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General Disabled people & Reht Maryada

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Atheist, Mar 19, 2010.

  1. Atheist

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    Dear Everyone,

    So I was reading the vegetarianism forum here, and there was a mention of the Reht (or Rehat) Maryada. I started reading it and as it described the Amrit (baptism) I came across this paragraph (copied directly from this page: Sikh Reht Maryada, The Definition of Sikh, Sikh Conduct & Conventions, Sikh Religion Living, India):

    c. The five beloved (Panj Piyare) ones who administer ambrosial baptism not include a disabled person, such as a person who is blind or blind in one eye, lame, one with a broken or disabled limb, or one suffering from some chronic disease. The number should not include anyone who has committed a breach of the Sikh discipline and principles. All of them should be committed baptised Sikhs with appealing personalities.

    I made sure to read before and after this paragraph to try to make sure I was not taking it out of context. Granted the Reht Maryada was not written by the Gurus; my understanding is that it was (is?) written by people so that Sikhs could have a guide. So my question is why would the authors of the Reht Maryada say that the people who give the Amrit cannot be disabled, blind, or with a chronic disease?
     
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  3. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Jios,..

    1. The Ceremony is an INITIATION CEREMONY and its correct name is KHANDEY BATTE DEE PAHUL.

    2. Thus its not discriminatory in any way to regulate that ONLY THE BEST..able bodied persons in the best of health be the ones initiating new ones into the Khalsa.
    The Five have to be on bended knee for a considerable time....one hand on the Batta edge..one hand stirring the Khanda..and RECITING the Banis while looking at the water being stirred. After that all the initiated ones are going to DRINK from the same batta...eat from the same plate...obvioulsy any chronic sick etc cant be allowed in.

    People read too much into such situations...after all just how many of us would feel comfortable flying with a blind pilot..a chronic sick pilot....a handicapped in wheelchair pilot...etc...or even a bus driver..a doctor..???? would we eat with a waiter coughing all over our food ?? Would we cry..DISCRIMINATION ??? why shouldnt a H1Ni infected waiter not serve....he he he

    There are plenty of BLIND ragis..granthis..sevadaars...plenty of cripples serving as granthis ragis etc etc...no discrimination...nothing to worry...:rofl!!::rofl!!::rofl!!:
     
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  4. BhagatSingh

    BhagatSingh Canada
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    Obviously chronic illness/disease can be understood but why blind or lame?
     
  5. Sinister

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    roleplay!

    you find the suitable actors for the role in order to project an image of Katharos for the ritual.

    only allowing African Americans auditioning for an African American role in a movie ...an acceptible form of discrimination

    as everyone knows...ART is art
     
  6. Atheist

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    Dear Gyani Jarnail Singh Ji,

    "1. The Ceremony is an INITIATION CEREMONY and its correct name is KHANDEY BATTE DEE PAHUL."

    Thank you for the clarification.

    I understand what you are saying but cannot agree with it. In my line of work, we see disabled people all the time and work closely with them. So I have to be an advocate for disabled people.

    "The Five have to be on bended knee for a considerable time"

    Yes this is true. It is also true that someone with an amputation who has a prosthetic leg can be bended on the knee for a considerable time (yes, not all amputees can do this, but many can). In fact, I quote directly from my textbook, "To illustrate the functional potential of a patient with amputation, Marlon Shirley holds the men's amputee record for the 100-m sprint at 10.97 s. That is only a short step behind the able-bodied time of 9.78 s by Tim Montgomery in 2004" (author = Braddom). This person could easily beat us in running, and you're telling me that he is not "ONLY THE BEST" and "able bodied"??

    And chronically ill patient's cannot serve the amrit? Psoriasis is a chronic disease. It is a skin disease that is NOT contagious. So they can't serve amrit either? Chronic diseases also include vitiligo (not contagious), diabetes, hypothyroidism, addison's disease, color blindness, chronic pancreatitis, factor V leiden, polycystic ovarian disease - and in each case, a person could have that chronic disease and be able to perform the ceremony (yes, not every single person with all of these diseases particularly diabetes with neuropathy can do all this - but to flat-out say no chronic disease is plain wrong).

