Caste system is against the tenets of Sikh Faith but unfortunately the practice of any faith is different from what is written in their respective scriptures. Individuals belonging to a higher caste egotistically consider themselves superior to others. Guru Nanak says that a person who considers every one equal is religious and Guru willed. On the other hand considering oneself superior to the others makes the individual narcissistic and irreligious. God does not have a caste says Guru Nanak in Raag Sorath and Guru Gobind Singh in his Jaap;
ਜਾਤਿ ਅਜਾਤਿ ਅਜੋਨੀ ਸੰਭਉ ਨਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਉ ਨ ਭਰਮਾ ॥ Jāṯ ajāṯ ajonī sambẖaČo nā ṯis bẖāČo na bẖarmā.
Akal Purkh is casteless, unborn, self-illumined, and free of doubt and desire.-----Guru Nanak, Raag Sorath, AGGS, Page, 597-5
ਚੱਕ੍ਰ ਚਿਹਨ ਅਰੁ ਬਰਨ ਜਾਤਿ ਅਰੁ ਪਾਤਿ ਨਹਿਨ ਜਿਹ ॥ Chaqar Chihan Ur Baran Jaat Ur Paat Nehan Jeh
God is without mark or sign, and is without caste or line. -----Jaap, DG, Page 1-9
Guru Nanak equates the presence of Akal Purkh’s light equally and impartially in all and similarly the Sabd is equal to Khatris and Soodras in Slokes Sahskriti;
ਖ੍ਯ੍ਯਤ੍ਰੀ ਸਬਦੰ ਸੂਰ ਸਬਦੰ ਸੂਦ੍ਰ ਸਬਦੰ ਪਰਾ ਕ੍ਰਿਤਹ ॥ ਸਰਬ ਸਬਦੰ ਤ ਏਕ ਸਬਦੰ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਜਾਨਸਿ ਭੇਉ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਦਾਸੁ ਹੈ ਸੋਈ ਨਿਰੰਜਨ ਦੇਉ ॥ ਏਕ ਕ੍ਰਿਸ੍ਨੰ ਤ ਸਰਬ ਦੇਵਾ ਦੇਵ ਦੇਵਾ ਤ ਆਤਮਹ ॥ ਆਤਮੰ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਬਾਸ੍ਵਦੇਵਸ੍ਯ੍ਯ ਜੇ ਕੋਈ ਜਾਨਸਿ ਭੇਵ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਦਾਸੁ ਹੈ ਸੋਈ ਨਿਰੰਜਨ ਦੇਵ ॥ KẖaČyṯarī sabḏaŉ sūr sabḏaŉ sūḏar sabḏaŉ parā kirṯeh. Sarab sabḏaŉ ṯa ėk sabḏaŉ jė ko jānas bẖėČo. Nānak ṯā ko ḏās hai so▫ī niranjan ḏe▫o. Ėk krisanŉ ṯa sarab ḏevā ḏev ḏevā ṯa āṯmah. Āṯmaŉ sarī bāsavḏaivas▫y je ko▫ī jānas bẖev. Nānak ṯā ko ḏās hai so▫ī niranjan ḏev.
For the Khatris, the Sabd is heroic bravery; for the Soodras, the Sabd is service to others. But for one who realizes the Divine mystery, one Sole path is for all. Says Nanak, to him I am a servant, who is the Divine Akal Purkh Himself. One Akal Purkh is supreme over all dietes as also the universal Self. The Self is the image of the pervasive God, should one this mystery realize, Nanak is a servant to Him, who is the Divine Akal Purkh Himself. -----Guru Nanak, Sahskriti Slokes, AGGS, Page, 1353-12 & 13
Sabd Guru advises about virtues of spiritual wisdom, devotional worship, and the righteous path of compassion, contentment, truth, Divine existence, equality, and courage. Sabd of the Guru leads all to the realization of Universal Self in the individual self. The end result is the eradication of ego (ਹਉਮੈ) veiling the Higher Self, to be replaced by humility by bathing in the pool of Truth as Guru willed says Guru Amardas, in Raag Suhi;
ਸਚਾ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਜਿਤੁ ਸਤ ਸਰਿ ਨਾਵਣੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪਿ ਬੁਝਾਏ ॥ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਦਿਖਾਏ ਤਿਤੁ ਨਾਤੈ ਮਲੁ ਜਾਏ ॥ Sacẖā ṯirath jiṯ saṯ sar nāvaṇ gurmukẖ āp bujẖāČė. Aṯẖsaṯẖ ṯirath gur sabaḏ ḏikẖā▫e ṯiṯ nāṯai mal jā▫e.
