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Rites and Symbols

Dear Hindu Brother: Besides the aforementioned principles on religion, there is a day and night difference between yours and our rites. Symbols of Sikh religion are not only different from those of yours but they are almost in opposition. We perform four rites according to Gurmat (Guru’s way): Janam (birth), Amrit (baptism), Anand (marriage) and Chalana (death). In these rites there is no mention at all of Hindu religion. You can consider yourself that when we say “We are not Hindus”, it is perfectly correct.

Hindu: You have made your rites and ceremonies different only through obstinacy. The Guru has nowhere ordained that the Sikhs should not perform their rites according to Hindu Shahstras, that obstinacy you call Gurmaryada. The Chhants and Lavan that you read at marriage time concern the supernatural (God). They have nothing to do with the custom (worldly).

Sikh: This is your ignorance. Whatever the Sikhs do, they do it according to the Guru’s Hukam (order). It is not made up by them. Here we describe the Guru’s instructions about the four rites.

1) Guru Amar Das Ji composed the hymn of ‘Anand’ at the birth of his grandson and ordained that the Sikhs should recite this at the birth of a child. Following this, Guru Arjan Dev Ji practiced this advice at the birth of (Guru) Hargobind Ji. It is clear from the following hymn.

ਦਸੀ ਮਾਸੀ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਬਾਲਕ ਜਨਮੁ ਲੀਆ ॥ ਮਿਟਿਆ ਸੋਗੁ ਮਹਾ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਥੀਆ ॥

ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਸਖੀ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਗਾਵੈ ॥ ਸਾਚੇ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਕੈ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਵੈ ॥੨॥

ਵਧੀ ਵੇਲਿ ਬਹੁ ਪੀੜੀ ਚਾਲੀ ॥ ਧਰਮ ਕਲਾ ਹਰਿ ਬੰਧਿ ਬਹਾਲੀ ॥

In the tenth month, by the Lord's Will, the child was born. Sorrow is dispelled, and great joy has ensued. The companions blissfully sing the songs of the Guru's Bani. This is pleasing to the Lord Master. ||2|| The vine has grown, and shall last for many generations. The Power of the Dharma has been firmly established by the Lord. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 396)

In your Dharma you use urine of the cow and Panj Gavya for purification. There is no respect for and significance of the in Sikh religion. It can be confirmed from the fact that the kitchen floor that has been plastered with cow dung is not used to prepare Karah Prasad[1] and this is the practice since the times of the Gurus.

2) During the days of the first nine Gurus initiation was done by Charnamit (wash of the feet) which is comparable to your Janeau wearing. This rite is in opposition to your Dharma because the four Varnas (all people irrespective of caste) followed this one procedure. Bhai Gurdas Ji states:

ਚਰਨ ਧੋਇ ਰਹਿਰਾਸ ਕਰ ਚਰਨਾਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਿੱਖਾਂ ਪੀਲਾਯਾ॥

ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪੂਰਨ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਕਲਿਜੁਗ ਅੰਦਰ ਇਕ ਦਿਖਾਯਾ॥

ਚਾਰੈ ਪੈਰ ਧਰੰਮ ਦੇ ਚਾਰ ਵਰਨ ਇਕ ਵਰਨ ਕਰਾਯਾ॥

He washed His feet, eulogised God and got his Disciples drink the ambrosia of his feet. He preached in this dark age (kaliyug) that, saragun (Brahm) and nirgun (Parbrahm) are the same and identical. Dharma was now established on its four feet and all the four castes (through fraternal feeling) were converted into one caste (of humanity). (Bhai Gurdas Ji, Vaar 1)

We do not believe that Gurus had any caste. Even if, according to your view, we accept that the Gurus were Kshatriyas, then all four Varnas including Brahmins took Charnamit which is against your Dharma. This practice removed the superstition of caste. Then the tenth Guru changed it to Baptism of the double edged sword. The counsel that the Tenth Guru gave at the first baptism shows clearly that the Sikhs are a distinct Quam.

