A great gursikh (devotee Sikh) who is revered by many, once said to me "It is not possible to have a narrow mind whilst trying to attain a high avasta (higher consciousness)". He told me, the more you open your mind through meditation the more your love for your creator and creation increases. Narrow mindedness and bigotry strongly hold the Sikh community back. Guru Naanak’s philosophy of serving humanity indiscriminately does not shine through when discussing the ‘taboo’ subject of sexuality. It is argued that the guru did not focus on points of sexuality as it was not an issue during this time of tolerance and fluidity in sexuality and gender. Post colonial rule of India saw the criminalization of homosexuality and changed the attitudes of a country for generations to come.
ਖਿਮਾ ਗਹੀ ਮਨੁ ਸਤਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਆ ॥ Khimaa gahee man satgur deeaa
I have adopted the way of tolerance, and given my mind to the Satguru – Siri Guru Granth Sahib written by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Raag Raamkalee on Pannaa (page) 929
ਸਿਦਕੁ ਸਬੂਰੀ ਸਾਦਿਕਾ ਸਬਰੁ ਤੋਸਾ ਮਲਾਇਕਾਂ ॥ Sidak sabooree saadikaa sabar tosaa malaaikaan
Faith, contentment and tolerance are the wealth and provisions of the godly beings
ਦੀਦਾਰੁ ਪੂਰੇ ਪਾਇਸਾ ਥਾਉ ਨਾਹੀ ਖਾਇਕਾ ॥ Deedaar pooray paaisaa thaaou naahee khaaikaa
Because of this, they attain the Divine Visions, while those who just talk find no place of Peace (sggs 83). – Siri Guru Granth Sahib written by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Siree Raag on Pannaa (Page) 83
“Don’t get me wrong I have gay friends but I don’t think they should be allowed to marry in a Gurdwara”
“I know loads of gay people some Sikh and that’s their choice but there has to be a limit”
Unfortunately these are just some of the phrases you might be challenged by. There are Hundreds of species that engage in or display homosexual behaviours, such as; bison, brown bears, cats, dogs, chimpanzees, horses, dolphins, elephants, and even lions. Siri Guru Naanak Dev Ji reveals the following;
Hukamai Andhar Sabh Ko Baahar Hukam N Koe || Naanak Hukamai Jae Bujhai Th Houmai Kehai N Koe ||2||
Everything is subject to His Command; no one is outside of His Command. O Nanak, one who understands His Command, does not speak in ego. ||2|| – Siri Guru Granth Sahib Written by Guru Naanak on Pannaa (Page) 1.
Guru Naanak finds that everything in the world is in accordance with the infinite play. Because of this, they were able to see past murderers, cannibals and some of societies formidable characters. Guru Naanak propagated peace, equality, love, meditation on one god, righteousness, and truth. They opposed falsehood, rebelled and stood up to oppressors, and exposed exploitation of the people. Therefore, Guru Naanak's Sikhi came to liberate the people, not oppress them.
Gender and sexuality are two completely different concepts. One is who you are programmed to get down with between the sheets, and the other is who you are and what you identify with. Being gay or bi is a sexual identity, not a gender identity. Gurbani (scripture) finds that there are variations of gender and explicitly discusses them. Furthermore, the gender of the soul is referred to as female. Evidence of gender fluidity can be found within the Siri Dasam Granth Sahib which identifies the ways in which people engage in sexual activity but also warns in the trickery used. Aside from the physical, it goes deeper to discuss Shakta (male) and Shakti (female) energy and ways that we invoke and use this to our benefit. One example would be during a time of war or fighting, one would harness the energy of Bhugauti/ Shakti, a female energy to give them strength and power whilst Shakta (Male) is a balancing energy. This idea of fluidity can be understood within gurbani that gender and sexuality are fluid and constantly changing.
