Saturday, 24 January 2009

Sikh Stories by Anita Ganeri

Sikh Stories (Storyteller) is a brilliant book to introduce the main beliefs of Sikhism to young readers. The book focuses on the life of the Gurus and has eight short stories. The stories are very clear and they are not long as to lose a child's interest. The book is nicely illustrated by Rachael Phillips. The book gives accounts of morals that are applicable to everyone, whatever their background. The author Anita Ganeri has done an MA in Indian Studies from Cambridge University and is a full-time children's book author, including many on comparitive religion.

Historical Dictionary of Sikhism (Second Edition) by W.H. Mcleod

The Historical Disctionary of Sikhism by W.H Mcleod (Scarecrow Press) provides useful information on the Sikh's in a user-friendly style that will appeal to a wide range of readers. The book is divided into three main sections, the first begins with a map of the Punjab, India, a 'family tree' of some of the Gurus, and a chronological timeline. It then gives an abbreviated outline of the teachings of the Gurus, several paragraphs on Sikh identity, and a brief discussion of two contrasting approaches to history. The map would benefit from an explanation, since Punjab has been repeatedly truncated and its boundaries redrawn. In 1947, half of Punjab went into creating Pakistan; from the remaining part in India, two other states - Himachal Pardesh and Haryana - have since been carved out. Although a good attempt at explaining important Sikhs, the book does have flaws, for instance Guru Gobind Singh is portrayed as 'the leader of his Sikhs, fighting to sustain his position as the ruler of a small Shivalik principality!' this would make him seem like some petty warlord instead of a Guru! His four sons were martyrs also, but McLeod's description sounds as if the older two sons were killed running away instead of defending Chamkaur in battle. The dictionary would have benefited with information on the younger two sons, who even as small children seven and eight years old, were willing to be martyred rather than accept Islam. A continuously held and deeply loved belief that permeates Sikhism is that in 1699, five Sikhs (Panj Piarey) were the first to accept initiation in the Khalsa, and that Guru Gobind Singh himself accepted initiation from their hands. Hew McLeod elides by this very significant point. This is as if in a presentation on Christianity, one were to ignore the detail of crucifixion because not all the facts may be historically clear. However it is not without its good points such as, for instance, entiries on 'Gender' and the 'Gender of God' are excellent and good commentaries on the unequivocal Sikh ideal of gender equality, and the actual practice that varies considerably from it. Another example of this is 'Sikh Architecture,' a short, but tantalizing, note on its distinctive style. The development and sentiment for a Sikh 'Nanakshahi' calendar also finds a well-deserved space. The author, W.H. Mcleod has gained a p.hD from SOAS, London and went to Batala to teach English, whilst there he learnt Gurmukhi and studied the sikh scriptures.

The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms

The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms (V&A Publications) by Susan Stronge was first produced to accompany an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 1999, which marked the 300th anniversary of the formation of the sacred Sikh brotherhood of the Khalsa by examining the remarkable cultural history of the Sikh kingdoms of the Panjab in the 19th century. But if you missed the exhibition, this hefty and lavishly illustrated tome gives a thorough introduction to Sikh history, culture and art. Sikhism is about 500 years old, founded by Guru Nanak after his revelation of the divine as one infinite and singular reality (Ik On Kar - the quintessential form of Sikh metaphysics and ethics) and refined by succeeding gurus. Kindness, social cohesiveness and divine unity - and a shunning of meaningless ritual - define the creed, and there are now about 30 million Sikhs in the world, of whom 20 million live in India and significant numbers in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Susan Stronge has gathered together an impressive array of contributors from museum curators to military historians. Their articles cover the religion itself, and the story of its key religious building, the golden temple at Amritsar. Military history ('when all other means have failed, it is righteous to draw the sword' said Guru Gobind Singh, and for centuries the Sikhs fought hard against Mogul oppression), art and textiles and courtly customs are also examined, as are some key 19th-century figures and, unavoidably, the relationship with Britain and the European perspective on the Panjab. Though many of the artefacts of the 19th century were modelled on traditional styles centuries older, the modern world also intruded on the Panjab, and there is a fascinating chapter of photographs from the Panjab in the 1850s and 1860s. The author Susan Stronge is a curator in the Indian and South-East Asian Department at the V&A museum, and has written prolifically about the jewellery and other decorative arts of northern India from the 16th to the 19th centuries. This book is viewed as the definitive guide to Sikh arts and is highly recommended to those with an interest in Sikh arts.

