Questions Responded by Navdeep Singh (39th WRC)
Questions Responded by Navdeep Singh
Chairperson and Trustee at the Siri Guru Singh Sabha Sikh Gurdwara
Representing Sikh Religion
Question 1: If your religion was a stumbling block to establishing justice, with everyone feeling equal, would you give it up? – by Elaine Batt
Answer: The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include faith and meditation on the name of the one creator, divine unity and equality of all humankind. Sikh faith is to engage in selfless service, striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all.
Anyone who follows the principles of Sikhism believes in justice and equality for all. So the above question is not applicable for the Sikhs.
Question 2: How are you getting or showing justice for the LGBT+ community? – by Darby
Answer: The universal goal of a Sikh is to have no hate or animosity for any person, regardless of factors like race, caste, colour, creed, gender or sexuality. Guru Sahib encourages a married life. Marriage in Sikhism is seen as a union of souls, and the soul is seen as genderless, with the outward appearance of human beings (man, woman) being a temporary state.
Sikhism has no specific teachings about homosexuality. The current Sikh eternal Guru, Guru Granth Sahib ji does not explicitly mention heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality. There are conflicting views in modern Sikhism. Some Sikhs believe there is nothing wrong with being LGBT or supporting LGBT rights more generally, including same-sex marriage, while others immensely oppose this practice.
Question 3: As a Christian, I see many Churches closing and this concerns me. Is this the case for all the represented religions? Without Churches/Temples/Synagogues/Mosques etc, how do we pass on moral values such as justice? – by anonymous
Answer: Gurdwara, a Sikh temple, meaning "door to the guru". This is the place where communities gather to participate in devotional activity that typically includes recitation (path) of scripture, singing of scripture to musical accompaniment (kirtan), and its exegesis (katha). Other ceremonies performed there include the Sikh marriage ceremony, some of the rites of the death ceremony and important Sikh festivals.
Almost all Gurdwaras have the community kitchen, called Langar, where a free meal is served to all the visitors, without distinction of religion, caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity.
Challenges such as maintenance and closure of Gurudwaras is not a concern for the Sikhs. Sikhs continue to conduct their religious and social events at Gurdwaras and are very motivated to build new and maintain them.
Question 4: Why only male speakers representing religions conference (majority)? Only one female today? – by anonymous.
Answer: From Sikh prospective, we stand for the equality of women and men, and believe that women and men are companions with equal rights in every sphere of life. The principles of Sikhism state that women have the same souls as men and thus possess an equal right to cultivate their spirituality with equal chances of achieving salvation. A Sikh woman can participate in all religious, cultural, social, and secular activities including lead religious congregations, take part in the Akhand Path (the continuous recitation of the Holy Scriptures), perform Kirtan (congregational singing of hymns), and work as a Granthi or a preacher.
Many times, in the past Sikh female speakers have participated in the World Religions Conferences (“WRC”). Even the last, WRC-2018, Sikh perspective was presented by the female speaker.
Question 5: For a person who is looking for a present-day example of Just Society, which societies would you direct their attention to? – by Brent P.
Answer: Since primitive times, all human societies and all forms of human knowledge are evolving. Today, we see a few civilizations that have created decent political, social, economic and religious framework, which is able to provide good humane condition to a good portion of its citizens, but they still have to go long way to create a just society for all.
Unfortunately, in present times we don’t see any society that can be called a Just Society for all. However, we can see sincere efforts are underway in many parts of the world to create one.
Question 6: Why faith preaching end up in ritualistic practices and very limited practice in life. All talk about ‘No thing is ours” but fail to let it go? – by Harjit
Answer: Sikhism is very practical and can be practiced without any hinderance in our day to day activities. Ten (10) living Gurus showed the Sikhs on how to lead life the Sikhi way while staying in the world and facing all kinds of social, political, economic and religious challenges.
