For, an important function of religion is to create and “establish powerful, pervasive and long lasting moods and motivations in men.”
"Juergensmeyer, M., (Ed.) : Sikh Studies. page 75"
Two important things should be understood in regard to this criticism. This criticism is the direct consequence of the Guru’s ideas about God and the reality of the world. Their world-view is clearly of life-affirmation. The brotherhood of man is the basis of their socio-spiritual approach. Hence their three-pronged attack on all kinds of socio-political evils and inequalities, on downgrading the socio-religious status of women, and on idleness, renunciation and withdrawal from the world. Secondly, this condemnation was not a mere verbal exercise, it was an essential step to educate the people, change their ideas and build up fresh motivations. For, an important function of religion is to create and “establish powerful, pervasive and long lasting moods and motivations in men.” [5. Juergensmeyer, M., (Ed.) : Sikh Studies. page 75]. Further change in social institutions could never have been brought about unless this calculated change in the moods and the minds of people had been brought about before that.
The second issue concerns the remoulding of social institutions and organizations, and the means to be adopted for the desired purposes. The Gurus describe God not only as the Helper of the weak, the shelter less and the support less, but also the Destroyer of the oppressor. The Sixth Guru clearly stated that his sword was both for the help of the oppressed and the destruction of the tyrants. It evidently implies that the Gurus contemplate reconstruction and creation of alternative moral institutions. Naturally, alternative human institutions can come up only by the substitution, remoulding or destruction of the old and unwanted organizations. The lives of the Gurus are a clear pointer that, in their system, change of environment to improve the moral climate in all fields is clearly envisaged and sanctioned. In any system where moral life has an independent validity and an importance of its own as a desirable end, the making of environmental and organizational changes for that purpose would ipso facto be justified. The Gurus accordingly envisage a change in environment and the remoulding of social organizations.
An allied important issue is the means to be adopted for bringing about the desired institutional and other changes. In God’s world all form and progress are the product of force; since no change is possible without the use of force. Again, as all encroachment on the rights of others involves aggression, the same cannot be undone except by the use of an equal and opposite use of force. In fact, all action and activity, howsoever good, involve the use of force, because action and force are synonymous. Action not involving the use of force is a contradiction in terms. Therefore, except by some miracle, it is impossible to bring about a change in the social or institutional environment without the use of requisite force. It is significant to note that in the entire Guru Granth Sahib there is no miracle attributed to a Guru. In the Guru’s system, only the miracle of deeds are performed. Logically, it is impossible to construct anything without destroying or remoulding the existing structure. Of course, the force used should not seek to serve any selfish or egoistic purpose.
[5. "Juergensmeyer, M., (Ed.) : Sikh Studies. page 75"]
Back to previous page