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Gender Inequality In Sikh Rehat Maryada?


Mai ji has raised question in another thread that there is Gender inequality in rehat maryada.I want to know what is it and what she is pointing tords?


1947-2014 (Archived)
Re: Gender Inequality in Rehat Maryada?

Here are some relevant sections of the Sikh Rehat Maryada -- pertaining to marriage -- and related to the thread referenced by kanwardeep singh ji,

Article XVIII

a. A Sikh man and woman should enter wedlock without giving thought to the prospective spouse's caste and descent.
b. A Sikh's daughter must be married to a Sikh.
c. A Sikh's marriage should be solemnized by Anand marriage rites.
d. Child marriage is taboo for Sikhs.
e. When a girl becomes marriageable, physically, emotionally and by virtue of maturity of character, a suitable Sikh match should be found and she be married to him by Anand marriage rites.
f. Marriage may not be preceded by engagement ceremony. But if an engagement ceremony is sought to he held, a congregational gathering should be held and, after offering the Ardas before the Guru Granth Sahib, a kirpan, a steel bangle and some sweets may be tendered to the boy.
g. Consulting horoscopes for determining which day or date is auspicious or otherwise for fixing the day of the marriage is a sacrilege. Any day that the parties find suitable by mutual consultation should be fixed.
h. Putting on floral or gilded face ornamentation, decorative headgear or red thread band round the wrist, worshipping of ancestors, dipping feet in milk mixed with water, cutting a berry or jandi (Prosopis spieigera) bushes, filling pitcher, ceremony of retirement in feigned displeasure, reciting couplets, performing havans (Sacrificial fire), installing vedi (a wooden canopy or pavilion under which Hindu marriages are performed), prostitutes' dances, drinking liquor, are all sacrileges.
i. The marriage party should have as small a number of people as the girl's people desire. The two sides should greet each other singing sacred hymns and finally by the Sikh greetings of Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh.
j. For marriage, there should be a congregational gathering in the holy presence of Guru Granth Sahib. There should be hymn-singing by ragis or by the whole congregation. Then the girl and the boy should he made to sit facing the Guru Granth Sahib. The girl should sit on the left side of the boy. After soliciting the congregation's permission, the master of the marriage ceremony (who may be a man or a woman) should bid the boy and girl and their parents or guardians to stand and should offer the Ardas for the commencement of the Anand marriage ceremony.
The officiant should then apprise the boy and the girl of the duties and obligations of conjugal life according to the Guru's tenets.
He should initially give to the two an exposition of their common mutual obligations. He should tell them how to model the husband-wife relationship on the love between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul in the light of the contents of circumambulation (Lavan) hymns in the Suhi measure (rag) section (The bulk of the Guru Granth (the Sikh holy book ) is divided on the basis of the ragas (measures) of the Indian classical music. Suhi is one of the ragas featuring in the Guru Granth Sahib) of the Guru Granth Sahib.
He should explain to them the notion of the state of "a single soul in two bodies" to be achieved through love and make them see how they may attain union with the Immortal Being discharging duties and obligations of the householders' life. Both of them, they should be told, have to make their conjugal union a means to the fulfillment of the purpose of the journey of human existence; both have to lead clean and Guru-oriented lives through the instrumentality of their union.
He should then explain to the boy and girl individually their respective conjugal duties as husband and wife.
The bridegroom should be told that the girl's people having chosen him as the fittest match from among a whole lot, he should regard his wife as his better half, accord tounflinching love and share with her all that he has. In all situations, he should protect her person and honour, he should be completely loyal to her and he should show much respect and consideration for her parents and relations as for his own.
The girl should be told that she has been joined in matrimony to her man in the hallowed presence of the Guru Granth Sahib and the congregation. She should ever harbour for him deferential solicitude, regard him the lord master of her love and trust; she should remain firm in her loyalty to him and serve him in joy and sorrow and in every clime (native or foreign) and should show the same regard and consideration to his parents and relatives as she would, to her own parents and relatives.
The boy and girl should bow before the Guru Granth Sahib to betoken their acceptance of these instructions. Thereafter, the girl's father or the principal relation should make the girl grasp one end of the sash which the boy is wearing over his shoulders and the person in attendance of the Guru Granth Sahib should recite the matrimonial circumambulation stanzas {Lavan of the fourth Guru in the Suhi musical measure section of the Guru Granth Sahib } (Pp. 773-4). After the conclusion of the recitation of each of the stanzas, the boy, followed by the girl holding the end of the sash, should go round the Guru Granth Sahib while the ragis or the congregation sing out the recited stanza.
The boy and girl, after every circumambulation, should bow before the Guru Granth Sahib in genuflexion, lowering their forehead to touch the ground and then stand up to listen to the recitation of the next stanza.There being four matrimonial circumambulation stanzas in the concerned hymn, the proceeding will comprise four circumambulations with the incidental singing of the stanza.After the fourth circumabulation, the boy and girl should, after bowing before the Guru Granth Sahib, sit down at the appointed place and the Ragis or the person who has conducted the ceremony should recite the first five and the last stanza of the Anand Sahib. Thereafter, the Ardas should he offered to mark the conclusion of the Anand marriage ceremony and the sacred pudding, distributed'.
k. Persons professing faiths other than the Sikh faith cannot be joined in wedlock by the Anand Karaj ceremony.
l. No Sikh should accept a match for his/her son or daughter for monetary consideration.
m. If the girl's parents at any time or on any occasion visit their daughter's home and a meal is ready there, they should not hesitate to eat there. Abstaining from eating at the girl's home is a superstition. The Khalsa has been blessed with the boon of victuals and making others eat by the Guru and the Immortal Being. The girl's and boy's people should keep accepting each other's hospitality, because the Guru has joined them in relationship of equality (Prem Sumarag).
n. If a woman's husband has died, she may, if she so wishes, finding a match suitable for her, remarry. For a Sikh man whose wife has died, similar ordinance obtains.
o. The remarriage may be solemnized in the same manner as the Anand marriage.
p. Generally, no Sikh should marry a second wife if the first wife is alive.
q. A baptised ought to get his wife also baptised.

