Punjab HC and Plucked Eyebrows

CHANDIGARH: Endorsing a hardline stand by high priests of Sikhism who barred a young girl admission in a minority institution on grounds that she violated a fundamental tenet of the religion by plucking her eyebrows, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Saturday ruled that the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee was fully justified in doing so.
 This piece of news is from TOI where the author has conveniently decided to call it a hard line stand. It is simply deciding a benchmark. First of all, if we go by the teachings of Sikhi, there is no need of any reservations or special schools. But since the society has got one (and many) in place, it is up to them to decide whom to take or not. It is to some extent commercialism. And since nowadays everyone plucks their eyebrows, technically that girl is not part of the ‘minority’. 

Leaning on the side of a text-based, more conservative definition of who is a true Sikh and the importance of hair in Sikhism, the full bench of justices JS Khehar, Jasbir Singh and Ajay Kumar Mittal in a 152-page order said keeping unshorn hair was an essential and most fundamental component of the religion.
Here the author takes further liberty to call the definition of a Sikh as conservative. It is said to be a conservative definition, text based. I am sorry, but this definition is faith based. Sikhi is not religion, but Faith in True Guru. And if the Gurus have asked us to have a puran swaroop, then the thought of cutting hair and playing with His Creation should never cross our mind. 

The order came on a plea by Gurleen Kaur and others who had challenged denial of admission into an MBBS course at the Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Amritsar, a Sikh minority institution, on grounds that they plucked their eyebrows and trimmed their hair.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC) had also ruled that she was not a “true Sikh as she was plucking her eyebrows.” The court said the requisite of maintaining Sikh `swarup’ (appearance) was a permissible precondition for admitting students under the Sikh minority community quota. 

The SGPC runs two medical colleges, two engineering institutes, one polytechnic, 40 degree colleges and 150 schools, most of them in Punjab.

Saturday’s order, replete with references to Sikh history and Sikh model code of conduct, also noted that the Guru Granth Sahib is for guidance of Sikhs in their pursuit towards spiritual salvation. It does not deal with the code of conduct prescribed for Sikhs. It was the Sikh rehat-maryada (code of conduct) that dealt with issues like importance of unshorn hair.

This is not true. There are so many Shabads in Guru Granth Sahib which talk of importance of hair. Moreover, hair is the bigger picture, of accepting yourself as God created you and not changing yourself, for all such things are going down the drain only. Still there is Shabad:
 
ਚਉਦਸਿ ਚਉਦਹ ਲੋਕ ਮਝਾਰਿ ॥
choudhas choudheh lok majhaar ||
On the fourteenth day of the lunar cycle, in the fourteen worlds
 
ਰੋਮ ਰੋਮ ਮਹਿ ਬਸਹਿ ਮੁਰਾਰਿ ॥
rom rom mehi basehi muraar ||
and on each and every hair, the Lord abides

It added that the Guru Granth Sahib made no reference to the terms amritdhari (Sikhs who wear the five Ks – kesh, kacchha, kanga, kara, kirpan – and who have partaken amrit), sehajdhari (who are learning to be Amritdhari Sikhs) and patit (who were born Sikhs but violated one of the tenets).

Reflecting on contours of Sikh identity, the bench held the cardinal principle of retaining unshorn hair was not only for adults but also for minors, as it was the adults who were required to maintain the hair of their children.

Although the bench took the view that unshorn hair was an inalienable part of Sikh swarup, it observed that keeping the kirpan was not as important.

The SGPC burst out in celebration moments after the verdict and its chief Avtar Singh Makkar said, “We are happy with the judgment. Our stand that unshorn hair is of paramount importance for Sikhs has been vindicated.”

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One thought on “Punjab HC and Plucked Eyebrows

  1. It added that the Guru Granth Sahib made no reference to the terms amritdhari (Sikhs who wear the five Ks – kesh, kacchha, kanga, kara, kirpan – and who have partaken amrit), sehajdhari (who are learning to be Amritdhari Sikhs) and patit (who were born Sikhs but violated one of the tenets).

    >>>>> Amritdhari/Sehajdhari, these are not the names for Sikhs, Amrit was for Sikhs

    Reflecting on contours of Sikh identity, the bench held the cardinal principle of retaining unshorn hair was not only for adults but also for minors, as it was the adults who were required to maintain the hair of their children.

    Although the bench took the view that unshorn hair was an inalienable part of Sikh swarup, it observed that keeping the kirpan was not as important.

    >>>>> Another post soon for why Kirpan is important

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