European view

Though not entirely reliable as source material, they proved a reliable corroboration of events that took place in the 17th and 18th centuries. Father Jerome Xavier, a Jesuit Priest mentions the martyrdom of Guru Arjan in Lahore in 1606. References to the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur in Delhi (1675), the execution of Banda Bairagi and 700 of his followers in Delhi in 1716 were noted down by agents of the East India Company as well as travellers financed by it.

After the execution of Banda Bahadur, Sikhs reorganised themselves into several independent misls and ravaged the plains from the Ganges to the Indus, including Delhi, and its suburbs. The sight of one Sikh on horse-back with matchlock on his shoulder and Kirpan dangling by his side struck terror in the hearts of people:He was like a one-man army (Sava-lakh fauj).

In 1768, Francis Xavier wrote "Among 10,000 men there will be at least as many commanders and what is more each is independent of the other. "In 1716, a Swiss national Major Polier sent a note of warning to the English about Sikh potential as "a snake with many heads".
He wrote "As for the Seikhs, that formidable aristocratic republick, I may safely say, it is only so to a weak defenceless state, such as this is. It is properly the snake with many heads. Each zamindar who from the Attock to Hansey Issar, and to the gates of Delhi lets his beard grow, cries wah gorow, eats pork, wears an iron bracelet, drinks bang, abominates the smoking of tobacco and can command from ten followers on horseback to upwards, set up immediately for a Seik Sardar, and as far as is in his power aggrandizes himself at the expense of his weaker neighbours; if Hindu or Mussulman so much the better; if not, even amongst his own fraternity will he seek to extend his influence and power; only with this difference in their intestine divisions, from what is seen everywhere else, that the husbandman and the labourer, in their own districts, are perfectly safe and unmolested, let what will happen around them."
It is hard to believe that when Baghel Singh of the Karorasinghia misl was invited by Emperor Shah Alam to take Delhi under his protection, all he asked for was land to build Delhi’s seven historic gurdwaras and collect a third of all octroi duties. He left only two Sikhs agents in Subzi Mandi to see the undertaking was fulfilled.

You will find all this in delightful compilation Sicques, Tigers, or Thieves (1606-1809) edited by Amandeep Singh Madra and Parmjit Singh (Palgrave Macmillan).

Many of the characteristics of the Sikhs noted by foreign observers persists to this day. They are notorious for being unable to come together to work as a team, Everyone regards himself as a jathedar (leader) even if he has no jatha (troops) to lead

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