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Summary of Question:Re. Why Is It Wrong To Marry Outside The Religion, Part 2
Category:Love & Marriage
Date Posted:Tuesday, 3/23/1999 12:04 PM MDT

This is a response to your response to my question, "Why is it wrong to marry outside the religion?"

I understand completely what you have said so far. Your observation about my implicit assumption is correct. Please continue...

To continue with an answer to your question (see Part I):
(Please note the final question for you at the end of this response).

Sat Nam, ji,
I'm very happy that this thread of discussion is clear to you. My suggestion is that it would be beneficial to look a little longer at the convenience of a verbal distinction between "Religion" and "Dharma." Others may hold different definitions or interpretations of these words in themselves, but its the contrast between two approaches to spiritual realities that is important.

The word religion comes from a Latin root which means "origin, going back to where one started from." In Christianity, where this usage derives, that usually is meant to be "God," and the original "state of perfection, the Garden of Eden," before humans "fell into sin." Thus, the Christian assumption is that humanity is corrupt and sinful, and belief in Jesus Christ (similar to a Guru) is needed to wipe out the sins and restore humanity to Divine Grace. That is one operative notion of what "going back to one's origins" via religion is all about.

Another aspect of religion is that it frequently goes along with an attitude toward one's "people" which can be called "tribalism." It is definitely an attitude of "our people" contrasted with "all other people." You're either born into the tribe or you're not. Dharma, on the other hand, is characterized by actions that are virtuous and devotional. Any person can do that, and so Dharma is universal rather than "tribal."

The distinction between religion and dharma is a functional one that can be helpful in looking at historical situation, and also appreciate that the two terms can sometimes cross over. Judaism was an ancient religion that is tribal in nature. The members (those who are born Jewish, conversion to Judaism is possible but unusual) regard themselves as "God's chosen people." They have a yiddish, slang term sometimes used to describe those who aren't members: "goyim." Christians considered themselves the "elect." Non-Christians are sometimes called "Pagan." Muslims sometimes describe non-Muslims as "infidels" (the "unfaithful"). These are all marks of the tribalistic orientations of "religion." In contrast, we have Guru Nanak's view (described in part I) that these distinctions are illusory. That he only saw and related to humanity and human beings. Dharma is not tribal, it is universal. A dharma, since it is comprised of devotional action, can be practiced by any human being who chooses to, regardless

of the nation or tribe of family origin.

If we consider the history of Judaism that Jesus experienced, you could say that he attempted to practice a religion that had tribal orientations in a rather "dharmic" way. He wanted to make it universal. This created a lot of animosity among the religious elders, and got him crucified. It can also be said that many Christian examples have taken Jesus' more dharmic orientation, and turned it into an "us-vs.-them" religion. Similarly, there are some Sikhs who have taken Guru Nanak's universal approach to Dharma and humanity, and turn it into a tribal concept that you have to be "Indian" or Punjabi, or of some caste or another, in order to be a good Sikh. I'm going to allow you the space and freedom of intelligence to draw your own conclusions about whether this is an appropriate thing for Sikhs to do (in light of Guru Nanak's example). What do you think?

Dharma is distinguishable from religion in other ways as well. Dharma, first of all, is not about "belief." Dharma is about conduct, action and practice (including meditative practice, or "Nam Simran"). (It is very interesting and helpful to note that both Sikh Dharma and Buddha Dharma are in close agreement on what I'm saying here). Secondly, in Dharma (especially Sikh Dharma and Buddha Dharma) humanity is not fallen and sinful. Our Gurus taught that the human essence is one with Ek Ong Kar, one with Sat Nam, identical with Wahe Guru. The all-powerful Grace, beauty and purity of Wahe Guru is none other than our very own essence, closer within us than anything else. So close, and yet so hidden by certain congenital factors of being human, that normally we don't realize it. These congenital factors include the fact that humans are 1)sense oriented beings, focused on physical sensations as the basis of our ordinary experience. Wahe Guru is not a physical thing, so we don't "see" Wahe Guru. 2) the hum

an mind is based on concepts, and Wahe Guru is not a concept or an idea. We have ideas "about" Wahe Guru, but those ideas are not, themselves, Wahe Guru. 3)Finally, our conceptual minds are based on a principle of duality, subject and object (in desire and action), subject and predicate (in speech). Ek Ong Kar, Sat Nam, and Wahe Guru are One, or singular, not dualistic. Therefore, they slip through the nets of our dualistic minds, and we are naturally, naively ignorant. This ignorance is very different that being "sinful" or evil. The wrong things and mistakes we do, according to Dharma, is because in terms of Truth, our natural condition is like a square peg in a round hole. In our natural state, we just don't "get it."