Sikh Gurus taught his Sikhs to achieve the ultimate state of spiritual union with Thee while performing all duties of this world. Sikhs are encouraged not to live as a recluse, beggar, yogi, monastic(monk/nun) and prohibited to follow superstitions, rituals including pilgrimages, fasting, idols/grave worship etc.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, regarded by Sikhs as the final, sovereign, and eternal living guru, was written by the Six Gurus of Sikhism in Gurmukhi, which was and is the common language of the region. The Sikh’s 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh ji before conferring the title of "Guru of the Sikhs" upon the Aad Granth in 1708, abolished the priest class in Sikhism and created a Granthi to look after Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Any Sikh can become Granthi and anyone is free to read from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, thereby, ensuring that the Sikhs get the divine message directly from the Guru and should not be misguided by any mediator.
Question 7: If all religions love peace, why are there so many religious wars? Often in the name of Justice? – by Bill Ratcliffe
Answer: History simply does not support the hypothesis that religion is the major cause of conflict. According to the Encyclopedia of Wars, out of all 1,763 known/recorded historical conflicts, 123, or 6.98%, had religion as their primary cause. Some historians argue that most of the wars that are classed as "religious" have secular (economic or political) ramifications. Further, analysis shows that the wars of the ancient world were rarely, if ever, based on religion. These wars were for territorial conquest, to control borders, secure trade routes, or respond to an internal challenge to political authority. In fact, the ancient conquerors, whether Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, or Roman, openly welcomed the religious beliefs of those they conquered, and often added the new gods to their own pantheon.
We as Sikhs also strongly believe that all religions love ‘peace’. So, anyone instigating war(s) or fight(s) or even argument(s) on the name of religion can be anything but a religious person.
Question 8: What is one concrete action we can take to create a just society? (besides education) or What are your thoughts on differences/similarities of equality and equity? – by Margaret Emilia Locker
Answer: One action that one should take to create a just society is to enlighten himself or herself. Be a good person.
Equality & Equity: Equality focuses on creating the same starting line for everyone while equity has the goal of providing everyone with the full range of opportunities and benefits so that they all have the same finish line. For ages, some sections of our society were and are still suppressed on the name of caste, color, creed, race and gender. To establish a Just Society from the current state, equity will be required along with equality but very fine balance of both needs to be maintained.
Question 9: How can parents best model/teach justice to their children in the home? By Hilary Diouf
Answer: Parents are the most important teachers for their children and children learn the most from their parents. To create just society, it is very important for parents to teach justice to their Children by being a right role model in their day to day activities.
Question 10: If he alone who is worthy to sit on the throne, sits on the throne, does this mean that our world-wide present leaders are the ones who are rightful leaders? Should we acknowledge them and their decisions are just? – by Barbara Cook
Answer: Our leaders are among ourselves so they are no different from a common person of our society. Sikhism believes that the cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of well informed and educated electorate. Sikhism advocates and promotes the wisdom of their citizens.
Today, democracy( "rule by people") is widely accepted form of government in which the people have the authority to choose their leaders. Democracy requires active engagement, mindfulness and tolerance. Active engagement surely includes exercising their fundamental right to vote and staying abreast of local, national and international issues and, perhaps, communicating with elected officials. This consistent process enables the general population to settle on educated choices about whom to vote in favor of in the following term. It is the right, benefit and obligation to vote as a citizen of the nation and an individual from the society. A democracy that does not have an informed public is destined to decay. Unjust legislation would be passed, laws would be unequally enforced and elected officials would fall to corruption. Citizens who are educated are a pillar of an effectively functioning democracy.
It is also the responsibility of the citizens to pass along the importance of good citizenship to future generations. By teaching their children how to stay informed, to get involved, to obey the law and the necessity of voting, parents and mentors act as role models for them to improve society.
In sum, our societies and guiding principles to govern one are still evolving, and so is our selection of leaders.
Question 11: What is the purpose of Human Life as per your faith? – By Singh
Answer: For Sikhs, the purpose of Human life is to reunite or merge with God, the state that is referred as Mukti. The Sikh Gurus taught that to achieve this goal one must constantly develop their love for God by developing compassion for all God’s creation and work hard at developing positive human qualities which lead the soul closer to God.