Generally of orange or saffron color, a Siropa (pronounced Siropaa – ਸਿਰੋਪਾ ) is a garment, scarf or a length of cloth.
You might have often seen Siropa giving/taking ceremonies in Gurdwaras worldwide, including the so called Takhats!
Those who give away Siropa are, generally, the members of the Gurdwara committees, self-appointed clergy, Bhais, Jathedaar, Sant or Baabaa, Prachaarak, Kathaakaar, their lackey politicians, and so on.
On the other side, people who take or receive Siropa generally include, but not limited to:
- The same people who give them away!
- Spiritually blind and deaf mammon worshipers (Mayadhaaree).
- Politicians, rulers, ministers, leaders, kings, their deputies, etc.
- Famous or rich people from other countries who have no clue or understanding of the Gurbani .
- Immoral movie actors, actresses, singers, etc.: ਸ੍ਵਾਂਗੀ ਸਿਉ ਜੋ ਮਨੁ ਰੀਝਾਵੈ ॥ ਸ੍ਵਾਗਿ ਉਤਾਰਿਐ ਫਿਰਿ ਪਛੁਤਾਵੈ ॥: One who loves the actor in his mind, later regrets it when the actor takes off his costume (sggs 1145).
- Gurdwara and religious leaders and their lackey supporters: ਅੰਧਾ ਆਗੂ ਜੇ ਥੀਐ ਕਿਉ ਪਾਧਰੁ ਜਾਣੈ ॥ ਆਪਿ ਮੁਸੈ ਮਤਿ ਹੋਛੀਐ ਕਿਉ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ॥: If a blind man (mentally blind, ignorant…) is made the leader, how will he know the Way (right Way of life). Due to his inadequate understanding (lack of Wisdom, etc.), he himself is being plundered (by Maya, evil inclinations, etc.); how will (those who follow such a blind or Mayadhaaree leader) know the Way? (sggs 767).
As we will see in the pages to follow, the Gurmat (Wisdom, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS) disapproves such practice. Hence, it’s an anti-Gurmat act that’s performed in the very presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS)! The irony is it’s performed by those who think themselves better Sikhs than others!
According to the SGGS what’s the real Siropa in Sikhi (i.e., student or learner of the spiritual Knowledge of the SGGS)?
But, before we dive into that, let’s briefly review the background of the Siropa tradition.
A brief background of Siropa practice
This tradition was introduced by Muslim invaders in India.
Siropa is a Persian (Farsi) term literally meaning head to foot dress bestowed on someone by a religious or social figure or institution as a mark of honor or recognition — Sar-o-pa (head and foot) or Sarapa (head to foot).
In those days, this practice was mainly carried out in courts (Darbaar) of then kings (dictators). As the Gurbani reminds us, these kings were corrupt, oppressive, tyrannical, cruel, indifferent to the sufferings of the subjects, immoral, intoxicated with power, and so on.
Not only kings were corrupt, their officials or deputies were also equally corrupt and would tyrannize people on behalf of kings. The Gurbani calls them “dogs”.
- ਰਾਜੇ ਸੀਹ ਮੁਕਦਮ ਕੁਤੇ ॥ ਜਾਇ ਜਗਾਇਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਬੈਠੇ ਸੁਤੇ ॥: The kings are like tigers, and their officials are dogs; they go out and harass innocent people (sggs 1288).
- ਲਬੁ ਪਾਪੁ ਦੁਇ ਰਾਜਾ ਮਹਤਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਹੋਆ ਸਿਕਦਾਰੁ ॥: Greed and sin both have become the king and minister, and falsehood has become the tax collector (sggs 469).
- ਸਰਮੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਦੁਇ ਛਪਿ ਖਲੋਏ ਕੂੜੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਪਰਧਾਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥ ਕਾਜੀਆ ਬਾਮਣਾ ਕੀ ਗਲ ਥਕੀ ਅਗਦੁ ਪੜੈ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥: Modesty (ਹਯਾ, shame, etc.) and Dharma both have vanished, and falsehood moves about as the chief (Pardhaanu-ਚੌਧਰੀ). The Qazis and the Brahmins have lost their roles, and (it’s like) Satan now conducts the marriage rites, O Lalo (sggs 722).
In addition, corrupt kings would give Siropa to their tyrannical officials, flatterers (ਚਾਪਲੂਸਾਂ ਦੀ ਚਾਪਲੂਸੀ ਕਰਨ ਵਾਲੇ), traitors who sold their country to these kings, and so on. The clergy was also corrupt (and still is!), mixed up with the corrupt and tyrannical kings and their deputies or chiefs.
Obeying and supporting the corrupt and tyrant rulers, the clergy and religious scholars and leaders of the masses became greedy, hypocrites, selfish, immoral, unethical, shameless, cruel, fraud, and unconcerned for Truth. Falsehood, Haumai, cruelty, and Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride…) perverted their sense of Virtue and Dharma, As a result, indulgence in empty rituals (Karamkaand) was dominant in the society.
