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Sacrilege in Sikhism

  • Category
    Art and culture
  • Published
    28th Dec, 2021

Context

The debate about sacrilege in Sikhism — and what the appropriate punishment for such conduct is — has heated up again after some incidents in the past few years. 

  •  Thelynching of a man  for allegedly trying to desecrate the Guru Granth Sahib at the Golden Temple adds to what has been a long-simmering controversy.

About

Sacrilege or ‘beadbi’ in Sikhism

  • The Guru Granth Sahib is considered to be a living Guru in
  • Since the Guru is considered to be a living being, any harm or disrespect to it is a serious offence for the Sikhs.
  • Beadbi means being disrespectful towards Guru Granth Sahib. When sacrilege is verbal, it is called blasphemy and when it is physical, it is known as desecration.

What is considered as sacrilege (beadpi)?

  • An alteration of Sikh religious traditions and practices, or a distortion of the history of the Gurus, is also sacrilege.
  • The Guru Granth Sahib is the sacha padshaah (the true king). He holds his darbaar like an emperor and all the etiquette of the darbaar (of being in his company) and its discipline have to be followed.
  • In a gurudwara, one needs to cover the head, be properly dressed, barefoot and follow the etiquette. Any act that infringes on the sanctity and supremacy of the Guru is beadbi.

Punishable Act

  • For all incidents of sacrilege in Punjab, police invoke Sections 295 and 295A of the IPC.
  • The punishment is two years’ imprisonment in the case of Section 295, which involves destruction, damage to or defiling of a “place of worship”, or “any object held sacred”. 

What else is sacred?

  • Apart from the Guru Granth Sahib, the ‘gurdwara’, which literally means the abode of the guru, and the articles used in the service of the Guru, are sacred.
  • The ‘dastaar’ or the ‘pagri’, the headgear worn by Sikhs, is also considered sacred, as is the ‘kirpan‘, the sword that baptised Sikhs carry. 
  • The hair and beard maintained by Sikhs are also sacred, and touching or disrespecting these also amounts to sacrilege.
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