3) The rite and custom of Anand marriage is in practice since the days of Guru Raam Das Ji[2]. The Guru composed Chhants and lavan for this purpose. Your contention that these compositions[3] concern the other world only is not correct. In Gurbani, both this word and the other world are here. The composition of the hymns shows that these were especially composed for the rites of Anand marriage. Here are some examples:

ਹਮ ਘਰਿ ਸਾਜਨ ਆਏ ॥ ਸਾਚੈ ਮੇਲਿ ਮਿਲਾਏ ॥

My friends have come into my home. The True Lord has united me with them. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 764)

 

ਧਨ ਪਿਰੁ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਨਿ ਬਹਨਿ ਇਕਠੇ ਹੋਇ ॥

ਏਕ ਜੋਤਿ ਦੁਇ ਮੂਰਤੀ ਧਨ ਪਿਰੁ ਕਹੀਐ ਸੋਇ ॥੩॥

They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together. They alone are called husband and wife, who have one light in two bodies. ||3|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 788)

 

ਹੋਰਿ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਦਾਜੁ ਜਿ ਰਖਿ ਦਿਖਾਲਹਿ ਸੁ ਕੂੜੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਕਚੁ ਪਾਜੋ ॥

ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਮੇਰੇ ਬਾਬੁਲਾ ਹਰਿ ਦੇਵਹੁ ਦਾਨੁ ਮੈ ਦਾਜੋ ॥੪॥

Any other dowry, which the self-willed manmukhs offer for show, is only false egotism and a worthless display. O my father, please give me the Name of the Lord God as my wedding gift and dowry. ||4|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 78)

 

ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਮੈ ਵਰੁ ਘਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਮੇਰੇ ਲਾਥੇ ਜੀ ਸਗਲ ਵਿਸੂਰੇ ॥੪॥੧॥

Says Nanak, I have found my Husband Lord within my own home, and all my anxiety is forgotten. 4||1|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 576)

For illustration see Gur Partap Sooraj Ras 3, Chapter 8. In there it is stated that Guru Gobind Singh Ji had solemnized the Anand marriage of a young Sikh girl with Bhai Kahan Singh. Bhai Daya Singh Ji, one of the five beloved ones, writes in his rehatnama.

ਆਨੰਦ ਬਿਨਾ ਬਿਵਾਹ ਨਾ ਕਰੇ ।

Do not solemnize marriage without Anand marriage. (Rehatnama Bhai Daya Singh Ji)

4) Death rites among Sikhs are different from those of Hindus.

          a) Guru Nanak Dev Ji ordains that at cremation recite this hymn.

ਧੰਨੁ ਸਿਰੰਦਾ ਸਚਾ ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੁ ਜਿਨਿ ਜਗੁ ਧੰਧੈ ਲਾਇਆ ॥

ਮੁਹਲਤਿ ਪੁਨੀ ਪਾਈ ਭਰੀ ਜਾਨੀਅੜਾ ਘਤਿ ਚਲਾਇਆ ॥……

ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਮੇਰੇ ਭਾਈਹੋ ਸਭਨਾ ਏਹੁ ਪਇਆਣਾ ॥

ਏਥੈ ਧੰਧਾ ਕੂੜਾ ਚਾਰਿ ਦਿਹਾ ਆਗੈ ਸਰਪਰ ਜਾਣਾ ॥……

ਰੋਵਣੁ ਸਗਲ ਬਿਕਾਰੋ ਗਾਫਲੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੋ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਰੋਵੈ ॥

ਚੰਗਾ ਮੰਦਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਸੂਝੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਇਹੁ ਤਨੁ ਏਵੈ ਖੋਵੈ ॥

ਐਥੈ ਆਇਆ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਜਾਸੀ ਕੂੜਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੋ ॥

ਨਾਨਕ ਰੁੰਨਾ ਬਾਬਾ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜੇ ਰੋਵੈ ਲਾਇ ਪਿਆਰੋ ॥੪॥੧॥

