Course No. HIN 5304 SIKHISM Credit Hours 3

Course Plan for Distance Education Program – 2004

[Distance Education students may register for the course at any time of the year]

Instructor: Prof. Nirmal Singh

Phone: [860] 673 6381

Email: [email protected]

Address: 65 Lido Road, Farmington, CT 06085

Description of the Course:

Beginning with the time, life and teachings of Guru Nanak, study covers the growth and development of the faith through the lives and teachings of succeeding nine Gurus to the installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib as the living Guru; the Sikh struggle, challenges, responses and transformation during 18th, 19th through mid 20th century; Sikh scripture and selected teachings; Sikhs in contemporary India, Diaspora and the American society.

Course Objectives:

Sikhism in its short history of 500 years has emerged as the fifth largest faith worldwide. The course aims at familiarizing the student with the origin and development of the faith, its basic teachings and historical experience that have shaped their responses and defined their place in society. Sikhs have a significant and growing Diaspora with a fairly sizable population in North America. The course will also look at the problems the community faces contemporaneously in the post Sep.11 America.

Required reading:

  • Nirmal Singh: Exploring Sikh Spirituality & the Paradox of their Stereotyping in Contemporary American Setting, Sanbun, 2003, ISBN 81-7010-324-X
  • J S Grewal, Guru Nanak in History, Punjab University, Chandigarh [PUC], 1998
  • Avtar Singh, Ethics of the Sikhs, Punjabi University, Patiala [PUP], 1996, ISBN 81-7380-201-7
  • Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Oxford, 2001, ISBN 019562644-3
  • Harbans Singh [Editor-in-Chief], The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Vols. I to IV, PUP, ISBN 81 7380 530 X [suggested articles]
  • Ganda Singh, The Singh Sabha and other Socio-religious Movements, PUP, 1997, ISBN 81-7380-346-X
  • M A Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, Satvic, Reprint Edition, 2000, ISBN 81 87526 03 3 [set of three] – originally published London, 1909 [suggested pages]
  • G S Talib, The Impact of Guru Gobind Singh on Indian Society, PUP, 1999, ISBN 81-7380-564-4

Additional References:

  • Harbans Singh, Guru Nanak and origins of the Sikh faith, PUP, 1994
  • W H McLeod, Exploring Sikhism, Oxford, 2000, ISBN 0 19 564 902-8
  • Anil Chandra Bannerjee, Guru Nanak and his times, PUP
  • Sunita Puri, Advent of Sikhism, Munshiram Manoharlal [MM], 1993, ISBN 81-215-0572-0
  • Niharanjan Ray, The Sikh Gurus & the Sikh Society, MM, 1975
  • Trilochan Singh, Life of Guru Hari Krishan, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, 1981
  • Fauja Singh & G S Talib, Guru Tegh Bahadur, PUP, 1996, ISBN 81-7380-282-3
  • Dharam Singh, Dynamics of the Social Thought of Guru Gobind Singh, PUP, 1998, ISBN 81-7380-468-0
  • Shiv Kumar Gupta, Creation of the Khalsa, PUP, 1999, ISBN 81-7380-573-3
  • Pashaura Singh & Gerald Barrier, Sikh Heritage in the Diaspora, Manohar, 1996, ISBN 81-7304-155-5
  • —           —        –do—      —       , Sikh Identity, Manohar, 1999, ISBN 81-7304-236-5
  • Pashaura Singh, The Guru Granth Sahib, Oxford, 2001, ISBN 019 564 8943
  • Wazir Singh, Sikhism & Punjab’s Heritage, PUP, 1990
  • J S Grewal, Historical Perspectives on Sikh Identity, PUP, 1997, ISBN 81-7380-359-5
  • Dharam Singh, Sikhism, Norm & Form, Vision & Venture, 1997, ISBN 81 86769 05 6
  • Madanjit Kaur and Piar Singh, Guru Arjan & his Sukhmani, Guru Nanak Dev University, 1995

Note: The University will send Course instructions and material to the students. Any enquiries should be addressed to them. Communication with the faculty is encouraged using email.


