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Sikh Rehat Maryada QUESTION!!

Discussion in 'Sikh Rehat Maryada' started by Baz, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. Baz

    Baz
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    <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:punctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Feteh.

    As far as I am aware the only Maryada which has been created involving the direct contribution of the Guru Khalss Panth is the Sikh Rehat Maryada. However although I have a basic working knowledge (and follow the maryada) of how the Sikh Rehat Maryada was created I have read an article which raises some important questions, which I have pasted below!

    The article by Prf Devinder Singh Chahal, PHD states;

    "On its first page it says: "The SGPC in its meeting of February 3, 1945 vide resolution # 97 has approved to do additions and deletions according to the recommendations of Religious Advisory Committee." It means that there were some additions and deletions, recommended by the Religious Advisory Committee, to be done. Nevertheless, it is not clear from it and elsewhere in the text, whether the recommended additions and deletions were done or not."

    The above is clearly an important question. Does anyone know if any additions/deletions were made as per the above (if so which ones?)

    I believe this is an important question as a factual response would strengthen peoples acceptance of the Sikh Rehat Maryada.

    Below I have coped the entire article. I believe the first point really needs answering.

    http://www.iuscanada.com/journal/articles/art008.html

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Feteh.
     
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  3. Scarlet Pimpernel

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    Dear Baz Ji

    Very interesting article,maybe you should copy and paste some of it .Then if someone wants to read it all ,they can do so by clicking the link.
     
  4. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    As far as I know this Proviso in the Sikh Rehat Maryada mentions the formation of a "Dharam Parchaar committee"..a sub-committee within the SGPC and under its control..which is authorised by this proviso to look at and into any suggestions, amendments, etc..and "accept" these/"reject" these as and when the situation warrants. Meaning the Founding fathers of this SRM Document saw and realised the need for future changes/amendments etc as and when these arose..the DPC would eb in place to sit and debate them and recommend to the Genral house of the SGPC.

    I take it to mean this is an attempt to provide a built-in Future proof provisio...( I wonder why and how senior academicians like Prof chahal failed to see this Proviso in this light and argue they cant see where and when "amendments/suggetsions" were made/accpeted/rejected.

    2. BUT soon after the SRM was drafted and put into place...the world as a whole and the Sikhs in particular were thrown into a tumultous whirlwind situation..War broke out and the entire world was in chaos...the REST of the world came to soem sort of peace and tranquility when the war finally ended in 1945..BUT for the SIKHS an even owrse scenario was at hand...the PARTITION in 1947, resulting in the UPROOTING of HALF the Sikh Population, econnomic ruin of an entire community, LOSS of over HALF the Lands, Villages, Economy, and even more importantly the GURDWARAS of pakistan was a Back breaking blow to the SIKHS. 50% of Sikhs as economic REFUGEES with just the clothes on their backs, having left vast fertile lands back in Pakistan...Indian Punjab also in turmoil reeling form bloo.dy communal violence, and loss of very INFLUENTIAL and SINGH SABHA SIKHS and Sikh Organsiations like the Lahore Singh Sabha, Rawalpindi Sikhs, (Baba Dyal of the Nirankari Mission precussor to the Singh Sabha Movement was based in Rawlapindi area which was now lost to the Sikhs...)....and almost IMMEDIATELY the NEHRU ADMINISTRATION began a fresh persecution of the SIKHS....calling them renegades, criminals who shoudl be "watched"....the Long struggle for PUNJABI SPEAKING STATE when 56,000 Sikhs were arrested and put in Prisons, suffered ehavy fines, confiscation of properties etc etc just for declaring the slogan Punjabi Suba Zindabad...12,000 Sikhs peacefully marching in new Delhi were lathicharged by Nehrus Police in 1960...and while the SIKHS were ( as usual) Fighting these POLITICAL BATTLES to safeguard their language/religion/society in Independent India...the RSS and the Bipparwadees DERAWAAD Nirmalas Udasis etc etc were slowly but surely INVADING via "trojan Horse" into the HEARTLAND of Sikhism..into the Sharomani Aklali dal Via Badal, SGPC..Takhats....and then the OPS Bluestar and 1984..and almost half the YOUTH of Sikhism was wiped out....and when the Sikhs awoke..the SGPC takhats etc are solidly in RSS Backpocket ( RSS Chief Sudarshans public media statement that the RSS pays all Takhat jathedars - a statement never REFUTED by the sgpc or the takhat jathedars).
    Badal has amended the Constitution of the Akali dal SAD to become a PUNJABI PARTY and no more a SIKH Party....and 90% of sgpc members are DERA supporters..incluidng past President Jagir Kaur who has a Personal DERA in begowal !!

