Jump to content

Is this blasphemy?

Recommended Posts

The Chamars call Bhagat Ravidas Jee as "Guru". But for us Sikhs, he is a revered Bhagat. The Chamars calling Bhagat Ravidas Jee as "Guru" is a recent event in our history, probably dating back to the Singh Sabha movement. They don't really have any proper Sampradayak link going all the way back to Bhagat Ravidas Jee. It is more of a reaction to Jatts. They see the Khalsa Panth as being a Jatt Panth while they are trying to form their own Chamar Panth in the form of Ravidasia Panth.

But the song is well sung.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i think the bhagats were guru's in their respective communites. i don't think the concept of making a granth the Guru existed before Sikhi. There is a shabad in gurbani wherein Bhagat Kabir ji lies in the path of Bhagat Ramanad ji and when bhagat Ramanad ji seemingly accidentally hit Kabir ji on the head with his foot, he says 'wake up man and say Raam'. I could be wrong but this seems to be the initiation and transmission of Gurmantr from Kabir ji's Guru, Bhagat Ramanand ji.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Bhagats were Gurdevs and had their respective followings - most notably Bhagat Kabir Ji and the Kabir Panthi Sampryada.

Bhagat Ravidas Ji's most famous shish was Mira Bai.

"Sadguru sant mile Ravidas

Mira devaki kare vandana aas

Jin chetan kahya dhann Bhagavan Ravidas"

As stated above - the reason for the mass exodus from Sikh mainstream was the caste disrimination the Chumaar brothers encountered after administration was passed over to Singh Sabiha Jatt dominant SGPC. There after they joined with smaller Ravidasi movements already existing (I don't know their history) around Maharashtra etc. The Dadupanthi sampryada also have Bhagat Ji's shabd independant of Gurbani in their religious texts.

“Jo Bole So Nirbhey†- “Shri Guru Ravidass Maharaj Ki Jaiâ€

Ravidasi jaikara

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh and to answer the original ?, no it is not blasphemy.

I do not believe the concept of blasphemy exists in traditional Sikh marg (even though I have used it on occassion also), hence the historic tolerance of splinter groups with different views on certain aspects of doctrine and history i.e. Namdhari sangat. But with the amount of hukumnamah coming out of Akaal Takht nowadays for any academic who dares challenges Singh Sabhia Sikhi or mainstream thought - it is almost certainly gaining a prominant place amongst the Panth...

The people who use the word Guru for Bhagat Ji, use it under the guise of their 'new' religion - then how can it be blasphemy?

I have seen this term mostly used by Sunni Muslims, fanatical Christians (and Bahadur Ali) in my own personal experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, for us Bhagat Ravidas Jee is Bhagat, not Guru. For us, the human Guru is only those Gurus who were from Guru Nanak Dev Jee to Guru Gobind Singh Jee, and now their Guru Jyot is in Guru Granth Sahib Jee. A Sikh should never mimic the Chamar community by calling Bhagat Ravidas Jee as Guru.

We need to understand the background of the Chamar community when they call Bhagat Ravidas Jee as Guru. They are mainly Punjabi Chamars. Unlike the Kabir Panthis who have a direct link to Bhagat Kabir Jee, the Chamar Ravidasia movement has no direct Sampradayak or Panthic link going all the way back to Bhagat Ravidas jee.

Their movement is mainly a caste based movement that started not too long ago in reaction to Jats. Unlike Jats, Tarkhans, khatris, Lobanas, Sainis, Mazabi, Rajputs and even Brahmins who embraced Sikhi and have a long standing Sikh tradition within their own respective communities, the Punjabi Chamar community does not have a Sikh tradition of their own. They were never really Sikhs unlike some other communities in Punjab.

