‘Rising casteism in Sikh society matter of concern’

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‘Rising casteism in Sikh society matter of concern’

Postby Harbhajan S. Sangha » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:18 pm

source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/risin ... rn/545842/

‘Rising casteism in Sikh society matter of concern’

Express News Service - Tuesday , Nov 24, 2009

Amritsar : Expressing concern over the decline in Sikh religion due to a number of ills that have cropped in, experts at the 24th annual seminar on ‘Guru Nanak and Origin of Gurdwara Institution’ organised by Guru Nanak Dev University here on Monday, said casteism was like plague for Sikh society.
Over 50 scholars from various universities and colleges participated in the seminar.

Dr Raghbir Singh, Dean, Academic Affairs, GNDU, and Dr Gursharanjit Singh, head of the Department of Guru Nanak Studies, spoke about the life and achievements of the first Sikh guru.

Prof Rattan Singh Jaggi, delivering the keynote address, said these days people do not follow the ideology of Guru Nanak and his message in our practical life, which was the cause of decline of the religion.

“Gurdwaras were the foundation of the Sikh religion, but we have forgotten the principle of equality. Now the downtrodden and people from so-called lower castes are being forced to build their separate gurdwaras. That is why they are attracted towards deras,” he said. He also called for reforms in gurdwara management.

Prof Satinder Singh, former pro vice-chancellor of GNDU, Prof Shashi Bala, Dean, Faculty of Humanity and Religious Studies, and Prof Balkar Singh and Prof Jodh Singh also spoke on the topic.
With Divine Love & Blessings of Waheguru Ji, may you all enjoy: peace, love, light (enlightenment), health & happiness in life !
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Re: ‘Rising casteism in Sikh society matter of concern’

Postby lotus lion » Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:48 am

Hi,

With the greatest respect, I must disagree with this article.

For the record, I would like to say that I do not believe in the caste system, nor do I not condone it.

I am of the belief that we are now facing the bad crops we have planted by not teaching about the Sikh Dharma in any meaningful way. If we do it is pretty basic and if I may be so bold to say, incredibly trivial that it hardly registers on any level.

There are of course Organisations such as http://www.sikhcourse.com and http://www.sikhri.org that are up and coming and countering this successfully, and whilst i feel that they are moving in the right direction, they are few-and-far between and are still in their in preliminary stages. They need our support and financial assistance if we are to build establishments that have any real legacy for future generations.
As strange as this may sound, by actually teaching the Dharma issues such as caste would be reduced quite heavily anyway.

I liken this issue to Sikhs to demanding perfectly chiseled bodies, but feeding everyone junk food with a few carrots thrown in under the pretence of doing good and then actually being surprised when everyone turns out not as they expected. Instead of feeding them good food and inspiring them to look after themselves, we shout at them for being failures with regards to this, but fail to realise we were the cause even though we had everything at our disposal.

From my angle, Sikhi does not really have any relevance in their lives, generally speaking of course, and as a result are currently becoming disillusioned with the Dharma leading to the decline that the article speaks of. Not the Caste system.

Instead of acknowledging the reality we have created, we seem to be looking for an escape, something external to blame that is apparently out of our control, and have come up with the caste system which is quite sad really.

Sikhs are exposed to Caste as much as the Muslims but one does not hear them complaining of this matter on such a scale. Yet with respect to their Deen i find them to be firmly connected, especially their children, whilst Sikhs are still trying to establish it, dispite having a lot more finance in hand. My perception of course.

Many may ask why and when one sees Muslim children streaming out of Islamic teaching centres the reason becomes clear as day. These people care about their children’s spiritual upbringing as they understand the consequences of not doing so.
Sikhs are yet to get to this level.
(Please note my objective is not to make Islam the point of the discussion. I am simply using this as example).

Had we kept our Gurdawarae small in size and spent all that money on teaching the Dharma with relevance to people i sincerely doubt we would be facing what we are facing today.

