«AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION O thou that buttest the high mountain, seeking to dislodge it with thy horns, take pity, not on the mountain but on thy head ...»
Sri Aurobindo, the greatest Sage-philosopher of our times, comments on the heroic spirit of Rajputs, Marathas and the Khalsa. He says ‘’The Rajputs maintained their independence until the time of Akbar and his successors and it was in the end partly with the aid of Rajput princes acting as their generals and ministers that the Mughals completed their sway over the East and South.”10 “The Maratha revival inspired by Ramdas’ conception of the Maharashtra Dharma and cast into shape by Shivaji was an attempt to restore what could still be un-derstood or remembered of the ancient form and spirit, but it failed, as all attempts to revive the past must fail, in spite of the spiritual impetus and the democratic forces that assisted in its inception.
The Pe shwas for all their genius lacked the vision of the founder and could only establish a military and political confedracy.
And their endeavour to found an empire could not succeed because It was inspired by a regional patriotism that failed to enlarge itself beyond its own limits and awaken to the living Ideal of United India.”11 “The Sikh Khalsa on the other hand was an astonishingly original and novel creation and its face was turned 210 to the future.” Talking of the later period Sri Aurobindo rightly says, “Apart and singular in its theocratic head and democratic soul and structure, its profound spiritual beginnings, it first attempted to combine the deepest ele-ments of Islam and Vedanta, it was a pre-mature drive towards an entrance into the third or spiritual stage of human society, but it could not create between the spirit and the external life the transmitting medium of a rich creative thought and culture.”12 Such are the perceptions of all enlightened and unbiased Hindu and Muslim sage-scholars about the Khalsa Brotherhood and the militant spirit of the Sikhs.
Historians and scholars who do not have access to original sources of Sikh history can be forgiven for misstatements of facts and even misinterpreting historical movements. A scholar who sees the Mughal period of Sikh history from Mughal point of view and British period from the British point of view is not likely to understand Sikhs or Sikh ism, but still these historians accumulate some facts to give a point of view. But Hew McLeod does not con-sider his moral duty to give any source of his theories about the Sikh social, religious and political structures. Banking on his knowledge of Janamsakhis and Rahitnamas, which a housewife with primary education of Punjabi can understand, and his pretentions to know all about Sikh scriptures and historical documents, McLeod constructs his own irrational mathematical formulas for analysing the noblest ideals of Sikhism, and applies them with un-scrupulous vulgarity to the Gurus, and the most important and significant events of Sikh history, religion and culture.
Historians like Isaiah Berlin are of the opinion that “historians must judge historical figures like Napoleon, Changez Khan, Hitler and Stalin on the basis of their acts of tyranny and despotism. Prof. Knowles says that historians must not pronounce moral judgements.13 But Croce firmly states, “those who, on the plea of narrating history, bristle about as judges, condemning here and giving ablution 211 there, because they think that this is the office of history, are generally recognized as devoid of historical sense.”14 But Hew McLeod belongs to an entirely different species of historians and scholars, a species which is not quite rare in the Western world. Like the medieval Qazis known for their corruption and more so like many corrupt Indian judges today, he acts not only as a very arrogant judge but a hanging judge, who can invent facts, which have no historical or social basis to fulfil his lust for passing perverted judgement and he puts on the scaffold everyone who falls in his net. He crosses all limits of academic propriety, respect for truth, and minimum moral scruples required by a scholar writing about a religion not his own, and a people for whose history and doctrines, he gives vent to naked hostility and ingrained contempt.
HEW MCLEOD’S ABSURD THEORIES ABOUT VULGAR JAT
CULTURAL - COERCION OF SIKHISM AND THE MINDS OF GURU
HARGOBIND AND GURU GOBIND SINGHWithout writing a word about the ethnic origin and migration of Jat tribes into Punjab and other north In-dian states, Hew McLeod presents the Jats (pronounced Jutts) as a rustic and barbaric tribe which kept long uncut hair and had distinguished themselves in unprudent and savage use of the sword. “For centuries the sword of the Jats could not restrain itself from drinking blood again and again, and the Jat sword found Sikhism a haven for giving vent to its tribal passions.
