Is caste behind the killing in Vienna and riots in Punjab?

May 26, 2009

Why did the murder of a preacher in a Sikh temple in Vienna spark riots in the faraway Indian state of Punjab, in which thousands took to the streets to torch cars, trains and battle security forces?

The root cause may lie in India’s caste system that Sikhism officially rejects, but that still grips swathes of India’s billion-plus people, including in Sikh-dominated Punjab state in northwestern India.

“Via Vienna, Sikh caste war returns, sets Punjab aflame” ran the headline of the Hindustan Times.

The preacher, Guru Sant Rama Nand, 57, was killed in a gurdwara in the Austrian capital in an attack by six men armed with knives and a gun.

He was from the Dera Sach Khand, a religious sect separate from mainstream Sikhism that has a large support base of Indian Dalits, or “untouchables”, and other lower castes.

The leader of Dera Sach Khand, Guru Sant Niranjan Das, 68, was wounded in the attack.

The thousands who went on the rampage in Punjab on Monday were mainly Dalits. Authorities have imposed a curfew in parts of the state, in which three protesters died on Monday in clashes with security forces.

The Dera Sach Khand sect was inspired by the 15th century spiritual leader Ravidas, himself from a lower caste. It differs from mainstream Sikhism, for example, in that it reveres living gurus such as Sant Niranjan Das. Some pious Sikhs find this concept offensive.

Traditional Sikhism recognises 10 gurus who led the community from the founding of the faith by Guru Nanak in the late 15th century. The 10th guru named the religion’s holy book, known as the Guru Granth Sahib, as his successor.

Sikhism does not recognise caste, but “the clash in a Vienna gurdwara and the mob fury are yet another manifestation of simmering discontent that Dalits in Punjab feel due to increasing social inequality and oppression in a society that was supposed to be free of it,” writes the Times of India.

In the relatively prosperous state, “caste prejudices and biases remain steeped among followers of Sikhism…facing-off in a festering, endless dispute over rights, rituals and religion.”

In such a context, the appeal of sects such as the Dera Sach Khand is easy to understand.

“The legitimacy given to these deras and the steady weaning away of the faithful from the gurdwaras has often rattled the Sikh clergy and its more hardline followers pitting them against the deras,” writes the Indian Express.

The caste conflict may have been the cause of the Vienna attack as well.

“Caste has moved beyond India with Indian diaspora as the latter does not move as individuals but takes its cultural baggage along,” Vivek Kumar, who teaches sociology in New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, told the Times of India.

According to some reports, the attackers objected to the temple allowing a living guru to speak in the presence of the holy book.

But Vienna police say they are still unclear on what motivated the kiling.

The temple which was attacked is newer than Vienna’s two other Sikh temples and had been gaining popularity, but so far there had been no hostilities between the different groups in Vienna, said Bernhard Fuchs, an ethnologist at Vienna university.

And the city’s two other Sikh temples have distanced themselves from the attack and condemned it as against the basic tenets of the Sikh faith.

“The foundation of Sikhism besides brotherly love and care for others, is also the principle of non-violence,” they said in an open message.

“Based on these principles, the Sikh religious community in Austria therefore reject all act of fanaticism and condemned this outrageous attack in the strongest term.”


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this is crazy. it show how Punjab gov. Law and order has fail, where just certain people come out light the cars pit fire on busses, and police is watching them , yes the caste still play major role in India, even though we have reached moon. Since I am also travelling to India this month, hope eveything goes back to normal.

Posted by vinay | Report as abusive

The motive for this hideous crime was not caste. The people involved may have been from different caste.The point of confrontation was the interpretations of religious rituals. The deras are perpetuationing the caste system.The main stream sikhi is inclusive of caste. But these deras are creating sikh sub sects based on caste. one for ravi dass one for harijan, radha soami for sudhas etc

Posted by nobodys fool | Report as abusive

The leader of Dera Sach Khand, Guru Sant Niranjan Da Rest in peace. We will never forgive. Shame to the idiots who did this. RIP

Posted by RJ | Report as abusive

i appeal to all sikhs to sun casteism as advised by gurji, am surprise and shocked that sikhs even after being educated and out of our country still carries this garbage. Akal takht jathedars and other leaders need to wake up from sleeps

