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When Sparrows Became HawksThe Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition, 1699-1799$
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Purnima Dhavan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199756551

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756551.001.0001

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The Making of a Sikh Sardar

The Making of a Sikh Sardar

Two Jassa Singhs and The Place of Sikhs in the Eighteenth-Century Military Labor Market

Chapter:
(p.74) 4 The Making of a Sikh Sardar
Source:
When Sparrows Became Hawks
Author(s):

Purnima Dhavan

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756551.003.0004

Two martial traditions existed by the mid-eighteenth century within the Khalsa. Peasants had had a history of earning livelihoods as soldiers in the armies of local chiefs and Mughal officers. As Khalsa Sikhs began to define their own code of conduct for soldiers, they came to view such paid mercenary service (naukari) as contemptible. Texts written to instruct Khalsa Sikhs attempted to reduce the complicated choices facing Sikh soldiers and commanders or sardars to a stark moral view that valorized fidelity to the Khalsa while strongly condemning any collaborations with non-Sikhs. By examining how two chiefs in this time period attempted to navigate the complicated realities of surviving the civil conflict while still demonstrating respect for Khalsa ethical injunctions (rahit), this chapter highlights the complex ways in which such competing pressures shaped the actions of Sikh chiefs.

Keywords:   Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, naukari, military labor market, Khalsa Sikhs, sardar, rahit

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