    Now, if someone had an acute CONTAGIOUS disease like the flu then yes then it becomes an obvious health & safety issue...but hopefully one can see that not all chronic diseases preclude this.

    There is no such thing as a blind pilot because a pilot needs sight to fly. They cannot do their job without sight. But a person with vitiligo should otherwise be able to perform this important task. It's ironic how you say handicapped pilot...there is actually a PILOT who has NO ARMS. She does her plane checks including checking her oil with her legs, feet, and head only. She flies by herself! If you don't believe me I can provide you with a youtube link for the newscast on her.

    Would we eat food from a waiter coughing all over it? No of course not because as you alluded to it would be a health and safety risk. But again, no all diseases are contagious and not all diseases or disabilities make it impossible to perform this important task. Would we cry discrimination, you ask? Well in the case of the pilot, if someone did not hire her because she has no arms, you better believe that it would be discrimination. We deal with this in our line of work, and trust me she could sue them for all they're worth...totally different from an H1N1 waiter serving food.

    As long as a disabled person can do the job, it is illegal to not hire them based on their disability. If someone with an amputation can beat all of us at a MARATHON, then they should not be not allowed to perform this important task. I would go so far to say that if someone in a wheelchair WANTS to perform this important task, then their interest in doing it should outweigh their inability to kneel on one knee.

    Further, why do we have two eyes? Two eyes gives us the ability to perceive depth. The Reht Maryada says even someone blind in one eye should not do this...I am pretty sure someone with one eye can perform this important task...I know someone who has no depth perception and still drives with no problem...

    Sorry I am not trying to be mean or stringent but my line of work deals with disabled people specifically. Thank you.
     
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  7. spnadmin

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    I think these are valid quesitons Atheist ji -- and they have been raised before. Gyani Singh ji once wrote an essay in which he traced the history of that part of the SRM -- how the authors arrived at this conclusion. It is not his reply to you below. I will try to find it in our threads. Nonetheless -- in this day and age it is very hard to accept the idea that a disabled person is not "whole" enough.
     
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  8. spnadmin

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    Gyani ji gave the answer that the panj must keep a steady watch on the amrit, sit in bir assan position, and recite bani over a period of time. They must do all 3 of these things simultaneously. Someone who is physically disabled might be able to keep watch on the amrit, and recite bani but not sit for several hours in bir assan. Someone who is blind would not be able to keep watch on the amrit, but be capable of the other 2. Someone who was mute, would not be able to recite the bani, but sit bir assan and watch the armit.

    And for each possible disability all these combinations of "cans and cannots" multiple out. So the practical solution was to require the panj to be completely able bodied. Once again, what appears at first discriminatory in SRM, once analyzed, has a practical reason behind it. Here is what Gyani said.\
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    The "Requirements" of Bir-Assan, having One Hand on the Batta Edge and the other stirring the KHanda, keeping BOTH eyes on the Amrit...are PHYSICAL QUALIFICATIONS.
    This has absolutley nothing to do with "Equality..discrimination..whatever. Just as a" Physically Blind " cannot be a pilot/driver....(simplistic example)...so a paraplegic cannot hold the khanda/stir the Amrit...or sit in Bir Assan....and simialrly a BLIND person wouldnt be able to concentrate on the Amarit with hsi eyesight....and a MUTE wouldnt be able to RECITE the Banis necessary....

    I have had to answer this sort of queries umpteen times in the past 30 years of my academic life....and my reply is always as above. The "physical qualities" are not meant to discriminate..BUT FACILITATE the proper procedire for preparing the PAHUL and Administration of Amrit.
    2. The Amrit is administered into the KESH....and into the EYES besides being given to be drunk by the abhilakhees.

    http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=19513 (Amrit Sanchar Ceremony)
     
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  9. Atheist

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    I certainly appreciate everyon's replies and understand what the reasoning is. I am just particularly sensitive to disabled people since that is who I work with and those are the people whose lives I am trying to make better.

