Monday, March 19, 2007

Does anyone else see problems with Anand Karaj or Anand Sanskar part of Rehat Maryada as I see them? What is Guru's way afterall?

Does anyone else see teh same problems with Rehat Maryada or its translation as I see them? I would think Guru’s way is to meditate, love, serve, be compassionate, be respectful, and live righteously (An Amritdhari like many great Gursikhs or a non-Amritdhari or manmat like myself!

This post is not to offend any Gursikh but try to highlight problems that I face as an individual who is trying to become a better Sikh and when I read these kinds of writings, where biases enter or things get lost in translations, I have problems becoming that better person. I would love to hear anyone’s comments and help me better understand Rehat Maryada. I just happened to read the following article on SSNews “Sikh Marriages Too Ostentatious”
( http://www.sikhsangat.org/ssn/publish/Western_News_1/Sikh_Marriages_Too_Ostentatious.shtml )

Although the article has been written to show that materialism (maya) has no place in a Sikh way of life and what the simple meaning of a Sikh marriage life is? The way I look at marriage is that it was a promise to the Guru Granth Sahib to afford equality to the woman a person marries. My problem comes when I read the rehat maryada on Anand Sanskar given in the article. Now I don’t know when this was written and by whom it was adopted, the language or the English translation is very troublesome for me. It just shows how fanaticism can slowly enter Sikhism and ruin it for everyone including Sikhs. It makes Sikhi look like a hard to follow rigid religion that allows no flexibility and makes people want to straying away from. Some sentences also makes a Sikh male look like a control freak, chauvinist who doesn’t afford any equality, right or compassion to the woman and makes a Sikh woman look weak who does not and wil not assert her right as a Khalsa Daughter of Guru Gobind Singh. Here are my questions and problems I see with the document and tried to highlight them in red bold italic and thank Waheguru for all of the other good things in Rehat Maryada:


Anand Sanskar (Lit. Joyful Ceremonial : Sikh Matrimonial Ceremony and Conventions) Article XVIII

a. A Sikh man and woman should enter wedlock without giving thought to the prospective spouse's caste and descent. (Waheguru!)

b. A Sikh's daughter must be married to a Sikh.

(The statement automatically gives male Sikhs a chauvinistic role and the word “must” sounds very controlling, what happens if she wants to go against the will of the father and wants to marry or marries a non-Sikh? I would think and hope that a Khalsa girl and women only serves Guru and God, not father, not mother, not brother or sister etc. Respect, yes! but only if it is deserved. Where is the love and compassion for your daughter and will to do anything for your children? Where is the women equality that has been gifted by Guru Gobind Singh and constantly gets preached within Sikhism but not practised everywhere?

c. A Sikh's marriage should be solemnized by Anand marriage rites. (Waheguru!)

d. Child marriage is taboo for Sikhs. (Waheguru!)

e. When a girl becomes marriageable, physically, emotionally and by virtue of maturity of character, a suitable Sikh match should be found and she be married to him by Anand marriage rites.
(The statement automatically gives male Sikhs a chauvinistic role and sounds very controlling, The Girl to be married doesn’t seem to have any control over the decisions of her marriage. I would hope, a Gursikh father raises his daughter to be a saint-soldier khalsa that would be equal to her man and has a responsibility to educate her and raise her to live a healthy, happy and gursikh way of life. She need to know that she has equal options to leave her husbandif he is abusive, a cheater, an alcoholic, a drug addict, a liar and bad. She also need to be taught that she has equal responsibility as a Gursikh women to defend herself from such man as a husband). A Gursikh shows compassion for his or her daughter and will to do anything for his/ her children?)

f. Marriage may not be preceded by engagement ceremony. But if an engagement ceremony is sought to he held, a congregational gathering should be held and, after offering the Ardas before the Guru Granth Sahib, a kirpan, a steel bangle and some sweets may be tendered to the boy. (Waheguru!)

g. Consulting horoscopes for determining which day or date is auspicious or otherwise for fixing the day of the marriage is a sacrilege. Any day that the parties find suitable by mutual consultation should be fixed. (Waheguru!)