Posted by harru | Report as abusive

Well i feel we all have got the wrong reasons behind the shooting incidents at Vienna.Caste system is not at all related to this incident.Sikhism does not believe in any caste.The real reason is that niranjan das and ramanand and the head of the dera were sitting very disrespectfully near guru granth sahib ji and were preaching that guru granth sahib ji was just a granth for sikh jats and not for them, so they should not beleive in it. They will come out with their own granth.When sikhs objected to these statements, their supporters became violent and the clash occured

Posted by Harpreet Singh | Report as abusive

Issue is neither caste or ideology, it is about money ($$). Gurudwara’s in Europe and Americas are flush with cash often (read always) offered by the nostalgic diaspora.When few like minded individuals think they should now control the gurudwara but are not able to assert themselves, they end up forming another gurudwara. This splits the offering resulting in more tension as the return on investment decreases for both the groups. There are very few individuals who really want to serve the sikh panth – 99% of them are in for only one reason and that is money. It’s all about controlling this cash flow – Lots of tax free dollars.Lots of self proclaimed Baba Ji’s travel to these gurudwara every year to get their fair share of offerings and the deal is sweetened further when the Indian currency multiplier comes into picture the offerings become completely irresistible.

Posted by Sim | Report as abusive

What ever happened in Vienna is a shameful act. Sikhism does not believe in casteism. But all these daras are creation of our polititions are based on casteism. it is easy for them go to dara HQ and ask for vote for its followers. One exemple is so call Badal’s who always use religion to get vote. They are the one who are dividing the sikhs in different daras to get elected by their dirty politics. These badal’s are curse on sikhs and specially on PUNJAB, they are the frequent visitors of all the daras privatly and in public they deplore them . Bhagad Ravi Das have a special place in the heart of every sikh and ever sikh bow his head for his contribution to humanity and to sikhism.Lets rise above this cast system and live as punjabies only.

Posted by amrit Singh | Report as abusive

The sikhs in India need to understand the essence of Guru Granth Sahib and not the leaders and other preachers who just spread hatred for others. For a true sikh there is place for hatred. who cares how many deras are there and how many are their followers, the main mission of sikhism is to do the meditation and reach that high spiritual level where Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj wants we to achieve. There is a belief in sikhism that once to take amrit from panj pyaras, you are complete. My dear you are living in an illusion. this is just enterning into school and people are being told that now you are complete saint. How many sikhs have amrildharis. millions but how many of them have reached at that stage of salvation. Life of Guru Gobind Singh Maharaj has been so wrongly interpreted and preached by the so called preachers in gurudwars. Guru Gobind Singh Maharaj never attacked anybody, he just teached us to defend ourselves only and raised arms only when the cruely has crossed all levels. Do not worry of deras or do not look at what other gurus are doing, just look at yourself. everybody is reposible for his own karmas. do not creat karmas for going to hell. If the people, who attacked gurus in Austria, think those gurus were doing something wrong, who the hell you are to decide. Let me tell you one thing, even though you may be an amritdhari, you have bought the ticket to hell and this is what Guru Granth Sahib says. these politicians and religiou fanatics mislead the innocent people. just read Guru Granth Sahib which in very simple plain spoken languagae to understand and follow the teachings. do not just read, think and adopt those teachings in life.

Posted by Harry | Report as abusive

Dera Sach Khand, Sant Niranjan Das Ji and the Late. Sant Ramandan Das Ji did a lot for the poor. What other Sant has done so much for example free hospital tuition when a operation needs to happen and the poor could not afford it, free schooling to the poor, eye sight operations for the poor, free accomodations for the homeless. This was the vision of Dera Sach Khand Sant. Everyone has their own opions however maybe it was not about cast or maybe this was a hate crime but one thing I will say and that is the killing of a preacher in a gurdhawa in front of the Guru Granth Sahib was WRONG! It sends out a wrong message to the world. How about the women and kids that were slashed and are in critical condition…did our Guru’s preach that back in the day? Whatever happened should not have happened and paints a bad picture of all Sikhs and our religion.

