04 December, 2020

Sing Your Song, Bulle Shah

A history of Punjab hastens through the Mughals, ponders over its rich heritage and the Sikh empire, examines the colonials and lingers over its bloody division

Sing Your Song, Bulle Shah

Nagged by childhood memories of a Delhi ove­rrun by Punjabi refugees in 1947 and burdened by a grandfather’s anti-Partition legacy, Raj­mohan Gandhi sets out to write an all-­inclusive history of undivided Punjab, the kind of which he claims has not been written since a work by Latif in 1899. The intention is to go beyond the well-documented Sikh story of Punjab and bring Punjabi Mus­lims and Hindus within his sweep, all the while bowing to the famed Punjabi spirit imbued with commonalities of language and culture. The constr­uct is commendable, if somewhat forced: after all, no serious Sikh history could have been of the Sikhs alone, given Pun­jab’s quilted patchwork of Sikhism, Islam and Hin­duism. Punjabiyat, along with Sufi and Bhakti influences, is deeply int­e­grated into Sikh history. Also, it would have to be a very post-colonial aud­ience to whom the commonalities in today’s two Punjabs have to be explained. When he writes that “most Pakistanis today do not know that towns like Lahore, Rawal­pindi,...



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