News & Views




  I S C

  Research Projects

  About Us


Gur Panth Parkash

Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh



The Status of Woman in Sikhism with Special Reference to Lavan

Dr Jagroop Kaur & Prof Arvinder Singh

The status of a woman in a society shows the social, cultural, religious and political scenario of that society. The position of the woman has passed many phases. It becomes evident after studying the fundamental teachings of different spiritual traditions that different religions accorded high status to the woman. Through this research paper, an effort has been made to know the status of the woman in Sikhism. For this purpose, Semitic and Aryan religious traditions have been made the foundation to understand the status of the woman prior to the emergence of Sikhism. Misogynistic interpretation of the myth of Adam and Eve in Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions and Pursha-Prakriti duality in Hindu Sankh philosophy made it clear that it is male chauvinism and misogynistic bent of mind which undermined the role of the woman in those societies. In the fifteenth century, Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism and his successor Sikh Gurus accorded very high status to the woman. Guru Ram Das, fourth Nanak, composed Lavan- the recitation of which became an essential part of the Sikh marriage ceremony. Lawans helped the women to get worthy status with men not only in this world but in spiritual realm also. Women in Sikhism through the institution of marriage regained their lost status. In this research paper, it has been concluded that ‘Eve’ and ‘Prakriti’ i.e. women are enabled to play equal and more vibrant role in the socio-religious, political and economic spheres due to the egalitarian and humanistic message of the Sikh Gurus. Sikhism has made it possible to wipe out the gender bias and narrow-mindedness associated with a male dominated society.

Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, raised strong voice in favour of women. His views are a liberating force for women in Indian society. Guru Nanak had made an attempt to divinise the life of both man and woman to remove the gender bias in the society. Guru Nanak was the first reformer in India, who revolted against the injustice done to women in Hindu society since times immemorial. Under the teachings of Guru Nanak, Indian women broke the shackles of slavery. He fought for the liberation of women in the sixteenth century whereas the movement for the emancipation of women was started in Europe in the 19th century.1

The Sikh Gurus gave due regard and honour to the women-folk and preached that they were the symbol of domestic harmony and happiness, social cohesion and unity.2 The Sikh religion makes no distinction between man and woman in theological perspectives, and to implement this conceptual equation, the Gurus ceaselessly worked and raised their voice through their holy writings. They felt the need for the reconstruction of the society on the ontological basis of one God, for which equal participation of women is of utmost importance.3

The present research paper is an humble attempt to understand the status of women with special reference to institution of marriage in Sikhism. The research paper will be divided into four parts. First part will be focused on analysing the status of the woman preceding Sikhism. Second part will explore the status of the woman in the Sikh Scripture. Third part will explore institution of marriage in Sikhism. In the fourth part conclusions will be drawn.
Status of the Woman Prior to the Emergence of Sikhism:

The theories and ideas related to women, preceding Guru Nanak, reflect misunderstanding of religious scriptures, social customs and values that damaged the image and status of women. The spiritual world before Guru Nanak was firmly in the grip of the Semitic concept of the Original Sin so that no thought could ever be entertained about equal rights of both sexes. In the Semitic religions women continued to pay the price of Eve inducing Adam in eating the forbidden fruit.4

According to the book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible Eve – is mother of all living creatures. Adam’s wife Eve is a legendary female character in a Judeo-Christian mythology. The Lord God formed man from dust and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being (Genesis 2: 7). Then the Lord God said, “I see that it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make the companion he needs, one just right for him (Genesis 2: 18)

Throwing man in to hypnotic and anaesthetic slumber, Jehovah took a rib (carefully mending again the spot whence it was taken) and built this in to woman. The man’s exclamation on seeing her proved the success of the method, and the narrator adds a comment explaining that this event is the origin of marriage (Genesis 2, 18-24).5 The process of birth of Eve raises certain questions. Why God chose a rib to create a woman? Why God felt need to create Eve- woman? Infact, God chose the rib, which protects the heart and lungs and supports a man. The rib cage will allow itself to be broken before it will allow damage to the heart. Woman has some characteristics like the rib, strong yet delicate and fragile. Man represents God’s image and woman represents the emotions of God. Together, they represent the totality of God. It is merely male chauvinism which undermines the role of woman. It is strange irony that one who was created from man as a companion, helpmate and supporter is looked down as inferior to man. Misogynistic interpretation of Adam-Eve myth paints the character of Eve black and presents her as a temptress.