Posted by Ravidasia | Report as abusive

My Opinion About Mr.Harry’s Post.We are thankful to your great message. It seems u r the person who understands well about spirituality.All these clashes about religion are due to the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of ‘dharma’.My feeling about veienna clash is purely because of unwanted materialistic ‘karmas’, clash has nothing to do with ‘dharma’.I suggest all to understand their spiritual truths instead of fighting for the materialistic things.

Posted by Mr. S B Reddy | Report as abusive

Caste System is a sad reality . But belive me common people are not in favour of violence. Its a few indiduals who are psearheading these violent protests .For the benefit of those interested in Sikh Religious books or Books on Sikhism , Gurbani , Sri GuruGranth Sahib ji , Nitnem , Sukhmani Sahib , Sunder Gutka , Sikh Gurus – Guru Nanak Dev Ji , Guru Gobind Singh Ji , Sikh History , Sikh Culture , Punjabi Literature , punjabi lok geet or folk songs , Gurbani with meanings in english , books by bhai Vir Singh , Books By sant jarnail Singh Bhindrawale , by Maskin ji ,Sri Dasam granth Sahib ji with meanings and all other sikh holy literature this is the best website : .They supply books to all parts of the world .

Posted by Satnam | Report as abusive

I wonder why Indian media is representing it as inter cast clash.The sants spoke against SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB JI.Itwa the main reason for clash.Casteism has nothing to do with this incident.Anybody belonging to any cast when shows disrespect towards SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB JI or sikh gurus invite problem for himself.

Posted by Harbans Singh | Report as abusive

Matthias Williams:The incident was unfortunate for whatever reasons. Nothing explains killing. That said, media is making this as some great caste war, which is not the case. Since the economic disparity is not there, the difference in social status is blown up as a reason. Caste system is a reality but this incident cannot be explained on these grounds—it is the ignorance of the message of Sikhism that can explain it, and ignorance will remain even if hypothetically there is no caste sytem.This incident is somewhat on the lines of Muslims–Mohamaddans/Ahmediya.Talking about Sikhism and caste sytem: This is unfortunately human nature that all religions have found ways to create this sense of superiority within their community. Other one GOD religions also have similar problems–Christians: Catholics think they are the best among all denominantions and in Islam, it is Sunni who thinks Shia is inferior.About this issue, it is the inclusiveness that has to be taught and propagated by Sikh clergy and Deras, both follow Granth Sahib.My questions:1. did Sikh high command “in India” (SGPC or Akal Takhat) gave a statement asking the Sikhs and all to calm down?2. did Dera Sach Khand gave a statement on the same?That should be done ASAP plus both Sikh high command and Deras should issue a joint statement to calm down the public. If they are sitting back to back, I do not see how a man on the street will do so.@The leader of Dera Sach Khand, Guru Sant Niranjan Da Rest in peace. We will never forgive. Shame to the idiots who did this. RIP- Posted by RJRJ: I bet Guru Ravidas will not recommend this strategy of “not forgiving”. Go ahead if he said so. But for now, this violence and arson in Punjab is insane. My parents took 2 days to reach home inside Punjab. Their train engine was later torched.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

@The root cause may lie in India’s caste system that Sikhism officially rejects, but that still grips swathes of India’s billion-plus people, including in Sikh-dominated Punjab state in northwestern India.Matthias Williams: How fair it to blame this incident on “India’s caste system”, while the underlying reason for the killing remains officially unconfirmed.You said: “According to some reports, the attackers objected to the temple allowing a living guru to speak in the presence of the holy book.”—So what does this has to do with the “India’s caste system”—NOTHING.pleeeeease, be little more analytical and do not feed the world with this report. Is there a link to report that says this is not due to caste system, unless I missed in your article? “India’s caste system” is a separate issue.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

I agree with Sim – It’s all about money and power. see how the the whole guru ram rahim singh issue was neutralised right before the elections.the people who burned trains and created havoc were just mindless lambs incited by the same people who bleed them for donations and such, and promise them falsehoods.wake up, people. there is no god.

Posted by puneet | Report as abusive

More proof that religion is dangerous to peace. Someone truly at peace and in touch with God does not need a spiritual guru, leader, preacher, priest, imam or whatever. Karl Marx was correct about one thing and one thing only: “Religion is the opiate of the masses”Until everyone shuns group/religious identity, religious violence will persist as it always has.