ਨਾਰੀਤੇਜੋਪੁਰਖੁਕਰਾਵੈਪੁਰਖਨਤੇਜੋਨਾਰੀ || naaree thae jo purakh karaavai purakhan thae jo naaree ||
The woman is transformed into a man, and the men into women ~ Siri Guru Granth Sahib written by Bhagat Kabeer Ji in Raag Saarang on Pannaa (page) 1252
ਪੁਰਖਮਹਿਨਾਰਿਨਾਰਿਮਹਿਪੁਰਖਾਬੂਝਹੁਬ੍ਰਹਮਗਿਆਨੀ|| purakh mehi naar naar mehi purakhaa boojhahu breham giaanee ||
The female is in the male, and the male is in the female. Understand this, O God-realized being! ~ Siri Guru Granth Sahib written by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Raag Raamkalee on Pannaa (Page) 878
Durgaa sabh sanghaaray raaksh kharhag lai. 15.
Durga destroyed all the demons with her khanda (double edged sword). 15. ~ Siri Dasam Granth Saibh written by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in Chandi Di Vaar Pannaa (Page) 30
It is noted that during the time of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, there was an openly gay saint by the name of Sarmad, who was a follower of the great Sai Mian Mir (close companion to the guru). It is highly possible that Sarmad and Guru Arjan Dev Ji would have met. It was also common knowledge that Sarmad was in a loving and consenting sexual relationship with another man, Abhai Chand. Furthermore, it is confirmed in Suraj Parkash Granth that Guru Arjan Dev Ji came face to face with a homosexual poet when reviewing poetry in Lahore. As the main focus of the Suraj Parkash is around Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Shah Hussain’s meeting with the Guru is briefly mentioned, however, other sources confirm he was homosexual. When Shah Hussain presented his work to the Guru, he was deeply moved and praised his work. Again Shah Hussain was openly in a loving relationship with Madho Laal. The love between Madho Laal and Shah Hussain are often recounted at Shah Hussain’s urs (death anniversary), and hundreds throng to his dargah (grave), where Shah Hussain and Madho Laal are buried side by side.
Shah Hussains Poetry:
ਚੁਪ ਵੇ ਅੜਿਆ ਚੁਪ ਵੇ ਅੜਿਆ। ਬੋਲਣ ਦੀ ਨਹੀਂ ਜਾਇ ਵੇ ਅੜਿਆ। ਸਜਣਾ ਬੋਲਣ ਦੀ ਜਾਇ ਨਾਹੀਂ।ਰਹਾਉ। ਅੰਦਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਹਿਕਾ ਸਾਂਈਂ, ਕਿਸਨੂੰ ਆਖਿ ਸੁਣਾਈਂ। ਇਕੋ ਦਿਲਬਰ ਸਭ ਘਟ ਰਵਿਆ, ਦੂਜੀ ਨਹੀਂ ਕਦਾਈਂ। ਕਹੈ ਹੁਸੈਨ ਫਕੀਰ ਨਿਮਾਣਾ, ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਥੌਂ ਬਲਿ ਬਲਿ ਜਾਈਂ।
Stay quiet O friend, stay quiet. This is not your place to speak. O sajana, O friend, this is not your place to speak. Inside and outside, there is only one Lord, to whom should I go and tell anything? One Lord, the Enchanter of the Hearts, is in every being, no one else is there. The humble Faqir Hussain says, I am sacrifice to Satguru again and again. – Gur Partap Suraj Granth written by Kavi (Poet) Santokh Singh in 1843, Page 197
The main focus of any Sikh is to merge this soul back with the lord. To join the raindrop back with the ocean. This is achieved through meditation, chanting ‘Va-hi-gu-ru’ mantra. Enlightenment is to be attained whilst practically living and engaging within this polluted world. Like the lotus flower floating on the swamp water.
Through meditation, Sikhs are to control human weakness’s called Panj Chor (five thieves) kaam (lust), krodh (anger), lobh (greed), moh (attachment) and ahankar (ego). Bottom line, engaging in any form of sexual activity whether it be hetero or homo, it will distract you from your goal of enlightenment. Are you going to be cast into the fiery pits of hell? No…
Now let’s not be naïve, couples have sex. Some may choose to use contraception which can be seen as a big no no by most major religions, as it interferes in god’s work. Others time their sex to suit menstrual cycles playing the system, hypocrisy at its finest. When the Guru talks about controlling your Kaam, they nowhere states obliterating it. You need to have some kaam, which is why they say control. It’s a universal message. We are all human beings and it is natural to engage in sexual activity. It doesn’t take a genius to understand too much of anything is a bad thing. There is a big difference in having sex for 7 – 13 minutes once or twice a week with your partner compared to continuously exhausting efforts to find your next sexual fix.
