Guru Nanak the founder of Sikhism laid a firm foundation for a Democratic Society by repudiating a Caste System and social privileges by birth. He was a strong advocate for Human Rights, Equality, Universal principles of Justice and Social and Spiritual status of women. In 21st century the best democratic nations of the world such as Canada, USA, UK and some others are applying similar philosophy and principles as Guru Nanak.
The people who followed Guru Nanak's philosophy are known as Sikhs. A Sikh is referred to a student who learns the simple way of life and thus becomes good human being (citizen). During the Guru period Sikhs were addressed by given names without last name or Caste e.g Bhai Mardana, Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Mani Singh and Bhai Taru Singh . Guru Gobind Singh ji was very creative and genius who transformed the Khalsa as follow:
- Merged 4 Varans ( 4 Castes ) in to one “Khalsa”
Created New Society (Khalsa) that was:
- Non – Hegemonic
- Non – Exclusive
- Non – Patriarchal ( Singh and Kaur )
- Self-Rule (Sovereignty) in Divine Guidance ( Shabad )
The khalsa had distinct characteristics :
- Physically distinct
- Mentally alert
- Spiritually enlightened
- Concept was the martyrdom
- Not afraid to die for worthy causes
- Upheld very high social values
In addition to the above Guru Gobind Singh ji declared the “ Nash Doctrines” for every member of the Khalsa to follow and said, that you are Now leaving the Past and transforming into the Khalsa brotherhood and sisterhood.
- Dharm Nash – (Beliefs) : Freedom from previous religious traditions and rituals.
- Karam Nash – (Actions) : Freedom from past bad deeds.
- Janam Nash – (Birth ) : Freedom from Caste and family origin.
- Sharm Nash – (Embarrassment) : Freedom from non-prestigious profession.
- Bharm Nash – (Doubts) : Freedom from rituals and religious prejudices.
After First Sikh raj ( Banda Singh Bahadur), the disguised Brahman such as Nirmalas and Udasies took charge of Sikh religious institutions(Gurdwaras) . They had Master plan to diminish the Sikh image by slowly bringing back the Caste system, traditions and rituals that were rejected by our Gurus. 250 years after Guru period the Sikh nation went back to a society in Punjab and in other part of India similar to what it was before Guru Nanak. It is not just the influence of our neighbours ( Hindus and Muslim ), it is due to the Master plan of the anti- Sikh groups (R.S.S.). Finally it become obvious and evident (looking at the present crises in Punjab) that our Sikh leadership (religious and political) are working for R.S.S. instead of Sikh causes.
Indian government applying the old British policy of “Divide and Rule” to weaken the Sikh unity. The majority of Sikhs being so ignorant, are going along with this nasty plan and without realizing, are building Gurdwaras and also naming Sikh societies on Caste basis.
Living in the Western World we see there is no Caste system and all human beings are considered equal. One has to wonder how these Western countries are applying Guru Nanak's philosophy, where as Guru Nanak never visited here and they never heard the name of Guru Nanak ? It is very interesting to find out why the Western countries have no caste system ? What they have and we do not have ? After lot of soul searching came to conclusion that it is the “Education” they have and we have not. It is not only the academic part of “education”, it's also how we were brought up in a Caste infected society.
The dishonest and corrupt religious leadership and religious institutions(Gurdwaras), illiterate Deradars, Babas and Sants brought back the “Belief System” full of rituals and superstitions to gain power and control over ignorant Sikh nation. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the first hand document of knowledge for Sikhs, kept wrapped up in beautiful “Ramalas”, instead of reading it and get knowledge from it ,we started worshipping it (matha takena etc.) a ritual part of the Belief System. This is the main reason, Sikhs are gone back to the Caste system which was rejected by Guru Nanak.
The factors responsible for caste system to reappear in Sikh society :
- Guru Granth Sahib being kept wrapped up in Ramalas and keeping it away from Sikh sangat.
- Education: Academic and lack of knowledge of Guru Granth Sahib's philosophy.
- Being brought up in a society (India) full of rituals, superstitions and caste system.
- None or very little encouragement for Sikh sangat to read Guru Granth Sahib from Sikh religious leaders or from Gurdwaras.
It is time for us (Sikhs) to awake up and get hold of our own affairs. Sikhs have been waiting for guidance from religious leaders and from the Gurdwaras for the past 250 years and they have been guiding the Sikhs in the wrong directions. Let us all Sikhs start taking Guru's Wisdom from our present Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, hopefully it will help us getting rid of the Caste system.
I am requesting all Sikhs to apply Guru's philosophy and the Nash Doctrines, call ourselves Guru's Sikhs, doing so it will put end to the Caste system.
I would like to request all Sikhs to make a resolution or a pledge that from now on if some one talks about some one's caste in your presence, just say in a friendly way, that “Caste System” was rejected by Guru Nanak, so it is not acceptable in Sikh society. I am sure that person will think twice before he or she would use the caste word again. This way we can get rid of the Caste System in no time.
Ramjit Singh Mann