Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

Forster, George
Wrote Early Account of the Sikhs

George Forster was a civilian employee of the East India Company whom Warren Hastings selected for his scholarly aptitude, to proceed to Punjab for collecting authentic information and writing about the Sikhs. Forster left Calcutta on May 23,1782 for overland journey to England and passed through the North Eastern hilly tracts of the Punjab in February, March and April 1783 in disguise as a Turkish traveller for fear of the Sikhs. He recorded his impressions in a series of letters, published in two volumes in London in 1798 under the title of "A Journey from Bengal to England etc."

Forster has devoted letter XI in Vol. 1, 1808 print (Pages 291340) exclusively to the Sikhs, though there are occasional references to the Sikhs in his other letters also vide Vol. I, first print (pages 128-30, 199, 227-28) and Vol. II (pages 83, 88).

Forster's account of the Sikhs which is authentic, informative and appreciative was written after his numerous contacts with the Sikhs. This is the first objective study of the Sikhs of the second half of the eighteenth century partly based on "large historical tracts of the Siques" furnished to the author by Colonel Polier in the service of the East India Company (1757-75). But unlike Polier's, the overall opinion of Forster about the Sikhs was favourable which he frankly expressed in the main letter bearing on the Sikhs written by him from Kashmir in 1783 to Mr. Gregory at Lucknow.

Source: TheSikhEncyclopedia.Com

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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