ਕਲਿ ਕਲਵਾਲੀ ਕਾਮੁ ਮਦੁ ਮਨੂਆ ਪੀਵਣਹਾਰੁ ॥ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਕਟੋਰੀ ਮੋਹਿ ਭਰੀ ਪੀਲਾਵਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ
kal kalavaalee kaam madh manooaa peevanehaar || krodhh kattoree mohi bharee peelaavaa ahankaar ||
The Dark Age of Kali Yuga is the vessel, filled with the wine of sexual desire; the mind is the drunkard. Anger is the cup, filled with emotional attachment, and egotism is the server – Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji written by Bhai Mardana in Raag Bihaagraa on Pannaa (page) 553
ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਕਾਇਆ ਕਉ ਗਾਲੈ ॥ ਜਿਉ ਕੰਚਨ ਸੋਹਾਗਾ ਢਾਲੈ ॥
kaam krodhh kaaeiaa ko gaalai || jio kanchan sohaagaa dtaalai ||
Unfulfilled sexual desire and unresolved anger waste the body away, as gold is dissolved by borax – Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji written by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Raag Raamkalee on Pannaa (page) 929
hae kaama(n) narak bisraama(n) bahu jonee bhramaavaneh ||
chith harana(n) thrai lok ga(n)mya(n) jap thap seel bidhaaraneh |
alap sukh avith cha(n)chal ooch neech samaavaneh ||
O Kaam, you lead mortals to hell, you make them wander through many reincarnations. You cheat the mind and pervade the three worlds. You destroy meditation, penance and virtue. You give fleeting pleasure, you make mortals weak, and you afflict both the highest and the lowest of people – Sirir Guru Granth Sahib Ji written by Guru Arjan Dev Ji in Salok Sehshritee on Pannaa (page) 1358
ਸੁਧਿਜਬਤੇਹਮਧਰੀਬਚਨਗੁਰਦਏਹਮਾਰੇ|| Sudhi Jab Te Ham Dharee Bachan Gur Dhe Hamaare
Since the time I realized the sense of maturity, which my Guru (Guru Tegh Bahadur) had taught
ਪੂਤਇਹੈਪ੍ਰਨਤੋਹਿਪ੍ਰਾਨਜਬਲਗਘਟਥਾਰੇ|| Poot Eihai Pran Tohi Praan Jab Lag GhaT Thaare
Aye My Son, so long as there is life in your body
ਨਿਜਨਾਰੀਕੇਸਾਥਨੇਹੁਤੁਮਨਿਤਬਢੈਯਹੁ|| Nij Naaree Ke Saath Neh Tum Nit Baddaiyahu
You promise to enhance love with your own wife
ਪਰਨਾਰੀਕੀਸੇਜਭੂਲਿਸੁਪਨੇਹੂੰਨਜੈਯਹੁ||੫੧|| Par Naaree Kee Sej Bhool Supane Hoon Na Jaiyahu
But never, even by mistake, not even in a dream, bed with else’s wife – Siri Dasam Granth Saibh written by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in conversation with Guru Tegh Bahadur Panna (Page) 1555
Rehitnama (code of conduct) on Sex: http://tinyurl.com/z92v6sl
But what does this mean for LGBTQ+ khalsa who have committed themselves to the community?
Well they are told to shut up about their sexuality, be celibate and meditate. Is this fair? Some say it’s the price you pay for being Khalsa. On a practical level this just doesn’t work and is internalised homophobia. In other words, you’re saying it’s okay for me to be gay but just deprive myself of what comes naturally to me whilst those who are straight get a free pass. No Sikh should be ostracised or punished for their nature