The ਸੋਚ (Sōch) Podcast

By Ramblings of a Sikh

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The ਸੋਚ (Sōch) Podcast is where I get the chance talk to guests, including academics, musicians, artists, entrepreneurs, art collectors, athletes and more. We explore the upbringing and history of the guests, as well as exploring seemingly daunting, complex or misunderstood topics relating, but not limited to, Sikh and wider South Asian history, art, culture and philosophy.

Episode Date
Partition Voices | Kavita Puri

Today I have the pleasure to talk to Kavita Puri, she is an award-winning BBC journalist, oral historian, executive producer and broadcaster about her book - Partition Voices - which is now in its 2nd edition.

You can find a full time stamped breakdown of the conversation below:
00:00 - Introduction
00:44 - Why you do the work you do
07:57 - Who is Kavita Puri?
11:32 - Difference between a journalist an a historian?
14:49 - When did you become aware of your own family history?
19:06 - What are the causes of silence?
25:35 - How did you go about putting the book - Partition Voices - together?
28:46 - How did recording these stories impact you?
32:30 - Did people ever share how they felt after talking with you?
35:38 - What was it that helped cause the social cohesion to evaporate?
40:11 - How does masculinity and manhood impact the events that unfold?
45:56 - What led people to believe that Partition would not be how it turned out?
50:33 - What is the understanding behind the respect for the land?
53:53 - Did you come across anything unexpected?
56:16 - Why do you think the history of the British Empire should be taught within Britian?
58:45 - Precautions and tips
01:01:32 - Conclusion

Jul 21, 2022
A Global Tour of Sikh History That Will Fascinate You | Rav Singh (A Little History of the Sikhs)

Today I have the chance to talk to Rav Singh from 'A Little History of the Sikhs'. We explore all the fascinating and obscure parts of Sikh history that are scattered across the UK, Europe and further afield. ★ Support this podcast on Patreon ★ ★ Buy this podcast a coffee ★

00:00 - Teaser
00:37: - Intro
01:55 - Who Is Rav Singh?
04:00 - Work & A Little History - How Do You Balance Them?
06:33 - What Spurned You To Start A Little History Of The Sikhs?
09:46 - Trafalgar Square - The Governor Of Punjab & The Ferozepore Sikhs
13:35 - The 1999 Exhibition
15:09 - Allegience To Whom?
22:22 - The Kohinoor
25:12 - Accessing Archives
25:24 - Maidstone Museum & The Sikh Cannon
26:10 - The Blood Soaked Jacket
27:12 - How Durham University Archives Have Got It Wrong
28:41 - The Secrets Of The Antiques Road Show
29:25 - Maharaj Singh
30:35 - Growing Up In East London
36:57 - Bhangra Day Timers & Sikh History
37:55 - Memorialising Anglo-sikh History - Generals, A Cherry & A Mosquito
40:06 - History Of Empire
41:42 - From University To A Little History Of The Sikhs
46:27 - Sikh History In London And Monopoly
46:44 - Sikhopoly & The Singh Twins
47:23 - Further Development Of A Little History Of The Sikhs
51:46 - Quotes, Meanings & Why They're Important To You
54:07 - Christy Campbell & Maharajah Duleep Singh
54:54 - 2nd Hand Book Shops In London & Online
55:31 - Finding Out More About Duleep Singh
01:01:49 - The Quote For Me
01:03:42 - The Most Obscure Bit Of Sikh History In London?
01:04:06 - The Mice, The Cheese & Other Obscurities
01:07:02 - The Team Behind A Little History
01:14:41 - Sikh History In 32 Boroughs Of London
01:16:09 - Sikh Cannons In London
01:22:27 - The Silent Painting From Amritsar
01:24:25 - Sikhs & Hampton Court Palace
01:40:31 - Interesting Pit Stops On Your Tours Related To Sikh History
01:41:00 - The Sikh Chapel
01:49:14 - Psychology of Recruiting
01:52:23 - From A Church On Old Kent Road To The Guru Ka Bagh Morcha In Punjab
01:57:53 - What Are Your Plans For 2022? - Malaga To Madrid
01:59:40 - Sikh History In Malta
02:02:31 - Sikh History In Spain? A Princess, An Argument And Jinnah
02:04:37 - Sikh History In Madrid
02:07:02 - The Little History Of The Sikhs Museum
02:09:31 - Tours In Europe & The Uk
02:14:09 - How To Get Involved? 02:21:45 - Bhangra Daytimers Walking Tour
02:26:27 - The Udham Singh Experience
02:28:06 - Things You Haven't Seen Before
02:29:54 - Controversy?
02:33:37 - Random Messages - Guru Nanak Dev Ji In Europe
02:36:12 - History & Emotions, Guru, Gurbani & Life
02:40:51 - Conclusion

Jun 30, 2022
Curry, Kheer & Kirstie | Thorka Beans

This is the 2nd episode in something a little different. Thorka Beans includes myself and a few other friends, who get together to  discuss all sorts of different topics.

A full time stamped breakdown of this episode can be found below:  

00:29 - Oats, Dominos & Pizza Hut
01:55 - Birthday cake for breakfast?
02:23 - Digestives & Kheer?
04:01 - The verdict on overnight oats
06:14 - Oat milk
07:29 - Is there a correlation between height & the environment?
09:34 - Race, ethnicity and stereotypes
15:17 - What does South Asian mean?
22:16 - Curry? Is it a useless term or an anchor point?
33:00 - Best mixed grill?
33:38 - Origins of the tikka masala  
37:45 - Origins of the term ‘desi’
39:00 - Bananas and American imperialism
40:58 - Sikhs as an ethnicity for census purposes
46:20 - What data is gathered around Sikh as an ethnicity?
51:00 - The Mirabai recension
58:29 - “So for you to sit there and say we all have the same 24 hours in a day is not correct.”
01:00:00 - Kirstie Allsopp: Cancel Netflix & Buy a House

Jun 26, 2022
Shining a Light on Suraj Prakash | Jvala Singh

In this episode I have the chance to talk to Jvala Singh, a historian, academic and Suraj podcast curator.

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As always here's a time stamped breakdown of the whole conversation:

00:00 - Introduction
01:12 - What is Suraj Prakash?
02:45 - How long does it take to write Suraj Prakash? How does it become so widely accepted?
06:25 - How is Kavi Santokh Singh’s work able to become on par with that of Bhai Nand Lal, Bhai Mani Singh or Bhai Gurdas Ji?
10:13 - Would it be fair to say that Suraj Prakash is similar to Mahabharta or Ramayana, due to its length as well as the philosophical and historical layers meshed within it?
12:23 - Who is Kavi Santokh Singh Ji?
18:55 - Did Kavi Santokh Singh have any children and what happened to his lineage?
20:35 - Is Kavi Santokh Singh comparable to Herodutus, as the first major historian in the Sikh tradition, or is he following a tradition already set by those before him?
23:15 - Do the different styles of literature reflect the different stages of the Sikh community?
24:20 - In relation then to Santokh Singh’s curation of his works, do we know anything about the sources that he used and how he went about deciding what to include?
26:24 - Where are any of the original manuscripts, if they still exist?
30:25 - How does Kavi Santokh Singh write Suraj Prakash & does he memorise everything he recites?
32:33 - What language is Suraj Prakash written in and is it similar to Sri Dasam Granth in utilising more than one language?
34:02 - Could you expand a little on the history and how Suraj Prakash is received from the point of Santokh Singhs passing?
42:02 - Is Kavi Santokh Singhs work one of the last to demonstrate a pre-colonial logic of identity?
44:33 - In terms of translations and commentaries that have been published since, how do they deviate from the original or reflect the understandings of the writers and their respective samparadays?
50:16 - Are there similarities in how debate around Sri Dasam Granth raged say 10 or 20 years ago and slowly the community became more informed, are we seeing the same now with Suraj Prakash?
54:15 - What does Suraj Prakash tell us about Bhai Bidhi Chand and Guru Tegh Bahadur Jis wedding?
58:50 - What does Suraj Prakash say about Guru Tegh Bahadur jis wedding?
01:02:22 - What does Suraj Prakash say about the relationship between the Gurus and the Mughals?
01:13:55 - Suraj Prakash & Vaisakhi? Does it follow with the story described by Koer Singh and Kaushish about the goats?
01:18:25 - Does Chatka have any connection to the pre-colonial story of Vaisakhi?
01:22:20 - What does Suraj Prakash say about Chandi Ma and Raag Mala?
01:30:54 - Do you have plans to continue the podcast after the stories of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji?
01:32:20 - Will your translation work of the Suraj Prakash you have done so far or any that you do in the future be available in any other format, and the most requested, as you could imagine, as a book?
01:35:00 - Considering how large and the depth Suraj Prakash is, why has not received the same attention as other texts as Prem Sumarag or Gur Sobha, some of these are more widely discussed, perhaps?
01:37:00 - As you mentioned, it was only once texts such as Prem Sumarag and Gur Sobha were translated into English, that they entered the collective consciousness of the community, what are some of the perils with that and with your own podcast how do you go about ensuring you are as close to the authentic meaning as possible?
01:41:30 - Conclusion

