The ContortionistsT. SHER SINGH
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
One of the challenges that come with being a minority - which we Sikhs are, have always been, and will certainly remain, at least in the foreseeable future - is the constant need to be vigilant over the overpowering influence of the majority.
One of the many pitfalls some of us have difficulty in avoiding is the tendency to imitate the fundamentalist nuts in the majority faiths, thinking that their views represent the norm and we are somehow amiss if we do not subscribe to the views they spew.
Abortion is one such issue but, mercifully, our gulls seem to have avoided it so far, probably because it requires that its nuances be analyzed and understood - something that knee-jerk reactionaries do not have time for.
But the issue of “gay rights”, it appears, requires no brains. You just surrender to your own prejudices, and find solace and support in the venom being doled out liberally by the extreme elements in the other faiths - and jump on the bandwagon.
It gives the unthinking a sense of purpose, a feeling that they are indeed being pious, by expressing strong and vociferous opinions on something that is “wrong”.
Wrong? To bolster their case, they flounder around and finally turn to scripture, parsing through the most obscure and unconnected passages to find even the flimsiest support for their sillinesses.
The following case in opposition to gay rights crossed my desk the other day.
I read it through, because it came from well-meaning people - people who are good, decent, smart, educated, intelligent, and pious. They too have heard loud voices all around the world beating the drums against gays and feel the need to make sure they are not left out, just in case their piety is said to be lacking.
So, they have dived into scripture, and have come up with this thesis, which I reproduce here verbatim, for you.
I will give you my thoughts once it has concluded. Please note: I’ve left the original text intact, including the grammar, spelling, etc.
* * * * *
Everyone seems to think the SGGS Ji has nothing to say on the issue of same sex marriages. SGGS Ji is a 'Pura Guru' i.e Perfect and Complete. It has all the answers.
To look at this issue in the proper perspective it is necessary to see how the Gurus viewed His creation i.e His kudrat.
I think all will agree that we are supposed to live within His hukam. Question arises - what is His hukam in such a case?.
Asa Ki Vaar tells us 'kudrat dissay kudrat suniey..'  and ends with 'Nanak hukmay andar vekhay vartay tako taak..'. All His kudrat, i.e including humankind has to live within his hukam. Even the elements like water, fire, air have to work within their physical limits set by Him. i.e they too operate in His hukam. Thus there must be rules applicable to all humans too which require us to operate within His kudrat.
Having said that. look at page 141 where Guru Nanak Ji says 'nanak sach dataar sinakhat kudrtaee'. [nanak, the True One is Giver to all; He is revealed through His all powerful nature.
* Here let me say about His kudrat. kudrat has 3 meanings in SGGS ji.
1. All nature i.e His creation.
2. His Creative Potency, i.e His power to create and destroy.
3, His innate nature sometimes called His 'birdh'. Look at japji pauri 18. The phrase 'kudrat kavna kahaa bichaar' is missing from this pauri. In this pauri Guruji speaks of those who are 'fallen' i.e the evil ones. He says 'asankh murakh andh ghorr..'. That phrase 'kudrat kavan kahaa bichaar...' is present in pauris 16 [His creative potency is being addressed here]. pauris 17 [asakh jap asankh bhao..], where the vastness of His creation is set out . In pauri 19 His nature is set out. This is also part of His kudrat. Glaringly, when Guruji speaks of the evil ones in pauri 18 He does not say that it is part of His kudrat i.e these persons are far removed from His nature i,e the rules He has set for all creation.
Taking the argument from there lets look at some quotes from SGGS ji.
At page 143 Guruji speaks of some situations which are against the natural order of things i.e not in accordance with His kudrat. The shabad begins with 'machi taru kya karay pankhi kya akaas' ..' Then Guruji says 'pathar palaa kya karay khusray kya ghar vaas..' [what can cold do to a stone ,what is married life to a eunuch']. The Punjabi word 'khusraa' besides meaning eunuch also refers to homosexuals. The concluding line of this shabad says 'Nanak murakh eh gun bolay sadaa vinaas..' [Nanak this is the nature of the foolish ones [i.e.Not His nature or kudrat], everything they speak of is useless and wasteful'.
At page 324, the word 'khusraa' is used by Bhagat kabir ji. 'bindh rakh jeyo tariey bhai ; khusray kyo na paramgatt paaieye..'.
At page 198 Gauri M 5. Guru Arjun Dev Ji says the Lord's servants keep away from 'sakat' persons. Now, 'sakat' is invariably translated as 'faithless cynic' in the net. That hardly gives you any clue as to the true nature of a sakat. A 'sakat' is someone who hankers after materialism, worldliness, and generally runs after bodily enjoyments. The bomohs, tantrics, karam kandees would also come within the meaning of 'sakat' i.e those who chase after 'shakti' or maya. The Shabad Arth by the SPGC says a 'sakat' is a mayadharee or 'shakti da upashik'.
