Pushing the Envelope

January 16, 2006

Gur Fateh!

One of my friends sent me an article which her brother got from the Indiatimes website..A person wrote about his view of Sikhism and posed some questions. The questions have been aswered by Jagwinder Singh who is one of the sewadars at the GSGAcademy. And some points have been added in by Amardeep Ji.

The questions are in black.

Jagwinder ji’s comments are in green

Amardeep ji’s comments are in red.

Click to read the article

Guru Ang Sang!

Angad Singh

Does divine inspiration seem any longer necessary when reason can provide what, in the granthical view, can be taught only by the prophet?

Depends on individual, if you have all the answers that you need, good for you and then there is no pressure and obligation for you to be Sikh,.

Since that person has all answers , the following is not for him but just my attempt so that we do not get confused by someone else. Again this is attempt only, do not take it as verict2) The Sikh religion emphasized the equality of men and woman, no doubt, why were then all the Sikh Guru’s MALE ?? And why did they all belong to the High caste’s ??

No, Sikhism did not emphasized in the equality of men and women, neither Sikhsism gives any gender any special status or reservation. There is fine line in equality and respect, Equality means What women can do men can do also, and vice versa, that is not what Sikhism believe in . What Sikhism believes is in respect for women which was much missing in 14 th century and as well as is missing today. Since GOD choose women to give birth to children to keep his creation moving, Women was/ is naturally more inclined and busy in raising children, which is by no mean an easy task, where as men working outside home get more time to read , engage in exploring more things in society so naturally most of reformers, leaders, warriors were Men. In Sikhism there is no caste by birth.

Sikh Gurus did not belong to the HIGHEST Hindu caste, which is the custodian of their religion. They were not Brahmins. Guru is Bani and not the physical body. The bani of the lowest caste Bhagats is enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib. The Pan jPiares (physical embodiment of Guru for decision making) were from all four castes. Surely the author is not well read and is looking for publicity!!!!

3) Did the Guru’s possess a political agenda? There is an evident power struggle.

There was no hidden or open political agenda to start their own kingdom. Since the economic and human rights are related to the policy of kings, Guru Sahib openly advocated better living standard, economic and human rights for masses along with spiritual enlightenment. It is much irony that Brahmins or upper caste Hindus have always played opportunistic politics whether it is today or centuries back, whether it was complaining about Guru’s to Moghual’s , Attacking Guru Gobind Singh, or later Lakhpat Rai etc in massacre of Sikhs in Holocaust.

4) After the first five Guru’s, did not the Sikh faith become a dynasty?

Sikh faith did not become dynasty but since there were no internet, publications etc, and transportation was limited, and on top after Guru Arjan DEv ji martyrdom at Lahore, there must be atmosphere of terror, much like today in Punjab where after 13 years of Police encounters of 25,000 Sikh youth no body wants to talk about it. So most of the time the people who were close to Guru Sahib was there only family members , so naturally they were the ones who gained and understand philosophy of Guru Nanak’s House and become next lights of Nanak.

5) Why did the Guru Gobind Singh stop the line of Guru’s? Did he actually think the faith was complete? In a way didn’t Guru Gobind Singh inhibit and paralyze this faith to expand upon the gurbani?

Guru was never physical body, but Gyan in inside the Body, Bani is Guru. All tenth master did was change physical saroop, instead of body it become in form of Granth. Faith has been growing for last several centuries so the second part of question makes no sense.

6) What was the significance of Guru Harkrishan ji to Sikh scripture or for that matter Sikh psyche? Didn’t Guru Harkrishan ji pass away from the great small pox pandemic that struck New Dehli. The scripture says that he was out curing people of the disease but in the end contracted it himself?

Wisdom doe not depend on age, Many times we see people in our own societies fight over because they do not know how to share, something that 3 year old children knows. One example that can be quoted to negate above question is , Since Guru Harkrishan ji was able to choose able successor that means even as a child he had complete wisdom about strategy and know what is good for Sikhs. There is no reference of small pox incident in Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Sahib must have gone to Delhi where there was small pox pandemic, he must have gone to houses of those suffering, there is popular story that he cured many which may or may not be true.

7) Were our guru’s not men? Why does the majority of the Sikh population worship them as mythical heroes and non-human deities? (This is something we should definitely change in our faith; its an insult to our own reason)

Answered himself.

Point 7 :

Philosophy of Sikhism and Guru Granth Sahib is not necessarily the same as one sees the mass practicing. Non Human Deities are a by-product of the pictures of Gurus that are now unfortunately even sold from the shops rented by SGPC in the Darbar Sahib premises. Do you remember hearing the Chardi Kala Jatha in Kuala Lumpur talking about the HALO behind the head of the enlightened souls pictures and therefore the justification of one of the CHAKRAS. The physical lightbehind the heads of the Hindu Gods/Goddesses is an artists way of representing an enlightened soul and nothing more. The Hindus believe their religion to be Ramayan/Mahabharat only. Ask any Hindu if he has even heard of a very important Text called “Yog Vashisth”. I have never hear anyone.

