Define: Sardar

Sardar (Persian: سردار ‎‎, Persian pronunciation: [sær’dɑr]; “Commander” literally; “Headmaster”), also spelled as Sirdar, Sardaar or Serdar, is a title of nobility that was originally used to denote princes, noblemen, and other aristocrats. It has also been used to denote a chief or leader of a tribe or group. It is used as a Persian synonym of the Arabic title Amir.

The term and its cognates originate from Persian sardār (سردار) and have been historically used across Persia (Iran), Ottoman Empire and Turkey (as “Serdar”), Mesopotamia (now Iraq), Syria, South Asia (Pakistan, India, and Nepal), the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Balkans and Egypt (as “Sirdar”).

After the decline of feudalism, Sardar later indicated a Head of State, a Commander-in-chief, and an Army military rank. As a military rank, a Sardar typically marked the Commander-in-Chief or the highest-ranking military officer in an Army, akin to the modern Field Marshal, General of the Army or Chief of Army. The more administrative title Sirdar-Bahadur denoted a Governor-General or Chief Minister of a remote province, akin to a British Viceroy.

Sardar is also colloquially used to refer to adult male followers of the religion of Sikhism, as a disproportionate number of Sikhs have honorably served in many high-ranking positions within the Indian Army. Notable examples include Generals Joginder Jaswant Singh and Harbaksh Singh.