May 31, 2022
The Truth About The Sikh Empire Will Shock You | Dr. Priya Atwal

In this episode I get the chance to talk to Dr. Priya Atwal. We speak about Priya's upbringing and background, studying Sikh history at university, her journey from dissertation to the publication of her amazing book Royals and Rebels (if you wanted to, I've written a book review on it, which you can acess here - 

We go on to talk about the machinations of Raja Gulab Singh and others in the Lahore Durbar, the contrast between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Maharani Jind Kaur, accessing Persian sources and what they tell us and finally, we discuss plans for a part two! 

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As always here's a time stamped breakdown of the conversation:

00:00 - Teaser
00:23 - Introduction
01:13 - Meet our guest
02:38 - Who is Priya Atwal?
08:28 - What were your initial impressions when introduced to the Sikh Empire?
11:29 - What did the journey entail when turning your dissertation into a book?
15:09 - What is a PhD really like?
24:00 - What is Raja Gulab Singh Dogra really up to? Is Raja Gulab Singh Dogra really a traitor?
27:53 - The Secret Enclosures & the truth about Rani Jindan
32:19 - Is Gulab Singh Dogra the only puppet master or are there also other factions?
35:25 - Why does the popular narrative lay the blame for the Anglo-Sikh Wars on the shoulders of Rani Jindan?
37:12 - The Real Ranjit? Does the popular narrative over-estimate Ranjit’s ability due to its contrast against the false narrative of Rani Jindan being a weak Queen?
44:18 - What did you discover when researching Persian sources?
51:58 - Are Sher Singh and Tara Singh legitimate children of Ranjit Singh?
56:11 - Who is Rani Jindan? Punjabi Boudica or a Weak & Feeble Queen?
01:02:00 - What can we expect from Dr. Priya Atwal in 2022?
01:05:00 - Conclusion

May 01, 2022
The Real Story Behind Zimmers of Southall | Hark1Karan

Today I am joined once again by Hark1karan and today we’re talking about  another grass roots project he’s been involved in, called ‘Zimmers of  Southall’ - a short documentary film about the intergenerational  subculture of classic car enthusiasts and their love for dub/reggae in  West London.  

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As usual here's a time stamped breakdown of the conversation:  

00:00 - Introduction
01:02 - How did the idea for the documentary come about?
03:25 - Why did reggae music resonate with those you spoke to?
05:00 - Have you noticed this subculture elsewhere?
05:29 - Kenyan motorsports influence on the subculture classic car enthusiasts and their love for dub/reggae in West London.
06:23 - What is about classic cars, that those you spoke to, love so much and why that and not modern cars?
07:36 - Did going to the car meet encourage you to do the documentary?
08:22 - Would it be fair to say that the cars act as a seal of approval and the continuation of a legacy?
09:10 - How long did it take and what did it entail to go from having all the raw footage to produce the finished documentary?
11:21 - What has the response been to the documentary?
12:09 - Is there a plan to do a 'Zimmers of Southal Part 2' or to take this any further?
12:59 - What are your plans for the rest of the year, are you working on any other projects?
13:28 - Could you explain a little bit more about what this new book contains?
14:48 - As someone who experienced Tikri border first hand, could you help paint a picture of what it was like for those listening?
15:46 - What was the general sentiment of those you interacted with at  Tikri & how did they respond to you, coming from outside, to see  what was going on?
17:30 - Why do you do the work you do, whether that's Pind, Zimmers of Southall or Kissan?
18:23 - Conclusion 

Apr 03, 2022
Everything You Wanted to Know About The Legacy of Guru Nanak in Pakistan | Haroon Khalid

Today I have the pleasure to talk to Haroon Khalid, author of Walking with Nanak, a book in two parts, first, a fictional account that  attempts to narrate the journey of Guru Nanak & the second, looks at  the institutionalization of the Sikh religion after Guru Nanak.  

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As always here's a timestamped breakdown of the conversation:  

00:00 - Teaser / Extract
00:19 - Introduction
01:19 - Who is Haroon Khalid?
01:50 - What was it like growing up in Punjab, Pakistan?
03:39 - So is there a predominant culture that subdues everything else in Pakistan?
05:50 - What topics do your previous books explore?
07:56 - What was it that drove you to write 'Walking with Nanak'?
09:35 - What impact did hearing the Babur Bani have on you?
11:36 - What is unique about the relationship of murshad & mureed? What role does your mentor play in 'Walking with Nanak'?
16:16 - How did you go about your research for 'Walking with Nanak'?
19:02 - Why were you driven to contextualise Guru Nanak Dev Ji?
20:51 - Whilst researching did you find anything interesting?
23:30 - What do you think these shrines say about pre-partition Punjab?
26:48 - When you refer to the institutionalisation of the Sikh religion, what do you mean?
30:45 - What do the other chapters of 'Walking with Nanak' explore?
33:37 - What conclusions did you draw from modern depictions of the Gurus?
35:27 - What were some of the similarities and differences you found during your research?
40:09 - Did you come across anything you didn't expect?
42:23 - How did all of these experiences influence you?
45:14 - What can we expect in the future from you?
46:15 - What is your food heaven & food hell?
47:06 - Conclusion
47:30 - Outro

Mar 17, 2022
How Is This Invention Saving the Planet? | Navjot Sawhney

In this episode I get the chance to sit down with engineer, Navjot Sawhney, the founder of the Washing Machine Project.  

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As always here's a time stamped breakdown of the conversation:  

00:00 - Intro
01:42 - Who is Navjot Sahwney?
04:53 - How did your mum react to you quitting your job?
07:33 - How did you make the stoves so efficient?
08:55 - How did you go from stoves to washing machines?
11:40 - How did the promise turn into a prototype?
15:58 - What technology is incorporated into the washing machine to make it so user friendly?
18:31: If something breaks how is it repaired?
20:00 - What’s it like working with some of your partners, such as Oxfam & Electrocomponents?  
22:11 - What other problems have you identified that require a solution you could provide?  
23:47 - How does it impact you?
26:39 - Anything you think we missed out?
27:10 - How can people get involved?
28:10 - What are your plans for 2022?  

You can donate to their current Go Fund Me campaign here -  

Find out more about their work here -

Mar 05, 2022
Sukh's Life, Culture & Comedy | Sukh Ojla

In this episode I’ve got the pleasure to talk to actress, writer and comedian Sukh Ojla. You may have seen her on Jonathan Ross's Comedy Club, BBC2's Big Asian Stand Up Show and Mock the week, or during her recent and hilarious comedy show ‘Life Sukhs’.

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As always here's a time stamped breakdown of the conversation:   
00:00 - Extract teaser
00:53 - Introduction
01:36 - Who is Sukh Ojla?
08:49 - What were your parents like with you getting into acting and comedy?
18:13 - What was your nationwide play “Pyar Actually” about besides the detached double garage? Was this the start of your comedy career? 23:07 - What were the reactions like to your play?
27:10 - Was the goal to continue with acting?
33:06 - Who are your comedy idols?
38:36 - What is your process in terms of writing your material?
41:30 - Have you ever had to deal with hecklers?  
48:47 - I ask Sukh to tell us about her book, entitled ‘Sunny’ set for release in March 2022
54:49 - What can we expect this year?
55:29 - Conclusion

Mar 01, 2022
The Anglo-Sikh Wars Explained | Amarpal Singh

Today I have the pleasure to talk to Amarpal Sidhu, a software industry expert as well as a military historian.

