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Of Course We Need to Change The Reht Maryada!


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Note: I want the sangat to know that this is not my opnion. I post this article to discuss about it in more detail...

The Kamalla Rose Kaur Column

Of Course We Need to Change The Reht Maryada!

Kamalla Rose Kaur Tue Aug 07

Sikhs seem really upset when I state my strong opinion that we need to rewrite the Reht Maryada, or at the least retranslate it. This comes across to many as if I am saying we need to rewrite the Guru's teachings! No, rather we need to bring the Rehts up our Siri Guru's standards. In the meantime, I really advise every Sikh to hide the Reht Maryada from Westerners, especially Religious Studies Departments at major Universities, because it gives a FALSE and negative and silly impression of Sikhi to people who speak English.

For instance, given that Sikhi is a religion that preaches equality of the sexes, it is a bit strange that the SGPC is such a male dominated committee, all listed out at the very top of the Reht Maryada, as if SHOWING OFF the gender imbalance in Sikh leadership. Of course, when you let men write such documents they tend to come out sexist, and oooeee is the Reht Maryada an example of this! Women of marrying age are referred to as "girls" - can you believe it? What are the World's women going to think about that? And all sorts of other sexist implications and double standards and language show up throughout the document.

But the most embarrassing part of the Reht Maryada is in the Sikh Marriage Codes! Of course, I am speaking about that HORRIBLE letter O! Don't you all

blush to imagine the educated World reading:

"A baptised Sikh ought to get his wife baptised".

O really! Just how am I supposed to "get" my non-Sikh husband to become a Khalsa Sikh just because I am Khalsa? Isn't it GOD who calls us to become Khalsa, not husbands or wives? My non-Sikh husband Ken, on first reading this, said the obvious, and "What if she is a Methodist minister?"

Moving on and going general for a moment, why aren't we protesting horrible translations? They CHANGE the message of the SIKH GURU. The Sikh Gurus do not ascribe gender to GOD in their poetry very much at all! So why have translators added in all those Hes and Hims? Why did they turn our non-sexist scripture into a sexist one? It is pure blasphemy, and since when is GOD "Lord" in Sikhi? The word "Lord" means a high-caste male. It is a Christian concept that most Westerners, including many Christians, are sick to death of. Right?

Another Christian word used all the time in the present translation of the Reht Maryada, that is really misleading and difficult for me to read, is the word "baptism" used to speak about becoming Khalsa!

My friends, BABIES get baptised.

Also babies eat pudding!

Yes, by the time a Westerner makes it down to the section about Prasad, the idea of "Sacred Pudding" will most likely cause him or her to laugh out loud. Try it! Just say, "Would you like some 'sacred pudding?'" to a native English speaker and watch politeness war with belly laughing!

"Sacred Oatmeal" has about the same tone or "Sacred Bowl of Prunes". Pudding

is very bland and British stuff. "Sacred Pudding" is thus a bit hard to compute. It kind of scrambles the brains, like "sacred scrambled eggs" and makes you laugh before you can stop yourself.

So, of course, we need the Reht Maryada changed or, at the very least, translated into English far more accurately. And, of course, we need a committee to do this work that is half women. But in the meantime, I suggest we follow the good and true basic tenets of the Reht Maryada while we happily HIDE it from Westerners interested in Sikhi. Also hide the SGGS interpretations that are full of sexist language! Personally I like to hand Westerners Dr. Nikki-Guninder Kaur Singh's interpretation of Sikh prayers called "The Name of My Beloved" published by Harper Books, San Francisco, because she uses no sexist language and the beauty of our Guru's poetry comes through.

This is important because misrepresenting the Siri Guru's teachings is a VERY

BAD thing to do.

Of course, we need to change the Reht Maryada!

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darn, da only doubts i have abt da sikh marayda is dat dey tell u if ur amritdari den u shud marry a amritdari like u too.

so wat if u dnt find ne1 like urself, or with whom u can get along whos a amritdari, but u come across a real special person, who isnt amritdari?

i understand dat it is advisable dat life wud be much easier if both partners practice da same religion. yeh i guess it all makes sense den. um sorry pplz. but man, ive seen so many ppl who r amritdari, yet dey're totally ignorant of wat sikhi is really abt, its about kindness, love to all, and humility ofcourse. if i wer to marry som1, i wud neva marry an amritdari who looks down at otha ppl who arent so fortunate to have sikhi, and man ive seen so many ppl like dat, kinda turns u off from da whole marriage thing. um sorry for goin on.

peace ya'll

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Gur Fateh!

My opinion may be controversial for some, however I honestly feel the notion of 'rehit maryada' is interpreted so rigidly over and above the Sri Guru's advice and often over and above common sense (one instant being where a Sardar's Kirpan fell out of his Gatra and he was seen worrying and fretting thinking he had broken his Amrit and was seeking to retake it).

