1. Is God considered male or female?
Guru Granth Sahib (G.G.S.)
contains many names for God, both masculine and feminine.
These are all used to describe God. Ultimately, the Gurus do not consider God to be
male or female. The Mul Mantra states that God is Ajuni (Unborn), in other words,
God belongs to neither sex
2. What does Guru Granth Sahib say about women?
dismissed the prevailing values that downgraded women. He says:
'It is through woman that order is maintained. Then why call her inferior
from whpm all great ones are born.'
The Gurus use woman symbolically in the bani to represent the disciple.
Bhai Gurdas, the scribe of G.G.S., says, "Of all the Vedas' knowledge
and all other virtues, it is the woman who can best guide man
to the gates of salvation."
3. What rights do I have as a Sikh woman?
A Sikh woman has equal rights to a Sikh man. Unlike Christianity,
no post in Sikhism is reserved solely for men. Unlike Islam, a woman
is not considered subordinate to a man. Sikh baptism (amrit) is open
to both sexes. The Khalsa
nation is made up equally of men and women.
A Sikh woman has the right to become a granthi, a ragi, one
of the panj pyaras (five beloved), etc.
4. Are there any restrictions on what I can wear?
When Sikhs take amrit they must all, regardless of sex, keep the 5 K's.
says that one should only wear clothes which do not
distress the mind or body.
'Friend, all other wear ruins bliss,
The wear that to the limbs is torment, and with foul thinking fill the mind.'
G.G.S., p. 16
The Gurus were against the wearing of the veil, which is so popular
amongst Muslims and Hindus. Even Christian nuns are made to cover
themselves more than Christian priests.
Guru Amar Das
refused to allow a
Hindustani Queen from entering the sangat unless she removed her veil.
In Guru Granth Sahib, the veil is compared to suppression.
'False modesty that suppressed is ended. Now, with veil cast off, am I started on the way of devotion.'
G.G.S., p. 931
5. Can I read Guru Grarsth Sahib?
Yes. The reading of Guru Granth Sahib, is open to all. In Hinduism,
a woman is not considered capable of reading the Vedas in a mandir.
Guru Amar Das
got attracted to of Sikhism after hearing
Bibi Amro reciting bani.
6. Can I be forced into an arranged marriage7
Sikhs are forbidden to marrying off their children without their prior consent.
Both sons and daughters are required to reach a mature age, both physically and
mentally, before they marry. Thus, parents must ensure that their children are allowed to
grow and be educated to the fullest. Arranged marriages are the norm for Sikhs. Sikhs
are forbidden from marrying outside their faith and are not allowed to keep sexual
relationships outside of marriage. The Gurus considered marriage an
equal partnership. Guru Amar Das states:
'They are not said to be husband and wife who merely sit together,
Rather they alone are called husband and wife, who have one soul in two bodies.'
G.G.S., p. 788.
This is in contrast to other faiths. In Islam the husband is permanently the dominant partner.
'If your wives are overbeanng, advise them against it. If they do not care,
refuse them sexual intercorse. If they still persist, then give them a thrashing.'
Holy Quran, Ulnissa 434.
7. What about dowry?
Sikhs are forbidden from marrying off their children for monetary benefit.
Concerning dowry, Guru Ram Das states:
'Any other dowry, which the perverse place for show, that is false pride and worthless gidding.'
8. Who is considered more spiritual ~ man or woman?
Unlike other faiths, Sikhism states that both man and womxn are capable of reaching
the highest levels of spirituality. A particular hymn in Guru Granth Sahib states:
'In all beings is He Himself pervasive, Himself pervades all forms, male or female.'
G.G.S., p. 605
9. Why is the birth of a boy more welcome than that of a girl?
If this is the case, it is totally against the teaching of Sikhism.
The birth of a girl or boy should be equally joyous for Sikhs.
The practice of giving sweets and celebrating Lohri only on the
birth of a boy is anti-Sikh behaviour. Female foeticide is condemned
in the Sikh Code of Conduct. There are clear instructions that one who kills
female infants, has no place in Sikh society, and has to be excommunicated.
10. What about my independence?
No Sikh is taught to be subservient to anyone else. Thus, independence is
open to both sexes. Every Sikh is able to attain spirituality independently,
as there is no priestly dass in Sikhism. The path of love which Guru
Nanak initiated is open to all.
'Shouldst thou seek to engage in the game of love, Step into my street
with thy head placed on thy palm, While onto this stepping,
ungrudgingly sacrifice your head.'
G.G.S., p. 1412
The Khalsa nation is open to men and women alike. Guru Nanak observed how defenceless
women had been when Babar, the first Mughal Emperor of Hindustan, invaded Punjab:
'Babar with wedding party of Sin from Kabul rushed down,
and forcibly demanded surrender of Indian womanhood'
'Set aside were KaSs and Brahmins, and Satan went about solemnizing marriages.
Muslim women, reciting the Quran, in their affliction called on Muda.
Other women of lower castes and of the Hindus in this suffering too include in your account.
Saith Nanak: Sung are paeans of blood and sprinkled is blood for saffron'.
G.G.S., p. 722
The Gurus ensured that such an event will never occur again. They made a nation
of soldiers capable of defending themselves as well as others. Thus,
ensuring they need not depend on anyone.
11. Asian women in general are subservient to their husbands. What is the Siki view-point?
Hinduism does state that women are under the control of men. The laws of Manu state:
'In childhood, a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband,
when her lord is dead, to her sons; a woman must never be independent.'
Law 148, Chapter V.
Sikhism is totally opposed to this view. Christian women must change their
names after marria&. The concept of maiden and married names is alien to
Sikh philosophy. Sikhs practising it now do so out of ignorance. A Sikh woman
is born with the surname Kaur and dies with it. Thus, allowing her
to keep her identity throughout life.
12. Are there any famous Sikh women in history?
Sikh history is one which has been made by both men and women. There are many,
many outstanding Sikh women. The Gurus' wives led highly spiritual and independent
lives. Mata Sundri
led the Sikhs for a long period after Guru Gobind Singh's death.
was a famous Sikh General who led the Khalsa army along side Ranjit Singh.
The list of important Sikh women is endless.