Updated: May 30, 2021
‘Rise of Sikh Power in the Punjab’, authored by Sohan Singh Seetal, was first published around 1970. Having originally been published in Punjabi, the work was translated into English by Professors M.C Sharma and Hardyal Singh under the guidance of Sohan Singh. As exemplified by the title of the work, Sohan Singh is largely concerned with the initial stages of Khalsa rule, beginning with the exploits of Banda Singh Bahadur, up to the establishment of the Sikh Misals.
Split into two parts, Sohan Singh introduces the early life of Banda Singh, his upbringing and his life changing union with Guru Gobind Singh in 1708 AD. Concluding with the martyrdom of Banda Singh, an insightful summary of his life is given and this chapter of Sikh rule is drawn to a close. Rather interestingly, Sohan Singh begins the second part of his book with a summary of the essential elements of Sikhi. This in itself contextually exemplifies the nature of Sikh society and polity at the time of Banda Singh’s martyrdom, where Sikhs had endured mass persecution and continued to do so for several years. A reminder of Sikh principles indicates the type of thought processes held at the time by the Sikh population. Furthermore, it fuels the reader with a sense of meaning and fulfilment that is relevant to the Sikh faith and that time period.
"The temper imparted to the steeled hearts of the Sikhs never lost its quality inspite of the thousands of reverses which they suffered. This nation was transformed from the Sikhs or disciples to Singhs or lions, for their determination to do or die" - Part 2, Chapter 1 - 'Essentials of Sikhism', Rise of Sikh Power in the Punjab by Sohan Singh Seetal
Part two, and the book itself, concludes with the establishment of the Sikh Misals, essentially demonstrating a conclusion to the rise to power for Sikhs. For at this time, the Sikh Misals held a position of authority and integrity in the Punjab and would be followed by the establishment of the Sikh empire by Maharajah Ranjit Singh.
Sohan Singh also discusses several well known historical events during the eighteenth century including the story of Bota Singh, Taroo Singh and the liberation of Harmandir Sahib by Sukha and Methab Singh. An essential element of this work is how Sohan Singh is able to apply context to the time period where he not only considers the Sikh applicable events but also those applicable to the Mughals and Afghans in the Punjab. For this, chapter IX gives a concise yet informative summary of the Mughal rule and its decline following the death of Aurangzeb.
This book is recommended for anyone seeking to understand more about the 18th Century history of Punjab and the path between Banda Singh Bahadur and the establishment of the Sikh Misals.