deals with practical ethics, particularly the use of armed force, is debatable, though manySikhs refer to it for this purpose.The
is focused around God and salvation. While conduct in this worldplays a crucial role in whether or not one finds spiritual fulfillment, virtuous conduct relatesmore to participation in worship, especially by being constantly mindful of the divine,rather than following strict religious laws which regulate behaviour. General ethical/spiritual themes such as the value of kindness and mindfulness take precedence overspecific prescriptions on what is and is not
(though a section of the Sikh communitymakes scriptural arguments for the necessity of vegetarianism to avoid killing animals). Therelationship between humans and the divine has less to do with the physical than withthe mental and spiritual realm, as reflected by the central importance of the
, or name.The
takes on a variety of meanings, much like the Greek term
. It can refer toGod, God manifest or
(Cole 2003: 127). Liberation is attained only throughmeditation on the
, not blind ritual or other mandatory physical actions. Furthermore,there is no place for any form of soteriological restriction due to worldly factors; no one isbarred from salvation due to caste, disability, ethnicity, gender or even religious creed. Thefocus of the sacred text therefore has little to do with strictly delineated regulations thatwould govern proper use of armed force.
Violence and the Adi Granth
Given these scriptural characteristics, it is hardly surprising that the
containsnothing explicit on issues such as the
and the appropriate use of armed force. Asmentioned, it instead deals with general ethical norms. Consider the following:
. . .
Countless impose their will
. Countless cut-throats and ruthless killers.Countless sinners who keep on sinning.(25) This body is softened with the Word of the Guru
you shall find
, doingseva (selfless service).(662) The Qazi tells lies and eats filth; the Brahmin
and then takes cleansing baths.
What emerges in these quotes and throughout the scripture is a generalcondemnation of ego-centrism, excessive violence and hypocrisy. Instead, one is to focusupon God, serve humanity and strive to attain peace. The writings in the
of Bhagat Kabir (also spelled
), author of the final quote above, are often explicit in anaversion of violence, and what emerges leaves room for a theology which is strictly pacifist:
living beings, and call it a righteous action. Tell me, brother, what wouldyou call an unrighteous action? You call yourself the most excellent sage; then who wouldyou call a butcher?(1128) One who contemplates the essence of reality remains awake and aware. He
hisself-conceit, and does
anyone else.(1375) Kabeer, they oppress living beings and
them, and call it proper. When the Lordcalls for their account, what will their condition be?
Kabeer, it is tyranny to use force
; theLord shall call you to account. When your account is called for, your face and mouth shallbe beaten.
A.W. DORN & S. GUCCIARDI