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Found 5 results

  1. This Is one of the best books out there when it comes to describing the revolutionary achievements of Sikhi in relation to caste during the early days of the Khalsa. It's essential reading in my opinion. Hope some people learn from it: http://www.globalsikhstudies.net/pdf/Sikh_Revolution.pdf
  2. On the Caste Phenomenon in Armies This is not the case. The above is only a naive view of Indian caste phenomenon. You have overly simplified the reality into a sh*tty cartoon, and while the logic in that sh*tty cartoon holds up, it is a sh*tty logic that ignores the complexity of life. Unfortunately too many people make this same mistake that you are making. Too many people get caught up in this type of thinking and they make lofty theories and sometimes even alter our very history to suit their thinking. So what is really going on? Society A encourages the warrior castes to become warriors but if there are superb and willing warriors coming in from other castes, they also carve out their space, their niche in the army. Land-owners also bring in soldiers from non-warrior tribes - militia. All societies are actually a mixture of Society A and B Now saying this -> Society A encourages the warrior castes to become warriors - is a bad way of talking about what's happening because what is actually happening, is that the father gives his sword to his son and prepares him from an early age, the fathers and uncles and grandfathers all teach the boys in their family or they send the boys to other men who know their shit. Thus the boys in warrior tribes, not only have the genes for it but are also socialized early to be warriors. They also have solid mentors right from the start. So armies would be composed of the warrior tribes primarily, because the majority of good warriors come from those tribes. Warriors from other castes, who fathers were potters and carpenters, they do not have easy access to warrior mentors, teachers, and a warrior-like environment. They have easy access to the knowledge preserved by their forefathers, which is pottery or carpentry, or whatever. Survival is Guaranteed by Father At the end of the day, everyone is trying to survive. Everyone is trying to make enough to put a roof over the head and food on the table. So the sons of potters become potters because they have easy access to education in their father's field. Back then and even nowadays, it is much easier to access the fields that your parents are involved in. because they have that experience and can guide you, or know others who can mentor you in some way. So sons of potters and carpenters are not readily becoming warriors. Some are, perhaps because they are really passionate for it or cannot make a living in their own profession or are seeing more money in joining armies. So they become warriors because they either see money in that or some other sense of fulfillment. But we are not done yet. Now we have the recruiting process - References What is the last thing you put on your resume? References The recruiter is looking for warriors, good soldiers to fill the ranks. He is going to go with those boys who have strong references backing them up. Good reputation of their father, words from their mentors, and other veterans who know them. A boy form a warrior tribe is much likely to get recruitment in an army simply because he has more references. Other tribes are more likely to have to demonstrate their prowess. Jagirdar/Zamindar/Land-owner/Feudal System - Allowing for Non-Warrior Tribe members in Armies Back then certain men owned lots of land. And those who could not pay for it fully, could take a portion of the Zamindar's land for their own purpose, provided they would offer their services in the Zamindar's private army, ie they had to defend that land to own it. So many land-owners had their own armies known as Feudal Armies and they would have soldiers from various tribes, depending on who wants the land. These feudal armies would be called upon by the king to offer their service in a large battle. Much of the demand for land was coming from non-warrior professions. Farmers are a good example, they often need to be have a bit of warrior in them because they need to defend the land they acquire. Many warrior tribes also participated in this system, so that they could make a living off the land when there was nothing happening in terms of battles and looting. So they would live off the land and go to war when the opportunity presented itself. Many kshatriya were farming when they were "off-duty". The Non-Warriors from Warrior Tribes This is why during Guru Sahib's time, many warrior tribe members (including the panj pyarey, our Gurus and most of their Sikhs) were involved in other professions and they were not being warriors. They either did not get many good opportunities in armies, or their forefathers had been involved in other professions. There were many people from warriors tribes that became traders for various reasons. (e.g. Bhai Daya Singh ji) There were many people from warriors tribes that became farmers for various reasons. (e.g. Bhai Dharam Singhi ji) There were many people warrior tribes that became barbers for various reasons. (e.g. Bhai Sahib Singh ji) Etc Guru Gobind Singh ji (or one of his court poets depending on your belief) describes this phenomenon in Bachittar Natak of Dasam Granth. The situation was - ਦੋਹਰਾ ॥ दोहरा ॥ DOHRA ਬਿਪ੍ਰ ਕਰਤ ਭਏ ਸੂਦ੍ਰ ਬ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਛਤ੍ਰੀ ਬੈਸਨ ਕਰਮ ॥ बिप्र करत भए सूद्र ब्रिति छत्री बैसन करम ॥ The Brahmins acted like Shudras and Kshatriyas like Vaishyas. ਬੈਸ ਕਰਤ ਭਏ ਛਤ੍ਰਿ ਬ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਸੂਦ੍ਰ ਸੁ ਦਿਜ ਕੋ ਧਰਮ ॥੨॥ बैस करत भए छत्रि ब्रिति सूद्र सु दिज को धरम ॥२॥ The Vaishyas started ruling like Kshatriyas and Shudras performed the priestly duties of Brahmins.2. So he sought after all the non-warriors from warrior clans. And he emphasized his own warrior clan as well in order to inspire his non-warrior kshatriya sikhs, who were involved in other proffessions, to fight and get back to their roots. He inspired them to chant these prayers about dying in a battlefield as the only thing that matters. ਛਤ੍ਰੀ ਕੋ ਪੂਤ ਹੌ ਬਾਮਨ ਕੋ ਨਹਿ ਕੈ ਤਪੁ ਆਵਤ ਹੈ ਜੁ ਕਰੋ ॥ ਅਰੁ ਅਉਰ ਜੰਜਾਰ ਜਿਤੋ ਗ੍ਰਹਿ ਕੋ ਤੁਹਿ ਤਿਆਗ ਕਹਾ ਚਿਤ ਤਾ ਮੈ ਧਰੋ ॥ छत्री को पूत हौ बामन को नहि कै तपु आवत है जु करो ॥ अरु अउर जंजार जितो ग्रहि को तुहि तिआग कहा चित ता मै धरो ॥ I am the son of a Kshatriya and not of a Brahmin who may instruct for performing deep meditations; how can I absorb myself in the embarrassments of the world by leaving you; ਅਬ ਰੀਝ ਕੈ ਦੇਹੁ ਵਹੈ ਹਮ ਕਉ ਜੋਊ ਹਉ ਬਿਨਤੀ ਕਰ ਜੋਰ ਕਰੋ ॥ ਜਬ ਆਉ ਕੀ ਅਉਧ ਨਿਦਾਨ ਬਨੈ ਅਤਿਹੀ ਰਨ ਮੈ ਤਬ ਜੂਝ ਮਰੋ ॥੨੪੮੯॥ अब रीझ कै देहु वहै हम कउ जोऊ हउ बिनती कर जोर करो ॥ जब आउ की अउध निदान बनै अतिही रन मै तब जूझ मरो ॥२४८९॥ Whatever request I am making with my folded hands, O Lord ! kindly be graceful and bestow this boon on me that when ever my end comes, then I may die fighting in the battlefield.2489. Coming back to it - All societies are actually a mixture of Society A and B So Society A's armies are actually a combination of warrior clan soldiers and and sons of warrior forefathers but also members from other tribes based on merit and members from other tribes coming in from Feudal armies. Note - Have yet to edit it so there maybe mistakes.
  3. Is already in a thread, but G. Discussion seems to the most viewed. Many of the debates that have been seen over the past 2-3 days would be resolved with this thread. So as to not post a duplicate, will just post a link and put my post from there as the original post here. If this is not ok, please feel free to delete, will have no hard feelings. Just want to foster discussion, and have it be seen more. The most radical of the early Sikh writers on the issue of caste is the author of the Prem Sumarag. The Khalsa order, for him, was meant to be casteless. As he puts it, the baran (varna) of the entire Khalsa was pure (pawittar). If anyone asks a member of the Khalsa for his jati, he should reply, I am a Sodhi Khatri. As in no varna (chakari). If a Khalsa takes up personal service, it should be soldiering (sipahgari). A Singh soldier should not indulge in plunder in a battle and never think of appropriating the property of another. A Khalsa should not take up petty shop-keeping. It is preferable to work at home as a craftsman, and manufacture articles for sale in the bazar. The most preferable occupation is trade in horses (saudagari). Next to it is agriculture. There is emphasis on honest pursuit, but there is no reference to hereditary calling. In fact, preference implies choice. Just question tribe of author, as well a farmer would probably not put farming lower (jatt). They should all eat together, and they should never bother about the (Brahmanical) norms of chauka. And as Christian anti-tribals may note, basically knows what those are today. Meaning much of the anti-‘caste’ stuff they say is irrelevant as it has been dealt with. The most strongly recommended article of food is meat. It is the great food (maha prasad). A Khalsa must eat meat every day. Vegetarians take note A Khalsa should not eat alone; if there is no one to share his meal at the time of eating, he should set apart a meal for a visitor, whether a Sikh, a Hindu or a Muslim. For the marriage of a son, a Khalsa should have no consideration (of caste or jati), but in the case of a daughter, the first preference should be a Sikh boy of the same caste. But then, within the caste no further distinctions should be made. Furthermore, if a boy from the same caste or jati is not found for any reason, a daughter may also be married to a young man of another caste or jati. No consideration should be given to the caste or jati of the girls mother. To put this into context this is what it means: 1. There was polygamy 2. It did not mean disregard gotra system which is to prevent incest. It meant that only fathers tribe is considered as mother is considered to have same after marriage. Many did only have kids with the wife from same tribe, but that is different story. The Rahitnama associated with Chaupa Singh upholds the ideal of equality as much as the norms of varnasharam dharma. The Sikhs of the Guru from all the four barans share the same faith and follow the same ethical principles, but each baran has its own social norms and practices. The Khatris are