Next to bread, the essential man is centred in his divine love for woman. His sexless passion also has woman as its terra firma. All his glorious hopes and aspirations are bees humming round this flower-woman. The Home of Love revolves round her as a dream beauty. In a great and cultured world the honour for woman must needs be infinite. I do not think that the ideal honour for woman is as yet in sight. As George Meredith puts in the mouth of Bis Diana of the Crossways, "Men may have rounded Seraglio Point, they have not yet doubled Cape Turk."
Women shall be second best God or the God of the intellectuals on earth. She shall be absolutely free. And it is out of her freedom that we shall yet win new ideals of Home and Art. I tell you as a beloved slave of man she has contributed a major portion of the whole of his culture and civilization. The slavery of woman to man is due to man largely but essentially to the woman herself. Only in motherhood does she become free. A divine sovereignty is then conferred on her. Her intuitive omniscience is more developed than man's. Her spirit of self-sacrifice is real and man's is more or less dramatic and unreal.
The whole of Guru Grantha is the voice of a wedded woman or a maiden pining in love of the Beautiful. Her nobleness in Guru Grantha is infinite, her freedom is of the highest. Both man and woman as sexes are forgotten in her voice. She becomes the Supreme Reality and a freed Soul. In the freed soul alone is the subordination of one to the other effectively abolished and all disputes hushed.
As Bolshevism is in modern politics so is the modern women's movement in the sphere of women; both are protests. There is something rotten in the systems of our marriages and social inequalities and the protest is to bring better culture. Much is frivolous futility in such ill-balanced movements. But the balance shall tremble again and women shall find her real spiritual worth in herself. So far she is still a toy-like thing. In her imagined freedom what is she doing? Aping man. Man himself is yet in his swaddling clothes. Let us look at the modern woman a little and compare that old and this new. She has certainly lost her beauty and has not yet gained her soul. When in that old superb figure of hers the Christ-braids fell all about her swanlike neck, her face shone in this world like the moon in black clouds. Even that so-called savage Afridi of the Indian Frontier was moved to sing of "the bazar of the tresses of my Beloved", and in passionate worship of her the most brutal of men found some kind of cultural atmosphere. It was the culture of total self-sacrifice for her sake. In her worship too is all patriotism, honour of a race, war and defence of home and hearth. What would freedom itself be if man were devoid of women worship? One wonders what is woman. Man called her wife, but she stood as his daughter before him and she made a Buddha of her father. She was always a mystery to the human race. Her tresses suggested a secret, her eyes that loved made it deeper. The virgin was desired by the young man, he fell worshipping before her, she was the mother and he the son. Her clothes were a Universe in themselves and her soul was sought after from eternity to eternity. It was hidden in the fold of her clothes, it was fluttering of some one's heart in the flapping of her veil-cloth. The national flags are dim shadows of the veil-cloth that flies, as the sister of the nation runs appealing to man-"up and fight, for I am in danger." The other day the eastern wind was flaunting a sun-lit cloud before my eyes. I thought it was the veil-cloth of my mother, and I stood up thinking my mother had come back from the dead. I shed a tear and the sun went past me. The woman's forehead we have for centuries contemplated as our sky aglow with the calm sparkle of the moon. Poets sang and husbands and fathers and all poets in action in this living love of woman, died serving her and her children. The mother mysterious, so noble, divine, so full of love that she drew the whole-souled devotion of humane men for centuries and was still a mystery. She was as mysterious as Nature. A literature was born, an art became alive, a history was made glorious in the defence of her honour and pride. Woman was still a mystery. And for ever concealed was her face in the night of hair, in the mystery of her clothes, in the appeal of her eyes and in the music of her voice, and she was revealed partly to man in her acts of faith, love, and noble self-sacrifice. She wore the cross of the whole family as did Jesus, but started no Christianity. Every woman is the Messiah. Her daily life in the service of man gave us the songs of her beautiful soul as the shifting colours of the sky and the changing lines of Nature tell us of Nature's inner Person. Woman was thus the inspiration for all the heroic efforts of man to make himself man. Woman is responsible for all his best longings for immortality, for all his religions, for all his arts, and for all his noble wingings above earth and sky. And when I contemplate the modern type of woman that had denuded her head of hair and her limbs of the mystery of clothes and when she had not, by throwing all these cumbersome veils aside, revealed her soul to us, I fall dead with despair-wither is she going? The world has became emptied of human beauty. I wanted to cling to her soul, the immortal portion of her, and she wishes me to cling to her flesh and bone which is precious only because of her great soul. Otherwise all is mutton, mere mutton. None need quarrel with her experiments with her self. Of course she is absolutely free to do as she chooses, but we are concerned in the decoration of the Temple of flesh where we have worshipped for so many centuries and poured out our soul. And when someone asked me what is the ideal of modern Art, I replied "speed". Get into a motor car, free of all encumbrances, Speed! More speed! Bang! Dash against the mountain! And to pieces! There lie the mutton pieces! The end! Discovered! Man a corpse! Woman a corpse! To come to such a discovery is the suicide of all civilization.
In this too, the Guru leads the ideas of the coming world, if Sikhs of to-day there are who veil their women and enslave them, they are not of the Gurus. The third Guru while giving audience to a Hindu Queen of Mandi when she came all veiled to Him said, "You O mad woman, have come to see the Guru and you cover your face from Him." How can those who call themselves His disciples tolerate anything infringing the absolute freedom of woman. On the other hand, those who free her and ape the western fashions remind one, as Marie Corelli graphically puts it, "of the poultry yard." That is certainly worse than nursing a peculiar type of womanhood of noble self-restraint behind the oriental veils. Veils often symbolize the beauty and mystery of the concealed and the veiled is more sacred than the unveiling. But if veil accendtuate this sex difference or unveiling does the same, both are unholy. Only when man and woman both live above body and mind as freed souls, they represent the culture of live freedom. Live freedom is freed also of sex differences. Stupid, indeed, are those sects who wish to get rid of woman as an obstacle to spiritual progress. Woman is the greatest and truest aid to the maintenance of the true spiritual attitude. Woman's soul crying to the soul of man is the only divine lyric trembling like the music of the Infinite and the Eternal. Man's self-transcendence is as much of him, as his physical indulgence, as his intellectual aestheticism. He is a spirit. It is when the spirit of the Holy Ghost fills him and his body and bread, his intellect and his woman are suffused with his discovery of the personal God in man and Nature that Man, the artist, becomes himself the highest Art-the expression of the mystery of life. The true artist is the best art, the best culture, the best literature and the best religion.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2015, All