Published in 2018 by Singh Brothers, ‘Dynamics of Society and Culture During Khalsa Raj’ presents research conducted by Dr Renu Bala with respect to development of social and cultural history in Punjab between 1765 and 1849.
Following the introductory material, Renu Bala introduces the historical context of the time period which is essential to understanding the nature in which this society is situated. The author goes on to discuss elements of the social structure, position of women, material comforts, recreational activities, customs and literature specific to the time period. This work dives deep into the intricacy of life in the Punjab during Khalsa Raj and how it influenced all levels of society.
Of particular interest is her chapter on the on the ‘Position of Women’ where the author highlights practices of female infanticide, practice of giving dowry and the practice of sati. Whilst these practices are outlawed in Sikhi, they were still conducted by members of society during this period and, unfortunately, even today. Renu Bala also briefly covers details with regards to women close to Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his lineage, including Maharani Jind Kaur, Sada Kaur and Maharani Chand Kaur.
Overall ‘Dynamics of Society and Culture During Khalsa Raj’ is an excellent, well rounded piece of work. I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes to uncover more information with regards to the Khalsa Raj period, especially how it related to the society of Punjab. The work maps out this period from a relatively unbiased position, where Renu Bala is not hesitant to highlight those negative elements of Khalsa Raj as well as the positives.