They mainly started reading Bhagat Ravidas jee's bani and began associating with him after the British took over Punjab, otherwise they don't even have any long standing tradition of being Bhagat Ravidas followers prior to that. The Punjabi Chamars being followers of Bhagat Ravidas Jee is a very recent phenomenon. Prior to the Chamarisation of the Ravidas movement, the followers of Bhagat Ravidas Jee came from all backgrounds and communities just as Guru Nanak Dev jee and Bhagat Kabir Jee had following from all communities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Will not spend too long on this reply,

As a police officer, a constable cannot start calling himself an Inspector. If others refer to him as an Inspector the constable corrects them.

One cannot take up the state that does not belong to them.

In Sikhi the Guru has writen the bani in as that of 'Bhagats'. If they saw no difference between themselves and the Bhagats i am sure they would have written 'Guru' Kabir, etc

I am aware people will say that their bani is in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and should be called Gurus as they are equal. If that is the case can we change all the granths and history books and write Guru Mardana as the favoured disciple of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji also has his writings in the Sri Guru GRanth Sahib Ji.

The Gurus and the Bhagats both give a radiance to the sangat. If we take all three into a metaphorical form then take the Guru to be the sun and th bhagat to be the moon. Take the sangat to be earth. The Earth requires the radiance of both the moon and the sun. Although radiance is radiance I am sure you will also state their is a difference in the radiance of the sun and the moon.

Both the Bhagat bani and the Guru's bani in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji give off radiance but there is a difference.

One must not differentiate with the bani from Sri Guru granth Sahib Ji just as the earth does not differentiate between the radiance of the sun and moon.

The earth requires both the radiance of the earth and moon and will struggle without one or the other.

The Sikhs require the complete writings in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in the same way.

hope that makes some sort of sense.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shaheediyan wrote:

I have seen this term mostly used by Sunni Muslims, fanatical Christians (and Bahadur Ali) in my own personal experience.

The use of religious terminology transcends your own limited individual experience i.e. just because you have only heard Sunni Muslims, fanatical Christians (so far I have only heard of Catholics, Orthodoxs and Protestants I didn't know there was a group called "fanatical Christians") and myself. Apart from the all too obvious association of cliches (fanatic - Bahadur Ali) let's put things back where they belong.

Most religious traditions know the concept of blasphemy and that includes Sikhism.

Blasphemy implies willingly attacking teh sacred by degrading what makes it sacred in order to hurt a community or the sacred object itself (God, doctrine etc).

The Roman Catholic Church regularly prohibits its followers from reqding or watching material that it considers blasphemous. Madonna's song "Like a prayer" or "like a virgin" are examples of songs that contain obvious references to Catholicism in order to insult it. Recently Madonna appeared on stage on a cross. This has been considered blasphemy by the Church.

Blasphemy used to be punished by death but the reform of blasphemy laws in Europe and the Churchs withdrawal from direct political rule has made it impossible. Yet the Church still excommunicates blasphemers.

In Iran blasphemy against God and his prophets (including Jesus etc) is punished by death. Criticism of the clergy and of religion is allowed as long as it does not involve insults. In 1989 Imam Khomeini (ra) issed the famous fatwa against Salman Rushdie for blasphemy against Ahlul Bayt (as). The term blasphemy is thus equally used by us Shi'as.

Judaism strictly prophibits blasphemy and its punishment is death. Because the exile of the Jewish people will only end when the Messiah arrives, Jezs are not allowed to carry out the death penalty for blasphemy but blasphemy is considered a major crime (not just a sin) in Judaism.

As for Sikhism the notion of blasphemy does exist even though, in absence of a proper system of jurisprudence no specific term is used in the theological jargon. Yet blasphemy still exists as a notion that needs to be punished. Examples:

- during one of the Kumbha Melas of the 19th century a group of armed sadhus slashed a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib. The Nihangs with the help of several Sikh rajas attacked these sadhus causing 2000 deaths. It was a response to the blashemous act of the sadhus.

- Ernst Trumpp, German scholar, was accused of blasphemy by large sections of the Sikh clergy including Baba Khem Singh Bedi for smoking whilstr analysing a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib.