In Aryan religious tradition the relation between pursa and prakrti can help to understand status of woman. According to Sankhya, there are two basic entities denoting constitutive reality, viz. Pursa and Prakrti, spirit and matter. Pursa is pure consciousness which is changeless and multiple; prakrti the primal matter of creation and is inert alone. Though the two are diametrically opposed to each other, the evolution of the world takes place because of the cooperation between the two.6 In Hinduism, the universal soul of this entire universe is the Supreme Purusha, the Cosmic Man; and the matter, including earth, planets, sun, stars, galaxies, universes, is the Supreme Prakriti, the Cosmic Woman. Purusha and Prakriti symbolize the duality of Creator and Creation. This is the prime duality in which Brahman appears. The Purusha is the universal cosmic male, the supreme Brahman. Prakriti is responsible for the illusion and the sense of duality. It is through the interaction between Purusha and Prakriti that this entire creation is manifest. Brahman itself is not directly attainable by souls seeking salvation; Brahman, or the supreme reality, has to be attained either through Purusha or through Prakriti.

There is misogynistic interpretation of Purusha and Prakriti. These are considered as independent realities, matter and consciousness ascribes the feminine gender to matter or Prakriti and the masculine to consciousness or Purusha. Materiality or Prakriti is constituted of a tripartite process, called sattva, rajas and tamas, with an ethical dimension of moral excellence, moral decadence and amoral indifference. Lack of intellectual capabilities, desire and deviance are construed to be feminine, while renunciation, asceticism, sophisticated intellectual capabilities and spiritual pursuits as masculine. Masculinity consists in using the intellectual faculty to understand one’s essential nature as consciousness, which is in essence detached from matter.

The dualistic idea that Pursha and Prakriti are two independent and ultimate entities, has been rejected. Shiva (Pursha) and (Prakriti) both have been created by God who is the first Pursha (Adi Purukh) and the master of other Purushas (Purkh Pati). 7 Sikhism rejects this type of duality. To Sikh Gurus, every kind of duality may be real in appearance but is unreal in the ultimate sense. Duality is due to the separation of individual’s soul from Supreme Soul-God. Sikh Gurus did not advocate subordinate position of woman, rather they preached equality between man and woman. To Guru Amar Das, Third Nanak, unity and harmony are essential ingredients of husband-wife relationship. He said:

ਧਨ ਪਿਰੁ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਨਿ ਬਹਨਿ ਇਕਠੇ ਹੋਇ ॥ 
ਏਕ ਜੋਤਿ ਦੁਇ ਮੂਰਤੀ ਧਨ ਪਿਰੁ ਕਹੀਐ ਸੋਇ ॥
– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 788.

They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together. Rather they alone are called husband and wife, who have one soul in two bodies.

The degraded position of women among both Hindus and Muslims of Guru Nanak’s day weakened family life and sapped the vitality of society as a whole. Gorakhnath is said to have described woman as ‘tigress’ who is ‘in continual search of beautiful men whom she eats’. Guru Nanak’s concept of the position of women in society was fundamentally different. He offered women a new status of high respect and dignity as mothers and partners of life. Indeed, his recognition of social status of woman is a pleasant and meaningful departure from medieval ideas.8 As renunciation and asceticism is not the ideal in Sikhism the root cause which perhaps partly led to the woman being considered seducer or temptress is removed.9

Regarding the social derogation of women, which had reached great depths in the Indian society under the overbearing influence of Islamic culture, Guru Granth Sahib does not accept the thesis of Manu and Islam that the woman is source of all evil.10

Those who seek salvation need not keep themselves aloof from family life and treat their company as a sinful barrier to spiritual efforts. The concept of woman as man’s helpmate became one of the distinctive features of Sikh society. This was the first step towards the liberation of women from crippling social restraints.11

Guru Granth Sahib and Status of the Woman:
Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the torch-bearer of gender equality. Affirmation of the dignity of human beings, male as well as female, is innermost to the hymns of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Gurbani). A thorough study of Gurbani reveals that equal status of man and woman in society has been firmly emphasised.12 Guru Nanak said,

ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਹੈ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਤਿਸ ਦੈ ਚਾਨਣਿ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਹੋਇ ॥
Amongst all there is light and that light (art Thou).
By His light, the light shines within all the souls.

To Guru Nanak,
ਨਾਰੀ ਪੁਰਖ ਸਬਾਈ ਲੋਇ ॥ 
Among all the women and men, Lord’s Light permeates.
ਆਪੇ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਨਾਰੀ ॥
To Guru Nanak, the God is
Thou Thyself art the male and Thyself the female.

