Jaat Paat – Madness of Casteism in Sikhi

Casteism is one of the social problems, which is very peculiar to the Indian soci­ety — a form of social stratification characterized by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a style of life etc., which leads members of one caste to exploit members of other caste for their own vested interest in the name of superiority or inferiority.

Sikhi’s concept of humanity and equality

Throughout his life, Baabaa Naanak stood by those who were oppressed, exploited, discriminated against, injusticed, neglected or discarded by the society (casteism-Jaat Paat). All Gurus Sahibs were champions of human rights, social justice, and were great social reformers. Baabaa Nanak thunders if you want to experience the Divine Grace, take care of the downtrodden!

  • ਨੀਚਾ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਨੀਚ ਜਾਤਿ ਨੀਚੀ ਹੂ ਅਤਿ ਨੀਚੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਾਥਿ ਵਡਿਆ ਸਿਉ ਕਿਆ ਰੀਸ ॥ ਜਿਥੈ ਨੀਚ ਸਮਾਲੀਅਨਿ ਤਿਥੈ ਨਦਰਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਬਖਸੀਸ ॥੪॥੩॥ : Those who belong to the lowest caste, who are called the lowest of the low (downtrodden people…), Nanak identifies with them and not going to emulate with those who are privileged. (O God) there is the glance of Your Grace where downtrodden people (unrepresented, under-represented etc.) are taken care of. ||4||3|| (sggs 15).

The following Shabad capture concept of Humanity in Gurbani or Sikhi:

  • ਅਵਲਿ ਅਲਹ ਨੂਰੁ ਉਪਾਇਆ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਕੇ ਸਭ ਬੰਦੇ ॥ ਏਕ ਨੂਰ ਤੇ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਉਪਜਿਆ ਕਉਨ ਭਲੇ ਕੋ ਮੰਦੇ ॥੧॥ ਲੋਗਾ ਭਰਮਿ ਨ ਭੂਲਹੁ ਭਾਈ ॥ ਖਾਲਿਕੁ ਖਲਕ ਖਲਕ ਮਹਿ ਖਾਲਿਕੁ ਪੂਰਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਸ੍ਰਬ ਠਾਂਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਮਾਟੀ ਏਕ ਅਨੇਕ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਸਾਜੀ ਸਾਜਨਹਾਰੈ ॥ ਨਾ ਕਛੁ ਪੋਚ ਮਾਟੀ ਕੇ ਭਾਂਡੇ ਨਾ ਕਛੁ ਪੋਚ ਕੁੰਭਾਰੈ ॥੨॥ : Every human being is created in equality by ONE Omnipresent and Omnipotent Creator. From one Omnipresent and Omnipotent Creator, the entire Creation has been created then whom can we call good and who is bad? ||1|| The Creation (Khalak) is within the Creator (Khaalik), and the Creator is within the Creation, totally and absolutely pervading and permeating all places. O people! Anything and everything to the contrary is simply an illusion. ||1||Pause|| The Creator has fashioned various kinds of creatures from the one basic material (or element, building block). All creatures or beings look different from each other, but neither there is anything wrong in them, nor in the Creator (i.e. since there is only One Creator of the entire Creation, judgement about good or bad ceases to exist). ||2|| (sggs 1349).

The above concept of HUMANITY follows Sikhi’s concept of EQUALITY:

