What is the Sikh attitude towards friendship with the opposite gender?

Friendship with the opposite gender is not prohibited. However, to go beyond the lines of innocent friendship would be contrary to Gurmat.

ਪਰ ਤ੍ਰਿਅ ਰੂਪੁ ਨ ਪੇਖੈ ਨੇਤ੍ਰ ॥
“With your eyes, do not even gaze (in a lustful manner) upon the beauty of another.”
(Sukhmani Sahib, Ang 274)

ਦੇਖਿ ਪਰਾਈਆਂ ਚੰਗੀਆਂ ਮਾਵਾਂ ਭੈਣਾਂ ਧੀਆਂ ਜਾਣੈ ॥
“Men should look at the opposite gender as mothers, sisters and daughters, (women should look at the opposite gender as fathers, brothers and sons).”
(Bhai Gurdas: Vaar 29/ Pauri 11)

Social networking sites have some positives but negatives also. One needs to weigh up and act accordingly.

Intimate relationships at any level are harmful – whether it is physical intimacy or emotional one. Intimacy on any level (physical or emotional) should be restricted to one’s husband or wife, who are one’s committed life partners. If you send texts, emails or chat to someone on MSN or over the phone and you feel embarrassed and ashamed if someone else reads the text, email or heard the conversation, then that tells you that you shouldn’t be doing it. One should remember that God is always watching us and therefore live in the fear & love of God.

Gurbani says:

ਨਿਮਖ ਕਾਮ ਸੁਆਦ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਕੋਟਿ ਦਿਨਸ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਹਿ ॥
ਘਰੀ ਮੁਹਤ ਰੰਗ ਮਾਣਹਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਪਛੁਤਾਵਹਿ ॥੧॥
“For a moment of sexual pleasure, you shall suffer in pain for millions of days. For an instant, you may savour pleasure, but afterwards, you shall regret it, again and again. ||1||”
(Ang 405)

When you form a friendship – be it a friendship with the same gender or a platonic one to a member of the opposite gender (or if you’re married think about the relationship that you have with your spouse). They usually have the same foundation which is you sharing something in common with that person which helps the relationship flourish. It could be your common understanding and love for Sikhi, having the same lame sense of humour, whatever – its that ‘something in common’ which lets you form a close relationship.

So if the starting of all three relationships is the same what stops a platonic friendship turning into romance? After all it’s based on the same ingredients – you’ll grow to admire, depend and trust each other – something you would also hope to share with your prospective partner. It’s so easy for it to turn into romance that it’s best not to dwell on it in the first place. Prevention is better than falling off the cliff (i.e. losing your Sikhi) and drowning (i.e. letting go of Guru Ji and being alone).

ਹੇ ਕਾਮੰ ਨਰਕ ਬਿਸ੍ਰਾਮੰ ਬਹੁ ਜੋਨੀ ਭ੍ਰਮਾਵਣਹ ॥
ਚਿਤ ਹਰਣੰ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਲੋਕ ਗੰਮ੍ਯ੍ਯੰ ਜਪ ਤਪ ਸੀਲ ਬਿਦਾਰਣਹ ॥
ਅਲਪ ਸੁਖ ਅਵਿਤ ਚੰਚਲ ਊਚ ਨੀਚ ਸਮਾਵਣਹ ॥
ਤਵ ਭੈ ਬਿਮੁੰਚਿਤ ਸਾਧ ਸੰਗਮ ਓਟ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਰਾਇਣਹ ॥੪੬॥
“O sexual desire, you lead the mortals to hell; you make them wander in reincarnation through countless species. You cheat the consciousness, and pervade the three worlds. You destroy meditation, penance and virtue. But you give only shallow pleasure, while you make the mortals weak and unsteady; you pervade the high and the low. Your fear is dispelled in the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, O Nanak, through the Protection and Support of the Lord. ||46||”
(Ang 1358)

For the reasons mentioned above Gursikhs have set norms and traditions that they follow to ensure they nor others don’t fall off this narrow and sharp Path of Sikhi. Some youngsters think it is okay to freely mix whether in person or on the Internet, however one should use their own Bibek-Budhi (conscience thinking) to decipher the possible outcomes of one’s actions and act in a way that reduces any risk of oneself or another person getting carried away with the wrong thoughts or intentions.

According to Sikh Rehit Maryada it is a cardinal sin, known as Bajjar Kurehit, to have an physical intimate relationship before marriage.

ਅਨੰਦ ਬਿਵਾਹ ਤੇ ਭੁਗਤੇ ਪਰ ਕੀ ਜੋਇ ॥ ਸੁਣ ਸਿਖਾ ਗੁਰ ਕਿਹ ਥੱਕੇ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਿਖ ਨ ਸੋਇ ॥੨੫॥
“Without having Anand Karaj those who have sexual relationships. Listen O’ Sikh the Guru states, he is not my Sikh.”
(10th Guru – Muktnama)

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