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Question Concerning Violence

Discussion in 'Questions and Answers' started by Quantonium, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. Quantonium

    Quantonium
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    Hello friends!

    I am very facinated by religion and life, and wanted to look into Sikhism! The thing I'm wondering about, though, is what Sikhs think of violence?

    In advance, thank you.
     
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  3. spnadmin

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    Re: Question concering violence.

    Quantonium ji


    Please give us more specifics to your question. Sikhs do not subscribe to the concept of "ahimsa" or the nonviolence of other paths such as Buddhism and Jainism. However Sikhs do not "approve" of violence either.

    Anger is considered one of the 5 evils that distract us from spiritual enlightened lives. But justifiable aggression -- as in a just war -- is also part of Sikh values and theology.

    I am not sure what you are asking. So maybe you will be able to add more and others can clarify for you. :)
     
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  4. Quantonium

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    Re: Question concering violence.

    You pretty much explained what i needed to hear. So, am I right to think that, if people live under tyranny, it is all right to do what it takes (physically) to destroy the tyrant? That one should defend your self, family, and all that needs defending, by physical means (if this is the only way)?

    I'm not sure if I make much sense, but it is mosly because I have no idea what to think myself.. I feel I can always turn to God to find out what is the right thing to do, and use my logic, but when it comes to violence, retaliation or even direct attack (if it is done for a just cause) I have trouble finding out what is truly right. I do believe in non-violence, but at the same time, I feel it is wrong to sit idly and not stop the attackers if they come to kill people for causes such as greed.

    I'm confused~ :roll:
     
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    Re: Question concering violence.

    Quantonium ji

    Guru Gobind Singh ji is famous for his doctrine of "just war" in which he outlines conditions for justified, armed aggression.

    Just War or dharam yudh

    Guru Gobind Singh made it clear that military action was to be the last resort, but emphasised that they should not be avoided if they proved necessary:
    When all efforts to restore peace prove useless and no words avail...

    Lawful is the flash of steel. It is right to draw the sword.Guru Gobind Singh

    and he said,

    I have no other ambition but to wage righteous war



    Zafarnama gives the background...

    [​IMG]



    Zafarnama (Gurmukhi: ਜ਼ਫ਼ਰਨਾਮਹ or ਜ਼ਫ਼ਰਨਾਮਾ, Persian: ظفرنامہ) means the "Declaration of Victory" and is the name given to the letter sent by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh in 1705 to the Emperor of India, Aurangzeb. The letter is written in exquisite Persian verse. In this letter, Guru Ji reminds Aurangzeb how he and his henchmen had broken their oaths taken on the holy Koran. Zafarnama is included in Hikayats and it's the first Hikayat.

    Despite this deception, this treacherous leader could not harm the Guru. Guru Ji states in this letter that in spite of his several sufferings, he had won a moral victory over the crafty Mughal who had broken all his vows and had resorted to underhand behaviour. Despite sending a huge army to capture or kill the Guru, the Mughal forces did not succeed in their mission.

    The letter reads like a reprimand by a superior personality on a higher plane to a cruel and distorted inhuman being on a lower and pitiful plane. Guru Ji in the 111 verses of this notice rebukes Aurangzeb for his weaknesses as a human being and for excesses as a leader. Guru Ji confirms his confidence and his unflinching faith in the Almighty even after suffering extreme personal loss. Zafarnama - SikhiWiki, free Sikh encyclopedia.
     
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    Re: Question concering violence.

    Emglish translation
    ZAFARNAMA (The Epistle of Victory)