  • ਧਰਣਿ ਗਗਨ ਨਹ ਦੇਖਉ ਦੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਰੀ ਪੁਰਖ ਸਬਾਈ ਲੋਇ ॥੩॥: In the entire universe, I see none other than the One Creator. In all woman and man, His light shines. ||3|| (sggs 223).
  • ਜੋਰਾ ਪੁਰਖ ਸਭਿ ਆਪਿ ਉਪਾਇਅਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਖੇਲ ਸਭਿ ਖਿਲਾ ॥ : The Lord Himself created all women and men, He Himself dictates every Play. (sggs 304).
  • ਏਤੇ ਅਉਰਤ ਮਰਦਾ ਸਾਜੇ ਏ ਸਭ ਰੂਪ ਤੁਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਰੇ ॥ ਕਬੀਰੁ ਪੂੰਗਰਾ ਰਾਮ ਅਲਹ ਕਾ ਸਭ ਗੁਰ ਪੀਰ ਹਮਾਰੇ ॥੫॥ : O Lord, You created all men and women; all these are Your forms. Kabeer says: O Raam-Allah, I’m also Your child (just like as other men and women), I deem all the Gurus and the prophets as mine. ||5|| (sggs 1349).

The Gurmat Giaan (spiritual Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS). contains compositions of 35 contributors.

Inclusion of compositions of all Bhagats and Bhattas in the SGGS was NOT based on their Jaat Paat (caste), or their religion! Their Bani was included based on their pure Soch (thinking or Virtues-Gun-ਗੁਣ…).

In short — according to the unique and revolutionary Upadesh or Message of the SGGS — AS IS ONE’S VIRTUES (Gun-ਗੁਣ), SO IS HIS / HER JAAT (ਜੈਸੇ ਗੁਣ ਵੈਸੀ ਜਾਤ)!

  • ਸਾ ਜਾਤਿ ਸਾ ਪਤਿ ਹੈ ਜੇਹੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ॥: (Jaat Paat of a person) is as he acts (sggs 1330).
  • ਆਚਾਰ ਬਿਉਹਾਰ ਜਾਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਨੀਆ ॥: For me the good ‘JAAT‘ is the Way of life and Conduct based on the divine Virtues. (sggs 715).
  • ਮੇਰੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਪੋਚ ਸੋਚ ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤੀ ॥ ਮੇਰਾ ਕਰਮੁ ਕੁਟਿਲਤਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਕੁਭਾਂਤੀ ॥੧॥ : (O Creator) day and night my company is with evil-minded persons, (as a result of evil company) my thinking is also evil. (Since my thinking is evil) my actions are deceitful (cunning, crooked, untruthful etc.); and thus my human birth has become of the worst or a low kind. ||1|| (sggs 345).

In short, Sikhi of Baabaa Nanak or SGGS strongly rejects the madness of belief in Jaat Paat. Because, for the SGGS, we are ALL one — equal, no ‘low’ or ‘high’.

Thus, the Gurmat brings about a revolution in the society to remove social evils such as false pride of Jaat Paat.

  • ਗੁਰੂ ਸਿਖੁ ਸਿਖੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਏਕੋ ਗੁਰ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਚਲਾਏ ॥: ਗੁਰੂ ਸਿਖੁ ਸਿਖੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਏਕੋ ਗੁਰ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਚਲਾਏ ॥: The Guru’s Sikh, and the Sikh’s Guru are one and the same; the Sikh also continues to carry forward the Gur-Upadesh (Gur-Giaan, Sikhia, Wisdom, Bibek…). (sggs 444).
  • 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).
  • ਚਹੁ ਵਰਨਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਜਾਗੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਜਮੈ ਕਾਲੈ ਤੇ ਛੂਟੈ ਸੋਇ ॥5॥ ਕਹਤ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਨੁ ਜਾਗੈ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਗਿਆਨ ਅੰਜਨੁ ਜਾ ਕੀ ਨੇਤ੍ਰੀ ਹੋਇ ॥੬॥੨॥: Of the four castes, whoever remains awake and aware, is released from Jamm (i.e., Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, etc.) ||5|| Says Nanak, that humble being remains Awake and Aware, who applies the ointment of Wisdom to his eyes (i.e., inner eyes: the mind). ||6||2|| (sggs 352).

Madness of casteism practice in Sikhi!

Although the madness of belief or practice of Jaat Paat based on one’s family of birth etc. is strongly rejected in the SGGS, then how the practice of Jaat Paat in Sikhi has made its strong hold?

