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Ethics of The Sikhs - Book By Avtar Singh

Table Of Contents For 'Ethics of The Sikhs' By Avtar Singh

 

  Contents

Page No

1. Introduction 1
  Definition and scope of the book--Need for the present work--  
  Sources the ethics of the Sikhs--Brief review of sources, literature   
  and some auxilliary events  
     
2. The Moral Standard 21
  Prolegomena--Self-realization as the moral standard--The nature   
  of social relationship and social context--Nature of values in this   
  standard--The meaning of Sat and sachiara--Concluding remarks  
     
3. Human Motives, Propensities and Praxis 47
  Prolegomena--Treatment of motives and propensities in Sikhism--  
  Concupiscence--Covetousness--Attachment and delusion--Wrath--  
  Pride--Concluding remarks  
     
4. Virtues 78
  Prolegomena--Virtues, in general, in Sikhism--Wisdom--Truthful-  
  ness Temperance--Justice--Courage--Humility--Contentment--  
  Concluding remarks  
     
5. Duties 120
  Prolegomena--General principles of duties--The Rahitnamas and   
  the Sikh Rahit Maryada--Origin of the Rahitnamas--Organisational   
  and other duties The Sikh Rahit Maryada--Personal duties--  
   Organisational duties--Concluding remarks  
     
6. Social Ethics 137
  Prolegomena--The fundamental principles of the social ethics of   
  the Sikhs Social equality--Caste System--Reaction against caste   
  system among the Hindus--Rejection inequalities and the caste   
  system in Sikhism--Equality among classes in Sikhism--Relation   
  among men of different religions and nationalities--Status of wo-  
  man in society--Universal brotherhood--Practicalsteps to realize   
  human brotherhood--Negative measures--Positive measures--Con-  
  cluding remarks  
     
7. Supreme Ideal 192
  Prolegomena--Sikh view of spiritual progress--Jivan Mukti--Jivan   
  Mukti and Bliss--Path of spiritual progress--The Realization after   
  destruction of Body The Pre-khand stage--The dharam khand--  
  Second stage, tri-dimenprogress--The gian khand--The saram kh-  
  and--The Karam Khand--Survey of the results of the analysis of   
  the Karam Khand--The sach Khand--Concluding remarks  
     
8. Conclusion 243
  Bibliography 248

 

Foreword To Book 'Ethics of The Sikhs' By Avtar Singh 

Religions may be described as sacrificial, ritualistic, mystical or philosophical. They might combine all or some of these facts, or there might be moments in their careers when such definitions applied to them more aptly than on others. Yet each religion must have a code of conduct for its followers, however superstitious or elevated, conscious or unconscious. Sikhism is one of the most profoundly moralized faiths, though  it does not claim any formal system of ethics. The sources of Sikh teaching is the Guru Granth which comprises poetry of deep mystical intuition and fervour as uttered by six of the ten founding Gurus. There is no speculative thesis elaborated in it, nor any codified principles or laws of behaviour. Unmistakable, however, is the basic spiritual and humanistic ideal which emerges as the sovereign rule of life. Faith and love are its principal motives. Belief in God is the primary dynamic of Sikh living. The Guru Granth contains a reverberating and sterling testament of trust in the Absolute. Creation is preceived as grounded in the Divine and informed by a spiritual purpose. Verse of joyous quest, lyrical devotion and humble penitence is interspersed with high moral sentiments. Practical excellence is in fact made an integral part of piety. Self-fulfilment is predicated upon activve participation:withdrawal is disavowed. To realize God's will in daily life is the consummation of Sikh aspiration. Empty ceremonial and observances are considered as of no avail. In the words of Guru Nanak: Sachoh orey sabh ko uppar sach achar....,i.e. truth is higher than everything, higher than truth is true living. Truth is achieved by living a life of faith, charity and courage. A perfected being is defined in the Sikh Scripture as "one who revels in doing good to others." Altruistic action and righteous character take precedence in the Sikh scheme of values.

Without any external commandments, Sikhism is built on an essentially ethical principle. Its morality, inseparable from its spiritual core and history, has not been theoretically worked out. Here is a scholarly lag as well as a handicap to the understanding of the Sikh faith. Its empiric and historical concern has led to some to the conclusion that Sikhism is a practical faith, without any philosophy. It has also been alleged that Sikhism lacks a moral code.
 
Dr. Avtar Singh, a young Sikh Scholar, has for the first time attempted a systematic and scientific study of the Sikh ethic. To this end, he has explored the entire Sikh corpus, from the Guru Granth to the codes and manuals which followed the creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh, the last of the ten Gurus. The investigation, detailed and serious, has been carried out with scholarly assiduousness and aplomb and with deep analytical insight. The author develops his argument Knowledgeably and clearly and presents a cogent and faithful philosophy of the Sikh morals. Broadly, the book constructs the overall Sikh world view in its moral, spiritual and religious dimensions.
 
Although it does not set out with his aim, the book resolves some of the difficulties "outside" scholars encounter in their study of Sikhism.Several Western have, for instance, been baffled by the transformation it underwent in the hands of the later Gurus. Some of them have seem in it a falling off, a deterioration of Sikhism and a reversal of the teachings of Guru Nanak. The "inside" view has been that the militant turn after the Fifth Guru was part of the social and historical evolution of Sikhism and that what happened in the time of Guru Gobind Singh was a natural culmination of Guru Nanak's vision. Dr. Avtar Singh brings to this argument a new perspective by elaborating on the doctrinal harmony and continuity of Sikhism.
 
This work was originally the author's thesis presented to the Punjab University, Chandigarh, for Ph.D. degree. Yet it does not suffer from the heaviness of a doctoral dissertation and reads freshly and sensitively. The scholarly apparatus is impeccable, but the writing is exempt from technical jargon and has a marked personal flavour. For this reason it will appeal both to the general reader and the cognoscente. The Department was especially happy that it was able to include it in its publication schedule in honour of the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
Harbans Singh

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