Talk:Sikhism and Circumcision

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Question and Answer

SELF-ACCEPTANCE (kesh, tattoos, body piercings...) Self-acceptance is an integral part of the Sikh faith. Guru Gobind Singh, when confronted with spineless men and women of Indian society...people who blindly followed and bowed before manmade laws, no matter how degrading...introduced the Kesh-Kangha privilege: Kesh (or unshorn hair) as a symbol of acceptance of the Creator's given form, and Kangha (or comb) to take care of the Kesh...to keep it healthy and clean.

In most cultures body modifications such as haircuts (many jobs are off-limits for men with kesh), circumcision, tattoos, etc., are demanded to ensure conformity and order in some instances and religions. So much so that in the 1960s when the Hippie Movement started in America, some men grew their hair long and kept their beards, some just because they liked being different and some even considered it as a symbol of change. However, the Sikh concepts of kesh-kangha ...it is a sign of acceptance of the Creator's gift and a nurturing of that gift which Guru Gobind Singh initiated with the 5 K's so that Sikhs might stand out in a crowd for the purpose of bringing about a change in India to the thinking of the people who blindly followed and bowed before manmade laws, no matter how degrading. The Hippies in America were seeking a similar end to the thinking of people who blindly followed and bowed before manmade laws, no matter how degrading in the 20th century.


Q: Why does Sikhism reject haircuts, circumcision and other similar rituals that a large fraction of the world's population practices? Do Sikhs consider these people sinners or bad people?

A large part of the world's population does shave their faces and trim their hair, circumcise their male and even female children, have their body pierced, etc. In this sense, Sikhs are in the minority. However, for a Sikh, acceptance of Nature's beautiful body is an important component of the Sikh value system. Acceptance of one's God-given physique without "improving" it by razors and scissors is a first step in accepting other laws, the foremost of which is becoming a universal being. Sikhs view others who engage in such rituals as people who carry unnecessary burdens in their lives; not as sinners or bad people. And western cultures often take a similar view feeling that men with more than a trimmed beard and untrimmed hair are carrying an unnecessary burden in their lives.

Q: What does the Guru Granth Sahib say about body modifications such as haircuts, circumcision, tattoos, body piercings, etc.?

It is common for religion texts to provide very detailed outlines of do's and don'ts. The Bible (old and new Testaments to a minor extent) and the Koran provide very detailed guidelines to their flock on daily living. The Guru Granth Sahib refrains from doing this. The Guru only provides us basic Universal principles (One God, Truth brings bliss, oneness of the human race, etc.) and the path to reach Truth (by minimizing ego and seeing oneself in everyone). In the Sikh "rahitnama" or code of conduct, kesh is to be accepted as the Creator's gift and taken care of with a kangha (comb).

Acceptance of the Creator's given body is a natural outcome of a lifestyle that is in conformity with the Guru's teaching. Of course, this does not preclude the use of surgery or other medical interventions when the body has become ill.

Q: I am a twelve year old boy. When I go to the gym locker room I see that most of the other boys are circumcised. I feel so different because I am not circumcised and I keep my hair long. How should I get over these feelings of being different?

Jews made a covenant with their God--to be circumsized. The Rasul maintained this Jewish ritual so Jewish and Muslim babies are circumcised as a matter of their parent's' beliefs. Circumcism to the extent that it is practised in America was a result of many doctors believing that the practice prevented many deseases, even cancer. Through the 1950s most males went uncircumcised. Today the practice is becoming rare save for medical or religious reasons. It is expected that in another generation very few American boys will be circumcised (in European countries, this practice is rare).

In a way, the idea of self-acceptance is spreading and more people are looking at male circumcision as a barbaric practice. Respected child psychologists and the American Association of Pediatrics are raising their concern against this practice. Even some Jewish groups are arguing for the discontinuation of the practice of circumcision.

So don't worry about your differences as boys are all trying not to pay much attention to each others 'private parts' in the locker room while nude as that is a sure way to get tagged as a deviate.

Q: If a person gets circumcised for medical reasons, will he no longer be a Sikh?

Gurbani informs us that the body is a temple of the Lord "Within the body, the Divine Lord is embodied. The body is the temple, the place of pilgrimage, and the pilgrim. Within the body are incense, lamps and offerings. Within the body are the flower offerings. ||1||" and also: "The One who pervades the Universe also dwells in the body; whoever seeks Him, finds Him there." (SGGS page 695)

So to care and look after the body is a must and a compulsory duty of a Sikh. So if one has to have any medical treatment for the proper maintenance of the body, then this appears to be acceptable as far as Gurbani is concerned. Medical treatment of any kind for a Sikh is generally accepted as part of life and this cannot be considered a violation of Sikh code or rehat.

