Our first meeting: Fun and Insightful

10 Dec

I have to agree with Sarbjeet here, the book club was definitely fun and insightful. Who knew the people I would be conversing with are actually smart? Sorry Sarbjeet, I just could not help myself !

So anyways, like any conversation, there were views that were agreed or disagreed upon. The most agreed upon view was that completing this book was a greater laborious task than we had expected. More than the sheer density of information contained in this book, the writing style is based on 19th century British English. However, during our discussion, it became quite evident just how enriching this book was. Cunningham’s perspectives as a Western author puts a fresh look on our Sikh past and forces us to question the very fundamentals that we take for granted. At the same time, we could not ignore the fact that many of his assertions were based on information provided by potentially biased individuals.

Here are some points raised and conclusions drawn that I found most interesting:

1.        Similar to other literature, Cunningham describes Maharaja  Ranjit Singh as bringing glory and prosperity to Sikhs, specifically by unifying the Sikh groups and expanding the empire. But why send out Sikhs and other people to conquer other lands in the first place? The literature does not support any theory that Maharaja’s intentions for conquering states was to relieve their people from unjust kings.  Furthermore, Guru Gobind Singh Ji only used arms for defensive purposes. Does that mean that Sikhs during that time lost sight of the Gurus’ purpose of teaching us to take up arms?

2.        Cunningham portrays Sikhs as illiterates and plunderers, while being awed by their devotion to God, Khalsa, and the welfare of the people.

3.        Our glorious Sikh past, filled with many martyrs, also includes Sikh leaders who were similar to many politicians and kings with the motive of acquiring power and money.

Our meeting ended with us deciding books that we can possibly read and when we should meet. Here are two books that we are considering for the next reading:

  1. Spirit Born People by Prof. Puran Singh.
  2. Role and Status of Women in Sikhism by Dr. M.K. Gill

We would love your input in helping us choose one of these books!


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