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Role of Educational Institutions in Inculcating Sikh Values

Kanwalpreet Kaur*

This paper explicates the fundamental Sikh moral values, the religious ground of value-judgment in Sikhism and role of education in inculcating these values.

Sikh moral values are not only instrumental in, but also are consequences of spiritual development. In Sikhism, values like wisdom, truthfulness, temperance, justice, courage, humility and contentment, etc. Value – Judgment in Sikhism is based on ‘Gurbani’ and ‘Sikh Rehat Maryada’ – a guide to Sikh way of life. As a Sikh, one should obey the following rules:

Invoke God’s Name
Live According to Guru’s advice
Serve Others

Living according to Guru’s advice prescribes further instructions:
1. Ceremonies
2. Faith in Guru’s bani
3. Compassionate attitude towards other religions
4. Praying
5. Five K’s – A Sikh should always have Five K’s, i.e., Kes (Hair), Kirpan (Sword), Kachaira (a special type of Underwear), Kanga (Comb), Kara (Iron Bracelet)

According to ‘Sikh Rehat Maryada’, hair/beard and turban are an essential part of the external appearance and personality of Sikh. Hair/beard and turban visibly symbolise a commitment to Sikhism or Guru’s way of life: love of humanity, truth, service and sacrifice. Anybody who violates it, shows that he/she is no more serious about his/her commitment to Sikhism. But nowadays, nobody is trying to be committed to his/her community.

There is spread of apostasy among Sikh community. Growing apostasy is a world-wide phenomenon, not peculiar to any particular religion. Apostasy in Sikhism is regarded to cutting and trimming of hair. Use of tobacco and intoxicants amongst the Sikh is fast spreading. Wearing of caps by young and even old Sikh against all canons and tenets of Sikhism is a common sight.

The main cause of apostasy is lack of religious education and indifference of parents. There is also a section of society where both husband and wife are working, and have no time to teach their kids to tie a turban. Such children when they grow up will not know about Sikhism and Sikh Maryada. Teachers and preachers themselves are ignorant of Sikh history, Sikh character, tradition and ethos. The Sikhs are required to conduct themselves according to guidelines of Gurbani. The second main cause is the spreading of materialism largely promoted by the Western Culture.

Sikhism is rooted in strong traditions and sacrifices, and is not to be wiped away by waves of apostasy. A vigrous drive is needed to stem the present tide of apostasy. In this regard:

A concerted campaign or mass movement at all levels by gurdwaras, Sikh institutions, colleges and schools, to impart religious education through special camps should be undertaken as hundreds of Khalsa colleges and schools have been opened during the last 90 years with specific purpose of promoting Sikh ideology and Sikh way of life.

Impact of Educational Institutions
First of all, Indian Sikh educational conference was held at Gujranwala in 1908. The impact of the achievement of this movement have been so solid, that many institutions could take genuine pride in it. The credit for the spread of education in Sikh Panth, rightly goes to this institution. The role played by this institution during 20th century has assured the Sikhs a prominent place among progressive communities in India and abroad. The education committee has also directed its efforts towards profession-oriented education according to the educational needs of the present day.

Sikh Institutions in twentieth century have played a significant role in the Sikh learning. There are also a few missionary institutions to teach Sikhism, in and outside India. There are also a large number of Khalsa schools and colleges in Punjab, and Guru Nanak Dev University and Punjabi University were opened at Amritsar and Patiala, respectively. Punjabi Language and Sikh literature have been given an opportunity to flourish.

There seems to be a proposal by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar to open a new university to promote Sikh literature and the Sikh way of life. The Sikhs in foreign countries have opened many Khalsa institutions to impart academic education along with education about the “Sikh code of Conduct”.

Majority of gurdwaras are running Punjabi schools throughout the world. There is a chain of educational institutions in England, Canada, America, Malaysia, Singapore, Africa, Australia, Norway and other countries of the world which promote Punjabi language and Sikh philosophy.

It is encouraging that many Khalsa institutions have been opened in post-independence era, Punjab. Many Public schools have started giving good education to students to preserve the culture and Sikh heritage. The objective of the educational institutions is not merely teaching the prescribed curriculum but to develop the personality of the Sikh Youth as a whole, so that the youth may become proud of their culture and live an honorable Sikh way of life. It is to inculcate the sense of knowledge and the cardinal principles of Sikhism so that the youth can contribute meaningfully to the growth of Sikh society.

How for has this objective been achieved? No elaborate survey or research project is necessary to answer this question. It is enough to walk through any Khalsa college to find that a student in full Sikh Form is an exception rather than the rule. There is no religious instruction and hardly any effort to enforce the prescribed Sikh form. Apostasy has reached such heights that the in matrimonial columns of newspapers, youngman unashamedly are advertising themselves as ‘clean shaven’ Sikhs, which is a contradiction in terms. Unfortunately, girls also do not lag behind. Some of them do not feel shy in advertising their preference for the ‘clean shaven’ breed.

Who is responsible for this degradation ? Our children are not to blame. We cannot absolve ourselves of our responsibility. In our homes, we have failed to provide the desired Sikh environment. The teachers have not discharged their duties. The students are not imparted any knowledge about Sikh religion, culture and history. Thus, these institutions which were created to produce ideal Sikhs have become centres of apostasy.

There is certainly a need for proper Sikh institutions without which we cannot impart Sikh religious education. It is necessary to stem the tide of apostasy in these schools and colleges.

– The special camps should be organised in all schools and colleges to promote the Sikh discipline, the Sikh form and the Sikh way of life. All institutions must make adequate arrangements for religious instructions.

– Our community shares another weakness – lack of reading habit. Reading habit can be inculcated only by the schools and colleges. Therefore, I wish to request the teachers in our educational institutions to pay attention to this weakness.

– The sphere of education is not confined to colleges or universities. It covers the whole life of man and entire society. There is a need for literacy campaign with a target of 100% literacy.

Therefore, propagation of Sikhism should be an essential part of education in Sikh institutions. Sikhism is a future religion of the world. It is the religion of Ik Onkar, who created the Universe, who is immanent in it, and who is happy to look after this creation. This religion looks at man as His own spirit and helps him to recognize his own origin. Through the worship of ‘fearless’ and ‘without hate’, it preaches these divine virtues, which enable man to view the entire human race as one. Sikh educational instititutions must propagate Sikhism.


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