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Can a white man convert to "orthodox sikhism"?

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Hello, i'm new on the SA forum.

My question is this: rather than converting to the 3HO group of Sikhism, where most white people convert to, is it acceptable to the sikh community for a white man or woman to convert to what i suppose could be termed the "orthodox" sikh community?

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Hello Welcome to the Sikhawareness Forum Ji,

I hope you enjoy your stay here.

Person of any race is more than welcome to adapt Sikh Dharma, on this forum itself there are two really educated sikhs with white back ground , they are not associated with 3ho group. They are associated with one of greatest and respected order of Sikh Dharma called Nirmalae (pure, without any dirt). Nirmala Sikhs are well respected in Sikh Masses for their scholarship and saintship and they also read upon many different school of thoughts along with reading their own. They really go along with other orders of Sikhism.

Back to the topic, you are most defaniately welcome to sikh dharma.

Please if you have any questions regarding sikhism, please feel free to ask. We are always here to help.

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I think you should start with Sri Guru Granth Sahib. If you understand Guru Granth Sahib then there is not much left to explore. The simple thing you should remember is that you are Sikh and following Sikh Gurus but your real goal is almighty God. So, keep all types of cosmos stuff aside and gain scriptural knowledge first and then move on to gaining spiritual knowledge which comes from prayer, meditation & Bhagati. You should read lots of books on Sikhism and rest assure that you will not find any one single book with little bit of bias with author's own views, so make a note of them and as you will progress in your spirituality your mind and your inner light will answer everything.

I think you should spend at least three years on Sri Guru Granth Sahib's study and then move on to next level which is learning about lifestyle of Bhagats who exist in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The major task will be to learn about all 10 Gurus lifestyle as much as you can and this will put you in a category of learners and you will spend more time sharing your great experiences through Sikhism than pin pointing what’s wrong with others.

And never ever assume that there is any short cut to Sikhism. This is lifetime experience so keep patience and never associate yourself with any cults/orgs/orders but only Sikhs. It doesn't matter if Sikh approaches you as Nirmala, Nihang, Saint, Hindu, Muslim Christian or in any form if you see someone with light of God in his/her heart then consider them Sikhs and respect them because outward appearance can be deceiving and don't just assume someone wearing 5 articles of faith and wearing turban is qualified as Sikh. A Sikh can be Pir Budhu Shah & as well as Diwan Toder Mal. Best of luck!

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By Orthodox Sikhism you probably mean one of the Orders established by our Guru's like Nihungs and Nirmale.

To learn more go to


Nihungs are more of warriors , and nirmale are scholars. I know a White Porteguese man who converted, and he is a Nirmala. Also on this forum, tSingh is a White British man i believe, he is also a Nirmala.

tSingh please do reply into this thread to help our brother out.

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My advice? Simple. (BTW some of this towards the end is useful for Punjabis too)

Do not be overly idealistic. Be brutally realistic. You are breaking British social norms and British society will respond with derision and ridicule to try and bring you back in, or push you right out. You’ll be laughed or sneered at publicly by at least 1 in every 10 people you meet in the street (more depending on where you live), you’ll have to adjust your daily life to avoid stupid situations, you will have to swallow your pride continually (or end up in fights regularly!), you become a soft target, you will have to develop skin of steel from here onwards, you will to varying degrees alienate your friends and family no matter how ‘liberal’ they appear, and depending how mentally strong you are you could well find yourself burnt out, beaten and defeated…all for a piece of cloth tied round your head and whatever you can muster on your chin! Remember that this is not what Punjabis experience. You are becoming an outsider and outsiders are discriminated against for that very fact. Therefore it is not racism as such. It is seen as justifiable therefore in everyday life to become a means for white people to physically and verbally vocalise their racism more so on you since you are not an ethnic minority!

Note also that there is a definate gender difference here. A man will get flack from men as part of the alpha male thing. I can only imagine that everyday hassle is easier for women, helped by the number of visible white female converts to Islam wearing headscarves.

