It is commonly assumed that all Sikhs are the same, but the very existence of different groups who have varying beliefs and practices within the Sikh community shows that a corporate identity for the Sikh community is not possible and serves to alienate a substantial proportion of Sikhs from the overall fold of the Sikh faith. Introducing the beliefs and practices of a range of individual Sikh groups, this book addresses the issue of Sikh identity across the Sikh community as a whole but from the viewpoint of different types of Sikh. Examining the historical development of Sikhism from the period of Guru Nanak to the present day, the author takes an in-depth look at five groups in the Sikh community - the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha; the Namdharis; the Ravidasis; the Valmikis; and the Sikh Dharma of the Western hemisphere (associated with the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization - 3HO). Their history, beliefs and practices are explored, as well as their diverse and shared identities. Concluding that there is no authoritative yardstick with which to assess the issue of Sikh identity, the author highlights Sikhism's links to its Hindu past and suggests a federal Sikh identity with one or two fundamental beliefs at the core and individual groups left to express their own unique beliefs and practices.
Table of Contents
Contents: Glossary; Introduction; Who is a Sikh? Historical perspectives; Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha; Namdharis; Ravidasis; Valmikis; Sikh Dharma of the western hemisphere; Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.
Dr Opinderjit Kaur Takhar teaches Religious Studies at The Heathland School, Hounslow, UK.
'There is an urgent need for a detailed and analytical literature on various aspects of the development of Sikh tradition. This book will prove to be a most useful and reliable teaching resource for schools, colleges and institutions of higher eduction. Hopefully it will generate a great deal of constructive debate concerning the development of Sikh tradition in the diaspora.' Dr Sewa Singh Kalsi, University of Leeds, UK ’...Writing with an open mind, Takhar offers an excellent discussion of Sikh identity; the book is an eye-opener...Highly recommended.’ Choice ’... Sikh Identity has much to recommend it. Its informative discussions of the origins, history and characteristics of a diverse selection of Sikh or Sikh-related groups make it a useful source of reference, while its advocacy of a tolerant, inclusive inderstanding of Sikh identity will be of interest to both Sikh and non-Sikh alike.’ Journal of Punjab Studies