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Turban - A Symbol Of Pre-eminence And Honor

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Turban- Symbol of Pre-eminence and Honor

Principal Surjeet Singh

Gurbani says that man dominates the rest of the creation as a lord: "All other forms of life are at thy service. The entire earth is thy domain." (SGGS p 337).

This dominance of humans over all other forms of creation has to be based upon gentleness, contentment, self-control and equipoise, so that one is in tune with the Divine Harmony. The insatiable hunger of man may lead to over- exploitation and even exhaustion of resources. This may disturb the working harmony of nature. Thus the dominance of man is subject to acceptance of the overlordship of the Divine Order. Guru Nanak says - "know that in all eternity the holy Lord is the Righteous Ruler. In the Court Divine he is reckoned a Lord who to His Ordinance is obedient. (SGGS: p 142)

Thus a Sikh draws his dignity and eminence, or Sardari, from being in obedience to the Lord Creator alone, who is the only True Ruler. All the so-called worldly rulers are in His ultimate obedience, so that their claim to dominance or rule is false. Bhagat Kabir says: "No king is as great as God. These monarchs lasting four days, make false ostentations." (SGGS: p 856)

Therefore, allegiance to these worldly monarchs is simply slavery. Sikhism does not accept this slavery. It is to be noted that at the time of the Delhi Darbar held in 1911 in honor of King George V, Sant Attar Singh of Mastuana, did not alight from his elephant to salute the King, but recited the above verse with an assertive voice.

All the titles and honors bestowed by the worldly rulers are proportionate to the servitude of the honored; the more the servitude the greater is the recognition in the form of bigger honor. Such recognition, however, is lost with the change of the ruler, is borne out by history. The allegiance has to be rededicated to the new rulers, who may appoint new lords. These rulers considered their subjects - especially the public in general - as slaves, and were made to bare their heads, or wear caps as head dress, in token of their being subjects. This was particularly noticeable during the Islamic rule in India. In the west it is customary to salute a superior by removing the hat, bowing the head and stretching the hands, which indicates servitude and offer of the head and hands.

Along with other symbols of servitude, all this practice has been discarded in Sikhism. Accepting only the Divine Lordship, a Sikh neither bares his head nor wears a cap, but always wears a turban, as a symbol of Sardari, honor, in token of being always in obedience of the Divine Will.

To accept the kingdom of the Divine alone is Sikhi (The Sikh Way) and Sardari (Chieftainship) remains attached with it as no other authority is recognized. It may be concluded that every Sikh child receives the initiation of abiding by the Divine Will and thus a born Sikh and also a Sardar, irrespective of his social status and profession. He believes that the Lord has provided for everybody and has Himself engaged everyone in His service, according to His Will. So the work is accepted as a part of Divine Service, unmindful of the work being high or low. So there is no question of any one being superior or inferior, as all of them are ultimately in His service. He does not suffer from any discontentment, servitude or discomfiture, and as such remains in a state of equipoise. His Sardari or Chieftainship has no bearing on worldly values. He has an unshakable faith in the Lord. "Whatever Thou does, that dispensation to me is acceptable." (SGGS: p 667)

A Sikh with his strong faith in his creator, neither begs nor is given to servitude or slavery. With an independent conscience he always holds his head high. He is an upright and self respecting chieftain depicted by his turban. He does not bow or bare his head for showing respect and honor to high officials, as is done in the west. He is always with the turban on his head as an insignia of his independent conscience and always keeps his hair and beard un-shorn, signifying his complete dedication to the Divine Will. Together they constitute the expression of the Sikh motto: "Sabat Surat Dastar Sira”, representing Sikhi and Sardari. It is the inseparable combination of both, that form the insignia of Sikh Faith and Sikh Identity. We cannot afford to lose this testmonial provided by the Guru. The insignia, by virtue of its value, is respected and honored by one and all.

http://www.sikhspectrum.com/v2005/surjeet.htm
 

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