Having said all this, its very good practice at dealing with potentially violent situations, and hammering your own ego. However I’ve also seen it plunge other people into depression (one Singh who lived in Leicester for a while and has since disappeared) and fear. Be aware that there are class and gender identity issues here too. Your verbal flack and harassment will come from ‘white van man’, and since my background is partly working class, it’s much to do with working class concepts of masculinity/pretentiousness as well as cultural history in the UK about visible expression of religious identity. Also think carefully about your future relationships in case of marriage for example. Whatever attractiveness you have to UK males/females before will have gone out the window! Hehe. Vice versa, although I know it has happened in most cases, you will struggle to get an arranged marriage to a Punjabi Sikh because according to the hang-over of braminical hegemony, all (bar occasional freaks) Punjabis consider caste in marriage, and a white man is as good as a untouchable in the varnashramdharam (caste system). Again be realistic. Rejection of caste among Punjabi Sikhs is generally hot air and tokenism. I can probably count on my left hand how many practicing Sikhs I know who totally reject caste in word and practice. It’s the sad reality.

You’ll also be told that ‘you’re better than us, you have no Punjabi cultural baggage’. That’s not entirely true either since you’ll be bringing British cultural baggage and this is something that the works like H.S. Oberoi’s ‘construction of religious boundaries’ will shake out of you. You have to deconstruct your own post-enlightenment conditioning to be able to understand Sikh history and doctrine more clearly for yourself. For example, you may well wish to separate ‘culture’ and ‘religion’ into two categories, but such things are not quite as simple as this. You’ll need to learn to recognise this and navigate through it appropriately.

Don’t anticipate that you will be welcomed into the Punjabi Sikh community with open arms. (Luckily I have been, both here and abroad but that’s a personal thing and I know others who haven’t). Even if you are initially its often for the wrong reasons, which may well become clear later on. Have no high utopian ideal about the lifestyles and values of both Punjabi Sikh elders and youth in the UK. Be realistic, they’re human beings also with all the same crap going on in their heads as anyone else’s. The term ‘gora’ (white) is a loaded one, and in India refers to the ‘gandi’ morally questionable hedonistic white world. Don’t be surprised by attempts to use your ethnicity as a tool for someone else’s agenda (‘man in blue’ is a case in example). Also be aware that a kind of ‘evangelical’ Sikhi exists nowadays and you are the perfect example for them. Evangelicals are more often than not ultra literalist ‘everything is black and white’ types, and there is no difference with evangelical Sikhs. Also for many, Sikhi seems to be cosmetic and young Sikhs are deluded by the tyranny of the visual! That unfortunately is the hard reality.

I don’t know what your inspiration is, but I would suggest taking things very slowly indeed. I spent a few years reading everything I could first, and slowly built it up.

Really think about what makes you want to become ‘orthodox’? Is it some intellectual ideal of yourself or others in your head? Some abstract concept of the noble chivalrous saintly man with a beard that seems attractive and appealing? Is it some psychological projection of a more spiritual and moral ideal of yourself? Or a new better identity? In my opinion, these are flawed grounds on which to become an orthodox Sikh and will inevitably lead to disillusion. You have to love the principles, not the material or selfish aspects.

Now if you are happy with all that, then viva your Sikhi!

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Man in Blue, is Harjinder Singh ji from Southall. He's a dutch Sikh convert. He calls himself the man in blue because he wears blue kurtha pyjamas. I know he's sound and I like his political fervour. I do however find his thinking symptomatic of a lot of what I mentioned; a concept of Sikhi based only on what is written in english, doesn't seem to have questionned his own cultural bias, a fair bit of post-colonial, post-enlightenment protestant ethos in there too (inherent rejection of the idea of meritocracy, Sikhi's boundaries defined through negation, 'Sikhi is really simple', anti-Sant, Singh Sabha thinking).

The reason I feel he's being used is because he is a firm advocate of the 'Sikhs as a separate ethnic group' agenda. In a sense this is already the case in British Law with the Race Relations Act which covered the panj kakkar under 'Race' equal opportunities legislation back in 1981 or whenever it was. However, they're pushing for a more firm clarification on this. Harjinder Singh is a strong advocate that he is a separate ethnic minority because of his beliefs and lifestyle. I'm sorry but thats lunacy. If I wake up tomorrow feeling a bit disillisioned with Sikhi, have I changed ethnicity? Its also flawed because such a piece of legislation would make a mockery of all his writings which posit that we should try to become 'more Sikh' by taking amrit or reading more Gurbani...but if we're all Sikh by ethnicity, surely thats out the window!!! It would change the criteria for what constitutes a Sikh. In my mind, that really is anti-gurmat; a threat to Guru ji's message. Surely its this confusion that causes so many problems.