Jaat Paat is the anti-Gurmat concept — a product of faulty mindsets or delusional thinking that my birth (family or Jaat) is superior than someone else.

In the end, we all are destined to depart from this world to be relegated to the dustbin of existence, clueless about who we really are!

Death kills all equally — rich and poor, low and high etc. In other words, death of the body-frame makes Jaat Paat disappear; all become the same when dead (ਇੱਕ-ਸਮਾਨ).

  • ਰਾਜਾ ਪਰਜਾ ਸਮ ਕਰਿ ਮਾਰੈ ਐਸੋ ਕਾਲੁ ਬਡਾਨੀ ਰੇ ॥੨॥ : So powerful is death that it kills kings and subjects alike. ||2|| (sggs 855).

In the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS there is no distinction of family of birth, rich or poor, social status, titles, material wealth, nationality, color of skin, name, fame, power, education, knowledge, type of work, etc.

In other words, anybody in the world can read the SGGS and churn the Wisdom from it; and anybody can come to a Gurdwara and take the spiritual Wisdom of the SGGS. Because, the Gurdwara is the school of Sikhi, NOT meant to be a place of Karankaand, blind Poojaa, or regurgitation of what has been rejected in the Gurbani etc. Those who say otherwise are those self-serving people and Pujaaree who have reduced the UNIQUE and REVOLUTIONARY MESSAGE of the Gurbani to a mere business transactions (ਧੰਧਾ)!

  • ਖਤ੍ਰੀ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣ ਸੂਦ ਵੈਸ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਚਹੁ ਵਰਨਾ ਕਉ ਸਾਝਾ ॥: The Counsel of Gurbani is COMMON and SHARED (‘Saanhaa’) for the ENTIRETY of MANKIND (as represented by the all-encompassing four so called classes or ‘Varna‘ of mankind) – Brahman, Khatri, Soodar and Vais. (sggs 747).

The Wisdom of the SGGS asserts that the intellect needed to Unite or Link with the Universal Energy WITHIN is of different kind (ਹੋਰ ਕਿਸਮ ਦੀ – free of Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride etc.).

Addressing the mind overpowered with the negative impact of false ego-sense (or Haumai), the SGGS asserts:

  • ਮਨ ਕੀ ਮਤਿ ਤਿਆਗੀਐ ਸੁਣੀਐ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Listen to the Gurmat and renounce the mind’s intellect (corrupt thinking that creates divisions, faulty understanding-ਮਾੜੀ ਸੋਚ …) . ||1||Pause|| (sggs 814).
  • ਗੋਵਿੰਦ ਭਜਨ ਕੀ ਮਤਿ ਹੈ ਹੋਰਾ ॥ ਵਰਮੀ ਮਾਰੀ ਸਾਪੁ ਨ ਮਰਈ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਸੁਨਈ ਡੋਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : The intellect to unite with ‘Gobind‘ (Mool, Truth…) is different. If one does not listen to the Naam (then his external religious Karamkaand is akin to beating the snake-hole instead of the snake, but, by just) beating the snake-hole, the snake is not killed. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 381).
  • ਮਨਹਠ ਬੁਧੀ ਕੇਤੀਆ ਕੇਤੇ ਬੇਦ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥ ਕੇਤੇ ਬੰਧਨ ਜੀਅ ਕੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮੋਖ ਦੁਆਰ ॥ ਸਚਹੁ ਓਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਉਪਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਆਚਾਰੁ ॥੫॥ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਊਚਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਨੀਚੁ ਨ ਦੀਸੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਇਕਨੈ ਭਾਂਡੇ ਸਾਜਿਐ ਇਕੁ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਤਿਹੁ ਲੋਇ ॥ ਕਰਮਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਚੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਧੁਰਿ ਬਖਸ ਨ ਮੇਟੈ ਕੋਇ ॥੬॥ :  There are so many stubborn minded (self-centered) people who perform austerities and so many who deliberate on the Vedas to obtain liberation. They create so many obstacles and entanglements for themselves whereas a Gurmukh (Enlightened being…) obtains liberation. Truth is higher than everything, but higher still is truthful living. ॥5॥ Regard everyone exalted as there is no one of low caste. The One, Whose Light shines everywhere creates all. It is the immutable Hukam (Cosmic Law) that one realizes the Creator through one’s deeds only. ॥6॥ (sggs 62).

