Special Issue "Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2020).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Pashaura Singh
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
Interests: canon formation; hermeneutics; Guru Arjan; Guru Granth Sahib; Sikh history; literature and culture

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special issue will publish articles on a broad theme of "Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage.” Notably, the early twenty-first century continues to be a very exciting time for the field of Sikh studies. Within the last two decades, scholars have begun to question prevailing approaches to the study of Sikhism in both the west and India itself to the point that this least-examined and perhaps most misunderstood of South Asia’s religious and cultural traditions is now an established part of curricula and scholarly programs across North America and the United Kingdom.

Much of the foundational scholarship in the field of Sikh studies has followed historical and textual approaches, sometimes to the extent of softening the focus on Sikh practices, performances, and everyday ‘doings’ of Sikh lives. The growing turn in religious studies toward ‘lived religion’ calls scholars to be aware that ‘religions’ are at least as much about the things that people ‘do’ as about the ideas, ideals, and central narratives enshrined within their texts and scripture. Rather than dichotomize text and practice, we invite papers that draw attention to the intersections between Sikh sacred texts and actual practices of the Sikh community.    

In this Special Issue, we provide the opportunity to explore Sikh traditions and heritage through interdisciplinary approaches, resulting from academic inquiries into Sikh texts, as well as the practices that surround them and their performance. For this purpose, we encourage a diverse range of theoretical and methodological approaches, including religious studies, historical studies, textual studies, musicology, anthropology, political science, sociology, philosophy, ethnography, art and material culture, and ritual and performance studies.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to enhance the field of Sikh studies and to contribute in the production of novel research. It will usefully supplement (relate to) existing literature in the field. Thus, we invite both younger scholars following fresh approaches and established scholars who have already made significant contributions to the study of Sikh traditions and heritage.

Prof. Dr. Pashaura Singh
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Introduction to Special Issue: Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage
Religions 2021, 12(7), 538; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12070538 - 16 Jul 2021
Viewed by 831
Abstract
It was quite an exciting moment when the Religions Editorial Office reached out to me to be a guest editor of a Special Issue (SI) on a broad theme of “Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage” for the celebrated Open Access Online Journal, Religions [...] Read more.
It was quite an exciting moment when the Religions Editorial Office reached out to me to be a guest editor of a Special Issue (SI) on a broad theme of “Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage” for the celebrated Open Access Online Journal, Religions [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage)

