Respected Jasbeer ji and and Members,
To respond to the question the following material is posted for your kind perusal and the advice of members. I do admit your observation that no emancipations can take place by ritual path only. I would humbly agree with Jasbir ji for his next observation that we may have some illusion about something magical happening with these baths or undertaking of these baths and that may not be the case and that we are falling to the trap of Hindu’s practices.
It is to state very humbly that the Sarovars adds to aesthetics and improves ambiance of the place esp. of Harmandir sahib. The bath at sarovars, if taken purely for love to a place, shall not be strictly speaking be a ritual though. It is subjective choice and may be love of Guru only else that baths just act that may result in puffing up our ego of the individuals doing so.
Gurus have told specifically:
· You may perform religious rituals, and still never obtain the Naam, the Name of the Lord.[33-8 M-3]
The Sikhism rejects rituals and superstitions and this feature of Sikhism
is in fact the identification of Sikhism as a separate religion and this can be called as one of the prominent feature of Sikhism that differentiates it from the Hinduism. This fact makes it a distinct religion and is oft quoted in the literature and is well accepted by the theologians of both sides i.e. Hindus and Sikhs.
Sikhism rejects the worshipping of idols; it also rejects any kinds of fasts that are observed by our Hindu friends. There is no place of self-proclaimed Babas and Deras. Perfroming any sort of deeds would amount to:Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=29684
· Performing all sorts of rituals, people are smeared with twice as much filth. [39-7]
However with the flow of time some practices that got crystallized in particular Gurudwaras are observed by them Gurudwaras as a routine and that in my humble opinion is well within the fringes of ‘rituals’. An allusion may be made to the Gurudwara at Nanded Sahib where Aarti is performed almost the way adopted by our Hindu brothers. However, strictly speaking, there is no place for such a kind of practice as well in Sikhism. It is more out of the continuity of the ongoing conventions and sentimental attachment to those conventions that the Gurudwara finds itself trapped into without any reason and justification beyond. But the we have clear instructions:
· they may be ascetics, great, self-disciplined Yogis; they may visit sacred shrines of pilgrimage and perform the six ceremonial rituals, over and over again, performing worship services and ritual bathings. Even so, if they have not embraced love for the Supreme Lord God, then they shall surely go to hell.[ang 70: M:5]
Like wise superstition, originated from ignorance, has no place in Sikhism. There is a prohibition of certain practices as per the Rehat of Sikhs. Sikhs do not believe in the caste system either and that some of us do follow is on account of out folly and is the direct outcome of the inflated egos of the individuals. As a matter of panthic approach it is also discarded. It is for us to get out of it. The sooner it is the better it would be for the entire community. Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=29684
Another area that is infested with the rituals is the way in which the marriages are performed by the sikhs.The marriage system is also based upon some type of caste system. An ‘Arora’ may like to marry in ‘Arora’ and likewise a ‘khatri’ would prefer to marry a ‘Khatri’ A ‘Ramgharia’ would also prefer to marry among ‘Ramgaria’ It is not possible to enlist the basis of classification that Sikhs have found for themselves.’ Jat’ is also considered as a separate community and special names have been coined for representing these types of classes. Sikhs are putting themselves into traps and no one else is responsible. This can be checked from the matrimonial columns of any Indian newspapers and even the Internet sites like shadi.com etc. That we are in this situation is most regrettable.
We have to find a solution for this. An inter linked social problem that has also not left Sikhs unbruised is the dowry system
that has come into vogue with full force. The problem is more acute in affluent sikh families where there is a strong presumption of a weighty dowry from the Girl side. This has lead to very unpleasant results that are before us.
The following part of the Rehat
deals with various aspects of rituals and reproduced here to make the post self contained and general reference when the need so arise. Chapter 10 Article XVI
Clause (d) Not believing in cast or descent
, untouched ability, magic, spells, incantation, omens, auspicious times, days and occasions, influence of start, horoscopic dispositions, shradh (ritual serving of food to priests for the salvation of ancestors on appointed days as per the lunar calendar), ancestor worship, khiah (ritual serving of food to priests - Brahmins - on the lunar anniversaries of the death of an ancestor), pind (offering of funeral barley cakes to the deceased’s relatives), patal (ritual donation of food in the belief that that would satisfy the hunger of the departed soul), diva (the ceremony of keeping an oil lamp lit for 360 days after the death, in the belief that that lights the path of the deceased), ritual funeral acts, hom (lighting of ritual fire and pouring intermittently clarified butter, food grains etc. into it for propitiating gods for the fulfillment of a purpose) jag (religious ceremony involving presentation of oblations), tarpan (libation), sikha-sut (keeping a tuft of hair on the head and wearing thread), bhadan (shaving of head on the death of a parent), fasting on new or full moon or other days, wearing of frontal marks on the forehead, wearing thread, wearing of a necklace of the pieces of tulsi stalk [A plant with medicinal properties], veneration of any graves, of monuments erected to honour the memory of a deceased person or of cremation sites, idolatry and such like superstitious observances. [Most, though not all rituals and ritual or religious observances listed in this clause are Hindu rituals and observances. The reason is that the old rituals and practices, continued to be observed by large numbers of Sikhs even after their conversion from their old to the new faith and a large bulk of the Sikh novices were Hindu converts. Another reason for this phenomenon was the strangle-hold of the Brahmin priest on Hindus secular and religious life which the Brahmin priest managed to maintain even on those leaving the Hindu religious fold, by his astute mental dexterity and rare capacity for compromise. That the Sikh novitiates include a sizable number of Muslims is shown by inclusion in this clause of the taboos as to the sanctity of graves, shirni, etc.]
Not owning up or regarding as hallowed any place other than the Guru’s place - such, for instance, as sacred spots or places of pilgrimage of other faiths.
Not believing in or according any authority to Muslim seers, Brahmins holiness, soothsayers, clairvoyants, oracles, promise of an offering on the fulfillment of a wish, offering of sweet loaves or rice pudding at graves on fulfillment of wishes, the Vedas, the Shastras, the Gayatri (Hindu scriptural prayer unto the sun), the Gita, the Quran, the Bible, etc.. However, the study of the books of other faiths for general self-education is admissible.
In the end as a concluding remark :we should all try to inculcate the values as edicted by Guru sahibs and tread the path as advised and not get involved in to the rituals that are against the sikh tenets.