    The Lord is One and His Word is True.
    The Victory is of the Lord.
    The Sacred Utterance of the Tenth Sovereign.
    The Lord is perfect in all faculties. He is Immortal and generous. He is the Giver of victuals and Emancipator.1.
    He is the protector and Helper; He is Compassionate, Giver of food and Enticer.2.
    He is the Sovereign, treasure-house of qualities and Guide; He is unparalleled and is without Form and Colour.3.
    Through His Generosity, He provides Heavenly Enjoyments to one without any wealth, falcon, army property and authority.4.
    He is the Transcendent as well as Immanent; He is Omnipresent and bestows honours.5.
    He is Holy, Generous and Preserver; He is Merciful and Provider of victuals.6.
    The Lord is Generous, the Highest of the High; He, the preserver, is Most Beautiful.7.
    The Lord is Omniscient, the Protector of the lowly; He, the Friend of the poor, is the Destroyer of the enemies.8.
    He is the Source of all virtues, keeper of Dharma; He knows everything and is the Source of all Scriptures.9.
    He is the Perfect Being and Treasure of Wisdom; He, the All-Pervading Lord, is Omniscient.10.
    The Lord of the Universe, Knows all the sciences and breaks the knots of all complications.11.
    He, the Supreme and Most High, Supervises the whole world; He, the Sovereign of the Universe, is the Source of all Learning.12.
    I have faith in your oaths; the Lord Himself is the Witness.13.
    I have not an iota of faith in such a person, whose officers have relinquished the path of Turth.14.
    Whosoever puts faith on the oath of Quran, he is subjected to punishment on the final reckoning.15.
    He, who comes under the shade of the legendary Huma, a very brave crow cannot harm him.16.
    He, who takes refuge of the fierce tiger; the goat, sheep and deer do not go near him.17.
    Even if I had taken an oath on Quarn in concealment, I would not have budhed and inch from my place.18.
    How could forty famished persons fight in the battlefield, on whom ten lakh soldiers made a sudden attack.19.
    Your army breaking the oath and in great haste plunged in the battlefield with arrows and guns.20.
    For this reason, I had to intervene and had to come fully armed.21.
    When all other methods fail, it is proper to hold the sword in hand.22.
    I have no faith in your oaths on the Quarn, otherwise I had nothing to do with this battle.23.
    I do not know that your officers are deceitful, otherwise I would not have followed this path.24.
    It is not appropriated to imprison and kill those, who put faith on the oaths of Quarn.25.
    The soldiers of your army, clad in black uniforms, rushed like flies on my men.26.
    Whosoever from them came near the wall of the fort, with one arrow he wos drenched in his won blood.27.
    None dared to come there near the wall; none faced then the arrows and destruction.28.
    When I saw Nahar Khan in the battlefield, he was greeted with one of my arrows.29.
    All those boasters who came near the wall, they were dispatched in no time.30.
    Another Afghan, with a bow and arrow came in the battlefield like a flood.31.
    He shot arrows heroically, sometimes in senses and sometimes in madness.32.
    He made several attacks and was drenched with last.33.
    Khwaja Mardud hid himself behind the wall; he did not enter the field like a brave warrior.34.
    If I had seen his face once, one of my arrows would have dispatched him to the abode of death.35.
    Many warriors wounded with arrows and bullets died in the battle on both the sides.36.
    The darts were showered so violently, that the field became red like popyflowers.37.
    The heads and limbs of the dead were scattered in the field like the ***** and sticks in the game of Polo.38.
    When the arrows hissed and bows tinkled, there was a great hue and cry in the world.39.
    There the spears and lances provided a dreadful sound and the warriors lost heir senses.40.
    How could bravery ultimately withstand in the field, when only forty were surrounded by innumerable warriors?41.
    When the lamp of the world veiled itself, the moon shone in brightness during the night.42. He, who puts faith on the oaths of the Quran, the Ture Lord gives him the guidance.43.
    There was neither any harm nor injury; my Lord, the vanquisher of the enemies, brought me to safety.44.
    I did not know that these oath-breakers were deceitful and flowers of mammon.45.
    They were neither men of faith, nor true followers of Islam, they did not know the Lord not had faith in the prophet.46.
    He, who follows his faith with sincerity, he never budges an inch from his oaths.47.
    I have no faith at all in such a person for whom the oath of the Quran has no significance.48.
    Even if you swear a hundred times in the name of the Quran, I shall not trust you any more.49.
    If you have even a little of faith in God, come in the battlefield fully armed.50.
    It is your duty act on these words, because for me, these words are like the Orders of God.51.
    If the Holy Prophet had been there himself, you would have acted on them with all your heart.52.
    It is your duty and a binding on you to do as bidden in writing.53.
    I have received your letter and the message, do, whatever is required to be done.54.
    One should act on his words; the speech and action should correspond.55.
    I agree with the words conveyed by the Qazi, but if you promise to come on the right path.56.
    If you want to see the letter containing oaths, I can send you the same immediatedly.57.
    If you come yourself in village Kangar, we can meet each other.58.
    Do not bring in your mind the danger of coming there; because the Brar community acts according to my orders.59.
    We can talk to each other in this way; kindly come so that we may have direct talk.60.
    Your saying that I may bring for you a very fine steed of one thousand rupees and get this area as a feoff (jagir) from you, you may keep this thing in your mind.61.
    I am the man of the Sovereign of Sovereign and His slave; if He permits me, then I shall present myself there.62.
    If He permits me, then I shall be present there in person.63.
    If you worship One Lord, you will not cause any delay in this work of mine.64.
    You should recognize the Lord, so that you may not talk ill or cause injury to anybody.65. You are the Sovereign of the world and you sit on the throne, but I wonder at your ill acts of injustice.66.
    I wonder at your acts of piety and justice; I feel sorry at your sovereignty.67.
    I wonder very much regarding your faith; anything said against truth brings downfall.68.
    Do not be rash in striking your sword on helpless, otherwise the Providence will shed your blood.69.
    Do not be careless, recognize the Lord, who is averse to greed and flattery.70.
    He, the Sovereign of Sovereigns, fears none; He is the Master of the earth and heavens.71.
    He, the True Lord, is the Master of both the worlds; He is the Creator of all the creatures of the universe.72.