It is rather ironic that the more Sikhs are seen condemning Brahamanism the more evidence one sees of it subconsciously creeping in the Panth.

Pick up any 20th century Sikh booklet or article and we’ll see a common theme of “Hindoos have rituals, Sikhs don’t and Sikhism is modern, scientific and doesn’t believe in rituals”. Indeed Guru Ji has spoken against the ritualism of Brahmanisn, such as the Janjoo, Tilak, Pooja, Archa, Bhog, ritual cleaning, pilgrimage, considering oneself ‘pure’ and hence separate and superior from others, the use of caste to exclude or include people in religious matters and so on...

It is amazing when one compares these to those who consider themselves as the Tat Khalsa today or the truest of Sikhs with lavish claims to follow the puratan or tat gurmat maryada as expounded by Guroo Gobind Singh himself –there are many who make this assertion. They do so on the basis that like the Janjoo they have the 5Ks (namely the Gatra often with blunt kirpan), like the tilak the keski, Pooja, archa, bhog as components of the Akhand, Sampat or Sehaj Path, bathing at the Bauli Sahib at Goindwal, pilgrimage to Hemkunt similar to that to Haridwar or Badrinath, maintaining dietary controls restricting those they dine with, again the simplistic and incorrect translation of Khalsa as ‘pure’ is another case in point.

This increasing stress on Bana as against Bani forms a striking resemblance of Brahmanism creeping into our Panth, all too often by the very same people who shout the most against Brahmanism. Please do not mistake my comments, to be Khalsa Singhs is something that we should all strive for, I do personally feel that we are an Dharm of ‘ideals’ as opposed to rules and as such ideals are there to inspire us to higher levels, not ends in themselves or rigid rules.

I am in no way questioning the necessity of the 5K’s et al, these are integral for Khalsa Singhs, I make my point as this is increasingly where parchar, lectures, books, articles etc indicate the buck to stop. The insistence on being ‘simple’ has produced simpletons who have no in depth knowledge of dharma and Sikhi is increasingly being marketed as the 5Ks and Amrit and that too as an occurrence that occurred in 1699 which somehow fell out of the sky into the lap of Guru Gobind Singh. In view of this it is hardly surprising that when one asks an inquiring question that goes beyond the 5Ks and the identity of Sikhs that many people can’t answer, claims of anti-sikh agents run wild, the RSS have a field day in Punjab with the Simpletons who buy anything their told, sikh girls and boys abandon the Khalsa Saroop for lack of authentic understanding of the underlying principles and Dharma and so on.

Again, I personally feel that the strength or weakness of ‘true’ dharma can be assessed from the level of emphasis placed on such external rituals and observances in comparison to that placed on, for want of a better term theology vis-a-vis divinity, spirituality, mysticism, learning and practising as opposed to simply observing. Rituals in as far as Sikhi is actually concerned are not bad in themselves, being outward expressions of one’s internal faith, however Guru Ji warns us against the practice of empty rituals which is in fact what is condemned.

In my experience, mentioning this to the Sikh zealots usually receives a paranoid and aggressive reaction waiving fists at you claiming that the future of Sikhi lies solely in the maintenance of the Bana and associated rituals.

To my mind, and I fully aknowledge this (and all of the above) is a personal opinion, the rehit maryada is intended to be a fluid set of guidelines to allow for the transmission of basic ideals for one to aspire towards and from which to develop their own relationship with Maharaj. For this reason, much of Kamala Rose Kaur's commentary fails to address the time frame for which the rehit maryada cited (SGPC) speaks of things in the way it does, the same way why many of today's Tat Khalsa Singhs get confused or upset when reading the rehit namas of old where certain requirements made in relation to the time frame concerned appear to be outwith today's understanding and application of Gurmat and cast these aside as 'contaminated' documents.

Apologies for any foolishness on my part.

Humbly,

Niranjana

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In my view, only a Puran Brahmgyaani belonging to Sikh Dharam can revise and modernise Rahit Maryada.

Where is this Puran Brahmgyaani?Is he/she yet to be born?

Everybody!!Ask Vahiguru to send His Parsaad, in the form of a Sikh child.We need help...

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The 'Sikh Reht Maryada' was written by Punjabi Sikhs. At that time, there was no Westerner Sikh anywhere. The writers did not think that in future, any Westerner Sikh could not understand it.

The writers wrote the 'Sikh Reht Maryada' keeping in their minds only the Punjabi/Indian Sikhs. For example, in 'Anand Sanskar' (Matrimonial Conventions and Ceremony) section, the 'Sikh Reht Maryada' says, "Putting on floral or gilded face ornamentation, decorative headgear or red thread ban round the wrist, worshipping of ancestors, dipping feet in milk mixed with water, cutting a berry or 'jandi' (prosopis spicigera) bushes, filling pitcher, ceremony of retirement in feigned displeasure, reciting couplets, performing 'Havans', installing 'vedi' (a wooden canopy or pavilion under which Hindu marriages are performed), prostitutes' dances, drinking liquor, are all sacrileges".

