasant Soldier to Elite Warrior: Raiding, Honor Feuds, and the Transformation of Khalsa Identity

7. Devotion and Its Discontents: The Affective Communities of Gurbilas Texts

8. Conclusion




Product Details

Dhavan, Purnima
Oxford University Press, USA
Religion & Theology | Comparative Religion | Eastern
Religion Eastern-Sikhism
Publication Date:
6.4 x 9.4 x 1.1 in 1.15 lb

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History and Social Science » Law » General
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Religion » Eastern Religions » Sikhism

When Sparrows Became Hawks: The Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition, 1699-1799 Sale Hardcover
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Product details 272 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780199756551 Reviews:
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