The Singh Sabha Movement

After the annexation of Punjab fear gripped the Sikhs, what were the British going to do with their faith, their traditions and way of life. But as history has shown the threat did not come from the British, it was from a lot closer to home. It was due to scheming Brahmanical groups and Hindus influences that the Singh Sabha movement was created and gathered momentum.

 

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  Prof.Gurmukh Singh
Other groups had established themselves, like the Nirankaries, Radhasoamies and Namdharies but they had their own agendas. They had no set goals for the community and rather emphasised the ritual aspects. They had little or no impact. There were fundamental differences between these groups and mainstream Sikhism and this led to these groups breaking away.
 
These problems were little compared to the Brahmenical influences. At the time of the late 1800’s it was clear that certain areas of Sikhism were lapsing back into Hinduism. Sikhs who had recently converted were now returning to the Hindu fold uncertain of the future of Sikhism. A British observer Sir Richard Temple commented “ Sikhism is on the decline, a spent force, the Sikhs are the most uneducated people in the Punjab.” The British exploited the lack of political knowledge of the Sikhs by setting up Christian missionaries. They also opened a Christian missionary school in the holy city of Amritsar, striking at the very heart of Sikhism. Lower class Sikhs who were tired of the way they were treated by the Sikh leaders converted to Christianity. High numbers of Sikhs were changing their faith so soon into British imperialism. It was not only the poor Sikhs who were converting, many well off sikhs with great political and social leverage moved over to Christianity due to enticements of government posts and hefty pensions.

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  Bhai Kanh Singh of Nabha
 
The British intentions were clearcut but the Hindus were more scheming and made the boldest religious moves during this period. In 1875 a Hindu group calling themselves Arya Samaj, led by Swami Dayanand started making bold and derogatory statements about the Sikhs. Their main belief was that all religions and faiths were simply a branch of Hinduism. Hinduism is like an ocean which all rivers flow to. All their beliefs were centred around the book of Vedas. Swami Dayanand denounced Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and labelled the Guru’s and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as having little importance.
 
The sect was growing in popularity within Punjab and it was apparent to all Sikhs that this group was here to stay and was seeking to eradicate the Sikh faith through lies and accusations or by any means possible. The problem with the Sikhs was that they were by and large leaderless, there was no control of the religion, there were no institutions, no custodians. Other faiths like Christianity, Islam and Hinduism had schools of faith and learning centres. Schools where children could be nurtured, raised within the fold of the faith. This was not the case with the helpless Sikhs.
       
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