Yet, the madness of belief in non-essentials such as Jaat Paat has a strong hold amongst Sikhs!

In one hand, the self-serving clergy and the corrupt propagators of Dharma mouth platitudes about a casteless society preached by the Gurus and the Bhagats, but on the other hand, they practice JAAT PAAT THEMSELVES! What a paradox and hypocrisy!

According to the Gurmat, any person who believes in Jaat Paat cannot be a real Sikh for the caste only relates to the body; not to one’s Mool (Jot Saroop or True Nature, Truth…).

Similarly, any one who discriminates others based on criteria like ‘low’ or ‘high’ caste, poor or rich, nationality, color of skin, family of birth etc. cannot be a real Sikh because the SGGS does not support such STUPIDITY.

In other words, the caste-conscious person (i.e. Manmukh, Saakat, Mayadhaaree…) is a denier of Truth or Hukam who has confounded his True Identity (Jot Saroop) for the physical body-frame.

Being totally an UN-enlightened, such person 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-ਗੋਰੇ or white Sikhs)! How stupid!

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 (i.e., Jatt Gurdwara, , Saini Gurdwara, Lavaanaa Gurdwara etc.).
  • In many villages in Punjab (India), Mazhabees or Dalits who are considered lower caste by some (fraud Sikhs) 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. The self-serving Pujaaree groups, the Pujaaree system, the Deraa-Vaad, organized religious parties and organizations etc. have exacerbated the problem.

Because of his Julaahaa Jaat (weaver caste), Bhagat Kabeer Jee was treated as a lowly being (Shoodar…) by those who considered themselves of higher caste. In the following Sloak, Bhagat Kabeer Jee repudiates this madness.

  • 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, because), (by taking birth) in which I have Understood the Creator (System of Nature or Law of Nature). ||2|| (sggs 1364).

Who is low or high depends solely on how one thinks (Soch) or acts in 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 a corrupt manner, they are in fact Shoodras themselves (of low caste, wretched…).

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!

  • 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॥: There are no caste distinctions for the fetus within the mother’s womb. All humans are created equal from the one material at conception. ॥1॥ So, tell me O Brahmin, at what point did you become a Brahmin? Realize that living in false pride as a Brahman results in squandering of one’s life. ||1||Pause|| O Brahmin, since you consider yourself a Brahmin born out of a Brahmin mother. Then why didn’t you enter the world through some other process, some other way (as the rest of us humans)? ॥2॥ O Pandit, how did you become a Brahmin and how did I become a Shooder (low caste). Since when did milk run in your veins while mine have blood? ||3|| In Kabeer’s spirituality, a Brahmin is someone who contemplates on and realizes the Creator (Within). ||4||7|| (sggs 324).

A person may be a so called Sant, Baabaa, Brahmin etc. but when he is in dire need of blood transfusion to survive, then nobody will inquire if that blood comes from a poor, or a rich, or a Brahmin, or a Amritdhaaree, or a clean shaven, or a Shoodar etc.

Furthermore, when they buy stuff like clothes, food, etc., they never ask who have touched that stuff prior to them buying it, or eating it, or wearing it!

The Gurbani roars that the madness of false pride of caste or ‘high’ or ‘low’ results in increase of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride...).

Those having this pride of ‘high’ caste are called ‘fool’ and ‘ignorant’ in the Gurbani. To put it otherwise, as the Gurbani asserts, those who practice Jaat Paat and feel pride of their belief in Jaat Paat are stupid and ignorant.

