Sunday, February 23, 2020

Women in Sikhism and what empowerment means

 ‘Soo kyun Manda akhiye jit jame rajan‘

Then why call her bad? From her Kings are born

These are the words said by Guru Nanak Dev ji at a time when there was no equality among men and women, no rights and compassion for the women in this world.

It was the time when intolerable practices like Sati Partha were at the peak and there were no advocates for girl education. Women were not allowed to entered religious places and they were discriminated against solely on the basis of their gender.

It was during that time that Guru Nanak Dev ji brought a revolution in the life of women. He put women at par with men. He believed that women can serve and seek salvation and since education is an essential doctrine in Sikhism, Guru Ramdas ji opened many schools at that time and encouraged women to get educated and learn Gurmukhi.

Gender equality in Sikhism is evident from the fact that Guru Ramdas ji sent fifty-two women Sikh missionaries throughout India for the growth of Sikhism as a religion. Since the beginning women are considered important in Sikhism. Women can serve God and become a “granthi”. Guru Gobind Singh ji considered women as ‘princesses’ and thus gave the concept of using ‘KAUR’ as a last name.

In many religions, menstruating women are considered impure and are barred from entering religious places at the time of menstruation But such is not the case with Sikhism. The guru said that menstruation is a natural process and it is necessary for the creation of human life. The blood of women is essential to carry on the cycle of life. Thus, in Sikhism women are allowed to worship and serve God at the time of menstruation as well.

‘By union of the mother’s blood and the father’s semen is the body made. To the Lord is the creature devoted, when hanging head downwards in the womb; He whom he contemplates, for him provides.’ (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, pg. 1013)
Mata Sahib Kaur, wife of Guru Gobind Singh ji took part in the preparation of Amrit at the time of formation of Khalsa. Similarly, women took part in the political and social sphere of lives as well. During an era when there was no media, no technology or any way to interact with the masses, some extraordinary women like Mata Gujri ji, Mai Bhago, Mata Sahib, Maharani Jind Kour brought revolution and set an example for every woman to participate in politics and war affairs of the Sikh.

But now there are millions of sources to empower and help others but still women empowerment is need of the hour. In Sikhism, ’Ghatka’(martial art) was made compulsory for both men and women at the time since both used to protect their families and kingdom without shying away from physical work that required both courage and bravery.

In today’s time when women are unsafe and rape is a common occurrence, one is forced to think of the times when women were at the battlefronts. If one goes by the teachings in Sikhism, a woman can and should not only protect herself but also those around her.

Article written by Tavleen Kaur

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