True is that place of pilgrimage, where one bathes in the pool of Truth, and achieves self-realization as Guru willed, who understands his own self. The Akal Purkh has shown that the Word of the Guru's Sabad is the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage; bathing in it, filth is washed away. -----Guru Amardas, Raag Suhi, AGGS, Page, 753-15
Caste puffs up the individual’s ego. If one belongs to a higher social class (caste), he regards himself as being better than others. Guru Nanak and other Gurus admonish us against this view, in the following hymns:
ਜੋ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਸੋ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਦੂਜਾ ਕੋਈ ਜੀਉ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਏਕ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਕਰਿ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਮੋਈ ਜੀਉ ॥ Jo anṯar so bāhar ḏėkẖhu avar na ḏūjā koČī jīČo. Gurmukẖ ėk ḏarisat kar ḏėkẖhu gẖat gẖat joṯ samoČī jīČo.
Akal Purkh is within and seen outside as well. There is no one, other than It. As Guru willed, look upon all with the same eye of equality because in each and every heart, the same Divine Light is contained. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Sorath, AGGS, Page, 599-2
ਸਭ ਏਕ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਸਮਤੁ ਕਰਿ ਦੇਖੈ ਸਭੁ ਆਤਮ ਰਾਮੁ ਪਛਾਨ ਜੀਉ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਸੁ ਗਾਇਆ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਤੇ ਊਤਮ ਜਨ ਪਰਧਾਨ ਜੀਉ ॥ Sabẖ ėk ḏarisat samaṯ kar ḏėkẖai sabẖ āṯam rām pacẖẖān jīČo. Har har jas gāČiČā param paḏ pāČiČā ṯė ūṯam jan parḏẖān jīČo.
Look upon all with equality, and recognize that the One Supreme Akal Purkh is pervading among all. Those who sing the Praises of the Eternal Akal Purkh are acclaimed among the people. They obtain the supreme status and are most exalted. -----Guru Ramdas, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 446-12
Bhagat Kabir in Raag Gauri AGGS, Page 324 rather satirically and sarcastically states that all of us have been created by the same seed of Universal Brahman:
ਗਰਭ ਵਾਸ ਮਹਿ ਕੁਲੁ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਤੀ ॥ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬਿੰਦੁ ਤੇ ਸਭ ਉਤਪਾਤੀ ॥ਕਹੁ ਰੇ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਬਾਮਨ ਕਬ ਕੇ ਹੋਏ ॥ਬਾਮਨ ਕਹਿ ਕਹਿ ਜਨਮੁ ਮਤ ਖੋਏ ॥ਜੌ ਤੂੰ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਣੀ ਜਾਇਆ ॥ਤਉ ਆਨ ਬਾਟ ਕਾਹੇ ਨਹੀ ਆਇਆ ॥ਤੁਮ ਕਤ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣ ਹਮ ਕਤ ਸੂਦ ॥ਹਮ ਕਤ ਲੋਹੂ ਤੁਮ ਕਤ ਦੂਧ ॥ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੈ ॥ਸੋ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਕਹੀਅਤੁ ਹੈ ਹਮਾਰੈ ॥ Garabẖ vās meh kul nahī jāṯī. Barahm binḏ ṯė sabẖ uṯpāṯī. Kaho rė pandiṯ bāman kab kė hoČė. Bāman kahi kahi janam maṯ kẖoČė. Jou ṯūŉ barāhmaṇ barahmaṇī jāČiČā. ŦaČo ān bāt kāhė nahī āČiČā. Ŧum kaṯ barāhmaṇ ham kaṯ sūḏ. Ham kaṯ lohū ṯum kaṯ ḏūḏẖ. Kaho Kabīr jo barahm bīcẖārai. So barāhmaṇ kahīČaṯ hai hamārai.
