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The transformation of Punjabi identity over the centuries Haroon KhalidUpdated November 29, 2017 304

Discussion in 'Pakistan History' started by Janbaz Rao, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. Janbaz Rao

    Janbaz Rao FULL MEMBER

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    The transformation of Punjabi identity over the centuries
    Haroon KhalidUpdated November 29, 2017
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    Facing murder charges, Udham Singh was presented in a court in London in 1940. On March 13 that year, he had shot dead Michael O’Dwyer, the former lieutenant governor of Punjab on whose watch the Jallianwala massacre had taken place.

    Twenty-one years ago on April 13, 1919 soldiers of the British Army in India had opened fire on a crowd of peaceful protesters in a walled public garden in Amritsar and killed over 1,000 of them. The lieutenant governor had called it “correct action”.

    Udham Singh, a revolutionary inspired by the Marxist Ghadar movement of Punjabi Sikhs against British rule and by Bhagat Singh, sought to avenge the massacre.

    After killing O’Dwyer, he courted arrest. At the court, a copy of the Granth Sahib was presented to him so he could take oath before the trial.

    Turning it down, he offered to instead take oath on Waris Shah’s Heer-Ranjha, the fabled love story of Punjab, a copy of which he had already procured from a gurdwara.

    Much like Bhagat Singh before him, Udham Singh became a symbol of the Indian nationalist struggle. During the trial, he noted his name to be Ram Mohammad Singh Azad to emphasise how all the major religious communities of India were fighting for the country’s independence.

    On one hand, Udham Singh through his Marxist political leanings had an international revolutionary outlook that he wanted to channel into the Independence struggle, which he refused to view through narrow communal or ethnic lens, as had started happening in the late 1930s and early 1940s. On the other hand, he was still rooted in Punjabi cultural ethos.

    Shah’s Heer-Ranjha, now widely known because of its frequent references in the Indian film industry, is a Punjabi folk story, deeply ingrained in its culture and also one of the most important symbols of Punjabi identity.

    While Udham Singh wore his Indian identity beyond the confines of any ethnic or religious group, by choosing to take his oath on the Heer-Ranjha, he also depicted his proud Punjabi identity. For him there was no conflict between these two identities.

    Revolutionary Punjabi identity
    All symbols of Punjabi identity are revolutionary in essence: Heer, who revolted against the institution of marriage and chose her true love; Ranjha, who rebelled against the institution of religion when it tried to take him away from his true love.

    The Punjabi Sufi poet Shah Hussain blurred the distinction between the devotee and the divine, challenged conventional religion in favour of unrestrained religiosity, expressed through dance and music, an individualistic act of rebellion.

    Similarly, the Punjabi poet Bulleh Shah spoke vehemently against religious clergy, Hindu and Muslim alike. The truth lies within you, he insisted.

    Every January during the festival of Lohri, Punjabis celebrate Punjabi folk hero Dullah Bhatti, a landlord from Pindi Bhattian who took up arms against the mighty Mughal emperor Akbar to protect the revenue from his land.

    Any discussion on Punjabi identity is incomplete without Guru Nanak, who sought to dissolve fixed religious identities. I am neither a Hindu nor a Muslim, he reiterated.

    And there is, of course, Guru Gobind Singh who sought to fight for the honour of his people against the Mughal emperor Aurganzeb – the Guru Gobind Singh who could inspire a sparrow to defeat a hawk (as a famous pre-Partition Punjabi verse goes).

    This Punjabi identity was deeply rooted in Bhagat Singh. He makes references to this Punjabi culture, to the revolutionary politics of the Sikh gurus in his collection of essays. Udham Singh, also a proud Punjabi, was following in his mentor’s footsteps.

    The fragmentation
    However, in the colonial era, soon after the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-1849), a new Punjabi identity was forged – the loyalist, pro-empire Punjabi. This image was reinforced during the 1857 war when a Punjab-dominated British Army helped defeat rebels in Delhi and other parts of North India.

    Many Punjabi ethnicities and communities were honoured as “martial races”, a title that bestowed upon them a higher position in the race hierarchy and implied that they were loyal to the British.

    The colonial era, therefore, saw a conflict between these two Punjabs:

    One was revolutionary in its essence, the Punjab of Dullah Bhatti and Ahmad Khan Kharral, another landlord who fought against the British during the 1857 war, leading one of the only major rebellions from the province.