However one needs to be certain that the reason is a medical one and not disguised as such. So there is no simple answer to this question as personal motivation has to be considered. I am sure that there are many Sikhs who in wars as have people of other religions who had their reproductive organs blown off or injured. Does such an involuntary 'circumcism' or worse ever excluded them from any religion?

Unfortunately like the vocal shiboleths of many wars, the forced lifting of a male's garments since the Partition, (doubtless earlier and later?) has lead to the deaths of many Muslims and Hindus (even Jews caught on a wrong bus, ect.) over the years in India. Sikhs would have avoided having to do this as their 5 K's left little doubt who they were.


What is that you are talking about lifting of males Garments? What is it? I also believe your body is the thing that you should be taking care of. Sikhs should not take anything literally, since Guru Nanak Dev ji were themselves against the wrong beliefs and traditions. I think there is no right and wrong. Sikh should do good deeds and live a good life. For example if a guy or girl with piercings and tatoos, does good things and raise the dignity of sikhism in the world is better than who formally is a sikh but arogant and have no real values who thinks just reading guru granth sahib will do some magic to him/her. You know what i mean. I have seen many sikhs reading gutkhas or arranging "paths" in gurudwaras, thinking that it will do some magic. I think what Guru Granth Sahib is, is like a Guru. Where if we have any questions in life, it has the answers.I very much believe sikhism is the religion of freedom.


FOR THE RECORD

I find it difficult to believe that the militarily minded Sikh Guru's of antiquity (1500s onwards) would have been against circumcision par se (see http://www.circinfo.net/what_caused_many_cultures_to_remove_it.html). There are many Sikh's who (probably due to the below reasons within various world militaries) _HAVE_ been circumcised. THERE IS NO RELIGIOUS ASSERTION WITHIN THE >>>>>>WHOLE<<<<<< OF THE SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB WHICH PROHIBITS CIRCUMCISIONS (WHICH IS WHY YOU HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO PROVIDE A QUOTE WHICH PROHIBITS IT). It is CERTAIN that the Muslims who fought on behalf of Sikh armies were circumcised. It is PROBABLE that Sikhs incorporated within their ranks/battalions/military units were ALSO circumcised.

You are also **MISREPRESENTING** WHAT THE SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB STATES ABOUT CIRCUMCISIONS via SELECTIVE QUOTATIONS, and POSSIBLE selective language translation methods (though I am uncertain on this latter point).

"Another compelling explanation referred to earlier involves the ritualization of circumcision's prophylactic effects, especially as many different human groups and cultures that live in desert or other hot environments have adopted it as part of their customs. Infections, initiated by the aggravation of dirt and sand, are not uncommon under such conditions and have even crippled whole armies, where it is difficult to achieve sanitation during prolonged battle.

A US Army report by General John Patton stated that in World War II 150,000 soldiers were hospitalized for foreskin problems due to inadequate hygiene, leading to the statements: “Time and money could have been saved had prophylactic circumcision been performed before the men were shipped overseas” and “Because keeping the foreskin clean was very difficult in the field, many soldiers with only a minimal tendency toward phimosis were likely to develop balanoposthitis [432]. Army urologists stated “Had these patients been circumcised before induction [into the Army] this total would have been close to zero”. In the Second World War Australia had to send urologists to circumcise all of its troops fighting in the North African campaign who were not already circumcised [529]. Similarly sand was a problem for uncircumcised men during the Gulf War in Iraq (‘Desert Storm’) in the early 1990s [195, 512].

In the Vietnam War men requested circumcision to avoid “jungle rot”. Thus, historically it was not uncommon for soldiers to be circumcised in preparation for active service.

--http://www.circinfo.net/what_caused_many_cultures_to_remove_it.html"

Bottom line : Sikhism NEITHER condones NOR PROHIBITS circumcision (certainly, this is not mentioned within the SGGS). As a religion, Sikhism evolved (Some state with "Divine" intervention in its aspects) in close proximity with other religions which DO circumcise. It would have been militarily disadvantageous for Sikhs within the armies of the various "Gurus" of that time period to NOT circumcise. Hence they likely did. This is DE FACTO evidence that Sikhism DID not at its inception (nor does it currently) prohibit circumcision. Rather the religion is NEUTRAL on this issue (as, say, Buddhism would be).