In the dwelling of the womb, there is no ancestry or social status. All have been created from the Seed of God. O, Pundit and religious scholar, tell me since when have you been a Brahmin? Don't waste your life by continually claiming to be a Brahmin. If you are indeed a Brahmin, born of a Brahmin mother, then why didn't you come by other special way than the common way? How is it that you are a Brahmin, and I am of a low social status? Is it that I am formed of blood, and you are made of milk? Says Kabir, one who contemplates God, is said to be a Brahmin among us. Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=25986
ਜਾਤਿ ਕਾ ਗਰਬੁ ਨ ਕਰੀਅਹੁ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਬਿੰਦੇ ਸੋ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਹੋਈ ॥ Jāṯ kā garab na karīČahu koČī. Barahm binḏė so barāhmaṇ hoČī.
No one should be proud of his social class and status. He alone is a Brahmin, who knows God.
ਜਾਤਿ ਕਾ ਗਰਬੁ ਨ ਕਰਿ ਮੂਰਖ ਗਵਾਰਾ ॥ ਇਸੁ ਗਰਬ ਤੇ ਚਲਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਵਿਕਾਰਾ ॥ Jāṯ kā garab na kar mūrakẖ gavārā. Is garab ṯė cẖaleh bahuṯ vikārā.
Do not be proud of your social class and status, you ignorant fool. So much sin and corruption comes from this pride.-----Guru Amardas, Raag Bhairo, AGGS, Page, 1127 & 28
After Death there is no caste as expressed by Guru Nanak in Raag Asa and Guru Amardas in Raag Maru;
ਜਾਣਹੁ ਜੋਤਿ ਨ ਪੂਛਹੁ ਜਾਤੀ ਆਗੈ ਜਾਤਿ ਨ ਹੇ ॥ Jāṇhu joṯ na pūcẖẖahu jāṯī āgai jāṯ na hė.
Recognize the Akal Purkh's Light within all, and do not consider social class or status; there are no classes or castes in the world hereafter.-----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 349-13
ਅਗੈ ਜਾਤਿ ਨ ਜੋਰੁ ਹੈ ਅਗੈ ਜੀਉ ਨਵੇ ॥ ਜਿਨ ਕੀ ਲੇਖੈ ਪਤਿ ਪਵੈ ਚੰਗੇ ਸੇਈ ਕੇਇ ॥ Agai jāṯ na jor hai agai jīČo navė. Jin kī lėkẖai paṯ pavai cẖangė sėČī kėČė.
In the world hereafter, social status and power mean nothing; hereafter, the soul is new. Those few, whose honor is confirmed, are good.-----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 469-6
ਅਗੈ ਜਾਤਿ ਨ ਪੁਛੀਐ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਬਦੁ ਹੈ ਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਹੋਰੁ ਕੂੜੁ ਪੜਣਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਕਮਾਵਣਾ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥ Agai jāṯ na pucẖẖīČai karṇī sabaḏ hai sār. Hor kūṛ paṛČṇā kūṛ kamāvaṇā bikẖiČā nāl piČār.