Amarpal has published two books focusing on the Anglo-Sikh Wars, the  first being published in 2013 and the second in 2016, as well as a  recent book, published in July this year, focusing on and titled, the  ‘Siege of Delhi’. Amarpal has also appeared and collaborated on history  programs for several TV channels.

00:00 - Introduction
00:28 - Upbringing, education and how you got to where you are today.
06:34 - 19th century books covering the Anglo-Sikh Wars
10:00 - Why was there a change from ‘The Sikh Wars’ to ‘The Anglo-Sikh Wars’?
12:58 - Does ‘Anglo-Sikh’ truly reflect the nature of those involved in the wars?  
16:10 - Were there any European soldiers who fought on the side of the Lahore Darbar?
19:50 - Have you ever come across accounts of Sikh soldiers fighting on the side of the British?
21:25 - There is a generalised view that the Lahore Dabar had more  soldiers, more guns, better suppliers and materials, and still lost,  mainly due to internal treachery. To what extent is this true?
30:26 - If there had been generals such as Akali Phula Singh or Hari  Singh Nalwa, would the Anglo-Sikh wars have panned out differently?
37:32 - Ultimately, is it due to the poor management of the Sikh  Generals, such as Lal Singh and Tej Singh, that led to the Sikh demise?  Even though, on paper, the Sikhs seemed to be the far superior side.
43:55 - Why were the Sikh armies setup with their backs against the river in some of the battles?
50:11 - What role do the European Generals play in the Anglo-Sikh Wars?
52:29 - What were the type of weapons used by the Sikh army & what  level of industrialisation was present in Punjab to create these  weapons?
58:26 - What was the role of the Phulkian Misl & the Royal House of Patiala?
01:00:33 - Would it be fair to say the Cis-Sutlej states were always at odds with the Lahore Darbar?
01:04:12 - Would it be fair to say that those who stayed neutral did so out of survival?
01:07:11 - What were the main reasons for the outbreak of the first Anglo-Sikh War?
01:14:00 - Now I know the main 5 battles that are focused on when  discussing the first Anglo-Sikh War are Mudki, Ferozeshah, Baddowal,  Aliwal and Sobraon. However, there are three minor battles, 2 before  Mudki, which are Wadni Fort & Phillaur Fort, and one after Sobraon,  which is the battle of Kangrah. How do these fit into the context of  things and why are they not paid as much attention as the others?  
01:19:51 - What occurs during the inter-war period & what is the role of Rani Jind?
01:30:00 - Just to clarify, is the 2nd Anglo-Sikh war an accident?
01:33:14 - The second Anglo-Sikh War is marked by four main engagements,  Ramnuggar & Sadulpore, which are close and inconclusive contests,  Chillianwala and Gujrat. Could you please explain what occurs at each  battle & what occurs from one to the other?   
01:43:31 - What is the fate of the Dogra brothers, Lal Singh, Tej Singh and Diwan Mulraj?
01:49:13 - Considering how close the Anglo-Sikh Wars are to the Mutiny,  why is there a relaxed response from the Sikhs during the Mutiny?  
01:55:22 - Conclusion

Feb 21, 2022
Remnants of Partition | Aanchal Malhotra

In this episode I have the pleasure to talk to Aanchal Malhotra, author  of ‘Remnants of Partition’, a book that brings sounds, sights and smells  to life, exploring memories of partition through conversations about  objects which were carried across the new frontiers.

In re-telling these stories numerous complex tales are entwined amongst  one another creating a beautifully intricate tapestry of a time before,  during and after Partition.

The way in which Aanchal retells the memories of those she talks to will strike almost every emotional chord you have.

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As always here is a time stamped breakdown of the conversation:
00:00 - Introduction
05:54 - Aanchal's family history
14:12 - Partition & migration
16:00 - Partition & freedom
17:09 - How the book brings nuance to a generalised narrative of Partition
19:30 - Do you think the predisposition to look at Partition through the lens of violence is a colonial hangover?
25:55 - Aanchal's family & books
29:30 - What spurned you to write the book?
32:38 - Why are there two different titles of the book? Whilst you were  going through your research was there any surprises or hurdles?  
39:13 - Discussing objects and rationalising what you would take with you in an emergency like Partition.
40:42 - People's assumptions behind picking the items they did when they crossed borders
41:32 - What for you was the one item(s) that stood out the most and why? (The Crocodile Head)
47:38 - Importance of the soil of your respective homeland
51:09 - Was there anything else you picked up in terms of similarities and differences between the people you spoke to?
57:31 - Did you have to learn as you went along or was there a technique or practice you used when engaging with your interviewees?
01:04:30 - How did the whole process from research to publishing impact yourself and what has the feedback been like?
01:07:40 - Why do you think pre-partition harmony mutated into the communal violence that is synonymous with Partition?
01:13:10 - Is there anything else you wanted to include or go over?
01:14:40 - Where you can get your copy of Remnants of Partition / Remnants of a Separation

Jan 31, 2022
Research, Radicalisation and Racism - Dr Jasjit Singh - EP #28

Today I have the pleasure to talk to Dr. Jasjit Singh, an associate professor at the University of Leeds with his research focusing on the religious and cultural lives of South Asians in Britain, with a particular focus on ‘Religious and Cultural transmission’ and on the representation of religious minorities.     

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We’ll be focusing on Jasjit Singh’s CREST report examining the context and reality of Sikh activism in the UK, racism in football, in particular his son Balraj’s experience of racism, and finally, Jasjit Singh’s recent election as co-chair of the Sikh Studies Unit at the American Academy of Religion.

The full time stamped breakdown of this conversation was too long to include in this description, however, you can view the time stamped breakdown by clicking here.

Jan 22, 2022
Jallianwala Bagh | Amandeep Madra

Today I have the pleasure to talk to Amandeep Singh Madra, the co-author of ‘Eyewitness at Amritsar’.

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If you want to know more about our guest then I recommend you visit  episode 15. Coming back to today’s episode, we will be focusing on  Jallianwala Bagh.

Now those of you listening have probably seen the recent ‘renovations’,  in my opinion, it’s an absolute indecorous f*ckery of stupidity and  disrespect of history. However, the ‘renovations’ and disrespect itself  won’t be the topic today - instead we’ll be focusing on the Jallianwala  Bagh massacre and the events both preceding and proceeding it.

As always here’s a time stamped breakdown of the conversation:

00:00 - Introduction
01:13 - Where does Jallianwala Bagh get its name from?
03:03 - What was the purpose of Jallianwala Bagh?
06:01 - Visiting Jallianwala Bagh
06:25 - End of WWI, socio-economic influences on Panjab
13:32 - Rowlatt Acts
15:01 - Who are Colonel Reginald Edward Harry Dyer and Sir Michael O’Dwyer?
25:22 - Kitchelew, Sataypal & April 10th, 1919
35:23 - Marcella Sherwood
40:54 - The plan to bomb Amritsar
46:09 - Which regiments were involved in the massacre & did any of the soldiers refuse to shoot?
51:35 - Finding out who belonged to these regiments  
54:05 - Who do we know about the crowd that was there that day?
01:01:45 - The myth of the well
01:04:48 - How far are the soldiers from the crowd when they shoot?
01:15:31 - Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh and General Dyer’s siropa
01:25:29 - How is the British Raj about to mobilise a vast volunteer force for WW2 considering the events of Jallianwala Bagh?
01:32:09 - What happens to Dyer?

Jan 04, 2022
Sikhs in Britain | Peter Bance

In this episode I get the chance to talk to Peter Bance author of 'Sikhs in Britain: 150 years of photographs' about Sikh migration, immigration and settlement in Britain over the last 150 years.

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As always here's a time stamped breakdown of the conversation:

00:00 - Introduction
01:18 - Why did decide to research this topic?
03:04 - When is the first instance of Sikh migration from India?
07:15 - How does caste and class influence migration and did this change?
11:57 - What was the relationship between early Sikh peddlars and the Jewish community?
15:00 - What is the legislation change that impacts 'chain-migration'?
16:18 - Is this the only instance of legislation impacting Sikh immigration, or does it occur in other places?
17:28 - What was it about Britain that attracted the first Sikh settlers?
24:18 - How did Sikh migration and the establishment of Gurdwaras work?
27:58 - Are the current concerntrations of the British Sikh population reflective of early Sikh settlement?
31:57 - During your research what were some of the common experiences that early Sikh migrants faced?
36:11 - How did the peddlar trade continue to be a career choice for Sikh immigrants throughout the 20th century?
45:33 - What's the difference between the two editions of your 'Sikhs in Britain' book?
47:22 - What about World War I influences Sikh immigration to England?
51:18 - What role did Britain play in the Indian nationalist movement?
56:07 - Udham Singh in Coventry?
01:00:01 - Accounts of Udham Singh
01:02:55 - Udham Singh, Communism and the IWA.
01:05:12 - Final comments

Dec 18, 2021
Punjab-Sikh Representation in Bollywood | Jasmine Rai

In this podcast I get to talk to Jasmine Rai, a recent graduate from the  University of Birmingham, about her dissertation entitled - “An  exploration of the representations of Punjabi-Sikhs within Bollywood  cinema and how this affects perceptions of their community”. 

