Advanced Studies in Sikhism by Jasbir Singh Mann, Harbans Singh Saron(editors)

By Jasbir Singh Mann, Harbans Singh Saron(editors)


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As to the character of spiritual experience, it is recorded, “Friends ask me what is the mark of the Lord, He is All Love. ”3 It is this definition of God as “Love” and “Ocean of attributes” that governs the entire structure of Sikhism and the growth of its history. ”5 We have, thus, to see what are the doctrinal implications of the spiritual experience of the Gurus and their definition of God regarding the various issues we seek to understand. The metaphysical position of Sikhism being a monotheism is clear enough, but much more significant is the inference that the world is not only real but also meaningful.

The reason for it is obvious. The entire approach is other-worldly and for liberation from the tangles of life. Consequently, this is also the reason that except in the case of Vallabhacharya, celibacy is the rule and the position of women is distinctly downgraded. Ramanuja denies Vedic studies to women. They were not allowed to mix with men for devotion nor allowed to become nuns. Shankradeva, a liberal saint, says, “Of all the terrible aspirations of the world, woman’s is the ugliest. A slight side glance of her captivates even the hearts of celebrated sages.

Both Vallabha and Chaitanya accept Bhakti as the sole method of Moksha. In the former system the modes of worship are all formal like singing the praises of God, Arti, image Worship, etc. Householder’s life is allowed but the devotee visits the temple of the Guru for worship of the idol at fixed intervals. In the case of Chaitanya, Bhakti is an extremely emotional affair, involving ecstatic dancing and singing. While Chaitanya’s devotees were from all castes, even Muslims, his followers, except for Bairagis, observed the caste system regarding cooking and other matters.

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