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The Eighteenth Century in Sikh HistoryPolitical Resurgence, Religious and Social Life, and Cultural Articulation$
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Karamjit K. Malhotra

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199463541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199463541.001.0001

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The Sikh Social Order

The Sikh Social Order

Composition, Caste, and Gender

(p.192) 6 The Sikh Social Order
The Eighteenth Century in Sikh History

Karamjit K. Malhotra

Oxford University Press

The Sikh population was spread in the subcontinent, with a clear concentration in the Punjab, in the eighteenth century. Initially, the Khalsa denoted both Sikh and Singh directly linked to the Gurus, contrasted with the Masandias (Sahlang), Minas, Dhirmallias, Ramraiyas, and the Udasis. As the Khalsa gained power, they became synonymous with Singhs who constituted the mainstream in the Sikh social order. The ideal of equality enabled the Jats, Tarkhans, and Kalals to acquire power. The traditional patterns of matrimony resurfaced under Sikh rule, but in commensality only the erstwhile untouchables were excluded, thus creating a large space for the low castes. Women of the Guru’s household came forth to provide leadership in Sikh affairs. Other women too took part in politics and administration, and held property. Gender relations, however, were not free from tension between the egalitarian ideology and social practice because the inegalitarian patriarchal family was taken for granted.

Keywords:   Sikh social order, Khalsa, Sahlang, Jats, caste, Tarkhans, Kalals, Minas, patterns of matrimony, gender relations

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