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How Do Sikhs View Someone's pre-Sikh Lifestyle (and Current Circumstances)?

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Ishna, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. Ishna

    Ishna
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    This thread is an offshoot from this one.

    I think the topic of marriage and "converts" to Sikhism is a complicated one.

    If you are raised in a Sikh family, brought up with Sikh principles, or even just Sikh in appearances with little understanding, you're likely to to married to a Sikh by anand Karaj anyway.

    For someone like a Westerner who has been raised a different way, has conducted their life so far in accordance with the surrounding environment and within the social structure of their society, and suddenly comes across Sikhi, I don't think they can be expected to abandon their life so far in favour for a "Sikh" or Punjabi one.

    I have left forums in the past who have told me that because I'm married to an atheist I can't be a Sikh. I think thats crap, personally. In fact, I would disqualify on so many levels I should just pack up my toys and move on.

    But we all know that would be silly, because it would not remove the Truth from existence because I lived my life before Sikhi in the way of my own society. So I had sex before marriage, I married an atheist, I might even have a tattoo or children out of wedlock, all perfectly acceptable per my society's standards. Should I, or anyone else who has had a life before Sikhi, be disqualified from learning from the Sikh Gurus and becoming devoted to Waheguru? Technically it's Hukam that we should find ourselves in this situation!

    What someone does after they become involved with Sikhi is the important part, but still needs to be considered in the context of their past. I will NOT divorce my husband because he won't convert. I will NOT abandon my step-children. I will NOT be called "less of a Sikh" by people who want to maintain an elitist club.

    This is the reality of Sikhi's growth and attracting people from new backgrounds to the mix.

    There are probably lots of Sikhs out there who believe a Sikh must be born to a Punjabi Sikh family and live a perfect Sikh life from birth and make all the right Sikh decisions along the way. I am yet to meet one of them in real life -- only bigots on the Internet so far.

    One would hope that the more educated one becomes about Sikhism and the more guidance one accepts from Guruji, that their decisions going forward would be informed by Sikh ideals. I don't think this transformation can be achieved overnight by a new "convert" (which is why convert isn't the right word - humans don't go from being A one day to being B the next -- for well rounded understanding you have to GROW from A to B).

    So, we know the reality of the Enligsh/German/Japanese/South African/Brazilian converts bringing their life so far to the Sikh stage, so:

    What is the reality of how Sikhs view the new-comer's integration into Sikhi, when their past and current circumstances are not per Sikh ideal?
     
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    #1 Ishna, Jun 9, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2011
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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    ishna ji


    Did any of the Gurus ever disqualify anyone? Does Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji disqualify anyone? In the days of the Gurus, Was any Muslim disqualified? Was any Brahmin disqualified?

    That wraps it up for me, though I have more to say on this issue.
     
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  4. davinderdhanjal

    davinderdhanjal United Kingdom
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    Ishna Ji,

    A challenge for us is that Sikhs are quite diverse in their background and more so if you remember followers of Guru Nanak were not only Hindus, Buddhists but also Muslims.

    You may have heard of ‘Guru Nanak Sakhis’ by various people – some genuinely recording the information about the Gurus and others manipulating them to their end. So Muslims also have these Sakhis and their interpretation is not only different but coloured by their side of the history.

    Sikhi today (followers of Granth Sahib) is under quite a strain in Punjab India and people abroad may not all be aware of it so here we live as we want to and Still make sure our goal is to be a ‘Good Gursikh’. This state should be infectious and your route to that state should lighten the path for others. More routes will attract more people.

    As you are from a Sikh family you will know what our aim is and how many times we fall down – just by knowing and correcting that we approach being ‘Good Gursikh’.

    Our history and literature also tells us that some of the most revered books on ‘Sikhism’ are written by non Sikhs – they have come from entirely different background and found something good in the Gurus’ message – we do not question them how they live or what they do.
    So Sikhi is practiced by many different types of people in their own way with the same Goal.

    Different views for enlightenment are life and blood of a society as long as it is for good and cohesion - it is what we want as opposed to attaining ‘elitist’ positions in society, government or other establishments and annihilate Sikhi as is the case in Punjab India.
     