So, what is the solution? In the First Pauri of Japji Sahib, Guru Nanak also asks, "How do we penetrate the curtain or veil ("paal") of ignorance and illusion, in order to find Truth and Purity?" His answer, in the very next line is, "By obeying the Hukam (Order and Will) of the Guru."

What is the Hukam? Since the pronouncements of Japji Sahib were Guru Nanak's very first act as Guru, and since the First Pauri is only preceded by the Muhl Mantra, we don't have very far to look to find out what the Hukam is. The only verbal command form in either the Muhl Mantra and the First Pauri is the word "Jap". Jap means "recite and meditate upon" (the divine name, which is Sat Nam, etc.). So, if we delineate the "assumptions" that are implicit and necessary to the meaning of the First Pauri, 1) We must have a Guru (someone who has realized and been enlightened by Infinite Truth, and who is willing to be our guide and teacher. And, 2) we must do what that Guru tells us, which is to practice Nam Simran, in order to realize our own divine nature (which is no different than the divine nature of the Guru himself). The only ultimate difference between us and the Guru is the the Guru is a realized Being, and we aren't (yet). To live and practice in such a way (I've only described the beginning stages)

is to walk the Path of Dharma. Ego and pride become our downfall back into our usual, familiar state of ignorance, where we make mistakes, get jealous or angry, and commit negative actions, which weigh us down and take us farther from the Truth of our essence.

Notice that the Path of Dharma is a "walking toward" something. It's not about where we "were" in some idyllic earlier situation. It's about the realization of inner perfection that we are going "to." It has a future. It's not about the past of our origins that "religion" talks about, that we have to return to.

So then, in the context of dharma, what is marriage all about? Our Gurus described walking the sacred path of Dharma as like "walking on the razor thin edge of a sword." If we live in ignorance and stupor, on the one hand, we commit negative, karmic actions because we don't know any better. If however, we learn something and then become proud, boastful, egocentric about how great we are, then we fall off on the other side of self-pride. So, walking the "edge of the sword of the path of Dharma" we have to be devoted, aware, concentrated, humble, courageous, serviceful, kind, compassionate, Truthful, confident of our inner connection and identity Wahe Guru and the Infinite Truth. And we have to recognize that everyone else is coming from the same place also. It's only because of ignorance, pain, suffering and ego that any of us creates negativity. Therefore, those who do negative things are deserving of help not guilt and punishment. Guilt doesn't create humility, it creates resentment, anger and more

misunderstanding. Like Guru Nanak, we have to become a friend to everyone, and be willing to help everyone.

That is a very tall order, a very difficult thing to do. And so, we rely on the blessings and Grace of Sat Guru's Prasad to help us, to inspire us and ennable us to rise to the best within us, to do our Simran, Sewa and devotional living so that we have the strength, courage, energy, patience and kindness to be a real Gurusikh. And, Guru Nanak gave us a Dharma that is for householders. We don't have to do all this in self-isolation. We can have the blessing of a marriage of one who is also respectful, loving and dharmic, as a companion and support on this Path. We can have a life partner who also has the intention to be loving, to be devoted to Truth rather than ego, and we can help to balance, like holding the hand, while walking the edge of the sword. It brings strength. And, of course, we have Sat Sangat as the community in which we can be among loving people and remember the Name of Wahe Guru as our bond. This is not something that everyone is necessarily born into, it comes by Guru's Grace. And,

if a community that regards itself as Sikh is not living up to these ideals of the Guru, then we all have work to do in order to make it so. That is how we serve the Guru, to raise the level of awareness and kindness by our own example and by uplifting others.

So, if one longs for Dharma, if one longs for Guru's blessing and wants to be married, then we would wisely choose to be with someone who also longs for these things and is willing to work for that. These are the qualities that bring a human to shine as a divine being. And in that context, do you think it's more important to be a member of a particular ethnic group, tribe, caste, race or nationality in finding our mate, beloved and marriage partner? Or, is it more important to be Dharmic, truthful and devoted? Which do you think Guru is in support of?

I'd like to hear what you think.

In your original question, you said, <She is a family oriented person and I know that she will make me very happy.> Here is one final question for you: In light of what we've talked about here, in terms of what Dharma is and what marriage can be like in Dharma, "Does (can?) a person make another person happy? Or, does ultimate happiness come from Dharma, in which two people (in marriage) can share and inspire and help one another (in very important and closely intimate ways)?"

Humbly (and thank you for your good question),
Krishna Singh Khalsa

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