Hereafter, no one is questioned about social status. Excellent and sublime is the practice of the Word of the Sabd! Any other pursuit is false. Other approaches are false. Their followers are people are in love with poison. -----Guru Amardas, Raag Maru, AGGS, Page, 1094-1&2
It is only the individual ego that causes discrimination against others because of their caste in many faiths. In Sikh faith too, even to this day, such discrimination is prevalent despite being against its principles. Yet no attempt is being made to stop this practice. Many other traditions and rituals carried on to this date in Sikh faith are of Brahminical origin, and are forbidden in Sikhism. Ego is an inflated feeling of pride being self-consciousness of one’s own identity. It imparts a false sense of superiority above others. It is an outcome of certain mental attitudes, such as misperceptions, false memory and defensive mechanisms. Ego is neither an entity nor a process. It is only a notion of I-am-ness, which exists only in one’s mind. Having an ego does not depend on our choice. We are born with it. It is the nature of the mind to experience its individuality. All our desires, attachment, experiences in the world are due to the ego controlling our minds. In our complex psyche, Ego is at the center of our field of consciousness. It persists with a high degree of continuity in our identity.
People may be aware of the messages in AGGS condemning discrimination based on the caste system. They may also fully understand their meaning. Yet such discrimination is still prevalent. There may be occasional discussions or debates about it. But few understand the implications and spiritual consequences of such discrimination.
ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਜਾਨੈ ਸਭ ਬਾਤ ਜਾਨਤ ਹੀ ਅਉਗਨੁ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਕਾਹੇ ਕੀ ਕੁਸਲਾਤ ਹਾਥਿ ਦੀਪ ਕੂਏ ਪਰੈ॥ Kabīr man jānai sabẖ bāṯ jānaṯ hī aČugan karai. Kāhė kī kuslāṯ hāth ḏīp kūČė parai.
Kabir, the mortal knows everything, and knowing, he still makes mistakes. What good is a lamp in one's hand, if he falls into the well? -----Sloke Kabir 216, AGGS, Page, 1376
Messages are clear. What motivates us to ignore the tenets of our faith or act against them? Is it our belief that we would not suffer the consequences? We should seriously reconsider this position.
ਕੀਤਾ ਆਪੋ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਲੇਖਾ ਸੰਢੀਐ ॥ ਜਾ ਰਹਣਾ ਨਾਹੀ ਐਤੁ ਜਗਿ ਤਾ ਕਾਇਤੁ ਗਾਰਬਿ ਹੰਢੀਐ ॥ Kīṯā āpo āpṇā āpė hī lėkẖā sandẖīČai. Jā rahṇā nāhī aiṯ jag ṯā kāČiṯ gārab handẖīČai.
Everyone receives the rewards of his own actions; his account is adjusted accordingly. Since one is not destined to remain in this world anyway, why should he ruin himself in pride? -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 473-12
Consistent application of the teachings of AGGS, and in particular the daily review, has led to significant changes in my personal life. It seems like a return toward one's original state in the eternal scheme of things. Why so few persons have ever become perfectly evolved, selfless beings? This involves a glacially slow process of unlearning and restructuring of the self. It turns out, that initially one has to simply learn to unlearn. Then the receptive process of relearning opens up. As it unfolds on its own, it seems to reconnect the person to the others in new and vital relationships. They may have always been there but were veiled by one’s ego, passions and other lower instincts. The remedy is prescribed by Guru Amardas in Raag Parbhati;Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=25986
ਇੰਦ੍ਰੀ ਪੰਚ ਪੰਚੇ ਵਸਿ ਆਣੈ ਖਿਮਾ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ ਸੋ ਧਨੁ ਧਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਜਨੁ ਵਡ ਪੂਰਾ ਜੋ ਭੈ ਬੈਰਾਗਿ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵੈ ॥ Inḏrī pancẖ pancẖė vas āṇai kẖimā sanṯokẖ gurmaṯ pāvai. So ḏẖan ḏẖan har jan vad pūrā jo bẖai bairāg har guṇ gāvai.
