Gurmat & Christianity

How does the Bible view women in comparison to Sikh Scriptures?

According to the Bible a woman is definitely inferior to the man. The Bible accords women a status much lower than men. The God of the Bible often considers (sometimes ignores) women to be inferior to men. It is interesting to note that early church fathers debated long and hard if women were intelligent enough to have immortal souls.

Some quotes from the Bible about women
I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.–Genesis 3:16
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. –1 Tim. 2:11-14

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live – Exodus 22:18
Woman created from Adam’s rib – Genesis 2:22
Woman cursed: maternity a sin, marriage a bondage – Genesis 3:16
Rape virgins instead of male angels – Genesis -19:1 -8
Women who have sons are unclean 7 days – Leviticus 12:1-14
Women who have daughters are unclean 14 days – Leviticus 12:4-7
Menstrual periods are unclean – Leviticus 15:19-23
If master has sex with engaged woman, she shall be scourged -Leviticus 19:20-22
“Virgins” listed as war booty – Numbers 31:16-35
Woman must marry her rapist – Deuteronomy 22:28-29
Men can divorce woman for “uncleanness,” not vice-versa – Deuteronomy 24:1
King Solomon had 700 wives & 300 concubines – I Kings 11:1-4
Mary is unclean after birth of Jesus – Luke 2:22
Man is head of woman; only man in God’s image – I Corinthians 11:3-15
Women keep in silence, learn only from husbands – I Corinthians 14:34-35

Some quotes about women from Sikh Scriptures:
The Sikh faith is the only world religion that continually emphasizes the equal and uplifted status of women. Not only are women praised in various Sikh scriptures (e.g. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Dasam Granth, Bhai Gurdas Ji’s vaars and Rehit-Namay), but Sikh history is also painted with legacies of Sikh women preachers, warriors, saints, and scholars.

Although Bhai Gurdas Ji never got married, he greatly appreciated and adored the value that women held in social and religious spheres. Bhai Gurdas Ji had tremendous respect for women, and in his writings, which are referred to as the ‘key’ to Gurbani, states:

ਪੇਵਕੜੈ ਘਰਿ ਲਾਡੁਲੀ ਮਾਊ ਪੀਊ ਖਰੀ ਪਿਆਰੀ||
ਵਿਚਿ ਭਿਰਾਵਾਂ ਭੈਨੜੀ ਨਾਨਕ ਦਾਦਕ ਸਪਰਵਾਰੀ||
ਲਖਾਂ ਖਰਚ ਵਿਆਹੀਐ ਗਹਣੇ ਦਾਜੁ ਸਾਜੁ ਅਤਿ ਭਾਰੀ||
ਸਾਹੁਰੜੈ ਘਰਿ ਮੰਨੀਐ ਸਣਖਤੀ ਪਰਵਾਰ ਸਧਾਰੀ||
ਸੁਖ ਮਾਣੈ ਪਿਰੁ ਸੇਜੜੀ ਛਤੀਹ ਭੋਜਨ ਸਦਾ ਸੀਗਾਰੀ||
ਲੋਕ ਵੇਦ ਗੁਣੁ ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਚਿ ਅਰਧ ਸਰੀਰੀ ਮੋਖ ਦੁਆਰੀ||
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸੁਖ ਫਲ ਨਿਹਚਉ ਨਾਰੀ ||੧੬||
“At birth a Sikh girl, in her mother’s home, is fondled and dearly loved by her mother and father.
Later, she becomes admired by her brothers and sisters and favored by her maternal and paternal grandparents.
On attaining to the bloom of youth she is wedded with costly gifts and presents.
Now, in her in-law’s house, she is respected and accepted with the title of married wife.
She enjoys with her husband, eating a variety of foods, and remaining bedecked.
From a temporal and spiritual point of view, woman is half man’s body, being regarded as the equal of her spouse in virtue and wisdom. She becomes as a doorway to salvation.
Such is the verbal portrait of a Guru-inspired and blessed, faithful Sikh woman.”
(Vaar 5: 16)

In a world where the religious scriptures of the Hindus, Muslims and Christians gave authority for women to be considered inferior to men, Guru Nanak Dev Ji proclaimed to the world:
ਮਃ ੧ || ਭੰਡਿ ਜੰਮੀਐ ਭੰਡਿ ਨਿੰਮੀਐ ਭੰਡਿ ਮੰਗਣੁ ਵੀਆਹੁ ||
ਭੰਡਹੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਭੰਡਹੁ ਚਲੈ ਰਾਹੁ ||
ਭੰਡੁ ਮੁਆ ਭੰਡੁ ਭਾਲੀਐ ਭੰਡਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਬੰਧਾਨੁ ||
ਸੋ ਕਿਉ ਮੰਦਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਜੰਮਹਿ ਰਾਜਾਨ ||
ਭੰਡਹੁ ਹੀ ਭੰਡੁ ਊਪਜੈ ਭੰਡੈ ਬਾਝੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ||
ਨਾਨਕ ਭੰਡੈ ਬਾਹਰਾ ਏਕੋ ਸਚਾ ਸੋਇ ||
ਜਿਤੁ ਮੁਖਿ ਸਦਾ ਸਾਲਾਹੀਐ ਭਾਗਾ ਰਤੀ ਚਾਰਿ ||
ਨਾਨਕ ਤੇ ਮੁਖ ਊਜਲੇ ਤਿਤੁ ਸਚੈ ਦਰਬਾਰਿ ||੨||
“From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married.
Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come.
When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound.
So why call her bad? From her, kings are born.
From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all.
O Nanak, only the True Lord is without woman (e.g. not born from a woman).”
(Ang 473)

