Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Built on a close reading of Punjabi and Farsi sources, Purnima Dhavan's narrative of eighteenth-century Sikh history begins with Guru Gobind Singh and the inauguration of the Khalsa and goes on to examine three important but relatively little studied Sikh leaders of the period. This timely and readable book will be immensely helpful to anyone interested in this fascinating period of Sikh history."---Gurinder Singh Mann, Professor of Sikh Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
"Purnima Dhavan's When Sparrows Became Hawks is a wonderful tour de force which answers some of the most nagging questions of eighteenth-century Sikh history. Breathing new life into oft-used Punjabi and Persian textual sources, Dhavan advances our knowledge of the evolution of the Sikh tradition and in the process weaves together a most plausible narrative of the development of the now-normative Sikh Khalsa."--Louis E. Fenech, author of Darbar of the Sikh Gurus: The Court of God in the World of Men
"This book is an important study of the social and cultural roots of the Sikh community and the states that they created in Northwestern India during the eighteenth century."---Sumit Guha, Professor of History, Rutgers University
About the Author
is assistant professor of history at the University of Washington, Seattle. She has written several essays on Sikh history, gender, and literary traditions. Her next project focuses on vernacular identities and literary publics in early modern South Asia.
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