h. Putting on floral or gilded face ornamentation, decorative headgear or red thread band round the wrist, worshipping of ancestors, dipping feet in milk mixed with water, cutting a berry or jandi (Prosopis spieigera) bushes, filling pitcher, ceremony of retirement in feigned displeasure, reciting couplets, performing havans (Sacrificial fire), installing vedi a wooden canopy or pavilion under which Hindu marriages are performed), prostitutes' dances, drinking liquor, are all sacrileges. (Waheguru!)

i. The marriage party should have as small a number of people as the girl's people desire. The two sides should greet each other singing sacred hymns and finally by the Sikh greetings of Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh. (Waheguru!)

j. For marriage, there should be a congregational gathering in the holy presence of Guru Granth Sahib. There should be hymn-singing by ragis or by the whole congregation. Then the girl and the boy should he made to sit facing the Guru Granth Sahib. The girl should sit on the left side of the boy. After soliciting the congregation's permission, the master of the marriage ceremony (who may be a man or a woman) (Waheguru! but language still used below is male oriented ) should bid the boy and girl and their parents or guardians to stand and should offer the Ardas for the commencement of the Anand marriage ceremony. (Waheguru!)

The officiant should then apprise the boy and the girl of the duties and obligations of conjugal life according to the Guru's tenets.He should initially give to the two an exposition of their common mutual obligations. He should tell them how to model the husband-wife relationship on the love between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul in the light of the contents of circumambulation (Lavan) hymns in the Suhi measure (rag) section (The bulk of the Guru Granth is divided on the basis of the ragas (measures) of the Indian classical music. Suhi is one of the ragas featuring in the Guru Granth Sahib) of the Guru Granth Sahib. ( Why He? The post of officiant or granthis in Sikhism for performing Anand Karaj is not reserved for males only. An Amritdharii woman can equally perform and should assert their right to perform a marriage ceremony. A Khalsa is a Khalsa, Sikh is a Sikh and there is no gender associated with them)

He should explain to them the notion of the state of "a single soul in two bodies" to be achieved through love and make them see how they may attain union with the Immortal Being discharging duties and obligations of the householders' life. Both of them, they should be told, have to make their conjugal union a means to the fulfillment of the purpose of the journey of human existence; both have to lead clean and Guru-oriented lives through the instrumentality of their union. (Why He? The officiant or granthi in Sikhism for performing Anand Karaj is not reserved for males only. A n Amritdhari woman can equally perform and should assert their right to perform a marriage ceremony. A Khalsa is a Khalsa, Sikh is a Sikh and there is no gender associated with them)

He should then explain to the boy and girl individually their respective conjugal duties as husband and wife.
(The post of officiant or granthis in Sikhism for performing Anand Karaj is not reserved for males only. A n Amritdharii woman can equally perform and should assert their right to perform a marriage ceremony. A Khalsa is a Khalsa, Sikh is a Sikh and there is no gender associated with them)

The bridegroom should be told that the girl's people having chosen him as the fittest match from among a whole lot, he should regard his wife as his better half, accord to unflinching love and share with her all that he has. In all situations, he should protect her person and honour, he should be completely loyal to her and he should show much respect and consideration for her parents and relations as for his own. (Waheguru!)

The girl should be told that she has been joined in matrimony to her man in the hallowed presence of the Guru Granth Sahib and the congregation. She should ever harbour for him deferential solicitude, regard him the lord master ( A Sikh woman only serves Guru Granth Sahib and God,as her Master. It sounds like one of those Manu’s laws in Hindu philosophy. I hope respect is only given if it is well deserved by spouse, in-laws and relatives. A spousal abuser, an alcoholic, no use spouse does not deserve the same respect) of her love and trust; she should remain firm in her loyalty to him and serve him in joy and sorrow and in every clime (native or foreign) and should show the same regard and consideration to his parents and relatives as she would, to her own parents and relatives (Why does she or he for that matter need to give same regard and please all relatives? I think key thing here should be "only if it is well deserved". I am saying this because of a high rate of wife abuses, alcoholism, infanticide etc. within Punjabi society which has not much to do with Sikhism, but majority of Punjabis are Sikhs) . The boy and girl should bow before the Guru Granth Sahib to betoken their acceptance of these instructions. Thereafter, the girl's father or the principal relation should make the girl grasp one end of the sash which the boy is wearing over his shoulders and the person in attendance of the Guru Granth Sahib should recite the matrimonial circumambulation stanzas {Lavan of the fourth Guru in the Suhi musical measure section of the Guru Granth Sahib } (Pp. 773-4). After the conclusion of the recitation of each of the stanzas, the boy, followed by the girl holding the end of the sash, should go round the Guru Granth Sahib while the ragis or the congregation sing out the recited stanza. (Waheguru!)

