Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 14-15 (July-Dec 1987) p. 123.


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Politics Before and After the Annexation of the Punjab

Surjit Hans

THIS PAPER is an exploratory effort to understand ideas on politics in a traditional society like that of the Punjab, which were later modified by religious reform movements, e.g., the Singh Sabha. The political orientation of the religious reform movements, in turn, affected the nationalist outlook. It may be worthwhile to describe, however tentatively, the historical morphology of modern political ideas in the country.

With the rise of the Sikh rule, works on politics, mostly commentaries or translations, appear for the first time in the Punjabi language. One such manuscript, Rajniti by Tansukh is taken up for consideration. The original work is supposed to be a joint effort of two Rajput brothers, Bhoj Rai and Lakhan in 1684.' Tansukh got a copy of the manuscript in Ranthambor some time in the Sikh period. Naqli Sikh Prabodh2 (The Awakening of the False Sikh) is a representative work of the Singh Sabha. The author, Giani Ditt Singh was one of the foremost leaders, whose life span 1850-190 F exactly covered the period of religious revivalism. One may point out that works on politics are far more useful to the historian than works of literature, with its conventionalized portrayal of life or philosophy, its exaggerated emphasis on unpalpable mukti, or even the chronicles which are unconcerned with reality in depth. In Rajniti down-to^ earth realism is shot through with the world outlook of the times.

Journal of Arts & Ideas 123


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