Transforming Relations (Part 6)

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Transforming Relations

A Journey from Autumn to Spring – The Secrets of Blissful Living

4th Chapter – Marriage – An Institution – 2nd Part

A Point of View:

Religion is not just a collection of beliefs but also a path of life :

The Sikh faith does not permit racial bias; hence, there is no racial bar when it comes to marriage. Regarding inter-faith marriages, one must understand that such marriages will be challenging, and both partners will have to work hard to make it work. Religion is not just a collection of beliefs to be understood, but also a path of life one decides to follow. Two spouses practicing two faiths will undoubtedly face many obstacles and hurdles. It is debatable whether a marriage would be successful if one partner converts to the faith of his/her partner. On the other hand, a marriage where both partners continue to profess their faith could also be successful (though rarely) if the couple concerned work hard on it.

Two Case Histories

A White Lady married to a Sikh:

“My husband is a great human being. While working for him as his secretary, I liked him. We got married, even though my British parents did not agree with it. Later, when they found my husband to be a nice and noble man and financially well off, they reconciled with our marriage. They now visit us regularly. Before our relations became normal with them, we started facing other problems. The problem of naming our children was easy to overcome. We agreed to give them both Punjabi and Christian names. The other problems, however, continue.

When we go to the church, none of us really benefits from it. He does not believe in Christianity and he just sits there to be with me. My mind remains constantly occupied with the idea that I am forcing one gentleman to sit there for nothing. The same thing is experienced at the Gurdwara, where our roles are switched. I do not understand Sikh sermons recited in Punjabi. He knows that I am there waiting for the function to be over.

The third problem is regarding the faith of our children. Should we raise them as Christians or as Sikhs? It bothers me most and it also seems to have no solution. He says, “I can raise them as Christians. However, as a true Christian, I feel it is sin to raise the children of a Sikh as Christians. If we do not teach them any faith, that also is a sin. I am really under great stress.”

The lady summarized her experience in two sentences. “If you love a person of a different faith, be a sincere friend but do not marry that person. By marrying you will ruin the true meaning of life for both.”

A different experience of inter-faith marriage:

A European lady is married to a Sikh who cuts his hair. She studied Sikh faith and had observed the Sikh culture before her marriage to him. She not only accepted the Sikh philosophy and culture, but also practiced it sincerely. She even taught Sikh heritage to the youth at the camps, of course with some Christian element. She gave a pleasant surprise to me by asking, “I want to become an Amritdhari Sikh. I wish my husband joins me. Please convince him to stop cutting his hair and also take Amrit.”

The conclusion drawn from these two case histories is that one must marry within one’s faith. In case of an inter-faith marriage, they must, before their wedding, join one faith and sincerely live that faith to have peace and achieve the mission of human life.

ਸਿਰੀ ਰਾਗੁ ਮਹਲਾ 3

ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਲੋਭਾਣੇ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਹਿ ਵਿਡਾਣੀ ॥ ਅਪਣਾ ਧਰਮੁ ਗਵਾਵਹਿ ਬੂਝਹਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਦੁਖਿ ਵਿਹਾਣੀ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅੰਧ ਨ ਚੇਤਹੀ ਡੂਬਿ ਮੁਏ ਬਿਨੁ ਪਾਣੀ ॥ 1 ॥ ਮਨ ਰੇ ਸਦਾ ਭਜਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਸਰਨਾਈ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਵਸੈ ਤਾ ਹਰਿ ਵਿਸਰਿ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥ 1 ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥  (SGGS – Siree Raag Mehla 3 – Page 31)

Am-mrit(u) Chho-(i)d Bikh-iaa Lobhaa-ney Sevaa Kare(i)h Vidaa-nee ll Apnaa Dha’ra’m Ga-vaave(i)h Boojhe(i)h Naa-hee A-ndin(u) du(i)kh Vihaa-nee ll Ma’nmukh A-ndh Na’ Chet-hee Doob Mu-ey Bin(u) Paa-nee ll 1 ll Ma.n Rey Sa’daa Bha’j-hu Ha’(i)r Sa’r-naaee ll Gur Kaa Sa’ba’d(u) A-nta’(i)r Va’sae T-aa Ha’(i)r Visa’(i)r Na’ Jaa-yee ll

Modern Issues

Anand Kaaraj: A Commitment

Anand Kaaraj, the Sikh marriage ceremony, is central to the Sikh institution of marriage, and the importance of its significance should not be devalued. Unfortunately, Sikhs have not been properly apprised and educated about the special bond and union that is created between two Sikhs through Anand Kaaraj. Any union without the blessing of the Guru will probably not have the desired results.