servants (sewaks) of the Brahmans and not equal to them. In serving others, a Khalsa should give greater consideration to Brahman Sikhs. Was author a bramin? A Sikh of the Guru should make a distinction between dhan (what is eaten) and kudhan (what is not eaten), and also between suitable place (thav) and unsuitable place (kuthav). He should not infringe the customary practices (maryada). There is great emphasis on honest occupation (dharam di kirt) for all members of the Khalsa order. There is no suggestion of a hereditary occupation. Indeed there couldn’t be, as Sikh society was not stable. You cannot do contract labour if there is a price on your head. A Khalsa should disregard the differences of wealth. It is commendable to forge matrimonial ties with a poor Sikh: it pleases the Guru. Thus, the differences of background are disregarded in matters religious and political, but not all the traditional practices of commensality and connubium. The Khalsa are more equal in religious and political matters than in social matters. Something which has been pointed out across the centuries, but the wilfully ignorant still ignore it. Though all the four barans had taken refuge in the Panth of the Guru, rulership was given to the Shudras. Shudra does not mean, ‘low caste’. It means outside caste, as by default you are a shudra if you break caste or do not have one. A bramin who crosses indian ocean is a shudra. The outsiders like gujjars, tarkhans, and jatts were shudras as they were not hindus in the first place. A hinduisation of India would have occurred under the Mughals similar to the Britihs, because any ruling foreign government is concerned of wealth not the divisions of those from whom they are stealing. However, Chhibber invokes the authority of Guru Gobind Singh in favour of the sacred mark and the saved thread for the higher castes, and marriage within the caste. But if a Sikh wishes that the conjugal knot should be tied between his son and the daughter of his Sikh sewak, he should not delay the matter; he could seek forgiveness afterwards. Which is of course, the big difference and the actual separation that neo-‘sikhs’ don’t want to recognize. On the question of commensality, Chhibber keeps the touchable Sikhs strictly out. He refers in fact to an incident in which a Mazhabi Sikh, who had posed as a Jat and shared food with Sandhu zamindars, was hanged by Kahn Singh Trehan and his action was appreciated by all the Sikhs. Have heard of this separate dishes practice, don’t know if it existed in langar. I don’t think you should pose as someone else. You should not hang your brother over some bs though. It may be added that the four categories of Sikhs (didari, mukte, murid and mayiki) mentioned in the Bansavalinama, and in the Chaupa Singh Rahit-Nama, have no bearing on caste or social differentiation. Need to research meanings so no comment just interesting thing. A Sikh should marry his daughter to the son of a Sikh. To give ones daughter to a non-Singh was like handing over a goat to the butcher. Bhekh and baran are not dear to the Guru; what is dear to the Guru is the actual conduct in life. However, marriage within the caste is recommended. Aka the guru is above YOU. There is not tribe for the guru aka the face of god aka SARGUN FORM OF AKAAL PURAAKH. But you are NOT, that. Meaning you do have tribe but you follow orders from Guru. The only exception in this matter were the Jat Sikhs who presumably would intermarry with non-Sikh or non-Singh Jats. I have feeling that author is Rajput, and wants to paint Jatts as bastards. Not even because I’m ‘jatt’ but you can see it as not one mention of polygamy is present. That is what it means though, Nor did the Sikhs eat or drink from the hands of an alien, except from Brahmans for whom they professed the highest veneration. It may be noted that the author is not talking of relations of the Sikhs among themselves but with outsiders. I strongly suspect that this was only a few tribes of Sikhs. My own grandfather knows much of this bramin stuff, due to being in a bramin village. In bramin heavy areas many tribes especially Jatts being considered the ‘rulers’ would have been following a lot of braminvaad. The Sikh converts continued to observe the civil usages and customs of their tribes only so long as they did not infringe the tenets of Guru Nanak and the institutions of Guru Gobind Singh. The higher caste of Hindus, that is, the Brahman and Khatri Sikhs, continued to intermarry with converts of their own tribes, but not with Hindus of the caste they have abandoned. This was not true of the Jat and Gujjar Sikhs who preserved an intimate intercourse with their original tribes for both intermarriage and commensality. Depends on area, suspect more West Punjab as I know it happened but my Doabi grandfather b. 1912 said naw we don’t do that. The Muslim converts to the Sikh faith intermarried among themselves. At the time of the meeting of the Sarbat Khalsa, the Jat Sikhs and others ate together. Emphasis again on religious and political but not social. There were no Khatri, Rajput or Brahman rulers among the Sikhs. Much of this is because for the most part there are not Rajputs in Punjab, and the