The boy and girl, after every circumambulation, should bow before the Guru Granth Sahib in genuflexion, lowering their forehead to touch the ground and then stand up to listen to the recitation of the next stanza.There being four matrimonial circumambulation stanzas in the concerned hymn, the proceeding will comprise four circumambulations with the incidental singing of the stanza.After the fourth circumabulation, the boy and girl should, after bowing before the Guru Granth Sahib, sit down at the appointed place and the Ragis or the person who has conducted the ceremony should recite the first five and the last stanza of the Anand Sahib. Thereafter, the Ardas should he offered to mark the conclusion of the Anand marriage ceremony and the sacred pudding, distributed'. (Waheguru!)

k. Persons professing faiths other than the Sikh faith cannot be joined in wedlock by the Anand Karaj ceremony. ( What happened to the openness and accepting nature of Sikhism? Afterall, a true love knows no boundaries like race, class, religion, caste etc)

l. No Sikh should accept a match for his/her son or daughter for monetary consideration. (A Sikh man or woman does not own his or her children so he or she can not sell them or enslave them or force them into things or professions they can not or do not want to engage. I would think guiding them into right direction would be totally Gurmat)

m. If the girl's parents at any time or on any occasion visit their daughter's home and a meal is ready there, they should not hesitate to eat there. Abstaining from eating at the girl's home is a superstition. The Khalsa has been blessed with the boon of victuals and making others eat by the Guru and the Immortal Being. The girl's and boy's people should keep accepting each other's hospitality, because the Guru has joined them in relationship of equality (Prem Sumarag). (Waheguru!)

n. If a woman's husband has died, she may, if she so wishes, finding a match suitable for her, remarry. For a Sikh man whose wife has died, similar ordinance obtains. (Waheguru!)

o. The remarriage may be solemnized in the same manner as the Anand marriage. (Waheguru!)

p. Generally, no Sikh should marry a second wife if the first wife is alive. (Waheguru!)

q. A baptised ought to get his wife also baptised. ( Amrit is a blessing from the Guru and a personal choice, and husband can not force wife or children or anyone to take amrit. Again, A Sikh woman only serves Guru and God)

9 Comments:

Blogger Hari Singh said...

WJKK WJKF,

Great commentary Manjit Singh ji. I blame the British and Christian influence. Of course it's easy to blaim the British for a lot of things wrong in modern Sikhi and usually the blame is well deserved.

Think about this rehat in relation to the times. If you were to write a moral/religious code, in english, and you wanted to to appear pious, you would write it in a very rigid way with a very damning tone. The sponsors of this rehat were the educated elite that the British set-up in their scheme to re-introduce stratification to the Sikh society. They wrote this text to please and to serve their masters, who would appreciate the Christian over-tones. At that time if this were read as a Christian text no one would have had a problem with the fact that it comes from a very domineering male standpoint.

This text is indeed very disturbing and does not represent the essence of Sikhi whatsoever. It is very easy to be distressed by this, especially as it claims to be the guidlines for Sikhs. You'll find much more peace in denying this text based on it's origins and adopting instead the rehat of Guru Gobind Singh. The SSGS is our Guide and Guru, mediation is our communion, service (seva), duty (dharma) and honesty are our path, what more do you need? These texts were written with an agenda.

By implying that Sikhs need to rely on further texts, other than those of the Gurus, one implies that the Gurus failed to clearly define our path. It also imples that the Guru was wrong to individually empower us and ask us to follow a path of Dharma. The Guru knew that if we did not rely on a human hierarchy and instead actively participated in our own development that we Sikhs would always know our way, our path, our dharma. By trying to codify Sikh Dharma in a rigid document the schemers knew that they would be able to control the panth. They could ritualize and fanticize every thing such that there is fear and guilt associated with doing things differently. If the schemers were the ones to train the "priests" (as they often call granthis) then they could train them in the specific rigid ways of this rehat and they could wield the control over others.

