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COMMON QUESTIONS


Guru Gobind Singh gave one Amrit. Now, we have so many Amrits - Akal Takhat Amrit, sant Amrit, Jatha Amrit, etc. Why is there such a conflict about what an Amritdhari should do or should not be?
***If a lady takes Amrit she must tie a turban. Why?


Amrit Reht
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1)
The Guru gave one Amrit and one Maryada, then why are there so many Amrits today? This is rightly a big question in the minds of all Sikhs. We know the reason for they're being so many Maryadas, but we don't know how to convince these different groups to accept the approved Maryada as the one given by the Guru.

The Guru authorized the Panj Pyaras to give Amrit to anyone desirous of joining the Khalsa Panth. Thousands joined this brotherhood on Baisakhi Day of 1699 after the founding of the Khalsa Panth. When these Singhs came to their villages they started giving Amrit to more people. They passed on the code of the Reht Maryada verbally to the new members of the Khalsa. This procedure is still going on today. During the Amrit ceremony, the candidates for Amrit do not take a paper and pen to record all what is told to them. They listen to it, remember it and try to practice it in their lives.

When Amritdhari Sikhs explained the Maryada to the new members, they did contribute, unintentionally of course, some variations in the instructions. It is now a known social phenomenon that when one hears a message and passes it on to another person, it is impossible to convey the message in the same spirit. He cannot help giving his own interpretation to the message, because of which the message may sometimes be totally changed. This happens even when one takes all precautions to communicate the message correctly without adding or deleting anything from it. It is easy to imagine the changes which could take place in the Maryada when there is a desire to make the Maryada "better and holier" than the one practiced by other Sikhs.
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2)
We do not have a complete set of systematically written directions regarding Reht from the Guru. Of course, many Sikhs, some contemporaries of the Guru and others descendent of those who attended the Guru, have written their observations and instructions regarding the Reht to be practiced by the Khalsa. When all these writings are put together, not only do they not agree, but some observations contradict each other. In a few cases the instructions go against the principles of Gurmat (Gurbaani in Guru Granth Sahib). Sikh scholars, therefore, fear that some sections of the Reht Namas were not written by the persons whose names are associated with those writings. They must have been modified later on.
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3)
During the 18th century, the Khalsa were always harassed by the government. They had to leave their Gurdwaras and move to the woods for protection from the police and army. This situation prevailed for more than half a century. During this time, the Sehjdharis (without long hair) were in charge of the Gurdwaras. Later, the Gurdwara management slipped into the hands of Mahants, who became hereditary custodians of the Gurdwaras. Because of the Hindu environment and Brahmanical influence, they introduced many Hindu rituals in the Gurdwaras. During the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh no effort was made to crystallize the Sikh Reht from the mixture of Hindu rituals.
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4)
It was during the British rule that Sikhs, having lost all political power, thought of their religious principles to get guidance for their future. The Gurdwara management under the Mahants had so much deteriorated during the previous 100 years that the Mahants had become corrupt and started leading immoral lives. To increase their income they introduced worship of Hindu gods in the Gurdwaras, an act strictly prohibited for the Sikhs. There was no discipline, and women visiting the Gurdwaras were often harassed or even molested. This irreligious and immoral behavior of the Mahants gave birth to the Gurdwara Reform Movement.

The intellectuals, the Sikh scholars, and the Sikh Sants supported the movement. They all got together to protest the anti Sikh and non Sikh rituals forced on them by the Mahants managing the Gurdwaras. For political reasons, the Government supported the Mahants in order to keep the Sikhs away from the control of the Gurdwaras. After enduring a long struggle and paying a heavy price in the form of blood and money, the Sikhs won control of their Gurdwaras in 1925. The first and one of the best actions they took was to appoint a committee to decide and put in writing the Sikh Reht Maryada to be followed by all Sikhs. The committee worked for many years, and sifted through all the available scriptures and writings of the times of Guru Gobind Singh. They finally presented the results of their research to the Sikh community. After receiving comments from all sections of the Sikh community, the final form of the Sikh Reht Maryada was approved and published by the Gurdwara Committee, Amritsar.

It is this booklet which we should popularize and follow, even if we, individually, have different opinions. If a Sikh wants a change in it, the best course for him is to present his suggestions with logical arguments and authenticated evidence to the Khalsa Panth for consideration.
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5)
It must be mentioned here that interference in the Sikh faith by certain forces against Sikhs and Sikhism is always widespread. Concerted efforts are often made by these forces to confuse the issues more, rather than let them to be decided by Sikh scholars. The Nirankari Sect, practicing anti-Sikh Reht, but claiming themselves to be Sikhs, are supported and helped by the political enemies of the Sikhs. These false Nirankaris disrespect the Guru Granth Sahib publicly and criticize the Reht in their writings and speeches. Sikhs have protested against this strongly. The government in power, rather than stopping Nirankaris from hurting the Sikh feelings, sided with them, resulting in the 1978 episode and later genocide of the Sikhs in 1984. There are many other anti Sikh splinter groups sponsored and supported by the government to mislead the Sikhs.

There are, however, many genuine Sikhs who want certain changes / additions in the Sikh Reht Maryada booklet. The suggestion to such Sikhs is that they observe the Maryada already prescribed by the Gurdwara Committee, Amritsar, and hold on to it for the present for the sake of Panthic unity. This is not the proper time for making changes and asserting individual thoughts on the Khalsa Panth. Let the Khalsa first resolve the current life and death struggle before this topic is put on the agenda.
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Turban
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It is required of every Sikh to keep his/her head always covered. Males do so by typing a turban while most of the females keep a big scarf (chuni) to cover their heads and upper part of the body. Women who tie a turban (keski) are not infringing on any Reht; rather this is quite convenient and looks more graceful. Furthermore, by typing a Keski, the hair remains properly covered all the time. Scarves often keep coming off and the women are observed, even while sitting in Gurdwara, trying to keep it on their heads again and again.
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