According to Sikh Gurus enlightened and realized souls do not make any difference between man and woman. Infact, gender discrimination is antithetical to Sikh way of life. Guru Nanak said,

ਪੁਰਖ ਮਹਿ ਨਾਰਿ ਨਾਰਿ ਮਹਿ ਪੁਰਖਾ ਬੂਝਹੁ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ॥ 
– ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ, ਪੰਨਾ: ੮੭੯

In the male is the female and in the female the male.
Realise thou this, O God -divine.
In order to ameliorate the degraded conditions of women he criticised those who condemned the woman. He said,

ਭੰਡਿ ਜੰਮੀਐ ਭੰਡਿ ਨਿੰਮੀਐ ਭੰਡਿ ਮੰਗਣੁ ਵੀਆਹੁ ॥ 
ਭੰਡਹੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਭੰਡਹੁ ਚਲੈ ਰਾਹੁ ॥ 
ਭੰਡੁ ਮੁਆ ਭੰਡੁ ਭਾਲੀਐ ਭੰਡਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਬੰਧਾਨੁ ॥ 
ਸੋ ਕਿਉ ਮੰਦਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਜੰਮਹਿ ਰਾਜਾਨ ॥ 
ਭੰਡਹੁ ਹੀ ਭੰਡੁ ਊਪਜੈ ਭੰਡੈ ਬਾਝੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥ 
ਨਾਨਕ ਭੰਡੈ ਬਾਹਰਾ ਏਕੋ ਸਚਾ ਸੋਇ ॥

“Within a woman, the man is conceived and from a woman he is born. With a woman he is betrothed and married. With the woman man contracts friendship and with a woman the system of propagation keeps on going. When one’s wife dies, another lady is sought for. It is through a woman that man restraints his passions. Why call her bad, from whom are born kings”.

It is evident that Guru Nanak is prepared to defend woman against those who insist on relegating her to an inferior position merely on the basis of sex. There is no reason to believe that Guru Nanak’s path of salvation was not open to women. In this sense, she was certainly placed at par with man, just as the shudras were placed at par with the Brahman.13

A divine sovereignty is conferred on her. Her intuitive omniscience is more developed than man. Her spirit of self sacrifice is real and man’s is more dramatic and unreal. The whole of Guru Granth is the voice of a wedded woman or maiden pining love of the beloved. Her nobleness in Guru Granth is infinite; her freedom is of the highest order. Both man and woman as sexes are forgotten in her status. She becomes the supreme reality, and freed soul. In the freed soul alone the subordination of one to other is effectively abolished and all disputes hushed.14

There is no justification to put women inferior to men because to discriminate is to act against the Divine will. Sikhism, in this sense, reacted strongly against certain practices carried out in Hindu society to exploit women. God has made men and women equal and any artificial barriers created by society are unpardonable. It is only by coordination of the energies of men and women that the society can prosper and progress.15

The Institution of Marriage
In every spiritual tradition, the goal of human life is to reunite the human soul with the Supreme Soul - God. In other words, the merger of micro-cosmism with the macro-cosmism is the ultimate destination for mankind. That is possible only when human soul develops the same divine qualities as those of God. Man and woman are two sides of the same coin-the human race. Man takes birth from a woman and woman is creation of a man. In Sikhism, the institution of marriage and household life is an essential and integral part of spiritual journey. Marriage, according to the Sikh Gurus, is the journey of the souls toward the Almighty God.

Man and woman are equal before one another and before God. Woman became more sacred, her dignity is even higher than that of man, so much so that our Gurus could not adore God but in her personification. Christ could not think of a better relation, between God and man than that of a father and son. With Guru Nanak, however, a wife’s constancy to her husband represented more befittingly the relation between a faithful man and God. A son may not be the constant companion of his father after his marriage; but the wife is always wife, always constant, always seeking support of her Lord and love. During the foreign onslaughts the effect of oppression was the worst on Indian females. What was sadder still, they had lost respect even in the eyes of their own kinsmen. But, with the advent of Sikhism, where man became more precious in the sight of man, woman too gained a dignity and respect, which though not amounting to that exaggerated worship so conspicuous in the West, was yet an unprecedented improvement on the relations existing between sexes in India.16

To great Sikh theologian Bhai Gurdas, woman is a better half of man and is a doorway for emancipation of mankind. He said,

