According to the Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), belief in caste (Jaat Paat) is a sheer madness of the crazy mind! Propagated by the Bipar-Vaad (Brahmanism) in Sikhi, it is totally contrary to the Unique Gurmat of Baabaa Nanak or SGGS!
Notwithstanding, many who identify themselves as Sikhs — including the self-serving Sikh Pujaaree-Vaad (clergy: Granthis, Parcharaks, Ragis, Dhadees etc.) and the freeloading Deraa-Vaad Baabaas (ਵੇਹਲੜ) etc. — fanatically practice Jaat Paat! What a travesty of truth (ਸਚ) and Dharma!
Those who thus defy the Gurmat of Baabaa Nanak by considering themselves of higher caste (or superior) and others of low caste (or inferior), do they think that the color of their blood is white instead of red?
Bhagat Kabeer Ji posed this question to those (Pujaaree...) who considered themselves of higher caste and others like Bhagat Kabeer Ji of a lower caste:
- ਤੁਮ ਕਤ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣ ਹਮ ਕਤ ਸੂਦ ॥ ਹਮ ਕਤ ਲੋਹੂ ਤੁਮ ਕਤ ਦੂਧ ॥੩॥: How is it that you are a Brahman, and I am of a low caste? Is it that I have blood (in my veins), and you have milk (in your veins)? ||3|| (sggs 324).
In the same breath, Bhagat Kabeer Ji posed an another question to those who considered themselves of higher caste and Kabeer Ji of a lower caste.
Caution: The Gurbani here uses a very strong language to hammer the truth into our spiritually sick, doubt-ridden minds:
- ਜੌ ਤੂੰ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਣੀ ਜਾਇਆ ॥ ਤਉ ਆਨ ਬਾਟ ਕਾਹੇ ਨਹੀ ਆਇਆ ॥੨॥: If you are indeed a Brahman, born of a Brahman mother, then why didn’t you come by some other way? ||2|| (sggs 324).
These logical questions of the Gurbani (SGGS) also apply to those who call or identify themselves as Sikhs and yet practice Jaat Paat like Brahmans/Pandits:
- if you think you are of a higher caste, ‘then why didn’t you come out of the womb by some other way?’
- or ‘Is it that I have blood (in my veins), and you have milk (in your veins)?’.
The Gurbani reminds the entire humanity that nobody knows his or her ‘Kul‘ (lineage) in the mother’s womb!
- 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 Brahman, 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|| If you are indeed a Brahman, born of a Brahman mother, then why didn’t you come by some other way? ||2|| How is it that you are a Brahman, and I am of a low caste? Is it that I have blood (in my veins), and you have milk (in your veins)? ||3|| In Kabeer’s spirituality, a Brahmin is someone who contemplates on and realizes the Creator (Within). ||4||7|| (sggs 324).
The Gurbani also reminds that the the One Creator – has no particular lineage or social class!
- ਨਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਓਪਤਿ ਖਪਤਿ ਕੁਲ ਜਾਤੀ ਓਹੁ ਅਜਰਾਵਰੁ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਇਆ ॥੨॥: God neither goes through birth and death, nor has any ancestry or social status; He is exalted, never becomes old and is pleasing to the minds of all. ||2|| (sggs 1038).
In other words, one’s Original Nature (Jot Saroop or Mool) is ‘Abaran‘ (casteless, classless, etc.). Fr example, look at the innocent kids — they are more kind and caring to all beings. They don’t see color of skin or race etc. They don’t see dogmas or antagonistic adherents or structured rules and practices concocted by the self-serving Pujaaree (clergy); this all-encompassing behavior of them is natural and spontaneous which makes them ‘spiritual.’
- ਅਬਰਨ ਬਰਨ ਸਿਉ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਗਾਵਨਿ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਗੀਤ ॥: (Those people whose) mind loves to know the high and low social class (caste…), (they) always speak in egotism (sggs 1162).
In a nutshell, the mind that believes in low and high caste speaks or behaves in false ego-sense (Haumai).
The Gurbani wants its Sikhs (learners of the SGGS) to become Enlightened (Gurmukh Mindset). For the one who has become Enlightened is beyond such madness and foolishness!
- ਜਾਤਿ ਬਰਨ ਕੁਲ ਸਹਸਾ ਚੂਕਾ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥੧॥: ||1||: Doubt about Jaati, Varan, and Kul (caste, social class, lineage…) is eliminated by the Gurmat (following the Teaching of the Gurbani) through the Shabad-Vichaar ||1|| (sggs 1198).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਤਿ ਪਤਿ ਨਾਮੇ ਵਡਿਆਈ ॥: In Naam is ‘Jaati Pati’ and honor of who has become the Gurmukh. (sggs 230).