The real Siropa
The real Siropa of the Gurmat is given/taken at the level of the mind or Aatmaa!
Then came the Gurus and Bhagats — Gurmukhs, Daas, Jan. They all were very frank and upright on the conduct (actions, thinking, etc.) of people, not to condemn them, but to expose ills of the society of their times. Although they uttered these Words of Truth many centuries ago, however, they are as relevant today as they were then.
They saw the folly, shallowness, and filthiness of worldly traditions such as giving/taking Siropa — a phony game played by the corrupt power and the corrupt minds.
The SGGS teaches us that such worldly honor (praise, recognition, glory, grandeur, “ਵਡਿਆਈਆ”…) to be false and temporary, which inflates one’s ego and separates him from his own Mool (Source, Jot, Truth…), as well as rest of the people. Thus, it puts one on a wrong path (i.e., Panth).
- ਦੁਨੀਆ ਕੀਆ ਵਡਿਆਈਆ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਭਿ ਕੁਮਿਤ ॥੨॥: O Nanak! (If the Divine is forgotten) All worldly praises are like bad friends. ||2|| (ssggs 319).
- ਕੁਲਹਾਂ ਦੇਂਦੇ ਬਾਵਲੇ ਲੈਂਦੇ ਵਡੇ ਨਿਲਜ ॥ ਚੂਹਾ ਖਡ ਨ ਮਾਵਈ ਤਿਕਲਿ ਬੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਛਜ ॥ ਦੇਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਦੁਆਈ ਸੇ ਮਰਹਿ ਜਿਨ ਕਉ ਦੇਨਿ ਸਿ ਜਾਹਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਪਈ ਕਿਥੈ ਜਾਇ ਸਮਾਹਿ ॥: Those who give out ceremonial hats of recognition (for Gaddee-ਗੱਦੀ) are crazy (insane etc.); those who receive them have no shame. (Their condition is like) a mouse that cannot enter its hole (and on top of that) it has tied a winnowing basket around its waist!. (Establishing such phony seats-ਗੱਦੀ) those who give out blessings will die, and those that they bless will also depart (i.e., die). O Nanak! The Hukam (Rule-System-Law of Nature…) cannot be known, by which all must depart (In other words, giving out ceremonial hats of recognition or Gaddee-ਗੱਦੀ, giving out blessings, etc., will not help). (1286).
As evident from the Gurbani, the Gurus and Bhagats tried to transform worldly Siropa into Divine Siropa or Spiritual Siropa. They counseled people to imbibe in Virtues (ਗੁਣ) like Satt (Truth) Santokh (contentment) Giaan (Wisdom-spiritual Knowledge) Daya (compassion) Dharma Dheeraj (patience), etc., and the Wisdom or Giaan through Bhagti.
- ਭਗਤਿ ਸਿਰਪਾਉ ਦੀਓ ਜਨ ਅਪੁਨੇ ਪ੍ਰਤਾਪੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਜਾਤਾ ॥੨॥੩੦॥੯੪॥: O Nanak! With the (Spiritual) Siropa of “Bhagti”, “Jan” (Gurmukhs, Daas, Bhagat…) are recognized (and through Bhagati they come to) know the Glory of “Prabh” (Source, Mool, Jot…). ||2||30||94|| (sggs 631).
The Gurmat’s Siropa is Spiritual in nature
The Gurmat’s Spiritual Siropa is of the mind or soul (Aatmaa), and for the mind or soul.
The SSGGS wants us to cover ourselves from head to feet with this Spiritual Siropa (ਸਿਰੋਪਾਉ) of the Gurmat.
- ਜਬ ਨਖ ਸਿਖ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ॥ ਤਬ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮਜਨੁ ਕੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ॥੧॥: When I came to understand this mind from the nails of toes to the top of head (i.e., when I understood my mind completely…), then I bathe within my self (i.e., I bathe in my Mool within…). ||1|| (sggs 972).
The Gurbani asserts the one who wears this Real Siropa (at the level of the mind or Aatmaa) ever remains Blissful.
- ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਕਰੇ ਆਨੰਦੀ ਜਿਸੁ ਸਿਰਪਾਉ ਪਇਆ ਗਲਿ ਖਾਸਾ ਹੇ ॥੧੩॥: He, the Blissful one (the Gurmukh…) dressed in special (subtle, Spiritual) Siropa, is forever in Bliss. ||13|| (sggs 1073).
