First Book

29 Oct

We intend to kick-off our reading with the ‘History of the Sikhs‘ by J.D. Cunningham as our first book of this season. The book has a short introduction section that gives a brief overview of the book with a paragraph summary of each chapter. I have scanned that book section and have posted the pdf file here.

Reproduced below is a summary of the book (as it appears on the back cover).

Cunningham - Front Cover

Cunningham - Front Cover

“During a very important period of the history of the Sikhs, the author – Cunningham – spent eight years of his service from 1838 – 1846 in close contact with the Sikhs. The result of his eight years residence was to give him a partiality which is only too clearly visible in his handling of the events leading up to the outbreak of hostilities with the British. The whole book bears evidence of most meticulous care, and the voluminous footnotes show the breadth and variety of author’s study.

Indeed, as the result of (the author’s) certain strictures upon the policy of the government of India in dealing with Gulab Singh of Jammu, the author was dismissed from his employment from the political department and sent back to regimental duty. The principal object in writing this history has not always been understood. The author’s main endeavor was to give Sikhism its place in the general history of humanity, by showing his connection with different creeds of India, by exhibiting it as a natural and important result of the Muhammadian conquest, and by impressing upon the people of England the great necessity of attending to the mental changes in progress. A secondary object was to give some account of the conncetion of the English with the Sikhs and in part with the Afghans, from the time they began to take a direct interest in the affairs of these races, and to involve them in their web of their policy for opening the navigation of the Indus, and for bringing Turkestan and Khorasan within their commercial influence.

Cunningham. Joseph Davey, General (1812 – 1851) came to India in 1834 as an officer in the Bengal Engineers. He took part in the first Sikh Was (1846). He thus had ample opportunities for knowing the Punjab and its people. His History of the Sikhs is one of the most authoritative works on the subject. His general sympathetic approach to the subject and his frank truthfulness gave great offence to this superiors and brought about his relegation from special political appointment to ordinary duty. He died at Ambala in 1851.

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