- Category: Literature in the Singh Sabha movement
Ham Hindu Nahin, by Bhai Kahn Singh, lit. "We, i.e. Sikhs, are not Hindus," is a clear-cut declaration of Sikh identity registered by a Sikh scholar and intellectual towards the close of the nineteenth century. The statement constitutes the basic dictum of the book which appeared under this challenging title in 1898. In the signed introduction to the work, the author puts down HB as his initials. Decoded, the initials stand for Kahn Singh. The book was registered under this title in the Punjab Gazette on 30 June 1899 at number 447. The author's name, Kahn Singh, started appearing in the book from 1907. The book recalled the days of long-drawn polemic between Hindus and Sikhs.
Hindus argued that Sikhism was part of the vast Hindu complex and that it had no independent status of its own. Sikhs, especially those influence by the Singh Sabha ideology, joining the debate from the other side, argued vehemently that Sikhism was an autonomous faith with its own history, religious symbols and philosophy. Even some Sikhs not initiated to the new ideas supported the theory that the Sikhs did not belong to a religious tradition different from the Hindus. This school found strong support in elements saturated in Hindu thought and ideology.
The view that the Sikhs are Hindus found strong support in an address given in 1897 by Baba Sir Khem Singh Bedi, a direct lineal descendant of Guru Nanak, at the Diamond Jubilee function at the Institute of Technology at Lahore saying that the Sikhs are not separate from Hindus. In his tract published in 1899, Bava Narain Singh repeated the assertion that Sikhs are Hindus. Ham Hindu Nahlh appeared in the form of a dialogue between a Hindu and a Sikh: the Hindu was asking questions which are answered by the Sikh.
The bulk of the book consists largely of texts drawn mainly from the Sikh scripture and presented as evidence that Khalsa faith and conduct differ from Hindu tradition to such an extent that Sikhism must be regarded as a separate religious system, distinct and autonomous in its own right. The texts are grouped under such headings as religious texts, caste system, divine incarnation, rituals, idol-worship, belief in gods and goddesses, etc. Thus pressing ite claims vehemently and vigorously to a distinctly separate Sikh identity, the book concludes with a versified note by the author, describing characteristics of the Khalsa.
1. Barrier, N. Gerald, The Sikhs and Their Literature, Delhi, 1970.
2. Sekhon, S.S. and K.S. Duggal, A History of Punjabi Literature, Delhi, 1992.