There is a beautiful example given in the Gurbani as to how we can eradicate this madness of belief in casteism (Jaat Paat...). It goes like this:
- ਕਬੀਰ ਹਰਦੀ ਪੀਰਤਨੁ ਹਰੈ ਚੂਨ ਚਿਹਨੁ ਨ ਰਹਾਇ ॥ ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ਇਹ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਕਉ ਜਿਹ ਜਾਤਿ ਬਰਨੁ ਕੁਲੁ ਜਾਇ ॥੫੭॥ : Kabeer, the turmeric is yellow and wheat flour is white (but when mixed together they lose their individual color and a beautiful red color wells up); similarly one who loves God realizes God only when he sheds the considerations of both high and low caste. ||56|| (sggs 1367).
Let’s try to digest the foregoing verses. The turmeric (ਹਲਦੀ) is yellow in color, and the lime (ਚੂਨਾ) is white. Upon mixing the turmeric and the lime together, yellowness of the turmeric and whiteness of the lime disappear. Similarly, through Internalizing the Message of the Shabad Based loving Bhagti when one is linked to his Mool (Source, Jot…) within, he loses all his body-consciousness of caste, social class, lineage etc.
Seen thusly, it’s not one’s family of birth, material wealth, name, fame, power, education, knowledge, external religion, religious paraphernalia, religious robes, titles etc. that makes one low or high.
Instead, according to the Gurbani, who is of low and high caste or social status depends solely on how one lives his life — actions or deeds, thinking (Soch), Virtues (Gun).
- ਜਾਤਿ ਜਨਮੁ ਨਹ ਪੂਛੀਐ ਸਚ ਘਰੁ ਲੇਹੁ ਬਤਾਇ ॥ ਸਾ ਜਾਤਿ ਸਾ ਪਤਿ ਹੈ ਜੇਹੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ॥: O Nanak! 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).
According to the Gurbani, the real outcaste (ਨੀਚ, Shoodar, lowly person…) is the one who is devoid of the Naam (Wisdom / Virtues).
- 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).
Mool-Abidance (ਪ੍ਰਭੂ-ਮਿਲਾਪ: the purpose of human life) has nothing to do with casteism (Jaat Paat) etc.!
Hence the Gurbani asks us to turn away (‘ਉਲਟਿ’) from such Mayaic body-consciousness (which is false, corrupt, faulty, full of vices…). By eradicating the false pride of Jaat-Paat, the Gurbani asks us to become the ‘Sevak‘ (the Daas, Bhagat, Gurmukh Mindset etc.).
- ਜਾਤਿ ਕੁਲੀਨੁ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਜੇ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਕਹਣਾ ਕਹਹੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: If a human being of high caste or high social standing (leaving the ego of caste and social standing) becomes a ‘Sevak’, what can you say about him (i.e., he cannot be fully praised). (sggs 1256).
- 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).
Simply put: Caste, social class, lineage etc. of a Sikh is none other then the Gur-Upadesh (Giaan-Wisdom of the Gurbani). Nothing else can stabilize the foolish mind.
- ਅਬਰਨ ਬਰਨ ਘਾਮ ਨਹੀ ਛਾਮ ॥ ਅਵਰ ਨ ਪਾਈਐ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸਾਮ ॥: (That person who understands ‘He is me, I am Him’) is not affected by either high or low social class, sunshine or shade (i.e., duality). (But this Spiritual State) is obtained or Realized by taking the Sanctuary of the Gur-Giaan (i.e. by the Grace of the Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad), and nowhere else (i.e., by no other means). (sggs 1162).
The Gurbani’s ultimate Instruction (ਮੁਕਦੀ ਗੱਲ) to its learners (i.e., Sikhs) is: We all are the children of the One God! Hence all Jeeva are equal.
- ਕਬੀਰ ਕੋ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਸਭ ਸਮਾਨ ॥੩॥੧॥: God of Kabeer is equally pervading in all. ||3||1|| ||3||1|| (sggs 1193).
Verr T Singh Jeeo,
I fully appreciate your above message.One should be fair in spreading the true messages as envisaged in SGGS ji. There should be no need to superimpose any other views not in line with
SGGS ji.as such an approach would always result in confusion.
Based on the spirit of the entire Gurbani, I am convinced that the madness of belief in Jaat-Paat is neither supported nor encouraged by the SGGS. This madness is a product of man’s own Haumai (false-ego-sense). This evil and brutal practice existed before the arrival of the Gurus and Bhagat (and still exists!!). However it is repudiated by the Gurus and Bhagats:
• ਏਕ ਨੂਰ ਤੇ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਉਪਜਿਆ ਕਉਨ ਭਲੇ ਕੋ ਮੰਦੇ ॥੧॥: Ek noor te sabh jagu oupajiaa… (sggs 1349).
• ਏਕੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਏਕਸ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਤੂ ਮੇਰਾ ਗੁਰ ਹਾਈ ॥: Eku pitaa ekas hae ham baarik too meraa gur haaee (sggs 611).
• ਹਮਰੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਪਾਤਿ ਗੁਰੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਹਮ ਵੇਚਿਓ ਸਿਰੁ ਗੁਰ ਕੇ ॥: Hamaree jaati paati guru satiguru ham vechio siru gur ke (sggs 731).
