Sikhism Bibliography

Several entries adapted from Karine Schomer and W.H. McLeod, eds., The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India. Berkeley: Berkeley Religious Studies Series, 1987 and Darshan Singh Tatla and Ian Talbot, eds. Punjab: World Bibliographical Series, vol. 180. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1995.

Primary Sources

Dass, Nirmal, trans. Songs of the Saints from the Adi Granth. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2000.

Of interest because it collects the poetry of the non-Sikh members of the Sikh canon. Here, among others, you’ll find the Surdas of the Sikhs.

Gurbachan, Singh Talib, trans. Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Patiala: Punjabi University, 1984-88.

For the adventurous and strong (its a big, heavy book or several books!), here’s the whole Adi Granth.

Kaur Singh, Nikky-Gunninder, trans. The Name of My Beloved: Verses of the Sikh Gurus. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.

Key sections of the Guru Granth Sahib translated in the "language of today." A book that will make for a more accessible approach than a direct dive into the voluminous entire original text.

McLeod, H.W., trans. Textual Sources for the Study of Sikhism. Manchester University Press, 1984.

Includes portions from the Adi Granth and the Dasam Granth, the works of Bhai Gurdas and Nand Lal, the janam-sakhis, the rahit-namas, popular Sikh history, sectarian texts and modern Sikh theologians.

-------------. The B-40 Janam Sakhi. Amritsar, India: Guru Nanak Dev University Press, 1980.

An English translation of an manuscript from the India Office Library, the oldest extant manuscript in the Punjabi language. With its 57 paintings, it has served as the basis of many popular narratives about Guru Nanak.

--------------. Early Sikh Tradition: A Study of the Janam-sakhis. Oxford Clarendon Press, 1968.

A detailed study of the origins and content of the traditional accounts of Guru Nanak’s life. Basic work on source materials and crucial issues concerning Guru Nanak and his time.

The Sikh Rahit Maryada. Amritsar, India: Shiromani Gurdwara Parhandhak Committee, 1978.

An approved document of Sikh rituals and ceremonies, adopted after many years of deliberation within Sikh communities. It has assumed a status of a standard orthodox text.

General Works on Sikhism and Sikh History

Juergensmyer, Mark and N. Gerald Barrier, eds. Sikh Studies: Comparative Perspectives on a Changing Tradition. Berkeley: Berkeley Religious Studies Series, 1979. Papers from the Conference on Sikh Studies held in Berkeley in 1976.

Grewal, J. S. The Sikhs of the Punjab. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

A broad historical introduction to the geography and cultural history of the Punjab, focusing of course on these topics as a back-drop to the development of Sikhism, right up to the present day. Also has a somewhat helpful bibliographical essay.

----------------.From Guru Nanak to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. 2nd revised ed. Amristar: Guru Nanak University, 1982. (Original, ed., 1972)

Essays on aspects of Sikh history from the late 15th to mid-19th centuries.

----------------."The Sikh Panth: 1500-1800," in David N. Lorenzen, ed., Religious Change and Cultural Domination. Mexico: El Colegio de Mexico, 1981, pp. 193-97.

McLeod, W.H. The Evolution of the Sikh Community: Five Essays. Delhi: Oxford

University Press, 1975.

Critical essays on major theological and socio-religious issues concerning the origin and development of Sikhism. Outlines the current state of research and suggests new questions and approaches.


Reference Works

Kohli, Surindar Singh, Dictionary of mythological references in Guru Granth Sahib. Amritsar : Singh Bros., 1993.
Alphabetical list of Hindu mythological names included in the Adi-Granth with interpretive notes. Includes passages in Gurmukhi. Would be helpful for a consideration of Sikhism’s relationship to Hinduism.

Tatla, Darshan Singh and Ian Talbot, eds. Punjab: World Bibliographical Series, vol. 180. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1995.

Though there are several bibliographies of Sikh works, this is by far the most up-to-date, comprehensive and well-annotated. Covers works on topics from geography to religion.

The Gurus

Deora, Man Singh. Guru Gobind Singh : a literary survey. New Delhi, India : Anmol Publications, 1989.

Helpful bibliography on the tenth Sikh Guru.

Gil, P.S. Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Unique Martyr. Jalandhar, India: New Academic Publishing, Co., 1975.

Narrates the life and times of the ninth Sikh guru.

Gandhi, S. S. History of the Sikh Gurus: A Comprehensive Study. Delhi: Gur Das Kapur, 1978.

A general account dealing with all ten Gurus and their social milieu.

