Punjab Research Group

Issues of Identity among the Valmikis and Ravidasis in Britain: egalitarian hermeneutics from the Guru Granth Sahib

Posted in Articles by Pippa on July 5, 2009

by Opinderjit Kaur Takhar, Department of Religious Studies, University of Wolverhampton, England.

 Abstract

This paper aims to discuss issues around the often taboo topic of caste in Sikhism. The Guru Granth Sahibji repeatedly reminds its readers of the egalitarian nature of the Sikh faith. A faith which almost promises to eradicate notions of pollution attached to the lower castes. This paper endeavours to unearth the hermeneutics of the Guru Granth Sahibji in order to assess why lower caste members of the Panth felt that their Mazhabi labelling has prevented their equal assimilation into the Sikh Panth. Two such groups in Britain today are the Valmikis and the Ravidasis. The Valmikis, especially praxis at the Coventry Sabha, pose very interesting dialogue as to who a Sikh is. The Sabha is unique in the fact that it houses a copy of the Guru Granth Sahibji alongside that of Valmiki’s Ramayan. This paper attempts to address the root causes of the Valmikis’ and Ravidasis’ emphasis on a distinct identity from Sikhs. Was this move towards religious autonomy politically or socially motivated?

Read full paper: opinderjit kaur takhar

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