    I can agree 100% that not allowing disabled people is more PRACTICAL. But is it fair? It would be more pratical to not have wheelchair ramps (after all, they need to be really long to achieve just a short height, only a few people use them, and you need lots of space to build one and not to mention they cost more money). But it's not fair. So employers are not only encouraged to, but they are required by law to make appropriate accommodations for disabled people. As much as I shed my doubts on US Law, in this particular case I think the law got it just right.

    I know I have no authority in this matter, but if it were up to me, I would mandate that if a disabled person WANTS TO be part of this important task, AND they can demonstrate that they can perform all 3 parts of it, then they should be allowed to. It's simply unfair to tell someone who had retinoblastoma (a cancer of the back part of the eye) who had to have one eye removed that they cannot be part of this because they need to keep "both eyes" on the amrit - through no fault of their own, they simply do not have both eyes.

    Narayanjot Kaur Ji - I LOVE your quote: "Nonetheless -- in this day and age it is very hard to accept the idea that a disabled person is not "whole" enough."

    I agree 100%. Disabled people are the exact same as we are, so if they can perform a task adequately (like the pilot with no arms), then let them do it. I don't care if it's not practical - it's more fair to go case by case and see if someone who wants to be involved can do the job right.

    Life is not always about being practical, it's about doing the right thing. I know what you are saying but having worked intimately with disabled people and seeing all they are capable of (a lot of them are more able-bodied than I am), I can never accept this rule.
     
  10. Randip Singh

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    As a Sikh you would be called on to defend fight etc and not shirk from that duty. Its like a military induction.

    Asking someone who is impaired in some way to fight would be just wrong.

    They need to explain it better though.
     
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  11. Archived_Member16

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    FOR YOUR KIND INFORMATION & CONSIDERATION:

    source: http://www.singhsabha.com/thoughtful_contributions.htm

    At Least For Decency
    ( Doctor) Mohan Singh (Virick) Tue Aug 28, 2001

    Roger is a Canadian veteran of the Vietnam War. His youthful life has been
    bumpy and irresponsible. Having inherited the genes of diabetes and heart
    disease, he has aged more than the years he has lived. Bouts of alcohol
    abuse in his teenage years have cost him his limbs and he goes for dialysis
    three times a week for his failing kidneys.

    But Roger made a U-turn in life ten years ago. Now, he has a clean mind and
    soul. He has helped many teens with problems that often plague western
    youth, he has organized a food bank, he contributes to many charities from
    his meager pension and is a pillar of hope to the community.

    As his physician, it is with pride that I have seen Roger transform. His
    visits to the office are lengthy for he has a lot to tell me.

    Roger was born Catholic but now reads Buddhist and Islamic scriptures and
    asked me about my own Sikh faith. He is troubled with the English
    translations of the books I gave him. Though they are written in English,
    Roger tells me that he cannot understand the flow or the grammar of the text.

    In March of last year I gave him a CD of Khalsa Kaur Khalsa's rendition of
    Anand Sahib in English. When I saw Roger in May, he knew all of the Anand
    Sahib and the Kirtan Sohala and could recite them from memory.

    According to Roger, Anand is the universal song of joy for the disabled.
    Inspired, he organized an evening group of amputees who meet twice a week
    to read and recite the Anand. He even put the Anand Sahib to a melody of a
    western tune that he plays on a country guitar.

    Roger and his friends feel liberated with the hope that Anand Sahib gives
    them. The physical handicaps that had jailed me, Roger said, were all
    illusions. His failing eyes can see, his chopped legs can run and his ears
    can hear the message of love. He says his journey of the spirit needs limbs
    no more. Anand has made them complete. The spirit of the mind needs no
    wheel chairs, or special ramps, they are free... free&.free.

    I told Roger that the Sikh Gurus always had a special affinity for the sick
    and the disabled. When the Gurus mentioned disabilities they talked of the
    disability of mind and spirit rather than physical handicaps of the body.

    The blind are those who see no universality of the spirit; the lame are
    those who have no fortitude to do good things for others. Chronic diseases
    are described as hopelessness of the spirit and mind, rather than asthma,
    hypertension, or diabetes.