Grewal, J.S. Guru Nanak in History. Chandigarh: Panjab Univesrity, 1969. A study of Guru Nanak’s work as a response to his political, social and religious environment.

-------------. Guru Nanak in Western Scholarship. Shimla: Indian Institute for Advanced Study, 1992.

As the title says. Scholars discussed include W.H. McLeod and W. Owen Cole.

Singh, Harbans. Guru Tegh Bahadur. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1982.

An understanding of the ninth gurus life which provides a contrast to and a context for the ‘militarization’ under Bahadur’s son, Gobind Singh.


Religious and Theological Aspects of Sikhism and Its Context

Kaur Singh, Nikky Gunninder. The Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

This publication presents a pioneering study of Sikh ethics from a feminist perspective. The author examines some of the relevant scriptures and later Sikh literature, especially Vir Singh’s writings.

Schomer, Karine and W.H. McLeod, eds., The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India. Berkeley: Berkeley Religious Studies Series, 1987.

A valuable collection of papers concerning various aspects of the Bhakti tradition of Northern India. For Sikh studies, two papers are especially noteworthy: McLeod’s discussion of the word Panth as used in the Sikh tradition; and La Breck’s report on the influence of Sikh saints among overseas Sikh immigrants, especially in North America. This volume is similar to Lorenzen’s Bhakti religion in North India (see Shapiro and Oberoi below). The relationship of the Bhakti movement with Sikhism is a vexed one and invites further analysis.

Singh, Darshan. Indian Bhakti Tradition and the Sikh Gurus. Chandigarh: Panjab Publishers, 1968. A study of traditional bhakti and the attitudes of the Sikh Gurus towards it.

Shapiro, Michael C. "The Theology of the Locative Case in Sacred Sikh Scripture (Gurabani)," in Bhakti Religion in North India: Community Identity and Political Action. ed. David N. Lorenzen. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995, pp. 145-159.

A careful philologically-based study of the use of a specific grammatical case in the Adi Granth with reflections on the theological significance of its use.


Recent Developments, Politics and the Construction of Sikh Identity

Kapur, Rajiv. Sikh Separatism: The Politics of Faith. London: Allen & Ulwin, 1986.

Describes the evolution of the Sikh community in the 20th century from an ambiguous relationship with its parent Hindu society, towards a well-defined Khalsa identity. Concludes with a commentary on events up until 1986.

Kaur, Harminder. Bluestar Over Amristar. New Delhi: Ajanta, 1990.

A detailed study of the aftermath of the Indian Army’s 1984 action in the Golden Temple, code-named Operation Bluestar.

Grewal, J.S . Contesting interpretations of the Sikh tradition. New Delhi : Manohar, 1998.

Deals with the ‘insider’/ ‘outsider’ debate that has recently focused on McLeod’s scholarship on Sikhism. Highlights the contested nature of Sikh Studies itself.

Oberoi, Harjot, "The Making of a Religious Paradox: Sikh, Khalsa, Sahajdhari as Modes of Early Sikh Identity, in Bhakti Religion in North India: Community Identity and Political Action. ed. David N. Lorenzen. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.

Oberoi challenges modern presentations of Sikh history that follow a neat linear growth model. Such unified presentations may be comforting to present-day Sikh consciousness, but, argues Oberoi, the history of the development of Sikhism is marked by "highly complex ruptures, rapprochments and transitions."

Particularly helpful for anyone dealing with issues related to W.C. Smith’s idea of ‘crystalization of communities.’

------------------------. The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity in Sikh Tradition. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Examines the construction of a uniform Sikh identity from an earlier diverse set of beliefs. Pays particular attention to the role of the Singh Sabha movement in this process, a revivalist and ‘reformist’ movement that began at the end of the 19th century.

O’Connell, Jospeh, ed. Sikh History and Religion in the Twentieth Century. Toronto: University of Toronto, 1988.

This book is the result of a conference on Sikh Studies at the University of Toronto in 1987. Its four parts are devoted to ‘Religion and Culture’; ‘History and Politics’; ‘The Sikh Diaspora’; and ‘Comments’ on recent events. The volume constitutes an important work both for its bibliographical material and its array of prominent scholars.

Singh, Darshan. Western Perspectives on the Sikh Religion. New Delhi: Sehgal Publishers, 1991.

Gives an overview of Western constructions/interpretations of Sikhism, from E. M. Forster to W.H. McLeod.

Webster, John C. The Nirankari Sikhs. Delhi: Macmillan, for the Christian Institute of Sikh Studies, 1979.

Explores the rise and fall of this sect, based on contemporary records. A good specific example of the ways in which the contest over Sikh identity is internal to the community.