Faculty Publications

Guru Gobind Singh And The Khalsa

Document Type

Book Chapter

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Global Sikhs: Histories, Practices and Identities

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By the eighteenth century, the members of the Cherished Five, the history of which is nowhere near as clear as contemporary Sikh tradition proclaims, were intimately associated with three features that were particularly salient to Sikhs of this earlier period: their castes, their towns, and their previous lives. This paper will focus on one particular feature of the Cherished Five organisation that today has all but disappeared, but was easily one of the most important components of the organisation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, its karmic alignment. Unbeknownst to many Sikhs today the Cherished Five were all claimed to be incarnations of five previous Hindu divinised beings. My paper will trace the history of this idea and attempt to understand why this understanding was predominant. Furthermore, it will also suggest reasons why today that powerful and oft-repeated feature of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Sikh tradition has all but disappeared.


Department of History

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DOI of published version