    This Sikh spirit of practical compassion was lived by Sikhs like Bhagat
    Puran Singh, Bhai Sahib Vir Singh and others. Bhagat Puran Singh's life
    work is a testimony of Sikh dedication to the care of the disabled. Puran
    Singh has written many works on Sikh theology and thought, but his work
    with the unfortunates makes him stand out.

    Bhagat Puran Singh never labeled people as kaana (blind) or loola (legless
    or footless). To him the disabilities were not apparent, the disabled were
    just Ram Singhs, Kanhaiya Lals and Shanti Devis. They were different from
    the rest of us due to the injustices of the society that isolated them from
    opportunities and hope.

    Bhagat Puran Singh found solace and hope in the Sikh faith that paralleled
    his idea of compassion to the disabled. He said that good deeds to the
    disabled were not to be offered as a charity but as a requirement, for,
    without man helping man, spirituality is an empty word.

    Some have obvious physical disabilities, others, perhaps, are much worse
    off. We have spiritual disease that is eating away at us inside, yet we
    look healthy. Our eyes are sick they see no good in others. Our legs carry
    our body weight, but refuse to move us to charity. Our mouths articulate
    empty words and our ears hear no messages of love. Some of us who maintain
    façades of complete persons are, in fact, just cheap pretenders - the real
    disabled and sick, very sick.

    The Sikh Guru Ram Das championed working with the worst physical and social
    disease of those times. To him a person with leprosy was a leprosy patient,
    not a leper. He built a hospital of compassion for them at Taran Taran,
    with a pool of water around the facility. The pool represented the
    cleansing power of the word of God; the building was to house all, the well
    to give help, and the sick to be healed.

    Yet Guru Ram Das declared those 'wretched deformed lepers' who had no love
    of God in their heart. (Page 528 Line 8, Guru Granth Sahib). The Guru
    Granth, our only book of conduct, repeats itself again and again, in the
    same vein, defining the disabled as only those that lack spiritual
    perspective. (Page 24 Line 14, Page 280 Line 14, Page 328 Line 12 and Page
    1245 Line 7.)

    It is in this matter that my heart aches when I see, in spite of all these
    examples in our history and spiritual text, our present callous attitude
    towards the physically disabled.

    The current Sikh Maryada (the Code of Sikh Conduct) is a document that
    reflects no compassion for the disabled and sick. It denies the physically
    disabled the rights to perform the duties of high importance. A faith that
    prides its stand on the rights of others is now perpetrating injustice on
    its own.

    In my recent discussions with many Canadian and American patients and
    friends, I am constantly reminded that though compassion for the
    unfortunate may have religious precedence in Sikh history, the facts are
    somewhat different. Before dying fifteen years ago, my father expressed a
    wish to visit Gurdwara Bangla Sahib in Delhi. Although a note from the SGPC
    states that wheel chairs are allowed in some parts of the Darbar Sahib in
    Amritsar, my father could not visit the inside of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib as
    wheel chairs are not allowed and he could not be carried inside since the
    pain of malignancy had spread into his bones.

    I thought then of my own country (Canada) and how blessed we are, we have
    rules, the sick have rights and dignity. These acts came from common sense
    rather than from loud proclamations of spirituality. Shopping malls and
    buses were denied rights to operate if they ignored basic facilities to the
    disabled. Churches made special entrances and pews for easy entrance and exit.

    Sikh Gurudwaras on the other hand, are physically inaccessible to those
    that come there in pain. The steps of the Gurudwaras are designed for the
    young and spry that can skate the slippery, mostly wet, marble.

    Unfortunately, indifference to the disabled is institutionalized by a
    prescribed code of conduct. From what seems to be evident, the Sikh Maryada
    not only promotes, but also requires this attitude.

    I quote from an email from the SGPC:

    Mohan Virick ji,

    Waheguru ji Ka Khalsa
    Waheguru ji Ki Fateh

    Thank you for your email.

    According to the code of Sikh Conduct and conventions (Section six) Page
    34. The five beloved ones administer ambrosial baptism should not include a
    disabled person such as a person who blind, lame, one with broken or
    disabled limb or one suffering from some chronic diseases. We should obey
    the Sikh code of Conduct.

