A new book was launched for Sri Guru Nanak Sahib’s Gurpurab by Khalis House, an independent Sikh publisher based in London, UK. This book is unique and demonstrates that this new generation is equally as interested in connecting with and contributing to Sikh literary works. Below we hear from the author and founder of Khalis House, Ranveer Singh, on what motivated him to write this book:
Patshahi Mehima: Revisiting Sikh Sovereignty was written to reclaim and narrate Sikh history through the lens of patshahi. I felt there was a need to do this as most of the popular books in English often omit key aspects, presenting a distorted narration of Sikhi. This erasure revolves around lack of context and deeper understanding of sovereign Sikh action, placing Sikhi within the framework of Western religious studies as “Sikhism”. This leads to the inevitable critique of sovereign Sikh action as either being tied to a moment in history as a “Sikh past”, or a “religious fundamentalism” when looking at recent “history”.
Relying on pre-colonial Sikh works, this book shows how Sikhi was not the same as the colonial invention of "Sikhism". It demonstrates how Gurmat is a standalone, sovereign, world view, and forms the basis of Sikh actions in the Sikh struggle for Sikh sovereignty, which has taken many forms. By revisiting the origins of Sikh sovereignty, which began in Kartarpur Sahib, the book charts the revolutionary rise of the Sikh Panth under the Guru Sahiban, through the various manifestations of the Guru’s Darbar, before turning to the raj established by the Guru-Panth.
This book was written for an 18-year-old me, someone born within a Sikh family, but not necessarily aware of Sikh history and the centrality of patshahi. While it can be viewed as a history book, I also attempt to deconstruct some of the ideology that causes the erasure and distortion, whether that be Western secular philosophy or the effects of Brahmanism. Understanding the impact of both, as well as overt colonialism and Indian nationalism helps to appreciate and understand the sovereign Sikh action of the shaheeds who resisted the Indian state in the 1980s and 1990s, and fought for the establishment of Khalistan.
I hope this book will be read for years to come and become a resource for a new generation of Sikhs as they continue to engage with Sikh literary works. I think this book is valuable in three key areas: it presents a holistic narrative of Sikhi, it provides a list of sources for further study, and it takes a political position shaking off the shackles of “neutrality” in striving for wholeness and liberation. My desire is for this book to give our naujawan a new starting point that realigns them to truly centre Guru-Granth-Guru-Panth.
As the panth continues to face a new set of challenges and adversaries on this path to exercise our Guru-granted patshahi, we can see a disconnect from our guiding principles in many activist and leadership circles. As our generation looks for answers on how to move this struggle forward, I found that reflecting on our past and aligning ourselves with the legacy of the Guru and shaheeds is the only way to navigate our path into the future.
I felt a need to reorient myself, my own thought processes, and work in panthic spaces. This book is a result of this process, which I hope to share with the sangat. My hope is that this book will offer some grounding to a new generation of Sikh naujawan as we embark on this task of creating a new chapter of history that will be written about in the years to come.
Ranveer Singh is the founder of Khalis House; an independent Sikh publisher based in London, UK. His debut book, Patshahi Mehima, shows that this new generation is equally as interested in connecting with and contributing to Sikh literary works.