Sikhi & Human Rights


I think that notwithstanding some reservations that I may have Jasdev ji has raised some important points in his missives. Gurbani teaches us to develop our abilities to make choices that may be more acceptable to the divine. This makes the Sikh concept of dharam an evolving sense of the conscious rather than the equivalence of kartaveya as in the caste based social ethics. This also turns the way we look at ourselves on its head. The Guru says that manas ko prabh daiyee vadayaee and avar joni teri panihari but at the same time we are told that the Creator likes this world as He created and that all jonis have their roles – thus telling us where our place is in the matrix of the created. It is high only because it gives us the chance to connect with the divine.

The created all live per the hukam. Therefore essentiually the sacha patshah is the karta purkh. Yet we must live in this temporality that is real, and relate to it in a manner that help us not lose this opportunity to be able to merge in the divine light. That is through nadar and not by thinking that I have done my bit and now it should be mine. Whatever we receive is divine gift including dookh bhookh sadd maar. So in reality there are no rights – there is opportunity to do what may be deemed acceptable by the Guru and there is sense of thankfulness for what we receive. Yet we must strive for caring for our own and sharing are divine attributes. Thus aquisition is fine if it is not denied being shared.

Of the temporality there are two visions – halemi raj and be-gam pura. Both envisage a free human mind in nsearch for divine connection – halemi raj more definitive about personal attributes to rise above our infirmities and helping create a social structure that helps transformation of others. The term raj does carry the connotation of a structure but is not bound by geography – it transcends it in the same manner as sangats did across the bounds of rajas.

UDHR is a version in the modern evolved metaphors of what is considered an encouraging social environment for human development. Sikh thought is a precursor of same human urges but goes way beyond it. Jasdev is right in being diffident about trying to define Sikh ideal of human society for we have Guru’s examples but have yet to construct the working models that can be emulated by lesser beings.

The debate on human rights and Sikhi has therefore to move beyond just finding where we may be saying the same things as UDHR to where we have a vision that brings it a true sense of universality in that it is god given and not sanctioned by laws. I think Jasdev is helping that discussion to take place, even though it puts him in a bit of a box because in truth we still are pretty far from this search.


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