Overview for Martyrdom in the Sikh Tradition: Playing the "Game of Love"
The notion of martyrdom and the role of martyrs in religious and political history constitutes a major component in discourse among Sikhs throughout the world. Martyrdom in the Sikh Tradition examines how and why Sikhs began to represent their history as a history of persecutions and martyrdoms and began to see themselves as a â€˜community through whose veins flows the blood of martyrdomâ€™. Fenech seeks the reasons why the themes of sacrifice and martyrdom came to dominate Sikh imaginations in the early twentieth century and how these understandings continue to play such a vital role in the Sikh community today. He does this through an analysis of the Sikh scriptures, eighteenth and nineteenth century Sikh literature, as well as the voluminous tracts and newspapers produced under the auspices of the late nineteenth-century â€˜reform movementâ€™ the Singh Sabha. The book explores the facts and different approaches to the martyrdom of Guru Arjan, Guru Tegh Bahadur and other prominent Sikhs. It further demonstrates how the Singh Sabha movement in the Punjab, c. 1880-1920, and the heroism of the Akalis in the 1920s shaped historical facts and interpretations. Martyrdom in the Sikh Tradition thus questions many received wisdoms and throws open the field for an exciting new perspective on the Sikh tradition. Fenechâ€™s controversial interdisciplinary study is invaluable for all those interested in nineteenth-century Indian religious history and in the history of the Sikh people. It is also essential reading for other scholars of history, sociology, religion, anthropology, politics and culture.