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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 Old and New Literary Forms

The Old and New Literary Forms

(p.233) 7 The Old and New Literary Forms
The Eighteenth Century in Sikh History

Karamjit K. Malhotra

Oxford University Press

As a cultural expression, eighteenth-century Sikh literature was linked to religious, social, and political developments of the period. While the Vār and the Sākhī forms came down from the seventeenth century, the major new literary forms emerging in response to historical change and new needs of the community were the rahitnāmā, gurbilās, shahīd bilās, and ustat. Broadly sharing certain core concerns with common ideological moorings, much of this literature was quasi-religious in character and purpose, produced to instruct and inspire. An evolving historical consciousness is evident in its expanding scope. Apart from the life and message of Guru Nanak, it included episodes concerning the successor Gurus, narratives of the life of Guru Gobind Singh, institution of the Khalsa, the Khalsa rahit, the Khalsa warriors and martyrs, glory of Amritsar and other places associated with the Gurus, besides the lives of the eminent Sikhs.

Keywords:   cultural expression, Vār, Sākhī, rahitnāmā, gurbilās, shahīd bilās, ustat, historical consciousness, narratives, Khalsa rahit

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