The Gurbani and Sikh history make it unmistakably clear that Sikhs of the Guru look upon the opposite gender as fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Except for Anand Kaaraj, nothing can alter this reality, and Anand Kaaraj creates a new relationship – that of a husband and wife. There can be no confusion that Anand Kaaraj, and Anand Kaaraj alone, is the only path for creating this special relationship within the larger Khalsa family. Unfortunately, many Sikh youth feel that they can replicate a husband-wife like relationship without first seeking the Guru’s blessing. Gursikh youth should try their best to not fall off the right path during adolescence. While a physical relationship is a grave mistake that a Sikh youth can make, even a non-physical relationship can disrupt a Sikh’s spiritual journey. We should strive to preserve and not violate the brother / sister relationship between Sikh youth. The first and most obvious reason lies in the fact that mimicking a husband/wife relationship without the Guru’s blessing would clearly be violating the Huka’m or command of the Guru. Only the Guru has the power to transform the existing relationship to the relationship of husband and wife. It would not only be presumptuous but also arrogant for a Sikh to act in any manner that violates the basic tenet of the holy Anand Kaaraj ceremony. Even an engagement does not allow the couple to forget the fact that a Sikh male and female are still not husband and wife unless their status has changed in the eyes of the Guru, and that too only through the Anand Kaaraj.

The Guru’s Bani frequently talks & elaborates about the need to control one’s vices, and when one is in a relationship, the couple may be tempted to indulge in such vices, as this is deeply intertwined with physical attraction and false emotional attachment. Historically, young Gursikhs have never entered into any relationship with the opposite gender (outside of a relationship that’s similar to siblings) without the blessing from the Guru in the form of Anand Kaaraj. Gursikhs who have the right priorities in their spiritual journey, such as Naam Simran i.e. contemplating & imbibing on the qualities of Waheguru, reading Gurbani, and doing Sevaa, will not feel the need to enter into any relationship that can only be spiritually harmful. Gursikhs recognize this life for what it is; a temporary illusion or Maya that can end at any time. Even an infatuation that does not lead to an actual relationship is a distraction, and Gursikhs should avoid such obsessions.

ਨਿਮਖ ਕਾਮ ਸੁਆਦ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਕੋਟਿ ਦਿਨਸ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਹਿ ॥

ਘਰੀ ਮੁਹਤ ਰੰਗ ਮਾਣਹਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਪਛੁਤਾਵਹਿ ॥1

(SGGS – Aasaa Mehla 5 – Page 403)

Nim’akh Kaam Su-aad Kaara’(i)n Kot dina’s Dukh(u) Paav(i)eh ll

Gha’ree Muha’t R-a’ng Maan(i)eh Fi(i)r Ba’hu(i)r Ba’hu(i)r Pa’chhu-taav(i)eh ll

For a moment of sensual pleasure, a person suffers in pain for millions of days.

For an instant, you may savour pleasure, but afterwards, you shall regret it, repeatedly.

Pre-Marital and Extra-Marital Relationships:

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee, the Sikh scripture, lays great emphasis on the purity of conjugal love. Thus, pre-marital or extra-marital relationship is not permitted. Bhai Gurdas writes, “Seeing other women, do not cast a lustful eye on them; instead consider them as your mother, sister and daughter.” Guru Gobind Singh was very vocal in his stance against adulterous relationships. He said, “Love your own wife more and more. Touch not another woman’s bed either by mistake or even in dream. Know that the love of another’s wife is a sharp dagger.”

Monogamy and a domestic life are advocated in Sikhism to achieve the Truth and continue reproduction of future generations. Conjugal relations before marriage and extramarital relations are forbidden in Sikhism. Such immoral relations are regarded as a cardinal breach of the Sikh faith. Separations and divorces on baseless and flimsy grounds are also not acceptable in Sikhism. Marriage after the death of a spouse is allowed. A marriage should be honoured by all and should not be defiled and degraded.