    The other was the Punjab of chiefs and aristocrats who had been given the titles of Rai Bahadur, Khan Bahadur and Sardar for their loyalty to the crown.

    The former Punjab was further fragmented in the early 20th century as education and urbanisation spread throughout the province. Punjabis were no longer Punjabis but Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs fighting for recognition from the British state.

    Urdu became the symbol of the Muslims while Hindus fought for the right to use Hindi. Punjabi remained confined to the Sikhs, who eventually emerged as the sole inheritor of this Punjabi heritage.

    This conflict between Muslim Urdu and Hindi for Hindus aggravated after the creation of India and Pakistan, as Pakistani Punjab emerged as the symbol of Pakistani nationalism.

    Urdu became the language of the Punjabis, keeping up with colonial tradition, while Punjabi symbols such as Bulleh Shah, Shah Hussain, Guru Nanak and Heer-Ranjha slowly started receding to the periphery.

    On the other side of the border, as Punjab was further carved up making it a Sikh-dominated province, a new Punjabi identity emerged that was synonymous with the religious identity.

    While symbols of Punjabi identity were appropriated, they became relics of the past, out of sync with the contemporary Punjabi identity. It is this latter Punjab that both India and Pakistan would rather deal with.
     
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  2. Kuru

    Kuru FULL MEMBER

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    I found this part interesting. Except Indian Muslims, everyone during independence struggle was on the same page that religion was secondary. The real target was to free their motherland.

    Unfortunately, then Indian Muslims thought that religion was much more important than the country so they decided to fight their very neighbours whom they had grown up with.

    In the end, Britishers succeeded in their "divide and rule" policy. Indian Muslims became victims of this policy and started demanding a different country based on religion. Not to mention that leaders of newly found Pakistan then declared that Pakistan is for everyone irrespective of religion! (then why did they make it based on religion in the first place!)

    This new country then started justifying its own existence by calling itself different than the Hindu India. For this new country, Pakistan's defination was simply "NOT INDIA." This new defination then finally resulted into the loss of their local Punjabi identity.

    The new generation of Pakistan wants nothing to do with their roots. They want everything to do with the Invaders so that they can claim that "they ruled India for 1000 years". However, quite surprisingly, (in the same breath) they want to claim the IVC and prove themselves the locals.

    This kind of identity crisis also resulted into the loss of Punjabi identity if there's such a thing.
     
  3. Sher Shah Awan

    Sher Shah Awan SENIOR MEMBER

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    Punjabi identity did not exist until the rise of the Sikh empire, before that, the tribe and clan was given more importance. And in some areas of Punjab, that is still the case.

    I am a Pakistani first, everything else is secondary. After that, I identify stronger with my clan identity than "Punjabi". There is no such ethnic group as Punjabi, just a linguistic group.
     
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  4. Talwar e Pakistan

    Talwar e Pakistan SENIOR MEMBER

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    No they were not. Most of them struggled against the British occupation but definitely did not fight for a certain "motherland", especially one that was called "India". There were many attempts to create a joint-resistance effort composed of various ethnic and religious groups but it was not for any specific country but instead for a mutual goal in ridding themselves of the British.

    Sikhs were also demanding a separate state, but they conceded under the conditions they would gain autonomy under the Indian Union, which was reversed.

    Also, please do not use the term "Indian Muslim" for pre-1947. If you were to go back in time and roam modern-day Pakistan, you would notice that no one would call or consider themselves as Indian, most would probably not even know what India or an Indian is.

    Furthermore, the most resistive people in South Asia were the Muslims.
    Constant Muslim revolts continued till independence. The British had to launch full-scale campaigns quelling these rebellions as late as 1939. The toughest and costliest fighting for the British took place in P.A.K.S.TAN. - while Sikhs were busy being used as canon fodder and Hindus were getting comfy with their new masters.


    Foundation of Pakistan was not based off of entirely religion.

    The concept of Pakistan was shaped (far before Jinnah was ever involved) by Muslim intellectuals (natives of P.A.K.S.TAN) who envisioned a separate North West state based off of distinct cultures, history, languages, ethnic groups and religion.

    The most famous of them was Choudry Rahmat Ali who coined the term 'PAKSTAN' and proposed of a federation of 5 regions (with their distinct ethnic groups, languages, cultures and heritage) that would be separate from India.