As a further issue, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (in its 2000 pages) does not state ONE single advantageous aspect to lust or sexual cravings. Thus, if one could REASONABLY argue that circumcision has the effect of reducing/eliminating lust by reducing sexual sensitivity, then circumcision is entirely consistent with Sikhism (as would NOT being circumcised be - as per the following quote from Maimonides, which attempts to provide a scientific/reasonable rationale for why circumcision might be socially desirable to avoid the downfall of societies which focus overly upon lustful temptations rather than upon the higher nature/aspects of reason which lead to God/Truth). As a further point, it is useful to note that, if Sikhism were truly the religion of freedom, it would leave the choice of adult circumcisions to the individual. The issue of child circumcisions would possibly be for parents - but Sikhism is neither for nor against on these issues in absolute terms. It should also be borne in mind that Guru Gobind Ji's attitudes towards circumcisions were shaped by the inhumane outcomes of such events during this lifetime (men and babies who would have been killed/died/mutilated by circumcisions done by those who were not medically trained/experienced, etc....). Nowadays, circumcisions have much lower risk associated with them, and are carried out more humanely, and hence would be less morally questionable than those carried out during the time of Guru Gobind Ji. They are also militarily advantageous under certain circumstances, and it would be odd to suppose that a religion which had evolved in such militarily active circumstances would prohibit circumcision (it would not).

Clearly, much can be said on this issue, and no absolute scientific rationale's can be provided - the best that can be done is for complex reasonable argumentations to be given. Ideally, the issue of circumcision is beyond religious commandment and up to INDIVIDUAL choice (which can be delegated to parents when dealing with newborns - though the morality of this is something which can be questioned).

Opinions of Circumcision

In his "Guide of the Perplexed", Maimonides is reputed to state the following Template:Citation-needed : "As regards circumcision... [s]ome people believe that circumcision is to remove a defect in man's formation; but every one can easily reply: How can products of nature be deficient so as to require external completion, especially as the use of the foreskin to that organ is evident. This tcommandment has not been enjoined as a complement to a deficient physical creation, but as a means for perfecting man's moral shortcomings. The bodily injury caused to that organ is exactly that which is desired; it does not interrupt any vital function, nor does it destroy the power of generation. Circumcision simply counteracts excessive lust; for there is no doubt that circumcision weakens the power of sexual excitement, and sometimes lessens the natural enjoyment; the organ necessarily becomes weak when it loses blood and is deprived of its covering from the beginning [ie: from the BIRTH of the child who is being circumcised].

I imagine that the Gurus would have not rejected this line of reasoning outright, and would have very probably accepted aspects of it (especially given military considerations).

Also, in regards to quote on main page, Guru Nanak states "I am against it", in relation to whether HE supports circumcision - but he is VERY careful not to state that God would be against circumcision (which is not a position which would be taken in relation to adultery or other sins, which are prohibited by divinity....). ConcernedSikhi 13:31, 22 June 2009 (UTC)


THE FACT OF THE MATTER

The SIRI Guru Granth Sahib clearly states in its verses "SAAB SOORTH BANEH BEI MAAN" this meaning, a loose translation " THE COMPLETE PURE BODY IS NOT TO BE BROKEN".

The SGGS also mentions specifically that circumcision "SUNET" is prohibited and WHY? The Guru Granth Sahib ALSO states circumcision is prohibited for Sikhs and also not necessary for muslim.

For any individual to say the Gurur Granth Sahib does not prohibit or favours circumcision has quite clearly misinformed and should ask a scholar or read the Guru Granth Sahib themselves before making a ill informed false statement.

In the Guru Granth Sahib loose translation states "if one is made a muslim by circumcision what about the women, she is half of the man, will she remain a hindu"

The term SUNET in the Guru Granth Sahib is used for the term circumcision.

The Guru Granth Sahib also states SUNET circumcision is done for the love of WOMEN. The Sikhs Love is for his GOD

The Guru's also educated their followers that body modification was not conducive to the enlightened soul and detracts ones mind away from its calling to GOD and directs it towards its baser instincts, SO SIKHS SHOULD NOT PAR TAKE IN THEM.

SO It would be impOSSIBLE on any stretch of the imagination that a PRACTICING BAPTISED SIKH would GET circumcised of his own will and reject his religion for his military allegiance, he would have had at the time.