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As always here's a time stamped breakdown of the conversation:
00:00 - Introduction
01:45 - Family, education and culture
04:52 - PPE & Punjab
05:54 - Research & fieldwork
12:46 - Stereotype of Punjabi-Sikh identity in Bollywood films
15:20 - Representation and responsibility
22:53 - Did you come across any movies that bucked the trend?
26:34 - Power to make a change
27:55 - Caricatures & the Punjabi film industry
28:54 - The diaspora and changing the narrative
29:26 - Majority-Minority framework
31:55 - 'Bollywood has culturally appropriated Punjabi culture'
37:09 - Deep rooted change and the politics of India

Dec 03, 2021
Standardising Sri Dasam Granth | Kamalroop Singh

In this episode I get to talk to Dr. Kamalroop Singh once again and this time we discuss the Sodhak Committee, 'apocrypha' Bani and a lot more. 

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As always here is a time stamped breakdown of the conversation:

00:00 - Introduction
04:53 - When did the Sodhak Committee take place, who was involved and how did they decide what should and should not be included?
14:33 - The processes of the Sodhak Committee
29:32 - Which recension is used most today?
35:46 - Events leading up to the Sodhak Committee
45:27 - Debating 'apocrypha'
47:36 - A list of some 'apocrypha' bani
49:26 - The literary Court of Guru Gobind Singh Ji & languages
58:51 - Gobind Geeta & Hanuman Natak
1:05:45 - Ugurdanti, Sansar Sukhmana, Indra Kavach and more

Nov 07, 2021
The Sikh Royal Family | Peter Bance

Just quickly want to apologise for the previous upload the audio was terrible. I've now correct this and re-uploaded it.

In this episiode I get to talk to Bhupinder Singh Bance, also known as  Peter Bance is a sikh historian, author, art collector and Maharaja  Duleep Singh archivist.   In fact, His collection has been exhibited worldwide including at the  Victoria & Albert Museum, The British Museum, and the Bard Graduate  Centre in New York.

He has written for the Times and The Oxford National Biography & is the author of four books - The Duleep Singhs: Photograph Album of Queen Victoria's Maharajah (2004)  Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photography (2007) Khalsa Jatha British Isles Centenary 1908-2008 (2008) Sovereign, Squire and Rebel: Maharajah Duleep Singh & the Heirs of a  Lost Kingdom (2009) Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photography (2012),

He has also appeared in many BBC programmes such as The Story Of The  Turban (2012), Inside Out (2004), Desi DNA (2005), Britain's Maharajah  (2013), Sophia: Suffragette Princess (2015) and The Stolen Maharajah:  Britain's Indian Royal (2018)

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As always here is a breakdown of the conversation:

00:00 - Introduction
03:25 - A doctor in India but a door-to-door seller in England
04:23 - Why was peddling the go to occupation for early Sikh settlers in England?
05:09 - Why did your family come to the UK?
06:38 - Ancestry - Shaheedi Misl and Baba Deep Singh Ji
08:13 - How did you go from a marketing degree to being a historian of Sikh history?
14:21 - What type of items did you come across in your initial research?
14:35 - What was it about the Maharaja that attracted you so much?
16:38 - Anecdote of Prince Frederick Duleep Singh
17:37 - The view of the Sikh Royal Family in East Anglia  
19:36 - Princess Catherine Hilda Duleep Singh - The Punjabi Schindler
20:59 - How was Catherine practically able to do this and also evade being caught?
25:43 - Sister Suffragettes
28:04 - Anita Anand and the suffragette story
28:19 - How did the descendants of M. Ranjit Singh identify and view themselves?
33:00 - The Pension that was never paid
34:00 - A Russian Promise - 20k soldiers to march into Punjab via Afghanistan
37:11 - The personal notebook of Maharaja Duleep Singh
38:17 - The daughters of M. Duleep Singh
39:30 - Guns of M. Duleep Singh - The Rolls Royce of Guns
42:16 - How many wives and children did M. Duleep Singh have?
44:14 - Museums and Repatriation
48:21- A painting of a Prince
52:48 - The Ramgharia Bakery
55:25 - Monte Carlo
01:01:32 - Rani Jinda Gravestone & Catacombs
01:06:57 - Princess Pauline
01:15:13 - Are you aware of the Sikh Royal Family visitng their items in a museum?  
01:16:42 - £1.7million Statue
01:25:32 - Illegitimate heirs to the throne
01:28:48 - How many illegitimate heirs?
01:30:18 - Sid Hammond
01:31:53 - End of the legitimate heirs of M. Ranjit Singh
01:34:32 - Interesting finds & advice in entering the field of Sikh history

Oct 09, 2021
British Asian Music | Panjabi Hit Squad

In this episode I get to talk to Rav from Panjabi Hit Squad. We discuss Rav's background, upbringing, the history of Panjabi Hit Squad and so  much more. 

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As usual, a breakdown of the conversation is below.  

00:00 - Introduction - How are you? Have things gone back to normal in the entertainment industry?  
02:00 - What is your family history and experience been?
06:16 - How did you all meet and what is the history of Panjabi Hit Squad and where did the name come from?
13:27 - What were the feature factors in the popularity of the British Asian music scene in the 90s/00s?
17:39 - What have been the biggest changes over the last twenty years to the British Asian music scene and why isn’t it as popular?
21:51 - Do you think we will see a group from the South Asian diaspora, similar to NSG?
28:30 - Do you think the healthy competition in the early 2000s lent itself to pushing everyone?
31:17 - What have your experiences of the music industry been like?
39:32 - How was it working with Ms Scandalous, Alyssia and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan?  
44:00 - Who has been the most interesting person you’ve worked with or  come across in the music industry? What was it like being signed by Def  Jam and working with people like Mariah Carey and Fat Man Scoop?
51:12 - Have you ever thought about the impact of your music on popular culture?
57:00 - Food heaven and food hell?

Oct 03, 2021
Historical Dissemination of Sri Dasam Granth Sahib | Gurinder Singh Mann

In this episode I get to talk to Gurinder Singh Mann about the history and dissemination of Sri Dasam Granth, amongst a whole host of other topics.

Gurinder Singh Mann, is a Sikh historian and has published three books

  1. The British and the Sikhs: Discovery, warfare and friendship c1700-1900. Military and social interaction in Imperial India (From Musket to Maxim 1815-1914)
  2. Sri Dasam Granth Sahib: Questions and Answers
  3. The Granth Of Guru Gobind Singh: Essays, Lectures, and Translations, which was published by Oxford University Press

He is also the director of the Sikh Museum Initiative, a curator of the Anglo Sikh Virtual Museum and an advisor for the upcoming movie The Sikh Soldier.

