Representing Guru Nanak and the Sikh Tradition


Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs




This project focuses on the Puratan Janamsakhi, the earliest known account of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion. Scholarship on Guru Nanak has largely dismissed this text and has overlooked the fact that, after its composition in 1588 CE, the Puratan Janamsakhi remained the most popular and most widely circulated account of Guru Nanak’s life for two centuries. What emerges from this project is a new picture of Guru Nanak that presents him as a politically active figure who clearly intended to establish a religious community.

Guru Nanak’s political vision and worldview also serves as the basis for a second book project that explores Sikh ethics in response to xenophobic and bias-motivated violence. The stories from this book simultaneously narrativize the history of Sikhs in America and examine the process of racialization as a social construction. These stories and insights will be published as essays in popular media.