This sounds pretty familiar to other organized religions doesn't it? Thank god Sikhi is not a religion but rather a dharma and thank god the Guru made this clear. If only everyone could consult the Guru first before being manipulated by others.

WJKK WJKF

7:18 AM, March 20, 2007  
Blogger MAI said...

My own father who raised me, also rejected parts of the maryada rehat that he believed (rightfully!) contradicted and went against the teachings of the Gurus. He was especially offended by the portions you quote and a few others that actually demand gender inequality.

Like the previous letter, he (and I) believe it was written at least partly to appease the British masters, not to follow our Sikh Gurus. My own wedding caused some gasps when I led two of the rounds of the circumambulations (I have to use that word, it's great!).

My dad, born in Punjab in 1885, was no modern ABCD, but was a champion of women's rights. He rightly taught all his children that we follow Guruji, not men (or women) and that the rehat was written by men, and could and should be revised.

11:03 AM, March 20, 2007  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

Thank you Hari Singh Ji and Mai Ji. It sure makes one feel better that theer are others that find the same problem in the text and I always wonder why the rehat was adopted in the first place, if Guru Granth Sahib was all we needed to lead our Sikh lives. Yours are the kind of responses I needed to anchor myself better to Sikh way of life.

7:35 PM, March 20, 2007  
Blogger Prabhu Singh said...

I totally agree with you Khalsa Ji. I also like the response written by my brother. It reminded me of a discussion I participated in on Sikhnet when I was a mere lad of 22.
http://www.sikhnet.com/sikhnet/discussion.nsf/78f5a2ff8906d1788725657c00732d6c/ffe97d4249a8d2a487256cb800605470!OpenDocument
I was reading through some old discussions that I participated in. I was much more of a hardliner in those days :-) Also I was much more innocent and unaware of politics and jethas. Also I'd like to think I'm a little humbler now, but who knows - lol.
Sat Siri Akal!

8:54 PM, March 20, 2007  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

Thanks Prabhu Singh Ji for that link on Sikhnet. Your observations are correct and I echo your sentiments. I just don't understand how come some people don't see it. Is it all intentional to keep control on things or just not questioning authority and ritually following others. Coming from the Punjabi culture I can see how this could have been and I bet half of the so called panthic people that adopted this just nodded their heads in agreements to this type of maryada so that the other people are not offended by their comments. I mean how can this be Gurmat when women and children are treated with no respect and are controlled with no voice of their own. These people forget that some of our Gurus became Gurus at very early age like 5 years and 9 years. Some even tend to follow more SGPC rehat than the Guru Granth Sahib.

One question still remains in my mind: Did Guru Gobind Singh Ji write any rehat in Dasam Granth and where can I find it? I have read about all kurehits and patits etc., not doing intoxicants, relationship outside of marriage etc. What I am looking for is what Guru Saheb wrote when they mention "Rehat piyari mujhko, Sikh piyara nahin"

7:48 AM, March 22, 2007  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

Personally, I like this Rehat Maryada better than given in article. Here is the link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikh_Reht_Maryada

8:11 AM, March 22, 2007  
Anonymous Kulwinder said...

Sikhrus Ji,
Thank you so much posting this commentry on Anand Karj Rehat.

9:51 AM, March 30, 2007  
Blogger Prabhu Singh said...

Manjit Singh Ji, I believe there is no rehit written by Guru Gobind Singh. As you can see in modern times that people judge how 'Sikh' some one is by their rehit. Rehit is not a litmus test for who is a Sikh, this may be the reason (speculating) it wasn't written down by Guru Ji.
My personal interpretation of the quote:
"Rehat piyari mujhko, Sikh piyara nahin"
Is that the Guru loves the rehit more than the Sikh. He doesn't say which rehit. My opinion is that he values dharma (righteous living) and a righteous code of conduct (rehit) above an individual.
When people argue about rehit, they reduce it to a mere dogma, rather than it being the elevating experience it is meant to bring into your life.
We all know the basics of the rehit, so lets live those basics and feel confidence in the love of the Guru.

12:07 PM, April 02, 2007  
Blogger Pritam said...

Somethings have been polished with a substance that has ruined the finish material. Thats why we Sikhs need to know and do what is Gurmat and fix alot of dereliction from some previous leaders.

1:08 PM, April 06, 2007  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home