    Regards.
    In charge,
    Internet Office,
    SGPC, Amritsar.
    (Reproduced unedited)

    This note has many disturbing flaws besides its language skills. If this
    practice is indeed enshrined in law, our progressive faith contravenes the
    very universal United Nations Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.Is Roger really wrong? Is the Anand Sahib only a work of poetry and not a
    living document of hope?

    What about the many Hazur Sahib Granthis whom I saw as patients in Canada?
    They had hypertension, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Have they then,
    violated Section 6 of Sikh law by administering amrit illegally? Or are
    hypertension, hyperlipedimia, obesity and diabetes exempt and not chronic
    diseases? What then is the list of chronic diseases that debar a Sikh from
    the ambrosial duties? Is there such a list, and where is it kept? Am I a
    co-conspirator as a physician, for staying silent about their chronic
    diseases while they administered amrit? Do those baptized by the disabled
    Jathedars need baptism again?

    The Guru has said that we all are small lamps of a greater light. It is
    unkind to enshrine in law practices that divide men on physical
    disabilities, forgetting that all life comes from a common source and it is
    only actions that make us better. Those that have health and limbs today
    may not have them tomorrow.

    I am, therefore, asking you, all women and men of sense and goodwill to
    stand up and voice your disapproval against Section 6 of the Sikh Rehat
    Maryada. You may have accepted the spirit of this law in your own lifetime
    but your children, born in the age of global communication and knowledge,
    will never do so. After all, to think of it, this is really not a matter of
    theology or religious doctrine. This is a basic premise in all civilized
    societies that no one is denied any rights based on physical disabilities.
    Do not have yours brought up in disgust for those that are less fortunate.

    The note states 'We should obey the Sikh code of Conduct'.
    I beg you, for decency sake, not to obey this one. "
     
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  12. Atheist

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    Dear Randip Singh Ji,

    "Asking someone who is impaired in some way to fight would be just wrong."

    I agree with you...asking someone to do something that they may or may not be qualified to do could be considered wrong, but that is separate from my point.

    My point is that if someone who is disabled wants to do something, and they have shown they can do it, then they should be given a chance and not just automatically barred from doing it - that is what is truly wrong.

    If the same attitude was held for the pilot with no arms, she would never have had the chance to pursue her dream and fly (that would have been a true tragedy).

    It is infuriating to see this attitude in 2010 toward disabled people.
     
  13. Tejwant Singh

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    In my opinion the word 'disable' is quite derogatory to be used for a person. They are able in different manners,not disable.

    Atheist ji, and your question regarding SRM has a much broader horizon to cover from the Sikhi aspect. India has a stigma against any fraility that we as humans may possess and by golly we as humans have lots of them but we cover them up quite cunningly rather than showing them bravely and seek magical miracles for our mental and physical cures instead of accepting them so they can be improved upon. India is supposed to be the 'most religious place' in the world. My Dad used to say that the more we do Ram Naam, the less godly we inclined to become because we are looking for a quick magical fix.

    Coming back to Khandei di Pahul and able bodies is much farther in the case of our awareness and improvements of things for people are able in a different ways as far as priorities are concerned.

    I do not think, but please someone correct me if I am wrong that there is no ramp for the wheel chair people to enter into Harmander Sahib or any other Gurdwara which is a shameful thing. In my opinion all Gurdwaras should have chairs and ramps inside where SGGS parkash takes place so old people and wheel chair bound ones can enjoy the same Amrit Keertan as everyone else.

    As Sikhi is based on equality, we should allow women to do Seva inside Harmander Sahib, become Granthis and sevadaarnis inside the sanctom sactorium, and be able to do keertan inside Harmander Sahib.

    So, before we try to challenge what can be corrected in the ceremony of Khandei di Pahul, let's work together to create equality in other fields first, then your query will be the natural result of the progression of the self.

    Atheist ji, do not be outside this Jungian circle and watch it from distance. Become part of this circle and join hands to improve things for others. Isn't that the goal of any human no matter what faith,hue, creed one may belong to?

    And shall I add that atheism is part of the same creed, that is to participate actively in improving humanity no matter what.

