I refer to the article, “Meat: The Never Ending Question” in Asia Samachar that appeared on 31/10/20.
How, why and when this problem arose is anyone’s guess. The video accompanying the article is does not need any elaboration. A close look at the history of Sikhs/Sikhism does make things very clear and thus it is amazing that this problem exists. I have the following points to make
- Most of the history books both in Gurmukhi and English do not make any mention about Sikhs being instructed not to eat meat. However, I did come across one that says, Guru Hargobind sanctioned and encouraged meat diet and hunting”1.
- There are Jnamsakhis that say that Guru Nanak cooked and not only ate the meat but also served it to the sangat [congregation] in Krukshetra at the time of eclipse of the sun – something that was a taboo then (even now) among the Hindus.
- The “Tankhah Naama” by Bhai Nand Lal Singh “One who eats meat taken from Turks”2. The stress here is on the word “Turks” (pronounced as Toork) which refers to Muslims and they ate “Kutha” (halal) meat. So, it is clear that only “Kutha” meat should not be eaten.
- It is well documented that Guru Hargobind and Guru Gobind Singh went hunting. What do you suppose was done with the meat of the animals that were hunted?
- During the period in history when the Sikhs had a price on their heads and were hunted the Sikhs took refuge in jungles, caves, deserts, etc., what did they survive on? No mention is made in any history book that the Sikhs did not eat meat then.
- In the “Sikh Rahit Maryada” the four “Kurahits” mentioned under the section on “Amrit Sanchar” are – a) Shaving cutting hair b) Eating “Kutha” meat c) Adultery d) Use of tobacco and other intoxicants.
It is to be noted that each time the mention of meat is made it is specifically stated “Kutha” meat. If all meat was prohibited, then there would not be any need to specify “Kutha” meat. All that would be needed would be to say, “meat is prohibited”. It is thus clear that meat can be eaten as long as it is not “Kutha” meat.
Guru ka Langgar served by the Gurdwaras is always vegetarian simply because everyone should be able to partake in it. This concept was introduced by the Gurus in India and a huge portion of the population was vegetarian. If meat was served then some, especially the poor (meat was a luxury those days) would not be able to have the meals at the langgar – the Gurus did not want to exclude anyone.
Wanting or not wanting to eat meat should be left to each individual’s choice. There should be no discriminatory or negative remarks about either choice from a religious point.
Dr. Amarjeet Singh Sidhu, Malaysia.
- Hari Ram Gupta, History of the Sikhs, vol. 1, Edition year 2000, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, New Delhi. Page 156
- Tankhah Naama by Bhai Nand Lal Singh, Stanza 29
- Sikh Rahit Maryada by Shromni Gurdwara Parbandak Committee, In the section for Amrit Sanchar, page 30.