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Re: Gender Inequality in Rehat Maryada?

Guru Piayario Jios,
Dr. Karminder Singh PH.D has given an understanding of this section of the SRM in his treatise on the SRM published quite some tiem ago on various Forums and Magazines. Briefly its this.

The word "daughter" arouses cries of Gender Bias...Soem Siksh ahve suggested that an additional sentence mentioning "son" should be added.(Son of a Sikh should marry a Sikh) Others have suggested that it shoudl eb amended to read..A SIKH should marry a SIKH..and yet others have even gone so far as to suggest that this means that a son of a SIKH can marry a non-Sikh Girl.

To put this Stipulation into its proper perpesctive, there is a need to understand the CONTEXT, its INTENT..and if possible the MINDSET of the Framers of the SRM. There is perhaps no other area in which the HUMAN RACE has accepted GENDER BIAS in FAVOUR of the MALE than in MARRIAGE. The situation which generally exists TODAY is by and large the same as that during the time the SRM was Framed. The only slight differnece may be in the degree of it. Briefly, this BIAS can be stated thus - THE FEMALE MARRIED INTO THE MALE'S FAMILY..AND TOOK THE FAMILY NAME.
More importantly however ( in cases of MIXED MARRIAGES - which would have been the NORM in PUNJAB given the CLOSE PROXIMITY OF HINDUS/SIKHS Families) the FEMALE ALWAYS and AUTOMATICALLY TOOK the Family Name and RELIGION...of the MALE.

Lookerd at in this context...the SRM STIPULATION (iv) is thus a COURAGEOUS attempt to CORRECT THIS GENDER BIAS and allow the Female SIKH to MAINTAIN her SIKH BELIEF in all circumstances.- particularly IF she intends to marry a Non-Sikh. The INTENT and IMPLICATION is that the MALE PARTNER of a SIKH FEMALE will have to take up the SIKH FAITH within the Marriage. This Stipulation forces the MALE to CONVERT..and NOT the other way around. Put in other words..The ANAND KARJ of a FEMALE SIKH...CANNOT TAKE PLACE UNTIL and UNLESS the GROOM CONVERTS TO SIKHI.

This Stipulation is thus VISIONARY...in that..1) it allows the Female SIKH to RETAIN her SIKH FAITH in all circumstances. 2) allows the NON-SIKH MALE to be BROUGHT intot he SIKH Faith..if he so desires..and 3) allows the Female Sikh and her Converting/adopting Male Partner to have an ANAND KARAJ.

Why didnt the Framers of the SRM leave out an additional stipulation.." son of a sikh should marry a sikh"...? The answer is fairly straightforward. Gievn the Male Oriented society. whenever a SIKH man married..the GIRL would automatically take on the SIKH Faith and name. She woudl be CONSIDERED a SIKH..whether she liked it or not...whetehr she wanted to or not... A Sikhs wife is automatically a SIKHNNI. Thus there was no need to provide for such a stipulation vis vis the "son of a sikh". There was no need to "protect" the SON becauee in amle dominated society..he was already ehavily PROTECTED by determining the RELIGION OF HIS SPOUSE. Coming up with a stipulatuion in this context would not only be superflous but an attempt to "fix" something that wasnt broken in the first place.

The Gender that needed special clause and hence the protection that would provide to enable her to continue beign a SIKH irrespective of who she married..was the DAUGHTER. THIS is the reason the "daughter" is mentioned ina specific clause.

