Auction Date: 26/11/2014 at 01pm
India – Important early History of the Sikhs by Cunningham 1918. A history of the Sikhs from the Origin of the Nation to the Battles of the Sutlej by Joseph Davey Cunningham late Captain of Engineering in the Indian Army. Edited by H.L.O. Garrett, Humphrey Milford Oxford University Press with 429 pages and 2 colour maps. Joseph Cunningham spent many years in the Punjab and was witness to the Anglo-Sikh wars. A History of the Sikhs from the Origin of the Nation to the Battles of the Sutlej' by Cunningham is generally recognized as the first serious and sympathetic account of the Sikh people written by a foreigner. Cunningham had spent considerable time and studied the available Sikh scriptures. He acquainted himself with the Sikh scriptures and all connected manuscripts in Persian and Punjabi. Cunningham was greatly influenced by Sikhism and his main endeavour was "to give Sikhism its place in the general history of humanity by showing its connection with the different creeds of India..." The first four chapters cover the history of the Sikhs from its beginning to 1764. He traced the growth to their religious faith which he inferred was the main motive force of their history. He felt that Sikhism appeared at a time in India when the historical situation needed it the most. He felt there was great excellence in Guru Nanak's message. An important feature of Sikhism in Cunningham's eyes was its spirit of freedom and progress. The last five chapters covered a period of which Cunningham was himself a witness. He made use of official and secret records of the government of the East India Company for these chapters. A large part of these five chapters dealt with Maharajah Ranjit Singh's rise to power his achievements and relations with the British. The last chapter "The War with the English" was a criticism of Governor-General Lord Hardinge who as per Cunningham had precipitated the war. According to Cunningham the British won the war but could have lost it. According to him the British won because of the treacherous role of Raja Lal Raja Tej Singh the commander-in-chief and Raja Gulab Singh who had betrayed the Khalsa army during the crucial stages of the campaign. He was all praise for the fighting qualities of the Sikh army. A highly important work on the Sikhs.