With respect to the issue, if i may speak frankly, i see the talks about the abolishment of caste system as purely an idealistic pursuit as there is not really any meaning behind our words. No doubt i will have angered many, but my perception is that as a collective we do not really have a solid spiritual core like others and are simply suffering from delusions of grandeur by continually speaking of this matter, much like human rights and so forth.

Reading the Guru Granth Sahib, it teaches that one should have a balanced state of mind. Equanimtous if you will that is firm, steady and perfectly poised. It should be naturally relaxed and even as one actually sees everything as it is. Anything else and ones mind would infact be aiming to reach conclusions with a distorted view and not even realise it.

We are all Humans at the end of the day and it is only us who place value on others.
Everyone deserves the same level of respect and dignity irrespective of the differences we can dig out.

Galī jog na ho▫ī.
By mere words, Yoga is not attained.

Ėk ḏarisat kar samsar jāṇai jogī kahī▫ai so▫ī. ||1|| rahā▫o.
One who looks upon all with a single eye, and knows them to be one and the same - he alone is known as a Yogi. ||1||Pause||


Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ang 730

My best regards,

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Re: ‘Rising casteism in Sikh society matter of concern’

Postby suji singh » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:43 pm

Casteism is live and well within the Sikh community contrary to teachings of Guru Nanak. Majbis were not allowed inside my village Gurudawara. Majbi children did not mingle with Sikh children in general.

Matrimonials prove the point that casteism is thriving among Sikhs living abroad. Nobody wants to marry someone from lower class.

Khalsa Ji, Guru Nanak was against casteism and empty ritualism. Christians embraced many lower class folks in large Indian cities and proselytized them when Sikhs rejected them for centuries! Think about it!!
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Re: ‘Rising casteism in Sikh society matter of concern’

Postby himmat_singh » Thu Nov 26, 2009 10:32 am

Sat Sri Akal

According to the media report, Prof Rattan Singh Jaggi stated:

“Gurdwaras were the foundation of the Sikh religion, but we have forgotten the principle of equality. Now the downtrodden and people from so-called lower castes are being forced to build their separate gurdwaras. That is why they are attracted towards deras,” he said. He also called for reforms in gurdwara management.


Sanghat ji, no-one is "forced" to build their separate gurudwaras. They do it through choice. The fact they can't handle the situation without opening their own, tells a sorry tale.
Ones who are more interested in control of gurudwaras, build their own when they can't get control in any other way, maybe due to caste. New ones open even when the founders have the same caste as the one they are abandoning, simply because they cannot get power and that is what they seek. Hence there are multiple gurudwaras, in pretty much the same locality, even when there is ample capacity.

No person, Khalsa sikh, mona sikh or even from other religions or no religion is ever banned from sitting with the sanghat, listening to kirtan, katha or bani, from doing seva in kitchens, shoe-rooms etc. All are welcome.

There is a "problem" with inter-marriage between castes, but that is and will be whittled away as youth progressively make their own choices of partner, instead of leaving it to parents.

It is the ego of these ones who seek control, want to rule committees and hence control what the sanghat can and can't do, that is the problem. If they were really interested in spirituality and God, then they can achieve that in any gurudwara, irrespective of what flavour the committee is, and can even achieve it in their own home. God is everywhere, not just in Gurudwaras.

If someone actually sees themselves of a lower caste, then they need to read some more bani, before thinking of setting up a Gurudwara to try to counter it. Once they have understood it, and accepted it, they will also have lost the urge to set up a Gurudwara. If they still want to set one up, then it shows where their interest really is. Leave the false people to fight over committees. Ignore them and don't vote for anybody. Let them vote for themselves in their merry go round, whilst they pander to their egos. Just follow Guru's teachings yourselves. If the Gurudwara isn't teaching you, maybe because you don't understand the language, then learn at home. Let children marry who they want to marry, rather than who you want them to marry. Guide the youth with your knowledge of Bani, but don't force it upon them, let them seek their own paths as they mature, and then they will also do likewise and all this caste business will clear itself, within a few generations.

