Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019 | Last Update : 04:36 AM IST

Mystic Mantra: Right to have rights

Kulbir Kaur teaches sociology at Shyama Prasad Mukherji College, Delhi University
Published : Jan 26, 2019, 2:02 am IST
Updated : Jan 26, 2019, 2:02 am IST

He admonishes the rulers and their ministers and asks them to work for the welfare of the people.

Guru Nanak
 Guru Nanak

O God, I can worship you not on a hungry stomach:
Here I give back my rosary to you
O Lord, how can I pull on with you?
But, if thou givest not Thyself, I’ll make a demand on Thee.
I seek no more than two seers of wheat flour,
With a quarter seer of ghee and a pinch of salt.
And half a seer of lentils too,
That I can eat my fill two times a day.
I seek a couch too, supported by four legs,
And
a bedding also, along with a pillow.
And, shall I ask not for a quilt too to cover my body,
So that attuned to Thee I worship no one but Thee?
No, no, I’ve
showed no covetousness, asserts Kabir.

While addressing God, Kabir says that the things of basic needs are his rights. If the latter will not give it, the former will ask for it, as is recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture of the Sikhs.

Humans have a natural right to life and Sikh Gurus have always fought for the preservation of human rights and raised their voice against the prevalent social inequalities, oppressive political and social conditions and degradation of basic values of life.

Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh faith, not only strongly advocated human rights but condemned the cruel rulers also who deprived the persons of their basic rights. He admonishes the rulers and their ministers and asks them to work for the welfare of the people. But Guru Nanak blamed the people more, for being puppets and mute spectators. In Asa-di-Var, he writes, “Avarice and sin are the king and the minister, and falsehood is their chief; And lust is the adviser, and so they all confabulate. Their subjects are blind, without wisdom; and like the dead, they dance to their tune and submit to their will.”

Guru Nanak was in favour of granting the right to protest and raise a voice against the oppression of the rulers. The Guru believed that it was lack of knowledge that made the people suffer. No wonder, the Sikh Gurus emphasised on the importance of education and it is to be imparted to all, irrespective of gender, class or caste distinctions.

In Sikhism women are considered equal to men with equal rights. Guru Nanak, in fact, assigned a higher status to woman and viewed her as a doorway of awareness since “of woman we are born, of woman conceived, to woman engaged and to woman married”. No distinctions have been made in matters of initiation and participation in religious matters.

Sikhism regards nature and its all parts, animals as well as plants as manifestations of the Almighty and hence their protection is equally desired. The Sikh society enshrines the ideals of justice, equality and universal brotherhood which implies respect for the rights of others and under no circumstances one should exploit the other. On the contrary, the Khalsa is enjoined to defend the helpless and the oppressed. A true Sikh is a compassionate person and shows kindness to all .It is a divine quality because the Almighty is dayalam (merciful). The oneness of all creatures has been strongly advocated in Sikhism. All forms of life, high and low, are considered equal with equal rights. As says Guru Nanak, “What can humble Nanak say when all men have been made equal.”

Tags: guru granth sahib, guru nanak