- The Indian Army's devastations of the Akal Takht was considered an act of blasphemy by most Sikhs

- Baba Gurbachan Singh Nirankari was assassinated for having placed his feet on the Guru Granth Sahib and having proclaimed that he would bring about seven blue stars in teh same way as Guru Gobind Singh brought about the panj pyare.

-recently Gurpreet Kaur's "Beizhati" was deemed blasphemous by large sections of the UK Sikh leadership

- and there are many other examples of people who got eather killed, excommunicated for having insulted Sikh religious feelings.

The attempt to bring about the image of a modern and "tolerant" Sikhism in tune with present Western society clashes with reality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kam Ji that is correct within the context of the Sikh Marg. But the above quote from Mira Bai also shows that Bhagat Ji had his own following an was a Guru in his own right as well.

Mithar Ji, you write "They were never really Sikhs unlike some other communities in Punjab."

I'm sorry, this is nonsense. Chamaars were Sikhs as much as any other jaath, the reason for their ostracisation at the hands of other jaaths has already been discussed above. Rather than criticising the 'Ravidasis' we need to look at the real cause of the historic problem - which still exists today in both Punjab and the west - caste pride and discrimination.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The term Guru Ravidass can definetly be used for those who were his followers. The term Guru is not limited to the ten Gurus.

Its just, Ravidass isn;t part of the same Guru lineage of gurgaddi as Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Remember, Guru Nanak was also known as pir and so was Guru Gobind Singh. This doesn't mean that only they can be pir and noone else, same goes with Guru.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"What is the difference between a Guru and a Gurdev"

Good question.

ਗਉੜੀ ਸੁਖਮਨੀ ਮਃ ੫ ॥

Ga­oRi Sukhmanī mehla 5

ਸਲੋਕੁ ॥


ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

Ik­oakaar Satgur parsaad

ਆਦਿ ਗੁਰਏ ਨਮਹ ॥

Aad Gure Namhe

ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਗੁਰਏ ਨਮਹ ॥

Jugaad Gure Namhe

ਸਤਿਗੁਰਏ ਨਮਹ ॥

Satgure Namhe

ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰਦੇਵਏ ਨਮਹ ॥੧॥

Sri Gurdeve Namhe

The above is the manglacharan of Guru Arjun Dev Jis supreme bani - Sukhmani Sahib.

Maharaj is showing respect to his previous forms - Jagdi Jyot Paramapara if you like.

Aad Gure Namhe - The 1st or primal Guru - Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Jugaad Gure Namhe - The continuing jyot - 2nd Guru - Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji

Satgure Namhe - The manifestation of truth - 3rd Guru - Guru Amardas Ji Maharaj

Sri Gurdeve Namhe - Refers to Guru Arjun Dev Ji Maharajs Gur-Pita - both Guru and personal teacher (Gurdev) - Raj Yogi Sri Guru Ramdas Ji Maharaj.

IMHO the above is the best example of the difference between Guru and Gurdev - although many use the words as one and the same, it's no big deal - but I do believe there is at the least a subtle difference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sorry, this is nonsense. Chamaars were Sikhs as much as any other jaath, the reason for their ostracisation at the hands of other jaaths has already been discussed above. Rather than criticising the 'Ravidasis' we need to look at the real cause of the historic problem - which still exists today in both Punjab and the west - caste pride and discrimination.

I used to think the same thing. But if you check the earliest census reports done by the British which also collected data on castes, the Chamars never identified themselves as Sikhs, while all other communities did. Surely the Chamars were never more discriminated than the ChuRaas, yet the Churaas have always identified themselves as Sikh from the earliest of census reports. The truth is, the Chamars have never considered themselves as Sikhs of Guru Nanak Dev Jee, they have always identified themselves as Hindus. Within Hindu society the Chamars also get discriminated, yet that does not stop them from identifying themselves as Hindus.

