The Disease of Caste
Alongside Sat Guru’s clear message regarding the ignorance and foolishness of caste, Guru Ji clearly states that it is our actions which determine our role in society and not our hereditary caste. The Puratan Khalsa Rehitnamai also give us a clear message with which to cross reference the wisdom with practice:
Prem Sumarg Rehitnama
“When a girl reaches a suitable age for marriage, her parents should arrange a marriage for her. During the present era of Kalyug, it is preferable for a girl to be married young. With what kind of family should one make a marriage arrangement? Look for a family that follows the teachings of Sri Akaal Purkh Ji. Let it be a Khalsa family, whether poor or successful. With such a family, unhesitatingly arrange a marriage. People who are bound to Akaal Purkh care nothing for wealth and possessions. Put your trust in Guru and arrange the marriage. If Guru wills it, the girls will find much happiness and bring joy to her parents.”
Bhai Daya Singh Rehitnama
“Do not marry your daughter to a person that cuts his hair. Marry her to a Sikh. Giving your daughter to anyone other than a Singh is like giving a goat to a butcher, and you will seven times be reborn as a crow. Marry your daughter to someone who has either received Khande de Pahul (Singh) or Charan de Pahul (Sikh initiation method prior to Guru Gobind Singh).”
Other Puratan Rehits
“Do not observe differences of caste. Give and take your daughters in marriage amongst yourselves, thereby forming relationships with other Singhs.”
The criteria for finding a marriage partner has been made clear in these rehitnamas as the practice of Gur-Sikhi, and not in the membership of a specific caste or group.
But don’t some puritan rehits tell us to observe caste distinction in marriage?
YES. They do. Bhai Chaupa Singh Rehitnama. This is why we have taken the effort to cross reference Puratan Rehits, and further, cross reference Ithihaas and Gur-Bani.
Bhai Chaupa Singh was a Brahman and in the same rehit where he advocates same caste marriage, he also advocates that the marriage should be conducted by a Brahman. We see an obvious source of conflict here. Although all puratan rehits are satkaaryog (worthy of respect) as they contain many truths, we must still cross reference with all other old sources to try and establish a Gurmat view.
But people of different castes have ‘different’ cultures…?
Yes, to an extent in the old days, when your livelihood was a total way of life. But even then, those who took Khande de Pahul, adopted the culture of the Guru’s house - that of a bhagat (spiritual devotee) and yodha (warrior).
Today, people from historic castes such as Chumaar, Tarkhaan, Jatt, Brahman, Rajput, Lohaar, Shimbai etc, are all working in the same industries - Police, Health, IT, Finance, Law, Medicine etc. They live in the same houses, eat the same food, go to the same Gurdwara, learn from the same teachers, drive the same cars and wear the same clothes …
We believe this ‘excuse’ of preserving some tribal caste based culture is a total fallacy. In our experience, we have found that ‘many’ Amritdhari Sikh families, Jathai, Parcharaks and even some Sants… still have massive pride in their historic jaath, even though their trade today is totally different.
It is sad to see the Panth segregated in this way. We feel that open marriage between respectful Gur-Sikh families will be an excellent way of uniting the Panth and establishing strong bonds again.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji makes it clear what caste is:
Guru Ji says he is the son of Kshatriya. Guru Ji is also quoted in ithihaas saying the Khalsa’s jaath, upon taking Khande de Pahul, is also Kshatriya. This makes perfect sense, as they are our living Father. So, if all Khalsa is Kshatriya, then all Khalsa is ONE JAATH. Whereby even Bhai Chaupai Singhs rehit would apply.
In the past, Jaath represented your occupation. If we applied the rehit of Jaath literally today, it would mean that a Doctor would marry a Doctor, a Lawyer would marry a Lawyer, a Builder would marry a Builder, a Driving Instructor would a Driving Instructor and so on. Whilst this may happen, our practice today largely demonstrates that we do not follow this practice, and hence the historic notion of Jaath is fundamentally void here.
So we humbly implore the Khalsa to contemplate Guru ji’s wisdom and apply it to make the Panth stronger. Seek a partner based on Sikh Virtues, rather than wealth or caste.
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