It is IMPORTANT to note that the BASIS of the SRM is SGGS. The SRM follwos the Underlying themes of the Gurbani in SGGS. So now the question is..WHICH GENDER does the SGGS strive to "protect" ? Again the answer is fairly straightforward" there is NOTHING in the 1429 pages if the SGGS to "protect" the SON/MALE. WHY ? Simply because there is NO NEED TO. BUT there si AMPLE GURBANI that DEFENDS...PROTECTS...and ENHANCES..the STATUS of the FEMALE. The REASON is simple..THIS is the Problem that needs a solution..needed Fixing.

So WHY didn't the SRM Framers not word it as.."A SIKH SHOULD MARRY A SIKH" ?..without specifying daughter/son ? Actually this Gender Neutral Stipulation is already provided in Stipulation XXi that reads: Persons professing FAITHS other than SIKH FAITH CANNOT be joined in wedlock by the ANAND KARAJCEREMONY. This means that a SIKH must undergo an ANAND KARAJ Cermeony with a SIKH. Despite this very clear and concise stipulation..it is clear that the Framers of the SRM WANTED EXTRA PROTECTION for the FEMALE SIKH and decided to achieve that through the Stipulation IV. The "solution" is "gender biased" because the "problem" is "gender biased".

A contemporary analogy. Just suppose that due to the large scale female foeticide now going on among SIKHS...there is a need for an Akal Takhat hukmnama on this.
The Framers will go about this in the follwoing manner. First. Whats the Problem ? Answer: Increasing abortions/killing of female foetuses. Increasing numbers of Sikhs are conducting gender based tests and aborting the foetus of its a FEMALE.
The most appropriate Hukmnama then would be: SIKHS SHOULD NOT ABORT or KILL FEMALE FOETUSES/BABIES.
Assuming that this is how the Hukmnama is worded..there could be four critiques raised.
1) Does thsi eman that SIKHS Can KILL MALE foetus/babies ? Answer: Definitely NOT. Now where does it state that MALES can be killed. Why the need to stretch the Hukmnama to ridiculous lengths ? The Hukmnama shoudl be interpreted by what is SAYS..and NOT by what it OMITS.
2) this Hukmanma is gender biased. Answer: IT is Gender Biased ONLY tot he extent that it aims to PROTECT the FEMALE FOETUS/CHILD. It is Further Gneder baised that it means to deal with the PROBLEM. In other words the Hukmnamh is Gneder Biased becasue the Problem it tackles is itself Gender Biased. Its overall base is to correct the Gender Bias.
3) So why NOT another Hukmanmah to say" Sikhs hsoudl not kill MALE foetus/babies"..Answer: Why WASTE a Hukmanmah on a "problem" that DOESNT EXIST. Sikhs are NOT baorting MALES..or KILLING male children...SO why attempt to "fix" something that aint broken. Hukmnamahs should NOT be created just to SATISFY ALL sides !! 4) Why not an All encompassing Hukmanmah..Sikhs hsould not abort/kill bbaies. No need to menation gender at all. Answer: Such "language" (gol mol as is said in punjabi) sounds fine on the surfaece...BUT it misses the POINT , HIDES the Real Problem, is EVASIVE and SKIRTS the ISSUE. The Framers of such a stipulation woudl be guilty of dancing around the bush...worse they may be accused of condoning or even supporting FEMALE FOETICIDE/INFANTICIDE by REFUSING to SPECIFICALLY mention the word FEMALE in their stipulation.

ORIGINAL Treatise by Dr Karminder Singh dhillon PH.D Kuala Lumpur.
Re: Gender Inequality in Rehat Maryada?

BUT there si AMPLE GURBANI that DEFENDS...PROTECTS...and ENHANCES..the STATUS of the FEMALE. The REASON is simple..THIS is the Problem that needs a solution..needed Fixing.

May be a digression..
Will someone, kindly put in the relevant 'tuk's of Bani to substantiate this. ? I do remember a lines but these are: -

1. So kyon manda akhiaye jit jamein Rajan.....
2. Bhand jamiayye and with ladies one make friends and with ladies one marry and so on ...
Kindly add to these two lines.


Dear SPN jis
As with most things 'Sikhi', I must say that your Marriage Customs sound pretty good to me; like most things, you've cut the dogmatic foo-for-all, and gotten down to The Whole Point.
Besides, marriage should always be for Love - and, thus, to ones 'One and Only Soul Mate'. I'm not married (or, at this time, very 'marriable'), but I would never consider altering or forcing abstenance from the Sikh Faith of a Sikh Wife; for if I did, how could I be Her 'Soul Mate'?!?
It simply could not be; and we'd never should have considered marriage, in the first place.
(BTW: In a few months time, after getting through some serious Legal Troubles, I may be 'looking'! I might even 'convert'! Anyone looking for a slightly used 44 year old bachelor? Ha, ha, ha, ha.)
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