Posted by Bevis | Report as abusive

Rest In Peace Sant Rama Nand Ji, you will be missed very much. Please ignore those posts regarding any disrespect towards the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, for those of you not aware the sangat had merely sat down when this unjust attack took place. Never has a sant said that the Guru Granth Sahib Ji is just for Jat and that it should not be believed in.The whole point of the Sikhi belief is to be one. As Harry’s post perfectly mentions the whole point is spirituality and that is what the Sants have always said and their values are simple. Those ignorant people who have taken it to such a level will realise that by killing has only made them even more shallow and disrespectful towards all that the Sikhi teachings tell you. Whatever caste you are, you should know better than to even believe in such a system, and respect everyones beliefs. No effort form extremists will take away what we have in our hearts for true Gurus, you can try all you like.

Posted by Sharon Mann | Report as abusive

Casteism in Christianity and IslamTony Blair, former british PM, had officially “ converted” in a church to shed his ‘protestant’ past and to put on a ‘catholic’ hat, after leaving office in 2007. Thus, I subsume, catholics treat other denominations like Baptists, Presbyterians, Unitarians etc as different castes and convert them into their caste/faith. Coming to muslims, if a shia man were to marry a sunni woman, officially the sunni woman should be ‘converted’ to shiasm first. The sectarian violence going on in Ireland ( catholics vs protestants) and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia (sunni vs shia), highlights the intensity in the dichotomy ofabove religions.Thus, the caste system clearly exists in other religions as well. Hence, Hindus and Sikhs should not feel ashamed of casteism and instead make every effort diligently to get rid of it.

Posted by Azad | Report as abusive

US should offer UNSC seat to India if it wants any help from India for Fak-PA

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Recent violence has cost Punjab Rs7000crhttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.c om/India/Recent-violence-has-cost-Punjab -Rs7000cr/articleshow/4580972.cmsIt costs Rs700cr to set up a new IIT.Rioters should be jailed or asked to pay back the damage. In future, rioters should required to seek court permission, register with police and buy riot-insurance-policy for damages before being allowed to riot.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Most of the migrants in Austria are illegal entrants , a product of 1984 troubles. They are unsocial, culturally intolrent. They can not follow the tenets of the great religion. They are taught troubles. Here in Punjab, we have plenty of them. The teachings of great Gurus need a cool and different mind to follow them, and only then you can enjoy the truth in your life. May Guru grant tolerant mind to all of us.

Posted by hoshiarpur indian | Report as abusive

The root cause lie in India’s caste system.We feel angry when they attack our leader. They never did anything to anybody. We are all peace-loving, but feel annoyed when something happens.The Sachkhand, like other Deras, was started to fight exploitation by the upper castes and landlords.Today they worship the Granth Sahib, because Guru Ravidass’ teachings were added into the Granth Sahib by the fifth Sikh Guru.Guru Ravidass’ teachings came to Punjab through the Guru Granth Sahib and we follow the Guru Granth Sahib. We don’t have any rift with the Sikhs.But now the increasing number of devotees and followers is at the heart of their rivalry with traditional gurudwaras.The upper caste gurduwaras have well established hierarchies dominated by upper castes. The growing strength of the deras has not been liked by the clergymen of the traditional gurudwaras.Now over the years, these deras have gained strength in terms of number of followers and vote bank. The positive side is, these deras can prevent exploitation of lower caste people but on the negative side, there are chances of their being exploited by political parties.

