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NOTE: This post is a work in progress 

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh! 

Often times I hear Non-Sikhs bring up common arguments against Sikhi, and as someone who likes to create a lot online resource hubs for Sikhs, I am taking it upon myself to create a list of Q/A's. 

I recently got a series of arguments (posing as questions) from an anonymous user on the Sikh Reddit who was allegedly Ex-Sikh. He frequently made references to Islam, and also claimed that he had done a lot of research on his "questions", yet the questions themselves seem as if they are taken from wikipedia or some anti-sikh site.  

 

Here are some of the arguments I would like to debunk: 

Q: If Sikhi is against the Caste System, then why are their Caste based Gurdwara's? 

A: Anyone can just create a "Gurdwara" and install their own beliefs into it, that doesn't make it valid. The key part here is that this cannot be supported by the actual theology of Sikhi, and all the main Gurdwara's still allow people of lower-caste to enter. All of these so called "caste Gurdwara's" are also not backed by the Akal Takth, and are not recognized by the Khalsa Panth.

 

Q: Why were the Gurus themselves all from the Khatri caste and married within their own caste despite preaching against such barriers? 

A: The very premise of this question is incorrect, Guru isnt from the Khatri caste becuase the concept of caste itself is invalid. There is no evidence to suggest that caste was involved in the marrage decision, and neither was any proposal rejected due to caste. 

Furthermore, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji itself contains writings from people of different "castes" and backgrounds. When the Guru created the Khalsa Panth, the Panj Pyare were from different occupations, locations, and families, the entire concept of the Khalsa itself destroys the caste system. If the Guru was secretly supporting the caste sustem, he would have not created the Khalsa and passed on the Guruship. Gurbani itself is the Guru, and its anti-caste message is very clear, but it's some food for thought.

 

Q: How about the succession of the Gurus? How do we go from the 4 first being chosen by merit and from different lineage, then suddenly it turns into a system of monarchy resulting in the succession of Guru Harkrishan Ji at such a young age who also passed away at a young age.

A: "Nepotism" is defined as: The practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.

A lot of people like to accuse the Guru of being Nepotistic, and use it to bring down Sikhi by stating the successors of the Guru were not truly worthy of the title. The next Guru was never chosen on the basis of nepotism, and was always chosen based on Merit, the Guru tested each of his followers to see if they were worthy of the title of Guru. We are all just vessels filled with the same light, "family" is an illusion, we are all One.

Although some of the Gurus did pass the Guruship on to their human sons, many did not, and even if they did, it was becuase their sons just happened to pass the test.If Sikhi allowed Nepotism, then why didnt Guru Nanak Dev Ji or many of the other Guru's pass it on to their children? Guru Nanak could have easily made Sri chand or Lakhmi Das the next Guru, the same applies with Guru Gobind Singh ji who did not have to let any of his sons sacrifice themselves for Sikhi, and could have asked them to not give Shaheedi. The fact that Guru Gobind Singh Ji established the Khalsa in 1699 before the death of all his human offsprings shows that he was going to stop the line of Human Guru's anyways. The ultimate argument against nepotism in Sikhi is the fact that the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji & the Khalsa Panth were made the eternal Guru. Hypothetically, even if the Guruship was passed down based solely on Nepotism, I would have no problem with it becuase it is the Guru's decision and looking back at history and how each Guru lives his life, I can say the Guru made the perfect decision.

As for Guru Harkrishan Ji, the reason the Guru chose the vessel of a young boy was to show that spirituality isnt affected by age, and even a child can attain liberation. The reason Guru Harkrishan Ji physically passed away at such a young age was to exemplify shaheedi, it makes no sense for the Guru to go around curing other people of small pox, yet die from it himself. 

 

Q: why has Sikhi remained confined for the most part to the Punjabi population?

A: Sikhs dont go out and actively convert people like people of Abrahamic theologies do, the Sikh community is also generally very young compared to others. This issue is already starting to change, there are already hubs of non-punjabi Sikhs thriving in places like America, Indonisia, UK, Canada, etc, and we just need time.

 

Q: Why did/are some Sikhs converting to other religions, if Sikhi is supreme, then why would people leave it? 

A: The message itself is supreme, but the people themselves are not. The argument of people leaving/joining a certain religion can be made for any group. The larger abrehamic religions are the ones that generally have a higher turnover rate compared to easter Dharams. 