The Gurbani wants us to transform the mind from Manmukh-hood to Gurmukh-hood (Enlightened). And, according to the Gurbani, the Jaat and Paat (ਉੱਚੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਤੇ ਕੁਲ) of a Gurmukh is none other than the Naam (Giaan, Wisdom, Quality, ਸਮਝ…).

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਤਿ ਪਤਿ ਨਾਮੇ ਵਡਿਆਈ ॥: In Naam is ‘Jaati Pati’ and honor of who has become the Gurmukh (sggs 230).

According to the Gurmat Wisdom the SGGS, to eradicate the notion of low and high is to recognize the One Universal Energy in everyone and everywhere.

  • ਅਰਧ ਉਰਧ ਬਿਚਿ ਸਮ ਪਹਿਚਾਣਿ ॥ ਨੀਚ ਊਚ ਨਹੀ ਮਾਨ ਅਮਾਨ ॥: Recognize the (the Universal Energy) alike in ‘Aradh‘ (i.e. the Mayaic mind, Mann…) and ‘Uradh’ (i.e. Chitt, the Divine Consciousness – when the mind turns away or transcends Maya, it becomes ‘Uradh‘…)?. (Then, for you, there will be) 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 ).

  • ਉਤਮ ਮਧਿਮ ਜਾਤੀਂ ਜਿਨਸੀ ਭਰਮਿ ਭਵੈ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥: High and low, caste and status – the world wanders lost in doubt. (sggs 1243).
  • ਜਾਤਿ ਅਜਾਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਿਨ ਧਿਆਇਆ ਤਿਨ ਪਰਮ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: Whether of high or low caste, one who meditates on the Naam (Wisdom) realizes the supreme wealth (of Naam, Wisdom…). (sggs 574).

Also, According to the Gurbani, a truly ‘high’ being or a truly rich person is he who has the wealth of Spiritual Knowledge or Divine Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad, or discerning intellect of the SGGS.

  • ਕਉਨ ਵਡਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਵਡਿਆਈ ॥ ਸੋ ਵਡਾ ਜਿਨਿ ਰਾਮ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Nobody is great (high, big etc.) with the glory he got due to Maya (material wealth) in the world. (He) alone is great, who is attuned to Raam (Mool, Jot Saroop etc.). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 188).
  • ਜਾਤਿ ਜਨਮੁ ਨਹ ਪੂਛੀਐ ਸਚ ਘਰੁ ਲੇਹੁ ਬਤਾਇ ॥ ਸਾ ਜਾਤਿ ਸਾ ਪਤਿ ਹੈ ਜੇਹੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ॥: Do not ask about (someone’s) ‘Jaati’ or birth (family). (If you must ask, then ask) how to realize Truth in the Heart. (Jaat Paat of a person) is as he acts (sggs 1330).

In nutshell, therefore, until the deluded head is given up (faulty thinking, …), none can play the Divine Game (or the Divine Life) of the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS!

  • ਉਲਟਿ ਜਾਤਿ ਕੁਲ ਦੋਊ ਬਿਸਾਰੀ ॥ ਸੁੰਨ ਸਹਜ ਮਹਿ ਬੁਨਤ ਹਮਾਰੀ ॥੧॥: Turning (the mind) away (from the worldliness, Maya, Bikaar…), I have forgotten both my social class and ancestry (i.e., now I understand that the Divine life is beyond Jaat-Paat). I’am now weaved in spiritual stillness (i.e., established in a state beyond Bikaar, Maya…). ||1|| (sggs 1158).