    He is the Presever of all, from ant to elephant; He gives strength to the helpless and destroys the careless.73.
    The True Lord is known as `Prtector of the lowly`; He is carefree and free from want.74.
    He is Unassailable and Unparalleled; He shows the path as a Guide.75.
    You are strained by the oath of the Quran, therefore, fulfil the promise made by you.76.
    It is appropriate for you to become sane and do your task with severity.77.
    What, if you have killed my four sons, the hooded cobra still sits coiled up.78.
    What type of bravery it is to extinguish the speak of fire and fan the flames.79.
    Listen to this well-said quotation of Firdausi : "The hasty action is the work o Satan".80.
    I have also come from the abode of Your Lord, who will be the witness on the day of Judgement.81.
    If you prepare yourself for the good action, the Lord will give you an apt reward.82.
    If you forget this task of Juustice, the Lord will forget you.83.
    The righteous has to tread the path of truth and virtue, but it is still better to recognize the Lord.84.
    I do not believe that man recognizes the Lord, who injures the sentiments of others through his action.85.
    The Ture and Merciful Lord does not love you, though you have unaccountable wealth.86.
    Even if you swear a hundred times by the Quran, I shall never trust you.87.
    I cannot come to you and am not prepared to tread your path of oaths; I shall go, wherever my Lord will ask me to go.88.
    You are king of king, O fortunate Aurangzeb; you are a clever administrator and a good horseman.89.
    With the help of your intelligence and the sword, you have become the master of Deg and Tegh.90.
    You are the acme of beauty and wiseom; you are the chief of chiefs and the king.91.
    You are the acme of beauty and wisdom; you are the master of the country and its wealth.92.
    You are most generous and a mountain in the battlefield; you are like angels wielding high splendour.93.
    Though you are the king of kings, O Aurangzeb ! you are far from righteousness and justice.94.
    I vanquished the vicious hill chiefs, they were idol-worshippers and I am idol-breaker.95.
    Look at the time-cycle, quite undependable; whosoever it pursues, it brings his decline.96.
    Think of the power of the Holy Lord, which causes one persons to kill lakhs of people.97.
    If God is friendly, no enemy can do anything; the generous action proceed from the merciful Lord.98.
    He is the Emancipator and the Guide, who causes our tongue to sing His Praises.99.
    In throubled times He withdraws the faculty of sight from the enemies; He releases without injury the suppressed and the lowly.100.
    He, who is tuuthful and follows the right path, the Merciful Lord is Graceful towards him.101.
    He, who surrenders his mind and body to Him, the True Lord is Graceful towards him.102.
    No enemy can ever beguile him, on whom the Merciful Lord showers His Graces.103.
    When one man is attacked by lakh, the Generous Lord gives him protection.104.
    Just as our hopes lie in your wealth, I depend upon the Grace of the Lord.105.
    You are proud of your kingdom and wealth, but I take refuge in the Non-Temporal Lord.106.
    Do not be careless about this fact that this saraae (resting place) is not the permanent abode.107.
    Look at the time-cycle, which is undependable; it gives a fatal blow to everthing of this world.108.
    Do not oppose the lowly and helpless; do not break the oaths taken on the Quran.109.
    If God is friendly, what the enemy can do?, though he may be inimical in many ways.110.
    The enemy may try to give a thousand blows, but he cannot harm even one hair, (if God is friendly).111.

    Zafarnama (English translation) - SikhiWiki, free Sikh encyclopedia

    The Gurmukhi, transliteration and English translation
    http://www.searchgurbani.com/main.php?book=dasam_granth&action=pagebypage&page=1469

     
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  7. Quantonium

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    That was a beautiful letter indeed. I think I understand the mindset of Sikhs on a higher level now. Thank you for the reply!
     
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  8. spnadmin

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    Quantonium ji

    It is good that you find the answer helpful. I really could not put the issue aside and there are some things that I want to add.