As for circumcision "SUNET" by nations and military's to stop disease in their ranks that is their beliefs and business. SIKHS DO NOT AND WILL NOT PARTAKE IN THIS PRACTICE of SUNET FOR MILITARY PURPOSES AND NEITHER WOULD HAVE OUR GURU and for anyone to suggest should refer to the teachings of the SGGS REJECTING IT OUTRIGHT.

SIKHS BELIEVE THE human body is perfect and complete, however if certain religions want to cut it or modify it and say it improves GODS WORK that is their business SIKHS reject this

The only part the SIKH is allowed to cut is their nails, the hair is not of cutting and part of the complete body GOD has given the SIKH.

The term KHALSA is meaning of PURE, nothing added noting taken away as in keeping the complete body of a baptised practicing SIKH.

As for circumcision and its origin starting 4000 years ago. This was the time when it was common to marry ones sister, cousin, daughter in-law, niece, aunt. This is quite clearly outlined and accepted by numerous theologians and scholars as can be found in the genealogy of nations. The circumcision practice by it OWN admission IS PREVENTIVE of many sexually transmitted diseases and hence, would be especially prevalent with the aforementioned practices and would be required and advisable by their own beliefs at this time.

As for circumcision decreasing mans lust is REJECTED in the SGGS as its ones mind that controls its baser instincts and cutting one will not control the desire and lust of the mind. This can be clearly seen by burdening population of the world and its detriment to humanity and the world.

The "one whom conquers the mind conquers the world""

The Guru Granth Sahib does not go into list of details and itinerary of do's and don'ts . This for the reason it would turn in it from teachings of divinity to endless log book of rules hence detracting from its teaching of the ONE GOD, HOWEVER the Guru Granth Sahib EMPHATICALLY gives a complete blanket cover denouncing any body modification and in there is your answer.

Sikhs come in all forms of society and a sikh whom practices but does not control his/her mind of sin and bad thoughts and does harm to others despite their outer appearance is NOT A SIKH but a sinner and a charlatan this is also applicable to NON practicing sikh OR any person of other religion who behaves in this manner. These people will be judged by god. If you are sikh or a christian, Muslim or hindu we all HAVE these charlatans in our midst, in the Gurdwara, Church, Mosque, Temple, so do not judge or pay attention to them but seek your own redemption.

Sikhism teaches that all religions should be respected and does not believe in conversion. however it does state if you are Sikh, Christian, Muslim, Hindu be the best of that you can be and you will find your god.

When medical assessment concludes a SIKH needs GENUINE treatment which modifies the body and if not had their health would be at risk THEN medical treatment can be had, but this should never be guised for purposes of body enhancement or beautification only for cure of a genuine ailment.

Sikhism states your body is gift from god and so is the uncut hair KESH, Guru Granth Sahiib states we SIKHS with the teachings of GURUS will not defile god's image. These teachings can ALSO be directly translated to the complete rejection of circumcision and other practices for the purposes of body enhancement or beautification.

Sikh SCHOLARS and the teachingS of the SGGS categorically REJECT/REFUTE that circuMcision, shaving of genitalia before prayer , removing of hair from armpits and other parts of the body will bring one CLOSER to GOD but teaches the complete opposite and teach it will PUSH not only a Sikh but any person par taking in these practices AWAY from GOD and push them towards THEIR baser - ANIMAL\ BESTIALITY\ LUSTFUL -instincts.

Re: Sikhism and Circumcision


Now most Sikhs or people in general would read the two above responses and see the fallacy, wishful thinking and desperation involved. “Concerned Sikhi” has only posted once on this wiki three years ago, this being his/her only post. There is no reason to believe this person actually follows Sikhism or is a Sikh. Most likely this person is from a faith who comes from a faith in which circumcises or is person who is and feels that others need to be circumcised around the world so he can feel what was done to him was normal or not wrong. Though there is hardly sound logic used in the previous two posts, I will still entertain them, albeit being terse in doing so.

1. There is no record of Sikhs at the time of the Guru being circumcised. Also no health organization recommends circumcision for infants. If anything 80% of the world isn't. The only countries that do are the middle eastern Islamic countries and other Islamic countries. As well as Israel and the USA (though the USA is declining now with more people becoming aware of the truth).

