Most of my early education in Sikh history came from comic books, namely those published by Amar Chitra Katha, based in India. My father purchased every title related to Sikhism that was released by this company — covering the stories of the Sikh Gurus to those of Sikh legends and heroes — and I loved reading and re-reading these comic books until I knew the stories by heart.
It was a great introduction to Sikhism that captured my imagination. As I got older, I moved on from these comics to literary works on Sikh history that filled my growing mind with more knowledge and detail.
I started reading those comic books almost 30 years ago (I’m astounded as I write that number), and I’ve recently come across a new effort to bring such Sikh stories to today’s young audiences.
Gyan Khand Media has recently begun producing a new set of Sikh-based comic books. While now based in India, author Daljeet Singh Sidhu saw the opportunity for such a comic book after living in the west:
When Daljeet Singh Sidhu wanted to introduce his three-year-old son to Sikh heroes and history, he was not at a loss of words. But what he did not have, was a story that his boy could see, feel and later read. That’s when it struck Sidhu; that Sikh history has many heroes, but no graphics. So after 12 years in the US, he packed his bags and moved back to India to chronicle Sikh history, its great gurus and warriors and present them in the comics format. That’s how www.sikhcomics.com, a Sikh comics project, was born.
Gyan Khand Media has currently published three titles covering the stories of Baba Deep Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur, and the Battle of Saragarhi. Many more are planned, and I had the opportunity to download and read the first two titles using Amazon’s Kindle app on my mobile device.
I find the ability to download these comics and read on Kindle or other mobile device to be very convenient. The electronic versions allow the reader to carry the entire collection on one device (as compared to my old Amar Chitra Katha comic books, which are all in a large box). Hard copy (paper versions) of the comics are also available for those who aren’t so inclined to read these comics electronically, but to collect these on a tablet or a Kindle reader makes these comics very convenient.
I am also impressed with the vibrant artwork presented in these comics. They are clear, colorful and uncluttered. The images are of professional quality, which make the comics easy to enjoy, and the language is more palatable to a western audience than you might find in other Indian publications. The comics also include actual dates for many events that are portrayed so the reader can learn of important anniversaries and milestones. In my estimation, the writing would be at the level of an older child but may not be as easily understood by very young children.
While I’m not an expert on Sikh history, I found that Gyan Khand Media’s comics represent what I know of Sikh history fairly well. The plot details seem consistent with commonly recognized stories and historical facts. One aspect that I particularly liked was the inclusion of appropriate excerpts from the Guru Granth Sahib in many of the comic’s vignettes, connecting for the reader what they are reading with teachings from the Sikh holy book. This is a novel way to introduce children to the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib alongside historical examples.
The prices of these publications are very reasonable: currently at $3.99 each, which is hardly a prohibitive cost. For that price, while some might expect otherwise for a publication shipping from India, the materials are reported to be of high quality.
All in all, I liked these comic books and think they would be a valuable resource to the personal libraries of anyone who wishes to teach their children Sikh history and philosophy. For more information, visit sikhcomics.com.