Gurmat & Islam

If men and women are equal in Sikhi, then why weren’t there any female Gurus?

The Sikh Gurus came at a time when women and so-called lower castes were oppressed. One might wonder why were the Gurus born into so-called high caste Kshatriya families.

Gurbani speaks strongly against castes and stresses the equality of genders. Imagine if our Gurus were born into so-called lower castes, or if any of the Gurus were women. Would this message have such a strong impact? Would anyone bother listening to a “lower caste” preaching against caste? Would anyone bother to care about a woman preaching gender equality? But no! Here we had men of “higher” castes spreading the message of gender equality and condemning the caste system. This was a shock for the rotten society of those times and was a massive revolution in itself, and thus it took India by storm and hit the minds of everyone like a thunderbolt.

People were like “these men are spreading the notion that genders are equal…” “These high caste Kshatriyas are spreading the message that caste has no value is meaningless.” This had a profound effect on the psyche of all classes (castes) of Indians. The so-called lower castes who had been suppressed saw hope, and the fanatical higher castes also woke up to reality. The men that were oppressing women got a jolt when they saw these men speak out against the idea of considering women as inferior or impure. High castes spoke against castes. Men spoke in favour of respecting women. This was something totally new and unheard of. The message of gender equality and equality of all mankind might not have had such a profound impact if our Gurus were women or from so-called lower castes. The world was not evolved in the literal sense of equality to the stage that a female Spiritual Leader could hold up at the time. It still hasn’t. May be it never will ; but that’s okay. Equality does not mean sameness.

The Guru’s physical embodiments were born out of women, nurtured by women, guided by women. Women have a very powerful status in Sikhi; let’s understand that. Guru Sahib states that everyone is born out of a woman and there is none without her – meaning she is the creative power in 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||
“We are born of woman, we are conceived in the womb of woman, we are engaged and married to woman. We make friendship with woman and the lineage continued because of woman. When one woman dies, we take another one, we are bound with the world through woman. Why should we talk ill of her, who gives birth to kings? The woman is born from woman; there is none without her. Only the One True Lord is without woman”
(Guru Nanak Dev, Var Asa, Ang 473)

ਲੋਕ ਵੇਦ ਗੁਣੁ ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਚਿ ਅਰਧ ਸਰੀਰੀ ਮੋਖ ਦੁਆਰੀ||
“Woman is one half the complete personality of man, and is entitled to share secular and spiritual knowledge equally.” (Bhai Gurdas Ji, Var 5, Pauri 16:59)

On the other hand, the Quran says:

“Man have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them.”
(4:34, Quran)

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, beat them; but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means: For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).”
(Quran, 4:34)

“Those who swear that they will not go in to their wives should wait four months; so if they go back, then Allah is surely Forgiving, Merciful.”
(Quran, 2: 226)

On the other hand, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji says:

ਸੂਚੇ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਹਨਿ ਜਿ ਪਿੰਡਾ ਧੋਇ ||
ਸੂਚੇ ਸੇਈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਨ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਸੋਇ ||੨||
“They are not called pure, who sit down after merely washing their bodies. Only they are pure, O Nanak, within whose minds the Lord abides. ||2||”
(Ang 472)