Society: Sikhism: Institutions:
According to Encyclopedia Americana,
“The term family usually refers to a group of
persons related by birth or marriage (ordinarily parents and their children)
who reside in the same household. In common usage, the term has been extended
to include ancestors. Family also denotes, a group consisting of parents
and their children whether living together or not. It is sometimes used
for relatives of one spouse as opposed to those of the other and
colloquially for unrelated people living in the same household.”
Family is the basic structure and unit in Sikhism.
It is a strong and noble Sikh institution. Family was most important to
all the Gurus who preached life of a householder rather than of renunciation.
The Gurus believed that the family must procreate and continue the
existence of the society. The family has economic and educational functions
to perform so that family life becomes smooth and happy.
Sikhism teaches the followers to build a social
structure on the basis of universal brotherhood, love for each other, equality,
fraternity and Sarbat-Da-Bhala. It believes in individual as well
as collective prosperity. It preaches that the human beings are sons and
daughters of the same universal father (God). All of them have the same
aim of realizing the ultimate Reality. Human race is one.
“Manas ki jat sabhai ekai pehchanbo”
Sikhism recommends an active life in which family has a great
role to play. Life of a householder is the best institution to fulfill
the Sikh ideal of contributing to the development of the human society.
Here the children learn to know the individual as well as the corporate
Code of Sikh Conduct through this institution.
mwns kI jwq sbY eykY pihcwnbo
(Akal Ustat Patshahi Das -Dasam Granth, p-19 part 1.)
Family in Sikhism is a training school for social, cultural,
political and spiritual makeup. It is a training school for Seva
and charity. From the family of birth, the religious and ethical
ideas are implanted in the child. It is worth to mention here that Bhai
Mani Singh took all the traits of sacrifice from his forefathers. Guru
Arjan Dev Ji implanted the spirit of sacrifice in the wider family by offering
his life to upkeep righteousness.
The Sikh families believe in monogamy. The marriages
are normally arranged by the parents with consent of the children. Extra-marital
and pre-marital relationship is not allowed in Sikh families. Marriage
is considered to be a sacrament. According to the concept of Lavan (Marriage
hymns), divorce is not encouraged in Sikhism. It is expected of the couple
to help and support each other in the family to attain God.
Sikhs believe in Nam Simran while living a family life
which has all the elements of love, optimism, laughter, pride, pity, joy,
gratitude, respect, purity, service and sacrifice.
The concept of family life teaches to love and respect
the parents, grand parents and society at large. It cares for the vulnerable.
It provides psychological foundation for the future and helps in improving
the quality of life. It provides emotional care for its members and
opportunity to practice democratic decision making. Sikh family preserves
human values, cultural identity and historical continuity.
Those who live in the situations of God loving families,
carry with them into society an urge to strive, the ability to work toward
an ultimate goal to attain God, an acceptance for the opinions and defects
of others, responsibility, good judgment, sense of kinship plus an unshakable
belief in the benefits of sharing and co-operation with human beings. All
of these family values are needed in to-day’s world.
Sikhism believes in performing the mutual duties and responsibilities
in the family setting. Guru Arjan Dev Ji says about an ideal family where
the pivot in family is good-natured lady,
“She is blessed with thirty two qualities
and truthful and unblemished is her progeny. She is obedient , sagacious
and beauteous. She fulfills the wishes of the heart of her groom,
the Lord. She has soothed , in every way, her husband’s younger brother’s
wife and her husband’s elder brother’s wife. In all the family, she is
the noblest. She is the counselor of her husband’s younger brother and
elder brother. Blessed is the house, wherein she has really entered because
she abides in peace and bliss.”
The Sikhs usually live in extended and joint families under
one roof. The parents and grand parents take care of their children and
The members of the family help each other economically,
socially, psychologically and spiritually. The
children are molded in godly crucible by the parents who take all the possible
measures to develop their personality according to Sikh values of culture
and religion. The children learn from their families about
the concept of universal brotherhood and desire to progress as a world
unit by praying for universal welfare.
Bhai Gurdas has given an interesting account of a daughter
in law who misguides her husband, motivates him to abandon his parents
as if they were the deadly enemies and makes him agree to live separate
from them. The husband is mislead, leaves his parents, forgets their kindness
and starts living away from them.
Bhai Gurdas says,
“Such neglect of parents is truly sinful.”
Guru Ram Das says,
vK hovY puqu rMin lY m~ ipau
dy aupkwru ivswry |
lokw cwir huie vfy kucwry
“Why, O'son, you quarrel with your father ? It
is a sin to quarrel with him who begot you and brought you up.”