As far as the Big Bad Jatts discriminating against them, well the Chamars are responsible for the same crime against the ChuRaas. A Chamar for example will never eat with a ChuRaa, and until recently, would never allow a ChuRaa to sit equally with a Chamar, they consider the ChuRas well below them in the caste hierarchy. ChuRas on the other hand, I feel very bad for them. They do not discriminate against anyone, yet they are discriminated by all. They have always been very faithful Sikhs. The Bhangi Misl was filled by them.

When I said that other communities have always had Sikh traditions, well just look at Tarkhans, Sainis, Rajputs, Labanas, ChuRaas they can all date back their traditions to times of the Gurus themselves, while the Chamars can't... Why? because they were never Sikhs in their long history. Sure there were Sikh Chamars here and there like the famous Giani Ditt Singh(master mind of the Singh Sabha movement), but over all Chamar mainstream community does not have a Sikh tradition neither have they ever identified themselves as Sikhs. Now they have turned Bhagat Ravidas Jee into the Guru of the "Chamars", when that was never the case. Until recently, Bhagat Ravidas Jee's followers came from diverse backgrounds.

But ever since Dalit nationalism of Dr Ambedkar, Dalits have decided to start and create their own religions. Dr Ambedkar called on Dalits to embrace Buddhism, while the Dalit leaders of north India in particular Punjab(mainly Doaba Chamars) called Chamars to embrace and high jack the name of Bhagat Ravidas jee. Even during the Punjabi language struggle, the Doaba Chamars would overwhelmingly identify Hindi as their mother tongue as opposed to Punjabi.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I still don't agree - one only has to go into a Ravidasi Gurdwara/Temple and see that 90% of their ritual is still Sikh - and the divaan is held around Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji - from which kirtan is done and vaak are taken.

That some chamaars discriminate against churai is a different topic - we are discussing the discrimination and alienation by Jatts that caused the division.

British census are not worth the paper they are written on - it was the British policy of dividing all it's conquered territories into racial/ethnic/tribal groups and following on the land reform policies that exploded jaath problems in the panth in the 1st place. Census was an alien concept to 19thc Indians - Sikhi was more plural and bounderies were not so important.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It mainly benefits Brahmins for the Dalits to split themselves into many groups affiliated to different Deras, and then to create friction between them and mainstream Sikhs is the icing on the cake.

(see website for full article)



Principal enemy

That Sikhism itself has suffered steady deterioration became clear in the long DV Debate on "Slow death of Sikhism".(DV Edit Nov.1, 1998: "Slow death of a brave community: BSO using internal enemies to destroy Sikh identity").

The Ballan saints are well aware of this and are proceeding carefully. They want to maintain close and cordial relationship with Jat Sikhs, the SGPC and the Sikh religious authorities.

The Brahminical forces have been trying to sabotage the revolutionary Sikhism both from inside and outside. Nobody can forget the bloodbath which the Brahminical forces engineered in 1984 in the name of "Blue Star Operation". Brahminism never tolerates any challenge to its authority. It goes on instigating Dalits against Sikhs and vice-versa. This is a centuries-old game.

But those of us who have identified Brahminism as our principal enemy cannot support Dalit criticism of Sikhs as it will only help Brahminism.

To win over such forces operating on both sides of the divide, it was decided at the recent Shimla Dalit Voice workshop to call a meeting of honest Sikh and Dalit intellectuals at Chandigarh to resolve the differences. In this we will seek the support of Jat Sikh intellectuals, Ballan saints, Dalit intellectuals and all those interested in saving Sikhism from the jaws of Brahminism

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is no Sikhism of the Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji left in the Panjab in my honest opinion, all we have now is:

AKJ (they have follow Bhair Randhir Singh more than the Guru)

Snatan Sikhs (copy of Snatan Dharam and its Varna)

Taksal (Another proud tradition)

Mainstream Sikhs (A new term which has been coined)

The purpose of all is apparently to get to God, but each have their own "the TRUE" method.

