Sikh dominance in the Indian military started under the British in the late nineteenth century. The Sikh insurgency which rocked Punjab in the 1980s remains independent India’s most serious internal rebellion. In fact, the warrior ethos and military martyrdom in the Sikh community could be traced back to the precolonial era. This essay traces the history of the evolution of Khalsa’s military culture. I argue that the Sikhs were already a ‘martial race’ like the Marathas, Rajputs and the Gurkhas before the British imperial conquest. By making a case study of Sikh insurgency against the Mughal Empire, this essay shows that insurgency serves as a major educational and military mobilising tool in the creation of martial cultures/races.