Posted by Sonia | Report as abusive

It is very sad what took place in Vienna. Gurdwaras and Temples are sprouting everywhere in Europe, Canada and North America. They are attracting self proclaimed Sants, Maharajs and spritual leaders frpm India. The only reason these people are coming to these establishments is the money. In Chicago, sikh Gurdwara in Palatine has been taken over by redicals so they can control the money and use it for their illminded causes, Khalistan movement which most sikhs condemn.Some of these individuals dressed up like a guru on the day of election to get elected. Onece elected they became clean shaven sikh. The entire communit Sikh community is outraged. Things are so bad now a days, anything is possible. I just hope and prey that these radicals get out of the Palatine, Chicago Gurdwara soon before any act of violance takes place.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

I am not not a Sikh or a follower of Ravidas but being a Punjabi from Doaba know it well enoough to comment.@The root cause lie in India’s caste system.-posted by Sonia–Here we go again–“The caste system”. The root cause of what? The killing cannot be attributed to the caste system. At best to the politics of Dera/Gurudwara. Those who follow Sri Guru Granth Sahib must know that sikhism allow this caste system and everyone can enter the Gurudwara.@Now over the years, these deras have gained strength in terms of number of followers and vote bank. The positive side is, these deras can prevent exploitation of lower caste people but on the negative side, there are chances of their being exploited by political parties.-posted by SoniaSonia: Negative side is vote bank and frankly speaking I see no postive side here such as thinking that Deras will fight exploitation by the upper castes and landlords”. These deras will rather make sure that the problem never disappear and polictics of the vote bank will make the matters worse.Talking specifically about the incident, no one knows so far the real reason of the killing. I have mentioned earlier also that the situation is somewhat like Muslims-Mohammadans versus Ahmediya animosity. Mohamamaddans believe that the prophet Mohamammad was the last prophet while Ahmediya do not think so. Same here, Sikhism clearly says that no one can act (not even in movies, orget about in real life) like a Guru if following Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Granth Sahib is the “Guru”, so denying this is asking for trouble. Sikh Gurus inducted Ravidas teachings into Sri Guru Granth Sahib–so teachings are important than the Guru of the Dera. Calling Guru to the holy book and to the person (Guru in Dera) does not make sense to me. Yes if it satisfies somone’s ego that’s another issue.I know that no one is stopped from entering a Gurudwara. So all this new politics of Dera/Gurudwara and the people following it blindly is sickening.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

@Someone truly at peace and in touch with God does not need a spiritual guru, leader, preacher, priest, imam or whatever……Until everyone shuns group/religious identity, religious violence will persist as it always has.”- Posted by BevisBevis, how as an atheist (my assumption) do you know that a spiritual guru is not helpful in getting in in touch with God? Just arguing.Disclaimer: This is independent comment and nothing to do with Sikhism.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

RajeevI see the young rioting men clean shaven, is nt it somewhat unusual? My understanding is that, barring a few, nearly all sikh men wear a turban. Does it in anyway reflect the so called caste cleavage in sikhism, say some do and others dont look classic sikhs. No pun intended.

Posted by Azad | Report as abusive

Even before the identity of attackers at Vienna had been established, people starting blaming them to Sikh extremists. The Hindustan Times, in its Chandigarh edition blamed the entire attack on Sikh extremists without even sourcing it.Such irresponsible reports triggered violence in India. Though the violence was not one community against the other – it was basically lumpen elements destroying state property – the headline of news in India called it caste war.Today when the extremists have denied the incident, the responsibility of violence must rest with irresponsible media as well.

Posted by arun behl | Report as abusive

The caste system was for the ancient indians, y are we still using the name of caste to make frnds, etc.Segregation in the name of race is not humanitarian.Until we accept this truth and forgo our caste barriers, we cannot move ahead, — just look some random election .. even for cricket clubs. caste name, reservations are bad as we go ahead.

Posted by vijay | Report as abusive

Sat shri akal to all, I am a true sikh… and I trust in Shri guru Granth Sahibji, before making any comments on caste system or whatever heppened there we must keep in mind what our Guru told us ,Live together with harmony,without being superstitious, the Guru’s never had any discrimination with any race, caste or religion, that is why Sheikh Farid,Kabir, Namdev, Ravidas, Surdas and others are having their Bani in Guru Granth Sahibji, regardless of their colour, race or origin. They devote their life to teach us that how to live,they teach us at that time. and now if you declare Guru to yourself forgetting what Ravidasji said, then it certainly means you are not following the religion, or Ravidas ji, if you are a sikh and follow Guru Granth Sahib ji, then you must not forget that neither Ravidasji nor Guru Granth sahib ji told you to be racist or harming other’s property,So as per me I think whatever happened was wrong because if anyone wants to do such things they must choose other place not in presence of Guru Granth Sahibji, as Guru never teach us that way, the role of all the saint should be as a connector who teach us the lesson of the God, of Guru Granth Sahibji, and others should remember Guru Granth Sahib ji is for everyone on thins planet, stop going to vote collector, or those who are sitting as your Father, and remember God. He is in everyone, so Love to all, hate none.any comments most welcome.

