Guru Nanak and the ‘Sants’: A Reappraisal

by Nirvikar Singh
Citation
Title:
Guru Nanak and the ‘Sants’: A Reappraisal
Author:
Nirvikar Singh
Year: 
2001
Publication: 
International Journal of Punjab Studies
Volume: 
8
Issue: 
1
Start Page: 
1
End Page: 
34
Publisher: 
Language: 
English
URL: 
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Abstract:

 

Was Guru Nanak a ‘Sant’? What does the term ‘Sant’ mean in this context? This paper surveys the state of academic responses to these questions. We make the case that both the concept of a ‘Sant tradition’ and the membership of Guru Nanak in that tradition are quite problematic. In doing so, we argue that previous attempts to frame disagreements on these issues in terms of ‘historical scholarship’ versus ‘faith’ are flawed, and sometimes ahistorical themselves. Instead, alternative answers emerge from within standard scholarly inquiry, depending on varying interpretations and combinations of fragmentary historical facts. We show how this process of interpretation and selection occurs particularly in W.H. McLeod's writings on the subject. We also discuss the nature of the sources used by scholars, and the biases that may thereby be introduced.

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