ਲੋਕ ਵੇਦ ਗੁਂ ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਚਿ ਅਰਧ ਸਰੀਰੀ ਮੋਖ ਦੁਆਰੀ ।
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸੁਖ ਫਲ ਨਿਹਚਉ ਨਾਰੀ ॥੧੬॥
– ਭਾਈ ਗੁਰਦਾਸ, ਵਾਰ: ੫, ਪਉੜੀ: ੧੬

From a temporal and spiritual point of view, woman is half- man’s body and assists in obtaining deliverance, she assuredly brings happiness to the virtuous.17 Woman is the greatest and truest aid to the maintenance of the true spiritual attitude.18

According to Gurmat or the Sikh maryada the object of human life is the union of the soul with the Master Soul: God, while living and enjoying the worldly life of a householder. In this sense the Lavan describe the wedding of the Sikh (devotee) to the Lord Master. At the same time the Lavans symbolise the wedding of a woman to man. Therefore, the four Lavans around the Guru by the couple to be married concurrently ceremonialise the wedding of the Sikh to his Lord Master, God, and the wedding of the bride to her bridegroom, thus signifying the union of both to the Lord Master... God.19

Lavan, or the four hymns of “Laav” are the essential part of the Sikh marriage ceremony, Anand Karaj-blissful or joyful union. At the time of Anand Karaj, Guru Ram Das, Fourth Nanak, inconformity with Indian socio-religious traditions used numerals, in sitting position before Sri Guru Granth Sahib and circumlocute clockwise around Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Numbers have powerful symbolic expressions. The spiritual meaning of numbers can help in understanding the many principles that govern the existence and operations of things in the universe. In Sikhism there are four hymns of “Laav,” the essential part of the Sikh marriage ceremony. They are sung as the bride and groom go round four times around Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

The first laav is a symbol of a fresh beginning - a new journey. One primarily deals with unity and pure energy; unity being indivisible and independent of all others, and as the source of all others. In the first hymn of Lavan, Guru Ram Das paves the way for the couple to begin fresh journey towards Almighty God. He said,

ਹਰਿ ਪਹਿਲੜੀ ਲਾਵ ਪਰਵਿਰਤੀ ਕਰਮ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥ 
ਬਾਣੀ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਵੇਦੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਹੁ ਪਾਪ ਤਜਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥ 
ਧਰਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵਹੁ ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ॥ 
ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਪੂਰਾ ਆਰਾਧਹੁ ਸਭਿ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਪਾਪ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥ 
ਸਹਜ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਹੋਆ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਮਨਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਮੀਠਾ ਲਾਇਆ ॥ 
ਜਨੁ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਲਾਵ ਪਹਿਲੀ ਆਰੰਭੁ ਕਾਜੁ ਰਚਾਇਆ ॥ 
– ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੰਨਾ ਪੰਨਾ: ੭੭੩-੭੭੪

By the first round the Lord has impressed the duties of the wedded life. Utter thou the hymns of the Guru instead of the Vedas of Brahma and hold fast to this faith to dispel thine sins. Hold fast to righteousness and contemplate the Lord’s Name the simirtis to inculcate the Name. Dwell thou upon the True Guru. Thy Perfect Guru, and all thine sins and misdeeds shall depart. Through the greatest good fortune, celestial bliss is obtained and the Lord God seems sweet unto the mind. Slave Nanak proclaims that by the First round the marriage rite has begun.

The first round has deep spiritual meaning. Man and woman now have started journey to unite with the Supreme Soul. At the first step, Guru reminds the duties of household life and in a way rejects the idea of ascetic life. The objective of this household life is to remember God and to move on the right path.

The spiritual meaning of the second Laav deals with exchanges made with others, partnerships and communication. In second hymn of Lavan, the couple in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib gets rid of all worldly fears and uncertainties and experience the presence of God everywhere.

ਹਰਿ ਦੂਜੜੀ ਲਾਵ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥ 
ਨਿਰਭਉ ਭੈ ਮਨੁ ਹੋਇ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥ 
ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਭਉ ਪਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਵੇਖੈ ਰਾਮੁ ਹਦੂਰੇ ॥ 
ਹਰਿ ਆਤਮ ਰਾਮੁ ਪਸਾਰਿਆ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਸਰਬ ਰਹਿਆ ਭਰਪੂਰੇ ॥ 
ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਏਕੋ ਮਿਲਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਨ ਮੰਗਲ ਗਾਏ ॥ 
ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੂਜੀ ਲਾਵ ਚਲਾਈ ਅਨਹਦ ਸਬਦ ਵਜਾਏ ॥
ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੰਨਾ ਪੰਨਾ: ੭੭੪

In the second round, the Lord has made me meet the Divine True Guru. By God’s fear my mind has become fear-free and the filth of myself conceit is washed off. By having the fear of immaculate God, the Master and singing His praise behold Him face to face. God Lord master, the soul of the world, is pervading everywhere and filling all the places. Within and without is the One Lord Master. Meeting with the Lord’s slaves sing I the songs of joy. Proclaims slave Nanak, the second round is finished and the Divine melody resounds.