Cutting a berry or 'Jandi' is a Punjabi ceremony. I think that many of Westerners do not know about this ceremony. Similarly, there could be many ceremonies in Westerner countries, which should not be performed by a Sikh, but those ceremonies/rituals are not mentioned in the 'Sikh Reht Maryada'. If you think that 'cutting a berry' cannot be understood by a Westerner, the full explanation of 'cutting a berry' should be given to his/her. Hiding the 'Sikh Reht Maryada' is not the solution.

I really advise every Sikh to hide the Reht Maryada from Westerners, especially Religious Studies Departments at major Universities, because it gives a FALSE and negative and silly impression of Sikhi to people who speak English.

Only thing needed is to give explanations to all the contents. When the Universities are spending a huge amount to publish old scriptures for the ordinary people, how can we think to hide some scripture from the people?

For instance, given that Sikhi is a religion that preaches equality of the sexes, it is a bit strange that the SGPC is such a male dominated committee, all listed out at the very top of the Reht Maryada, as if SHOWING OFF the gender imbalance in Sikh leadership.

The SGPC is a male dominated committee? Bibi Jagir Kaur became the president of the SGPC. She was not a male. Compare this to any other religious committee. What if anyone says that the SGPC is a Punjabi dominated committee? What if anyone says that the SGPC is a Jatt dominated committee? What if anyone says that the SGPC is an Indian dominated committee? I think the SGPC must be a Sikh dominated committee.

The gender imbalance in Sikh leadership? Do you think there is any REAL Sikh leadership? We are being ruined because there is NO true Sikh leadership.

Come forward the Sikh women! You are most welcome. If any Sikh woman decides to go to the SGPC from my constituency, my vote is reserved for her provided she wants to do something for Sikhi.

Of course, when you let men write such documents they tend to come out sexist, and oooeee is the Reht Maryada an example of this!

Come forward the Sikh women! You are most welcome. Write yourself the documents and other books. Also tell the people if there was any famous learned Sikh woman, who was not called to discuss the 'Sikh Reht Maryada'.

The Sikh women writers are most welcome to share their articles on www.sikhawareness.com and www.amritweb.com .

Women of marrying age are referred to as "girls" - can you believe it? What are the World's women going to think about that?

In Punjab, we often call unmarried women as 'girls'. In invitation cards for the marriages, the boy is often called 'Kaka' (child). In Indian army, a soldier is called 'Jawan' (young), even if he is 50 years old.

If using the word 'girl' is a BIG ISSUE, the word 'woman' can be used instead.

Another Christian word used all the time in the present translation of the Reht Maryada, that is really misleading and difficult for me to read, is the word "baptism" used to speak about becoming Khalsa!

My friends, BABIES get baptised.

Christian term? What will we do if someone says 'Guru' is a Hindu term? Are 'Deekhiya' (Hindi 'Deeksha', used for 'Indian baptism'), 'Sikh', 'Amrit', 'Bhagwan', 'Paramatma', 'Atma', 'Mukti', 'Ram' Hindu terms? :roll:

We all are the babies, the God is the father/mother.

Yes, by the time a Westerner makes it down to the section about Prasad, the idea of "Sacred Pudding" will most likely cause him or her to laugh out loud. Try it! Just say, "Would you like some 'sacred pudding?'" to a native English speaker and watch politeness war with belly laughing!

It is a problem with translation. Please suggest the right translation for 'Karhaah Parshaad'.

we need a committee to do this work that is half women.

We need a committee to do this work, whose members are Sikhs.

Of course, we need to change the Reht Maryada!

We need to explain the 'Sikh Reht Maryada'. There are already different 'Reht Maryadas'. One more 'Reht Maryada' makes no difference. The 'Sikh Reht Maryada' is not as sacred as the Gurbani. Some of its parts could be written again, if the 'Panth' wants. No individual has the right to do so.

I discussed this matter with an African-American Sikh woman through emails. I suggested that a Punjabi and an English speaking Sikh can explain the 'Sikh Reht Maryada' together. I wrote an article to explain the definition of Sikh given in the Sikh Reht Maryada. I was ready to write on this topic as a co-writer, but was disappointed. :cry: .

It is easy to raise a controversy. People want to see what you have done to solve a problem.

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Kamalla rose kaur seems to want the rehit maryada to be translated in a way "correct" for her because she wants people to percieve it the way she does.

or perhaps she just wants a bit of thought put into translations. 8)

your thought about changing the term "sacred pudding" is one I agree with, even though that is what it is. :D

Although in india it is usually a starter/delicacy not a pudding! :shock:

However, one thing I MUST say is that basically, the english language is too rigid and unyielding, it would be impossible to translate things properly the way you or I want to see them and especially Gurbani.

:?

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