other two are very few. The author here Mr/Ms ‘Chodaury’ seems to not have an understanding of titles, tribe, caste, etc that is very deep. However information seems to be on point. There is no doubt whatever that the lower castes were dominant in the order of the Khalsa. In 1881, there were more than 1,125,000 Jats and more than 145,000 Chamars and Chuhras, with about the same number of Tarkhans, Nais and Kalals, among the Singhs. The Aroras, Khatris and Banias, together, accounted for less than 80,000 Sikhs. The preponderance of Jats, the outcastes, and the service performing groups is evident from these figures. but the known Brahman writers are rather conservative and somewhat reactionary in their social stance and the known Jat and Kalal writers are relatively egalitarian. Possibly due to the one disadvantage of being ‘learning’ you pick up on trends that don’t exist in the general population. Polygamy may also have been more common in the villages, and the bramins were more likely in the cities due to their employers. There probably was an on-going tension between the new ideology and the social background. Doubt it, city vs village is always there and conflict creates. ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫਤਹਿ | |
  4. http://www.interestingarticles.com/metaphysical/equality-and-caste-among-eighteenthcentury-sikhs-682.html Equality and Caste among Eighteenth-Century Sikhs The ideal of equality associated with the Sikh movement is generally believed to have been re-inforced by Guru Gobind Singh for the Khalsa, instituted as an egalitarian order in 1699. Therefore, the eighteenth century has an added importance for the study of caste among the Sikhs. A number of scholars have touched upon the subject of caste from different perspectives, but none of them has written exclusively on the issue of caste among the eighteenth-century Sikhs. The paper analyses contemporary evidence for the conception of equality among the Khalsa and the pull of their caste background. The Persian sources give some indication of the social background and occupations of the Sikhs. The importance of Jat Masands is emphasized in the Dabistan. According to Kamwar Khan, the people who gathered around Banda belonged to ‘base and lowly castes’, like sweepers, tanners, and banjaras. According to Khafi Khan, the followers of Banda came largely from ‘the lower castes of Hindus’, including the Jats. Ghulam Ali Khan says that the leaders of the Sikhs were mostly from the lower classes, such as carpenters, shoe-makers, and Jats. Many of them were yogurt-sellers, confectioners, fodder-vendors, grain-sellers, barbers, and washermen. According to Muhammad Shafi Warid, Muslims too were enrolled among the Sikhs after the death of Wazir Khan, and they were told to take their meals together ‘so that the distinction in honour between the lowly and the well born was entirely removed and all achieved mutual unison, acting together’. Indeed, a sweeper sat with a raja of great status, and ‘they felt no hostility to each other’. The author of the Tashrih al-Aqwam observed that ‘any one from any caste (qaum), whether Brahman or sweeper’ could join the Sikh faith, and that the Sikhs allowed no distinction among them in eating and drinking. They did not recognize any difference between one another. Any Sikh could hold a position of power. Warid says that a lowly sweeper or cobbler (chamar), more impure than whom there was no caste (qaum) in Hindustan, could attend on Banda and be appointed to govern his own town; the moment he stepped into the territory, or town, or village, all the gentry and notables went out to receive him, and stood before him with folded hands. The early Persian writers, on the whole, emphasize the plebian background of the Sikhs, their egalitarian ethos, and social nobility. The most radical of the early Sikh writers on the issue of caste is the author of the Prem Sumarag. The Khalsa order, for him, was meant to be casteless. As he puts it, the baran (varna) of the entire Khalsa was pure (pawittar). If anyone asks a member of the Khalsa for his jati, he should reply, ‘I am a Sodhi Khatri’. If there is only one caste of the Khalsa, there could be no hierarchy. Indeed, he states explicitly that ‘there is no difference amongst the Khalsa of Sri Akal Purkh: all belong to one baran’. In the varnashrama ideal jatis were linked with occupations, and occupations were regarded as hereditary. It is important, therefore, to note that the author of the Prem Sumarag imposes only one restriction, and that too is ethical: the Khalsa of Akal Purkh should pursue an honest occupation (dharam di kirt). However, he goes on to add that a Khalsa should not take up personal service (chakari). If a Khalsa takes up personal service, it should be soldiering (sipahgari). A Singh soldier should not indulge in plunder in a battle and never think of appropriating the property of another. A Khalsa should not take up petty shop-keeping. It is preferable to work at home as a craftsman, and manufacture articles for sale in the bazar. The most preferable occupation is trade in horses (saudagari). Next to it is agriculture. On the whole, thus, there is preference for trade, agriculture