    3. In Reality, the SRM has been "amended" many times..on ad-hoc basis by the SGPC.. slight changes can be seen each time a new reprint is sent out. The ARDASS used to contain a Tuk..Jihnna ne PUTHEEAN KHALLAN LUHAEEAN...those who were SKINNED ALIVE while hanging upside down..in memory of a shaheed Bhai Jiwan Singh who happens to be from a LOW CASTE...this one tuk was quietly REMOVED from the current ardass back in the 1970's on the pretext that there is NO ONE who shaheed that way...!!!

    4. Now present REALITY is that this SRM is NOT followed even in SGPC controlled Takhats, Gurdwaras...simply becasue the Granthis, sevadaars, Jathedars are all DERA trained/produced....mostly from the Damdami taksaal, or other such taksaals etc or form AKJ ( Taksalis will die/kill for Raagmaala..while the AKJ despise raagmaala ). In the recent DEATH of a Kar sewa baba..and also wife of badal...their BONES/ASHES were taken to KIRATPUR in Processions...when this is CONDEMNED IN SRM !! SRM clealry says such an action is NOT to be done..yet the Takhat jathedar of Keshgarh Sahib himslef put the ashes of Badal wife in Kiratpur !! The SRM can be read by any one interested..ITS PROMINENTLY PLACED ON the SGPC website as well !!!..and the Public Media pics of the Kiratpur ceremonies of several Babas, etc are PUBLIC as well..readers can judge for themselves.. The SRM clearly PROHIBITS nay Ghee JYOTS lamps etc in SGGS Parkash Gurdwaras..any number of such "SHUDH GHEE JYOTS" can be seen in any Gurdwaras...even Akal takhat !!...many many other VIOLATIONS all over....its a moot point anyway.. Just a few days ago a reply form the DPC/Akal takhat was making the rounds of Sikh Forums on the Internet.. A Concerned SIKH Amandeep Singh Admin of a Sikh Forum asked the DPC/Akal takhat whether the widespread practise of Matha Tekking to the NISHAN SAHIB is right as per SRM...the answer is..YES. (Becasue the NS is holy and worthy of respect ) IS this not "idol worship..or elements of idol worship in a subtle way...NO..the DPC/Akal takhat says its NOT..even THOUGH the SRM clearly instructs that a SIKH may NOT BOW to any OBJECT etc .." A SIKH HEAD ONLY BOWS BEFORE THE SGGS "....??? This is onme example of the MISUSE of the Proviso mentioned in the beginning of thsi Thread..and by Dr cahhal...ad hoc amendments but NOT added tot eh SRM offcially...just here and there..and soem LOST in time....as SGPC has nO RECORDS !!

    What happened to SIKHS during the years from 1708-1808.....and then 1850-1935...and then 1945-1950....1950-1984....1984-2011 is a REPETITION of the SAME SONG in a LOOP...being played NON-STOP.
     
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  5. Harry Haller

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    What God has joined together, let no man come between..

    I think this applies equally to your relationship with the creator, involve men, and you can only muddy the waters.

    There is only the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and your heart to guide you, everything else is open to abuse
     
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  6. Ishna

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    Having said that, the more I ponder on it the more I think the SRM as it is today is valuable and worthy of protection. It seems to me that it is the one delicate thread of (I want to say "sanity" but that's too harsh)... consistency... similarity... point of reference?