Posted by Manjeet | Report as abusive

Being a sikh i would like to add something because i have close understanding of this matter.Vienna-Punjab conflict is not a result of race discrimination but it is a matter of disrespecting Sikh Holy Book- Guru Granth Sahib.For sikh Guru Granth Sahib is not only a holy book but it is living guru himself. In other words it is everything for a true sikh and thier is a code of conduct to deal with it. Disrespecting Guru Granth Sahib means hurting sikh feelings and thier belief. Rama nand and his follower did not stop those objectionable act despite many reqests.I don’t support attacking or killing someone but these people like Rama Nand should not offend other peoples belief as well. For instance, Many sikh people in punjab may have converted to christianity but no sikh interfere with somebodies personal belief. So Sikhism does not stop anybody following any guru or sant but nobody can claim being a sikh guru. Although a person can start his own philosophy/sect/religion but niether can make any change within the Guru Granth Sahib nor can claim as a sikh guru because sikhism has already paid a big price to restore the honour.For reader view I would like to clear that most of the DERA GURU CLAIM THEMSELVE GUR AND THEY OFFEND SIKH FEELING BY SAYING THAT THIS HOLY BOOK CANOT BE GURU. Now people can decide wheter it is wrong or not. Imagine if somebody using Gita and tellingHindus that Krishna is not great , somebody using bible but claiming jesus cannot do anything and follow me , somebody using Quaran to get fame but telling muslim that they should not follow quran . In the same way if if somebody having a book in his hand and telling books auther that i wrote it. this is called piracy man.Mnapreet

Posted by Manpreet kaur | Report as abusive

Sikhism-born out of hinduism-culturally,politically,phsycolo gically is the same religion.Religious misinterpretations have always played a big part in causing conflicts at gloable,national,regional and street level.ONE HAS TO RESPECT THE OTHER IN IT’S OWN ENTITY,TO BE ABE TO EXIST TOGATHER IN THE SAME ENVIROMENT.VERDICT—WILL NEVER BE POSSIBLE IN INDIA.

Posted by rammen | Report as abusive

The so called sikhs do not know the greatness of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Only those few who day and night stay absorbed and follow one hundred percent teachings of Guru Granth Sahib Ji and when they achieve that highest level of spiritualism which is called in Gurmat Sahej Awastha, then they say Wah Guru (Guru you are wonderful). Those few really know how sacred and great is Guru Granth Sahib. That is why I say there is nothing in this universe that can disrespect Guru Granth SahibJi unless they consider it just an object. To live a life according to the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib Ji is not an easy task. The so called heads of followers of Guru Granth Sahib Ji are not even one hundredth of a per cent close to following. They have made it very easy that just keep reading or pay the people to read for you. Can a follower say if any of the Kam, Krodh, Lobh, Moh and Hankar have been conquered? If none do not call yourself follower of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. I do not want to go more in detail just want to mention one more teaching of Guru Granth Sahib Ji and that is Hukam – whatever is happening is the Hukam of Wahegur or His Rajha and we should live happy in His Rajha.