Deadly poison

Baabaa Nanak compares the false pride of one’s caste with a deadly poison:

  • ਜਾਤੀ ਦੈ ਕਿਆ ਹਥਿ ਸਚੁ ਪਰਖੀਐ ॥ ਮਹੁਰਾ ਹੋਵੈ ਹਥਿ ਮਰੀਐ ਚਖੀਐ ॥ ਸਚੇ ਕੀ ਸਿਰਕਾਰ ਜੁਗੁ ਜੁਗੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ॥ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਮੰਨੇ ਸਿਰਦਾਰੁ ਦਰਿ ਦੀਬਾਣੀਐ ॥ : What merits is in the caste? It is the Truth that is to be assayed. If someone consumes poison he/she will die (i.e. Pride in caste is like deadly poison, whosoever consumes it, surely he/she will face the spiritual death). Know that this justice of the Truth (Hukam: System-Rule-Law of Nature…) applies throughout all the ages (i.e., pride in caste has not been regarded or sided with at any time). He who lives by the Hukam becomes a noble in the Divine Court (i.e., Naam-consciousness…). (sggs 142).

Again, Baabaa Nanak urges all of us time and again to rise above the animal level by becoming Sachairas/Gurmukhs (God-centered beings, moral Enlightened-beings). And he proclaimed the freedom of action, and the responsibility for the consequences:

  • ਫਕੜ ਜਾਤੀ ਫਕੜੁ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਸਭਨਾ ਜੀਆ ਇਕਾ ਛਾਉ ॥ ਆਪਹੁ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਭਲਾ ਕਹਾਏ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਾ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਪੈ ਜਾ ਪਤਿ ਲੇਖੈ ਪਾਏ ॥੧॥ : The division of castes and the worldly name, status, honor, acquired on the basis of caste, are all futile. Nanak, if we really want to be good, then let us stand before God with dignity, honor, respect — Realize the same One Creator within and in everybody else. ||1|| (sggs 83).
  • ਅਗੈ ਜਾਤਿ ਨ ਜੋਰੁ ਹੈ ਅਗੈ ਜੀਉ ਨਵੇ ॥ ਜਿਨ ਕੀ ਲੇਖੈ ਪਤਿ ਪਵੈ ਚੰਗੇ ਸੇਈ ਕੇਇ ॥੩॥ : Caste or worldly power is of no avail–under God’s domain (Hukam) rules are different. Only those are honored (in the divine Hukam) who earn merit through truthful living! ॥3॥(sggs 469).
  • ਐ ਜੀ ਨਾ ਹਮ ਉਤਮ ਨੀਚ ਨ ਮਧਿਮ ਹਰਿ ਸਰਣਾਗਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਲੋਗ ॥ : O respected one, I am neither of high nor low nor medium caste; I live by the divine Wisdom / Virtues. (sggs 504).
  • ਬਾਪੁ ਦਿਸੈ ਵੇਜਾਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ : Realizing the Creator Father within, my spirituality is no longer without a Protector. (‘Veyjat’ = an orphan child). (sggs 796).
  • ਖਤ੍ਰੀ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਸੂਦੁ ਕਿ ਵੈਸੁ ॥ ਨਿਰਤਿ ਨ ਪਾਈਆ ਗਣੀ ਸਹੰਸ ॥ ਐਸਾ ਦੀਵਾ ਬਾਲੇ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੋ ਪਾਰੰਗਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥੪॥੭॥ : There are thousands and thousands of Khatris, Brahmans, Shudras and Vaisyas. Anyone of them, who lights the lamp of divine Wisdom (God-consciousness), obtains emancipation from the corrupting influence of worldly temptations. ॥4॥7॥ (sggs 878).
  • ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਬੁਰਿਆਈਆ ਵਾਚੈ ਧਰਮੁ ਹਦੂਰਿ ॥ ਕਰਮੀ ਆਪੋ ਆਪਣੀ ਕੇ ਨੇੜੈ ਕੇ ਦੂਰਿ ॥ : Good and bad deeds are determined in the light (Hadoor) of Hukam (Cosmic Law or System-Rule-Order of Nature). According to their deeds some are drawn closer to God (Truth, VirtuesJot Saroop…) whereas others move away. (sggs 8).
  • ਆਗੈ ਜਾਤਿ ਰੂਪੁ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਤੇਹਾ ਹੋਵੈ ਜੇਹੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ॥ ਸਬਦੇ ਊਚੋ ਊਚਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਚਿ ਸਮਾਵੈ ਸੋਇ ॥੪॥੮॥੪੭॥ : One’s Caste and beauty do not go beyond this life. (Hukam: Universal System-Rule-Law of Nature is such that) one reaps the fruits of one’s deeds (Here and Now). By internalizing the Message embedded in the Shabad, one spiritually becomes elevated. Nanak, spiritually elevated person Realizes the Creator within. ||4||8||47|| (sggs 363).