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As always here is a breakdown of the podcast:

00:00 – Introduction
01:24 – Upbringing and family background
04:29 - How were you introduced to Sri Dasam Granth?
08:07 - What were you planning on studying in respect to Sri Dasam Granth?
12:12 - What were some of the conclusions of your MA study?
17:17 - What was the reaction to your MA & what is your opinion of past Dasam?
19:47 - Why do you think certain scholars are hesitant to attribute Dasam Granth?
25:13 - What is your view of the work of Jaggi and Reinhart?
41:41 - Introduction to the physical historical dissemination of Sri Dasam Granth?
47:59 - What methods were used to physically construct a Dasam Granth manuscript?
53:02 - Anything of particular interest come up in your research?
55:15 – Kavis (poets) of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji.
59:04 - Why 52?
01:01:30 - What was the religious landscape like at the time of Guru Gobind Singh ji?
01:06:49 - Where does the tradition of having Kavis come from?
01:08:51 - Paonta Sahib Sri Dasam Granth manuscripts
01:11:39 - The Bhai Daya Singh recension of Sri Dasam Granth Sahib
01:15:26 - Any other Sri Dasam Granth manuscripts worth mentioning?
01:17:27 - How did Sri Dasam Granth Sahib evolve historically?
01:19:36 - How do the themes of Sri Dasam Granth and Sri Guru Granth Sahib relate?
01:25:31 – What other ways was Sri Dasam Granth propagated?
01:31:50 - What evidence is there to show the body armour once belonged to Guru Gobind Singh Ji?
01:33:42 - How was Sri Dasam Granth propagated during the misl period and M. Ranjit Singh period?
01:48:03 - Wilkins, Malcolm, Leyden, Anglo-Sikh Wars and the Singh Sabha movement
01:54:30 - What is your opinion of the idea that the British purposefully removed Sri Dasam Granth sahib?
01:55:53 - Did the changing relationship between Britain and the Punjab impact British accounts of the Sikhs?
01:57:05 - Annexation and perception of Sri Dasam Granth sahib
02:09:22 - The Sodhak Committee?
02:14:32 – National armies, the Sikhs and Sovereignty
02:26:55 – How did copies of Sri Dasam Granth end up in institutions across the world?
02:23:20 - What is the most accurate translation of Sri Dasam Granth currently available?

Sep 13, 2021
Bhai Nand Lal | Satnam Singh

In this latest podcast episode I get to talk to Satnam Singh again.   

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We discuss Bhai Nand Lal, his birth in Ghazni, Afghanistan, his  upbringing and education. We discuss Bhai Nand Lal's parents, their  passing and the different narratives regarding his life. We then explore  Bhai Nand Lal's tenure under Aurangzeb before joining the court of Guru  Gobind Singh Ji. We then dive into the plethora of works penned by Bhai  Nand Lal, along with the importance of Persian.

Sep 04, 2021
"How did South Asian Women Forge Solidarity and Create Spaces for their Community in Britain?" | Amal Malik

In this episode I get to talk to Amal Malik, a recent history graduate from the University of Warwick. We discuss her dissertation regarding how South Asian women forged solidarity and created spaces for their Community in Britain.

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As always here is a breakdown of the podcast:

00:00 – Introduction
02:38 – Family background
06:59 – The Maldives, railways and Milan fashion week
14:34 – Why was it important to acknowledge “the women of the Sari Squad, the Jagonari Centre, Bradford Women’s Centre and Club Kali”?
17:03 – How did you go about your research?
19:32 – Oral history and academia
22:41 – Section 1: Hostile Territories
26:27 – To what extent was the work of the Sari Squad making South Asian women be acceptable rather than creating a safe space?
28:06 – Assimilation or integration?
35:59 – Is the term “South Asian” adequate?
41:01 – The Sari Squad and mixed martial arts
42:47 – Section 2: Community Services – Jagnoari Centre & Bradford Women’s Centre
44:38 – Section 3: Transgressive Sexualities – Club Kali and DJ Ritu
50:02 – Why do you think South Asian history is thoroughly sanitised?
53:41 – What was the lesson you took away from your dissertation?
58:29 – Last thoughts

Aug 25, 2021
Warrior-Saints, Empire & History | Amandeep Madra

In episode 15 of the ਸੋਚ (Sōch) Podcast I have the pleasure to talk to  Amandeep Madra - one of the main individuals behind UKPHA -  about warrior-saints, Empire, history and so much more.   

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Here's a brief breakdown of the podcast:  

00:00 - Introduction
06:34 - Early career, Susan Stronge, Parmjit, Akali Bunga and the V&A
32:45 - WW2 and enlisting
33:14 - WW1 and family
43:00 - Learning history and modern India
44:28 - How influential do you think martial race theory is? 48:26 - Guru Sovereignty and Nation State Sovereignty
1:00:46 - Did you expect to take what you're doing to the heights you  have?
1:04:28 - Old Mad Eyes
1:09:51 - What does it take to produce the books Kashi House publishes?
1:14:32 - How long does it take to produce one of these Kashi house  books?
1:14:53 - The authoritative biogarphy of M Ranjit Singh
1:16:37 - The aftermath of Warrior Saints - Books & Private Number  Plates
1:29:23 - Written History, Oral History and an Eclipse
1:38:31 - WWI and the Commonwealth Commission
1:46:09 - OBE & Empire?
1:57:25 - Contemporary Sources - Sicques, Tigers and Thieves

Aug 08, 2021
Empireland: EURO 2020, Racism and Nostalgia | Sathnam Sanghera

In this episode I get to talk to Sathnam Sanghera - author of  EmpireLand: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain, memoir The Boy  With the TopKnot and a novel, Marriage Material. In addition, Sathanm is  a writer for The Times and a presenter for Channel 4.  

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Below is a rough breakdown of the conversation, as usual, it was an absolute blast.  

00:00 - Introduction
01:30 - Leaving Wembley at the end of the EURO 2020 final
02:40 - Upbringing
04:00 - Parents arriving in the UK in the 1960s
05:38 - What was Wolverhampton like growing up?
07:31 - What led you to write Empireland?
10:38 - What were the reactions to Empireland when it was first published?
12:39 - Football, Priti Patel and racism.
15:38 - What goes into producing something like Empireland?
19:11 - Martial Race Theory
21:45 - "You can't review the history of Empire like it's a bloody kettle on Amazon."
23:05 - Imperial history often being monolithic in nature
25:26 - British Empire and Nazi Germany
29:00 - Dangers of making comparisons between the British Empire and Nazi Germany
30:05 - Anti-semitism within Europe before WWII
30:54 - "Every Empire rests on force, the British were not habitually cruel."
31:45 - What fuelled the violence and barbarity of the British Empire?
35:24 - Inheritance of law enforcement practices within post-colonial nations
38:28 - Statues
41:24 - How to make imperial history part of normal history
43:42 - Jane Austen and slavery
44:43 - Was profit the driving force behind the Empire?
47:10 - Legacy of Empire, recent events and privilege
49:20 - Empire Day 2.0 and the East India Company
51:13 - Final thoughts

Aug 08, 2021
Sanatan Shastar Vidya | Nidar Singh

In episode 14 of the ਸੋਚ (Sōch) Podcast I have the pleasure to talk to Nidar Singh about Sanatan Shastar Vidya.  

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As always here’s a time stamped breakdown of the conversation:   

00:12:00 - Before we dig our teeth into Sanatan Shastar Vidiya I get to  know a little bit more about Nidar Singh, discussing his family,  upbringing and education.  
00:05:39 - We discuss his Shastar Vidiya learning and teacher.
00:21:47 - I ask Nidar about his Gurdev’s Gurdev (teacher’s teacher). We  talk about Baba Sukha Singh, the Bhai Mastana Singh Akhara, named after  a cook of Guru Gobind Singh.  
00:35:13 - We discuss why some of the reasons some of these warriors are renowned.
00:45:47 - We discuss what Devi worship is, the account regarding Guru Gobind Singh Ji and how it fits into Sikhi.
01:08:26 - I ask Nidar about his connections with the RSS.  
01:44:42 - How do you ensure that what is taught is Shastar Vidiya and  nothing else? We also discuss how Shastar Vidiya is unique and  independent of other martial arts.
01:55:56 - We find out a little bit more about In the Masters Presence Vol II.
01:56:23 - We get to grips with the differences between Shastar Vidiya and Gatka.  
02:07:04 - Finally we wrap up with discussing the Nihang Dals in India since Baba Santa Singh Ji’s passing.

Jul 05, 2021
The Causes and Consequences of the 1984 Sikh Genocide | Preeya Kaur

Episode 13 of the ਸੋਚ (Sōch) Podcast is with Preeya Kaur and we discuss  her dissertation - Understanding the causes and consequences of the 1984  Sikh Genocide in India.   

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We start with briefly getting to know a little bit more about Preeya  before then diving into Preeya's dissertation.   

We start with the definition and framing of genocide, the role of the  nation state, the period of time researched, why concepts of  'oppression, 'violence' and 'resistance' are key to understanding the causes of the genocide, what were the key causes, what were the  governments motives, what were the key consequences, what do you think  you've added to the narrative regarding 1984, the source based utilised  for the dissertation, how all of this understanding is key in informing  policy and concluding with discussing the parallels between then and  now.

