Synopses & Reviews
Almost from the moment, some five centuries ago, that their religion was founded in the Punjab by Guru Nanak, Sikhs have enjoyed a distinctive identity. This sense of difference, forged during Sikhism's fierce struggles with the Mughal Empire, is still symbolised by the "Five Ks" ("panj kakar," in Punjabi), those articles of faith to which all baptised Sikhs subscribe: uncut hair bound in a turban; comb; special undergarment; iron bracelet and dagger (or kirpan) -- the unique marks of the Sikh military fraternity (the word Sikh means "disciple" in Punjabi). Yet for all its ongoing attachment to the religious symbols that have helped set it apart from neighboring faiths in South Asia, Sikhism amounts to far more than just signs or externals. Now the world's fifth largest religion, with a significant diaspora especially in Britain and North America, this remarkable monotheistic tradition commands the allegiance of 25 million people, and is a global phenomenon. In her balanced appraisal, Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh reviews the history, theology and worship of a community poised between reconciling its hereditary creeds and certainties with the fast-paced pressures of modernity. She outlines and explains the core Sikh beliefs, and explores the writings and teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus in Sikhism's Holy Scriptures, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (more usually called just the "Granth"). Further chapters explore Sikh ethics, art and architecture, and matters of gender and the place of women in the tradition. The book attractively combines the warm empathy of a Sikh with the objective insights and acute perspectives of a prominent scholar of religion.
"In this delightful study Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh introduces the reader to the history, religion, and culture of the Sikhs, highlighting the various issues related to doctrine, worship, ethics, art, architecture, and diaspora. Her bold critique of patriarchal structures of Sikh society is refreshing. Written in accessible style this exciting book will appeal not only to undergraduate students of Sikh studies, religion, medieval Indian history, and literature, but also to lay readers who will gain firsthand information about the youngest world religion." -- Pashaura Singh, Professor and Dr. Jasbir Singh Saini Endowed Chair in Sikh and Punjabi Studies, University of California, Riverside
"Nikky Singh's latest publication provides an eloquent introduction to Sikhism, grounded in reference to the scriptures and articulate with a sharp awareness of contemporary issues. Students will find Singh's Sikhism: An Introduction a clearly organized text, written in an engaging style, and usefully augmented by a substantial bibliography. Sikhism: An Introduction is the fruit of many years of immersion in Sikh Studies and of sharing it through the author's university teaching. This excellent illustrated guide to the Sikh tradition offers readers not only key factual material but also Singh's own insights into gender and her substantial attention to the arts, to colonial encounters and diasporic life stories."-- Eleanor Nesbitt, Professor of Religions and Education, University of Warwick and author of Sikhism: A Very Short Introduction
"A solid and lively introduction to key events in Sikh history, Sikhism: An Introduction paints a vivid portrait of Sikh spirituality, arts, politics, and gender and family life. This engaging text takes readers from the origins of Sikhism in Guru Nanaks life and teachings to contemporary Sikh life in India and the Sikh diaspora. Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singhs call to Sikhs to reflect on the founding principles of their tradition gives Sikh and non-Sikh readers alike insight into the challenges all religions face as they evolve over time." -- Robin Rinehart, Professor of Religious Studies and Asian Studies Program Chair, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania
About the Author
Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh is Crawford Professor of Religious Studies at Colby College, Waterville, Maine, and Co-Chair of the Sikh Studies Section of the American Academy of Religion. Her books include The Guru Granth Sahib: its Physics and Metaphysics (1981), The Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent (1993), The Name of My Beloved: Verses of the Sikh Gurus (2001) and The Birth of the Khalsa: A Feminist Re-memory of Sikh Identity (2005).
Table of Contents
Preface * Introduction * Guru Nanak and the Origins of Sikhism * Guru Arjan and the Crystallization of the Sikh Faith * Guru Gobind Singh and the Cultivation of Sikh Identity * Sikh Metaphysics, Ethics and Aesthetics * Worship, Ceremonies, and Rites of Passage * Feminist Text in a Patriarchal Context * Colonial Encounters * Sikh Art * Sikhs in the Diaspora * Select Bibliography * Glossary * Index