and craft over personal service. The only chakari allowed is soldiering. There is emphasis on honest pursuit, but there is no reference to hereditary calling. In fact, preference implies choice. As the progeny of Akal Purkh, the Khalsa share the same faith. They should never hesitate to eat with one another. However, if a Chuhra, a Chamar, a Sansi, a Dhanak or a Kalal who actually distils liquor wishes to offer food to the Khalsa, he should provide rations in kind, or cash, and ask a Khalsa of another jati to cook the food. But they all belonged to Akal Purkh and followed the same path; all those who say, ‘I am (the Khalsa) of Sri Guru Akal Purkh’ should be seen as equal. They should all eat together, and they should never bother about the (Brahmanical) norms of chauka. All articles of food and drink are gifts from God and, therefore, all equally pure. The most strongly recommended article of food is meat. It is the great food (maha prasad). A Khalsa must eat meat every day. A Khalsa should not eat alone; if there is no one to share his meal at the time of eating, he should set apart a meal for a visitor, whether a Sikh, a Hindu or a Muslim. In matters of matrimony, the author of the Prem Sumarag is prepared to compromise a little more. For the marriage of a son, a Khalsa should have no consideration (of caste or jati), but in the case of a daughter, the first preference should be a Sikh boy of the same caste. But then, within the caste no further distinctions should be made. Furthermore, if a boy from the same caste or jati is not found for any reason, a daughter may also be married to a young man of another caste or jati. No consideration should be given to the caste or jati of the girl’s mother. The one who entertains the idea of the high and the low is punished in the divine court. Eventually, with the passage of time, all shall belong to one baran. The author clearly visualizes marriage between boys and girls of different castes and jatis. A Sikh boy’s marriage with a slave girl or a Muslim girl is also envisaged. The Rahitnama associated with Chaupa Singh upholds the ideal of equality as much as the norms of varnasharam dharma. The Sikhs of the Guru from all the four barans share the same faith and follow the same ethical principles, but each baran has its own social norms and practices. The Khatris are servants (sewaks) of the Brahmans and not equal to them. In serving others, a Khalsa should give greater consideration to Brahman Sikhs. A Sikh of the Guru should make a distinction between dhan (what is eaten) and kudhan (what is not eaten), and also between suitable place (thav) and unsuitable place (kuthav). He should not infringe the customary practices (maryada). There is great emphasis on honest occupation (dharam di kirt) for all members of the Khalsa order. There is no suggestion of a hereditary occupation. A Khalsa should disregard the differences of wealth. It is commendable to forge matrimonial ties with a poor Sikh: it pleases the Guru. Thus, the differences of background are disregarded in matters religious and political, but not all the traditional practices of commensality and connubium. The Khalsa are more equal in religious and political matters than in social matters. In the Tankhahnama, Guru Gobind Singh says, ‘I shall make one baran of all the four barans, and they will all recite (the name of) Vaheguru’. Sainapat, a poet at the Guru’s court, gives no thought to caste or jati, but he does notice the reluctance of Khatris and Brahmans to accept the new norms of the Khalsa in matters affecting their traditional practices. Koer Singh, a kalal, gives the names and jatis of the five Sikhs who offered their heads to Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur on the Baisakhi day. Three of them were Shudras in the traditional social order: a Chheepa, a Nai, and a Jhiwar. People criticize Guru Gobind Singh for abolishing all distinctions between the four castes. The Shudra, the Vaish, the Khatri, and the Brahman eat together at one place. The Rajput Rajas of the hills refused to become members of the Khalsa because their kula dharam did not permit them to eat with the four castes. Among the Khalsa, all the twelve jats and seven sanats were rolled into one. Guru Gobind Singh decided to give rulership to the Khalsa. Kesar Singh, a Chhibber Brahman, looks upon the Khalsa as the home (ghar) of Akal Purkh and all their sins are washed away. Three of the five Sikhs who responded to Guru Gobind Singh’s call for sacrifice were Shudras. Though all the four barans had taken refuge in the Panth of the Guru, rulership was given to the Shudras. However, Chhibber invokes the authority of Guru Gobind Singh in favour of the sacred mark and the saved thread for the higher castes, and marriage within the caste. But if a Sikh wishes that the conjugal knot should be tied between his son and the daughter of his Sikh sewak, he should not delay the matter; he could seek forgiveness afterwards. On the question of commensality, Chhibber keeps the touchable Sikhs strictly out. He refers in fact to an incident in which a Mazhabi Sikh, who had posed as a Jat and shared food with Sandhu zamindars, was hanged by Kahn Singh Trehan and his action