    And when you consider the environment in which it was written, it is actually surprisingly balanced and consistent with Gurbani, I think. Where I was previously aggressive towards the SRM, I now think it is quite precious.

    Whether it had parts added or deleted -- I don't know. But I don't see anything in it that is contrary to Gurmat from my limited understanding. It is the basic, the minimum. It should be the common Sikh denominator. If you want to add more on top of that and call yourself such-and-such jatha or whatever, good on you.

    SRM should be the very least a Sikh sticks to (aside from the wisdom of Gurbani which everyone should read, contemplate and discern).

    I appreciate the idealist notion of the SRM being a living manual and able to change according to the times... but at the same time this is wide open for abuse. Whose to say, with the state of the SGPC as Gyani ji has vividly painted for us, that the people making the changes to the SRM actually have Gurbani and Hukam in their hearts when they swipe away with their pens? *sigh * humans... can't live with them, can't live without them. hehe...

    Ishna
     
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  7. Scarlet Pimpernel

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    Dear Isna Ji
    Quote "SRM should be the very least a Sikh sticks to (aside from the wisdom of Gurbani which everyone should read, contemplate and discern)."

    It should be the other way round !winkingmunda
     
  8. Ishna

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    Sinner Singh Ji, yes, it should be the other way around, however, if someone approaches our beautiful Guru and starts reading, and following, i will be a long time before they are able to discern the wisdom to implement the kind of practical life-style the SRM deals with. Especially if you come from another religious upbringing or a society where religion/ritual governs most things.

    In fact (and I see this trend increasing online) there are people who say they follow Gurbani ONLY and they cut their hair, they eat whatever they want (or should I say, the don't eat certain things!), they wear whatever they want, because this is the wisdom they have discerned so far from reading Gurbani. And I have at times held a similar mindset.

    My belief is that Gurbani is a priceless spiritual jewel which can take your soul to unimaginable heights and bring you darshan of Waheguru all around... but it also takes time to read, understand and assimilate it's poetry.

    The SRM gives you a head start as to your life-style. As you grow as a Sikh, the SRM should come more into context.

    I have been very tempted in the last few years to say "well, Gurbani says I just have to get up at amrit vela and contemplate Waheguru, then try to remember It all through my day. It doesn't say to get up at 3.30am and recite x bania. Gurbani doesn't seem fussed with what I eat, doesn't seem fussed if I cut my hair, doesn't tell me how to conduct a marriage ceremony... so I'll just do whatever I want and say that Gurbani is my only guide and dispense with all this discipline rubbish".

    Obviously there's more to it than that and it is egotistical of me to think I'm 26, have read a few hundred pages of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji wahmunda and think I know everything to be a Sikh. It will take me probably the rest of my life (if not longer!) to appreciate the message which took ten human Gurus and 1429/30 pages of Gurbani to illustrate!!

    So I'm grateful that some people more learned than me excercised some degree of wisdom and put together what appears to me to be a perfectly functional manual of Sikh practicality to guide me while I learn.

    The SRM is a bit like a mud-map while I try to paddle my little raft through the world-ocean, using the awesomely brilliant stars of Gurbani as my precise navigation. There are millions of stars and it'll take me a while to learn to follow them to my destination.
     
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    #7 Ishna, Jun 25, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2011
  9. Baz

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    The reasion for my post was "The above is clearly an important question. Does anyone know if any additions/deletions were made as per the above (if so which ones?)"

    No one has been able to confirm what if any deletions/additons were made, I can therefore assume no one here actualyl knows. However I have found the following

    "The S.G.P.C.'s Advisory Committee on Religious Matters again considered the draft in its meeting on 7th January, 1945 and made recommendations for certain additions to and deletions from it. The undermentioned gentlemen were present at this meeting of the Advisory Committee.
    • Singh Sahib Jathedar Mohan Singh, Jathedar Sri Akal Takhat;
    • Bhai Sahib Bhai Achhar Singh, Head Granthi, Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar;
    • Prof. Teja Singh M.A., Khalsa College, Amritsar;
    • Prof. Ganga Singh, Principal, Shahid Sikh Missionary College;
    • Giani Lal Singh, Professor, Sikh Missionary College, Amritsar;
    • Prof. Sher Singh M.Sc., Government College, Ludhiana;
    • Bawa Prem Singh of Hoti;
    • Giani Badal Singh, Incharge, Sikh Mission, Hapur.
    The additions and deletions as per the Advisory Committee's recommendations received the S.G.P.C.'s acceptance by its resolution No. 97 passed at its meeting held on 3rd Feb.,1945."



    Therefore whatever the deletions/additions were I think it goes without saying that they would have been made as the they received acceptance by resolition 97.



    My questions was based on the 1945 SRM maryada and not refering to any issues later than that which is irrelevant to my question.



    I have already pasted the article if anyone wants to read it and shaire thier veiws

    http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Rehat_Maryada_(Full)
     
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  10. spnadmin

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    Does this help answer any of your questions


    How Sikhs Got Their Rehat Maryada
    by I.J. SINGH



    Humans are social animals and, in time, their way of life evolves into a codified set of traditions and laws - a code of conduct.

    For Sikhs, this code of conduct - Rehat Maryada - evolved slowly over several centuries from the time of Guru Nanak, the founder of the faith, who started the process of delineating Sikhism as an entity independent of the beliefs and practices of other faiths, to Guru Gobind Singh, who formally established the institution of the Khalsa in 1699.

    A religion, in its final analysis, is a way of life that makes possible the formation, survival and growth of human societies. A society collectively determines what constitutes right conduct or what deserves censure, and also in what forms such disapproval is expressed.

    We all know the message of the Sikh Gurus was simple yet universal; it empowered the powerless. What, then, is the Sikh Rehat Maryada - the Sikh code of conduct? What does it say? How and when did it evolve into a written document?

    A Sikh, and even a non-Sikh who wants to understand his Sikh neighbors, cannot but be curious about these matters. It is a riveting tale, and this essay derives much of its historical information from a 2005 book by the London-based Giani Gurbaksh Singh Gulshan.

    It is not entirely unexpected or odd that the formalization of the Sikh way of life into a written structure approved by the Sikh community and its representatives took another two centuries after the canon was sealed and the Khalsa discipline established.

    History tells us that agreement on major issues of Christian doctrine and dogma, for example, did not occur until several centuries after Jesus. Living religions evolve, and their practices achieve clarity only over time, sometimes not until centuries later. Some matters that appear settled at one time may continue to vex believers and may be revisited and re-explored years later.

    Honest differences in interpretation are also the products of time; for instance, Christianity now comes to us with a plethora of sects and denominations. In fact, no major religion is without schisms, and Sikhism is no exception - though the latter, to date, it has fared better than all others, probably because of its youth and its inter-faith credo.

    During the two centuries of the Gurus, Sikh belief and practices evolved and matured. The subsequent two hundred years left the Sikhs little peace or leisure to formulate their way of life into a coherent whole. In that time, Sikhs knew a scant fifty years of peace when the Misls prospered and Ranjit Singh ruled over northwest India.

    But his rule, beneficent as it was, also attracted many Hindus and Muslims into the Sikh fold, some not from conviction of belief but in deference to perceived needs of political expediency.

    These converts of convenience never abandoned their earlier beliefs and practices but brought them along to intermix with Sikh traditions. Not unexpectedly, many contradictory practices, often drawn from the large religious traditions of Hinduism and Islam that surrounded Sikhs, a small minority, wormed their way into the Sikh way of life.

    Not that there was total absence of written records on the Sikh code of conduct, but none were directly recorded at the behest of Guru Gobind Singh. Most were recollections of Sikhs of that time and were intermixed with biases and practices stemming from their own familial or cultural origins.

    Sikhs wrested control of their historical gurdwaras only in 1925-26 after a titanic struggle that shook the British Empire to its core; one of the results of this struggle was the formation of a Sikh elective parliamentary forum, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), whose charge was to manage the historical gurdwaras of Punjab and resolve issues that affected Sikh community life.

    In the Indian cultural context, where written historical record was never much valued and the impact of Western education was perhaps less than two generations old, the next step was quick but equally significant.

    On March 15, 1927, a general meeting of the SGPC at the Akaal Takht appointed a 29-member subcommittee, convened by the Jathedar Akaal Takht, Bhai Teja Singh, to explore Sikh teachings, traditions, history and practice, and prepare a draft of a code of Sikh conduct and conventions.

    It is important to note that the list of members was a veritable and venerable Who's Who of the Sikhs of that time. In the Indian tradition of careless historical record keeping, the names of only 26 members are available; 3 are listed as jathedars of takhts, without any names. Who were these three individuals?

    Two years later, in April 1931, a preliminary draft of the code was distributed to the Sikhs and their opinions solicited. The subcommittee reconvened on October 4-5, 1931, January 3, 1932, and again on January 31 of the same year. Inexplicably, the number of attendees declined to 13; an additional 4 members appeared at some meetings. (How were they appointed or invited?)

    On March 1, 1932, 4 members were dropped from the subcommittee, and an additional 8 members appointed to it. (Of the 4 ousted from the committee, Giani Sunder Singh died, Babu Teja Singh was excommunicated and an edict issued to deny Bhai Lal Singh the right to offer prayers at the Akaal Takht. What happened to the fourth, Bhai Mya Singh, is not stated.) Of the 8 new members, 5 are named; three are listed only by their titles. How were these 8 appointed?

    Agreement on the draft remained elusive. On May 9, 1932, only 10 members attended the meeting; at the September 26, 1932 meeting, only 9 members were present. (Was this a quorum?) On December 30, 1933, a conclave of the wide spectrum of the Sikh nation, somewhat akin to Sarbat Khalsa, was convened at the Akaal Takht. The president of the SGPC, Partap Singh Shankar, presided; 170 Sikh representatives attended it, but only 9 were members of the subcommittee originally appointed for the purpose.

    After two full days of heated discussion, agreement eluded them, and the issue was tabled indefinitely. A 50-member subcommittee (48 members were named and 2 were anonymous) of the SGPC that included representation from Stockton (California), Myanmar (Burma) and Malaysia, with opinions from 21 additional correspondents, approved a draft code of conduct on August 1, 1936; the SGPC ratified it on October 12, 1936.

    This code was implemented while suggestions and critique continued to pour in.

    The general body of the SGPC approved the document on February 3, 1945, and an 8-member subcommittee met on July 7, 1945 to fine-tune the code of conduct.

    In drafting the Sikh code of conduct, the scholars drew upon the teachings in Guru Granth, as well as the unbroken oral tradition and practice. They also examined various historical documents to ferret out the common thread in them.

    These documents were Guru Granth, the writings of Guru Gobind Singh, the poetical works of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lal, the available Janamsakhis, Bhagat Mala (Bhagataavli, Bhagat Rachnaavli), Sarabloh, Rehatnama Bhai Chaupa Singh, Rehatnama Bhai Prehlad Singh, Rehatnama Bhai Desa Singh, Rehatnama Bhai Daya Singh, Gur Sobha, Prem (Param) Sumarag, Sau Sakhi, Mahima Parkash, Gur Bilas, Gur Partap Suraj Granth, Sri Guru Panth Parkash, Gurmat Parkash (Bhag Sanskaar) and the many Hukumnamey of the Gurus that are available.

    Clearly, many of these sources and documents are, at least in part, apocryphal, yet they provide rare historical information on Sikh doctrine and practice. The task of the subcommittee was daunting indeed - how to sift the wheat from the chaff? How best to capture the common thread that runs through much of Sikh history while discarding what was obviously an accretion and even contradictory to the common body and continuity of doctrine and teaching?

    Starting with the definition of a Sikh, in the main body of his book on Sikh Rehat Maryada, Gulshan explores briefly but methodically each line of the code and every requirement of a Sikh in his or her personal and congregational existence.

    Sikhism arose and flourished in the sub-continental culture. Sikh teachings, therefore, are cast in the language and perspective that is largely Hindu. Now that Sikhism is a universal religion, we need to re-examine, even reinterpret the language in the context of our present reality.

    For instance, the language in the Rehat Maryada may appear sexist in places. I point to the admonition that a Sikh father should marry his daughter to a Sikh man, while the other side of the coin - marrying his son to a Sikh woman - is not even mentioned. The Sikh anand Kaaraj (wedding rite), as widely practiced all over the world, shows the groom leading the bride in four circumambulations of Guru Granth. The former is a cultural idiosyncrasy in favor of the male; the latter may be an idea borrowed from the Hindu practice of the bride and groom circling the fire.

    Such attitudes and practices might be in tune with the Punjabi-Indian culture of the last century but are contradictory to the spirit of the Sikh message of gender equality.

    Must the Sikhs sit on the floor to partake of the community meal (langar) that has been a tradition since the times of Guru Nanak, or can they sit on chairs at tables? In the early days of the code, it was recognized that local conditions might mandate tables and chairs, but in the past decade this dispensation was withdrawn.

    Our gurdwaras, built to reflect the cultural and economic realities of India of a certain time, often lack access to the handicapped. Such access is not only a human need; it is provided for in the law, yet, the law is often flouted.

    For example, an iconic figure in preaching Sikhism, Professor Darshan Singh, was for several months barred from performing in some Canadian gurdwaras. Why? Because following knee replacement surgery, he could not sit cross-legged on the floor. Such issues need to be revisited.

    Also, the most cursory reading of Sikh history and of Guru Granth would convince even a skeptic that the Sikh scripture and practices have been enviably tolerant and accepting of a diverse global reality and the distant beat of the different drummer to which the world's billions march. Matters of interfaith relations need clearer definition and exploration from the Sikh perspective, now that we exist in a multifaith world.

    Then, of course, one burning issue remains and that is a codification of how the takht jathedars are to be appointed. What qualifications, tenure and authority are prerequisites to that office, and how is the entire system of conflict resolution to work?

    Guru Hargobind and Guru Gobind Singh bequeathed to us an ecclesiastical model of justice, but we seem to have slipped our moorings, and the Sikh Rehat Maryada does not adequately address this issue.

    Where is the reading of Guru Granth to be concluded: at the reading of Mundavni, or Raag Maala? When the Rehat Maryada was drafted, dissenting opinions were strong, and some issues that could not be resolved were deferred. I refer readers interested in this controversy to Giani Gurdit Singh's 2003 book, Mundavni.

    It is time to revisit these issues that have divided the Sikhs so long.

    With several million Sikhs in the diaspora, such matters are of critical import and not just of academic interest and curiosity.

    At least some of the participants to the drafting of the code may still be alive and their recollections or papers available. Some of the contradictions or mysteries surrounding the proceedings can and should be resolved. Considerable evidence has probably been degraded or lost already, but every attention should be directed to capturing whatever it might still be possible to capture. To neglect or lose our national history by our own carelessness would be unforgivable.

    Much as constitutions of countries are not written in stone, nor are they whimsically, lightly or arbitrarily amended; similarly, the Sikh Rehat Maryada needs a constitutional convention and exploration.

    Ultimately, that is the meaning of participatory self-governance.

    With minor caveats, Giani Gurbaksh Singh Gulshan, in his 2005 book Darpan Sikh Rehat Maryada, does an excellent job of explaining in detail, with scriptural and historical references, the Sikh Rehat Maryada. He successfully strips it of its mystery and frees Sikhs of the fear that many have of a document they have never read and not understood. Readers will find the code surprisingly consistent and largely free of contradictions.

    The Sikh Rehat Maryada is a liberal document that needs to be interpreted liberally.



    [This article first appeared as a chapter in The World According to Sikhi by I.J. Singh. 2006, Pages 57-62. The Centennial Foundation, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.]

    September 14, 2008

    http://www.sikhchic.com/article-detail.php?cat=12&id=583
     
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  11. spnadmin

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    Or this.It is similar to the article above but has more historical details.

    A History of the Sikh Code of Conduct
    A review of Darpan Sikh Rehat Maryada (Punjabi) by Gurbaksh Singh Gulshan; Barking Essex, U.K.: Khalsa Parcharak Jatha; 240 pages

    By I.J. SINGH
    I.J. (Inder Jit) Singh is professor & co-ordinator of anatomy at New York University. Among other publications, he is the author of two books of essays: Sikhs and Sikhism: A View With a Bias and The Sikh Way: A Pilgrim's Progress. He is member of the editorial advisory board of The Sikh Review, Calcutta and advisor-at-large to The Sikh Times. He may be reached at ijs1@nyu.edu. This informative review alerts us to a valuable book that promises to answer some frequently asked questions (F.A.Q.) about the Sikh Rahit Maryada (S.R.M.). The review raises curiosity about what, if anything, the book has to say about Guru Nanak's contributions to the code of conduct.

    The Sikh Times, Jul. 22, 2005


    Photo: I.J. Singh

    Humans are social animals and, in time, their way of life evolves into a codified set of traditions and laws - a code of conduct. For Sikhs, this code of conduct evolved slowly over several centuries from the time of Guru Nanak, the founder of the faith, who started the process of delineating Sikhism as an entity independent of its neighbors' beliefs and practices, to Guru Gobind Singh, who formally established the institution of the Khalsa in 1699.

    A religion, in its final analysis, is a way of life that makes possible the formation, survival and growth of human societies. A society collectively determines what constitutes right conduct or what deserves censure, and also in what form such disapproval is expressed.

    We all know the message of the Sikh Gurus was simple yet universal; it empowered the powerless. What then is the Sikh Rehat Maryada (Sikh Code of Conduct)? What does it say? How and when did it evolve into a written document? A Sikh, and even a non-Sikh who wants to understand his Sikh neighbors, cannot be but curious about these matters. It is a riveting tale; the London based Giani Gurbaksh Singh Gulshan tells it well, though some questions remain unanswered.

    It is not entirely unexpected or odd that the formalization of the Sikh way of life into a written structure, approved by the Sikh community and its representatives, took another two centuries after the canon was sealed and the Khalsa discipline established. History tells us that agreement on major issues of Christian doctrine and dogma, for example, did not occur until several centuries after Jesus. Living religions evolve, and their practices achieve clarity only over time, even centuries later. Some matters that appear settled at one time may continue to vex believers and may be revisited and re-explored years later.

    During the two centuries of the Gurus, Sikh belief and practices evolved and matured. The subsequent two centuries left the Sikhs little peace or leisure to formulate their way of life into a coherent whole. In the meantime, many contradictory practices, often drawn from the large religious traditions of Hinduism and Islam, that surrounded the Sikhs, a small minority, wormed their way into the Sikh way of life.

    Sikhs wrested control of their historical gurdwaras only in 1925-26 after a titanic struggle that shook the British Empire to its core. The next step was quick but equally significant. On March 15, 1927, a general body meeting of the S.G.P.C. at the Akaal Takht appointed a 29 member subcommittee, convened by the Jathedar Akaal Takht, Bhai Teja Singh, to explore Sikh teachings, traditions, history and practice, and prepare a draft of a Code of Sikh Conduct and Conventions. It is important to note that the list of members was a veritable Who-is-Who of the Sikhs of that time. While Gulshan names twenty-six members, three are only listed as jathedars of the Takhts. Who were these three individuals?

    Two years later, in April 1931, a preliminary draft was distributed to the Sikhs and their opinions solicited. The subcommittee reconvened on 4-5 October, 1931, January 3, 1932, and again on January 31, 1932. Inexplicably, the number of attendees declined to thirteen; an additional four members appeared at some meetings. (How were they appointed?) On March 1, 1932, four members were dropped from the subcommittee, and an additional eight members appointed to it. (Of the four ousted from the committee, Giani Sunder Singh died, Babu Teja Singh was excommunicated and an edict issued to deny Bhai Lal Singh the right to offer prayer at the Akaal Takht. What happened to the fourth, Bhai Mya Singh is not stated.) Of the eight new members, five are named; three are listed only by their titles.

    Agreement on the draft remained elusive. On May 9, 1932, only ten members attended the meeting; at the September 26, 1932 meeting, only nine members were present. (Was this a quorum?) On December 30, 1933, a conclave of the wide spectrum of the Sikh nation, somewhat akin to Sarbat Khalsa, was convened at the Akaal Takht. President of the S.G.P.C., Partap Singh Shankar, presided; 170 Sikh representatives attended it, only nine were members of the subcommittee originally appointed for the purpose.. After two full days of heated discussion, agreement eluded them, and the issue was tabled indefinitely.

    A 50-member (48 named, 2 anonymous) subcommittee of the S.G.P.C. that included representation from Stockton (California), Myanmar (Burma) and Malaysia, with opinions from 21 additional correspondents, approved a draft Code of Conduct on August 1, 1936; S.G.P.C. ratified it on October 12, 1936. This Code was implemented while suggestions and critique continued to pour in. The general body of the S.G.P.C. approved the document on February 3, 1945, and an eight-member subcommittee met on July 7, 1945 to fine tune the Code of Conduct.

    In drafting the Sikh Code of Conduct, scholars drew upon the teachings in the Guru Granth, as also the unbroken oral tradition and practice. They also examined various historical documents to ferret out the common thread in them. These documents were the Guru Granth, the writings of Guru Gobind Singh, the poetical works of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lal, the available Janamsakhis, Bhagat Mala (Bhagataavli, Bhagat Rachnaavli), Sarabloh, Rehatnama Bhai Chaupa Singh, Rehatnama Bhai Prehlad Singh, Rehatnama Bhai Desa Singh, Rehatnama Bhai Daya Singh, Gur Sobha, Prem (Param) Sumarag, Sau Sakhi, Mahima Parkash, Gur Bilas, Gur Partap Suraj Granth, Sri Guru Panth Parkash, Gurmat Parkash (Bhag Sanskaar), and the many Hukumnamey of the Gurus that are available.

    Clearly many of these sources and documents are, at least in part, apocryphal, yet they provide rare historical information on Sikh doctrine and practice. The task of the subcommittee was daunting indeed - how to sift the wheat from the chaff. How best to capture the common thread that runs through much of Sikh history while discarding what was obviously an accretion and even contradictory to the common body and continuity of doctrine and teaching?

    Starting with the definition of a Sikh, in the bulk of the book, Gulshan explores briefly but methodically, each line of the Code and every requirement of a Sikh in his or her personal and congregational existence.

    Sikhism arose and flourished in the Indian culture. Sikh teachings, therefore, are cast in the language and cultural context that is largely Hindu. Now that Sikhism is a universal religion, we need to reexamine, even reinterpret the language in the context of our present reality. For instance, the language in the Rehat Maryada may appear sexist in places. That might be in tune with the Punjabi-Indian culture of the last century but it is contradictory to the spirit of the Sikh message of gender equality. Also, matters of interfaith relations need clearer definition from the Sikh perspective, now that we exist in a multifaith world.

    With such minor caveats, Gurbaksh Singh Gulshan does an excellent job of explaining in detail, with scriptural and historical references, the Sikh Rehat Maryada. He successfully strips it of its mystery, and frees Sikhs of the fear that many have of a document they have never read and not understood. Readers will find the Code surprisingly consistent and largely free of contradictions. The Sikh Rehat Maryada is a liberal document that needs to be liberally interpreted.

    Before this book saw the light of day, Gurbaksh Singh Gulshan circulated draft chapters on the Internet. This means that a significant part of the worldwide Sikh community got an opportunity to comment. Ultimately that is the meaning of participatory self-governance.

    In all, a very satisfying read.

    http://www.sikhtimes.com/books_072205a.html
     
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    It might be worthwhile to purchase this book

    Darpan Sikh Rehat Maryada (Punjabi) by Gurbaksh Singh Gulshan; Barking Essex, U.K.: Khalsa Parcharak Jatha; 240 pages
     

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