Raja Sekhar Vundru

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Ph.D on Dr.Ambedkar's Electoral System from the National Law School, Bangalore (NLSUI) Currently working as Deputy Director General, UIDAI, Government of India , New Delhi +911123752322 (office)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sectarian clashes have origin in centuries- old caste divide

Sectarian clashes have origin in centuries- old caste divide
by
Raja Sekhar Vundru

Mail Today, New Delhi
26 May 2009

http://epaper.mailtoday.in/Details.aspx?boxid=32448484&id=23506&issuedate=2652009

http://epaper.mailtoday.in/epaperhome.aspx?issue=2652009

WHEN the Khalsa was formed in 1699, which gave birth to the Sikh religion, Guru Gobind Singh announced his desire to include all castes without discrimination.

Though he faced great opposition, the Dalits, who form about one- third of Punjab's population, joined Sikhism.

After the rise of an untouchable Ravidas to sainthood in the 15th century, the Dalits of north India, especially Chamars, took to worshipping him and started calling themselves Ravidasis.

After their initiation into the Sikh faith, the Chamars of Punjab became Ravidasi Sikhs and their Balmiki brethren came to called Mazhabhi Sikhs. The Sikh religion in turn accommodated Ravidas in its pantheon by including his Bani ( teachings) in the Guru Granth Sahib.

But caste resurfaced in the Sikh religion in early 20th century with discrimination in the traditional langars. Dalit women were not allowed into the common kitchen and the Dalits were segregated in the langars. This was the time when education and self assertion was also on the rise among the Ravidasis.

As a reaction against this discrimination, the Ravidasi Sikhs opened separate gurdwaras calling them Ravidas Gurdwaras.

These temples are replicas of the Sikh Gurdwaras and the religious text remained the Guru Granth Sahib.

The only difference was the huge portrait of Guru Ravidas and photographs of Dr B. R. Ambedkar that adorned the walls. The prayers in these Gurdwaras are hymns of Ravidas, Kabir and a few from Guru Nanak and Guru Arjun Dev who incorporated the hymns of Ravidas in the Guru Granth Sahib.

The reason for this separation is two- fold. One is the realisation that Guru Ravidas is part of the Guru Granth Sahib which made Chamars continue with the religion and customs of Sikhism. The second is the realisation that the hymns of Ravidas are not sung in Sikh gurdwaras and the refusal of Sikhs to recognise Ravidas as a guru. The Punjab Chamars elevated Sant Ravidas to the status of a guru which the traditional Sikhs objected to. These Ravidas Gurdwaras can be seen in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.

The pioneers of this movement established a large network of such shrines abroad. The NRI Ravidasis have built gurdwaras all over the world from Vancouver in Canada to Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Clashes between traditional Sikhs and Dalits are at times over the control of gurdwaras or caused by hatred towards the assertion of rights by the Ravidasis.

( The author is a Dalit intellectual & IAS officer based in Chandigarh)

5 Comments:

Blogger mani300bc said...

Dear Sir,

I am contacting you as I dindt get your email readily. Your articles are very good sir!

I will try to follow your blog regularly. Currrently I am posted as DM, Mysore.

warm regards,

Manivannan
96633.69333

10:58 AM  
Blogger prasanna said...

Hello Raja Sekhar Saheb,
You have written very well about Dr. Ambedkar Sahib's views about states reorganisation and other issues about Dalits empowerment. Dr Ambedkar is the architect of the Constitution of India and champion of the poor, oppressed and downtrodden. He should be worshipped like Lord Buddha.
Dadala Kumar

3:18 AM  
Blogger prasanna said...

Hello Raja Sekhar Saheb,
You have written very well about Dr. Ambedkar Sahib's views about states reorganisation and other issues about Dalits empowerment. Dr Ambedkar is the architect of the Constitution of India and champion of the poor, oppressed and downtrodden. He should be worshipped like Lord Buddha.
Dadala Kumar
New Delhi
9911049894

3:20 AM  
Blogger bethala said...

sir every one thinks that i am well settled but you may not expect that i was in doldrums of difficulty even to feed my family.

and mostly the people with college was under CBI trap my brother was deceived me after won the national award

in theses all years i was suffered a lot which i cannot explain please try to understand the situation and kindly excuse me sir but as i promised the thing i will do even though i suffered the stroke and any more of my self is its noneth bothered as naval transfered the expression of your thank you. and good luck.

7:40 AM  
Blogger bethala said...

sir good morning i am sorry to say i was disturbed a lot but u think i am blundered u please don't misunderstand me you know my astrology also this is bethala sir.

don't keep angry all the way on me u also know how i followed you but situation made me as an culprit.

7:22 AM  

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