The persons, who have controlled the five senses and the five vices, have realized forgiveness, patience, and contentment through Guru’s guidance. Blessed, blessed, perfect and great is that humble servant of the Akal Purkh, who is inspired by the Fear of God and detached love, to sing Its Glorious Praises. -----Guru Amardas, Raag Parbhati, AGGS, Page, 1334-16
By devotional love, fear of Akal Purkh, study of AGGS, and honestly following the teachings of Sabd Guru, the ego becomes subtler. The gross ego is the ego of individuality, which expresses itself in the worldly desires and attachments. Subtler ego emerges when those desires and attachment get weaker and individual self-interests start disappearing. Then the mind identifies with the subtle ego in its own pure state. Some understand and follow, but others ignore these instructions and later repent in the next word as pointed out by Sheikh Farid in his Slokes;
ਇਕਨਾ ਨੋ ਸਭ ਸੋਝੀ ਆਈ ਇਕਿ ਫਿਰਦੇ ਵੇਪਰਵਾਹਾ॥ਅਮਲ ਜਿ ਕੀਤਿਆ ਦੁਨੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੇ ਦਰਗਹ ਓਗਾਹਾ॥ Iknā no sabẖ sojẖī āČī ik firḏė vėparvāhā. Amal je kīṯiČā ḏunī vicẖ sė ḏargeh ohāgā.
Some understand this completely, while others wander around carelessly. Those actions, which are done in this world, shall be examined in the Court of the Akal Purkh. -----Sloke Sheikh Farid, 98, AGGS, Page, 1383 Conclusion:
Acceptance in Sikhism has taught us that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all the children of God, equal in every respect and we each have a right to be here. Sikh faith is a set of principles, spiritual in nature, which if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession of the ego. These principles enable one to become “Happy and useful Whole” if he regards all as his equals created by One Creator says Guru Gobind Singh;
ਕੋਊ ਭਇਓ ਮੁੰਡੀਆ ਸੰਨਿਆਸੀ ਕੋਊ ਜੋਗੀ ਭਇਓ ਕੋਊ ਬ੍ਹਮਚਾਰੀ ਕੋਊ ਜਤੀ ਅਨਮਾਨਬੋ ॥
ਹਿੰਦੂ ਤੁਰਕ ਕੋਊ ਰਾਫਜ਼ੀ ਇਮਾਮਸਾਫੀ ਮਾਨਸ ਕੀ ਜਾਤ ਸਭੈ ਏਕੈ ਪਹਿਚਾਨਬੋ ॥
ਕਰਤਾ ਕਰੀਮ ਸੋਈ ਰਾਜ਼ਕ ਰਹੀਮ ਓਈ ਦੂਸਰੋ ਨ ਭੇਦ ਕੋਈ ਭੂਲ ਭ੍ਮ ਮਾਨਬੋ ॥
ਏਕ ਹੀ ਕੀ ਸੇਵ ਸਭਹੀ ਕੋ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਏਕ ਏਕ ਹੀ ਸਰੂਪ ਸਭੈ ਏਕੈ ਜੋਤ ਜਾਨਬੋ ॥ ੧੫ ॥ ੮੫ ੫॥ Kouo Bheio Mundia Sanyasi Kouo Jogi BhaeoKouo Brahmchari Kouo Jati Anmanbo,Hindu Turk Kouo Rafzi Imamsafi Manski Jaat Sabhai Aykai Pehchanbo.Karta Krim Soee Raazk Rahim Ouee Doosro Na Bhed Koee Bhool Bharm Manbo.
Ayk He Ki Sev Sabhi Ko Gurdev Ayk Ayk He Saroop Sabhai Aykai Jot Janbo.
Some people in the world call them selves clean shaven, some ascetics, some devotee, some celibates. Some call themselves Hindu, some Turk, some Shia others Suni Muslman. But the entire human kind/caste should be recognized one. The same One Creator (Akal Purkh) who is merciful, compassionate, generous, providing daily sustenance, and has no other peer or dualism; so we must never accept any duality. To serve the only One is our duty. Akal Purkh alone is the Guru of all. All mankind be taken as one manifestation of Its light. -----Guru Gobind Singh, Akal Ustit, DG, Page, 19
Virinder S. Grewal