The sect increased rapidly. Nanak, a Hindu of the Kshatriya caste, was born in A.D. 1469 at Hulwandi or Talwandi, near Lahore. He was the son of a grain merchant. From his infancy he was given to religious meditation. In riper manhood he wandered into various countries, and returned to his home with his mind matured with reflection and travel, to preach the unity of God and charity to rnen. The new creed spread rapidly, but soon provoked the persecution of the Muhammadans. The cruelty with which the Sikhs were treated, turned them, under Govind, their tenth and last guru or teacher, from a band of religious devotees into a chosen religious and military common wealth or khalsa, animated with undying hatred to Muhammadans. Golind waged an unequal war with the emperor of Dehli. Frequently defeated and broken up, persecuted with inhuman craelty, the Sikh religionists were driven to hido them selves in the valleys and eaves of the hills from the fury of their enemies. Openly to profess their religion became a capital eriine. The sect would soon have been exterminated, had not the distractions of the empire which followed the death of Aurangzeb given them a breathing time from persecution. Gradually tho Sikhs emerged from their hiding-places, and, gathering in small parties, established themselves in petty isolated forts. Issuing from these, always well mounted, they scoured the country, burning and plundering, and giving infinite annoyance to the weak Muham madan governors of Lahore and Sirhind.
After tho return of Ahmad Shah, .A.bdali, to Kabul, from his fifth invasion of India, in which he had broken the Mahratta power in the decisive battle of Panipat, the Sikhs fouud themselves strong enou,gh to possess themselves of the country round Lahore. But this drew down the vengeance of Alimad Shah, who in 1762 returned to India, disastrously defeated them, and destroyed and polluted their sacred temple at Amritsar. From this defeat the Sikhs soon recovered. In the following year they defeated the Afghan governor of Sirhind, and spread themselves over the plains south and east of the Sutlej, as far as the Jumna. The eighth invasion of Ahmad Shah, which took place in 17G7, ended in leaving the Sikhs masters of the country between the Jumna and Rawal Pindi. 1Vithin three 'years their authority was extended over the Jumna and the Rajputs of the lower hills. The spread of the dominion of the Sikhs south of the Sutlej received a severe check from the Malarattas, who, recovering from their disastrous overthrow at Panipat, again overran Northern India. In 1788, Sindia was in posses sion of Dehli, and by 1802 the Mahmttas had established their supremacy as far as the Sutlej, and exacted from the Sikh States to the south of that river a tribute of three lakhs of rupees. But the Mahratta power in the north was broken by Lord Lake in 1803 ; the chiefs of Khythul and Jheend tendered their allegiance to Lord Lake, and rendered ocmsional service, and all the chiefs of Sirhind became virtually dependents of the British Government. It was the policy of the day, however, to maintain a strict neutrality in regard to the affairs of the chiefs north of the Jumna ; and beyond establishing the Sikh chiefs in tho territories which they then held, and rewarding those who had done good service, the British Government did not interfere in their affairs till 1809, when the Sikh chiefs threw them selves on its protection from the encroachments of Ranjit Singh. One of the sirdars who earliest raised himself to power and influence, was Malia Singh, of the Sukurehakea Misl, one of the weakest and latest formed of the twelve elans. To him, on
2d November 1780, was born a son, Ranjit Singh, by his wife, a daughter of the raja of Jheend. Ranjit Singh early distinguished himself there.
During the invasion of Shah Zamau in 1798, Ranjit Singh rendered service to the Afghan monarch by recovering for him several pieces of artillery which had been lost in the Jhelum, and he had the address to procure for himself the appointment of Governor of Lahore, where he established himself ; and in concert with Futtch Singh, Aloowallia, he soon extended his supremacy over the neighbouring sirdars, and meditated the extension of his authority beyond the Sutlej. In 1803 lie made proposals to Lord Lake for the transfer to tho British Government of the territory belonging to the Sikhs south of the river Sutlej, on the condition of mutual defence against the respective enemies of himself and the British nation. The offer was declined. In 1805, Haupt Singh was recalled from a campaign apinst the Muhrunmadans between the Chenab and the Indus, by the sudden appearance of Holkar in the Pan jab, closely pursued by Lord Lake. With the death of Ranjit Singh, A.D. 1839, the career of the Sikhs, as a nation, may be said to have closed. Internal anarchy led to aggressiorui on British territory, from which war twice resulted, and finally tho whole of the Sikh dominions in the Panjab were annexed to British India.
The military ascendency of the Khalsa wa.s, for a time at least, put down by Lord Hardinge. Moodkee was fought on 18th December 1845 ; Ferozeshah, on the 21st and 22d ; Aliwal, on 28th January 1846 ; and Sobraon, on 10th February. The first Sikh soldier is believed to have crossed the Sutlej about the 10th of December 1845 ; and the last was driven back over the river, choked. with the dead and the dying, about 12 P.m. on the date last named. The campaign may be said' to have occupied about two months ; and it was just before or after the battle of Sobraon that Lord Hardinge gave the reply to the Lahore Vakeel who came to propose terms of peace, that ' he would answer him under the walls of Lahore.' 1111881 the number of this religion was 1,853,426. The Grant'h is the name of the sacred book of the Sikh religionists. The Grant'h is written in the Gurumukhi charaet,er, a modified species of the Nagari. It is pla,ced in the holy temple of Amritsar. The initiatory rite for a.dmitting a person_ into the Sikh religion is termed the Pahul. The novice must have attained the age of discrimina tion ; he stands with his hands joined in the form of supplication, a,nd repeats after the priest the articles of his faith. Some sugar and water aro stirred in a basin with a double-edged dagger, and the water is sprinkled on his face and person. He drinks the remainder, and exclaims Wah, Guru I At least five persons have to be present, ono of them a priest. 1Vomen WCD3 sometimes thus initiated. The Sikh sect is rapidly diminish ing. The forms of prayer and praise are simple. Portions of the Adt Grant'h are read or sung ; the priest says, Meditate upon the Book,' and the people reply, Wah, Guru! Wah, Guru ka Fatah!' Guru Govind not only introduced the worship of Dnrga and the sword, but, it is said, offered sacrifices at her festivrds. In the Dasama Padsha.h-ki-Grant'h, Durga is represented as the tutelary goddess of war.