Sikh Faith Honours Women
The Sikh Gurus advocated equal status for women with men in all spheres of life. They also honoured women as the symbol of domestic harmony and happiness, social cohesion and unity, a helping hand to man in the achievement of salvation. Guru Nanak says:
In woman, man is conceived,
From a woman he is born,
With a woman he is betrothed and married,
With a woman he contracts friendship,
Why denounce her, from whom even Kings are born?
From a woman a woman is born, none may exist without a woman.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 73)
The position of women in Indian society before the Sikh Gurus was very demeaning, derogatory and continually deteriorating. A woman was referred to as man's shoe, the root of all evil, a snare, a temptress, and having her intelligence in her heels. Women were also tied down in the shackles of cruel, inhuman and callous social customs.
Guru Nanak condemned this manmade notion of the inferiority of woman and protested against her long subjugation. He asserted that men and women shared the grace of God equally and were responsible for their deeds before Him. By denouncing renunciation of the world and by advocating family life, and by his own example, the Guru put woman on a par with man. Woman was not a hindrance if man needed to serve God but a helping hand in the achievement of salvation. The Guru says:
Living within family life, one obtains salvation. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 661)
The Sikh Gurus advocated marriage of two equal partners. The third Guru, Guru Amar Das, described the ideal marriage:
Only they are truly wedded who have one soul in two bodies (SGGS, p.788).
Guru Amar Das condemned the cruel custom of Sati, Purdah, and female infanticide and advocated the remarriage of widows. He wrote:
They are not Satis, who burn themselves with their husbands.
Rather they are Satis, who die with mere shock of separation from their Husband [God].
And they are Satis too, who abide in modesty and contentment (SGGS, p.787).
Whereas a woman had been contemptuously called a childbearing machine, the Guru respected her for her creativity and said:
Blessed is the mother who creates life (SGGS, p. 32).
The sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind, respected woman by saying:
"Woman is the conscience of man."
Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, gave Amrit (Sikh initiation) to men and women alike. At the time of Amrit a man is given the name Singh, meaning Lion, the woman is given the name Kaur, meaning Princess, to enhance the position of woman.
A woman in the Sikh faith is an individual in her own right and she does not have to take her husband's name and remains Kaur till her death.
As a result of Guru's teachings, men began to realise the worth of women as equal partners and women began to receive the respect and honour they deserved.Source: http://www.panthic.org/news/130/ARTICLE/2885/2006-11-08.html