Page images

Guru Govind, are soldiers, and distinguished by the name of Singh, lion; the others are now called merely Sikhs, without Singh being added. The Sikhs may shave their beards and cut off their hair; but those who bear the title of Singh, carefully preserve both. The Singh may eat all animal food, except the cow-race, but the others observe almost the same restrictions in their diet as the Hindus.

The inhabitants of the country situated between the Jumna and Setlege,* are

* "On the 25th April, I crossed the Setlege. This river seems to have its source in the hills bearing from this about north-east, and flows in a south-westerly direction, through a fine, open, champaign country. Its banks are very low, and it bears the appearance of a fine canal running in two channels, the first fordable, and in breadth about one hundred yards across, and the second, three hundred and fifty; the water is deep but not rapid. There are twenty boats at the ghaut, of rude construction, but well adapted for crossing artillery and cavalry, in one of which both my elephants crossed with ease. They are each capable of containing twenty horses, the men ride into them at once, without dismounting; they resemble in figure an oblong square, with a prow at one

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

named Málawá Singhs. Sirhind was once the capital of this country, but it is now almost in ruins, owing chiefly to the destructive ravages of Banda,* who not only caused the mosques, but also all the other public buildings, and even palaces, of that once flourishing town, to be demolished. The sacred Seraswati, for which the Sikhs have the highest veneration, flows through this province, whose principal towns now are Patiala and T'hánesur.

The country between the Setlege and the Beyah,† is called Jalendra Beit, or Ja

end. The river, during the rains, is full one and a half mile broad. The distance from the Jumna to the Setlege is six stages, being sixty of their coss, each measuring 2,600 ordinary paces.”—Tour to Lahore, by an Officer of the Bengal Army. As. Ann. Register, vol. xi. p. 426.

* See p. 289, 290.

+"On the 30th April, I crossed the Beyah, on the same kind of boats as at the Setlege. The Beyah flows in two branches, the waters of which are deep but not rapid: its western banks are high, and its breadth cannot be less, in rainy seasons, than one mile and a half.” -Tour to Lahore.

lendra Duab, and the people inhabiting it, Duaba Singhs. This country, which reaches from the mountains of Himalaya, or Imaus, on the N. W. down to the junction of the Setlege and Beyah, at Ferosepour, is one of the most fruitful provinces possessed by the Sikhs, and remarkable for the agreeableness and salubrity of its climate. Its principal towns are Jalendra and Sultanpour.

The country between the Beyah and Rauvy, is called Bari Duab, and the people inhabiting it Manj'ha Singh. The city of Lahore, which was considered as the capital of the Panjab, and the holy city of Amritsar, are in this province.

The inhabitants of the country between the Rauvy and Chunab, are called D'harpi Singh. Those between the Chunab and Behat, or Jhelum, are named D'hanighab Singh; those in the countries belonging to the Sikhs between that river and the Indus, Sind Singh; and those in Moultan, Nakai Singh. But notwithstanding the name Singh be given to the inhabitants of each

of the territories we have mentioned here, the general name of the nation is Sikh, and those called Sikhs only, without the appellative Singh, are by far the most numerous part of the population.

The government of the Sikhs considered as a state, consists of a federation of a number of independent chiefs; who are masters of their own subjects, and acknowledge no human superior, but declare themselves servants of what they call Khalsa,—a mystical word which may be said to mean invisible government; the established rules and laws of which, as explained and fixed by Guru Govind, it is their civil and religious duty to observe.* On great emergencies the Guru-Mata, or national assembly, is summoned to meet at Amritsar,+ and this assem

* Sketch of the Sikhs, by General Malcolm.

+ "Amritsar is an open town, about four coss (nearly eight miles) in circumference. The streets are rather narrow, the houses in general good, lofty, and built of burnt brick; but their apartments are very confined. It is the grand emporium of trade for shawls and saffron

bly, after the due performance of certain religious ceremonies, is supposed to act by

from Cashmeer, and a variety of other commodities from the Dukkun and eastern parts of India. The Rajah levies an excise on all the merchandize sold in the town, according to its value, which is not complained of by the merchants. The exports of this place are very trifling, the inhabitants only manufacturing some coarse kinds of cloth and inferior silks. From being the resort of many rich merchants, and the residence of bankers, Amritsar is considered a place of great opulence. The Rajah has made a new fort here, called Runjeit Ghur, and has brought a canal from the Rauvy, a distance of thirty-four miles.

"I visited in due ceremony, and without shoes, Amritsar (or the pool of immortality), from which the town takes its name; it is a bason of about one hundred and thirty-five paces square, built of burnt brick, in the centre of which stands a pretty temple, dedicated to Guru Govind Singh, to which you go by a causeway. It is neatly decorated, both within and without, and the Rajah is making additional ornaments to it at his own expense. In this sacred place is lodged, under a silken canopy, the book of laws, as written by Guru Govind Singh, in the Gumuk'hee character. The temple is called Hurmundul, or God's place; there are from five to six hundred Acalis, or priests, belonging to

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »