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Ethics And Sri Guru Granth Sahib


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Sangat ji

Respected forum member Ambarsaria ji requested I begin a thread on the matter ethics and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Can we ponder whether "Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji guides us towards absolute truths and practical ways to recognize our variances and also find ways to clarify and always improve."

(See thread "Is Atheism the Ultimate Sikhi? at

So, I opened this thread with a formal definition of ethics as the field of "ethics" is understood by moral philosophers. The quick definition Ethics = Morality is not applicable in this context.

What is ethics then, as moral philosophers understand it?


The field of ethics (or moral philosophy) involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. Philosophers today usually divide ethical theories into three general subject areas: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics.
  • Metaethics investigates where our ethical principles come from, and what they mean. Are they merely social inventions? Do they involve more than expressions of our individual emotions? Metaethical answers to these questions focus on the issues of universal truths, the will of God, the role of reason in ethical judgments, and the meaning of ethical terms themselves.
  • Normative ethics takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow, or the consequences of our behavior on others.
  • Finally, applied ethics involves examining specific controversial issues, such as abortion, infanticide, animal rights, environmental concerns, homosexuality, capital punishment, or nuclear war.

By using the conceptual tools of metaethics and normative ethics, discussions in applied ethics try to resolve these controversial issues.

The lines of distinction between metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics are often blurry. For example, the issue of abortion is an applied ethical topic since it involves a specific type of controversial behavior. But it also depends on more general normative principles, such as the right of self-rule and the right to life, which are litmus tests for determining the morality of that procedure.

The issue also rests on metaethical issues such as, “where do rights come from?” and “what kind of beings have rights?”

These questions have been asked before by Sikh scholars. Here are 2 articles that you might want to read

The Idea of Freedom and Responsibility in Sikhism
- Dr. Daljeet Singh in the Book "Essentials of Sikhism" beginning on page 250 at this link

Ethical Vision of Guru Granth Sahib – A Global Perspective –Dr Swaraj Singh*


Jun 24, 2010
This is a very interesting topic, the PDF file is going to take me a while to get through but the first couple pages seems interesting already. There a reason the study of ethics falls into philosophy, I cant say ive really given this topic much thought in direct regards to sikhi.

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Shabad Vichaar by SPN'ers

The shabd under discussion in this article is composed by bhagat Dhanna Ji – ਆਸਾ ਬਾਣੀ ਭਗਤ ਧੰਨੇ ਜੀ ਕੀ॥ Asa bani Bhagat Dhanney Ji Ki – and is contained on Page 487 of the SGGS...

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