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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhias

Time of origin: 2nd October 1879

Approximately six years after the emergence of the Sanatan Singh Sabha, the growing numbers of Christian Missionary-educated Sikhs, loyal to the British Raj, were helped by the British in setting up their own Singh Sabha. These Sikhs would later become known as the ‘Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhias’.

First Anglo Sikh War
Sikh soldiers during the First Anglo-Sikh War, circa 1846

From the conception of the Tat Khalsa Singh Sabha in Lahore on 2nd November 1879, Sir Robert Egerton, the Governor of Punjab’s aide, became its patron. Sir Robert would later become the Governor of Punjab. Quoting an earlier text, ‘Akali Morcha Teh Chabar’, 2nd Edition (Pa. 18), the Sikh Missionary College Publication (February 2000) noted that it was Egerton who had written to Viceroy Lord Rippon in 1881, with regards to the control of Sikh temples:

‘My dear Lord Rippon
I think it would be politically dangerous to allow the arrangement of Sikh temples to fall into the hands of a committee emancipated from government control, and I trust your Excellency will assist to pass such orders in case as will enable to continue the system which has worked out successfully for more than thirty years. (Simla 6 August 1881). Believe me,
Yours sincerely
R. E. Egerton
Lt. Governor. Panjab.’
‘Morcha Guru Ka Bagh’, Pa. 9

Rippon Building
The building where Lord Rippon resided, Madras, circa late 19th century

Utilising quick thinking and forward planning, the British had appreciated the need to control Sikhs and their religious institutions from the very beginning. They were quick to seize the opportunity to put a check on the Tat Khalsa Singh Sabha movement, and ferment trouble between the Sikhs and Hindus.

Mann Singh
Sirdar Bahadur Mann Singh who fought against the British in the first Anglo-Sikh war at Mudki, Ferozeshah and Sabhraon, Hodson’s Horse, Delhi, circa 1858-59

The infamous ‘divide and rule’ policy was once again employed by the British in regards to ruling India. They had even conquered India, not with British soldiers, but trained Indian ‘Sepoys’ who were taught to kill their fellow Indians. Indeed, according to Sanatan Sikh and Hindu tradition, it was the British writers on Sikhism, who, upon encountering Sikhs began to present Sikhs as a distinct community. This was in line with the ‘divide and rule’ policy, as all pre-British Raj writings on Sikhs (by Sikhs/Hindus/Muslims) considered Sikhs as a separate community within Hinduism, but on the whole ‘Hindu’.

***Image 828***
Veteran Sikh soldiers in the British Army, Malta 1870

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