Posted by Harry | Report as abusive

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Azad:@I see the young rioting men clean shaven, is nt it somewhat unusual? My understanding is that, barring a few, nearly all sikh men wear a turban.-Yes, actually they are mostly SCs following Guru Granth Sahib. Many who converted to Sikhism changed names to Singhs and Kaurs suffixes–shedding their original identity–and Sikh men wera turbans and grow beard. But this “name” and appearance change happened starting with the time of last Guru Gobind Singh. All nine Gurus had Hindu names, if you think about it. Sikhism was more of an idea/spiritual level-at that time. Last Guru gave physical identity arising out of the military need of the time (against Aurangzeb) to distinguish warrior versus non-warriors etc. It is interesting that British helped a lot in promoting and establishing the physical identity of Sikhs by letting them grow beard and wear turban and that became a practice, removing any fears that Sikhism would dissolve into Hinduism.That said, the followers of Ravidas of today follow Sikh holy book, have Hindu names, are mostly (not all) clean shaven. It is like following some but not all features of Sikhism. In Doaba region (between rivers Beas and Sutlej), there is a huge # of Ravidas followers and are called Ravidasias or similar terminology. On a separate note, I have few non-Dalit Hindu friends who also follow Sikh holy book but do not wear turbans. So evolution to typical Sikhism did not fully take place, retaining older features (dalits). If 9 Gurus had Hindu names,Ravidas followers can also be Sikhs in that sense. Ravidas temples have Guru Granth Sahib.It usually has not been a problem. All the name and appearnce could be tolerable but nothing supercedes GGS, that is considered the last Guru. But since ravidas followers follow GGS due to Ravidas teachings in it (perhaps), some of them might be taking the liberty of promoting the idea of giving the status of sant or Guru, despite following the GGS. This is the problem.Then there there are Christian Dalits too!This is a good article on Ravidas followers and Sikhs:  /India/Most-members-of-Dalit-sect-dont- follow-Sikh-tenets/articleshow/4581887.c ms

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

im sorry to say to all you true sikhs that no matter what day an age we will always have the cast system no matter what and i a person who apparantly is of a lower caste have always been discriminated against by “sikhs” and sant Ramanand ji was a guru and a true man who preached humanity and peace to all communitys .i think some people tend to forget what a guru actually means and that is a holy teacher so whats the problem if hes leading people into the right path

Posted by navie | Report as abusive

@i a person who apparantly is of a lower caste have always been discriminated against by “sikhs”- Posted by navieNavie: You did not make it clear if you are a Sikh or not. Not calling yourself a Sikh and then blaming on the “Sikhs” that they are discriminating against you is not consistent. I do not want to hurt you or defend Sikhs, but you are not clear about your identity.I see this way:1. You belong to a “lower caste” (hardly matter which one but helps the discussion if we are at it)2. if you are not a Sikh (but just follow Guru Granth Sahib) then why you feel discriminated (by Sikhs) against (and over what?)? What you call discrimination here is probably your and a Sikh’s interpretation of Granth Sahib. If you feel this discrimination, so you are best judge and it is fair that I agree with you.3. if you are a Sikh, then why are you asking for a human Guru. Tenth Guru Gobind Singh ji clearly stopped this practice of a human Guru and called Granth Sahib the “Guru”If you look at the history of Sikhism, there is a slow (so painful) conversion of the “willing” to Sikhism and this evolution is going on. Understanding the original idea of Sikhism is important if you want to be clear where you stand–forget about Akal Takhat or Dera Sachkhand Balan, but look at the idea of 1-10 Gurus. In next 100-200yrs, your future generations will become either a “typical” Sikh as mostly recognize them, or you will fall out of this line and be a Hindu (or …) than having this confusion, or something totally new will emerge. But not having a clear understanding of the Sikhism will hurt everyone around you. You will be lying if you say Sikhism (in principal) allows inequality and discrimination.@sant Ramanand ji was a guru and a true man who preached humanity and peace to all communitys .i think some people tend to forget what a guru actually means and that is a holy teacher so whats the problem if hes leading people into the right path–I have not met him (although I stay around that area). I am sure he was a great Guru if you feel so. problem is calling Granth Sahib as “Guru” and “sant Ramanand ji” as Guru –this hurts other Sikhs feeling.History shows that Hindus from the “Lower Castes” who converted to Sikhs attained higher level versus their original place.Well in the end, everyone from any religion in India is influenced by the casteism.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

In my opinion hail to those brave lions that took care of these fake saints in Austria. Who are there to have people bow down to them in the presence of the holy Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Haven’t’ the people of India learnt that Sikhs don’t fear anyone including the army of the state that was taught such a punishing lesson in June 1984.

Posted by Jag | Report as abusive

No it is not caste but it is organised terror . Certain individuals do not want peace to prevail . A handful of them are taking law into their hands and trying to blemish Sikhism , the mots tolerant of Religions .Online Books On Sikh History

Posted by Satnam | Report as abusive