Speaking to the common man who likely viewed women as impure, irrational, and cursed, Guru Nanak Dev Ji awoke a new spirit of equality, respect, and benevolence between the sexes. In a society ridden with the belief that women were inadequate and forever inferior to men, Guru Nanak Dev Ji spoke of women’s rights! Throughout Sikh History, several women have lit the path of inspiration and enlightenment, from the times of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s emergence throughout the emergence of all ten Gurus. Mothers like Mata Tripta Ji, who give birth to great souls, are continually praised in Gurbani:

ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰਿ ਧੰਨੁ ਜਣੇਦੀ ਮਾਇਆ ||
“One who dies in the Shabad and conquers their mind – “ blessed is the mother who gave birth to them.”
(Ang 1286)

Additionally, although various relationships are described in Gurbani (e.g. brother, sister, father, sister-in-law, etc.), the relationship with a Mother is described the most, and God is continually referred to as a female and/or male energy:
ਤੂੰ ਮੇਰਾ ਪਿਤਾ ਤੂੰਹੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਮਾਤਾ ||
“You are my Father, and You are my Mother.”
(Ang 103)

ਅਪੁਨੇ ਜੀਅ ਜੰਤ ਪ੍ਰਤਿਪਾਰੇ || ਜਿਉ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਮਾਤਾ ਸੰਮਾਰੇ ||
“He cherishes all His beings and creatures, as the mother cares for her children.”
(Ang 105)

ਮੈ ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਈ ਬੇਲੀ ਮੇਰਾ ਪਿਤਾ ਮਾਤਾ ਹਰਿ ਸਖਾਇਆ ||੧|| ਰਹਾਉ ||
“I have no friend except the Lord; the Lord is my father, my mother, my companion. [Pause]”
(Ang 882)

ਅਨੰਦੁ ਭਇਆ ਮੇਰੀ ਮਾਏ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਮੈ ਪਾਇਆ ||
“I am in ecstasy, O my mother, for I have found my True Guru.”
(Ang 917)

ਪਵਣੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਪਾਣੀ ਪਿਤਾ ਮਾਤਾ ਧਰਤਿ ਮਹਤੁ ||
“Air is the Guru, Water is the Father, and Earth is the Great Mother of all.”
(Ang 8 )

ਧਰਤੀ ਮਾਤ ਮਹਤੁ ਕਰਿ ਓਤਿ ਪੋਤਿ ਸੰਜੋਗੁ ਬਣਾਇਆ||
“The earth, being tolerant like mothers, is the mother and is the further base of all the creatures.”
(Vaar 6:5)

ਭਗਤਿ ਵਛਲੁ ਭਲਿਆਈਅਹੁ ਪਤਿਤ ਉਧਾਰਣੁ ਪਾਪ ਕਮਾਣਾ||
“Because of His benevolence, God is like a mother to the devotees.”
(Vaars 10: 18)

With the emergence of Guru Angad Dev Ji, the second Sikh Guru, the tradition of Langar was started, where individuals ate together, regardless of caste, class, age, gender, religion, or race. The wife of Guru Angad Dev Ji, Mata Khivi Ji, is one of the rare Sikhs whose names are actually mentioned in Guru Granth Sahib Ji:
ਬਲਵੰਡ ਖੀਵੀ ਨੇਕ ਜਨ ਜਿਸੁ ਬਹੁਤੀ ਛਾਉ ਪਤ੍ਰਾਲੀ ||
ਲੰਗਰਿ ਦਉਲਤਿ ਵੰਡੀਐ ਰਸੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਖੀਰਿ ਘਿਆਲੀ ||

“Balwand says that Khivi, the Guru’s wife, is a noble woman, who gives soothing, leafy shade to all.
She distributes the bounty of the Guru’s Langar; the kheer-the rice pudding and ghee-is like sweet ambrosia.”
(Ang 967)

Lastly, in Sri Guru Gobind Singh’s writings, he alludes to the warrior spirit (bir-rass) through the example of Chandi, emphasizing that women can not only create and give birth, but they can also destroy and destruct. The Sikh religion thoroughly emphasizes the rights and virtuous strengths of womankind, viewing women as equal to men in every regard. Sikh women may become preachers, warriors, scholars, saints, and they may also partake in recital of all prayers alone or in the congregation. Sikh women themselves must realize the benevolence of the Sikh Gurus and embellish themselves in the beautifully revolutionary teachings of the Sikh Faith – if they desire for the future of the Sikh Nation to be fruitful and blessed.

ਜਿਸੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਉ ਪਵੈ ਸਾ ਕੁਲਵੰਤੀ ਨਾਰਿ ||
“She who meets the True Guru, lives in the Fear of God; she is a woman of noble birth.”
(Ang 516)