Amritsar is chiefly notable as the centre of the Sikh religion and the site of the Golden Temple, the chief worshipping place of the Sikhs.
Finally the city and surrounding district fell under the sway of Ranjit Singh at Lahore, and passed with the rest of the Punjab into the possession of the British after the second Sikh war.
A Sikh college for university education was opened in 1897.
It is the headquarters of the Sikh religion, containing 264,329 Sikhs as against 280,985 Hindus and 474,976 Mahommedans.
ALIWAL, a village of British India, in the Ludhiana district of the Punjab, situated on the left bank of the Sutlej, and famous as the scene of one of the great battles of the 1st Sikh War.
On the 28th Sir Harry Smith, with a view to clearing the left or British bank, attacked him, and after a desperate struggle thrice pierced the Sikh troops with his cavalry, and pushed them into the river, where large numbers perished, leaving 67 guns to the victors.
The nascent Sikh power prevented Mahratta incursions from being permanently successful in the Punjab.
In 1842 Ratan Singh supplied camels for the Afghan expedition; in 1844 he reduced the dues on goods passing through his country, and he gave assistance in both Sikh campaigns.
Together with the two other deras (settlements), Dera Ismail Khan and Dera Fateh Khan, it gave its name to the territorial area locally and historically known as Derajat, which after many vicissitudes came into the possession of the British after the Sikh War, in 1849, and was divided into the two districts of Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan.
The Sikh religion did not reach this full development at once, nor was the first of the gurus even the first to feel dissatisfaction with the existing order of things.
Thus it will be seen that the doctrines of these early reformers contained the germs of the later Sikh religion.
1577, which has remained ever since the centre of the Sikh religious worship. From this time onward the office of guru became hereditary, but the practice of primogeniture was not followed, each guru selecting the relative who seemed most fitted to succeed him.
It was Guru Arjan who compiled the Granth or Sikh Bible, out of his own and his predecessors' compositions.
When Har Govind was installed as guru, Bhai Budha, the aged Sikh who performed the ceremony, presented him with a turban and a necklace, and charged him to wear and preserve them as the founder of his religion had done.
Guru Arjan, who was in charge of the great Sikh temple at Amritsar, received copious offerings and became a man of wealth and influence, while the sixth guru became a military leader, and was frequently at warfare with the Mogul authorities.
He, like his predecessors, openly attacked all distinctions of caste, and taught the equality of all men who would join him, and he instituted a ceremony of initiation with baptismal holy water by which all might enter the Sikh fraternity.
But while Nanak had substituted holiness of life for vain ceremonial, Guru Govind Singh demanded in addition brave deeds and zealous devotion to the Sikh cause as proof of faith; and while he retained his predecessors' attitude towards the Hindu gods and worship he preached undying hatred to the persecutors of his religion.
The Mahommedans promptly responded to the challenge, for the danger was too serious to be neglected; the Sikh army was dispersed and two of Guru Govind Singh's sons were murdered at Sirhind by the governor of that fortress, and his mother died of grief at the cruel death of her grandchildren.
No formal alteration has been made in the Sikh religion since Guru Govind Singh gave it his military organization, but certain modifications have taken place as the result of time and contact with Hinduism.
Some of the water is sprinkled on him five times, and he drinks of it five times from the palms of his hands; he then pronounces the Sikh watchword given above and promises adherence to the new obligations he has contracted.
Another Sikh ceremony is the kara parshad or communion made of butter, flour and sugar, and consecrated with certain ceremonies.
The establishment of Singh Sabhas, of Sikh newspapers, and the spread of education have largely tended in the same direction, but the strict ethical code of Sikhism and the number of its obligatory divine services have caused many to fall away from the faith: nor does the austere Sikh ritual appeal to women, who generally prefer Hinduism with its picturesque material worship and the brightness of its innumerable festivals.
Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors (6 vols., 1909), and two lectures before the United Service Institution of India on "The Sikh Religion and its Advantages to the State" and "How the Sikhs became a Militant Race."