In short, per the Gurbani, the highest and purest person is whose mind constantly remembers and lives the divine Virtues — Truth (ਸਤ), contentment (ਸੰਤੋਖ), mercy (ਦਯਾ), patience (ਧੀਰਜ), Dharma, Wisdom (ਗਿਆਨ) etc.

  • ਮਨ ਰੇ ਅਹਿਨਿਸਿ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਸਾਰਿ ॥: O mind! Day and night, enshrine Hari’s Divine Virtues (sggs 21).
  • ਸਭਿ ਗੁਣ ਤੇਰੇ ਮੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਵਿਣੁ ਗੁਣ ਕੀਤੇ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: I Cleanse my mind Within (of vices) with Godly Virtues. Bhagti (spirituality) does not materialize without Internalizing these Virtues. (sggs 4).
  • ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਖਤ੍ਰੀ ਸੂਦ ਵੈਸ ਚਾਰਿ ਵਰਨ ਚਾਰਿ ਆਸ੍ਰਮ ਹਹਿ ਜੋ ਹਰਿ ਧਿਆਵੈ ਸੋ ਪਰਧਾਨੁ ॥: (O mind! Indian society is divided by the Pujaaree in) four ‘Varan‘ or castes – Brahman, Khatri, Vaish, Shudar and four ‘Aasram‘ or stages of life (i.e. Brahmacharaj, Grihast, Vanprast, Sannyas). (However) whichever of these human beings remembers ‘Hari‘ (-Gun or Virtues), he is the ‘Pardhaan‘ or most sublime person (not because of caste). (sggs 861).
  • ਜਾਤਿ ਬਰਨ ਕੁਲ ਸਹਸਾ ਚੂਕਾ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ : By Reflecting On the Guru’s Shabad through Gurmat, illusion of caste, color, or race is dispelled. ||1|| (sggs 1198).
  • ਭਗਤਾ ਕੀ ਜਤਿ ਪਤਿ ਏਕੋੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਆਪੇ ਲਏ ਸਵਾਰਿ ॥ : One Naam (Eternal Giyan-Wisdom / Wisdom) is the caste and honor of Bhagats, they adorn their lives themselves. (sggs 429).

Also, per the Gurbani, the low life (ਨੀਚ) person is he / she who does not remember and live the divine Virtues (Hari-Gun):

  • ਖਸਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਹਿ ਤੇ ਕਮਜਾਤਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਵੈ ਬਾਝੁ ਸਨਾਤਿ ॥੪॥੩॥: Those who forget the Divine (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) are of low life. O Nanak! without the Divine Naam (Virtues, Wisdom, Truth…), they are wretched outcasts (ਨੀਚ, lowly beings) ||4||3|| (sggs 10).

Break out of the prison of Jaat Paat

The Gurmat Giaan or Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) Guides as to how anybody willing to break shackles of the Pujaaree-made madness of Jaat Paat.

According to the Gurbani, one can break shackles of so called lowly Jaat by understanding (ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ, ਗਿਆਨ, Wisdom…) and REALIZING ‘HARI’ WITHIN — ONE Universal Energy, Rabb, Mool, or Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature) that has become everything (ਜੋ ਸਾਰਾ ਪਸਰਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ ਹੈ, ਨਿਯਮ, ਕੁਦਰਤ ਦਾ ਵਿਧਾਨ…).