was appreciated by all the Sikhs. It may be added that the four categories of Sikhs (didari, mukte, murid and mayiki) mentioned in the Bansavalinama, and in the Chaupa Singh Rahit-Nama, have no bearing on caste or social differentiation. Sarup Das Bhalla states that the Sikhs who used to come to Anandpur for the darshan of Guru Gobind Singh from different ‘countries’ belonged to all the four castes. There was a common langar for them all. Guru Gobind Singh adopted the outward appearance of the Khalsa to become one of them. The sacred thread was replaced by the sword belt. The Khalsa became sovereign without possessing any territory. In the Guru Kian Sakhian there is no general statement about the kind of people who joined the Khalsa but the individual cases are mentioned. Bhai Jaita, who brought the head of Guru Tegh Bahadur from Delhi to Anandpur, was an outcaste; he was declared to be the Guru’s son (Guru ka beta), and he was baptized as Jiwan Singh to became a commandant, and he died fighting in the battle of Chamkaur. Among the five Sikhs who offered their heads to the Guru, one was a Khatri, another a Chheepa, the third a Nai, the fourth a Jat, and the fifth a Mehra (Jhiwar). Sukha Singh makes the explicit statement that Guru Gobind Singh transformed men into gods, and created the third Panth, the Guru Khalsa. The sacred thread was replaced by the sword. The fools began to say that he had indiscriminately baptized men from all the four barans and asked them to eat together. The practice of the earlier Gurus was discarded, and there was no Veda, no Pandit, and nothing else of the kind now. The Hill Rajas reported to the Mughal emperor that Guru Gobind Singh had created the Khalsa to destroy the mlechh and to establish the rule of the Khalsa over all the lands where the sun rose and set. According to Bhai Daya Singh, baptism of the double-edged sword was meant for all the four barans. The Khalsa were incarnation of Akal Purkh. A Sikh should marry his daughter to the son of a Sikh. To give one’s daughter to a non-Singh was like handing over a goat to the butcher. The Bedis, Bhallas, and Sodhis should observe the rahit of the Khalsa and worship in accordance with the Sikh dharam (to deserve respect). The Guru-Khalsa is the manifest form of Akal Purkh. Both the Panth and the Granth are to be recognized as the Guru. Bhekh and baran are not dear to the Guru; what is dear to the Guru is the actual conduct in life. A Sikh baptized by the pahul of the double-edged sword should not meet a Brahman or a Sarwaria. According to Bhai Desa Singh, the first article of rahit was to take pahul and become pre-eminent. Men of all the four barans should be encouraged and induced to take pahul of the doubled-edged sword. A Sikh should pursue an occupation that did not infringe dharam, like theft and dacoity. Agriculture, trade, and craft are commendable. Any other honest occupation that one liked could be adopted. However, marriage within the caste is recommended. The early European observers talk of both Hindus and Muslims becoming Sikhs. According to John Griffiths, the Sikhs received proselytes from all castes of Hindus and they initiated Muslims too. This was the view taken by Forster who adds that the number of Muslim converts to Sikhism was rather small. In ethnic and occupational terms the European writers tended to equate the Khalsa with the Jats. Polier thought that the Sikhs were generally cultivators of land, especially Jatts. John Griffiths saw similarities between the Sikhs and the Jats of Sind and Haryana. Thus, the Singhs among Sikhs, and the Jatts among Singhs appeared to be preponderant. The early European writers have a few other comments to offer on the relevance of caste for the egalitarian Sikh social order. George Forster thought that there was no difference between Sikhs and Hindus so far as the patterns of matrimony and commensality were concerned. The only item of food that was shared by all alike was the prasad (sacred food). In the Military Memoirs of George Thomas, the Sikhs are stated to allow ‘foreigners of every description’ to join their standard, to sit in their company, and to shave their beards, but they did not consent to intermarriages. The only exception in this matter were the Jat Sikhs who presumably would intermarry with non-Sikh or non-Singh Jats. Nor did the Sikhs eat or drink from the hands of an alien, except from Brahmans for whom they professed the highest veneration. It may be noted that the author is not talking of relations of the Sikhs among themselves but with outsiders. John Malcolm saw a close link between Guru Gobind Singh’s political purpose and his attitude towards caste distinctions. Converts were admitted from all ‘tribes’ and the rules by which the Hindus had been so long chained were broken. The old institutions of Brahmanical order were subverted. Guru Gobind Singh adopted all the religious usages of Guru Nanak, and declared that all the four castes would be made one. He opened the dazzling prospect of earthly glory to men of the lowest ‘tribe’. He rewarded the sweepers by high rank and employment for bringing away the corpse (actually head) of Guru Tegh Bahadur from Delhi. Several men of this