Sikh Wars >>
The inhabitants of this district have always been very independent and stubbornly resisted the Afghan and Sikh predecessors of the British.
Towards the end of the century the heretical Sikh Guru, Ram Rai, expelled from the Punjab, sought refuge in the Dun and gathered round him a crowd of devotees.
In 1808 he was selected by Lord Minto for the responsible post of envoy to the court of Ranjit Singh at Lahore; here, on the 25th of April 1809, he concluded the important treaty securing the independence of the Sikh states between the Sutlej and the Jumna.
He -served in both the Sikh wars, was secretary to Colonel (afterwards 'Sir) Arthur Phayre's mission to Ava (1855), and wrote his Narrative of the Mission to the Court of Ava (1858).
SIKH, a member of the Sikh religion in India (see Sikhism).
The word Sikh literally means "learner," "disciple," and was the name given by the first guru Nanak to his followers.
Both obey the general injunctions of the Sikh gurus, but the Sahijdhari Sikhs have not accepted the pahul or baptism of Guru Govind Singh, and do not wear the distinguishing habiliments of the Kesadhari, who are the baptized Sikhs, also called Singhs or lions.
The Sikhs are principally drawn from the Arora, Jat and Ramgarhia tribes, but any one may become a Sikh by accepting the Sikh baptism.
To the temperament of the Jat, the Arora and the Ramgarhia Sikh add the stimulus of a militant religion.
The Sikh is a fighting man, and his best qualities are shown in the army, which is his natural profession.
There are some 30,000 Sikhs in the Indian army, and the sect is cherished by the military authorities, who insist on all recruits taking the pahul or Sikh baptism.
Joining the 2nd Bengal Grenadiers he went through the first Sikh War, and was present at the battles of Moodkee, Ferozeshah and Sobraon.
The Sikh invasions began in 1818, and from that date to the annexation by the British government the Sikhs were steadily making themselves masters of the country.
After the Second Sikh War, by the proclamation of the 29th of March 1849, the frontier districts were annexed by the British government.
RANJIT SINGH, MAHARAJA (1780-1839), native Indian ruler, was born on the 2nd of November 1780, the son of Sirdar Mahan Singh, whom he succeeded in 1792 as head of the Sukarchakia branch of the Sikh confederacy.
By birth he was only one of many Sikh barons and owed his rapid rise entirely to force of character and will.
Subsequently he attacked and annexed Amritsar in 1802, thus becoming master of the two Sikh capitals.
At this period a band of Sikh fanatics called "akalis," attacked Sir Charles Metcalfe's escort, and the steadiness with which the disciplined sepoys repulsed them, so impressed the maharaja that he decided to change the strength of his army from cavalry to infantry.
He organized a powerful force, which was trained by French and Italian officers such as Generals Ventura, Allard and Avitabile, and thus forged the formidable fighting instrument of the Khalsa army, which afterwards gave the British their hardest battles in India in the two Sikh wars.
His power was military aristocracy resting on the personal qualities of its founder, and after his death the Sikh confederacy gradually crumbled and fell to pieces through sheer want of leadership; and the rule of the Sikhs in the Punjab passed away completely as soon as it incurred the hostility of the British.
Mahommedan (62,458,077), Buddhist (9,476,759), Sikh R (2,195,339), Jain (1,334,148), Christian (2,923,241), Parsee (94,190), and Animist (8,584,148).
The Sikh religion is almost entirely confined to the Punjab.
Mahmud won the day by the aid of his Turkish horsemen, and thenceforth the Punjab has been a Mahommedan province, except during the brief period of Sikh supremacy.
G P Sikh kingdom of Ranjit Singh effectually dispelled any such alarms for the future.
(For the origin of the Sikh power see Punjab.) Ranjit Singh, the founder of the Sikh kingdom in the Punjab, had faithfully fulfilled all his obligations towards the British.
But on his death in 1839 no successor was left to curb the ambition of the Sikh nationality.