- Meaning the “Guru’s Own,” “Khalsa” was the name given by Guru Gobind Singh to all Sikhs who took the initiation of the double-edged sword. In British India, it was the word commonly used to refer to the Sikh army in the Punjab, organized primarily by Ranjit Singh who united the loosely federated Sikh clans of the Punjab and created a European-style force using European officers, usually French veterans of Napoleon Bonaparte ’s Grande Armée but also British, Americans, Germans, and Italians. The Khalsa was a military fraternity, a superb fighting force, and after Singh’s death almost a government within the Sikh state. After the Khalsa’s defeat at the Battle of Gujarat in the Second Sikh War, the British army began to raise Sikh battalions.FURTHER READING:Singh, Amandeep, and Parmot Singh. Warrior Saints: Three Centuries of Sikh Military Tradition. New York: I. B. Tauris, 1988.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.