The Message of Guru Nanak Dev (from God) has been distorted so much, that some people laugh at the Sikhs in Panjab. People take more pride in being Radha Soamis and Nirinkaris.

Has the Brahmin machine of dividing these low scum shudras who wanted to break the caste system and unite humanity under One God, has it been sucessful. Yes it has.

Our consciousness has been damaged so much by this system that even subconsioucly we discriminate against each other.


I don't think that's an entirely accurate assessment as Taksaal has existed since the Guru's times as have many other sampradai. there is no enmity or division between these groups, as can be seen by the fact that many vidvaans learn from each other and there is also intermarriage. Some followers, of low understanding, do see division. But I doubt this existed generally in the past, and probably does not today except among some.

Gurbani tells us to learn about the Guru's teachings from the sants, and even today that is were Guru Nanak Dev ji's Sikhi still exists in full. There is no way such a powerful system can be destroyed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would be cautious with the "it's all because of Brahmanism" theory. First of all none of you here has ever come up with a decent definition of what Brahmanism is that actually corelates with what it's usually defined as. Secondly you all seem to forget that Brahmin Sikhs have always been among the closest disciples of the Gurus working as their purohits and advisers. The Rahitname and historical granths have for the most been written by Jatts who have clearly stated their hatred for Brahmins and all other castes. As for the origin of this system of varna and jati it goes way back beforeeven the Vedas came about and to blame Brahmins for the creation of this system is just utter ignorance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. Brahmanism is an outdated word used by Indologist scholars of the early 20th century for the Smarta tradition as founded by Shankaracharya with its synthetic attempt to reconcile all theistic Indic religions (Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, Ganapatya, Surya worship) into one coherent theistic system of belief and liturgy.

2. The threefold division of society into priest-warrior-famer is common to all Indo European cultures and the appearance of the fourth varna (shudra) in India corresponds to the slave in other societies. It thus predates the Vedas by far. The question in India has always been who was at the top of the sacred hierarchy: the priests or the warriors. The myth of Parashurama refers to this struggle as do many Upanishads who have been authored by kshatriya sages. The theory used by Dalits and Sikh groups according to which the "evil Brahmins" set out a plan to govern Indian society (a sort of Protocol of the Sages of Zion conspiracy theory) is simply ridiculous. Had it been so the shastras wouldn't make constant references to a real Brahmin having to live in outmost simplicity. In fact most of the time real Brahmins (not those who work in temples...that's just considere the lowest of the low for Brahmins) are nto very rich. Proof is that the richest man in Benares is an untouchable who makes millions by taking care of the funerals (any job to do with death is delegated to untouchables).

3. Social mobility seemd to have been more fluid during Buddha's time when the son of a farmer was able to becaome a warrior. Later on this social mobility was limited to jaati i.e. only if a complete jaati changed its profession and costums could it go up or down the varna hierarchy.

As for the Gurus they all married within their own jaati and in fact several rahitname do insist on marrying within one's jaati. Equality as proposed in Sikh texts is a religious one, i.e. that brahmins and shudras have the same possibility to attain salvation. Given the absence of a coherent social and political system it would far fetched to project on the Sikh Gurus the project of an utopian socialist society. And to blame Brahmins for the sheer hatred that emanates from the Jatt community for anything non Jatt is again just the same as blaming women for the existence of rapists.

The problem is clear and the problem is simple: a community without an intellectual elite lead by gready and resentful Jatts who have been waiting for centuries for their revenge against non Jatts.

Unbreakable wrote:

"Nobody really knows the true and proper root of Hinduism or its texts, one can only, based on historical books make a educated guess. "

Actually there are problems with your statement:

1. Hinduism is a 19th century concept that is very easily traceable see Richard King and Gavin Flood

2. Given the fact that what you call Hinduism is a conglomerate of disparate separate religions whpse texts are datable and identifiable....I guess Indologist scholarship on the subject is a bit more than just "a(n) educated guess"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...