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Sikh feminism

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Title: Sikh feminism  
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Subject: Feminist theory, First-wave feminism, Individualist feminism, Postcolonial feminism, Feminism in Australia
Collection: Feminism and Spirituality, Sikhism
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Sikh feminism

"They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together. They alone are called husband and wife, who have one light in two bodies." ~~ Guru Amar Das Ji
"A woman, is the favourite in her parental home, loved dearly by her father and mother. In the home of her in-laws, she is the pillar of the family, the guarantee of its good fortune... Sharing in spiritual wisdom and enlightenment and with noble qualities endowed, a woman, the other half of man, escorts him to the door of liberation." (Varan, V.16)
"Our mothers and sisters they repeat every time in their prayer, who plied hand mills in the jails of Mannu (the Mughal governor of Lahore (1748-53), grinding daily a maund-and-a-quarter of corn each, who saw their children being hacked to pieces in front of their eyes, but who uttered not a moan from their lips and remained steadfast in their Sikh faith—recall their spirit of fortitude and sacrifice, and say, Vahiguru, Glory be to God!"

Even in times of severe trial and suffering, Sikhs were guided in their treatment of the women prisoners of war by the highest standards of chivalry. In 1763, for instance, one of Ahmad Shah Durrani’s generals, Jahan Khan, was defeated by the Sikhs at Sialkot and a number of his female relations and dependants fell into their hands. Ali ud-Din writes in his Ibratnamah, "as the Sikhs of old would not lay their hands on women, they had them escorted safely to Jammu."

Another Muslim chronicler, Ghulam Muhaiy ud-Din, vituperates against the Sikhs in his Fatuha Namah-i-Samadi, but notices the esteem they had for women. He writes, "[The Sikhs] look upon all women in the light of mothers." This had been how a Sikh was defined by Bhai Gurdas a century earlier, "A Sikh casting his eyes upon the beautiful womenfolk of families other than his own regards them as his mothers, sisters and daughters." Sikhi is against dowry:

O my father, gift away to me the Dowry of the Lord's Name. Let the Lord be my Wear, His glory my Beauty, that my Task be accomplished. Blessed is the Lord's Worship; the True Guru has blessed me with it. In all lands, nay, in all Universe Pervades the Glory of the Lord; the gift of the Lord's (Name) is matchless; all other Dowry displayed by the self-willed is false egoism and a vain show. O my father, bless me with the Dowry of the Lord's Name. (Sri Rag M. 4) The rich and the poor are all brethren, This the Lord has ordained and none can gainsay it; Says Kabir, poor is he in whose heart There is not the Nam of the Lord. ( Sri Maharaja Sri Maan Sri Bhagat Kabir Sahib Ji Maharaja Ji, BHAIRO RAG) Nanak, none is high and none is low. (Sri Maharaja Sri Maan Sri Guru Nanak Dev Sahib Ji Maharaja Ji, JAPJI) Only fools and idiots, Try to suppress others. (Sri Maharaja Sri Maan Sri Guru Nanak Dev Sahib Ji Maharaja Ji, BASANT RAG) From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman man is engaged and married. Woman becomes man's friend; through woman, the future generations come. When man's wife dies, he seeks another woman; to woman man is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all. — Guru Nanak, Raag Aasaa Mehal 1, Page 473
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