Jun 07, 2021
Exploring the Toor Collection | Davinder Singh Toor

Episode 12 of the ਸੋਚ (Sōch) Podcast is, once again, with Davinder Singh  Toor. However, this time we explore art, arms, armour and artefacts  from the Toor collection.

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00:00 - Introduction  
00:31 - Full body armour suit  
04:04 - Heron’s plumes & strutting peacocks?  
05:57 - Maharaja Duleep Singh’s photo collection and first paintings  
10:41 - John Edward Sache & dating photographs  
13:17 - Felice Beato, Beato’s album and the completel 19 photograph set  of Harmandir Sahib  
16:05 - Hodgson’s Horse Regiment & Maan Singh Varaich  
21:26 - Private Collectors?  
23:14 - The artist Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, Le Sikh and Elton John  
30:02 - Mislabelling items and portobello road market  
33:01 - Schoefft, the Thuggee and the Ismail Merchant and James Ivory  Collection  
47:49 - Collecting advice  
49:03 - What is the most interesting map in the Toor collection? Is  there any map in particular that is striking in what it includes? Any maps created in Punjab?  
52:56 - M. Ranjit Singh's sword, inscription and provenance  
01:00:26 - Hari Singh Nalwa’s shield and paintings  
01:08:39 - Akali Phula Singh & his relationship with Maharaja Ranjit  Singh  
01:12:21 - Akali Phula Singh’s death  
01:14:52 - The battle standard used by the Lahore State’s forces in the  Battle of Gujerat and the language of the people  
01:23:35 - Museums, private collectors and stolen artefacts  
01:34:39 - What are your plans for the next exhibition?  
01:36:54 - Community questions: Have you come across depictions of women  in Khalsa attire? Have you come across manuscripts of pre-colonial  rehit maryadas? Are you aware of any scarlet tunics of the Fauj-i-Khas?  
01:39:42 - What would your advice be to those who are collecting or  thinking of starting a collection?

May 09, 2021
Upbringing, Sikhi & Collecting | Davinder Singh Toor

In this episode of the ਸੋਚ podcast I get to talk to  Davinder Singh Toor, who he has put together one of the finest  collections of Sikh art, arms, armour and rare artefacts from all over  the world.

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In this episode we cover all of the following (with a rough time stamp):

00:00  - Intro and getting to know more about Davinder Singh Toor’s family  history, upbringing and the lessons he learnt from his parents.
07:29 - Why it's important to be frank about history and Davinder’s initial interest in history and art
09:08 - Did you pursue art or history at university or something else?
10:23  - Growing up in the 90s, and a series of key events - including  volunteering at the 1999, V&A Arts of the Sikh Kingdom Exhibition  and becoming addicted to golf
18:52 - What goes into locating, verifying and acquiring art and artefacts?
20:30 - Advice to those who have just started collecting?
25:32 - How do you make sure the item is authentic?
29:27 - Are there special storage conditions required for some items?
30:32 - Are there any items you’ve had to restore?
33:28 - Where are most Sikh artefacts located and how did they get there?
38:18 - If items from Ranjit Singh’s treasury came up for auction today, how would they be verified?
40:50 - Are there any items related to the Gurus in Ranjit’s treasury and what happened to them?
43:38 - Have you come across any contemporary portraits of the Sikh Gurus?
48:19 - Art in the Sikh misl period
54:27 - What is Sikh Art?
1:05:40 - Have you come across any art or artefacts that have changed the popular historical narrative?
1:14:47 - Have you come across art of or manuscripts relating to Sri Dasam Granth?
1:18:20 - What are your opinions on Sikh artefacts belonging to private collectors rather than institutions or Gurdwaras?

Apr 06, 2021
Sikhi, Vedant & Pre-Colonial Texts | Kamalpreet Singh Pardeshi

In this episode of the ਸੋਚ podcast I get to talk to  Kamalpreet Singh Pardesi, the genius behind and a  plethora of translations of vedantic and Sikh texts.

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However,  before we get stuck into Vedant and Sikhi, I found out more about  Kamapreet, his family history and how he ended up here in the UK. We  discuss how he ended up in the research and work he's doing.

We  find out about his family’s heritage in Punjab, originally from a  radhaswami background until his father's generation met Sant Ishar Singh  Rara Sahib Wale who brought them into Gurmat. His maternal grandfather  was from India and grandmother from Burma. His grandfather was working  on the railways in Pakistan on the day of partition and eventually ended  up in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, although they did return to India for a  brief period. It was due to his grandfather working for BT and being  transferred to Leicester, that his family ended up in England.

Kamalpreet  recalls the impact of 1984, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji, Sant Isher Singh  Rara Sahib Wale, kathavachaks, reading and going to Guru Nanak Sikh  School in London and how all of this helped develop his initial  understanding and progression.

Around the 33 minute mark we turn our focus onto Vedant, Sikhi and pre-colonial texts and discuss the following:

What is Vedant?
How does Vedant relate to Sikhi?
How is Vedant different to Western philosophy?
What is Chetum Saroop?
The philosophy of Akal Ustat?
What  are we referring to when we say Atma, Paratma, Jiv? - “It’s not this.  It’s not this. It’s not this. Beyond this, is what is true.”
What are the two powers of Maya?
Vedant and Sikhi’s view of Atma, Paratma and Maya?
What are the four Mahavak?
Where  do these four Mahavak appear in Gurbani? Sant Gurbachan Singh  Bhinderwale’s Katha and Kavi Santokh Singh Ji’s writing within the Sri  Nanak Prakash
What is unique about the Sikh use of Vedant?
Ibn Arabi
Bulleh Shah and Baba Bir Singh Ji Narunagbad Vale + Shams Tabrizi, Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Sri Nanak Prakash
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji, Multan and Bulleh Shah
Rumi & the Sevapanthis
Singh Sabha & removing vedantic explanations
What are Niti texts
A  run through of Vedantic and Niti texts - Chanakya Niti, Sarkutavali,  Bhavrasamrit, Vicharmala, Adhyatam Parkash, Vichar Sagar, Vairag shatak,  Moksh Panth Parkash
A run through of pre-colonial Sikh Texts -  Sewadas’s Parchian Patshahi Dasvin Ki, Koer Singh’s Gurbilas Patshahi  10, Sarup Singh Kaushish’s Guru Kian Sakhian, Sarup Das Bhalla’s Mahima  Prakash, Mahima Prakash Vartak & Kesar Singh Chibber’s Bansavalinama
Standardisation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and Sri Dasam Granth
The Singh Sabha definition of a Sikh and Sampradayas?
Definition of “Khalsa”?
Baba Sri Chand and Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Complexity and different translations of Gurbani
Who is your favourite kathavachik?
Is there anyway to download the contents of the entire site in one go?

Mar 26, 2021
Sikhi, Boxing and the Beard Ban | Inder Singh Bassi

In this episode I have the pleasure to talk to Inder  Singh Bassi, who is a 24 year old professional boxer signed to MTK  Global, a six-time London champion, a three-time National finalist and a  Haringey gold medallist as an amateur boxer.

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We start with his  family coming to England in the 1960s from India, how his father and  uncles fell in love with Cassius Clay (Muhammed Ali) and wanted to learn  more. We discuss his uncle's expertise in wrestling, their family  desire to see a kesdhari Sikh boxer and how this led to the  establishment and running of a kids boxing, wrestling and kabaddi club  at the gurdwara.

We discuss the relationship between Inder’s Sikhi  and his boxing career, the amateur boxing beard rule and how, as a case  study for Lions MMA, Inder was able to help have the rule overturned.

We  talk about how representation in sport matters, how Inder got into  boxing, what his training schedule is like and his fighting style. We  then move onto how Inder keeps himself in the right frame of mind when  approaching a fight and dealing with a loss. We then find out about the  glass ceilings Inder has had to face and smash through during this  boxing career.

To conclude, we round up the conversation discussing role models, food and what the future might hold for Inder Singh Bassi.

Two quotes in particular from the podcast that stick out:

“I’m  not here just to make numbers. There’s some fighters who are here just  to make numbers and they’ll box bums and they’ll have 10 - 12 fights and  win them all. But it's not the same as boxing people who are there to  win.”

