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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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Rereading Alha Singh

Rereading Alha Singh

Rebel, Raja, and Sikh Sardar

(p.99) 5 Rereading Alha Singh
When Sparrows Became Hawks

Purnima Dhavan

Oxford University Press

Majha and Malwa, two important regions in Panjab, had very different historical trajectories. The disciplining power of the Khalsa bands was more limited in Malwa. Alha Singh and other Malwa chiefs were descended from families with ties to the Mughal revenue system and not from the modest peasant backgrounds of the Majha chiefs. For Alha Singh's Phulkian clan, kinship ties were instrumental in recruiting soldiers as were the continued links to the existing Mughal and Afghan regimes. The Sikh chiefs of this area played a careful game of using shifting alliances with both the Khalsa Sikhs as well as with the Mughal and Afghan administration to fend off the claims of all these groups on their territories. Thus, the shifting identity of the Phulkian Sikhs as rebels, Sikh sardars, loyal Mughal zamindars, and Afghan allies was instrumental in deepening and consolidating their hold over local resources.

Keywords:   Alha Singh, Majha, Malwa, Phulkian, Mughal, Afghan, zamindars, sardar

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