Blessed is the Creator, the True King, who has linked the whole world to its tasks. When one's time is up, and the measure is full, this dear soul is caught, and driven off…… Meditate in remembrance on the Lord and Master, O my Siblings of Destiny; everyone has to pass this way……… These false entanglements last for only a few days; then, one must surely move on to the world hereafter. This weeping is all in vain; the world forgets the Lord, and weeps for the sake of Maya. He does not distinguish between good and evil, and wastes away this life in vain. Everyone who comes here, shall have to leave; to act in ego is false. Nanak: he alone truly weeps, O Baba, who weeps in the Lord's Love. ||4||1|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 579)

          b) Guru Nanak Dev Ji performed the last rites of Mardana and then distributed Karah Prasad.

          c) Bhai Mani Singh Ji writes in Ratnavali that Hindus have object Sikhs by saying:

Abandoning the old rites of the dead you say Ardas (Congregational Prayer) and distribute Karah Parsad.”

          d) Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji writing in his Rehatnama states:

ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਕਾ ਸਰੀਰ ਅੰਤ ਹੋਵੇ ਤਾਂ ਕੀਰਤਨ ਕਰਾਵੇ, ਸਾਥ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦ ਲੇ ਜਾਇ ।

When a mortal breathes his last, have Kirtan recitation and distribute Karah Parsad.[4] (Rehatnama Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji)

          e) In Gur Partap Sooraj Rut 3, Ch. 50, it is stated:

ਮਰੇ ਸਿਖ ਤੇ ਕਰੇ ਕੜਾਹ । ਤਿਸ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਰੁਦਨਹਿ ਬਹੁ ਨਾਂਹ ।....

ਪਢਹਿਂ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਕਿਰਤਨ ਕੋ ਕਰੈਂ । ਸੁਨਹਿ ਬੈਠ ਬੈਰਾਗ ਸੁ ਧਰੈਂ ।

At the death of a Sikh prepare Karah Parsad and do not weep in his attachment. Read Guru’s hymns and sing His praises. Listen to these and be above attachment.

          f) It is written in Gur Sobha:

ਭੱਦਨ ਤਯਾਗ ਕਰੋ, ਹੇ ਭਾਈ । ਸਭ ਸਿੱਖਨ ਯਹਿ ਬਾਤ ਸੁਨਾਈ ।

ਸੰਗਤ ਭੱਦਨ ਮਤ ਕਰੋ, ਛੁਰਾ ਨ ਲਗਾਓ ਸੀਸ । ਮਾਤ ਪਿਤਾ ਕੋਊ ਮਰੇ ਸਤਗੁਰ ਕਰੀ ਹਦੀਸ ।

O brother, give up the rite of Bhadan[5](ceremonial shaving). Such was told to all the Sikhs. Do not do Bhadan and do not touch your head with a razor. At the death of father or mother Guru gave this advice.

From the above given examples it is clear that the rites of the Sikh religion are not the product of the mind of the present day Sikhs but they are practicing these rites according to the Hukam (order) of the Gurus, right from the beginning.

Hindu: Accepted, your rites according to the wishes of the Gurus are different from those of the Hindus but keeping uncut hair and the symbols that Guru Gobind Singh Ji ordained were for special conditions of war. He (Guru Gobind Singh Ji) did not want these symbols to become permanent features as the first nine Gurus did not keep uncut hair.

Sikh: How did you come to know of the desire of Guru Gobind Singh Ji that He did not want hair, etc. during peace time? On this issue what special proof do you have? If we accept, on your saying, that the Guru had proposed these symbols only during war conditions, then how can we determine that there is not going to be any more war? Dear Hindu brother, even at this time (during British Empire) more than 70 thousand Khalsa soldiers are protecting the British India government. And they are great soldiers. Your statement is not correct that the first nine Gurus were not Keshadharis. All the ten Gurus wore Keshas, none of them had Mundan. It is proved from Gurbani.

