The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity, and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition

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University of Chicago Press, Dec 15, 1994 - Religion - 494 pages
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In this major reinterpretation of religion and society in India, Harjot Oberoi challenges earlier accounts of Sikhism, Hinduism and Islam as historically given categories encompassing well-demarcated units of religious identity. Through a searching examination of Sikh historical materials, he shows that early Sikh tradition was not concerned with establishing distinct religious boundaries. Most Sikhs recognized multiple identities grounded in local, regional, religious, and secular loyalties. Consequently, religious identities were highly blurred and several competing definitions of what constituted a Sikh were possible.

In the closing decades of the nineteenth century, however, the Singh Sabha, a powerful new Sikh movement, began to view the multiplicity in Sikh identity with suspicion and hostility. Aided by social and cultural forces unleashed by the British Raj, the Singh Sabha sought to recast Sikh tradition and purge it of diversity. The ethnocentric logic of a new elite dissolved alternative ideals under the highly codified culture of modern Sikhism.

A study of the process by which a pluralistic religious world view is replaced by a monolithic one, this important book calls into question basic assumptions about the efficacy of fundamentalist claims and the construction of all social and religious identities. An essential book for the field of South Asian religions, this work is also an important contribution to cultural anthropology, postcolonial studies, and the history of religion in general.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
The Khalsa
39
General Map of Punjab
41
Map of British Punjab
46
Contents of the Dasam Granth
95
A Guru Lineage The Sodhis of Anandpur
110
Guru Lineages in the Nineteenth Century
117
Genealogy of a Giani Family in Amritsar
133
A List of Voluntary Socioreligious and Educational Associations in Punjab 186585
233
The Expansion
258
Number of Government Schools and Students Enrolled 185660
267
Cumulative Total of Books 187580
276
The Making of
305
Ritual Fees Received in Cash by a Nai
358
Sikh Professionals in 1900
365
Tat Khalsa Cultural Religious and Economic Associations 18861908
411

Number of Gurmukhi Schools and Pupils in these Schools
136
Sikh Participation
139
Readings From the Japuji and their Potential
192
A Select List of Religious Sects Returned by the People of Punjab in 1891 and Included Under the CategoryHindu
212
Conclusions
418
Bibliography
431
Index
459
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