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh
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Re: ‘Rising casteism in Sikh society matter of concern’

Postby PCJ2K » Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:10 am

suji singh wrote:Casteism is live and well within the Sikh community contrary to teachings of Guru Nanak. Majbis were not allowed inside my village Gurudawara. Majbi children did not mingle with Sikh children in general.

Matrimonials prove the point that casteism is thriving among Sikhs living abroad. Nobody wants to marry someone from lower class.

Khalsa Ji, Guru Nanak was against casteism and empty ritualism. Christians embraced many lower class folks in large Indian cities and proselytized them when Sikhs rejected them for centuries! Think about it!!


My sister still talks about an incident that took place over twenty years ago. She happened to playing with a little girl inside our house at my dad's village. When my grand-mother found out that the girl my sister was playing with belonged to a Balmiki family, my grand-mother asked her to leave and washed the whole house afterwards.

This is how live the caste-based bias was over twenty years ago in at least some parts of Punjab.

Yes this kind of behavior is silly and ridiculous.

However, there is nothing wrong with some of the personal choices people make, e.g. marriage. Nobody knows better than the individual him or herself as to who the perfect marriage partner for him or her is. Then why should people suggest that he or she should marry within or outside his or her own caste, race or religion?

There are people who can be happy marrying someone within their caste, race or religion and there are people who can be happy marrying someone outside their caste, race or religion.

Then what’s point in suggesting whether or not people should marry within or outside their caste, race or religion?

The main thing is people should happy and healthy marriage…
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Re: ‘Rising casteism in Sikh society matter of concern’

Postby Randeep Singh » Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:37 am

I think this socalled casteism needs to be first defined and described. It needs to be explained and understood. What we normally term as casteism, is about untouchability, looking down and discrimination etc etc based on occupation, status and ethnic background etc etc.
I do not see anything wrong in suffixing caste/region/village/ethnic background name. It is all about identities and cultures. It is another name of the name. People like to enter into matrimonial alliance with the people known to them which is most important and compulsory.. So it is and could be about knowing closely and properly follwed by customs /traditions necessarily not being upper and lower in caste. Had it been so then people of socalled upper castes which are regarded equal ( like brahaman/rajput/khatri/jatt/ etc) would have been entering into matrimonial alliances with each other.
Same applies to the people of socalled lower castes ( like chamar/julaha/chuhra etc) which are regarded equal/lower caste. I think it is more because of prevalent family system, family values,moral values and social values in India. It seems to be becoming a matter of concern with modernisation, westernisation,globalisation are finding difficult to accept this system.

Our focus should remain on equality regardless of ethnic or family background of the people. There is no place for untouchability in sikhism and Indian constitution as well. It is something like evolution which will take some tome to get to the normal ard required stage.
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Re: ‘Rising casteism in Sikh society matter of concern’

Postby Lee Douglas » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:19 am

I am a relativly new comer to Sikhi, from a non Indian nor Punjabi background and yet I still see the face of Casteism in Sikhi. I have already had to leave one Gurdwara because it is run along caste lines.
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Re: ‘Rising casteism in Sikh society matter of concern’

Postby suji singh » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:14 pm

Lee Douglas wrote:

I am a relativly new comer to Sikhi, from a non Indian nor Punjabi background and yet I still see the face of Casteism in Sikhi. I have already had to leave one Gurdwara because it is run along caste lines.


Lee Douglas Ji, you can see casteism among Sikhs with more clarity and transparency due to your fresh prespective as per theory of "tabula rasa": Tabula rasa (Latin: blank slate) refers to the epistemological thesis that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception. Most Sikhs raised with casteism take it for granted -- a lot is already written on their mental slate, your mental slate is clean on this issue anyway.