• ਕਹਾ ਕਰਉ ਜਾਤੀ ਕਹ ਕਰਉ ਪਾਤੀ ॥ ਰਾਮ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਉ ਦਿਨ ਰਾਤੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Kahaa karaou jaatee kah karaou paatee (sggs 485).
• ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕਰਤ ਜਾਤਿ ਕੁਲ ਹਰੀ ॥: Hari Hari karat jaati kul Haree (sggs 874).
• ਹਮਰੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਪਤਿ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ॥: Hamree jaati pati sachu naaou (sggs 353).
• ਹਰਿ ਭਗਤਾ ਕੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਪਤਿ ਹੈ ਭਗਤ ਹਰਿ ਕੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਸਮਾਣੇ ਰਾਮ ॥: Hari bhagtaa kee jaati pati hai bhagat hari ke naam amaane Raam (sggs 768).
• ਨਾਮੁ ਜਾਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਮੇਰੀ ਪਤਿ ਹੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਮੇਰੈ ਪਰਵਾਰੈ ॥: Naamu jaati Naamu meree pati hai Naamu merai parvaarai (sggs 713).
Considering a message from SGGS ji as
ਸੋ ਸੁਰਤਾ ਸੋ ਬੈਸਨੋ ਸੋ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਧਨਵੰਤੁ ॥ ਸੋ ਸੂਰਾ ਕੁਲਵੰਤੁ ਸੋਇ ਜਿਨਿ ਭਜਿਆ ਭਗਵੰਤੁ ॥ ਖਤ੍ਰੀ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਸੂਦੁ ਬੈਸੁ ਉਧਰੈ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਚੰਡਾਲ ॥ ਜਿਨਿ ਜਾਨਿਓ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਆਪਨਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਸਹਿ ਰਵਾਲ ॥੧੭॥ PP300
Can one assert for rejection of the VERNA SYSTEM in this message from Gurbaanee,?
I think if we restrict our considerations to the teachings from SGGS ji then this message
as”Couh varana vitch jagey koi’—’Gurmukh varan avaran hoi’ is not there in SGGS ji.
The messages from the Vaars of Bhai Gurdas ji are more or less in line with Gurbaanee but
there are variations too.
• ਚਹੁ ਵਰਨਾ ਮਹਿ ਜਪੈ ਕੋਊ ਨਾਮੁ ॥
• ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਵਰਨੁ ਅਵਰਨ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਵ ਚਲਣਾ ਗੁਰ ਸਿਖਿ ਵਿਸੇਖੈ। (Vaar 24 Pauri 18, Bhai Gurdaas Ji)
• ਚਾਰਿ ਵਰਨ ਛਿਅ ਦਰਸਨਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਸਚੁ ਅਚਾਰਾ। (Vaar 1 Pauri 25, Bhai Gurdaas Ji)
Thank you Bhia Sahib Jio!
Gurbani answers all questions when we have doubts. Four classes ‘Char Varan’ was predominantly a divisional system, which created lot of friction and hatred amongst people before Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji’s arrival. The religious practices were inhumane, where caste division became the root cause of human deprivation of ‘Equal’ but not high and low, hence inequality persisted in all variations of living. Gurbani enlightens all minds equally, so it did to people of all varans alike. It doesn’t mean that Guru ji had approved these varans, but said ‘ chouh varana vitch jagey koi’—‘Gurmukh varan avaran hoi’.
There seems some confusion in getting the true essence of gurbaanee message in context of Jaati-Paati.There is very clear and strong message for being PROUD of CASTE. Otherwise from Gurbaanee one can learn as”CHAU VERNA Ko Updes Saazha” There is need for getting correct understanding of CASTE and VERNA unfoertunalely both words are taken sa having same meanings.
As Bhai Sahib Trilochan Singh Duggal Ji in his comment above says: “Those who remain indulged in ‘family-caste-pride’ surely are not Gurus’ true disciples.”
Thank you Bhai Sahib Kirpal Singh Ji for sharing your Vichaar.
Well said! Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio for sharing.
One has to see matrimonial columns in Indian dailies where Khukhrain Sikhs are looking for only Khukhrains in matimony. How to convince them that Sikhi does not believe in Jaat Paat?
The philosophy of Gurbani is the eternal message of human values, which one should understand and live donated life as directed. Blood and water may come of any couple, but the source of life comes as a Soul within the body from God; without this spark there is no life. So really the child or we belong to Him; then question of caste or clan is meaningless. Those who remain indulged in ‘family-caste-pride’ surely are not Gurus’ true disciples. Avall Allah Nur Upaya Kudrat ke sabh Bandai, Ek jot te sabh jagg upjeya kaun Bhaley kaun Mandey. Guru’s respect is in believing, putting advice in practise and treating all alike.
Another excellent article thank you.
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