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Old May 11th, 2012, 09:22 AM   #1

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Why were the Sikhs loyal in the 1857 Mutiny?


The East India Company's twin wars of conquest against the Sikhs were still raw memories when the Bengal sepoy mutiny of 1857 broke out. Many regiments of Sikhs, both infantry and cavalry, regulars and irregulars, were serving in the British forces on the sub-continent. Not only did all of these units remain loyal during the Mutiny, they fought with particularly distinguished courage on behalf of the British.

Why didn't the Sikhs leap on what could have been a perfect chance to reassert their independence? I've read that soldierly respect for British soldiers, and contempt for the fighting skills of the mutinous sepoys - as well as religious factors - are what kept the Sikh units loyal.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 10:18 AM   #2
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Probably, because they were a fairly small minority, and felt more protected from Hindus and Muslims under British rule.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 10:27 AM   #3

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Apparently the Muslims kicked off over rumours of pig fat being used in the new rifle cartridges and piggies are forbidden by Islam or something so there was religious uproar. I don't think Sikh's are too bothered by pigs so that may be why they stayed loyal, not to mention the Sikhs being a fairly separate and warrior like race who'd fought against Hindus/Muslims in the past with the Khalsa army.

The Gurkhas were also loyal and spent most of their time lopping off the mutineers' heads.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 02:10 PM   #4

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I have heard, though not sure how true it is, that a lot of Sikhs wanted revenge for the Anglo-Sikh Wars, in which most of the troops arrayed against them were Hindus and Muslims, under British officers. But again, no idea how true it is.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 02:18 PM   #5

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Because they got to kill Muslims???
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Old May 11th, 2012, 03:13 PM   #6

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Britain supported minority groups in order to rule India. A couple of minorities they empowered were the Parsis, Zoroastrian communities from Persia who immigrated following the Islamic conquest, and the Sikhs.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 03:24 PM   #7

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Several reasons many of which have already been pointed out. The biggest one is that it was Bengali and Bihari Sepoys who had fought in the British army that brought the Sikh Punjabi Kingdom down. The Sikhs felt no pity for their cause hence. Another one is that the figurehead of the rebellion was the Mughal "Emperor" Bahadur Shah Zafar II. The Mughals had been the historical enemies of the Sikhs with several of the Sikh gurus dying at the hands of the Mughal kings. Again they felt no sympathy for a cause whose figurehead was a Mughal King. However Sikhs were not the only loyal natives. As Gregory Freemont Barnes points out in "The Indian Mutiny" 1857-58

"Sikhs were not the only recruits, Punjabi Muslims, Gurkhas, Pathans (Pashtuns), Afghans and Balochis, who had no ethnic or religious connection with the predominantly Hindus sepoys ... (were also recruited)"

Last edited by Shaheen; May 11th, 2012 at 05:06 PM.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 03:30 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawnmowerman View Post
Because they got to kill Muslims???
On the contrary a major reason was probably the attitude the high caste Hindu Bihari/Bengali sepoys had of Sikhs. Muslims and Sikhs dominated the Punjab with no excessive discrimination of Muslims taking place per se under Ranjit Singh. Their only quarrel lay with the Mughals. Taking away the events of the 1940s and the actions of the Mughals, the common man Sikh Muslim relations have been good. This can probably be best shown by the fact that the foundation stone of Sikhisms holiest temple, the harmandir sahib was laid by a Muslim sufi saint Hazrat Mian Mir.

Saint Hazrat Mian Mir - SikhiWiki, free Sikh encyclopedia.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl Of Rochester View Post
Apparently the Muslims kicked off over rumours of pig fat being used in the new rifle cartridges and piggies are forbidden by Islam or something so there was religious uproar. I don't think Sikh's are too bothered by pigs so that may be why they stayed loyal, not to mention the Sikhs being a fairly separate and warrior like race who'd fought against Hindus/Muslims in the past with the Khalsa army.
The rumour was that pig and cow fat (taboo for muslims, hindus, sikhs all alike was being used) so that is most probably not a reason.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 03:36 PM   #9

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I was always under the impression that Sihks lived in an almost constant state of war fare with the Muslims.

I always believed that Sihkism arose to combat the Muslims.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 03:45 PM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawnmowerman View Post
I was always under the impression that Sihks lived in an almost constant state of war fare with the Muslims.

I always believed that Sihkism arose to combat the Muslims.
They were in a constant state of war with the Mughals yes, but Mughal does not equal to Muslims. Many Muslims like the Pashtuns were also constantly rebelling against the Mughals.

Sikhism actually emerged from the meeting of Islam and Hinduism. It has features of both religions. The most important one from Islam is that it is a monotheistic religion. As said amongst the common man there was a lot of respect. My grandmother told us that back in unpartitioned Punjab, even though they lived in a majority Muslim area, whenever they used to go to the butcher they would take a cart, put the meat on it, cover it with a piece of cloth and put perfume on it so if just in case any Sikhs or Hindus were passing by they would not be offended.
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