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CASTEISM IN SIKHS

CASTEISM IN SIKHS 

Coin a different term for it

We reproduce an article from a Delhi based journal 'Dalit. Voice' which wrongly claims that Sikhism is almost as caste-ridden as Hinduism is. Author's objection being that the marriages in Sikhs are still caste based and the lower caste Sikhs are still discriminated against. We feel either the author has no knowledge of what casteism is or there could be some deliberate attempt to defame Sikhism. The author must note that the remnants of casteism/tribalism that he has noticed are there in Islam as well in Middle East, Pakistan and Bangladesh too. Cast-conscious matrimonial 'do appear in Pakistani dailies as well. We admit that it is a fact that caste -consciousness does exist here in Punjab but its shape and form are quite different from elsewhere in India. Caste awareness at the time of marriage is partially due to financial status determination. Besides what ever little awareness exists its magnitude is much less as compared to caste-consciousness within shudra outside Punjab. The author cites example of Tarkhan [carpenter] Sikhs. We need to tell him that the Tarkhan were shudra of the Hindu Varnasharam rechristened today as the Ranrgarhias in Sikhism, they are today the most prosperous community, which has a feeling of superiority. They consider themselves better than Bhapas and also Jatts who themselves were shudra once upon a time in history. The author must note that here in Punjab it is 'his dalits' which dominate, poor Khatris- Aroras [kshatriyal and Brahmins with secondary political status assigned. For example Giani Puran Singh [ex-head of Sri Akal Takhat] and Baba Thakur Singh head of Dam Dami Taksal come from the erstwhile Balmiki caste. Bibi Jagir Kaur comes from the Lubana caste. But these facts are not known to Sikh masses and Dalit Voice may carry out some survey on this.  Rao must compare the incidence of Casteism elsewhere in India and Punjab. Can Rao find an untouchable serving langar the kitchen to Brahmins? In Sikhism it happens.
Coming to the writer's comments that Sikhism has not united castes, perhaps the writer can't discriminate between the caste incidence of Punjab and other parts of lndia. 
Some political parties like Congress have however tried to play havoc with the Sikhs to create caste awareness among Sikhs. Like they tried to form caste based forums to dilute national i.e qaumi feeling among Sikhs by dividing them and they have succeeded partially but ultimately truth shall prevail. 
Dalit Voice may analyse the caste based Gurdwaras in Delhi's. We dont know whether the writer will be pleased or displeased to know that out of about 90 Gurdwaras in Delhi only 3 or 4 are caste based ones which again are promoted by the erstwhile Congressite Sikhs. 
Coming to newspaper matrimonial; we have before us Tribune of Feb.13 [Sunday] total caste title/categories that figure arc Hindu-Brahmin, Khatri/Arora, Vaish/Jain, Rajput and Miscellaneous and now mark Sikhs- it is Sikh, and Jat Sikh, that is all. There again it is the Tribune which does mischief. It is their office which divide matrimonial into such categories. Now compare it with the Hindustan Times Delhi matrimonial with almost half a century caste categoris.
Buta Singh, if he feels that he is being treated as untouchable, it is for his kartoots actions towards Sikhs that he had to flee from Punjab and get his son married in a Bengali family. 
The fact is this editor feels ashamed of talking like this in caste terms it is sinful. Because Guru says caste-awareness is attributable to ego which has to be minimised on the path to religion. Guru Nanak brought a revolutionary change when an erstwhile Balmiki was asked to serve langar at Kartarpur sahib. 

RELIGION DOES NOT UNITE CASTES

Y.Chinna Rao

A visit to Punjab in October last and attending a two day seminar of Sikh intellectuals at Chandigarh helped us throw further light on our "caste identity' Debate. 
 Our three days stay and discussions with upper caste Sikhs, Dalit Sikhs, Backward Caste Sikhs, Dalits Christians and non-Sikh Dalits etc. further convinced us that religion does not unite. 
The Sikh religion offers the best proof for this. The Sikh religion not bind the Sikhs but it did not create even an understanding. This is what SC/BC Sikhs and others told us at Chandigarh. 
The Tribune, Chandigarh, the largest circulated English daily, had several pages cf matrimonial advertisements on Sikhs. The ads clearly mentioned the sub caste of every Sikh boy or girl whom the advertisers are seeking. And many of the advertisers are based in the West. Caste making a devil's dance within every Sikh. Such a powerful religion today is broken into pieces – water tight compartments. 
Death blow to caste: The Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak to destroy the caste System and liberate the Dalits and other oppressed jatis. The last Master( Guru Gobind Singh gave a death blow to caste system and declared Sikhism as something different from both Hinduism and lslam. But what is the fate today? Caste is intart among Sikhs. 
Even upper caste Sikhs like the Khatri, Arora, Jat etc. are also equally divided. Each Sikh jati has separate gurdwara of its own. Gurcharan Singh Giani, who heads a Sikh jati of Ramgaria (carpenters), said Sikhism was steeped in casteism. President Zail Singh belonged to this caste. 
The Dalit Sikhs, Dalit Christians, Ramgarhia Sikhs, and even some honest 'upper caste Sikh leaders admitted that every person in Punjab lived in a water tight compartment of his or her caste. Sikhs are as much divided on caste lines as the Hindus. 
Theory & Practice: ln theory Sikhs have no caste, Sikh religion is again caste. yes. This is theory. Sikhism is anti-caste and there is no scriptural sanction to caste. But in Punjab, where a Sikh Govt. is ruling, every selection to every post, whether religious, official academic or political, is done on the basis of one's jati. 
ln all other states of lndia, there is no rule of any one particular religion. But in punjab, whereas Sikh Govt.  ruling, every decision is taken as per the Sikh religious dictates. 
So in such a Sikh state every action should have been guided by the Sikh  religion. This is not so in practice. The Sikh political leadership is in the hands of Jat Sikhs who are the ruling class and all top jobs are held by this jati. How can we then say religion unites a people? Can there be a better example to prove Baba saheb's argument? 
Buta Singh Example:
Buta Singh offers the best example to prove how caste identity remains untouched despite the fact that he is a Sikh. Buta Singh, a former Union Home Mhister and now a member of the Lok Sabha from Rajsthan, is a Sikh. Both his mother and father were born Sikhs. He regularly attends gurdwaras and prays as a devout Sikh. He has the Sikh turbans. Sikhs beard and every identify of a Sikh. 
Yet, the upper caste Sikhs don't accept him, don't embrace him, don't take him into confidence. To them he is a Dalit. Buta Singh once told us that the upper caste Sikhs do not even address him as "sardar Buta Singh". 
But even among Dalils, he a Valmiki, sweeper community man. Valmiki, therefore, is his jati identity. And he is the president of his jati association in which there are both Sikh Valmikis  and also non-sikh Valmikis. Even after becoming a Sikh, he continues to be a Valmiki. Jati never dies because jati is our identity. 
Here is India's most beautiful case to prove how "caste identity 'can never be diluted let alone destroyed even after embracing a revolutionary religion like Slkhism. 

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Please also see
UNTOUCHABLES TRIBALS AND SHUDRA WERE NEVER HINDUS
http://www.punjabmonitor.com/2013/12/untouchables-tribals-and-shudra-were.html
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