The spiritual meaning of Laav number Three deals with intuition, fecundity and creativity. It solves the discord created in the polarity of two, resulting in a new integration and wholeness. At the third step, in the presence of Guru, with the blessing and grace of God, the couple becomes conscious to be in love with God. Gur Ram Das said,

ਹਰਿ ਤੀਜੜੀ ਲਾਵ ਮਨਿ ਚਾਉ  ਭਇਆ ਬੈਰਾਗਿਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥ 
ਸੰਤ ਜਨਾ ਹਰਿ ਮੇਲੁ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਵਡਭਾਗੀਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥ 
ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਇਆ ਮੁਖਿ ਬੋਲੀ ਹਰਿ ਬਾਣੀ ॥ 
ਸੰਤ ਜਨਾ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਪਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਕਥੀਐ ਅਕਥ ਕਹਾਣੀ ॥ 
ਹਿਰਦੈ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਧੁਨਿ ਉਪਜੀ ਹਰਿ ਜਪੀਐ ਮਸਤਕਿ ਭਾਗੁ ਜੀਉ ॥ 
ਜਨੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬੋਲੇ ਤੀਜੀ ਲਾਵੈ ਹਰਿ ਉਪਜੈ ਮਨਿ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਜੀਉ ॥

In the third round, the pleasure of Lord’s Love wells up within my mind. Meeting with the holy persons, I have found the Lord God through the greatest good luck. Singing God’s praise and uttering the Divine Gurbani with my mouth I have obtained the immaculate Lord. By great good fortune, the pious persons attain to God and utter His unutterable story. Within my mind has welled up the music of Good, the Lord Master, and by the destiny recorded on my brow, I contemplate the Lord. Says the serf Nanak that in the third round, God’s love is produced in my mind.

The symbolic meaning of the fourth Laav is with stability and invokes the grounded nature of all things. Numeral Four always has reference to all that is created. In Aryan religious tradition Number Four represents Dharma. Guru Ram Das said,

lled up within my mind and I have obtained my Lord. By Guru’s grace, I have easily met my Lord, who is sweet unto my soul and body, unto my Lord I am a sacrifice. God seems sweet unto me and I have become pleasing to my Master. Night and day I fix my attention on the Lord. I have obtained my heart -desired fruit, my lord. By exalting God’s name I am congratulated. God, the Lord Master has brought shout the wedding ceremony and the bride’s mind has blossomed with the Lord’s Name. Says slave Nanak, in the fourth circling I have attained to my imperishable God Lord.

In the fourth and last round, couple has achieved the desired destination i.e., Reunion with God. The aim of married life is total union between two souls so that they can jointly strive to get closer to the Creator who is the giver of everything that ‘we’ have on this earth. The four marriage hymns or Lavan that are recited and then sung contain deep spiritual and ethical message for the couple for getting closer to the Creator.20

Four Lavans portray the marriage of the soul to the Divine Husband. The hymns of Lavan describe the four stages of the spiritual advancement. Sitting position of couple in front of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and clockwise movement around Guru Granth Sahib is also in harmony with macro-cosmic order. Clockwise movement has spiritual significance. The earth moves round the Sun in clockwise direction. As Sun is source of energy for all living beings on earth, it moves in clockwise direction. In the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the couple also follows left to right motion in order to seek the blessing of Almighty God and to seek enlightenment for their temporal and spiritual life. Woman sits on the left side of the man before the Sri Guru Granth Sahib because woman is created for man as helpmate and companion and above all to protect his most delicate heart side. Sitting position can be seen in terms of fulfilment of the purpose of birth of Eve for Adam and of Prakriti for Pursha.

Before moving around Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the end of the cloth worn by the bridegroom called ‘Larr’, is placed into the hands of the bride by her father/guardian. It signfies that now the woman is attached to the man in the presence of the Guru to lead their worldly and spiritual journey. Guru Arjan Dev, fifth Nanak, said:

ਅੰਧ ਕੂਪ ਤੇ ਕਾਢਿਅਨੁ ਲੜੁ ਆਪਿ ਫੜਾਏ ॥ 
ਨਾਨਕ ਬਖਸਿ ਮਿਲਾਇਅਨੁ ਰਖੇ ਗਲਿ ਲਾਏ ॥੨੧॥
– ਗੁਰੁ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੰਨਾ: ੯੬੬.

