In Gurmat — Aatam Giaan, Divine Knowledge, Teachings or Wisdom of the Gurbani — there is no place for the madness of belief in caste system, Jaat Paat, “high” and “low”...
Yet, the madness of belief in non-essentials like Jaat Paat has a strong hold in Sikhs! In one hand, the propagators of the Dharma mouth platitudes about a casteless society preached by the Gurus and the Bhagats, but on the other hand, they practice it madly. What a paradox and hypocrisy!
According to the Gurmat, any one who believes in Jaat Paat cannot be a true Sikh; for the caste only relates to the body; not to one’s Mool (Source, Origin, Jot…). In other words, the caste-conscious person is a Manmukh (Saakat, Mayadhaaree, Asant…) who has confounded his True Identity (Jot-Svaroopa) for the physical body-frame. Consequently, he identifies himself and others as Jatt Sikh, Saini Sikh, Bhaapaa Sikh, Rorra Sikh, Tarkhaan or Raamgarheeaa Sikh, Mazhabee Sikh, Khatree Sikh, Lavaanaa Sikh, Kookaa Sikh, Naamdhaaree Sikh, Nihang Sikh, Nirmalay Sikh, Brahmin Sikh, list goes on and on. Now, in the West, there seems to be a new class of Sikhs called Caucasian Sikhs (Gore or white Sikhs)! Consequents of this madness of belief in Jaat Paat are many. For example:
- Most Sikh marriages are organized along the caste lines. Within Sikhs, if a boy or a girl from one caste marries someone from a different caste without mutual consent of their parents, it sometimes turns into a bloody tragedy. Thus, Jatt Sikh, Saini Sikh, Bhaapaa Sikh, Rorha Sikh, Tarkhaan or Raamgarheeaa Sikh, Mazhabee Sikh, Khatree Sikh, Lavaanaa Sikh, etc., rarely intermarry.
- Many Gurdawaras are built along the caste lines (ਜੱਟਾਂ ਦਾ ਗੁਰਦਵਾਰਾ, ਸੈਣੀਆਂ ਦਾ ਗੁਰਦਵਾਰਾ, ਰਾਮਗੜੀਆਂ ਦਾ ਗੁਰਦਵਾਰਾ, ਭਾਪਿਆਂ ਦਾ ਗੁਰਦਵਾਰਾ, etc.). In many villages in Punjab (India), Mazhabees or Dalits have their own Gurdawaras and even separate cremation grounds. Many Gurdawara, thus, are built based on ill feelings created by the madness of belief in Jaat-Paat rather than a genuine spiritual cause…
In the following Sloak, Kabeer Sahib repudiates this madness of Jaat Paat (ਜਾਤਵਾਦ ਦਾ ਖੰਡਨ). Because of his Julaahaa Jaat (waever caste), Kabeer Sahib was treated as of lower caste (Shoodar…) by those who considered themselves of higher caste.
- ਕਬੀਰ ਮੇਰੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਕਉ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਹਸਨੇਹਾਰੁ ॥ ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ਇਸ ਜਾਤਿ ਕਉ ਜਿਹ ਜਪਿਓ ਸਿਰਜਨਹਾਰੁ ॥੨॥: O Kabeer! Everyone laughs at my caste (ਮਖੋਲ ਕਰਨਾਂ). (But) I am a sacrifice to this caste (I consider it topmost), (by taking birth) in which I have Realized (Understood, Known…) Creator (Mool, Source, Jot…). ||2|| (sggs 1364).
It’s not the family of birth, material wealth, name, fame, power, education, knowledge, titles, etc., that makes one of low or high caste. Who is low or high depends solely on how one lives his life. For example, by merely taking birth in a so called Sikh or a Brahmin family, one does not become a Sikh or a Brahmin. If both of them act in conditioned consciousness (Mayaic intellect or Manmukhtaa…), they are Shoodras (low caste beings).
In fact, according to the Gurbani, one does not even qualify to be called a human being just because he is born in a human form, what to speak of low and high caste heredity!