With that in mind now look at the shabad. Guruji says 'Har kay daas seyo sakat nahi sangg'. [The Lord's servant does not associate with the materialist,one centred upon bodily pleasures]. Why? Guruji answers next. 'Oh bikhiyee oh raam ko rang' [ One is in the clutches of vice one is in love with the Lord]. Then some egs are given. 'jeyo kapurkh pucharay naree' [just like a person bereft of his manliness caressing a woman - i.e it is a futile exercise].
These are just some quick random thoughts. But I personally believe the SGGS Ji does not sanction homosexual or gay marriages as it seems to be against the order of His nature. There are many more shabads.
* * * * *
The entire argument pivots around the meaning of “khusray” which is translated as “homosexuals.“
I have checked over a dozen Punjabi-English dictionaries, as well as online resources. None of them translate “khusray” as “homosexuals”.
The word refers to eunuchs.
The use of the word in gurbani is as a metaphor or analogy, referring to the inability to perform the sexual act; that is, to impotency.
It does not, by any stretch of the imagination, refer to a homosexual.
The entire structure in the above thesis collapses when you pull out this key-stone.
Similarly, the argument above stretches the use of other metaphors and analogies to fit into a pre-concieved, pre-formulated position that opposes gays, even though the verses being quoted have no connection with the topic, either in spirit or in letter.
Let me give you an example of how we can easily get carried away in distorting the use of a metaphor or analogy. Gurbani often talks about the impossibility of describing the pleasures of divine love; that even trying to do so is akin to having a mute attempt to describe the taste of candy! You cannot draw from this analogy that gurbani looks down upon those who are physically challenged, including those who we rudely term as "deaf mutes" (gungaa) on the subcontinent.
To use far-fetched references to suggest that there are verses in gurbani denouncing gays would be as ridiculous as concluding that gurbani denies the physically-challenged equal rights as human beings.
Doing this is sheer dishonesty and serves no useful purpose. And it certainly isn't Sikhi.
Here’s a simple rule: if you have to perform extreme contortions in order to make something look the way you want it to, then it becomes obvious that the thing is not what you want it to be.
I suggest, with due respect to all who mean well but nevertheless go through these mind-numbing exercises, that they may be better served - and serve the cause of Sikhi better - if they stay on the path of Sikhi.
That is, stay within truth.
Try going through the Guru Granth Sahib again and you’ll find countless passages that will tell you that concentrating on fixing your own failings, and not looking for faults in others, is the way of Sikhi.
You’ll find, I assure you, that you won’t have to do mental acrobatics to get this central message.
The next time you find yourself wrapping your arm all around your head to reach the ear on the far side; or you find your head frightfully close to a part of the anatomy where it shouldn’t be, you can safely conclude that you are not functioning within the Hukam.
In doing terrible contortions to logic by twisting and turning and warping gurbani, you are less within the Hukam than the worst you imagine about gays.
It is time to untangle yourself and revert to an activity more akin to the natural order of things!
Please concentrate on naam juppna, wund chhukna and kirat karni … and let’s leave these convolutions to other faiths who choose to pursue them in their wisdom.
Conversation about this article
1: EDITOR, sikhchic.com (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada), September 12, 2012, 10:53 AM.
The focus of this article is not whether homosexuality is right or wrong; we have had other forums on that topic, and there will be more in the future if needed. The focus of this piece is whether the passages quoted from gurbani relate to the issue of homosexuality. Therefore, all comments should relate to this issue. However, if you wish to quote other passages that relate to the topic, please do, but provide translations and citation. As well, you are encouraged to comment on the parameters around quoting gurbani to support any position.
2: Yuktanand Singh (USA), September 12, 2012, 7:35 PM.
The term 'Pura Guru' does not mean that gurbani intends to answer every question. "Pooraa Guru" means that a perfect Guru's spiritual lessons are pure and free of human faults. "pooray gur ki pooree deekhia ..." [GGS:293] meaning: "A perfect Guru's teaching is perfect. Someone who treasures it in the heart realizes the truth". Some Sikhs rely on a hukamnama for guidance in tough situations, to see if the hukamnama was upbeat (supportive). But this does not mean we should expect the Guru to answers all questions. For example, the Guru does not solve calculus for us.
3: Sarjit Kaur (Pennsylvannia, USA), September 13, 2012, 2:39 PM.
Guru Maharaj's Hukam for Sikhs is simply to indulge in Gurbani, Naam Simran, and be amongst those who remind us of Him.