Discovering the Sikhs: Autobiography of a Historian
Hew McLeod
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Hew McLeod is generally acknowledged as the world’s foremost historian of the Sikhs. This autobiography comprises two parts, both concerned with the author’s career in Sikh Studies. Part 1 is autobiographical: it lays emphasis on those features of McLeod’s career which have had an important influence on his relationship with the Sikhs and with the manner in which he has sought to give expression to them in his written works. Two features have been particularly significant. One is his religious development which, thirty-five years ago, led him to unbelief. The other is his growth in understanding of the nature and value of historical studies. Part 2 concerns Sikh Studies and the vigorous attacks that have been made on his views regarding Sikh history and religion. These attacks were particularly marked during the decade from 1986, and although they have subsided somewhat since the mid 1990s, the feelings that were aroused during that decade have left a substantial deposit. An attempt is made to answer these charges and to show that McLeod’s analysis of Sikh history and religion has always been critical and dispassionate, yet sympathetic.
HEW MCLEOD is a New Zealander who taught in Punjab for nine years and there developed a life-long interest in the Sikhs. In 1971 he returned to the History Department of the University of Otago in Dunedin, where he remained until his retirement in 1998. His first book was Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion, published in 1968. Since then he has produced another fifteen books on Sikh history and religion. These include critical studies, translations, and a dictionary.
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