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Ideal Singh

Is Sikhism "Reformed Hinduism" ?

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On 1/3/2004, 6:59:57, Ideal Singh said:

Lalleswari once said : we should consider Sikhs being the original Hindus...


Please discuss.

My own thoughts, no thanks. Rather all hindus should consider themselves as Sikhs if some crazy sikh nationalist allows them. 

First of all hindu word is now been hijacked by hindu nationalist rss and other RIGHT wing nut jobs. Hindu term mentioned widely agreed by scholars has been used in the past to only describe indic land and various indic traditions and religion, Hindu(ism) is british establishment. 

More ancient term Sikh or snatan than hindu as hindu term is no where to be found in vedas and old scripture. 

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Have a quick question on all this...

So my current understanding is that Sanatan Dharam is what was the traditional name of what is now "Hinduism," and it was more of a continuous, morphing, tradition over time than a static religion "revealed" by a prophet (a more Abrahamic concept that came around during British imperialism).

"Hindu" was first used as a word from Persian, Arab, and Turkic invaders to describe residents of South Asia, which is why Babur named his son "Hindal" in honor of capturing India and India was called "Hindustan" (BTW, always makes me chuckle when Khalistanis cite the word "Hindustan" as some sort of showing of Hindu oppression....a lot of hardcore Hindutvaists also cite it as a sign of Islamic oppression, lol)

"Hindoo" was later once again appropriated by the British as a racial term to describe non-Muslims in India, and was later again changed to specify the adherents of "Hindu" (Sanatani) religion. 

So that's clear and whatnot. 

My question is this--why does Gurbani sometimes use Hindu to refer to a group of religious people? Bhai Gurdas Ji da vaar refer to this. The idea of "Tisar Panth," that of an independent Khalsa Panth arising from independent Hindu and Turk panths. I understand that "Turk" is referred to often as Mughal, yet it's used interchangeably at times with "Musalmaan"; even Bulleh Shah's poetry shows this.


My personal belief on all this based on what I've read so far is that Sikhi itself is a philosophical framework. It is neither the post-Singh Sabha distortion of an independent religion based on a prophet revealing a divine truth (people forget that this framework for evaluating religion doesn't make it "independent"; it solely makes it within Abrahamic views), nor do I believe it's the RSS version of a warrior-amped-up upgrade of Hinduism for Punjab. Historically, religion was extremely mixed within Punjab, something that would trouble the Salafists, the Sikh fundamentalists, and Arya Samajis in contemporary Punjab. Example of this is Ranjha, the Muslim....who went to study under a "Hindu" Jogi, Guru Gorakhnath. He didn't "convert" to Hinduism; when he came out of the experience, he was still a Muslim and had a nikah. You can see this in other places as well, such as the Rababi Muslims who follow Baba Nanak, and especially among the multitude of Punjabi Hindus/Sikhs who used to originally practice a blend of both faiths and identify with both. 

That said, I recognize there's an independent Sikh identity, and that's traditionally found in the Khalsa. Even Harjot Oberoi doesn't assume the Singh Sabha made up their "neo-Sikh" identity out of nowhere; he holds the view that they simply enforced the separate Khalsa identity onto the broader Sikh populace and boxed them in. Even within the Khalsa framework of religious identity, though, other religions are not rejected because they are "false," which is why so many Khalsa still incorporated Indic concepts into their belief system. You also have the additional factor of Islamic as well as Indic concepts being used as metaphors within Gurbani; there are plenty of shabads talking about "Shaitaan," and one shabad mentioning angels, shaykhs, prophets, and Baba Adam. Recently, my father also told me that before he learned about evolution in school, his father (we were Khalsa Sikhs, not Muslim), talked about Baba Adam as the first man. To me, the most important thing is to evaluate to what level each citing of a spiritual concept within GGS (the vast majority of them being Indic and a tiny proportion being Islamic) acts as a metaphor within Sikhi and how it does so versus an actual "belief" of the Sikh philosophy. And that's an extremely complicated question--a lot more complicated than the current simplistic dialogue between the two camps of "Guru Nanak Dev Ji says 'ik Oankar' therefore we are not polytheist therefore we are not Hindus," and "Guru Nanak cites Hindu gods and metaphysics so therefore Sikhi is a branch of Hinduism."

On a side note, we also need to think more on what identity entails in Sikhi; Sanatan Dharam often held that it was solely your dharam, your actions+their merit, that brought you "towards God" for lack of better terminology, and Abrahamic faiths (well, with some complications such as the Catholic belief of works) thought it was your religious identity that brought you to God. Sikhi is extremely interesting this way; we hold a core of our belief system to be "na koi Hindu, na koi Musalmaan," a universalism that extends past petty religious bickering and focuses on the merit of your actions instead of rituals, yet we have placed so much emphasis historically on keeping our Khalsa Rehit. I don't think that the first precludes the second per say, but rather, we should think of them in separate terms. Outside of many current Sikhs' sorta fundie beliefs and also some hyperbolic poetry within certain Khalsa Puratan rehits, my belief is that the identity was used as a unifier and for community, while the spirituality still remains intact. If someone is spiritual and cuts their hair, they can still receive spiritual mukti, IMO, but are not a part of the Khalsa community. However, just because someone adopts the hair and identity and Rehit does not immediately make them spiritually liberated; they still have to honor what Gurbani talks about spirituality. To put it succinctly: the Khalsa identity is very tight-knit, even though it's based on a spiritual core of Sikhi, which is *universal*. 

Edited by JustAnotherSingh

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