Jat Sikh is a sub-group of the Sikh ethnoreligious group from the Indian subcontinent. They form at least half of the Sikh population in Punjab, with some sources estimating them to be about 60% to 66% of the Sikh population.
Jats started to follow the teachings of Guru Nanak in small numbers and this grew after the formation of the Khalsa. They converted en masse to Sikhism from the time of Banda Singh Bahadur, and formed the vanguard of Sikh resistance against the Mughal Empire from the 18th century onwards. Note that research by W H Mcleod based on the Martial Race theories claims that Jats started joining Sikhism in large numbers during the period of the 6th Guru Hargorbind, but this theory has been rebutted by Jagjit Singh (Historian) in his book The Sikh Revolution.
Influence of Sikhism on Jats
In 1928, Major A.E. Barstow, who commanded the Sikh Regiment, wrote that Jat Sikhs (as well as Sikhs in general) appeared to possess more of a martial streak than their non-Sikh brethren. The reason for this was summed up by Major A.E. Barstow as being due to the influence of Sikhism:
"As has already been explained the virtues of the Jats are identical with those of the Sikhs, but the latter possess in a higher degree the ardent military spirit which had its origin in the warlike precepts of Gobind Singh."
“A serious contradiction afflicts the Jat farmer of the Punjab. He has unflinching faith in Guru Gobind Singh, yet at the same time he is inbued with traits typical of a Jat. There are two sides to the Jat’s known traits. One has a positive effect in the sense that it saves him from feeling inferior; and the other side is negative. It makes him overbearing and arrogant which is a disease. A Jat’s negative traits can be suppressed only through the true spirit of Sikhism.”
Jat Sikhs, according to Major A.E. Barstow, were very good soldiers due to the influence of Sikhism, and possessed more of a martial quality than their non-Sikh Jat brethren. Barstow further comments, that due to their diet and their fondness for wrestling (something encouraged and taught by Guru Angad to the Sikh people) and weightlifting, they possessed good physical attributes for soldiery. According to R. W. Falcon, Jat Sikhs (alongside other Sikhs) were seen as a good source for recruitment. According to Captain A. H. Bingley they were particularly loyal soldiers.
The Jat Sikh community has constituted an important source of recruits for the Indian Army.
In Punjab (India), Jat Sikhs are associated with agricultural pursuits and land ownership. They own more than 80%, and possibly as much as 95% of available agricultural land in Punjab. They often reside in the rural areas, and are economically influential in the state.
- Maharaja Ranjit Singh – the Jat-Sikh (other sources state Sansi Caste) Emperor of the Sikh Empire
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- The transformation of Sikh society – Page 92 by Ethne K. Marenco – The gazetteer also describes the relation of the Jat Sikhs to the Jat Hindus ...to 2019 in 1911 is attributed to the conversion of Jat Hindus to Sikhism. ...
- Social philosophy and social transformation of Sikhs by R. N. Singh (PhD) Page 130 – The decrease of Jat Hindus from 16843 in 1881 to 2019 in 1911 is attributed to the conversion of Jat Hindus to Sikhism. ...
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- The Sikh Revolution By Jagjit Singh ISBN 81-88306-00-2 page 205 onwards
- Perspectives on Sikh Studies and The Development of Sikh Militarisation by Jagjit Singh Page 92 onwards courtesy http://www.globalsikhstudies.net/pdf/per-sikh-studies.pdf
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- "The Jats have long been distinguished by their martial traditions and by the custom of retaining their hair uncut. The influence of these traditions evidently operated prior to the formal inauguration of the Khalsa. title='Who is a Sikh?: the problem of Sikh identity' author='W.H. McLeod'
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- Barstow, A.E., (Major, 2/11th Sikh Regiment-Late 15th Ludhiana Sikhs), The Sikhs: An Ethnology (revised at the request of the Government of India), reprinted by B.R. Publishing Corporation, Delhi, India, 1985, pp. 62–63, first published in 1928.
- Barstow, A.E., (Major, 2/11th Sikh Regiment-Late 15th Ludhiana Sikhs), The Sikhs: An Ethnology (revised at the request of the Government of India), reprinted by B.R. Publishing Corporation, Delhi, India, 1985, pp. 155, first published in 1928.
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- Bingley, A.H. (Captain, 7th-Duke of Connaught's own Bengal Infantry, Handbook for the Indian Army: Sikhs, Compiled under the orders of the Government of India, Printed at the Government Central Printing Office, Simla, India, 1899, pp. 90–91, 11, 92.
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- Multiple sources:
Sir Lepel Griffin, Punjab Chiefs, Vol. 1, p 219 "...and from Sansi the Sindhanwalias and the Sansis have a common descent. The Sansis were the theivish and degraded tribe [sic] and the house of Sindhanwalia naturally feeling ashamed of its Sansi name invented a romantic story to account for it. But the relationship between the nobles and the beggars, does not seem the less certain and if history of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is attentively considered it will appear that much his policy and many of his actions had the true Sansi complexion"
The Sansis of Punjab; a Gypsy and De-notified Tribe of Rajput Origin, Maharaja Ranjit Singh: The Most Glorious Sansi, p 13, by Sher Singh, 1965, Original from the University of Michigan
Tribalism in India, p 160, by Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, Edition: illustrated, Published by Vikas, 1978, Original from the University of Michigan
Sociological Bulletin, p 97, by Indian Sociological Society, Published by Indian Sociological Society, 1952
Indian Librarian edited by Sant Ram Bhatia, p 220, 1964. Item notes: v.19–21 1964–67, Original from the University of Michigan
The Sikhs in History, p 92, by Sangat Singh, Edition: 2, Published by S. Singh, 1995, Original from the University of Michigan
Some Aspects of State and Society Under Ranjit Singh, p 5 By Fauja Singh, Published by Master Publishers, 1981, Original from the University of Michigan
Preminder Singh Sandhawalia (1999). Noblemen and Kinsmen History of a Sikh Family: History of a Sikh Family. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. ISBN 81-215-0914-9
Jean-Marie Lafont, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Lord of the Five Rivers. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).