Interestingly Guru Granth Sahib mentions the name of the author of this text in the shabad (see how well researched our Gurus were):

Gumukh Prahlad Jap Har Gat Payi

Gurmukh Janak Har Nam Liv Layi

Gurmukh Basisth Har Updesh Sunai

In all Gurbani only three individuals are attributed to the name “Gurmukh”. The first 2 in above achieved for themselves but Basisth achieved for others. So what was his writing. Basisth is the Rishi Vasisth who wrote “Yog Vasisth”. If you read this text, it tells you that Ram was no more than a King, who having understood the principles taught by Vasisth became a Gurmukh oriented person and thereby a respected King. That’s the power of a GURMUKH. The texts also shuns IDOL worship extra.

Why I am bringing this to your attention is that the Hindus themselves don’t know of their core values and in turn their philosophy has entrenched into Sikhism and confused the masses. If they can worsh Ram and have their idols, then yes they have succeeded in doing the same for Sikhs through idols, pictures. Who else to blame but us Sikhs themselves who don’t read Bani and have started to believe these things have a place in sikhi. The body of Sikh Gurus have not much importance. It’s the Jot (which in other words means the PHILOSOPHY of th Gurus) that transitioned from 1st to the 10th Guru and now resides in the Guru Granth Sahib.

I know of many friends for whom Sikhi today is only bowing to the picture of the Gurus in their houses in the morning before leaving to work. To them the picture of the Gurus makes them believe the Gurus were demi-gods. Till such time we don’t make Bani as our fulcrum the mass of Sikhs will keep waivering.The author of the note is just one of the many confused Sikhs. Instead of investing time in writing these notes, he should be advised to read Gurbani and find answers himself.

8) Were not the guru’s products and derivatives of their own society?

Guru SAhib was born in Society , lived and practised religion in society unlike mythological deities or supernatural births etc.

9) Guru Gobind Singh used to hunt! Yet at the same time prohibit the consumption of animals, or was this tradition adopted after? Is there hypocrisy at hand?

There is no prohibition of eating meat in Sikhi, rather some Sikhs may be forced to start beef langar by RSS in near future.

Sikhism is a very modern religion and the philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib can be adapted to any situation. Sikhism believes in a balanced approach to life. The need of the hour was to have the dormant spirit aroused and self defence was an important aspect of Gurus training. Hunting was an aspect of training and not undue exploitation of other species. Meat eating/not eating are ir-relevant. As one grows spiritually if one doesn’t like to eat meat then it’s one’s personal choice but no one is better or worse because I know that having become a Vegetarian myself, I can never claim to be one in totality. I eat meat products in medicines, I breathe bacteria, I drink Amoeba!!!! When I took Amrit at Takhat Keshgarh Sahib, I was told that eating meat for the taste of tongueis not accepted (Gurbani talks about balance) but if the need arises then aSikh is not to shy from eating meat if it’s for the purpose of survival. Surely the author of the note is not well read on Sikh History and has definitely not read the Guru Granth Sahib.

10) Guru Gobind Singh practiced polygamy? Is there hypocrisy at hand?

Historians have proved that Guru Sahib had only one marriage that too with Mata Sundri ji or jeeto jee one and the same name. There is school of thought that Mata SAhib Kaur was involved in Khanda Di Phual ceremony but there is no reference of her past association with Guru Sahib, neither she appeared in history later after Guru Sahib lef Anandpur Sahib.

Point No. 10 on Polygamy :

Before I attmpt to clarify, think why only Guru Hargobind Ji and Guru Gobind Singh are associated with polygamy? Just because they challenged the rulers with force and did not shy from dressing like kings (Sikh is an active religion and not passive – their dress code was representation of the right of an individual), the mis-guided authors associated multiple wives with them because this represented the display of power for worldly kings. So how could the Sachey Padshah be kept away from this practice. Nonsense indeed!The wrong impression that the Guru had more than one wife was created by those writers who were ignorant of Punjabi culture. Later authors accepted those writings indicating more than one marriage of the Guru and presented it as a royal act. During those days kings, chiefs, and other important people usually had more than one wife as a symbol of their being great and superior to the common man. Guru Gobind Singh, being a true king, was justified in their eyes to have had more than one wife. This is actually incorrect.

In Punjab, there are two and sometimes three big functions connected with marriage, i.e., engagement, wedding, and Muklawa. Big gatherings and singings are held at all these three functions. In many cases, the engagement was held as soon as the person had passed the infant stage. Even today engagements at 8 to 12 years of age are not uncommon in some interior parts of India. The wedding is performed a couple of years after the engagement. After the wedding, it takes another couple of years for the bride to move in with her in laws and live there. This is called Muklawa. A dowry and other gifts to the bride are usually given at this time of this ceremony to help her to establish a new home. Now, the wedding and Muklawa are performed on the same day and only when the partners are adults.