If it’s hard to believe, just look at Bhagat Ravidas, Namdev, Kabeer etc. whom people called of ‘lower caste’. But they were individuals of supreme Wisdom, Quality, self-confidence, and understanding (ਸਮਝ) that attracted the people of all higher castes to seek their guidance.

So, the Gurbani’s advice is to stop feeling sorry for yourself, and stop blaming your lower caste.

  • ਨੀਚ ਜਾਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਪਤਿਆ ਉਤਮ ਪਦਵੀ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਪੂਛਹੁ ਬਿਦਰ ਦਾਸੀ ਸੁਤੈ ਕਿਸਨੁ ਉਤਰਿਆ ਘਰਿ ਜਿਸੁ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਰਵਿਦਾਸੁ ਚਮਾਰੁ ਉਸਤਤਿ ਕਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਨਿਮਖ ਇਕ ਗਾਇ ॥ ਪਤਿਤ ਜਾਤਿ ਉਤਮੁ ਭਇਆ ਚਾਰਿ ਵਰਨ ਪਏ ਪਗਿ ਆਇ ॥੨॥ ਨਾਮਦੇਅ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਲਗੀ ਹਰਿ ਸੇਤੀ ਲੋਕੁ ਛੀਪਾ ਕਹੈ ਬੁਲਾਇ ॥ ਖਤ੍ਰੀ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣ ਪਿਠਿ ਦੇ ਛੋਡੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਦੇਉ ਲੀਆ ਮੁਖਿ ਲਾਇ ॥੩॥: Even of lower Jaat, by understanding ‘Hari’ (‘ਹਰਿ’ ਨੂੰ ਸਮਝ ਕੇ), one obtains the state of highest dignity. (If it is hard to believe) go and ask about Bidar, the son of a maid; (it’s said that) Krishna himself stayed in his house (instead of Durjodhan’s palace. Why? Because of Bidar’s Wisdom and Qualities-ਗੁਣ, ਸਮਝ). Ravidas, the tanner, lived every moment by Hari’s virtues and understanding (ਸਮਝ). Though of lowly caste, (Ravidas) become sublime and the people of four castes came and fell at his feet (Because of his Wisdom, Quality…). Namdev, whom called a calico-Printer, embraced affection for Hari (understanding, virtues, Wisdom, ਸਮਝ…). Khatris and Brahmans turned their back on ‘Hari’, and Namdev was embraced (because of his Wisdom, Quality, ਸਮਝ). (sggs 733).

Some Related posts:


  1. Today the issue may not be caste as much as superiority of status divided by money or knowledge and power. Yet the caste system needs to be irradicated

  2. In spite of the fact that Guru Nanak Sahib openly denounced Caste-system in Sikhi, the divide among the Sikhs on the basis of caste is ripe and goes on and on

    These are fake or Brahmin Sikhs! Thank you Bhai Sahib Kirpal Singh Ji.

  3. In spite of the fact that Guru Nanak Sahib openly denounced Caste-system in Sikhi, the divide among the Sikhs on the basis of caste is ripe and goes on and on:-
    -ਫਕੜ ਜਾਤੀ ਫਕੜੁ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਸਭਨਾ ਜੀਆ ਇਕਾ ਛਾਉ ॥ (Sri Raag M. 1, GGS. 83-13).
    – ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਹੈ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਤਿਸ ਦੈ ਚਾਨਣਿ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ (Raag Dhanaasree M. 1, GGS. 13-5).
    – ਜਾਤਿ ਜਨਮੁ ਨਹ ਪੂਛੀਐ ਸਚ ਘਰੁ ਲੇਹੁ ਬਤਾਇ ॥ ਸਾ ਜਾਤਿ ਸਾ ਪਤਿ ਹੈ ਜੇਹੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ॥ ਜਨਮ ਮਰਨ ਦੁਖੁ ਕਾਟੀਐ ਨਾਨਕ ਛੂਟਸਿ ਨਾਇ ॥੪॥੧੦II (Raag Parbhati M. 1, GGS. 1330-8).

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