 

Q: why hasn’t history seen Gurus with a similar message in the West or other corners of the world?

A: There are other people with similar messages, there's even some new relgion in the west called "Eckankar" which is very similar to Sikhi on certain aspects. Gurbani also contains Bani from a lot of people who lived before the physical arrival of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, who's Bani is inline with Gurmat. 

 

Q: Why is Gurbani repetitive? 

A: I dont know if your reading the english translation or something, but in Gurmukhi the way certain words are used has a different meaning depending on the context. Furthermore, Gurbani is also multilayered, and speaks to the mind during its different states. As for repetitiveness in message, it's important becuase Humans learn from repetition, when you were a child, your parents had to constantly call you by your name so you remember it, etc. 

Gurbani is not like the abrehamic texts, it is not divided by chapters, but rather by Music. Gurbani does not have dedicated sections for certain topics, becuase as a Sikh our job is not to pick and choose what we want to learn, the Guru teaches us what we need, and the format Gurbani is written in ensures its multi layered and speaks to different people at different stages in their spiritual journey.  

The fact that there are other Bhagats whose Bani is inline with the Guru, reinforces the Oneness of the message of Sikhi. 

 

Q: Why did the Gurus have multiple wives? At least with Islam there is a specific guidelines prescribed, a lot of Sikhs like to argue based on emotion rather than historical evidence. 

A: The narrative that the Gurus were polygamists is highly contestable on the basis of historical analysis, not emotion.

"The story of Guru Har Rai having married seven wives, who were all sisters, is found only in one MS of Suraj Prakash and is written on unpaged leaves which are clearly an interpolation. Unfortunately this copy became the basis of the editions nowadays in vogue. Other copies mention only one marriage. Mahima Prakash, which is much older than this book, also mentions only one wife. See on this point the annotation of Bhai Vir Singh on Suraj Prakash"  -Dr. Ganda Singh, Baba Teja Singh; 'A Short History of the Sikhs,' vol. i, pg. 48.

Here is a good post discussing this issue

As for Islam, providing specific guidelines, I hope you realize that it also provides guidelines to beat ones wife, among many other things...

 

Q: Why so much debate over a simple matter of canon scriptures (the Dasam Granth which oddly enough contains 2 of the prayers forming the Nitnem)

A: There isnt "so much" debate over this. the Anti-Dasam granth crowd is a vocal minority, and the Dasam Granth is accepted by the Khalsa Panth as a whole, and even backed by the Akal Takth. Furthermore, the Debate that does happen isnt about the nitnem banis from Dasam Granth (Jaap Sahib, Tav Prasad Savaiye, Chaupai Sahib).

Overall, Sikhs have still preserved their scriptures far better than many others, and the Quran itself was never even written down by Muhammad, Jesus never wrote the Bible, etc... 

 

Q: Why is there such a controversy over vegetarianism vs meat eating? Why didnt the Guru lay our a clear guideline? 

A: This wasn't really an issue before the start of the modern day meat industry, but we as a community have turned it into an issue. Sikhs historically ate meat, this is a fact, the reason there is a big vegetarian movement in the Sikh community is mainly due to the modern day meat industry and the idea that Sikhs dont really need meat anymore becuase they have so many more alternatives. As for the actual theology regarding this issue, its already clearly laid out by the Guru: Sikhs are to refrain from Halal Meat, if a Sikhs is to hunt or eat meat, then they must follow the Jhatka Maryada set up by the Guru.

More information and sources can be found at jhatkamaryada.com

 

Q: Why are Sikhs encouraged to be critical thinkers, yet told not to ask questions? 

A: People are getting two concepts confused: its ok to question the Guru similar to how a student questions a teacher, however its discouraged to question for the sake of trying to create an arguement or disruption.

Final Thoughts 

A deep underlying issue that motivates a lot of these arguments is the idea that if Sikhi is true, then why would it not also temporally reign supreme, and why would "bad things" happen to Sikhs if they are morally correct? The answer to this is the simply: Hukam, and the fact that "good" and "bad" dont really exist. However, the issue here is that others will see this as a cop out. I am interested in developing a more indepth response to this strain of thought. Any recommendations? 

Feedback

If you have any suggestions, please let me know any way you can, you can also email me at TheTurbanatore@gmail.com or contact me via Reddit at reddit.com/u/TheTurbanatore 

 

 

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2 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

I recently got a series of arguments (posing as questions) from an anonymous user on the Sikh Reddit who was allegedly Ex-Sikh. He frequently made references to Islam, and also claimed that he had done a lot of research on his "questions", yet the questions themselves seem as if they are taken from wikipedia or some anti-sikh site.  