A big befitting function and other joyful activities were held at Anand Pur, according to custom, at the time of the engagement of the Guru. The bride, Mata Jeeto Ji, resided at Lahore, which was the capital of the Mughal rulers who were not on good terms with the Gurus. When the time for the marriage ceremony came, it was not considered desirable for the Guru to go to Lahore, along with the armed Sikhs in large numbers. Furthermore, it would involve a lot of traveling and huge expenses, in addition to the inconvenience to the Sangat, younger and old, who wished to witness the marriage of the Guru. Therefore, as mentioned in the Sikh chronicles, Lahore was ‘brought’ to Anand Pur Sahib for the marriage instead of the Guru going to Lahore. A scenic place a couple of miles to the north of Anand Pur was developed into a nice camp for the marriage. This place was named Guru Ka Lahore. Today, people are going to Anand Pur visit this place as well. The bride was brought to this place by her parents and the marriage was celebrated with a very huge gathering attending the ceremony.

The two elaborate functions, one at the time of engagement and the other at the time of the marriage of the Guru, gave the outside observers the impression of two marriages. They had reason to assume this because a second name was also there, i.e., Mata Sundari Ji. After the marriage, there is a custom in the Punjab of giving a new affectionate name to the bride by her in-laws. Mata Jeeto Ji, because of her fine features and good looks, was named Sundari (beautiful) by the Guru’s mother. The two names and two functions gave a basis for outsiders to believe that the Guru had two wives. In fact, the Guru had one wife with two names as explained above.

Some historians even say that Guru Gobind Singh had a third wife, Mata Sahib Kaur. In 1699, the Guru asked her to put patasas (puffed sugar) in the water for preparing Amrit when he founded the Khalsa Panth. Whereas Guru Gobind Singh is recognized as the spiritual father of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Kaur is recognized as the spiritual mother of the Khalsa.
People not conversant with the Amrit ceremony mistakenly assume that Mata Sahib Kaur was the wife of Guru Gobind Singh. As Guru Gobind Singh is the spiritual but not the biological father of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Devan is the spiritual mother of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Devan is the spiritual mother of the Khalsa but not the wife of Guru Gobind Singh.
From ignorance of Punjabi culture and the Amrit ceremony, some writers mistook these three names of the women in the life of Guru Gobind Singh as the names of his three wives. Another reason for this misunderstanding is that the parents of Mata Sahib Devan, as some Sikh chronicles have mentioned, had decided to marry her to Guru Gobind Singh. When the proposal was brought for discussion to Anandpur, the Guru had already been married. Therefore, the Guru said that he could not have another wife since he was already married. The dilemma before the parents of the girl was that, the proposal having become public, no Sikh would be willing to marry her. The Guru agreed for her to stay at Anand Pur but without accepting her as his wife.

The question arose, as most women desire to have children, how could she have one without being married. The Guru told, “She will be the “mother” of a great son who will live forever and be known all over the world.” The people understood the hidden meaning of his statement only after the Guru associated Mata Sahib Devan with preparing Amrit by bringing patasas. It is, therefore, out of ignorance that some writers consider Mata Sahib Devan as the worldly wife of Guru Gobind Singh.Note that because of rampant persecution of Sikhs, the historical events were never captured by Sikhs themselves and written many years later by others. We as a community are facing the consequences of these emotional and mis-guided authors (not historians). Sikhism was influenced by Brahmanism and one only needs to give one proof. The Mahants/Udasis who maintained the Darbar Sahib when there was a price on Sikhs Heads (forcing them to live in jungles) had succeeded in placing idols of Hindu Gods/Goddesses around the Parkirma as a means of incremental revenue generation. These were removed in 1890s during the Singh Sabha movement.
Clearly the author of the note is not well read on customs, practices or history.

11) Would the Guru’s have been more effective in implementing more peaceful measures with the Mughal rulers? (Someone only with a strong historical background should attempt to answer this question) Was such extreme Sikh militarization absolutely necessary? Was the militarization of the Sikhs part of Guru Gobind Singh’s political agenda? Again how was the 10th guru’s struggle any different from that of the struggles of elites today?

There was never ever miltarization of Sikhs by Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Sahib never attacked anybody or set up any empire , but self defense is right of every honorable person of society, except few in India who accepted slavery by selling conscious to Mughals , Asa Di Waar refers to such people who are practice duality in home at court of Moghuals. Sorry, Sikhism does not believe in such means or Chankays policy of treachery or what we call Bipran ki reet.

One Response to “Pushing the Envelope”

  1. Jaspreet Singh Says:

    This Questionnaire Section really ROCKS!!(Thanks Vaheguru)
    Though it takes a bit time but it worthy to read at least once…
    Though i thought that i know lot about Sikhism but this article clears some of my doubts.
    All these questions have been popping up in the minds of younger generations. My friends are also always keep asking similar questions again n again.

    “Life is a sea of questions n single question can mould ur life”–

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