Making him cling to His skirt, the Lord pulls him out of the blind well.

The Lord forgives and unites him with Himself and keeps him hugged to His bosom.
In a way, the man and woman unite with God who blesses the couple, forgiving them for their sins.

Through the institution of marriage, a woman gets equal status not only in socio-religious sphere but also in spiritual world. The inspiration and model for communication that the Gurus sought in meditating on God and praying in compassion and welfare was in the experience of union and of love between man and woman.21 Woman was given her personal share in religion. She was to have the same responsibility in spiritual matters as man, and was in every way his equal in the sight of God.22
Throughout the history of mankind woman suffered much in patricidal and male dominated societies due to social customs and misunderstanding of religion. On one hand she was being given the credit as the better half of man and on the other side she was considered a temptress, a troublesome obstacle in the way of spiritual journey of man. Such misogynistic notions regarding the position of woman damaged the status of woman in social, religious and political spheres. In the Medieval India, during the Sikh Guru period, the teachings of Sikh Gurus revolutionised the structure of society, institution of marriage and the role of woman in the society. It is the impact of Sikhism that woman is able to regain her lost glory and status not only in the four walls of house but in all walks of life. Sikhism has rejected all those anti-woman notions and divinised the family life by giving new meaning to the institution of marriage. Sikhism has elevated the status of woman at par with man. Woman in Sikhism is considered as facilitator of the spiritual journey of mankind.


End Notes
1. Gurdev Singh Hansrao. Ideology of Sikh Gurus. Ropar: Hansrao Publishers, 1990. p. 50.
2. Sudarshan Singh. Sikh Religion Democratic Ideals and Institutions. Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 2009. p. 122
3. Shashi Bala. “Women & Worship- The Sikh Perspective.” The Sikh Review Vol. 51:5.No. 593 (2003).p.38.
4. Gurtej Singh. “Woman: The Other half, the doorway to Moksha.” The Sikh Review Vol. 51: 9.No. 597 (2003). p. 38.
5. Encyclopaedia Britanica. Vol.VIII. London: Encyclopaedia Britanica Ltd, 1961.p. 898.
6. T. M. P. Mahadevan. “Hindu Metaphysics.” Hinduism. Ed. T. M. P.Mahadevan. Patiala: Publications Bureau, Punjabi University, 1997.p. 27.
7. Surindar Singh Kohli. Guru Granth Sahib An Anlytical Study. Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 2005, pp. 255-256.
8. A. C.Banerjee. Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind. New Delhi: Rajesh Publications, 1978. p. 85
9. Avtar. Ethics of The Sikhs. Patiala: Publication Bureau Punjabi University, 1996. p. 174.
10. Jaswinder Kaur Dhillon. “Ethical Values in Guru Granth Sahib.” Inner Dynamics of Guru Granth Sahib. Ed. S. P. Singh. Amritsar: Guru Nanak Dev University, 2004. p. 103.
11. A. C. Banerjee. Op. cit. p. 86
12. Gurwinder Kaur. “The Status of Woman in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.” The Sikh Review Vol. 58: 9.Vol. 681 (2010).p. 61.
13. J. S. Grewal. Guru Nanak In History. Chandigarh: Publication Bureau, Punjab University, 1998. p. 192.
14. Puran Singh. The Spirit of Born People. Chandigarh: Director, Language Department, 1970, pp. 35-36.
15. Gurdeep Kaur. Political Ethics of Guru Granth Sahib. New Delhi: Deep and Deep Publications, 2000.p. 167.
16. Teja Singh. Essays in Sikhism. Patiala: Language Department Punjab, 1988. pp. 3-4
17. Jodh Singh. Varan Bhai Gurdas. New Delhi: Vision And Venture, 1998. p.156.
18. Puran Singh, Op. cit. pp.38-39.
19. Mohan Singh. “Significance of Lawans.” The Sikh Review Vol. 30.No. 339 (1982). p. 57.
20. Manjit Singh. “Marriage in Sikhism.” The Sikh Courier International Vol. 57.No. 109 (2010), p. 47
21. M. K. Gill. The Role and Status of Woman in Sikhism. Delhi: National Book Shop, 1995. p. 15.
22. Teja Singh. Op. cit. p. 54.


ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2011, All rights reserved.