"Encyclopaedias do not grow on trees."
The force in the dictum not withstanding,
the Punjabi University promised to
produce one for the scholarly world—an
Encyclopaedia of Sikhism. It was a daring:
undertaking. Happily, the first volume of
the Encyclopaedia in a four-part series is
now ready. It comprises about 850 entries,
covering different aspects of Sikh life and
letters, history and philosophy, customs
and rituals, social and _ religious
movements, art and architecture, locales
and shrines. Professor Harbans Singh has
laboured diligently and created a work of
high literary and scholarly worth. He has
devoted all his energies over the past
several years to this work of which he was
the inspiration and to which his name will
remain inseparably attached. It is not easy
to restate and repack the entire range of
information and knowledge of a people.
An attempt has been made here precisely
to define the ideas and terms of Sikhism.
The writing is direct, terse and tight and
the aim throughout has been intelligibility
and throughness. The volume will provide
the background and facts necessary for
comprehending Sikh thought and
symbolism. It should be useful both for the
expert and the general reader.
The making of an Encyclopaedia will anywhere be a most demanding task. It will be to say the
least a wholly time-consuming exercise. It will imply frequently rigorous planning over long
stretches of time, verification of details and facts. Fortunately, at hand was a scholar of rare
powers of composition and determination. He brought to this work unimagined qualities of
faith and dedication. In the result we have these sturdily-built volumes of the Encyclopaedia
of Sikhism. Volumes I and II have been very enthusiastically received both by the general
reader and cognescente. Encouraged naturally by the success of the work, we are floating the
third volume in a single year. The volume covers "M" to "R’.
The end of the journey is now clearly in sight. I must thank scholars who have lent their
expertise to this work. It was with the object of encapsulating authentic and comprehensive
interpretation about Sikhism that the Punjabi University took up the task of launching upon
We have indeed reached a point well-worth celebration. It was by no meansan easy task and
we had not stepped into it in a hurry. The Encyclopaedias are not easily got up. They require
a precise and clear-cut scheme of work. They demand a well-articulated, meticulously worked
out and sensitively-modulated style of writing.
There has been a kind of methodlessness in our scheme of work. Yet, this proved our surest
method. We blundered page after page into whatwe really intended to achieve. By our sureness
of touch we were able to achieve our desired goal.
It has been my privilege to collect and acknowledge the events of a period which is as yet
not too distant from us. The Muse has not completely deserted us. Or gone out of sight.
I take this opportunity to thank the learned scholars who have contributed their expertise
to the volume. I commend at the same time the initiative taken by the Head, Publication
Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala, and his colleagues.
The twentieth century has been a period dotted all along with exciting situations, One will
need to go all out to keep abreast of the current situation. One will need to recapture the
past—to conserve the past. Hence the need for Encyclopaedias and other reference works.
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