I am hoping that you will articulate your thoughts on this issue and share them. For example, what were the specifics that prompted you leave the Gurudawara.
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Re: ‘Rising casteism in Sikh society matter of concern’

Postby Kuldip S. Virdi » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:41 pm

Castes are part of Hinduism first codified by Manu and giving them heirarchy. It was amongst those who were part of 'Aryan" Aryavarat. However, if you study the origins of various castes in Punjab, the bulk of them belong to post Aryan Indo- Synthians(Huns). According to an article in Wikipedia, Aroras, Ramgarhias, Kambojs etc. all come from same ethnic stock.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarkhan_(tribe)

QUOTE
Many Tarakhāna clans are also cross-listed as Khatri, Kamboj, Lohar, Gujjar and Rajput, due to Tarakhānas having the same racial lineage and racial type as these ethnic tribes. In the context of secular classification they can be classed a Eurasian due to central Asian ancestral lineage contributions. Eventually Hephthalites (coalition between many tribes with different origins, including Mongolian and Turkic) and Huns (it is proven Rajputs have also an east-Asian ancestor-line). It is probable that Tarakhāna, Gujjar, Kamboj, Khatris and Rajputs, have varying degrees of both foreign and indigenous Indian stock. In many parts, it is largely due to familial tradition that some members of a certain clan dub themselves Rajput and others of the same clan are Gujjar, Khatri, Kamboj and Tarakhāna. This is more often the case in the Himalayan plains, where there was already a large indigenous ethnic tribal population when the invading tribes arrived. Within the religion of Hinduism, it is not entirely clear in the case of many clans and surnames as to which subdivision of the religious gotra classification they belong to. They were absorbed into the Hindu religious Kshatriya classification, given their warlike nature, and thus became one of the subgroups or in many cases, assimilated completely into older Indo-Aryan clans.
UNQUOTE

If you went by Hindu caste heirarchy, Jatts would belong to Vaishya, which is third after brahmins and kshtryias, however, in Punjab, it is jatts who rate themselves superiors then others including Bhappe (Khatris/ Khstriyas), Ramgarhias, Arora etc. In other Northern Indian States, the jats (Jatts) have enamoured to get themselves classified as backward castes for reservations of jobs/ educational opportunities.

Sikhs who are recent (only say 300 year old) coverts have brought along with them the baggage of casteism and have been practising the same in their social behaviour towards each other. Guru Nanak's many other teaching similar to those of caste less society for them are more for reference then for practice as majority of sikhs are influenced more by the social habits rather then the Guru's teachings.

May be with more discussion and knowledge and imbibing Guru's teaching into practice in some forseeable future, sikhism will truly overcome casteism feelings.

Guru Fateh.

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Re: ‘Rising casteism in Sikh society matter of concern’

Postby SportySardar » Tue Dec 01, 2009 8:43 am

Casteism in Sikh's is worse than casteism in Hindus. Brahmins are a minority in Hindus. Whereas jatts are a majority in Sikhs. So it is impossible to escape casteism. The sad part is that most of these jatts are not Sikhs either but they call themselves Sikhs. The Sikh spirit is what has enabled the lower castes to rise. They have not been content to take it all and accept it as fate. On the contrary, they have sent their sons and daughters abroad, focused on education and are fairly well off now. If this were not the case, they would have been trampled over by the jatt community in Punjab.

The only way I see out is that the jatt's slowly purge themselves from Sikhism. Already this is evident with very few jatts in Punjab keeping kesh. Talking to a jatt about equality in Sikhism is like talking to a stone. They will deny it and talk about jattism being an occupation, ethnicity etc etc etc. Best thing is to leave them alone and let them enjoy their superiority amongst themselves and rest of Sikhs can focus on making the Sikh religion better.

Moderator Note: Kindly avoid generalizing. Generalizations are, generally, always wrong. :)
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