My comments are interspersed. "You" might refer either to you, or to the jihadi. 

This is a good effort by you. I have some quibbles and suggestions, below.

A general question I have for you is: Are your responses meant to be your own personal take on things? Or a "consensus" view of the Sikhs? Because if it's the latter, you might have to include some loosely worded text that you might not strictly believe in. (Or couch it in the form of "many/most Sikhs believe X. Others believe Y")

3 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

Q: If Sikhi is against the Caste System, then why are their Caste based Gurdwara's?

Well, in your religion, if you don't agree with the philosophy of a mosque, you just blow it up.

All we have are strictly worded letters (Hukumnammas), a much weaker enforcement system.

3 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

Q: Why were the Gurus themselves all from the Khatri caste and married within their own caste despite preaching against such barriers? 

I agree that in one sense the Gurus weren't Khatri (because the word or shabad didn't have a caste). But, at the same time, God chose the Khatri line to put Satguru in. In the end, that's God's choice.

Moreover, can you (the jihadi) state that why Mohammed was born into the highly-esteemed Quraishi tribe? Two can play at this game. If Allah wanted to show the equality of man, and that the meek and poor can become big, then why didn't he make some limbless, deaf, dumb, blind black orphan from Africa the Prophet? Explain with citations from multiple newspapers published from Heaven. (sarc)

Additionally, there might be something to explore in the fact that, traditionally, avatars/religious leaders in India were from the Khatris, like Ram ji and Krishan ji. Perhaps the point was to underline the martial identity (Chatri ko poot ho, bahman ko nahi -- Pa: 10).

While I suppose I might agree that there might not have been an explicit discussion of caste in regards to the marriage of the Gurus, I think it was well understood that when a match was needed for the Gurus, that meant a Khatri girl.

The same way that vegetarian Sikhs will have a hard time totally excising meat from Sikh history, I think that we simply have to accept that Guru Sahiban married within the Khatri fold. I don't think there's anything really wrong with that either, as long as you're accepting of all people as people in a loving manner, which the Gurus manifestly did. I.e., you can marry whoever you want (such as a Khatri), you just can't discriminate against them in the Gurdwara or in other fields of life.

There's a guy on this forum that likes to argue that the Mughals wrote into Sikh history that the Gurus married Khatris, but come on, that's a wacko conspiracy theory with no proof whatsoever, and we open ourselves up to ridicule if we go that route.

3 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

Q: How about the succession of the Gurus? How do we go from the 4 first being chosen by merit and from different lineage, then suddenly it turns into a system of monarchy resulting in the succession of Guru Harkrishan Ji at such a young age who also passed away at a young age.

Good answers, esp. about the actual successors having done good stuff in history. What did the other claimants (Dattu, Dassu, Pirthi Chand, Dhir mal, etc.) do?

Also, did Mohammed not give power and influence to friends and relatives?

3 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

Q: why has Sikhi remained confined for the most part to the Punjabi population?

Well, among other reasons, we don't go around "converting" people with the sword. In fact even if you want to become a Sikh, there's no guarantee the Panj Piyare will grant you initiation with Amrit.

3 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

Q: Why did/are some Sikhs converting to other religions, if Sikhi is supreme, then why would people leave it?

People have free will. This isn't a "heaven" with robots.

If Islam is supreme why would people leave it? Oh, what's that you say? People don't leave it?

I wonder if that might have anything to do with the fact that the punishment for leaving Islam is death. That's not merely theoretical, it's written into the law of Muslim countries.

That's why you have the conceit of people leaving Sikhism while they don't dare to leave Islam (not publicly, anyway).

3 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

Q: why hasn’t history seen Gurus with a similar message in the West or other corners of the world?

What's the point of the question? How is it that the truth of Sikhism is supposed to be shown by having copycats, and that too only in the West?

Why aren't there any Prophets with a similar message to Islam in the West? (Also a stupid question.) 

In any case, most Sikhs believe that Sikhism is basically the ancient dharam of all, with a few superficial differences in current Sikh practice. Certainly that's true for ancient Indian dharam.

What's the point of asking "in the West"? None of the Abrahamic religions are from the West, so why would ask that of Sikhism?

3 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

Q: Why is Gurbani repetitive? 