The Wisdom of Sikhism

The Wisdom of Sikhism (Oneworld of Wisdom) (Oneworld Publications)
by Chranjit Ajitsingh draws on the words and the teachings of the Sikh Gurus to offer readers wisdom to treasure. This book discuses a tradition that combines sensible advice on practical issues, like the importance of family life, while offering enlightenment on such themes as spiritual liberation and nearness to God. The author, Chranjit has lectured around the world on Sikhism and interfaith relations. She is also a former lecturer, principal, and director, she now works as an education inspector, and has published widely in the areas of educational issues, Sikhism, and spirituality in general. The book is 224 pages long, a great read for both Sikhs and non-Sikhs who want to explore spirituality.

The Warrior Princess 1: Sikh Women in Battle: Sikh Women in Battle v. 1

The Warrior Princess 1 ( by Harjit Singh is a book of stories set in 19th Century Punjab. It details stories of ordinary Sikh women living in extraordinary times who had to struggle for survival. The book is suitable for all ages, especially school children for whom it would give an insight into the life of Sikh warriors and give a deeper understanding about some of the aspects of the Sikh religion and its history. A reader of the book commented, "moving, inspirational and absolutely fantastic. Too few books are available in english about the sikh women of the past. That this book is in a class of it's own. the stories are written in such a dynamic way and the excellent illustrations compliment the stories so well." The author Harjit Singh started writing poetry from a young age and this has progressed to writing short stories, of which this book is a great example, being 64 pages long it is an easy read and would be great for bed time stories for children. The book is brilliantly illustrated by Taranjit Singh and Harjit Singh Khera.

The Sikh Army, 1799-1849 (Men-at-arms)

The Sikh Army 1799-1849 (Men-at-arms) (Osprey details the Sikh wars 1845-46 and 1848-49 that saw the British Army pitted against its most formidable enemy in the whole history of British India, and perhaps of the whole expansionist phase of the 19th century British Empire. The Sikh Army created by Maharaja Ranjit Singh from the 1820s was inspired by its warrior faith, but organised, drilled, uniformed, and armed in Western style. Its artillery was unrivalled in Asia, and by the 1840s the Sikhs had 50,000-70,000 regular troops and similar numbers of irregulars. Although the British were victorious, they suffered huge casualties, and the major pitched battles of the wars more closely resembled Waterloo than the actions typically fought in this theatre. It could also be argued that the Sikh's lost because of the betrayal at the hands of the Dogra brothers that negotiated with the British and other allies of the British, whom without the British would have found hard to have any gains against the Sikhs. The author Ian Heath is a highly respected author and has written a number of Osprey titles, including Men-at-Arms volumes 89: 'Byzantine Armies 886-1118', 287: 'Byzantine Armies 1118-1461' and 275: 'The Taiping Rebellion 1851-66'. He is currently working on a five-volume project covering the armies of 19th-century Asia. Ian lives and works in Cambridgeshire, UK. The book has been illustrated by Michael Perry who has worked for 22 years as a sculptor/designer at Games Workshop and 16 years for the historical figure company, Wargames Foundry, along with his twin brother Alan.

Sikhism by Gurinder Singh Mann

Sikhism (Prentice Hall, Religions of the World Series) is a unique and insightful book that skillfully uses recent research to give an accurate and comprehensive overview of the Sikh religion against the backdrop of other major religions in the world today. The book includes a focused discussion on the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Darbar Sahib and Amritsar. It also examines the founding of the religion by Guru Nanak in the 15th century, the influences of Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikh Kingdom and Sikhs in the modern world. Gurinder ends the book by providing a thought-provoking chapter on the future of the Sikh religion. The author is a lecturer of Sikh Studies at the University of California and he has a ph.D in Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures from the Columbia University.