    He also proposed Osmanistan for Indian Muslims, Dravidia for South Indians and Bangistan for Bengalis

    This group and their supporters had to change their 'tone' to include Indian Muslims such as Jinnah as they saw it was the best way to see through there dreams of a separate state.

    We're a separate nation, our ancestors never called themselves as Indians and we won't either. We have different native languages, ethnic groups, cultures, and etc... We can easily be defined as a separate nation.

    Also there has never been a "Punjabi identity". We have always seen it as a language, Punjab is very diverse and your identity is based off of nationality, religion followed by ethno-tribal affiliation. If you ask a "Punjabi" in Pakistan what they are, they will say something like "Jat", "Gujjar", "Arain", "Janua" and so on...

    Punjabis in India have developed a seperate identity because they are distinct from the rest of India in almost every aspect.

    Despite that, Pakistan's Punjab is the 'epicenter' of Punjabi culture, literature, architecture, folktale, music, art, cuisine and heritage.

    We don't have an identity crisis, we know who we are - we don't need foreigners and nobodies telling us who we are and who are aren't.
     
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  5. UnitedPak

    UnitedPak PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    Hindu India WAS a new construct. How could you possibly pretend that a Muslim majority region which was previously dominated by Persian/Central Asian culture is the same as a "Hindu India". bear in mind that Hindus abandoned Urdu and created Hindi out of thin air. It takes two to tango.

    Pakistanis are proud of their roots. Only Indians on online forums claim that Pakistan wants nothing to do with their roots. You being the nth person to come on this very forum repeating the same bs.

    Pakistanis are "locals". Who else would be "local"? You?
     
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  6. Kuru

    Kuru FULL MEMBER

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    That's what YOU believe (and I respect that even though I disagree because it's not true) but the fact is they were fighting British to get freedom for India. No one was fighting for free Sindh, Free Balochistan, Free Tamil Nadu or free United Provinces. If this is what you were taught, with all due respect, it isn't true.
    Because we never believed in a nation exclusive for a particular religion and I think it's right. A nation is formed by its people who should be free to practice whatever religion they feel like. Making a particular religion as a 'state religion' kills the purpose of a nation building (because, in a way, it makes other religions alien to that particular country). That's what the majority of Indians believe. I can assure you that.

    Jinnah himself used the term 'Indian Muslims' while referring to the Muslims living in the Indian subcontinent. This is before 1947 I'm talking about. So again, you're wrong, I'm sorry.

    I don't know how you come to this conclusion. Most of the invasion came from the west of India and the present day Pakistan was the first region to surrender to it.

    People like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Mangal Pandey and Subhash Chandra Bose were the most wanted by the British Police and they weren't Muslims. If anything, one of the the most resistive people are the Marathas who successfully established Maratha Empire against the most powerful at the time: The Mughals.

    Okay so you mean that different culture, languages and history should constitute a separate country? Okay, so why Pakistan consists different languages, culture and history in itself today? Sindhi is different language than Punjabi and Punjabi is different than the Balochi. The history of these regions are different too. This shows how weak your argument is about defending the creation of Pakistan so you don't even see the contradiction in it.

    The fact is that Pakistan was made in the name of religion and only in the name of religion. This finally backfired in 1971 though because it was based on a weak argument in the first place.

    Like I said, Jinnah himself called all those Muslims as Indian Muslims. Moreover, Sindhi, Balochi and Punjabi are also different languages; so do you think Sindh and Balochistan should be a separate county according to your own argument for Pakistan's creation?

    I'm sure you don't agree to it and I DONT EITHER because a nation is built on an idealogy which treats everyone equal irrespective of language, history, race, culture or sexual preferences. This can't be possible in a country made in the name of religion.

    I don't know from where you get these things. I have nothing to say on something which doesn't exist.

    I only explained my views on the OP. I was never giving any identity to Pakistanis (who am I to do that anyway). I'm sorry if my post implied that but it was unintentional.

    That part was for those Pakistanis who want to assosicate themselves with the invaders (to claim 'they ruled India for 1000 years'), if you don't believe in such nonsense, so please avoid it as it wasn't meant for you :-)

    I firmly believe that Pakistanis are locals. They were Hindus once, they then converted to Islam and there's nothing wrong in it. But I feel that Pakistanis don't like to accept it. Because if they accept that they were Hindus once, then all their arguments of "different religion, culture etc" (for the creation of Pakistan) die its own death. That's why I said, the new country Pakistan simply defined itself as "NOT INDIA' to justify the so called 2 nation theory.

