#19 in our Anti Conversion series – #ArmYourselfWithKnowledge on how to deal with preachers from other faiths.
This video looks at how people question Why the Sikh Gurus hunted if we are meant to respect all life? There is still compassionate way’s of taking a life.
Armed defence as a last resort
Interpreting Guru Nanak’s founding ideology, the successor Gurus (ten including Guru Nanak) preached freedom for all humankind from religious persecution, social (caste/class) discrimination and political oppression. Following the path of truthful conduct and righteous action, it is just to strive for universal freedom from oppression and injustice.
Therefore, war is justified in Sikh ideology, but only as a last resort, when all other means have failed, and only in defence of human rights, human dignity, and to seek freedom from tyrannical rule.
The transformation of Sikhs into the Order of the Khalsa (a distinct theo-political order), was not meant simply to continue as an established religion, but as an active medium for change by challenging social inequalities and religio-political oppression; and for winning political power for the ordinary people. “Strengthening the weak but remaining humble.” In Sikh ideology, “Humility is not to be read as a sign of weakness or lack of resolve. On the contrary it is only the strong that can really be humble without being servile or cringing. It is a choice of behavior, made and lived only through deep deliberation.” (Prof. Nirmal Singh lecture, “Peace Among People”)
Before Guru Nanak, the Bhagats, the saintly beings from diverse religious and social backgrounds, whose teachings are included in Guru Granth Sahib, had already spoken out against unjust regimes and sanctioned defence of human rights through the force of arms as a last resort.
“A true warrior is one who fights for the downtrodden, the weak and the meek. (Bhagat Kabir GGS p. 1105)
“I honour the saints and punish the wicked. This is my duty as the Lord’s officer.” (Kabir, GGS p. 969)
The Sikh Gurus repeated the same message:
“Death is a privilege of the brave, if they die for a noble cause” (Guru Nanak GGS p.579)
Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Master, described Guru Nanak’s mission as “To give security to God loving men, to destroy evil mind and sin, and to ensure victory of good over evil, to create a just society.” and “To promote a righteous regime of dharma, to uplift the saintly, to uproot all evil.” (Guru Gobind Singh, “Bachittar Natak”)
In the Sikh tradition, battles have been fought for the protection of human rights or to free enslaved people, sometimes even if it meant freeing a single person e.g. when the Sikhs as the Khalsa army, secured the release of a Brahmin’s wife who had been abducted by a local tyrant.
Sikh history records the model regime of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the first half of the 19th century as follows, “The ruling class in his reign was composite, and state patronage was extended to all categories of subjects irrespective of their religious affiliation …… Catholicity in relation to non-Sikhs was a common characteristic of the Sikh rulers.” (Dr J S Grewal “The Sikhs: Ideology, Institutions and Identity” p.91-92)