Although the Guru Granth Sahib makes it perfectly clear that Brahminical practices are a waste of effort, many of our fellow Sikhs seem to know better than Guru. There are persistent misconceptions around food that are not supported by the Guru Granth Sahib or the Rehat Maryada.
The Guru Granth Sahib pokes fun at the Pandits, who think that by creating a cooking square, by drawing a line around them, by cooking everything themselves and keeping others out, they can keep ‘pollution’ out, while from the air all kind of stuff falls on them.
There is only one thing that I can understand. I do prefer eating food cooked lovingly at home, in the Gurdwara or at a small family run restaurant. Also, I have been a vegetarian much longer than I have been a Sikh.
But the idea that eating meat is a sin, that I can only eat stuff that has been cooked by fellow Sikhs, the idea that I would be polluted by going into a meat shop, that somebody’s hand over my food pollutes my food, all this makes no sense, it serves no purpose and it is not Sikhí.
Sikhí is about making an honest living, Sikhí is about always thinking about God, Sikhí is about sharing. Sikhí is about learning to love God and creation, Sikhí is about learning to experience God’s love for us. Sikhí is about giving a positive direction to your lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego.
Ethical behaviour, making a positive contribution to society, defending the defenceless, fighting injustice are part of Sikhí. In ‘Vár Malár Ki’ Guru Nanak writes about meat and he looks at both sides of the argument. Guru does not tell us to be a vegetarian, Guru does not tell us not to be a vegetarian.
It is clear that a pandit type lifestyle is not what Guru expects from us.
I knew this family in Panjab where the son and the mother were Amritdhari and the father and two daughters were not. The son was of the Taksali way of thinking and insisted that only his mother could do the cooking and the cooking preparation, otherwise he could not eat with his family.
As a result the daughters were sitting around being idle, while their mother who did not have very great health was working away in the kitchen. Our brave Amritdhari boy might help in the langar kitchen, but of course would not give his mother a hand. Is this Sikhi ? NO !
In Amritsar, before I took Amrit, I could never share the overgenerous helpings of Karah Prasád, that sevadars gave me, with my friends, many of whom were followers of the Taksal or AKJ. They would not accept any food from me. Is this Sikhí ? NO !