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Summary of Question:Rehat Maryada
Category:Sikh Practices
Date Posted:Sunday, 5/06/2001 7:50 PM MDT


I have not yet converted to sikhism I am studying this religion and want to pursue baptism. In the Rehat Maryada Chapter XIII Article XXIV (c) pertaining to disabled I am confused as to why this is an issue?

Thank you very much


Sat Siri Akal Dear One:

You have asked a VERY GOOD question. The reply I will give you represents the thinking of those who codified the Rehat Maryada, and not necessarily all Sikhs or the original intent of Guru Gobind Singh, who gave us this Rehat.

For the record and for those who read this Forum, I will first quote what I understand to be the passage in English (SGPC) Rehat Maryada that you are questioning:

"Amrit or Sikh Baptism: Item (c)- 'None of the Five Beloved Ones should be blind, half-blind or a cripple. None should have commited a breach of the baptismal vows. All should be fit in every way: strong, healthy, cheerful, tidy.'"

To answer your query:
The Panj Piaray or 5 Beloved Ones who administer the Amrit represent ROLE MODELS for the ones taking Amrit (or baptism). The original 5 Beloved Ones were healthy and had full physical capacity, and they are understood to be the role models that subsequent Panj Piarays represent. It does not mean that only physically able people can be Sikh; that is not the thinking here at all. It means that Panj Piaray are supposed to represent the highest capability in every way one can envision.

There is also a practical aspect to this issue: It could possibly disrupt the flow of an Amrit Ceremony if a blind or cripple is always needing help to get up, sit, kneel, stir the Amrit, read banis, etc.

That is the official thinking. You have asked a question that I don't think has often been considered, if ever. You have made me, a Western/American Sikh who lives in a country with laws preventing discrimination against differently abled people, ask if this part of code is correct. I cannot answer that in any kind of official capacity, and my purpose here is not to give my personal opinions on such things. I also ask myself if Guru Gobind Singh were here today, would he accept this as such?

However, if this disturbs you I urge you (1) not to let it stop you from converting; and (2) to realize that the codification of Rehat that most Sikhs adhere to was done in the beginning of 20th century. Sikhi is a living faith, and we are entering into a new era of thinking. Questions like this need to be raised. I thank you for doing so.

Guru bless & protect you always,

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