ਕਾਮਵੰਤ ਕਾਮੀ ਬਹੁ ਨਾਰੀ ਪਰ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਜੋਹ ਨ ਚੂਕੈ ॥

ਦਿਨ ਪ੍ਰਤਿ ਕਰੈ ਕਰੈ ਪਛੁਤਾਪੈ ਸੋਗ ਲੋਭ ਮਹਿ ਸੁਕੈ ॥ 3

ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਅਪਾਰ ਅਮੋਲਾ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਏਕੁ ਨਿਧਾਨਾ ॥

ਸੂਖੁ ਸਹਜੁ ਆਨੰਦੁ ਸੰਤਨ ਕੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਜਾਨਾ ॥ 4 6  

(SGGS – Dhanaasree Mehla 5 – Page 672)

Kaam-va’nnt Kaa-mee Ba’hu Naa-ree Pa’r G(i)rh Jo-h Na’ Chookey ll

Din Pra’(i)t Ka’rae Ka’rae Pachhu-taapae So-g Lobh Me(i)h Sookey ll

Ha’(i)r Ha’(i)r Naam(u) Apaar Amo-laa Am-mrit(u) Eak(u) Nidhaanaa ll

Sookh Sahj(u) Aan-na’nd Sa’n-ta’n Kae Naanak Gur Tey Jaa-naa ll 4 ll 6 ll

The blind fool abandons his own wife and has an affair with another woman.

He is like the parrot who is pleased to see the Simbal (Silk-Cotton) tree but in the end, he dies stuck to it.

ਘਰ ਕੀ ਨਾਰਿ ਤਿਆਗੈ ਅੰਧਾ ਪਰ ਨਾਰੀ ਸਿਉ ਘਾਲੈ ਧੰਧਾ

ਜੈਸੇ ਸਿੰਬਲੁ ਦੇਖਿ ਸੂਆ ਬਿਗਸਾਨਾ ਅੰਤ ਕੀ ਬਾਰ ਮੂਆ ਲਪਟਾਨਾ

(SGGS–Raag Bhaer-au Naamdeo Jee–Page 1164)

Ghar Kee Naar Tiaagey Andhaa  ll Pa’r Naaree Sio’n Ghaaley Dhandhaa  ll

Jaesey Simbal Dekh Suaa Bigsaanaa  ll An’tt Kee Baar Mooaa Laptaanaa  ll1  ll

Equality

Despite being in the 21st century, we still talk about the need for equality and freedom for all. But since its inception, Sikhism has propagated these basic values. Following the teachings of the Gurus, Sikhs are not supposed to think in terms of “this is not what a woman should do” or the men saying “I will not make Langar; it’s a woman’s job.” Every act is seen as a Sevaa (service) to people. For Sikhs, the simple act of doing Sevaa is far more powerful than going on moralistic crusades and sermonizing on issues. Following the Gurus’ sermons, Sikhs see God in all and hence believe that service to God can be done in various ways, be it running the Guru’s kitchen or cleaning the barrels of the musket.

ਆਸਾ ਮਹਲਾ 5

ਨਿਜ ਭਗਤੀ ਸੀਲਵੰਤੀ ਨਾਰਿ ॥ ਰੂਪਿ ਅਨੂਪ ਪੂਰੀ ਆਚਾਰਿ॥

ਜਿਤੁ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਵਸੈ ਸੋ ਗ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਸੋਭਾਵੰਤਾ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਈ ਕਿਨੈ ਵਿਰਲੈ ਜੰਤਾ ॥1

ਸੁਕਰਣੀ ਕਾਮਣਿ ਗੁਰ ਮਿਲਿ ਹਮ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਜਜਿ ਕਾਜਿ ਪਰਥਾਇ ਸੁਹਾਈ ॥1॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

ਜਿਚਰੁ ਵਸੀ ਪਿਤਾ ਕੈ ਸਾਥਿ ॥ ਤਿਚਰੁ ਕੰਤੁ ਬਹੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਉਦਾਸਿ॥

ਕਰਿ ਸੇਵਾ ਸਤ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਮਨਾਇਆ ॥ ਗੁਰਿ ਆਣੀ ਘਰ ਮਹਿ ਤਾ ਸਰਬ ਸੁਖ ਪਾਇਆ ॥2

ਬਤੀਹ ਸੁਲਖਣੀ ਸਚੁ ਸੰਤਤਿ ਪੂਤ ॥ ਆਗਿਆਕਾਰੀ ਸੁਘੜ ਸਰੂਪ॥

ਇਛ ਪੂਰੇ ਮਨ ਕੰਤ ਸੁਆਮੀ ॥ ਸਗਲ ਸੰਤੋਖੀ ਦੇਰ ਜੇਠਾਨੀ ॥3

ਸਭ ਪਰਵਾਰੈ ਮਾਹਿ ਸਰੇਸਟ ॥ ਮਤੀ ਦੇਵੀ ਦੇਵਰ ਜੇਸਟ ॥

ਧੰਨੁ ਸੁ ਗ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਜਿਤੁ ਪ੍ਰਗਟੀ ਆਇ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੁਖੇ ਸੁਖਿ ਵਿਹਾਇ ॥43         

