Controversies over Sikh Involvement in Alien Terrain

Turbulence in Punjab, Gandhi-Sikh Discord, and the Uneasiness in Vaikom, 1924–1925

  • Raj Sekhar Basu Department of History, University of Calcutta
Keywords: Sikhs, Janamsakhi Guru Nanak, langars, Vaikom, Pulayas, satyagraha, Mahatma Gandhi, Congress, Nambudris, temple

Abstract

The article deals with the participation of Sikh volunteers in an agitation dealing with the opening of all roads in the vicinity of the Shiva temple in Vaikom,  (1924 and 1925). The journey of the Sikhs to alien territories were common, since the Sikh scriptures are replete with the long journeys that Guru Nanak undertook in Asia. The Sikhs had always been ahead in traversing through trade routes and the pilgrimage sites. Their decision to take part in the Vaikom Satyagraha, launched by the nationalist minded leaders in the state of Travancore met with opposition on the part of Mahatma Gandhi, who viewed it as a Hindu affair. Gandhi's opposition was to a great extent influenced by his own prejudical understanding of the Gurudwara reform movement spearheaded by the Akalis in the immediately preceding years, since there was a belief that the Sikh leadership had not totally comprehended the logic of satyagraha, based on the tenets of non-violence. Gandhi’s instructions to the Akalis to leave Vaikom, vindicated the fact that the developments in Punjab would have a strict bearing over the participation and political strategies that were likely to be adopted in the Vaikom satyagraha.

Author Biography

Raj Sekhar Basu, Department of History, University of Calcutta

Raj Sekha r Basu is a professor in the Department of History, University of Calcutta and, as a South Asia specialist, he focuses on the social and political history of the region. He has a diverse range of research interests, including Dalit history and politics, the history of medicine, and indentured labor history in the Pacific. His main publications are Nandanar’s Children: The Paraiyars Tryst with Destiny, Tamilnadu, 1850-1956, Dalit Experiences in Colonial and Post Colonial India and the co-edited volumes Narratives of the Excluded: Caste Issues in Colonial India, Narratives from the Margin: Aspects of Adivasi History in India, and Medical Encounters in British India. He is a recipient of several international fellowships and has been a visiting professor to many European universities.

Published
2019-12-16
How to Cite
Basu, R. S. (2019). Controversies over Sikh Involvement in Alien Terrain: Turbulence in Punjab, Gandhi-Sikh Discord, and the Uneasiness in Vaikom, 1924–1925. Archiv orientální, 87(3), 445–482. Retrieved from https://aror.orient.cas.cz/index.php/ArOr/article/view/22
Section
Research Article