    This resulted into identity crisis and one of them is losing the Punjabi identity (I agree with you, there's no such thing) which the OP is talking about.

    I only called it Hindu India because that what people of Pakistan term it as.

    Moreover, this 'Muslim majority region' you are referring to was a 'Hindu Region' once. So yes, the culture was the same. It's like saying, if I convert to Islam tomorrow, I should suddenly call myself "NOT INDIAN" and different to my roots and culture. That's illogical, stupid and pathetic all at the same time.

    I'm a Gujarati living in Mumbai. I'm as much local to Pakistan as Jinnah was (who himself was a Gujarati).

    I said that Pakistanis don't want to associate with their roots only because I've seen some (not all) Pakistanis claiming that they 'ruled India for 1000 years' implying that they are the invaders. If this isn't an identity crisis then I don't know what is. If you never said it or never believed in it, then please avoid that part because it isn't for you :-)

    Because - as you correctly mentioned - Pakistanis are locals and please be assured that almost all Indians believe it. (May be that's why some call for Akhand Bharat in the first place).
     
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  7. niaz

    niaz PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    I came across this article a few years back. One may agree or disagree with the writer, but certainly worth a read.


    THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > OPINION

    Arab origins

    By Salman Rashid

    Published: January 6, 2012


    The writer is author, most recently of, “The Apricot Road to Yarkand” (Sang-e-Meel, 2011) and a member of the Royal Geographical Society salman.rashid@tribune.com.pk

    Every single Muslim in the subcontinent believes s/he is of Arab descent. If not direct Arab descent, then the illustrious ancestor had come from either Iran or Bukhara. Interestingly, the ancestor is always a great general or a saint. Never ever have we heard anyone boasting of an intellectual for a forebear. We hear of the progeny of savage robber kings, but there is no one who claims Abu Rehan Al-Beruni or Ibn Rushd as a distant sire.

    Arab origin is the favourite fiction of all subcontinental Muslims. Most claim their ancestor arrived in Sindh with the army under Mohammad bin Qasim (MbQ). But, I have heard of lineages reaching back to Old Testament prophets as well. An elderly Janjua (Rajput), from the Salt Range told me of a forefather named Ar, a son of the Prophet Isaac. Ar, he said, was the ancestor of the races that spoke the Aryan tongue!

    Touted as a local intellectual, this worthy was unmindful of the fact that Aryan was not a tribal name but a linguistic classification. Neither could he tell me how the name Ar, not being in the Old Testament, had reached him. He insisted this name headed his family tree and was, therefore true. The chart, written on a piece of rather newish paper had been, the Janjua insisted, copied from an old original. The original was of course destroyed after the copy was made.

    The Arains flaunt Salim al Raee as their father — the clan being called after his surname. A great and valiant general in the army of MbQ, this man was from an agricultural family of Syria, so the Tarikh-e-Araiantells us. Closer to our times, the Arains are indeed acclaimed for their green thumb for which reason Shah Jehan relocated a large bunch of them to mind the newly laid out Shalimar Garden of Lahore. Today, they are a very rich clan in Baghbanpura.

    The Tarikh expounds on this fictional ancestor’s noble background and courage in battle to the extent that he almost outshines MbQ. But it does not give us any source or reference for the rubbish that sullies its pages. There are two authentic histories of the Arab conquest of Sindh. Ahmad Al Biladhuri’s Futuh ul Buladan (written circa 860) and Hamid bin Ali Kufi’s Tarikh-e-Hind wa Sindh, translated first into the Persian as Fatehnama Sindh and then into Sindhi as the Chachnama (written circa 1200).

    There are dozens of names sprinkled across the pages of both works, but no mention is made of a blue-blooded warrior called Salim al Raee. There are other histories besides these two works which also disregard this name for the only reason that such a man never existed.

    The Awans, similarly, have a fictional ancestor called Qutb Shah from the line of the last caliph of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. My friend Kaiser Tufail, an Arain, has had himself genetically tested from the US. He has no trace of Arab blood. His line comes from what is now Uzbekistan and has lived from early historic times in the subcontinent. The rest of us of this clan will see similar results should we go through this exercise. Kaiser had his son-in-law, an Awan, also tested. He, too, is singularly clean of Arab genes.