ਕੇਸਾ ਕਾ ਕਰਿ ਬੀਜਨਾ ਸੰਤ ਚਉਰੁ ਢੁਲਾਵਉ ॥

I make my hair into a fan, and wave it over the Saint. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 445)

ਕੇਸਾ ਕਾ ਕਰਿ ਚਵਰੁ ਢੁਲਾਵਾ ਚਰਣ ਧੂੜਿ ਮੁਖਿ ਲਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

I make my hair into a fan, and wave it over them; I apply the dust of their feet to my face. ||1||Pause|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 449)

 

ਟਹਲ ਕਰਉ ਤੇਰੇ ਦਾਸ ਕੀ ਪਗ ਝਾਰਉ ਬਾਲ ॥

I perform service for Your slave, O Lord, and wipe his feet with my hair. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 810)

 

ਕੇਸ ਸੰਗਿ ਦਾਸ ਪਗ ਝਾਰਉ ਇਹੈ ਮਨੋਰਥ ਮੋਰ ॥੧॥

With my hair, I wash the feet of Your slave; this is my life's purpose. ||1|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 500)

 

ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਓ ਗੁਰਿ ਮੀਠਾ ਗੁਰ ਪਗ ਝਾਰਹ ਹਮ ਬਾਲ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

The Guru has implanted the Sweet Name of the Lord, Har, Har, within me. I dust the Guru's Feet with my hair. ||1||Pause|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1335)

Dear Hindu brother, can the bodi (tuft) also serve as Chaur and Punkah? You do not have a single proof that shows the Guru (first nine) did not keep hair.

Hindu: You have shown me principles of Hindu Dharma, through fourteen lessons. In fact, you are ignorant of our Dharma. There are seven universal principles of Hindu Dharma, which are accepted by all scholars, and the Sikhs also accept those as their principles. Therefore, ‘you’ and ‘us’ cannot be two.

Seven Principles:

  1. Accept Vedas as truth and to accept those as the basis of Hindu Dharma.
  2. Be a believer, i.e. an individual should believe that God is eternal and one gets to heaven or hell according to one’s actions.
  3. To believe in transmigration and desire for Nirvana.
  4. To consider Barn Ashram (fourth part of life when one leaves home) as supreme.
  5. Cremate the dead.
  6. Protect the cow.
  7. To believe in the existence of Shudras (untouchability).

Sikh: To these seven principles, as a whole, we would say that if one or two principles agree with those of another religion, it does not imply that the two religions are the same. For each principle, separately, explanation is as follows:

  1. Vedas are not basis of Sikh religion. See first part.
  2. Only the Hindus are not believer. In fact, all those who believe in God and their particular sacred book(s) are all believers. In Sikh religion, except God, nothing is eternal. All the believers believe in the reward of sin and good acts.
  3. Not only Hindus and Sikhs believe in transmigration but in old times Egyptians and Greeks also believed in this. Druid Padres of England and philosophers like Pythagoras and Empedocles also believed in transmigration.
  4. Regarding Barn Ashram see Part 2.
  5. From health point of view, cremation is better but this is not the basic principle of Sikh religion. Body of Guru Arjan Dev Ji was placed in water. Besides Hindus, in old days cremation was prevalent in Rome and Yunan (Greece). In this age of science, many Europeans prefer cremation. Even among Hindus there are sects such as Yogis, Sanyasis who bury their dead. Many Hindus throw their dead in the Ganges and the other rivers. Then which Hindu can say that cremation is a basic principle of Hinduism?
  6. Cow is very useful for our country, so we should protect and respect it. Sikhs love it as origin of every life comes from God but in Gurmat, respect of the cow is not as for Hindus. Like Hindus, Sikhs neither eat cow dung nor drink cow urine (as purifiers) and nor make Chauka (sacred square) with cow dung. Sikhs reject following the Vedas, to perform Gowmedh Yajna and calling their guests as goghan (lovers of cow).
  7. There is no superstition among Sikhs in relation to Shudras.

Dear Hindu, to call these rules as universal is nothing but ignorance on your part. If we consider carefully, not a single rule of the Hindu is free from fallacies of inconsistencies. As there are (almost) uncountable gods and books in Hindu Dharma, same holds for the rules and principles.

Rama, Vashisht, Visvamittar, Parasram, Krishna, Yudishtar etc kept Keshas and beard; they were Hindus. There are Hindus who keep just a tuft and others do not. Believers in Vedas are Hindus, and those who consider Vedas as compositions of unscrupulous people are also Hindus. Those who are prepared to make human sacrifice are Hindus and so are those who do not want to kill even an ant. Worshippers of dogs, scorpions, etc are Hindus and atheists are also Hindus. In fact, such are undefined boundaries of Hinduism that we cannot describe it. The strange thing is that Hindu Dharma is the only religion in the world that does not have its name in its scriptures, and the name “Hindu” given by others has been gladly accepted.