“From a young age, when I was 16, I had a Bhagat Singh phone  case. It’s always been Bhagat Singh, it’s not because of who he was, it  was someone who done something at such a young age and left a legacy,  good or bad. That’s what I want to do too. I know I’m not a freedom  fighter obviously and I’m not here to fight a war against no government  but in my field I want to leave a legacy.”

Feb 28, 2021
Sikh History in Canada & Decolonised Museums | Sharn Kaur

In episode 8 of the ਸੋਚ podcast, I have the pleasure of talking to Sharnjit Kaur, a PhD Candidate at University of British Columba focusing on museums & critical race theory, a co-ordinator at the South Asian Studies Institute, instructor at the University of Fraser Valley and co-curator of the Sikh Heritage Museum located in the National Historic Gur Sikh Temple - the official name of the gurdwara. 

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We first start with getting to know a little bit more about Sharn, her family history, her interest in Sikh history, her dissertation on the Nihangs of Ranjit Singh’s court, working at the University of the Fraser Valley, getting involved with the National Historic Gur Sikh Temple, her curatory work and her current PhD. 

We discuss the age old question of diasporic communities - identity and then move on to discuss the decolonised space that is the National Historic Gur Sikh Temple Museum, and the history of the Gurughar itself, along with Sikhs in academia. 

Then we dive into the history of Sikhs in Canada starting with why did Canadian immigration policy and public opinion go through so many ups and downs? Sharn provides a brilliant and critical analysis of this short but extremely pivotal period of six years - complexities  of census taking, oral histories of Sikh and Dalit settlements in British Columbia in the late 1890s, jobs, long hair and gender norms, cremation and “the other”.  This is before breaking down the history of the Gur Sikh Temple of Abbotsford BC and its connection to the Ghadr movement.

We then discuss the Komagata Maru incident. However, we start with a Canadian court case in November 1913 where a judge overruled the deportation of 38 Punjabi Sikhs who had arrived to Canada on the Panama Maru. It was the victory of passengers of the Panama Maru that encouraged the sailing of the Komagata Maru in the following year. The Komagata Maru sailed from British Hong Kong, via Shanghai, China, and Yokohama, Japan, to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on 4 April 1914, carrying just over 300 passengers from Punjab province in British India. The ship had been hired by Gurdit Singh Sandhu, a Singaporean businessman who wanted to circumvent Canada anti-immigration laws by hiring a boat to sail from Calcutta to Vancouver. 

We discuss Gurdit Singh Sandhu and his opinion of the Ghadr movement, Bhagwan Singh and his rallying of the people of the Komagata Maru whilst the ship was in Hong Kong and a breakdown of who, what, when and where of the Ghadr movement, along with its parallels to the Tractor2Twitter movement today.

We discuss the legacy and impact of the Komagata Maru incident, how it impacted immigration policies then and now, World War I, the hypocrisy of the British Empire and the importance of historians, in particular,  Hugh J. M. Johnston. 

We move on to discuss the period between Komagata Maru and the Second World War, migration patterns and how South Asian and East Asians, along with the help of workers unions, fought for the right to vote for over fourty years. 

We discuss the role of caste and the perpetuity of privilege in early Sikh settlement to Canada, the need to portray the facts as they are and what is special about Canada that seems to incubate Sikh identity. 

We discuss why there is such an interest from Sikh Canadians in their history and what is special about Canada that seems to incubate this spirit? We end the podcast discussing what led to the establishment of the Sikh Heritage Museum, why it was important for the museum to be built and how Sharn got involved.

Feb 20, 2021
Traditional Arts & Sikhi | Simran K. Arts & Satnam Singh

In episode seven of the ਸੋਚ Podcast I get to talk with  Simran K. Arts and Satnam Singh about traditional arts, sikhi and representation.

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As usual, we start with getting to know Simran a  little bit better, for instance, the importance of her grandfather’s  photography whilst she was a child and the V&A Museum whilst she was  studying for her A-levels. We discover that it was restoration that was  Simran’s original interest before finding her passion in traditional  arts.

Amongst a whole lot more, we find out who Simran’s  inspiration is, her training in Persian miniature painting and the  connection between traditional arts and the Divine and then we dive deep  into the philosophical question of what is the most valuable  characteristic you need to have as a traditional artist?

Before  moving onto the topic of traditional art and Sikhi, I provide three  examples of traditional art: the showcase of Liberian music and dance at  the 1901, 1926 and 1984 Worlds Fair, the construction of a cultural  centre on Malaita, a Solomon island, that resulted in the revitalisation  of the indigenous East Kwaio community and resurrection of dead art  forms and, lastly, the colonisation of Hawaiian Hula, which has had such  a lasting impact that many of us today are only familiar with the  stereotypical, colonial trope of Hula dancing.

We go about trying  to define traditional art and Sikh art, discussing examples of  traditional Sikh art such as sakhis and raag kirtan. An example I find  particularly interesting is the gach and tukri embellishments of the  inner walls of Sri Harmandir Sahib. Gach is a base formed by mixing  crushed gypsum and water, and heating the mix to the right temperature  until it reaches the consistency of a paste. The paste is then applied  to the surface to be treated, and fine steel implements are used to etch  floral and other designs in the paste before it sets. The next stage  involves infilling these with sheets of gold leaf (varqs). In tukri  work, pieces of coloured and mirrored glass, sometimes specifically made  for the purpose, are cut and inlaid into gach to form patterns and  textures with their myriad reflections and colour effects.

We then  dive deeper into traditional arts and Sikhi with questions such as, why  are traditional art forms of indigenous communities outlawed or banned?  Does the artist have a responsibility to be historically accurate? Does  the artist have to be considerate of their audience? Does the artist  always have to respect traditions? Where do you see Sikh art going? Does  representation within art matter? We conclude with a community question  - why does traditional art pre-occupy itself with natural materials?

Feb 03, 2021
Sri Dasam Granth: Authenticity & Authorship | Dr. Kamalroop Singh

In episode 6 of the ਸੋਚ podcast I get to put forward your questions and the most common critiques of Sri Dasam Granth to Dr. Kamalroop Singh who has completed a PhD at the University of Birmingham, School of Philosophy, Theology and Religions. His thesis was titled, “Dasam Granth Re-examined.” In addition, he has published two books on Sri Dasam Granth Sahib, “Sri Dasam Granth: Q&A” as well as “The Granth of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Essays, Lectures and Translations.

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We spend the first ten minutes, as always, getting to know our guest a little bit better, starting with his upbringing, the influence of his Bibi Ji, his own personal identity crisis and academic pursuits leading to and through his PhD in Sri Dasam Granth Sahib. 

We then dive into Sri Dasam Granth Sahib and the ‘so-called’ controversy surrounding it. We start with the following extract, Saturday, 4th April 1846 – Illustrated London News – “Guru Govind inculcated his tenets upon his followers by his preaching, his actions, and his works; among the latter is ‘Dasama Padshah Ka Gurunth,’ or Book of the Tenth King, he being the tenth ruler from Nanc, the founder of the religion. This work, together with the ‘Adi Gurunth’ of Nanac – their only other sacred book – is held in great veneration by the Sikhs.” 

Here is another extract, although not included in the podcast, Sir John Malcolm, while in the Punjaub in 1805, succeeded in procuring a copy of the ‘Adi Gurunth’ from a Chief, who sent it to him at night, after having obtained a promise that he would treat the scared volume with great respect. A Mr. Colebrook, with persevering assiduity, was also able to procure not only the ‘Adi-Gurunth,’ but the ‘Dasama Padshah Ka Gurunth’ – the two most scared books of the Sikhs.”

From this point on we deal with the following questions: 

1. What is Sri Dasam Granth? 

2. Was Sri Dasam Granth written by Guru Gobind Singh Ji or could it include the work of court poets or others? In the process of answering this Dr. Kamalroop Singh outlines a raft of early Dasam Granth manuscripts starting in 1688 and uses further historical evidence to remove any possibility of court poet material being used. 

3. Who do the pen names Ram & Shyam refer to? 

4. Why do some of the earliest manuscripts have compositions ordered in a different order or exclude certain compositions completely? 

5. We dive deeper into the history of the Bhai Mani Singh recension of Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji & Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji. 

