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Summary of Question:Re: WHY ALL THESE CASTE'S??
Date Posted:Monday, 4/19/1999 9:37 AM MDT
Hello, I'd firstly like to start by stating what the person prior to me has written - there is no room for caste in Sikhism. In my humble opinion I see nothing wrong in Sikhs marrying other Sikhs regardless of so called castes. However parents are known to take a different view. I asked my parents how they would feel if I married another Sikh from a different 'caste' their responses was highly negative. Answers included the likes of:
'It isn't allowed'
'What would other people say'
'You would be considered an out caste'
The responses I get seemed to be targeted around maintaining the family name and marrying outside the 'caste' would be a sinful act.
I have had many discussions about the purposes of these divisions and their relevance. What I've managed to deduce (and all others feel free to correct me if I am wrong) is that through the evolution of Sikhism, the Sikhs took up various roles of work. Some went into farming, others carpentry and so on. It then seemed to make sense, for example, that farmers girl should marry a farmers boy as opposed to marrying a carpenters boy. The reason was simply because the farmers girl would be more familiar with the lifestyle of farming - in terms of planting and harvesting crops, raising farm animals etc, whilst not involved in maternal duties - she may be able to help with some of the work.
As time went on the divisions became stronger and people within their various 'trades' started to believe that their 'trade' made more money than any other, their 'trade' was more skillful, their 'trade' was superior to any other. From this the system of castes was born.
This is nothing new to mankind. Throughout histroy men have fought each other simply to prove their superiorty. It is this egotistical belief that I am superior to my peers which has polluted our beautiful religion.
I am constrained to marry a girl from my own 'caste' for the sake of maintaining the family name. However my children will be taught the religon as the holy Gurus intended - they will not be children of a caste - they will children of Sikhs.
Thank you for taking the time to read my message.
T
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Reply
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Sat Nam, ji. It's obvious that you have clear insights as to the inappropriateness of caste orientations within Sikh Dharma. We have to go no further than the direct examples of Guru Amar Das ji to verify this truth: There is no place for caste prejudices and preferences in Sikh Dharma.

If I understand you correctly, given your realization that Sikhs should not practice caste preference or discrimination, you are also saying that you also intend to follow your family's wishes, and marry according to caste.

What I'm wondering is the following:
1)Are you intending to follow the inclinations of caste, anyway, because self-sacrifice is a noble thing to do? 2)Are you doing it out of a sense of compassion for your parents (that they are unable to honor the directions of the Guru)? 3)Are you intending to do it out of a sense of cultural coercion? 4)Are you intending to do it out of a sense of fear, that Guru is not capable of supporting you to follow the dictates of your conscience, to do that which is the right thing (rather than the expedient thing)?

I hear you saying that you want to do this thing that you don't agree with, in order to move along with the process of your life as a Sikh, and that you won't impose these same inequities upon your own children. You are saying, in effect, "The buck stops here. I won't allow this problem to be perpetuated beyond me."

Logically, that sounds like a very wonderful thing to do. But in fact, Guru puts the test of life before every one of us. Guru never taught us to "Go along so we can get along." Guru taught us, in fact, to "Stand fast in your principles and allow His Grace to cover your needs." That is the test of faith. He also meant to do that with sensitivity to the consequences of what we are doing, not just to be a "Bull in a china shop." He didn't say "Beat everyone up with your self-righteous principles," and I don't hear that kind of intent with your objection to your parents' demands. But, it actually sounds as if you are in a real, existential dialogue between your own principles before your Guru, and the principles of your parents. This, I believe, is where Guru is putting something before you to grow on. This seems to be one of those positions in life where we can either grow, and really communicate, and really work things out, or take the "easy" alternative of going along and going to sleep.

Guru Nanak taught that "Truth is the highest thing." But then He said that "Higher still is the living of Truth." Being a true Sikh of the Guru is not the easiest thing, but any dedicated Sikh will tell you that it is the most wonderful thing. It sounds to me as if you are intending to slip through a challenge of life by rationalizing that you'll be better for your children. The Guru's path is between you and Guru, and no one else. That is the majesty of the direct connection to Infinity that Guru gave us. Don't give it away so easily, and don't undersell the Guru's capacity to carry you through with flying colors, according to your deepest insights and convictions.

Wahe Guru ji ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru ji ki fateh.

Please meditate on this and come to your own conclusion.

Humbly,
Krishna Singh Khalsa


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