Vegan Sikh Geek

Reader Question: Forgiveness in Sikhi

August 06, 2013

Thoughts on forgiveness in Sikhi .... Should Sikhs only seek and expect forgiveness for mistakes from their guru or can they expect this from fellow Sikhs and sangat?

Vaahiguroo Jee Kaa Khaalsaa, Vaahiguroo Jee Kee Fateh

I’m no authority on the Sikh way of life; all I can offer is my understanding of it and hope that I do not deviate from the teachings of my spiritual teacher, Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj.

When an Amritdhari (initiated) Sikh commits one of the four Bajjar Kurehit (cardinal sins), it’s mandatory to seek out Panj Piaaray if (s)he wishes to continue to be considered a Sikh and beg for forgiveness and re-initiation. Even for a misdeed that is not considered a cardinal sin, humbly asking for forgiveness from the Guru by means of Panj Piaaray is suggested. This, you already know.

When someone commits a mistake and has sought out forgiveness from the Guru by means of Panj Piaaray, they are given a form of punishment or, rather, a means to help lower the effects of their vices. Once the “punishment” is fulfilled, I believe they are considered forgiven by the Guru. If you’ll allow the metaphor, I don’t believe it can be considered that the journey resumes from the spot where the individual fell, but more so from the distance that the individual fell.

If a person/entity (let’s say, the government) doesn’t recognize the Guru as an authority and has a different system for forgiveness, that’s completely valid. However, a Sikh of the Guru should ask oneself if they are a higher means of authority than the Guru so as to not forgive someone who their Guru has forgiven. Perhaps a Sikh will forgive the misdeed but it should be expected to travel a ways before the same level of companionship is reached. It’s up to the misdoer if they wish to seek out that level of companionship but, as far as expecting forgiveness from fellow Sikhs and Sangat goes, it shouldn’t be expected and much less demanded, even though the Sikh Rehit Maryada (code of conduct) states that Sangat should not stubbornly refuse forgiveness. It’s a test of the misdoer’s humility and acceptance that (s)he made a mistake that others are unwilling to pardon. One can, however, take comfort in the fact that (s)he was forgiven by the Guru and enjoy their spiritual journey.

I hope this helps. I ask to be corrected if I made any mistakes.

Akaal Sahaai

Vaahiguroo Jee Kaa Khaalsaa, Vaahiguroo Jee Kee Fateh

Navdeep Singh

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