PUNJAUB, THE, which according to its subtitle, is a brief account of the country of the Sikhs, its extent, history, commerce, productions, government, manufactures, laws, religion, etc., was written by Lieut Colonel Henry Steinbach, a European officer in the Khalsa army, and was first published by Smith, Edder, & Co., Cornhill, London, in 1845. It was reprinted by the Languages Department, Punjab, in 1970. The author was an eyewitness, during his seven year stay among the Sikhs (1838-45), to the cataclys mic events which overtook the Punjab following the death of Ranjit Singh
After a sketchy note on the topography of the Punjab and its principal towns and a very brief survey of the rise of the Sikh power, Stein bach straightway proceeds to describing the death and funeral of Ranjit Singh and the subsequent intrigues and murders up to the elimination of Hira Singh and Pandit Jalla and the installation of Jawahar Singh as the minister. He concludes his narration of events with: “the general opinion of the best informed authorities, namely, the European officers lately in the Lahore service, is that tranquility never can be permanently established in the Punjab until under the firm rule of the British goverment, whose interference, it is fully anticipated, will, ere long, become unavoidable.”
This seems to be the leitmotif of Steinbach`s work. He stresses the desirability of annexing Punjab to the British dominions and pleads for decisive action to this end. The book also contains a general survey of the climate, produce, commerce, industry of the Punjab and costumes, manners, customs and religious beliefs of its people. Equally interesting is the author`s detailed description of the government and army of the Punjab and the Sikh court. An appendix, apparently added by the publishers, traces briefly the history of the British connection with Ranjit Singh from 1805 up to the Tripartite treaty of 1838.
In several instances, Stein bach shows both his ignorance of and antipathy towards the people about whom he is writing. As examples of the former he reads the history of the Guru period in terms of a continuing communal clash among Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, and describes Harimandar as `a temple of Vishnu, one of the Sikh deities`. However, despite the subjectivity and bias of Stein bach, this short book of 140 pages is a useful contemporary source on a period that witnessed a great turmoil leading Finally to the extinction of the Sikh State.
1. Fauja Singh, ed., Historians and Historiography of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1978
2. Khurana, Gianeshavar, British Historiography on the Sikh Power in the Punjab. Delhi, 1985.
3. Darshan Singh, Western Perspective on the Sikh Religion. Delhi, 1991