2. The religious assertion is quite clear; all you have to do is read. Guru Anand included Bhagat Kabir’s writing in which specifically denounced circumcision and saw the sexism of it. Guru Nanak also saw it as a false ritual and being the clever person that he is he did not see the solution in mutilation genitals to get rid of lust but mutilating the thoughts that create lust. The through the Guru’s wisdom one conquers through the mind not the end stimulus, because all actions originate in the mind. Contemplating the Shabad and Naam is the way not mutilation. There is no misrepresenting of the quote, it’s quite clear even when reading the previous lines and the lines that follow.

3. Yes, there were Muslims who fought for the Gurus but that doesn’t mean that the Sikhs followed their same ritual, why would the go against the teachings of SGGS especially at the time of the Gurus? We might as well say that the muslims did not circumcise because they were with Sikhs who didn’t. That whole argument has no logic or validity. It is far from being probable, it is highly unlikely, especially seeing the theme in Sikhism is to accept what God has given you. Here is a Bulley Shah quote on Guru Gobind Singh Ji “Don’t ask when, Don’t ask where, I am saying this to you now, If Guru Gobind Singh did not exist, then sunnet (circumcision) would happen to everyone”.

4. The whole desert theory is only theory as in its close to being myth. Circumcision originated in slave branding. Also in terms of all warriors would do this or people in desert is completely false. There are still areas in Africa which are extremely hot and dry and yet some tribes practices this mutilation while others don’t. The whole Iranian empire before the Islamic conquest did not circumcise or at least the practice was not common. The Persians practiced a variety of faiths before Islamic invasion, specifically Zorasterism’s which resembled a proto-hinduism then anything else. There was no recorded history of circumcisions being practiced in Iran, or India. You would think the Rajputs living in desert areas would support your claim but they don’t unless they were converted to islam. China, Greece, Romans and Southeast Asia did not practice circumcision as a custom and yet boasted some of the greatest armies. Sadhus didn’t even circumcise and they rarely took showers! Nor did any German troops stationed in Africa circumcise,Read here.

5. In terms of the U.S army diagnosis of men during the Vietnam War, one has to ask why was it only the US army that faced and yet their Vietnam counterparts did not suffer this. Vietnam is a Buddhist country in which doesn’t practice the mutilation of male genitalia. These Vietnam soldiers were lying in wait in the jungle waiting for American troops and yet we never heard of any suffering on their part. Back then and even now American doctors do not know how to take care of an intact normal penis, especially in the 60s and 70s where infant circ was at its highest. In the 1950s they knew nothing about the foreskin expect to cut it off this was a cultural trend. Mentioning the Iraq war Gulf war is not going to help your assumptions because there were no other major reports of other western countries experiencing the same thing, expect for the pro-cutting America. One would also hear of circumcisions done to Sikh soldiers in WWI and WW2 but none was ever mentioned and they also made a huge part of the Britsh Army around the world.

6. Bottom line is that Sikhism is against false rituals, which one of them being circumcision. Through the direct quotations from SGGS and Dasam granth one can clearly see the practice was looked down upon and is not part of the Sikhi path to God. Sikhism was around religions that did and did not mutilate the genitals of their children and yet criticized both. Sikhism is a religion of Humanity and there is nothing human in holding down and defensive child or infant and mutilating the most sensitive part of their body without their consent See video here of the procedure.. The Sikhs did not fight in any desert campaigns so you cannot you use that excuse of military advantage, especially when the Rajputs who have lived in the desserts of Rajasthan for thousands of years have never did until they were Muslims. The word “likely” is used many times in your writing which basically means you don’t know but you would like it to be true. How can Sikhism be neutral about this issue when it is not Sikhi to cut even a strand of your hair never mind a body part which will never grow back? How can we say God is omnipotent and omniscient and yet mutilate the very body it created for us?

7. You have mentioned Guru Gobind Singh Ji was against this during his time because surgery was dangerous, but even presently babies still die America every year for surgery which has no medical benefits Read here.. There is nothing more humanely in the circumcisions carried then, than now as you can see here:[[ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW1a9VUu4i4%7CVideo]]. In the end I agree Circumcision should be up to the Individual, if that Individual were an adult and not a non-consenting child for no medical reason. Also no recognized medical association in the world recommends routine infant circumcisions. I will not say those who are circumcised cannot be Sikhs, but that Sikhism is not for circumcision as a religious belief or requirement and doing so as a Sikh goes against the teachings of Guru Nanak, thus the teaches of Sikhism. Also the Majority of European countries now seek a ban on male circumcision as read here.