The man who introduced the world to the history of the Sikhs is no more, regret Sikh historians.The way he wrote his book played an important role in introducing generations to the community’s past.
In the opinion of Chandigarh-based Sikh historian Indu Banga, “A History of the Sikhs” by Khushwant Singh is the most popular book of the past five decades. “First published in 1963, it has gone into many reprints and revised editions. His style of writing made it a fascinating introductory book on Sikh history,” she said.
Sikh historian JS Grewal agreed with Banga’s views. “Khushwant wrote so well that readers didn’t even want to know if he was correct or not. That is the power of his words. His selection of subjects and focused on them was a work of art. That is why in spite of having the problems of all histories, his book is still the most popular. He wasn’t a professional historian but I rate him a good one,” said Grewal.
Khushwant Singh was also a fine writer who had come out with some of the best books on Punjab, recalls Chandigarh-based for mer editor- writer Gulzar Singh Sandhu, who translated Khushwant’s many works into Punjabi. “I was associated with him since 1955. Translating his novel ‘Train to Pakistan’ in 1958, I omitted his favourite character, Iqbal, from the book but he didn’t mind,” said Sandhu.
“Later, on my suggestion, he translated Amrita Pritam novel ‘Pinjar’ into English. He would never sit idle,” said Sandhu, who has translated a lot of Punajbi literature into English as well.