If you like something, you want to hear more of it. If you don't, you don't.

Should be simple, why can't you understand that?

Gurbani is not a bunch of stories or essays. It's poetry meant to be sung.

But you wouldn't understand that, because your religion bans music.

How could you possibly understand the beauty of celestial music (Ilahi bani)?

Your answers are good, as well.

3 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

Q: Why did the Gurus have multiple wives? At least with Islam there is a specific guidelines prescribed, a lot of Sikhs like to argue based on emotion rather than historical evidence. 

Some Sikhs have taken the tack of denying our Gurus had multiple wives, to deal with the Christians. 
I think this is a mistake, because the facts of history are too well-established, so we're just setting ourselves up for failure.

I do agree that the notion of Guru Har Rai ji's 7 wives is debatable (not firmly coming down on one side or the other). If you want to discard that, that's fine.

However, the fact of Guru Hargobind ji's 3 wives and Guru Gobind Singh ji's 3 wives can simply not be reasonably questioned. It can be questioned, but not reasonably questioned, because you have to go out on a limb, and discard so much, and then you open yourself up to attack on the basis of all of Sikh history being totally unreliable.

So I would advise against that.

The fact is, just like (as you mentioned) the vast majority of Sikhs have no problem with the Dasam Granth, so too the vast majority of Sikhs have no problem with the latter Gurus having multiple wives. In fact, they like it, because they think it makes them seem kingly (I agree with them).

The post that you mentioned has the same old statement that the idea of Guru Gobind Singh ji's multiple wives was created by writers unfamiliar with Punjabi culture. Which is ridiculous, because Kavi Santokh Singh was unfamiliar with Punjabi culture? See my detailed respons(es) here.

3 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

Overall, Sikhs have still preserved their scriptures far better than many others, and the Quran itself was never even written down by Muhammad, Jesus never wrote the Bible, etc... 

Yeah, talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

3 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

Q: Why is there such a controversy over vegetarianism vs meat eating? Why didnt the Guru lay our a clear guideline? 

I think an inclusive answer would be to state that some Sikhs don't eat meat at all, for those who chose to, there are certain rules for that.

As for a "clear guideline" some Sikhs (esp. meat-eaters) think that the reason for not being such a guideline is that the Gurus didn't necessarily ban meat per se, but left that up to people's discretions.

I might not even totally agree with that, but when you're dealing with an outsider, you'd probably want to provide an answer on the behalf of all Sikhs.

3 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

Q: Why are Sikhs encouraged to be critical thinkers, yet told not to ask questions? 

Irony detector fail.

As a jihadi from the land of fatwas and beheadings and roving morality police, you're asking why Sikhs are told not to ask questions? Seriously?

3 hours ago, TheeTurbanator said:

A deep underlying issue that motivates a lot of these arguments is the idea that if Sikhi is true, then why would it not also temporally reign supreme, and why would "bad things" happen to Sikhs if they are morally correct? The answer to this is the simply: Hukam

Agreed.

Also, most of this stuff is just sniping around the edges. The jihadis' approach to daawa is to paint a ridiculous picture of how Sikhism is supposed to be if it were the "True Religion".

That is, if Sikhism were the "True Religion", then nobody would ever leave it, all Sikhs would have all of Guru Granth Sahib memorized, all Sikhs could do Raag kirtan in all 31 raags plus sub-raags--in puratan stringed instruments, all Sikhs would be filthy rich, all non-Sikhs (if any existed) would be beggars, the Sikhs would have nuclear weapons, quantum computing, and faster-than-light trips to Mars, and non-Sikhs would be living in the rainforest.

Nothing more than strawmen.

The real question is: Are humans better off as Sikhs or Muslims?

Overwhelmingly the former.

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45 minutes ago, BhForce said:

A general question I have for you is: Are your responses meant to be your own personal take on things?

Ok so heres the deal: There's going to be two versions of my argumentative Q/A, one is going to be specifically catered towards the Ex-Sikh user/Muslims who attack Sikhi, and I will be for general Q/A's, the general one will basically be the same version except without the meantones of Islam, and will be designed to be applicable against a wider section of critics, but mainly still Abrahamic people and Atheists, as they are the main ones who intellectually try to attack Sikhi.  

We dont really need to worry about the Dharmic people, but if the need arises, I will create rebuttals against them as well. 

 

Quote

the jihadi

  Chill bro, we wont know if he's a Jihadi, LoL 

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