Therefore, the Bhagat (Gurmukh, Daas, Jan…) care less for this worldly piece of cloth called Siropa:
- ਪਹਿਰਿ ਸਿਰਪਾਉ ਸੇਵਕ ਜਨ ਮੇਲੇ ਨਾਨਕ ਪ੍ਰਗਟ ਪਹਾਰੇ ॥੨॥੨੯॥੯੩॥: O Nanak! Dressed in (Spiritual) Siropa, (His Bhagat, Daas, Jan..) Sewak get blended (in Him), and revealed (their) glory throughout the world. ||2||29||93|| (sggs 631).
Clearly, in nutshell, this ongoing arrangement of giving/taking worldly Siropa is perpetuated by the mammon worshipers (Mayadhaaree, Manmukh, Saakat) mind is nothing but “Rol Ghacholaa“. This practice is totally contrary to the Teaching of the SGGS.
- ਭਗਤ ਜਨਾ ਕਾ ਲੂਗਰਾ ਓਢਿ ਨਗਨ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਸਿਰਪਾਉ ਰੇਸਮੀ ਪਹਿਰਤ ਪਤਿ ਖੋਈ ॥੩॥: (O Brother! Even if you) get an old ragged blanket form a Bhagat (Gurmukh, Daas, Jan…), wearing that you don’t have to worry about getting naked. (However, Even if you) get silky Siropa from a Saakat (one separated from his Mool, Manmukh, Mayadhaaree…), by wearing that honor is lost. ||3|| (sggs811).
Hence, with demoniac inclinations, those who practice this giving/taking of worldly Siropa mislead Sikh Sangat just as Pandits misled their people for generations. How so? With similar demoniac inclinations, Pandits totally diluted or corrupted the real Teachings, meanings, or Truth of the Vedas, misleading people in the process – they ill directed people away (“ਪੰਡਿਤ ਪਾੜੀ ਬਾਟ”) from the Path of the Truth and put them on the path of Maya, falsehood, Karamkaand, empty rituals, myths (ਮੰਨ ਘੜੰਤ ਸਾਖੀਆ, weird stories…), etc. The Gurbani confirms this in the following verse:
- ਪਾਹਨ ਬੋਰੀ ਪਿਰਥਮੀ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਪਾੜੀ ਬਾਟ ॥੧੩੭॥: The stone (idols) have drowned the world; Pandits split (or misled the world) from the Way (of Bhagti, and led the world on the path of Maya, Karamkaand, etc). ||137|| (sggs 1371).
Are we (i.e., Sikhs) doing any better than the corrupt Pandits?
Beware of honors/recognition/praise…
The Gurmat Teaches us to beware of any worldly honor, recognition, praise, and so on.
Obviously, the people who play this corrupt game of giving/taking worldly Siropa in Gurdwaras or so called Takhats have no clue of the Gurmat. If they did then why they would be doing deeds disapproved by the Gurmat?
You see, falsehood cannot propagate Truth!
- ਦੁਨੀਆ ਕੀਆ ਵਡਿਆਈਆ ਕਵਨੈ ਆਵਹਿ ਕਾਮਿ ॥: Worldly praises are of no use (sggs 45).
Hence, a spiritually elevated person (Gurmukh, Daas, Bhagat, Jan) is sensitive to being unduly praised. He feels uncomfortable. Although people who praise him may be well-meaning, but he nevertheless feels uncomfortable. He feels uncomfortable because, for one thing, such praise only reminds him of his limitations, his shortcomings, his weaknesses, his decadence, his faults, and so on.
He knows that the Way to Perfection (Jeevan Padavee) is through self-criticism and not through self-adulation. He knows that the success (Mool-abidance) is not the same thing as worldly recognition/praise/honors…
Clearly, there is no place for Mayaic Karamkaand (rituals) in the Divine Teaching of the SGGS. In fact, in the Divine eyes of the SGGS, all are equal irrespective of one’s caste, social status, title, power, name, fame, rich or poor, well known or unknown, honor or dishonor, etc.
- ਭਰਮ ਮੋਹੰ ਮਾਨ ਅਪਮਾਨੰ ਮਦੰ ਮਾਯਾ ਬਿਆਪਿਤੰ ॥: Maya keeps (mortals) under its spell via doubt, attachment, honor, dishonor, and pride (sggs 1357).
Sikh Pujaaree group has totally diluted the Gurmat
With manufactured stories and misinterpretation of the Gurbani to fit their notions, they have turned it into a mundane business (ਧੰਧਾ) to suit their lifestyle of free-loaders!
The money spent on Siropas, expensive Rumaalaas, Chandoaas, Palkis, Langars, etc., why not utilize that money to buy clothes for a poor child walking naked in winter, or feed a hungry child, etc. Instead, all Gurdwaras are busy giving Siropas to those who already have enough clothes on their body, and feeding those who already have their bellies filled to the brim!
- ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥: One should read (Bani) with intelligence, and then understand its real essence (i.e., assimilate it). Also, one should use intelligence in giving charity. Says Nanak, this is the True Path; other things lead to Satanic life ||1|| (sggs 1245).