Sketch of The Sikhs
The present work, a first serious study on Sikhism by a European, was originally published in 1812. The author, John Malcolm (2.5.1769-30.5.1833) served in the army of East India Company and later in the diplomatic service. Subsequently, he joined Lord Lake who was advancing towards Punjabi in pursuit of Jaswant Rao Holkar. Here, his contact with the Sikhs, made him understand their religion, beliefs and practices. He was the first among the European writers who got interested in Sikhism and tried to reach out to the primary and original Gurmukhi sources of the Sikhs. Malcolm’s work surpassed all the earlier European accounts on the Sikhs because he opted to adopt historical methodology which had by then, got a foothold in Europe. The treatment of the issues he handles is not only scholarly but analytical as well.
Malcolm’s work, with all its shortcomings, however, remains a fundamental contribution to the British historiography on the Sikhs. It not only substantially enhances about the Sikhs but also exercises considerable impact on the subsequent writers of Sikh history.