At my most cynical I feel, knowingly or not, he is being used by those Sikh political groups pushing for a stronger case for Khalistan by turning Sikhs into a persecuted ethnic group, and ethnic groups need homelands..and what better way of making the case to white politicians than having a white man saying 'my ethnicity is Sikh because of...', racially diverse ethnically one.

A bit of a warble I know. To be clear, I've seen him speak and he's a nice bloke. I wish him no disrespect, just find his opinions naive, predictable and hypocritical...but then I guess I would.

BTW WHO THE HELL ELECTED THESE SUPPOSEDLY REPRESENTATIVE SIKH POLITICAL BODIES IN THE UK? WHO ARE SIKH AGENDA, SIKH FOUNDATION, ETC? I really hope the British Government have sufficiently improved since colonial times in recognising that by consulting with one 'representative body' does not mean that you have consulted 'Sikhs' per se. Hopefully all this cosultation in the UK on 'Islamic terrorist threat' stuff is waking them up to this...then again, Blair seems to have the historical, political and intellectual capacity of a mooli da paratha.

over and out

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very touching posts by Tsingh,

The world can not understand depth, most people wade in the shallow end.

We live in a world where we think like alcoholics anonymous's motto "admitting it is half the problem"...sure this can be true for a person in self denial, but one who is searching for something more needs to remember that the end goal is certainly not

a) an affiliation with a group

B) a fresh new change (otherwise this will be required ever so often with alot of outter preparation; whereas the plaguing disease within never whithers)

c) isolating yourself from the world for the pursuance of a higher ideal which in itself will be challenged if even a quarter of what you are searching for is being echoed by those who you have made your advesaries

one thing I suggest to all sikhs is to break out of this 'gang' mentality that we have mustered up. This tribal thinking is there in

a)caste; I am at fault for this too as I joke about caste often....but with guru's kirpa, I wouldn't let it be an issue with my offspring or family making marital decisions..thus far it hasn't been!

B) gurdwara politics.....(what the hell is the appeal, you have stubborn old men fighting over absolutely nothing more than 'media' time)

c) jatha's....fine every flower has its place in a garden...but heck look at the garden and appreciate the beauty......the garden doesn't last that long either

in breaking out of this, I would request maharaj to bless us all with a non-religious/completely inquisitive approach when engaging with guruji (by reading gurbani). It will certainly make us realise that everyone was talked to...the fisherman isn't doomed to hell anymore than the saint who scratched himself after seeing the shadow of maya....

a teacher once said to his disciple, read your text and summarize it into 5 paragraphs, he then said "take those 5 paragraphs, and sum them up into 5 sentences", he then instructed the disciple to summarize thos 5 sentences into 5 words....my advice, in doing so, never forget those 5 words.....when reading any word or thought in gurbani, think of what has been compacted down to those 5 words....

waheguru ji ka khalsa, waheguru ji ki fateh

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There are numerous ways to do this. But Sikhi is primarily a spiritual path. True, it is concerned with worldly things like justice (which is also a spiritual concept) etc. But it's primarily religous. My suggestion, understand the basics, then get Amrit shuk. Set a deadline beforehand, like in one year, or one month. You don't need to know a lot to get Amrit (the initiation/baptism). You just have to know that you won't commit a cardinal sin that needs you to get re-baptised.

My suggestion, focus on keertan, prayer, simran, spend as much time as you can in good sangat (including the Gurdwara) and avoid bad, try to slowly learn the Punjabi language as it will greatly help you, and slowly start following more rehit, adding on more rehit as time goes on.


Focus on your jeevan (spiritual lifestyle/discipline) and Simran/Bani most as that will be of the greatest use to you, here, and hereafter. It will also help 'cushion' you against negative worldly things.

and keep in touch...

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