Once they became a dominant majority during the period of Guru Arjun, even Guru Hargobind and Guru Gobind Singh could not control them. Both the Gurus surrendered and sacrificed the best that was in Guru Nanak’s faith at the altar of powerfull at cultural lobby within Sikhism.” For the first time he projects this theory in his book “Evolution of the Sikh Community”; and reasserts it in all his subsequent books.
We give it in a nutshell and we quote only from this book.
His first statement is that Guru Arjun founded the 212 cities Tarn Taran, Sri Hargobindpur and Kartarpur in the Jat territory. Even Jahangir ordered the execution of Guru Arjun not because he was reported to have extended moral and political sympathy to Khusro, not because of his religious and political influence but because of predominent presence of Jats amongst the fifth Guru’s followers.
According to Hew McLeod both Guru Hargobind and Guru Gobind Singh were so submissive to external influ-ences that when Guru Hargobind shifted to Kiratpur, he and his grandson Guru Gobind Singh came under the spell of shaktiworshippers and accepted Chandi worship. He gives as evidence, Guru Gobind Singh’s use of the word All-Steel SarbLoh for God (p. 13). Guru Gobind Singh thus became a helpless victim at the hands of Jats whose craze for using sword indiscriminately was beyond his control.
Hew McLeod’s ingenuity in concocting utterly false facts crosses all limts of intellectual scruples, when he first gives one page summary of Guru Gobind Singh’s call on Baisakhi 1699, the day ‘Khalsa’ was ordained. He calls this historical incident for which there is overwhelming con-temporary and near contemporary evidence “a tradition”, and proclaims with his usual oracular arrogance, “Tradition abounds but so too do compulsive reasons for scepticism. What we do know, however, indicates that the traditions relating to the period of Guru Gobind must be wiped clean and must not be reinscribed until we have ascertained just what did take place during the eighteenth century.” According to his own brand of historiograpliy he finds no explanation on the events between 1699-1708 when Guru Gobind Singh was alive but asks his readers to accept the fulfilment of his theory which he reveals in late eighteenth century events. If one did not understand the most important event of Cromwell’s life, he must read Queen Victoria’s life and period; he will get the answer according to McLeod’s techniques of historiography. There is a saying that if a dirty pond in Punjab wishes to give evidence of being very clean and refreshing it 213 pre-sents the frog as its witness. Hew McLeod presents in afootnote on this page Dr J.S. Grewal as his witness although Dr Grewal in his casually written essay does not support any part of McLeod’s theory.
McLeod further says that the Five K’s which Guru Gobind Singh imposed on the Khalsa Holy Order were also done by the Guru to accept ‘Jat cultural patterns”, because it was the age old Jat-custom to keep uncut hair and also to keep the sword.” He says that “the custom prevailed among Hindu and Muslim Jats” (p. 52), a fact which has no historical basis and in support of which he does not quote any authority on the ethnic behaviour and life-style of Jats. According to him Khalsa code and disci-pline was only Jatcultural pattern and discipline (p. 58). He has repeated these ideas in all his books written after this without giving any evidence worth the name. He calls even Bala’s janam-sakhi a Jat janam-sakhi thereby suggesting that Puratan janamsakhi could be named Bhapa janamsakhi, because he asserts that Jats contemptuously call all Aroras and Katris Bhiipiis, a fact which is incorrect.
In Malwa a brother is addressed as Baiji (diminution of Bhai); in Jullundur Doaba he is addressed as Bira ji (Sk Vira = Brother). These two words are used in Gurbani. In Majha a brother is addressed as Bhau; but in Rawalpindi area a brother is addressed as Bhapa, and those people are proud of being addressed as such even now. This style of address and their sweet language appeared odd in Majha and Malwa, but their impact has brought a good deal of refined manner of speech which is now being gratefully appreciated all over Punjab.
Before we comment on Hew McLeod’s unsub-stantiated and outrageously absurd statements about the role of Jats in Sikh history, who according to him destroyed all concerns of Guru Nanak about his religion, and w by virtue of their ho overwhelming majority were able to treat Guru Hargobind and Guru Gobind Singh as helpless tools, ready to surrender everything that was ideal in the religion of Guru Nanak to Jat-culture, we 214
must state who the Jats were by ethnic origin.