On this subject an article appeared in the Civil and Military Gazette, Lahore of April 16, 1913. In brief it says:

Before, we can write about Hindus it would be appropriate, as far as possible, to characterize a Hindu. Who can be called a Hindu? ‘Hindu’ is such a word on which census officers of various provinces have put great efforts to define, but they all differ with one another. It is easy to define Moslems, Christians, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, and Buddhists etc. a great difficulty is encountered when one tried to characterize a Hindu. Mr. Gail, Commissioner of Census has written, “Hindus are those who worship (great) gods, are allowed to go to Hindu temples and there make offerings and by the touch of them others are not rendered impure.” The superintendant of Cochin says that the above described characters do not apply to the Hindus of Malabar. He says that person is Hindu who believes in caste system. Superintendant of Mysore says, he is Hindu who believes in God and believes in the reward of good acts of previous life and in this life, and by the virtue of those one day he will achieve that stage, in comparison to which this life in nothing. Superintendant of Travankor considers that person is Hindu who believes in Karma.

 

Mr. Blunt has come to the conclusion that a Hindu is that person who is original habitant of Bharat (India) has no admixture foreign race, believe sin Brahmin as Guru, respects cow, at least considers it a sin to kill or disturb a cow. At the end Mr. Blunt writes that even this does not characterize Hindus completely. In fact, there is no boundary of Hindu religion.

 

Everybody is not prepared to accept these characteristics described by Mr. Blunt. In fact, such definition will even put composers of Vedas in wonder. There are sects around Allahabad who are atheists, bury their dead and do not respect Brahmins. There are others who invite Brahmins and cremate their dead. Chamars eat beef and still count themselves among Hindus.

 

The truth is that if someone tries to satisfy oneself by reading the reports and notes of the census officers, he will not achieve anything. He will not be any more knowledgeable about the Hindus.

Notes

[1] The sacred food – mixture of sugar, butter and ghee – that is distributed at Sikh ceremonies. Bhai Gurdas Ji calls it Mahan Prasad (sublime food) in Vaar 20, Pauri 10.

[2] A clever Hindu scholar tries to deceive ignorant Sikhs. He writes that marriage ceremony should not be performed by reading the Anand Hymn because it is written “Anand Bhaya Meri Mae” meaning “Mother I am in bliss” and according to this the wife becomes mother.

We just want to point out that neither the hymn of Anand is not a Mantra for seeking a spouse like that in the Hindu marriage hymns nor the meaning of “Mae” is mother. But the Hindu scholar should consider the following:

“First Soma, Gandharva and Agni, these three gods are the husbands of the woman, at the fourth number man becomes husband. (Rigveda Mandal 10, Sukat 85, Mantra 40)

Does a woman, wife of gods, having relations with gods become mother of Bhagats (worshippers of gods) or something else? Some Pundits preach to ignorant people that “Pati” means protector only. We would ask that if gods are only protectors and not husbands then now men should also be considered protectors only and not have any marital relations.

We, too, ask that if “Pati” does not mean husband then what is the meaning of the following verse by Mannu?

Taking the form of semen, husband enters the womb of a woman and takes birth as a son. This is why woman (wife) is called mother. (Mannu Ch. 9, Sh. 8)

Pundit should do some research that how many have considered the woman as “”mother: to produce offspring and how many have adored her?

[3] It is possible that earlier rites of the Gurus were performed according to Hindu customs but after embracing Sikhi not a single rite was performed according to Hindu customs. It is fully illustrated from Gurbani. Ignorant historians under the outside influence have incorporated in their books existence of Hindu rites, though these are against Gurbani. Those cannot be accepted because we cannot respect any book more than Gurbani.

[4] Distribution of Karah Prasad proves clearly that Sikh customs and rites are a non-Hindu.

[5] Bhadan (ceremonial shaving) is an important element of the rites of death. Without this even a beginning cannot be made. On this subject see “Sad Pramarath”.