    Most of us are the progeny of converts. In their need to escape the discrimination of the so-called higher castes, our ancestors converted to a religion that in theory claimed to profess human equality regardless of colour or caste. I use the words ‘in theory’ because even as the Arabs converted our ancestors to Islam, they discriminated against them for being “Hindis” as we learn this from Ibn Batuta’s own prejudices. And he is not alone.

    Consequently, even after conversion, my ancestors, poor agriculturists, were looked down upon by the Arabs and even those who had converted earlier the same way as they were by the Brahmans when they professed their Vedic belief. Within a generation or two, those early converts began the great lie of Arab ancestry to be equal to other converts and the Arabs. This became universal with time.

    The challenge then is for all those, Baloch, Pathan, Punjabi et al, who have invented illegitimate fathers for ourselves to get ourselves tested and know the bitter truth.

    Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2012.

    As earlier posted I had my DNA tested, I am 15% Middle Eastern, 8% Central Asian and 77% South Asian. Conclusion: Even those of us whose ancestors did in fact come from Arabia, now have overwhelmingly subcontinent genes.
     
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  8. Shah Khalid

    Shah Khalid FULL MEMBER

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    Sir Punjab Has Always Been A Very Fertile and Economically Attractive Area.That Is Why It Has Always Been Invaded By People From Barren Area Tough For Human Settlement.The Invaders Eventually Settled and Became Farmers Themselves Only To Be Invaded By The Next Lot.

    One Should Read The Writings Of Babur.He Mentions Afghan Arab and Turk Settlements When He Crossed This Area
     
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  9. Kabira

    Kabira ELITE MEMBER

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    Punjabi identity is real, no one care about your useless tribe or clan in punjab. You are half muhajir and only partially punjabi from Karachi so its OK.
     
  10. DarkPrince

    DarkPrince FULL MEMBER

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    How about being human identity ?
     
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  11. Kuru

    Kuru FULL MEMBER

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    If I may ask, where do you get your DNA tested? I came across some websites though. Do they ask to send blood samples?
     
  12. UnitedPak

    UnitedPak PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    However you want to define "Hindu religion", it certainly was not "a culture". The cultures of the subcontinent can probably best be described on a linguistic basis, not religious, and especially not a loosely defined religion like Hinduism. Even the various Muslim majority regions don't have the same culture.
    But if any culture came close to dominate all of the subcontinent, it would be the Central Asian/Turkic/Mughal culture.

    Also, its nothing like you converting to Islam tomorrow. Pakistani regions have been muslim majority for at least 1000 years.

    You do realise when some Pakistanis talk about ruling India for 1000 years, they are seeing themselves as "Muslim first". This has nothing to do with being invaders or not local. They identify as Muslims and by the same logic, they could talk about ruling Spain too. Its not an ethnocentric claim.
     
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  13. Sher Shah Awan

    Sher Shah Awan SENIOR MEMBER

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    I literally said the same thing as another poster after me in different words. If you want to be a Punjabi, go ahead. I am not stopping you.

    Also, tell me which half is "Muhajir" or are you confusing me with @janbaaz? You are right of course, I am only Punjabi from my father's side. So are you a pure Punjabi then?

    As for useless, I'll reserve my judgement on your uselessness till you respond.

    EDIT: There's also absolutely nothing wrong with having family who migrated in 1947. There are a decent number of Urdu speakers settled in Punjab who consider themselves Punjabi now. If you don't like my point just say so, no need to show your slight bias here.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2017
  14. niaz

    niaz PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    I got it tested thru Ancestry.com. They sent in a kit where I had to take swabs from my mouth and post these to a given address. It took about 5 weeks before the results were in.
     
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  15. Kabira

    Kabira ELITE MEMBER

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    No one consider urdu speakers punjabi here. Neither anyone ask about your clan or tribe. Never in my life seen anyone asking another person about his tribe, clan, caste etc after meeting them. Maybe the fact that its considered rude and uncivilised. I didn't confuse anyone, you yourself have said many times your mother is from India UP originally and father from punjab but living in Karachi since birth.

    Linguistic identity >>> any other identity unless one have extreme form of inferiority complex.

    Son you should fight this battle with Benglis on BD forum, I don't see many Indians making this point to them despite the fact that Indians in general are exact same as Bengalis apart form few.