tribe became Sikhs. Known as ‘Ran-Rata’ (Ranghreta) Singhs, they showed remarkable valour, and attained great reputation. The Brahman who entered the Khalsa order had no higher claims to eminence than the lowest Shudra who swept his house. The honourable title of ‘Singh’ raised every Sikh to the rank of a Rajput. It was Guru Gobind Singh’s object to make all Sikhs equal in civil rights. However, due to the deep-rooted prejudices of the Hindus, some distinctions of the background of Sikhs were still kept up, ‘particularly those relating to intermarriage’. The Sikh converts continued to observe the ‘civil usages and customs’ of their ‘tribes’ only so long as they did not infringe the tenets of Guru Nanak and the institutions of Guru Gobind Singh. The higher caste of Hindus, that is, the Brahman and Khatri Sikhs, continued to intermarry ‘with converts of their own tribes, but not with Hindus of the caste they have abandoned’. This was not true of the Jat and Gujjar Sikhs who preserved an intimate intercourse with their original ‘tribes’ for both intermarriage and commensality. Malcolm refers only to the marriage between the Sikh House of Patiala and the Jat House of Bharatpur. The Muslim converts to the Sikh faith intermarried among themselves. At the time of the meeting of the Sarbat Khalsa, the Jat Sikhs and others ate together. It seems, on the whole, that the plebian background of the Khalsa and the operation of the idea of equality are reflected in the rise of Jats, Tarkhans and Kalals to political power in the eighteenth century. There were no Khatri, Rajput or Brahman rulers among the Sikhs. There is no doubt whatever that the lower castes were dominant in the order of the Khalsa. In 1881, there were more than 1,125,000 Jats and more than 145,000 Chamars and Chuhras, with about the same number of Tarkhans, Nais and Kalals, among the Singhs. The Aroras, Khatris and Banias, together, accounted for less than 80,000 Sikhs. The preponderance of Jats, the outcastes, and the service performing groups is evident from these figures. However, there is no indication in contemporary literature that any hierarchy of caste or class was propounded or upheld. On the contrary, the ideal of equality is espoused and recognized by nearly all the contemporary writers. In the sphere of religion and politics no distinction on the basis of caste is made by any Sikh writer. The older patterns of matrimony appear to have continued, but largely within the Sikh social order and not in relation to non-Sikhs. In matters of commensality, only the erstwhile untouchables were excluded from interdinning. We do not know the social background of all the Sikh writers, but the known Brahman writers are rather conservative and somewhat reactionary in their social stance and the known Jat and Kalal writers are relatively egalitarian. There probably was an on-going tension between the new ideology and the social background. Author's Profile Komal Chaudhary enjoys writing articles for InterestingArticles.com. View the Komal Chaudhary Author Profile Read more: http://www.interestingarticles.com/metaphysical/equality-and-caste-among-eighteenthcentury-sikhs-682.html#ixzz2ucR4jWXK
  5. Disclaimer: The Caste Hierarchy cannot actually be explained away since its very complex. However I will attempt it anyway. Hopefully this sheds some light on the what's going on with the caste system. Jaikaara You can not erase the caste hierarchy. It is here to stay. Is a guru at the same level as his sikh? I don't think so. People are different, have different capabilities, interests, etc. Some fortunate others not so much, different environments. The list goes on, what it leads to are hierarchies. Some will acquire more or less knowledge, wealth, skills, strenght, agility, spiritual power, etc. So the system is inherently unequal. This is what the ancient sages were dealing with. You can not ignore caste hierarchies either because the experience of those on different levels are different. E.g if you are guru you will give one teaching to one level and another teaching to the second level. it's because their needs and capabilities are different. You'll see this Guru Granth Sahib. Granted there is an underlying theme e.g. "be detached from maya, meditate on Ram naam" that is for all castes, you are not going to tell a homeless, that your wealth will not go with you on death lol. That message is for the rich and wealthy. You are not going to tell a sudra to stop arguing about various philosophies and scriptures, that message is for the brahmin. Keep in mind: You are not a doctor if you were born to parents with doctorates. You are a doctor if you behave like one. Similarly you are not a brahmin if you were born to a brahmin mother, you are a brahmin only if you act like one, only if you contemplate Brahm. How do you manage a system that is inherently unequal? Well you can not simply shrug off the responsibility by saying everyone is equal. That doesn't work out since the differences and the problems that arise with those differences are very apparent. You need to tackle it keeping in mind the inequality in the system. So how to tackle it? well the ancient sages noticed there are essentially 4 kinds of people. 