JATS IN INDIAN HISTORYJats were unknown in Indian history before eighth century A.D. We first find them mentioned in Chachnama and the writings of Yuan Chwang. They were believed to be scythians in origin and migrated into border regions of India along with Bals, Gujjars, Huns and other tribes. In the 8th century their concentrated population was found only in Sindh and according to Yuan Chwang, they were all Buddhists. They did not carry any sword and they did not have any long hair as alleged by Hew McLeod. They were, however, indifferent and grim like some Red Indian tribes. They were cattle grazers and shepherds and hardy people.
The Muslim invasions virtually destroyed Buddhism. Jats who were earlier grazers and herdsmen not only acquired the greatest skill in cattle breeding, but they also became the most hard working farm labourers. Those who could buy land became land owning farmers. Those who became Muslims and Sikhs and joined the peasant uprisings during invasions became Zamindars and Sardars. Waris Shah in his Hir Ranjha repeatedly says that one should not take a Jat by his word (jat da kaul manzur nahi) but he also tells us that under the inspiration of Sikhism and the spirit of freedom which it inspires, many Sardars established independent kingdoms overnight.
(uth desh de jat sardar hoe, gharo ghari navi sarkar hoi).
Whether Sikhism was accepted by a Jat, or a carpenter, or a kalal, or a cobbler - all low caste people in Hindu society became Sardars. The word Sardar according to Steingas’ Persian Dictionary means “A General, Field Marshal, Officer of rank, King’s lietuenants, a Chief in any department, a prince, a paragon.” Ibbetson and Rose, in their three volumes of detailed study of Tribes and Castes of Punjab and N.W. Frontiers, give accurate data based on information acquired frorn each tribe.
215 The Jats were divided into tribes and their pride and vanity in their tribe was ingrained. Randhawa, Mann, Bhangu, Ghuman, Bains, Chahal were names of tribes and they still retain their tribal names and vanity labels. There are Muslim Virks, Manns, Bhullar, Gills etc. and also Sikh Virks, Manns etc. In Punjab (India and Pakistan) hardly threetenth of the Jats settled. Sevententh or perhaps even more are found in Haryana, V.P., Bikaner and many regions of Rajasthan like Jaipur, Alwar, Bharatpur are Jat territories. Those who became rich zamindars did keep swords and horses, but keeping long hair and the sword is never known to be a part of Jat culture of this or any other region as Hew McLeod alleges.
Farming was not done by Jats exclusively. Most of the Kshatriyas who lost their princely prestige, took up farming
for honourable living. Guru Gobind Singh tells us:
bis gaitv tin ke rahi gae jin mo karat krisani bhae To the Bedis were left Only twenty villages In which they lived by farming
Guru Gobind Singh :
Bachiter Natak: Apni Katha, Adhya 5, Verse 3 Jats helped as farm labourers. Bala Sandhu was the Jat farm labourer intimately associated with Guru Nanak’s family just as Mardana was associated as the Bard. The Jats started having small land-holdings. Guru Nanak’s Bedi family were tillers of soil.
Alberuni (973-1030 A.D.) a remarkable Sanskrit and Arabic scholar got the opportunity to study Majha Jats. He calls them “cattle-owners, grazers and low-caste shudra people.” It is obvious that Hindu society treated them as such.
But by entering Muslim and Sikh society and acquiring land they were able to raise their social status. In Rajasthan their inter-marriages with Rajputs gave them political aspirations and with their tribal society they were able to create Jut dominated states like Bharatpur.15 216
COMMENTS ON HEW MCLEOD’S PREPOSTEROUS THESIS ABOUT
JAT-CULTURAL DOMINATION ON SIKH GURUSHew McLeod builds up this theory based on false and malicious assumptions to prove that Guru Nanak’s Nanakpanthi religion was corrupted by the Majha Jat cultural predominance and under their influence Guru Hargobind distanced the new militant Sikhism from Guru Nanak’s faith.
The question now arises that Guru Nanak spent the last twenty years of his life in this very Majha region. Through his marriage at Batala his family contact existed with this region since early period of his life. The man who offered him land for his Kartarpur shrine was a Jat Zimindar. The man dearest to him next to Angad was Bhai Buddha the Jat who remained Master of Ceremonies upto Guru Hargobind. Jat Zamindars of this region like Ajita Randhawa played a prominent role during the last twenty years of his life. The role of Master of Ceremonies was prerogative of Brahmins in Hindu Society.