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date: 27 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article surveys how the past has been represented in Sikh tradition in a variety of forms over the history of the tradition. Sikh historiographical traditions represent diverse influences and contexts, emerging out of the specific soteriological and communitarian concerns of the Sikh community in changing political and social circumstances. Persian, Punjabi, and Braj literary and historiographical representations dominated in earlier periods; in the colonial period, European modes of historiographical production provided a set of models that influenced production in various languages. Historical representation has continued to embody a central form of engagement with Sikh tradition in scholarly as well as popular contexts in the post-colonial period, reflecting but also transforming earlier interests. The representation of the past has thus formed a central but changing commitment of Sikh cultural production over time, from the pre-modern to the modern periods, a dynamic arena for engagement with the past, present, and future.

Keywords: Sikh historiography, Janam-sākhīs, Gurbilās, Bhai Vir Singh, Ajmer Rode, representation, Persian, Braj, Punjabi, rahit, history

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