According to Guru Arjan Dev, parents always pray for
kwhy pUq Jgrq hau sMig bwp
ijn ky jxy bfIry qum hau iqn
isau Jgrq pwp ]
“May the Guru be kind to you, and may you love
the society of the saints.”
According to Sikhism, the concept of family values is the
only way to attain prosperity and world peace. The western world which
lost this concept is thinking to bring back family values and lead
a harmonious life. The family values in the broadened sense are needed
to save the world living under pain and frustration.
siqguru qum@ kau hoie dieAwlw
sMqsMig qyrI pRIiq ]
“O' God let there be happiness in the falmily.”
or elderly persons in family
Sukhi Basai Moro Parivaraa
There is a saying in India, “Old is gold” but this term
is interpreted otherwise in western world. The seniors are treated differently
in various cultures.
The Seniors or grand parents have a great role to play
in make up of the good families. They are head of the families. They have
got experience of life. They have gone through the ups and downs in life.
“There is increased wisdom and competence that
come with age.”
They are the people to pass on to the future generations
the values of religion, history, culture, society and their heritage. They
are always seen energetic and doing some or the other thing in Indian
society unlike sitting in the rocking chairs. Many a times they work
as family counsellors or volunteer professional consultants in the society.
They are successful mentors in many families.
(Job 12:12 Bible-Holy Scriptures).
The grandparents can be supportive of their married children.
These are often the grandparents that tell the night stories which develop
an increased sense of familial, social, cultural, historical and
religious heritage in the children. Moreoften, these days, the young
parents want their parents to approve of the way they raise their children.
Such suggestions sometimes are considered as criticism which prove to be
most devastating. Simulteneously it may be kept in view that grandparents
do not have evil motives.
Many grandchildren confide more in their grandparents
than in their own parents.Children learn the most important things about
themselves from the grandparents. Grandparents have bigger lap than the
great seas but sometimes the grandparents are accused of spoiling the grand
children by raising them in the old fashion or by giving them gifts or
being permissive or being too much generous. The Bible says that too much
of even a good thing can be taken as bad.
Some grandparents complain that they are simply kept in
the houses as captives to do baby sitting only.
Grandparents and grandchildren often enjoy a special bond.
The grandparents many a times influence future of their grandchildren.
An ancient proverb says, “The crown of old men is the grand children”.
The grand parents have years of parenting experience under their
belts. Having learned from their mistakes, they may be more competent in
handling children than they were when they were younger in age. The grandparents
bequeath a legacy of happiness, emotional health, increased
sense of well-being and morale that benefits everyone in the family and
society at large. There is always a payback reward for raising a good family
and a nation of outstanding vision.
Grandparents are blessing in disguise. They are source
of love and effection. They are unselfish and sincere when dealing with
their grandchildren. They must be respected so as to continue burning of
the heritage flame of langfuage, religious, social and cultural values
passed on to them from time to time by their ancestors. The grandparents
have their duty and let them perform it.
Life is not very kind to senior citizens in foreign countries
due to role reversals. In the traditional family hierarchy, the parents
are recognized as head of the family. They are treated with great respect
in Indian society and have the highest authority in the family. The head
of family is always consulted in all the matters and he has the final say.
The mother looks after all the household affairs. She is treated as queen
of the home. She represents and fulfills the social obligations of the
family including childbirths, weddings, funerals and so on.
of seniors in foreign countries
This role of authority and respect diminishes and reverses
when the parents immigrate to the foreign countries. Role of family hearty
is reversed altogether. Their children make all the decisions regarding
properties, household and financial affairs. The parents do not get proper
diet as they had been enjoying in their back home countries. The parents
feel they have been failure.
The children remain busy in pursuing their own ambitions
and goals. The elderly people are bound at home with household and child
caring responsibilities. Their caregivers neglect all the needs of
the elders so much so that the money with the parents is many a times grabbed
by their own children. For those who are not bound at home with such
responsibilities, they are bound by lack of language, skills, money, transportation
and knowledge to integrate into the new culture. They cannot socialize
or enjoy the company of others. Many of the elders waste their time in
Gurdwaras in gossiping, slandering or backbiting while others linger
aimlessly in the local stores, malls or loiter aimlessly on roads where
they are often slurred by the racists.
The parents who once were on top of the hierarchy of the
family in their home country become miserably dependent. Their dreams
and idealism of uniting with their family in a rich country are shattered.
The role of dependency has a devastating effect on their self esteem ,
self confidence and mental health. They feel small, degraded, inferior,
useless and dependent upon their children. They become vulnerable to abuse.
They remain virtually immobile in their dingy basements. They do not talk
to others about the abuse as the family pride and honor is always kept
before personal health, happiness and well-being. They believe that such
information may bring shame and humiliation to the fair name of their family.
The unexpected loss of status leads to demoralization and frustration.