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  14. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Bottom Line..the SRM is a MAN MADE DOCUMENT. It can and has been CHANGED...numerous times... the Entire GURU KHALSA PANTH has the Valid Authority to Change.( A few illegal changes have been made surreptiously by the SGPC hanchos here and there...simply becasue the Guru Khalsa Panth gave them....PA..Power of Attorney !! The Most recent changes they instituted under this PA is the killing of the Nanakshai Calendar accepted universally by the Panth in 2003.(The NC doesnt come under SRM..but its part of what comes under SGPC)..IF this is allowed..then the NEXT CHANGE to SRM may make it even MORE DISCRIMINATORY..simply becasue the ANTI-WOMEN SANT SAMAAJ sanctioned maryadas that run in their DERAS and in Hazoor shaib/Patna Sahib will be the models for change !!! and the SGPC is in cahoots with the sants...as the NC issue proved beyond doubt.
    2. The Guru Khalsa panth has to WAKE UP...Cancel its PA (Power of Attorney) carte blanche given to SGPC/Takhat jathedars which are paid employees of SGPC )..and write up a SRM that is Totally in line with the SGGS in Letter and Spirit.:advocate:
     
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  15. Atheist

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    Dear Tejwant Singh Ji,

    Thank you for your reply. I can't really blame you for thinking that the word "disable[d]" is derogatory...at the same time, in medicine we have strict definitions for impairment, disability, and handicap, and all are considered (currently) politically correct terms. And of course, "disability" also becomes a legal term, as people who are disabled are often times eligible to get benefits from the government. So as derogatory as it may sound it unfortunately becomes necessary to have such a term.

    I am glad you believe that my question has a broader horizon to cover from the Sikhi aspect. In one sense, atheism is similar to Sikhi - Both find absolutely no rational reason whatsoever to feel that one person could ever be "lower" than anyone else. I believe everyone is equal - regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, body type, caste (which shouldn't exist), creed, ability, disability, etc.

    It is a shame that Gurdwaras don't have reasonable accommodations - I agree. Even the US government mandates this for employers. And I agree that we should allow women to do everything that a man can do in terms of Sikh activity. BTW is it just a coincidence that all the Sikh Gurus were male?

    And you are right - the goal is to improve things for others and to improve humanity regardless of anything else. If the SRM can be changed, why hasn't it been changed yet? Saying that it can be changed but then leaving something like this in there is questionable.

    I just find it so hard to believe in 2010 that we STILL have remind others in this world that everyone should be equal. Like that shouldn't be a conclusion, it should be a premise.
     
  16. Randip Singh

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    As someone who has worked closely worked with disabled people and designed buildings for their adaptations, I am well aware of what people with disabilities what they cannot and can do.

    No offense, you are coming into the Rehat Maryada cold, without the benefit of knowing why the SRM was drafted in such a way, and if I was in your position I would think exactly the same.

    The Khalsa Rehit is in effect a military discipline. That is what it is essentially about. The 5 K's are articles of war (separate topic).

    It was considered unfair to ask someone who was not able bodied to fight on the front lines, hence why this view was adopted. It IS a time of peace now (relatively), hence why we see this aspect of the SRM as discriminatory.

    View it in its historical context, not with our 21st Century values.

    No one discriminates against disabled people, infact Sikh establishments have actively set up establishments to help disabled people. See the Pingalwara web site for more info.

    Pingalwara

    Given the back drop of Brahmanical thought that is someone is disables, it is because f their past mistakes, Sikhs have taken a very enlightened view.
     
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  17. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
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    I read that in the Bible...a man with damaged/not functioning (whatever that means) equipemnt..."****" CANNOT even enter the Temple..or offer an offering to God. God made the Covenant about circumcision..of the Man's **** shows that this part of man is definitley very very important to Him.(God as well as Man obviously )
    The quotes are available at a site which i am not goint to put here..PM me if you want it.

    My purpose is to show that the Bible is a GOD DOCUMENT..written by GOD..and the SGGS..which is not so claimed doesnt have any such "discriminatory" lines/commands. The SRM is man made and can be changed unlike the Bible. SGGS also cannot be changed and there is no need to do so as well.
     
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