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a rift in the Sikh community’s faith

Guru Nanak Dev Ji advocated and taught the equality of all people, even those who were seen negatively by the caste system. People from all castes eat together in langars (free kitchens) without distinction. Additionally emphasizing human equality, Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji constructed the Sri Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar with four open doors as a symbol of accessible for everybody. Verse from Hindu Brahmin saints, Muslim Sufis, and followers from lower classes are all included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred book of the Sikhs.

The Khalsa was founded by the tenth Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who also baptized the “panj pyaare,” five men from various castes, to begin the Sikh mission of Saint-Warrior. Dharamshalas, also known as Gurudwaras, were urged to be built by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. These act not just as houses of worship but also as educational institutions, medical facilities, granaries, homeless shelters, and rest stops for travelers.

Unfortunately, certain caste-haughty people invaded Sikhism during the British era, and “masands” and “mahants” privatized Gurudwaras. The Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which is in charge of overseeing Sikhism’s ancient Gurudwaras, was finally established as a result of the Gurudwara Reform Movement of 1920, which sought to liberate these sacred places from the mahants’ control. No Sikh shrine may discriminate against non-Sikhs, untouchables, or castes, according to the protocol policy of the SGPC.

However, there are still camps and Gurudwaras constructed in the names of certain caste groupings, demonstrating the persistence of caste-based prejudice today. The Ravidasi sect constructed the Sachkhand Ballan gurudwara in Jalandhar as an example of this pattern. It is often illegal for Dalit Sikhs to visit Jat Sikh Gurudwaras, and prejudice against Dalit Sikhs is still a political problem in Punjab. On the Amritsar-Chogavan road, four gurudwaras have been constructed next to one another, providing another example of many gurudwaras nearby. These occurrences are known to the Sikh leadership, and steps have been taken to resolve the problem. Gobind Singh Longowal, the president of the Shiromani Committee, started the “One Village, One Gurudwara Movement” to encourage interreligious harmony. In accordance with this plan, single-Gurudwara villages were honored, and vacant Gurudwara structures were converted into community facilities including libraries, clinics, sports clubs, and Gurbani-Kirtan training facilities.

Caste differences and upper caste egoism continue to exist despite these attempts, splitting communities according to caste and leading to several Gurudwaras in certain places. The teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the other Sikh Gurus, who aimed to build a society that transcended caste distinctions and encouraged love, peace, and equality among all people, must be remembered and upheld.

These are the author’s views, which are stated throughout the article. They make no claim to represent the thoughts or opinions of Khalsa Vox or its contributors.

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