1. There are the knowledgeable and wise, who are focused on reading, memorizing, calculating, learning and/or contemplating. They are good at sharing, they live in full abundance. 2. There are brave and passionate, who are focused on tackling, going against an opposing force and/or training, They are physical and/or aggressive. They are also good at sharing, they live in partial abundance. 3.There are those who do not fit within the previous two categories because they are not as good at doing those things. They don't share, they live in little abundance. If not, this category also includes those who for some reason or another cannot fulfill the roles of the 1 and 2 categories even though they possess the right qualities. 4. There are those who do not possess the capabilities of the previous categories. If they do its hardly noticeable. They cannot give, are living in complete scarcity and so are constantly trying trying to acquire rather than to share. This category also includes those who for some reason or another cannot fulfill the roles of the 1 and 2 categories, even though they possess the right qualities. There is a hidden Nth category. The Enlightened, the one who as achieved Mukti, the Sadhu, Sant, Guru, Rishi, etc. Which is higher than the 1-4, no matter which category he came from. You can see the kinds of jobs 1-4 would be good at. 1. Philosophers, doctors, mathematicians, priests, scientists, economists, theologians... 2. Politcal leaders, athletes, soldiers, managers... 3. Businessmen and other related professions... 4. Labour jobs: artisans, carpenters, farmers... The specialties required for 1 and 2 are not required by 3 and 4. So people who do not possess the qualities of 1 and 2 end up in jobs 3 and 4. Now with people from 2 in positions of power. You want that power guided by the force of knowledge and wisdom, by people from 1. The people in 1 will be corrupted by positions of power in 2, and will be corrupted by the seeking of wealth in 3. So you want them living a simple life and outside the realm of power. But you still want them to guide people in 2, 3, 4 from the life of simplicity. The control is thus granted to 2. Where 2 takes guidance from 1. The king (kshatriya) takes guidance from the minister (brahmin). He maintains company with a learned one so that he can rule properly. It must be stressed that not all people in 2 (or 1) are in positions of power, in fact most are powerless. People in 3 should not be associated with the jobs in 1 and 2. Businessmen corrupt governments and research. When you turn ruling and learning into business you corrupt ruling and learning. Sometimes those in 1 and 2, especially 2, the kshatriya, the soldiers and bodyguards, who are jobless when there is no war. Large numbers of these kshatriyas then looked to other professions. Many became businessmen, many took on other jobs. The Gurus' ancestors were in this category. They had become traders though originally they were warriors from the ruling class. (There was a zeal in the 6th Guru and his grandson, the 10th Guru to return to being warriors and rulers.) The Gurus are also from the Nth class, thus being Kshatriyas are considered higher than brahmins. The Panj Pyarey were all Kshatriya. Their ancestors had adopted other professions during times of peace. Dharam Das' ancestors turned to farming. Himmat Chand Kahar's ancestors turned to trading. Mohkam Chand's ancestors turned to cloth printing. Daya Ram's ancestors also turned to trade. Sahib Chand's ancestors became barbers. Das, Chand, Ram are all Kshatriya clans. At some point in time they were warriors. When describing the state of affairs during his time Guru Sahib says. ਦੋਹਰਾ ॥ दोहरा ॥ DOHRA ਬਿਪ੍ਰ ਕਰਤ ਭਏ ਸੂਦ੍ਰ ਬ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਛਤ੍ਰੀ ਬੈਸਨ ਕਰਮ ॥ बिप्र करत भए सूद्र ब्रिति छत्री बैसन करम ॥ The Brahmins acted like Shudras and Kshatriyas like Vaishyas. ਬੈਸ ਕਰਤ ਭਏ ਛਤ੍ਰਿ ਬ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਸੂਦ੍ਰ ਸੁ ਦਿਜ ਕੋ ਧਰਮ ॥੨॥ बैस करत भए छत्रि ब्रिति सूद्र सु दिज को धरम ॥२॥ The Vaishyas started ruling like Kshatriyas and Shudras performed the priestly duties of Brahmins.2. During peacetime they turned to other trades however when the time came to fight teh Mughals, none of these kshatriya-turned-vaishya would step forth. This is why Guru Gobind Singh ji held the event at Anandpur where he ordered them to take up arms. He emphasized his own warrior ancestory, and wanted to see other kshatriya return to their roles and take up arms. And because he wanted to unite them, he gave them a new identity as kshatriya, ie one with long hair and beard, and the name Singh. Thus with Guru Sahib's policy you no longer belong to the Das, Ram or Chand clan, you now belong to the united Singh clan. So there was never an attempt to erase the hierarchy either. There were attempts to correct it. So those who were of a true Kshatriya nature would naturally step forth when asked for their life! (genius) And these 5 fearless would naturally make good leaders for the rest of the kshatriya hence Guru Sahib gave them leadership. That's it for now. I'll share more later. Bhulan chukan maaf karna
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