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|Introduction - Introduction to Punjab||Theme:|
Punjab, a region in Northern India and the east side of Pakistan, has a long history and rich cultural heritage. The people of the Punjab are called Punjabis and they speak a language called Punjabi. The three main religions in the area are Sikhism, Hinduism, and Islam. The region has been invaded and ruled by many different empires and races, including the Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, Afghans, and Mongols. Around the time of the 15th Century, Guru Nanak Dev founded the Sikh religion, which quickly came to prominence in the region, and shortly afterwards, Maharaja Ranjit Singh reformed the Punjab into a secular and powerful state. The 19th Century saw the beginning of British rule, which led to the emergence of several heroic Punjabi freedom fighters. In 1947, at the end of British rule, the Punjab was split between Pakistan and India .
Many races of people and religions made up the cultural heritage of the Punjab. Punjab is the land where spiritual aspirations arose. This heroic land bore numerous invasions, and after all its suffering, did not entirely lose its glory and its strength. Here it was that the gentle Nanak preached his marvellous love for the world. Here it was that his broad heart opened and his arms outstretched to embrace the whole world.
One of the earliest stone age cultures of South Asia nourished in the Punjab. People generally accept that about eight centuries before Christ, the Punjab was the most enlightened and the prosperous region in the world. The Harappa civilization developed in Punjab and its culture spread to Iran, Afghanistan, Balochistan, and north-western parts of South Asia.
The Vedic and Epic period of the Punjab was socially and culturally very prolific as during this glorious period, the people accelerated in the fields of philosophy and culture. Here the people composed the Rig Veda and the Upanishads. Further, tradition maintains that Valmiki composed the Ramayana near the present Amritsar city and Kaikyee belonged to this region. Lord Krishna gave the divine message of the Gita at Kurukshetra. It was here that people wrote eighteen principal Puranas. The authors of Vishnu Purana and the Shiv Purano belonged to the central Punjab.
Right from the invasion of Alexander in 326 B.C., the Punjab bore the brunt of incursions and the aggressive assaults of the hordes from the north. During the gruesome period great kings like Porus, Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka and host of other heroes emerged to defend Punjab from the onslaughts.
During Mughal rule, there was lots of conflict, chaos, and political upheavals in the Punjab. Appearance of Guru Nanak (1469-1538) was an event significant not only for the region but for the whole country. He was the founder of a powerful popular movement which has left a lasting impression on the history and culture of all of South Asia. Born in the district of Sheikhupura, he rejected the division of mankind into rigid compartments of orthodox religions and preached the oneness of humanity, and oneness of God, thus aiming at creating a new order which embraced the all pervasive spirit in man. He condemned and ridiculed the false and unnatural notions of high and low in society, He denounced idolatory and laid stress on meditation for the realization of the Universal self.
British intrution had political, cultural, philosophical and literary consequences in the Punjab. The opening of a new system of education introduced a new spirit in the life of the Punjabis. More people realized the greatness of Punjabi culture. During the freedom movement, Punjab played a role worthy of its name. Many heroes emerged from the Punjab such as Lajpat Rai, Ajit Singh, Bhagat Singh, Uddham Singh, Bhal Parmanand and a host of others.
Since independence, life in the Punjab proves to be tragic and traumatic. The partition resulted in riots and terror which tore up millions of homes and destroyed many lives. The massive exodus resulting from the newly formed state of Pakistan created problems of uncontrollable dimensions. The Punjabis trekked in blood and shreds.
However, the Punjabi spirit of tenacity and toughness sustained the uprooted people. The disillusioned people set to work with no self pity to plough fresh fields. They built new industries and became prominent in sports. Punjabis attained an eminent place in cultural, aesthetic, and literary work, and revived folk art, song, dance and drama. All of this has created a sense of pride and climate of involvement in the heritage of the Punjab.