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Summary of Question:Caste
Category:The Sikh Gurus
Date Posted:Friday, 2/23/2007 12:28 PM MST

My understanding of Sikhism is that it is based on two fundamental principles, spirituality and equality. It is the latter in which I need clarification in and my question is concerned with equality of human beings and its relationship with caste systems in sikhism and whether our Gurus have done enough to remove this prejudice from our religion. All the Gurus have preached and stated that there are no caste systems and that we as human beings are all equal. They have illustrated there disproval in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and also by different methods (introducing Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh Ji).

Despite this, caste in today’s society is stronger as ever (Jat marry Jat, Rajputs marry Rajputs etc) and the fact that marriage between different caste/social groups/communities do not happen or happens with difficultly with initially a lot of family disproval, clearly shows that there is still a social divisions in Sikhism and discrimination due to caste still exists. This brings me to my question, and with all respects, why is that 8 out of the 10 gurus married in their own communities/social groups/castes, (please don’t reply and state that they married all Sikhs and that there are no caste in Sikhism, because at the end of the day “yes” they did marry all Sikhs and suppossly caste systems was abolished by Guru Nanak Dev Ji however at the end of the day they all married in their own communities/caste). I understand that society was different in this time and one may say that this was nothing to do with caste but rather to do with the wife. As they will be able to adapt in their new family’s as quickly as possible without any more heartache (as most of the tradition in the new family home is as the same as her past family home. I do not believe this is a justification and reject this argument.

I also reject the argument that the wife’s of the different Gurus were put forward by their families and the gurus just married due to arrange marriage. At the end of the day and please do not feel that I am in anyway disrespecting our Gurus, but a Guru who in a position of authority/power/respect could of easily of said I want to marry in another caste/community than his own to demonstrate to all the Sikh communities that caste do not exist and that we are all equal regardless of our surname/profession/status .

If our gurus wanted to make a real stand and lead by example in Sikhism and show their support for equality in a practical sense and abolish caste systems why did the gurus not marry in a different community then marrying in their own? It could had perhaps solved a lot of problems in today Sikh society where divisions due to what caste a Sikh is more prevalent than ever. I am very confused on this and hope somebody with more knowledge might be able to help me.

(REPLY) Sat Nam. You've raised an interest philosophic question, but there is no way to answer it! We cannot go back and change history. Whatever the Gurus did, they did. Trying to second guess why they married, who they married is an exercise in futility. More to the point, and a better use of time and energy is to figure out a way to get rid of the ongoing prejudice and discrimination by caste. I agree it is still prevalent. And that is sad, stupid, and contrary to the teachings of our Guru. SP

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