    In Sikhism, the idea of dharam yudh goes back in time before Guru Gobind Singh. We find in the Banee of Bhagat Kabirji this statement:

    ਸੂਰਾ ਸੋ ਪਹਿਚਾਨੀਐ ਜੁ ਲਰੈ ਦੀਨ ਕੇ ਹੇਤ ॥
    sooraa so pehichaaneeai j larai dheen kae haeth ||
    He alone is known as a spiritual hero, who
    fights in defense of religion.

    There are other shabads as well. The battles fought by our Gurus from Guru Hargobind to Guru Gobind Singh were all in defense of the right to follow one's religion independently and without oppression, even when those oppressed were Hindus or Sufis.

    Like Sikhism, other faiths have a similar doctrine - a war can be just when a deep moral/ethical principle is endangered and all other means have been exhausted. However, the idea of dharam yudh is another one of those 2-edged swords in Sikhism. Dharam yudh should temper us and keep us from "mindless violence." Dharam yudh also binds Sikhs to fight a just war when there is oppression, even when victory is not possible.

    Gobind Singh actually quotes a Mulsim sant in this words to the Persian emperor: Listen to this well-said quotation of Firdausi : "The hasty action is the work o Satan".80. Then Guru Gobind Singh explains that one must struggle against the wicked: I have also come from the abode of Your Lord, who will be the witness on the day of Judgement.81. If you prepare yourself for the good action, the Lord will give you an apt reward.82. If you forget this task of Justice, the Lord will forget you.83"
     
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  9. Quantonium

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    Thanks for all the answers! Without making a new thread, I thought of something else I'd like to know. I've heard that to become a Sikh, you must drink Amrit, and that this was to be given to you by the 5 beautiful ones (i don't remember if this is the exact name, but I'm sure you know what i mean). These 5 people have been chosen by the Sikh community, if I am not mistaken. Anyway, what I'm wondering about is, can you become a sikh without these 5 Sikhs giving the Armit to you? For example, could you become a Sikh at your local Gurdwara, or would you have to go to the The Golden Temple, where I am guessing these individuals give Amrit to those who wish to become Sikhs, are?

    I'm not sure if I've just mixed up facts or not, but I'd thought I'd ask here anyway since I've gotten so good response before.

    In advance, thank you!
     
  10. spnadmin

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    Quantonium ji

    Yes - a new thread would be advantageous. Let me just correct a few points and then you can decide if you want to start a new thread. :)

    They are the 5 "beloved" not the 5 beautiful ones. The Panj Piaaree who are a sangat's (local gurdwara) representatives of the 5 original followers of Guru Gobind Singh, who stood up when he asked "for 5 heads." Bravely they entered a tent to give their heads - and the metaphor means to love the Guru so much that one would lay down one's life and surrender ones' ego for the Guru. The Panj Piaaree of any sangat today are chosen for their pure lives and pious characters, because they are the individuals within a community who lead spiritually and advise those in anguish. They are also the ones who decide on how to discipline any sangat member who confesses to have broken any aspect of the Sikh Reyhat Maryada - the code of conduct for living a Sikh life.

    Panj Piare and Panchayat



    You can see we need a new thread....

    The other point of clarification has to do with whether one must take amritth to be a Sikh. That is not an easy question to answer. In some parts of Sikhism the answer is an unqualified YES. No amrithh, you are no more than a friend of the Guru. The Akaali Kirtan Jatha or AKJ would say that. Others would say that one is born a Sikh and only discover it later (3HO). There are other points of view in the middle.

    It is a complicated question, and one that overlaps with political definitions within India as well. According to the Sikh Rehat Maryada a Sikh is ,,,

    Any human being who faithfully believes in:

    • One Immortal Being
    • Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev to Guru Gobind Singh
    • The Guru Granth Sahib
    • The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus
    • The baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru, and who does not owe allegiance to any other
    religion, is a Sikh.


    The Sikh Rehat Maryada makes the assumption that any human being who blieves in points 1 through 4 will then also believe in amritth and actively plan to become baptized.

    Sikh Rehat Maryada - Sikh Dharma Manual


    So we could use another thread for that discussion.

    Please begin those threads. We would love to hear from you. :up:
     
  11. Quantonium

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    Ah, no need for another thread. I actually just wondered about the 5 beloved ones, but it was interesting what you said about baptizing though. I think I understand the system now. Baptizing is important in my opinion, since it makes you "start a new life" so to speak Also, it shows your devotion. Anyway, thanks for the answer Narayanjot Kaur ji!
     
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