Responses to the assignments should be sent to the faculty by e’mail. Comments by the faculty and the results of evaluation will be communicated to the student by e’mail.




A tentative scheme of course modules, tests, term paper, evaluation plan and grading system is given below.

Module I – Beginning of the Faith: Guru Nanak, his times and message [6 lessons]

  • Recapitulating medieval North India and Punjab
  • Socio-religious milieu in Nanak’s time
  • Nanak’s life, missionaries, events and responses
  • Nanak’s message
  • Emerging Sikh faith and tradition

[J S Grewal, Guru Nanak in History, Encyclopaedia – articles as to be suggested*, some notes may be provided**]

Module II – Gurus Angad to Arjan: progressive steps to consolidation [4 lessons]

  • Angad succession and his ministry
  • Amar Das, consolidation and reform
  • Ram Das, development of Amritsar
  • Arjan Dev, Harmandir, Adi Granth, martyrdom

[Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion***, pages to be suggested, *, **]

Module III – Guru Hargobind to Gobind Singh: trials, tribulations and transformation [5 lessons]

  • Hargobind & the doctrinal review
  • Har Rai, the calm interlude
  • Har Krishan, the bal Guru
  • Tegh Bahadur, the second Guru martyr
  • Gobind Singh, evolution of Khalsa

[G S Talib, Impact of Guru Gobind Singh on Indian Society, *, **, ***]


Module IV – Sri Guru Granth Sahib [5lessons]

  • Compilation of Adi Granth
  • The Guru’s compositions
  • Compositions of Bhagats
  • Installation as living Guru

[*, **]

Module V – Sikh Teachings & Tradition [10 lessons]

  • Sikh sacred music tradition
  • Human existence, purpose
  • On human travails & suffering
  • Relating to creation, nature and environment
  • Equality, justice, social ethics
  • Integration of spiritual & temporal: sant sipahi
  • The concept of Sahaj
  • Spiritual progress
  • Sikh house of worship
  • The place of scripture in Sikh tradition

[Nirmal Singh, Exploring Sikh Spirituality, Avtar Singh, Sikh Ethics – pages to be suggested, *, **]


Module VI – The Turbulent Times: Sikhs in 18th century [3 lessons]

  • Banda Bahadur
  • Weakening Delhi Durbar’s hold in Punjab
  • Sikh holocaust
  • Rise of the Misls


Module VII – Rise & fall of Sikh power [3 lessons]

  • Maharaja Ranjit Singh
  • English next door
  • Decline of Sikh Rule

[Modules VI & VII – Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, pages to be suggested, *, **]

Module VIII – The British Period & Reform Movements [4 lessons]

  • The Nirankari and Kuka Movements
  • Singh Sabha Movement
  • The Akali Movement
  • Sikhs in the struggle for freedom

[Khushwant Singh, pages to be suggested, Ganda Singh, The Singh Sabha — Movements, *, **]

Module IX – The contemporary scene [5 lessons]

  • Sikhs in India – recent experiences, issues
  • Growth of the Diaspora
  • Sikhs in post Sep.11 America, the emerging challenges
  • Looking to the future

[Nirmal Singh, Khushwant Singh, *, pages to be suggested, **]



Evaluation & Grading: per University norms


Quite a few of the titles suggested for required and suggested reading can be available from The Sikh Heritage, 10411 Rutland Pl., Adelphi, MD 20783 – phone 301 434 0061.

Nirmal Singh, Exploring Sikh Spirituality, is available from the Instructor.

The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism can also be accessed on the website All About Sikhs – Gateway to Sikhism.

The Instructor will try and help procuring required reading titles not available in the US from India; though no guarantees can be given on success of such efforts.

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