6. What is Charitropakhian? What is the context of Charitropakhian? Is Charitropakhian misogynistic? 

7. How is Sri Dasam Granth part of the social revolution of the Khalsa?

8. Does Sri Dasam Granth lack originality due to its inclusion of puranic texts? 

9. What does Maharaj mean when he states he comes from the khastriya lineage? Is this a declaration of caste? 

10. What was the influence of Colonialism and the Singh Sabha upon Sri Dasam Granth Sahib?

11. How does the concept of the female divine energy fit into wider Sikh thought?

12. Is there a Sikh theology? 

13. How do you explain the story of Guru Gobind Singh ji and Naina Devi Yagna found in Bansavalinama by Kesar Singh Chibber?

14. What is the relationship between reformists such as the Bandai Khalsa and Teja Singh Bhasauria with Sri Dasam Granth?

15. Will Sri Dasam Granth Sahib ever be parkash at Akal Takht?

16. How does Jhatka & Dheg fit into Sikhi?

Jan 23, 2021
The Pind, Photography and Our Own Narratives | Hark1karan

In this episode of The Sooch podcast I get to talk to Hark1karan, we get to know more about him and his latest photo book - Pind: Portrait of a Village in Rural Punjab.

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We first start off by getting to know the meaning behind his name, the influence of photography and art in his household whilst growing up and the impact of the environment and energy of growing up in working class neighbourhood of south London.

We go on to discuss photography, the photographer and the responsibility of constructing a narrative of the subject matter. We move on to discuss the Pind and it’s connection with Punjabi culture and Sikhi.

We discuss why Hark1karan decided to publish a book in the age of Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr and why he’s decided not to post the images on social media. We also learn about the process taken to get the book from concept to a published book and the responsibility of showcasing the community from the inside and not erasing the story.

We move on to find out about the importance of language in constructing this photo book and get to know more about the process involved. Can you believe that these photos were taken on an old-school roll film camera?

The rest of the discussion moves on to representation and how quite often if people don't see it, for them it's not a reality. We move on to how Hark1karan was able to take some of the more honest photos, the idea that we're not the same person but we're different people in different scenarios.

We move on to discuss the current and on going Kissan-Majdoor protests in India & its connection to the Pind, the responsibility of artists and how women have been excluded from certain narratives regarding the protests.

We round the podcast off with Hark1karan’s own personal journey in putting his book together and the importance of collaboration and fostering a constructive environment within our community to help change outdated narratives and tell our own story.

Jan 10, 2021
The Kisaan-Majdoor Protests | Aman Bali & Jodh Singh

I get the pleasure to talk to Aman Bali from Kashmir, who is currently providing excellent on the ground coverage of the ongoing Kisaan-Majdoor protests in India, and Jodh Singh from America, who helps provide historical context and analysis. 

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We start off with what has caused these protests, we move on to how this spurned a people’s protest, seemingly bereft of any political impetus. To be cliché – a movement, for the people, by the people.  - We demarcate how these protests are not abrupt. In fact the protesting started back in June and the protests we now see in Delhi are simply the next step in the Kissan-Majdoor protest - that of increasing their own negotiation powers by bringing the protest to the capital.

We take a look at the bills in some depth and, amongst a number of things, we demarcate how the socio-economic fabric of Punjab would be drastically altered. We start with the three main laws of contention - Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce, Promotion and Facilitation Act, Farmers Empowerment and Protection Agreement Act and the Essentials Commodity Amendment. We also discuss the two further ordinances – the air quality ordinance and the electricity amendment.

We talk about sharecroppers, landgrabbing, middlemen, Mandis, Mandi Tax, MSP and alot more than I can fit in one post.

Overall the one of the biggest themes that lept out is the appalling lack of legal redress any of these farmers would have if these bills were to be passed. In addition, it seems these laws are part of a bigger issue – India’s urgent want to industrialise almost overnight. A task which, as Aman Bali rightfully points out, needs to be done incrementally. 

We look at the locus of the protests coming from Punjab and Haryana, the role of Sikhi and how the diaspora can help. We also dissect the idea that 250 million people have been protesting in Delhi.  

We covered a lot of ground in a relatively short space of time. However, if you want to find out more I would strongly recommend listening to Sial Mirza Goya’s podcast series – there’s 14 episodes so far -

I would also suggest you follow them on Twitter- their handles are @amaanbali and @sialmirzagoraya – and also follow @Punyaab who is providing coverage from the protest sites.

Dec 16, 2020
Sikhi, Colonialism and Justice | Sikh Archive (Sukh Singh)

In this episode I get to talk with the man behind Sikh Archive.

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We  start off the conversation talking about family, in particular his baby  daughter, Brexit, Punjab and tomatoes. We then dive into wider  migration patterns and how they affected his family. The difficulties in  tracing Punjabi family lineage, social and historical capital and the  legacy of colonial legislation.

We then move onto more interesting  topics (one sent in by a number of followers) namely what does Sikh Archive say to those who accuse him of being too left-leaning? This  touches upon a number of things such as Kamala Harris, Marcus Rashford and identity politics.

This then flows into a discussion regarding  what is justice? How do we engage with injustice, whether that be  historical injustice or societal injustice. We discuss Sikhs in the  military, integration and alignment to whiteness, the martial race  narrative and the Sikh nation.

We round the episode off asking how  and why Sikh Archive was started, book recommendations, the Sikh ethos  of uprooting tyrannical systems and the changing landscape of Sikhi  & Gurdwaras.

Nov 26, 2020
History, Politics and 3H0 | Shabd Singh

Shabd has been someone who I’ve been following for a  while and inspired me to start my own podcast, so it was great to get to  know a bit more about him and I cannot thank him enough for taking the  time out to talk.

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In this episode, we get to know a bit more about  Shabd and his upbringing near Washington DC in Northern Virginia,  amongst the 3HO community, his parents, who are both converts to Sikhi  through 3HO, his background including his mixture of Jewish, Basque and  Parisian ancestry, his attendance at Miri-Piri academy in Punjab, his  further education, a period of change in his life more recently and his  involvement in politics and how it took him further then he could have  imagined.

Did you know his mum travelled overland through Afghanistan to reach India in the 1970s?

We  continue and talk about how Shabd spends some of his spare time  focusing on his own podcast – The One: Intersection of Sikhi/Sikh  Affairs and Left/Progressive politics.

How  Sikhi is more than a religion, a book called the “Jakarta Method” which  helps to map the American backing of the Indonesian death squads of the  1960s (resulting in the death of over a million people) and how this  was part of the CIA’s broader project of extinguishing the left wherever  it was. Those who doubt socialism and use a lack of historical examples  sometimes miss that since inception socialism has been aggressively  attacked and undermined by the USA and Western powers & specifically  undermined.

Can Sikhs be part of a modern day military? How WWI  and WII are not unrelated or disconnected from colonialism and the  purpose of modern militaries. The tokenisation of Sikhs, the concept of  langar and the human right of food security, the relationship of  colonialism, capitalism and white supremacy.

Malcolm X, truly  questioning the system, the Khalsa mindset, the acceptance of death,  learning and teaching and how Shabd tries to use this to keep grounded  when involved in politics.

We then dive into Shabd’s upbringing as  a Sikh, experience of the 3HO community and the cult, criminal  activities and systems of abuse controlled by Yogi Bhajan. Shabd  outlines his own personal journey and the importance of Kashi House’s  accessible production of pre-colonial Sikh history that was particularly  helpful. Amongst other things, we round off the episode focusing on the  3HO community today, the entities and community of 3HO and why it is  important to identify and change the systems around us.

We spoke  about so much more than that. More importantly, I learnt so much and  thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend time talking to Shabd Singh.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Nov 11, 2020
The Sikh Golden Age | Satnam Singh

In our very first episode of The ਸੋਚ Podcast, I get to talk with Satnam Singh from Denmark.

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We  get to know a little bit about him and his upbringing in Denmark. We  discuss the importance of teachers, the books he is currently reading,  as well as a discussion about the need for impartiality when  researching.

We continue and dive into the Anandpur Darbar and the  Early Misl Period. Just a few of the questions we discuss: What is the  Anandpur Darbar? Why the number 52? The Kavis Mansion in Anandpur and  the cultural, political and wider impacts of the Anandpur Darbar.

The  discussion regarding the early Misl Period touches upon a number of  things, including a comparison with the Ottoman Empire of the time, how a  lot of the systems required for the success of Maharaja Ranjit Singh ji  were already setup during the misl period. We discuss art, literature  and culture under the early misl period and modern day auction houses.

Nov 11, 2020