Why Sikhs Need More Female Granthis

khandawoman.jpgMany eons ago, my friend Mewa Singh wrote:

Most Sikh organizations backbone tend to be its Kaurs.[link]

[As a side note, kaptaan, where did you go?] I definitely second that thought. A common lament that I often hear from some Sikh men is that somehow Sikh women are somehow lacking in terms of their commitment to the faith. I do not subscribe to this theory, and would actually refute it by Mewa Singhs observation quoted above. By far the majority of the activists that I have ever encountered have all been Kaurs, despite the often blind Sikh organizations. The banal complaints of some Sikh men, for me, are just that banal complaints.

Still, as an agent of change within the community, I believe a glance at the structural problems within our religious community is warranted. A recent spate of articles has made me wish to visit the issue of female Granthis

Although through new Sikh organizations, the dynamic of learning only through the Gurdwara is changing, still these organizations are meant to complement, not replace Gurdwara education. Most information about Sikhi tends to come from the Gurdwara and Khalsa/Punjabi schools. A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper on gender and academic achievement at the U.S. Air Force Academy has recently reported that the importance of female mentors may be even more powerful than previously thought. The joint UC Davis-USAFA study found that by merely replacing a male instructor with a female one can have a strong effect on female achievement, with the power to erase the gender gap entirely.

However, they did not go so far as to say it was women only. Some men had tremendous impacts and were also able to erase the gender gap. However, what these men did effectively, the study did not shed light.

What kind of man makes a good mentor? Is it because, as is sometimes suggested, men with daughters make good mentors, having developed greater empathy for the challenges faced by their female students? Or differences in teaching style? The authors unfortunately don’t know much about the Academy’s teaching staff, so for now the enormous impact of professor gender remains a bit of a black box.[link]

While the analogy is not precise, how much better would be female Granthis as mentors in our community? I know personally, many members of the Sangat look to the Granthis at the Gurdwara in personal guidance and assistance. Can we even have female Granthis?
Does the lifestyle often alone, often traveling, with little respect and meager wages conducive to the communitys social constructions of womens work? What are the major shifts that would have to change? Could existing institutions in Punjab meet this challenge or will this really begin by being a diaspora phenomenon.

The data in other fields reveals that female mentors are important. Anecdotalinformation from friends, family, and associates seems to indicate the same. What are some suggestions to make this a reality?


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7 Responses to “Why Sikhs Need More Female Granthis”

  1. if your dissing the sisters, you ain't fightin the power

  2. if your dissing the sisters, you ain’t fightin the power

  3. It's an embarrasing disgrace that women aren't allowed to perform Keertan at Darbar Sahib. Come on, wake up SGPC! Bunch of out-of-touch, dated, old farts pretending to be the flag-bearers of Panthic ideology. Makkhar and all these Jathedars would be an inspiration to much of Sikhdom, if they collectively allowed women raagis to perform at Darbar Sahib (and other itihaasik Gurdwaras) – instead of affirming societal prejudices that have absolutely NO place in Sikhism.

    I remember questioning Bhai Ranjit Singh, head Granthi of Darbar Sahib, about this very issue – and he gave some lame excuse about established tradition, and then went on to talk about "cleanliness" and women's menstrual cycles. His response reminded me of passages in the Koran that prevent a woman from reading namaz, or having sex with her husband, if she's on her period. An absolutely archaic and medieval mindset.

    Leave it up to WOMEN to decide if they want to sing the Guru's hymns at out holiest shrine, and whether they are "clean" enough to do so – why should men have to make that decision for them?

  4. It’s an embarrasing disgrace that women aren’t allowed to perform Keertan at Darbar Sahib. Come on, wake up SGPC! Bunch of out-of-touch, dated, old farts pretending to be the flag-bearers of Panthic ideology. Makkhar and all these Jathedars would be an inspiration to much of Sikhdom, if they collectively allowed women raagis to perform at Darbar Sahib (and other itihaasik Gurdwaras) – instead of affirming societal prejudices that have absolutely NO place in Sikhism.

    I remember questioning Bhai Ranjit Singh, head Granthi of Darbar Sahib, about this very issue – and he gave some lame excuse about established tradition, and then went on to talk about “cleanliness” and women’s menstrual cycles. His response reminded me of passages in the Koran that prevent a woman from reading namaz, or having sex with her husband, if she’s on her period. An absolutely archaic and medieval mindset.

    Leave it up to WOMEN to decide if they want to sing the Guru’s hymns at out holiest shrine, and whether they are “clean” enough to do so – why should men have to make that decision for them?

  5. Madelaine says:

    Wohh just what I was searching for, thanks for putting up.

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