- ਗਉੜੀ ਕਬੀਰ ਜੀ ॥ ਗਰਭ ਵਾਸ ਮਹਿ ਕੁਲੁ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਤੀ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬਿੰਦੁ ਤੇ ਸਭ ਉਤਪਾਤੀ ॥੧॥ ਕਹੁ ਰੇ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਬਾਮਨ ਕਬ ਕੇ ਹੋਏ ॥ ਬਾਮਨ ਕਹਿ ਕਹਿ ਜਨਮੁ ਮਤ ਖੋਏ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਜੌ ਤੂੰ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਣੀ ਜਾਇਆ ॥ ਤਉ ਆਨ ਬਾਟ ਕਾਹੇ ਨਹੀ ਆਇਆ ॥੨॥ ਤੁਮ ਕਤ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣ ਹਮ ਕਤ ਸੂਦ ॥ ਹਮ ਕਤ ਲੋਹੂ ਤੁਮ ਕਤ ਦੂਧ ॥੩॥ ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੈ ॥ ਸੋ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਕਹੀਅਤੁ ਹੈ ਹਮਾਰੈ ॥੪॥੭॥: Gaourree Kabeer jee || Garabh vaas mahi kulu nahee jaatee…: Gaurree Kabeer Jee. In the dwelling of the womb, no lineage is known. (One) Brahm is the Source of all ||1|| Tell me, O Pandit: since when have you been a Brahmin? Don’t waste your life by continually claiming to be a Brahmin. ||1||Pause|| (O Pandit!) If you are indeed a Brahmin, born of a Brahmin mother, then why didn’t you come by some other way? ||2|| (O Pandit!) How is it that you are a Brahmin, and I am of a low caste? Is it that I have blood (in my veins), and you have milk (in your veins)? ||3|| Says Kabeer, one who contemplates the Brahm, is said to be a Brahmin among us. ||4||7|| (sggs 324).
The Gurbani roars that the madness of false pride of caste results in increase or instigation of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, attacment, pride…). Those having this pride of caste are called “fool” and “ignorant” in the Gurbani. To put it otherwise, as the Gurbani indicates, those who practice caste distinction and feel pride of their belief in Jaat Paat are stupid and spiritually ignorant beings.
- ਜਾਤਿ ਕਾ ਗਰਬੁ ਨ ਕਰਿ ਮੂਰਖ ਗਵਾਰਾ ॥ ਇਸੁ ਗਰਬ ਤੇ ਚਲਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਵਿਕਾਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Do not be proud of your (higher or ਉੱਚੀ) Jaati, you ignorant fool! So much Bikaar comes from this pride. ||1||Rahaaou|| (sggs 1127-1128).
From the Manmukh, the Gurbani wants us to become the Gurmukh. And, according to the Gurbani, the Jaat and Paat (ਉੱਚੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਤੇ ਕੁਲ) of a Gurmukh is none oter than the Naam (Gur-Giaan, Shabad-Giaan, Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad, Hukam…).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਤਿ ਪਤਿ ਨਾਮੇ ਵਡਿਆਈ ॥: In Naam is “Jaati Pati” and honor of who has become the Gurmukh (sggs 230).
According to the Gurbani, the Way to eradicate the notion of low and high is to recognize the One Lord in Mann (ਮੱਨ, mind…) and Chitt (ਚਿੱਤ, Consciousness, faculty of discerning, Understanding…), in everyone, everywhere…
- ਅਰਧ ਉਰਧ ਬਿਚਿ ਸਮ ਪਹਿਚਾਣਿ ॥ ਨੀਚ ਊਚ ਨਹੀ ਮਾਨ ਅਮਾਨ ॥: Recognize the Lord alike in Mann and Chitt. (For that person) There is no high or low (ਨੀਵਾਂ ਜਾਂ ਉੱਚਾ), no honor or dishonor (ਆਦਰ ਜਾਂ ਨਿਰਾਦਰੀ). (sggs 344).
In nutshell, the Gurbani tells us that the madness of belief in Jaat Paat indicates one’s doubt-ridden condition (ਭਰਮਾ / ਵਹਿਮਾ ਦਾ ਪਟਿੱਆ ਹੋਇਆ).
- ਉਤਮ ਮਧਿਮ ਜਾਤੀਂ ਜਿਨਸੀ ਭਰਮਿ ਭਵੈ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥: High and low, caste and status – the world wanders lost in doubt (ਉੱਚੀਆਂ ਨੀਵੀਆਂ ਜਾਤਾਂ ਤੇ ਕਿਸਮਾਂ ਦੇ ਭਰਮ / ਵਹਿਮਾਂ ਵਿਚ ਖੁਆਰ ਹੋਣਾਂ). (ਸਗਗਸ 1243).
According to the Gurbani, the real outcaste (ਨੀਚ, Shoodar…) is the one who is devoid of the Naam (Gur-Shabad, Gurbani’s Giaan, Wisdom or Divine Knowledge).
- ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਵੈ ਬਾਝੁ ਸਨਾਤਿ ॥੪॥੩॥: O Nanak, without the Name, (Jeev) are wretched outcasts (ਨੀਚ, low…). ||4||3|| (sggs 10).