You're right, I agree that Ahluwalia is likely to have issued a "challenge" but the context in which he did so is significant and absolves him of any guilt of precipitating whatever followed. it wasn't like Mughals were constantly on open hunting season for Sikhs. Not constantly but seven years leading up to the first Ghallugara? Yes it was open season on Sikhs and that is why I believe there was going to be a large scale massacre no matter what Ahluwalia's fate was.
No, not seven years leading up to the first Ghallugara either; that's why it's important you read Purnima Dhavan's book in its entirety before you start attacking their academic integrity. There were ongoing deals between the Mughals and Sikhs between this, and Jassa Singh's conflict were what made them go sour in this particular instance
Depends on the ideals. In this case, I don't think Banda Singh nor Ahluwalia should be made to bear any responsibility.
What does that even mean? What you're saying, then, is that the tradition of resilience and standing up for what's right, even against empires, in Sikhi was not a conscious moral choice, but simply a retaliatory mechanism used when we were pushed into a corner. Banda Singh had the option of ceding his land to the Mughals. Contra to what our hagiographies made of Muslims constantly and ceaselessly slaughtering whatever person with hair that they could find (influenced by an attempt to counter right wing Muslim parties at Singh Sabha), this generally only happened in fits of rage from the Mughal's side when the Sikhs did not cooperate in negotiations. This is in the actual historical record, which is why, as /u/hagiography pointed out, Sikh propaganda sites gloss over these time periods or try to misalign those like Ramgharia who were caught in a wrong place during one of them.
Let me give the example of Abdali; according to your logic, we didn't really care what he was doing, but he started killing us solely for our religion, so we pushed back and decided to fight back to repel him. In reality, Abdali targeted Sikhs because we were the aggressors. We launched attacks on him out of nowhere to rescue women [and treasury] when the Mughals cooperated with him. In a fit of rage, he then murdered a good chunk of us. We could have gone the Baba Ala route, and just sided with him. It would have actually subsided the violence. But in general Khalsa Sikh ethics that Ahluwalia espoused, I would say that keeping your head up high is more important. The same goes to the Mughals, albeit in different degrees.
By your definition, Kaura Mal would not qualify because, although he had deep respects for the Guru's and the Sikhs, he was still a Hindu and did not only go to Gurudwara's.
Here's a quite radical proposition; since when are "Hindu" and "Sikh" mutually exclusive? Or "Muslim" and "Sikh"? During the early Gurus' time, the majority identified as Muslim or Hindu but practiced Sikh ideals. The real religious identity that completely took in Sikh ideals came in the form of the Khalsa; hence, those that chose to not go forward with that identity were slow-learners, or Sahejdharis.
The definition of what it is to be a "Sehajdhari" Sikh has evolved over time and I believe he fit the bill back in the day but not by today's standards
Yup, you're absolutely right in that degree. "Sehajdhari" today means a mona, or someone who basically has Khalsa ideals of how to practice Sikhi but has cut hair. It had the other definition until Singh Sabha came and changed what it meant to be Sikh.
These are regarded as political moves and not something the Mughals did out of the goodness of their kind hearts. Let's not lose sight of the true nature they exhibited when they ruled supreme just because they threw a few crumbs our way while in decline. You're right that we do take things to an extreme but the couple of points you make in their favor are pretty weak. They may not have been the worst thing ever but that's not really saying much.
I'll give a two-pronged answer to this,
"Let's not lose sight of the true nature they exhibited when they ruled supreme just because they threw a few crumbs our way while in decline." What was their "true" nature? Wouldn't you say that their true nature was more of being political rulers, than being Islamic fundamentalists hellbent on destroying Sikhs "just because?" Even Jahangir, the man who killed Guru Arjun Dev Ji, wasn't really concerned too much with religious Muslim ideals; he was willing to pardon Guru Arjun Dev Ji for a fine (which Guru Arjun refused), drank heavily, and was the son of a Hindu mother. If you read his autobiography, Jahangirnama, the real story comes out: he was afraid of the influence of the Sikh Gurus were having on the people. The ideology to make a former ascetic lead a bunch of peasants and destroy a king that has never lost a single war before, that's something scary and that any empire wants to extinguish. Which is why we had to deal with the same thing in India. So if we consider that the Mughals were more concerned with their political ideals, it absolutely fits that they both allied and attacked Sikhs based on political moves. That doesn't mean we need to agree with them, but at least gives a balanced view of history. Something you won't find in hagiographies, whether it's extreme Khalsa-Sikh sources saying never to talk to Muslims (influenced by politics more-so than religious ideology) or Muslim sources saying that Sikhs were dogs.
The second contention is this; why weren't our misldars motivated by politics? They too held land and power.
I would really recommend you read Purnima Dhavan's book in its entirety--it is not actually as badly sourced as you make it out to be, she's an extremely rigorous academic who has a focus on proving objective history rather than making it out to be something that it's not. The problem with ideology-based history is that its variable as hell. Some elements like RSS could manipulate our history to make it seem as if we were just fighting off the Mughals to honor the power of the Brahmin and rid South Asia of Muslims, and our best response to taht is the objective historical record; so let's be intellectually honest and consistent and consistently apply that record. What she says isn't completely out of the left field either; when I was reading Khushwant Singh's book, the historical narrative is exactly the same, only that Khushwant Singh doesn't elaborate on this time period.
Again, I've read a lot of this "objective" history that counters our hagiographic narratives, and I find them to be much, much, more comforting in consolidating my identity as a Sikh. They don't take away from the great deeds of Jassa Singh and others; what they do for me is give them a human element that highlights the actual difficult thought processes that went into making crucial decisions, as opposed to some deus ex-machina divine element that somehow guided them (ripping away their individual valor).