Tag Archives: Toynbee

Toynbee on Amritsar and Lahore

Found this old but crisp piece by the great the historian here

Amritsar & Lahore


The following is a chapter from East to West  –  A Journey Round the World, by Arnold Toynbee, the greatest historian/philosopher of the twentieth century. Toynbee was also the author of the monumental A Study of History. 

 Minnesotan reader, imagine, if you can, that the perversity of human nature has split your splendid state in two, by driving an international frontier in between Minneapolis and St. Paul. 

Imagine that every Catholic in the United States, north-west of that outrageous line, has had to flee for his life, leaving home, job and professions behind him, and cross the line to live the wretched life of a “displaced person” on the safe side of it. 

Imagine that every Protestant south-east of the line has had to make the same tragic migration, in the opposite direction. 

And, then imagine that the road traffic across the new frontier has been entirely cut off (there is a no-man’s land, two miles broad, that is forbidden ground for cars traveling in either direction).  Railroad traffic still survives, but it has been reduced to a single train a day.  The armed guards on board it change, as the fearsome border is crossed. 

Imagine all this, and you will have pictured to yourself what has happened in real life to that unfortunate country, the Panjab, and its historic twin cities, Amritsar and Lahore.

Amritsar is a creation of the Sikh religion.  Continue reading