To me Sikhí is not really a religion with dogmas, but a dharm, a ‘righteous’ way of life, where you do not just stop doing the deeds that are useless or harmful, but change to doing positively good things.
If there is a Sikh ‘dogma’ then it is ‘One God’ & ‘One Humanity’. This ‘dogma’ takes us right back to ‘righteous living’. Seeing all mankind as the children of the One Mata/Pita is the basis of true Sikh behaviour.
That is why our Guru’s always spoke to all people of all backgrounds, stood up for the rights of all, felt comfortable at the court of Patna and in the hut of Lalo, and saw only the ‘high’ and ‘low’ of being near or far from God.
Understanding equality and acting on it is not easy. Mankind seems to be expert at ‘them’ and ‘us’, where ‘them’ are bad, or at least not as good as ‘us’. We love retreating into our own little box and look outside with fear or contempt to those from other boxes.
I come from the Netherlands, a country with less class and gender discrimination than the UK, a country less obsessed with sex and therefore more open to those with different sexual preferences. Amsterdam has a substantial number of refugees from homophobic Britain.
On this scale of things the UK is less equal than the Netherlands and Panjab less equal than the UK. The Netherlands has become at least as intolerant towards other cultures as the UK is, but still less so than the Panjab.
Recognising that truly seeing God’s presence in all is difficult for all of us, regardless of our background, it is more of a challenge for people from the subcontinent than for most Europeans.
Equality is the Guru’s value, it is the Buddha’s value, it is the value of Jesus and Mohammad, but the ancient values of Brahminical Hinduism are still dominant in the subcontinent. Being equal does not mean that we are all the same. We look different, have different genders, different abilities, cultures, philosophies and faiths.
Sikhs should truly treat their sisters, wives and mothers as equals, Sikhs should not have caste based Gurdwaré or caste based marriages, Sikhs should not think in terms of ‘the Muslims’, ‘the Hindus’ or ‘the Christians’. Sikhs should judge, if judge they must, on the acts of individuals. Equality means saying with Guru Nanak : be a good Muslim, a good Hindu, a good Christian and a good Sikh !
Let’s pray to God and ask Her to liberate us from prejudices and preconceived ideas of our cultures. Let’s all adopt Guru’s values !