Sikh Views on Wealth and Poverty
Sikh views on wealth and poverty touch on the realities of life faced not only by Sikhs but even the rest of the world. Wealth and poverty are two states that many people experience in their day-to-day lives today. However, the views by Sikhism on these elements are only aimed at guiding the ways of lives of those who possess the faith. The views express the teachings and words of the Guru, the only higher power in Sikhism, and reveal the way of truthful living in accordance with the will of the Lord or Hukam. This is the path to be pursued by a working householder who remembers to share his possessions with the less fortunate.
Although there are various views held by Sikhs regarding wealth and poverty, the main concept is that both are life’s circumstances that can be faced by anyone. Therefore, it is not right for those who have plenty to ignore sharing with the poor. Sikhs believe that it is through the experience of poverty that one learns to become humble.
Sikh Views on Wealth and Poverty- Why they view wealth the way they do
Sikh views on wealth and poverty are based on the contexts or teachings of the religion, which dictate the way of life for its faithful. Besides, the views are also related to the concept of social justice. In order to understand how the Sikh religions views wealth and poverty, it is important to define each of the two elements separately.
According to Sikhs, wealth or maya can be acquired in two forms, illusion or material possessions. The religion considers nothing wrong in owning wealth, however, it condemns greed and other acts of selfishness. The teachings of Guru dictates that those who have wealth should assist those who are needy and poor. This is clearly scripted through the gurdwara, which is a place set aside in the homes of Sikhs for the poor to come and dine.
To emphasize on this further, Sikhs who are wealthy are expected to give at least a tenth of their annual earnings to charity. This concept is portrayed in the Daswandh. Sikhs believe that wealth is only good if it used in helping those who are less fortunate by offering them work and food.
Despite the fact that poverty is considered a reality of life by Sikhs, they do not encourage laziness. The rich have the duty of looking after those who are poverty-ridden, but should not be involved in helping those who fail to work. Those who use their wealth to assist and provide happiness to the poor are considered godly in Sikhism.
The desire to accumulate more wealth is condemned, and those who are led towards that path are ‘deaf and utterly blind’ according to the Sikh. Guru Nanak described the greed to accumulate wealth as an act of injustice that Sikhs should refrain from. He pointed out that accumulation of wealth without sins is impossible, and possessions do not accompany an individual at the time of death.
Poverty or gareebi has been widely presented as an act of humility in Sikhism. The phrase is used in reference to the meek and humble. Guru Nanak is quoted to have described himself as a poor and humble man with only the support of Naam. Although he was born in a high caste, he preferred to associate himself with the poor, whom he described as respectful and treat others with humility.
In the Sikh holy book, it is written; ‘’Nanak seeks the company of those who are lowest of the low caste. He has no desire to compete with the rich and the powerful.’’ (GGS p. 15)
Poverty and how to handle it is through sharing, which is one of the main concepts of the Sikh way of life, but Sikhs should make constant efforts at earning a living on their own and sharing with the less fortunate.
Sikh views on Wealth and Poverty- Conclusion
The tradition of the Sikh community has been highly associated to the caste system, which restricts people to certain social classes in society. However, Sikh views on poverty and wealth stresses on a different approach that encourages the wealthy to share with the poor.
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