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Is SRM A Rule Book Or Tool Book?

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Is SRM a Rule Book or Tool Book?

Friday October 29, 2010

Sikh Reht Maryada (SRM) is a document which outlines the code of conduct for Sikh living. A university student who calls herself "Fi" or "Prithi (sounds like pretty) Hard Kaur", declares in her article "Tools Not Rules", that while she abhors following rules, she's all about using tools, and suggests that SRM is less a rule book and more a book offering tools enabling a successful life.

Prithi Hard Kaur suggest for instance that kes (unshorn hair) is a tool -

"primarily useful for creating distance between "the world out there"- (a world obsessed with physical appearances) and "the world in there"- ( an inner strength and confidence in your own natural beauty.)"

I would agree and say in fact all five K's (required articles of faith) are quite practical as tools.

For instance the keski (turban) like the kes also is distinctive in appearance and besides serving a similar purpose as the kes, the keski and kanga (comb) are both very useful tools for grooming and maintaining kes. While combing out tangles from the kes, the kanga may serve as a reminder to free the ego from entanglements.

The kirpan (sacred ceremonial blade) besides any functional purpose as a tool, such as cutting prashad, is a reminder to slay the ego which comes in very handy for whiting the ego down to size and encouraging humility to flourish.

The kachhera (undergarment) besides it practical function of protecting physical privacy, serves as a tool which guards fidelity, strengthens commitment, and helps to ensure a happy family life.

The kara (iron bangle) which at one time acted as a wrist guard in battle, serves as a bond between Sikh and Guru and is a tool which is a constant visible reminder of ones commitment to a spiritual life, and using good judgment. Life is all about choices and wearing the kara enables the conscience to be victorious when making difficult decisions which either encourage or discourage ego.

Prithi Hard Kaur writes -

"Unlike 'The Rulebook', which can not only make people feel bored and unmotivated but is sadly sometimes used by one person against another, 'The Toolbook' shows you that there are things to make your life on Earth ... easier."

She encourages you to explore SRM as a tool and discover how waking up for Amritvela (morning meditation) reading Nitnem (daily prayers) and practicing the three altruistic principles of Sikhism can enrich your life.

Can you think of ways in which SRM, the code of conduct, acts as a tool book rather than a mere rule book? How might the tools it offers affect your life in a positive way? Has there been a time when these tools have made a difference when you faced difficulty?

source: http://sikhism.about.com/b/2010/10/29/is-srm-a-rule-book-or-tool-book.htm?nl=1


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
The Sikh Rehat Maryada is a a "rehat." So it would be very interesting to find out how forum members define the word "rehat" when they give answers.

I myself do not interpret "rehat" to mean a toolbook.

Because of the way that SRM is structured, I think of it as a set of "bylaws," or rules of governance by which we govern our lives, through personal commitment, as individuals and as a collective panth.

To say that - I am suggesting that SRM is greater than "rules for behavior" or "rules of the game." I am also suggesting that the SRM is more binding than a "toolbook," and far more serious.

If it is a toolbook, then we are left to wonder if everything in it is negotiable, or changed at whim. However, as a set of bylaws, SRM shows the ingenuity and modernity of the Sikh faith. All of its members are asked to abide by rules of self-governance which apply to all equally. Most important in my own opinion, this is a set of bylaws that can be amended, but only by collective decision and will, and the SRM, the rehat itself, contains bylaws for accomplishing that.

When SRM is not viewed as a rehat for self-governance, entered into freely by the members of the panth, then our choices are:

a) a free-for-all or

b) domination by a small aristocracy.

Please forgive me, but the slant of the article worries me a bit. Even the examples given and reasons for kesh and kara are a bit stuck in personal mythology. The article misses the importance of what SRM achieves. It employs a constitutional strategy that was carefully thought through, and achieved a method for defining who is a member of the panth and how the panth must govern itself.
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