It is not uncommon to see many Sikhs drink and sprinkle soiled water over their head (Charan Pahol) before they enter the Gurdwaras. At Golden Temple ( Darbar Sahib ) and many other historic Gurdwaras where there are pools ( sarobers ), on one side of the sarober the devotees would have bath and other side they will have handful of water to put in their mouth and over their head ( Chulla ) . This type of practice may have been performed in other Indian religions but Guru Nanak must put stop to it in Sikhism. Let us explore how this started in Sikhism .
The above examples of both Gurus used drugs to treat sick people, not “charan pahol”as described in the sakhi of 8th Guru. There is no place for miracles in Sikhism, Guru Har Rai ji advised his elder son Baba Ram Rai not to perform any miracles when sent to Delhi. It is absolutely wrong to assume that the 8th Guru did miracle healing for smallpox epidemic.
I have utmost respect for our Guru’s Wisdom and believe that this ritual was not started during their time. This fake sakhi was added after guru period by anti Sikh groups to damage the image of the Sikh Gurus.
At present time this charan pahol tradition is practiced more and more in the “Deras”where the head “sant” or the “baba”wash his feet in big bowel of water and the sangat will drink that water to purify themselves. I have no better word for this than “stupid tradition”practiced by most ignorant people.
The sad part is that our Gurdwaras never advised the Sikh sangat to stop this shameful practice and the sangat never ask or question the preacher or realise themselves if there is any logic to it.
Sikhs are very proud to say that Sikhism is a very modern and scientific religion but they carry on with traditions that Guru Nanak rejected .
We are now living in science age of 21st century , this drinking of soiled or dirty water and assume purify ourselves by sprinkling over our body would not pass the test of Logic and Science. This type of practice does not display good image of Sikhism and it has nothing to do with Gurmatt, it only shows our ignorance. One can find the words like charan dhoorh, charan dhoone (pahol), and charan in Guru Granth Sahib, they are used for humility or be humble (Nimerta), as we all know Guru Granth Sahib ji does not have ‘charans”.
Let us all Sikhs start drinking nectar from the ocean of Gurbani( Guru‘s wisdom) which will help to purify our mind and body, hopefully, by doing so, it will help us put stop to these baseless rituals and traditions.
Note : In case some one thinks that I do not know the difference between dirty( soiled) and clean(drinkable) water and the condition of the water in the sarobers, trust me ,I do know the difference as I studied and practiced Microbiology.
Ramjit Singh Mann