437.The Man in Blue – SRM Chapter XIII Article XXIV (q) III

This is the third article about this section of the Sikh Rehat Maryada. The previous article ended with Article XXIV sub q (1).

Sub q : The following individuals shall be liable to chastisement involving automatic boycott :

2.    One who eats/drinks leftovers of the un-baptised or the fallen Sikhs;
Who would want to do this anyway ?

3.    One who dyes his beard;
I do not like dyed beards, I do not like tied-up beards, I like it even less when beards are in a hairnet, but none of these are major sins.

4.    One who gives off son or daughter in matrimony for a price or reward;
This is serious, children are not cattle, Guru emphasises that you do not own your family. But I do not think boycotting will do anybody any good.

5.    Users of intoxicants (hemp, opium, liquor, narcotics, cocaine etc);
If you are an Amritdhari Sikh and you use any intoxicants then you break your amrit. I still do not like the idea of boycotting.

6.    One holding, or being a party to, ceremonies or practices contrary to the Guru’s way;
Wonderful, that excludes the vast majority of the Sikhs.

7.    One who defaults in the maintenance of Sikh discipline.
This is even better, can the last Sikh leaving please close the door ?

Looking at the controversial clauses on this page I have to say that the authors of the SRM have made a very poor effort here. We know that Guru Gobind Singh spoke out against the use of tobacco, we know that we should not dye our beards, we know about the people who left the panth during and after the Guru time.

But the clauses on this page are badly organised, put fairly minor ‘sins’ like dying your beard together with killing baby girls, mention tobacco twice but not under the proper heading of intoxicants, get excited about followers of people like Ram Rai, although Ram Rai made peace with Guru Gobind Singh and so on and so forth.

The authors know only one punishment, banning from the panth and boycott. There is no distinction between initiated Sikhs and those that are on the path to being initiated (who are included in the SRM’s definition of a Sikh) or between minor transgressions and major crimes. The document finishes under 6 and 7 with two catch-all clauses that are not very helpful either.

There is a widespread notion amongst Sikhs that having uncut hair is a virtue in itself, which is anti-Gurmat and otherwise makes no sense either. The Guru writes about shaven heads and long hair both not uniting you with God.

The problem is that if there was a review of the SRM now, with the panth firmly under the control of the Sant Samaj, the Badal Dal and the Taksal the SRM would become worse instead of better.

Published in: on September 12, 2010 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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435.The Man in Blue – SRM Chapter XIII Article XXIV (p) and (q) II

The Sikh Rehat Maryada has some weak points, but considering that it was put together in Panjab at least 65 years ago, it is not a bad document. But page 38 gives the impression that on the day it was written only Taksali types were present and that Singh Sabha types had taken the day off.

Sub p : You must not associate with a Sikh who had uncut hair earlier and has cut it or a Sikh who smokes.
About cutting your hair : wearing of any of the 5 Ks does not make you into a good person, giving up one of the 5 Ks does not make you into a bad person. There is no indication in the Guru Granth Sahib that keeping your hair is a value in itself. Breaking your amrit is of course bad news.

I know a Singh who broke his amrit as he gave up 4 of the 5 Ks, but he did not break any of the other Khalsa rules and was always ready to do seva, more so than many Amritdharis. Should I boycott that person ?

Although I smoked tobacco and bhang before I was a Sikh I am very happy that Guru gave me the strength to give up these useless and unhealthy habits. But why is tobacco singled out here and not mentioned under Sub q (5). Tobacco is an intoxicant, it is very addictive and it kills.

Will boycotting smokers or others who break the rules mentioned in this section, be good for those we boycott, or good for those that keep the rules ? Our Mother/ Father has endless compassion, but should we be harsh ?

Sub q : The following individuals shall be liable to chastisement involving automatic boycott :
1.    Anyone maintaining relations or communion with elements antagonistic to the Panth including the minas, the masands, followers of Dhirmal or Ram Rai, et all, or users of tobacco or killers of female infants;

Here we find thrown together the minas, masands, followers of Dhirmal or Ram Rai with users of tobacco and killers of female infants. When was the last time you heard from minas, masands, and the followers of Dhirmal or Ram Rai ?

There are plenty ‘elements antagonistic to the Panth’ and most of them are inside the Panth, but they do their utmost to dilute the beautiful message of the Guru Granth Sahib.

The use of tobacco is bad news, as I write above, and killing of female infants before (scan and abort) or after birth is indeed a major sin, but killing your spouse or killing male children seem to be lesser sins.

Will be continued ! 

Published in: on September 7, 2010 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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433.The Man in Blue – SRM Chapter XIII Article XXIV (p) I

On page 38 of the English version of the Sikh Rahit Maryada is printed : The undermentioned four transgressions (tabooed practices) must be avoided : 1) Dishonouring the hair 2) Eating the meat of an animal slaughtered the Muslim way 3) Cohabiting with a person other than one’s spouse 4) Using tobacco.

In the event of the commission of any of these transgressions, the transgressor must get rebaptised.

To start the discussion three remarks 1) I have no intention to do any of the things listed above 2) I know that I cannot change the SRM, only the Guru Panth (Sarbat Khalsa) can, but I am free to give my opinion 3) Isn’t it good news, I can kill, steal, throw my kara, kangha, kirpan and kachhera away and never do any path whatsoever and will still count as a Khalsa !

Dishonouring the hair. The Brahminical mentality rears its ugly head. Why do they not just say do not cut, shave wax etc ? Hair has no honour, hair is not holy. Kesh is one of the 5 Ks and Amritdhari Sikhs should keep their promise to keep the 5 Ks. The kirpan has a specific meaning, but a far as the Khalsa discipline is concerned, you are only a Khalsa with all the 5 Ks. Kesh is not more important than any of the others, please read the Guru Granth Sahib.

Eating halal (or kosher) meat. There might a good reason to ban the eating of ritually slaughtered meat, but I cannot understand why this has been singled out as one of the key rules in Sikhí. Not that it affects me, I am a vegetarian.

Having sexual relations outside marriage. As I have already pointed out above, I have no plans to ‘cohabit’, it is not ethical, not honest. I also like a simple life and having girlfriends usually leads to complications. But why this has been singled out, and why murder seems to be less bad, I am not sure.

Using tobacco. Smoking tobacco is very unhealthy, it is a dirty habit and it is antisocial. But this list of taboos suggest that it is better, or less bad, to get drunk every night, to snort cocaine, to smoke opium or to inject heroine.

If I was the Khalsa Panth I would remove these four ‘taboos’ from the SRM. They serve no purpose, as these points are covered elsewhere, and they make us look like people who have their priorities confused.

Please do not use this column as an excuse for cutting your hair, for eating halal or kosher meat, for having affairs or for smoking tobacco.

The Khalsa way of life is based on positive good behaviour. We wear the turban and the 5 Ks as signs that we are committed to the inner qualities of Truth, Contentment, Humility, Love and Compassion. Through a positive good life we overcome Anger, Attachment, Greed, Ego and Lust.

Published in: on August 21, 2010 at 7:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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