Research

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Article
The Institution of the Akal Takht: The Transformation of Authority in Sikh History
Religions 2021, 12(6), 390; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12060390 - 27 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1822
Abstract
The Akal Takht is considered to be the central seat of authority in the Sikh tradition. This article uses theories of legitimacy and authority to explore the validity of the authority and legitimacy of the Akal Takht and its leaders throughout time. Starting [...] Read more.
The Akal Takht is considered to be the central seat of authority in the Sikh tradition. This article uses theories of legitimacy and authority to explore the validity of the authority and legitimacy of the Akal Takht and its leaders throughout time. Starting from the initial institution of the Akal Takht and ending at the Akal Takht today, the article applies Weber’s three types of legitimate authority to the various leaderships and custodianships throughout Sikh history. The article also uses Berger and Luckmann’s theory of the symbolic universe to establish the constant presence of traditional authority in the leadership of the Akal Takht. Merton’s concept of group norms is used to explain the loss of legitimacy at certain points of history, even if one or more types of Weber’s legitimate authority match the situation. This article shows that the Akal Takht’s authority, as with other political religious institutions, is in the reciprocal relationship between the Sikh population and those in charge. This fluidity in authority is used to explain and offer a solution on the issue of authenticity and authority in the Sikh tradition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage)
Article
Remembering Guru Nanak: Articulations of Faith and Ethics by Sikh Activists in Post 9/11 America
Religions 2021, 12(2), 113; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12020113 - 10 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 512
Abstract
This paper explores the role of activism as an inflection point for engagement with religious and cultural identity by younger generations of Sikhs in the US. The response of young Sikh activists and the effects on the community are examined in the context [...] Read more.
This paper explores the role of activism as an inflection point for engagement with religious and cultural identity by younger generations of Sikhs in the US. The response of young Sikh activists and the effects on the community are examined in the context of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US. The paper begins with the reflections of a Sikh activist about her personal journey learning about Sikh faith and history, and her activism and personal interests. Important themes that reflect the attitudes of contemporary Sikh activists and organizations are discussed. The effects of the post-9/11 backlash against Sikhs in the US are compared to Guru Nanak’s experiences of and response to violence, strife, and injustice. The social, psychological, and spiritual benefits of service for those who provide service and care are explored in relation to Sikh philosophy, and from the point of view of contemporary cultural and historical studies of Sikh seva (selfless service) and humanitarianism. The paper concludes that many Sikhs, particularly those coming of age in the late 20th and early 21st century, often referred to as millennial and Generation Z, view social justice activism, humanitarianism and Sikh seva as central and equal to other pillars of Sikhism like worship and devotional practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage)
Article
Autoethnography: A Potential Method for Sikh Theory to Praxis Research
Religions 2020, 11(12), 681; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11120681 - 19 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1150
Abstract
The application of autoethnographic research as an investigative methodology in Sikh studies may appear relatively novel. Yet the systematic analysis in autoethnography of a person’s experience through reflexivity and connecting the personal story to the social, cultural, and political life has synergy with [...] Read more.
The application of autoethnographic research as an investigative methodology in Sikh studies may appear relatively novel. Yet the systematic analysis in autoethnography of a person’s experience through reflexivity and connecting the personal story to the social, cultural, and political life has synergy with the Sikh sense-making process. Deliberation (vichhar) of an individual’s experience through the embodied wisdom of the Gurū (gurmat) connecting the lived experience to a greater knowing and awareness of the self is an established practice in Sikhi. This article explores autoethnography as a potential research method to give an academic voice to and capture the depth of the lived experiences of Sikhs: first, by articulating the main spaces of synergy of autoethnography with gurmat vichhar; second, discussing common themes such as inclusivity of disregarded voices, accessibility to knowledge creation, relational responsibility, and integrity in storytelling common to both autoethnography and gurmat vichhar. In conclusion, the autoethnographic approach has the means to illuminate nuances in understanding Sikhi that is transformative and familiar to the ancestral process of how Sikhs have made sense of themselves and the world around them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage)
Article
Religious and Political Dimensions of the Kartarpur Corridor: Exploring the Global Politics Behind the Lost Heritage of the Darbar Sahib
Religions 2020, 11(11), 560; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11110560 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 695
Abstract
The 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak and the construction of the Kartarpur Corridor has helped the Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan gain global attention. In 2019, thousands of Sikhs embarked on a pilgrimage to Pakistan to take part in this momentous [...] Read more.
The 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak and the construction of the Kartarpur Corridor has helped the Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan gain global attention. In 2019, thousands of Sikhs embarked on a pilgrimage to Pakistan to take part in this momentous occasion. However, conversations surrounding modern renovations, government control of sacred sites, and the global implications of the corridor have been missing in the larger dialogue. Using historical methods and examining the Darbar Sahib through the context of the 1947 partition and the recent construction of the Kartarpur Corridor, this paper departs from the metanarrative surrounding the Darbar Sahib and explores the impact that Sikhs across the globe had on the “bridge of peace”, the politics behind the corridor, and how access to sacred Sikh spaces in Pakistan was only partially regained. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage)
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Article
Narratives in Action: Modelling the Types and Drivers of Sikh Activism in Diaspora
Religions 2020, 11(10), 539; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11100539 - 21 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 784
Abstract
Using data gathered for an investigation of “Sikh radicalisation in Britain”, in this article I develop a typology of different types of activism among Sikhs in diaspora based on an analysis of historic and contemporary media sources (newspapers, radio, television, online), academic literature, [...] Read more.
Using data gathered for an investigation of “Sikh radicalisation in Britain”, in this article I develop a typology of different types of activism among Sikhs in diaspora based on an analysis of historic and contemporary media sources (newspapers, radio, television, online), academic literature, ethnographic fieldwork and a series of semi-structured interviews with self-identifying Sikh activists. I assess the reasons behind a variety of different incidents involving Sikh activists, how Sikh activists view the drivers of their activism and to what extent this activism can be regarded as being “religiously motivated”. I critique existing typologies of “religious activism” by developing a typology of Sikh activism which challenges the distinction often made between “religious” and “political” action. I argue that “religiously motivated actions” must be understood in conjunction with narratives, incidents and issues specific to particular religious traditions and that generic motivations for these actions cannot be applied across all religious traditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage)
Article
The Image of Guru Nanak in Dadu-Panthi Sources
Religions 2020, 11(10), 518; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11100518 - 10 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1102
Abstract
This essay examines the issue of Guru Nanak’s inclusion in the mid-to-late seventeenth-century devotional text prepared by the Dadu-panthi savant, Raghavdas, the Bhakt-māl or Garland of Devotees. This text follows by some decades the similarly titled Bhakt-māl of Nabha Das. However, while [...] Read more.
This essay examines the issue of Guru Nanak’s inclusion in the mid-to-late seventeenth-century devotional text prepared by the Dadu-panthi savant, Raghavdas, the Bhakt-māl or Garland of Devotees. This text follows by some decades the similarly titled Bhakt-māl of Nabha Das. However, while Nabha Das excludes Guru Nanak, Raghavdas’ Bhakt-māl embraces him and includes a much more diverse seventeenth- and pre-seventeenth-century saintly clientele that was particular to both northern and southern India. The essay is one of the first to examine this text in Sikh studies and tease out the reasons which may have prompted Raghavdas to include Guru Nanak. In the process, it attempts to understand early non-Sikh bhakti views of the Sikh Gurus while also providing fresh looks at Sikh numbers in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and at the diverse and multi-ideological environment of northern India from the early 1600s onward. It also suggests Raghavadas’ familiarity with the poetry of his near contemporary ideologue, the great Sikh scholar Bhai Gurdas Bhalla. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage)
Article
Speaking Truth to Power: Exploring Guru Nanak’s Bābar-vāṇī in Light of the Baburnama
Religions 2020, 11(7), 328; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070328 - 02 Jul 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1507
Abstract
This essay offers in-depth analysis of Guru Nanak’s works, collectively known as the Bābar-vāņī (“arrow-like utterances concerning Babur”), in the context of the memoirs of the first Mughal emperor Babur (1483–1530). It extends the number of works in the collection from a ‘fixed’ [...] Read more.
This essay offers in-depth analysis of Guru Nanak’s works, collectively known as the Bābar-vāņī (“arrow-like utterances concerning Babur”), in the context of the memoirs of the first Mughal emperor Babur (1483–1530). It extends the number of works in the collection from a ‘fixed’ assemblage of ‘four’ to ‘nine,’ making it an open collection that dynamically responds to the specific questions raised by historians about Guru Nanak’s encounter with Babur. The resulting framework provides us with a fresh analytical gaze into the critical events related to Babur’s invasions of India and helps the novel readings of Guru Nanak’s verses shine through. It also examines how Guru Nanak’s voice of resistance was interpreted in the narratives produced by later generations. Departing from traditional views, the essay ends with a new understanding of the impact of the Bābar-vāṇī on the evolving Sikh conceptions of the relationship between spiritual and political powers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Sikh Traditions and Heritage)
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