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  5. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    Ishnaji,

    "There are probably lots of Sikhs out there who believe a Sikh must be born to a Punjabi Sikh family and live a perfect Sikh life from birth and make all the right Sikh decisions along the way. I am yet to meet one of them in real life -- only bigots on the Internet so far."

    I on the other hand have met plenty such people, and they all had one thing in common, they did not want the purity of sikhism tainted by people who had actually lived. Why? As I have quoted many times before, there are only two ways to find salvation, through god, or through the flesh. I also have a past, and I found my way initially through rebellion and the flesh, and then god. These people with their perfect backgrounds and perfect decisions are no better than the kind of people who preach veganism, but have no respect for humankind. They are nothin more than empty vessels, they have no fire or spirit, just a desire to be seen as perfect and in tune with god. They do not want your presence because your fire will ask questions they cannot answer, it is people like you that will upset the cart and shake foundations by standing up to the misconceptions and falseness in sikhi, all brought about by smug perfectly formed people with manmukh in their hearts.

    The understanding between manmukh and gurmukh is important, as it is what brings us closer or further away from god. To tell someone that they are not qualified to be a sikh is the greatest sin in the world. No one has the right to say that, regardless how holy they may seem. The fact that you seek enlightenment means, to me, that you are on a road that is bringing you closer to god.

    However, we must accept that we live in the real world., the problems you will face will be in the social and traditional aspect of sikhism, not the spiritual,.
     
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  6. Kanwaljit Singh

    Kanwaljit Singh India
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    Considering the effort Guru Nanak made in taking Sikh teachings to far off countries by traveling on foot, not only Sikhs see God as Timeless, but also country-less (refer Jaap Sahib). But our religion has a bit of abandon previous life philosophy, as seen in the Amrit ceremony. Or in Truth, it is about realizing what you have to do. E.g. most people say, Sikhs are NOT allowed to cut hair. But Guru says, you have been given HAIR for a purpose, why cut it. Keep hair INTACT and have its spiritual advantages.

    There have been Sakhis of great Sikh women, who were from atheist households and got great respect from Gurus themselves.

    The question is, after Sikh teachings, would it be acceptable to you if you get in those situations? Will you work on preventing those situations and keep your mind on Guru's teachings?

    Your husband and children are your duty and no one is asking you to abandon them. Frankly, people who ask you so may not be the best ones to take any guidance from.

    I believe Sikhism is for everyone. Not from Punjabi background or something. Recently we have people with African and Chinese background joining the Panth. Personally some people (including Punjabis!) like to tweek Sikhism for themselves, which is NEVER acceptable to Guru. Take what is offered, simple.

    Sikhs like people who talk about God, and righteousness, justice. That's it. For a new comer, it is possible in first few months not to be aware of Hukam and make mistakes. We want people who believe in Sikh ideal and walk towards it, no matter where one comes from. People who boast of being ideal Sikhs are either not aware of their own imperfectness or hide it.

    I have been part of bigotry, big and small, many times. Sometimes my advice is a bit in line with Gurmat (Guru's Principles or ਗੁਰਮਤ - ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਦਾ ਸਿੱਧਾਂਤ) and sometimes it is totally opposite. When I feel I have said something wrong, I kind of go quiet for few days. The only advice TOTALLY in line with Gurmat is in Guru Granth Sahib only.

    Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh
     
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  7. findingmyway

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    Ishna ji,
    As you say it is moviong forward that matters otherwise we would not be learners!! In many ways I think Panjabi's are judged more harshly by the community. So much culture has been mixed in and there only needs an excuse to think the worse about someone. I have not had relations before marriage etc but I am very independent, have lived alone, travelled the world, worked hard in my career and rejected a lot of cultural norms. That independence is enough to malign me too!! Human nature is to judge others. If its not religion, it will be something else. That will never change!
     
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  8. spnadmin

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    One of the great challenges Guru Nanak put before us is to stop judging others. As individuals, we can do that if we spend more time looking inward at our own light and ask how bright does it shine? We can do that with the guidance of ShabadGuru. I can tell you it is a difficult challenge but I am glad for the gift of it.
     
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  9. Randip Singh

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    Thanks for the post. It is very informative.

    You have highlighted an interesting point where according to the SRM, a Sikh must only marry a Sikh, but what if one person converts to Sikhi in that marriage?

    Lets see what the pontificators at SGPC HQ have to say about that :)
     
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