Yesterday, after hearing a lot about the shooting at a Sikh temple, I spent some researching what the Sikh’s are. A fascinating people in many respects, one which is on the verge of extinction, the Sikh Warrior.
I poked around a bit and learned that the Sikh’s once had a great empire in India. It existed for a few centuries, with a great army, until two bloody wars with the British empire left them subjugated. It is during this time that the famous Sikh warrior came about, both as native Sikh fighters and as fighters in the British army after their defeat.
Apparently, they were so fearsome that the British had to outlaw various aspects of their culture. One of those was their martial art, Shastar Vidiya, a fighting form thought to be older than any Chinese and Japanese form. And, by outlaw, I mean anyone caught practicing will be put to death.
Today, this martial art is all but extinct. Only one master remains and he is hoping to pass on the martial art before it dies out. Ironically, he is British and hoping to convert British Sikh’s.
Here is an excerpt from The Independent:
Surrounded by hostile Hindu and Muslim empires who were opposed to the emergence of a new religion in their midst, the Sikhs quickly turned themselves into an efficient and fearsome warrior race. The most formidable group among them were the Akali Nihangs, a blue-turbaned sect of fighters who became the crack troops and cultural guardians of the Sikh faith….Astonished by the ferocity and bravery of the Akali Nihangs, the Punjab’s new colonial administrators swiftly banned the group and forbade Sikhs from wearing the blue turbans that defined the Akalis.
The full article – Ancient but deadly: the return of shastar vidiya.