(SGGS – Aasaa Mehlaa 5 – Page 370)

Aasaa Mehlaa 5 ll

Nij Bha’g-tee Seel-va’ntee Naa(i)r ll Roo(i)p Anoop Poo-ree Aachaa(i)r ll

Ji-t(u) Gr(i)eih Va’sae S-o Gr(i)eh So-bhaa-va’ntaa ll Gurmu(i)kh Paa-ee Ki-nae V-ir-lae Ja’n-ntaa ll

Su-kar-nee Kaama’{i}n Gur Mi(i)l Ha’m Paa-ee ll Ja’(i)jj Kaa(i)j Pa’rthaa-(i)e Su-haa-ee ll 1 ll Rahaa-ull

Ji-cha’r(u) Va’-see Pi-taa Kae Saa(i)Th ll T-icha’r(u) K-a-nt(u) Ba’-h-u F-irae Udaa(i)s ll Ka’(i)r Se-vaa Sa-t Pura’kh Ma’naa-iaa ll Gu(i)r Aa-nee Gha’r Me(i)h T-aa Sa’ra’b Sukh Paa-i-aa ll 2ll

I-chh Poorey Ma’n K-a’nt Su-aamee ll Sa’ga’l Sa’nto-khee Der Jethaa-nee ll 3 ll

Sa’bh Pa’r-vaarae Maa(i)eh Sa’resha’th ll Ma’tee De-vee De-va’r Je-sa’t ll Dhan-n(u) S-u Gr(i)eh Ji-t(u) Pra’g-tee Aa-ey ll Ja’n Naana’k Sukh-ey Su(i)kh Vi-haa-(i)eh ll 4 ll 3 ll

A Woman’s Role vs. Man’s Role

A homemaker’s job in any Indian family never ends. It is a 24-hour job and it would be correct to say that, the woman of the house has far more duties/responsibilities than the man does. e.g.: – The woman of today plays the role of the bread earner of the family. She works in the office, often putting in eight to 12 hours at work, and then returns home where she works to fulfill the daily needs of her family.

  1. She rarely gets recognition for her hard work. 
  2. Her inner strength keeps her going, and she always puts her family’s need before hers.
  3. She is devoted to her family’s needs, and always provides for the family.

However, despite all the sacrifices made by the woman, in many families women are subjected to domestic violence and abuse from other family members. Even the society at large doesn’t treat women with respect. Every man should try and do all the work that a women does; first finish the office work, and then return home to do all the pending chores at home. While a man’s hard work is recognized by way of promotions, a new house or a car, no one spares a thought for the women, who even sacrifices her goals for the sake of her family.

Women are even subjected to taunts, and if a woman defends herself, it is not taken well by many in the society. A sad truth is the fact that domestic violence is common in many Punjabi households, and many do not acknowledge the role of a woman and her many contributions.

In this environment, it is important that men appreciate what women do for their households. A man can take responsibility and help out with all household chores, including looking after the kids. The man of the house should thank his wife for all the work she does and even appreciate her work with his gestures, including buying a gift. Also, include her in all conversations and talk to her about your future goals. More importantly, defend your better-half at all times, especially in front of the family. Do not complain about the work she does, but help her in all the chores around the house. Finally, remember that “A family that prays and works together, stays together”.

Men would nowadays rather see a woman with lustful eyes of basic desire and something to be possessed. Sisters who now cut their hair and chase fashion, often forget that the same media that portrays women as models is also responsible for the top shelf magazines of the newsagents.

If we need to move forward, then we need to respect one another, because we love God and God is in everyone. So I ask you, what is the issue of equality now? If we ask for equality, then let us not forget that there is equality in martyrdom. Is a Sikh woman less of a martyr than a man?

If we open our hearts and minds to the Shabad (God’s Words); then these trivial worldly issues will not allow us to get upset. A new spring of strength will arise in us, like the one in our sisters above, taking us on the righteous path to God. Instead of looking for meaning and glory in our lives, glory and meaning will follow you!

Sikh daughters!!! Give our children fearless minds to see the world through the Guru’s eyes! Let our future brothers and sisters strive to become the Khaalsaa and continue to inspire others by becoming noble, fearless and Charhdee-Kalaa (positively imbued and inspired with high spirit) Sikhs. Let them live up to the standards of those countless Sikhs who sacrificed and paid with their blood and laid down their lives for the Khaalsaa Panth to remain DISTINCT and in EVER-EXISTENCE!

(—-ਚਲਦਾ—  Continued in next month’s issue)