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Cast and Equality in Sikhism

Many people living in India today would like to forget the cast system and the word untouchable. However, the fact remains, that during the time of Guru Nanak the vast majority of the people lived the life of an inferior citizen. The high class Brahmins made their own rules hence only the Brahmins and Kashatries were respected highly, the Vashia had less respect but Shudras were treated most inhumanely. The Moguls ruled the country at the time Guru Nanak. They treated everyone, other than a Muslim, as a Kafir (atheist) or as second class citizens. If anybody other than a Muslim wanted to celebrate their festival or hold a congregation, they would have to pay a special tax called "Jazia".

Guru Nanak spoke very strongly against these atrocities. He preached that good or bad, we are all children of one god, therefore, and we should all be treated equally. There should be no division on the grounds of profession, religion, colour or sex.

The Guru instructed his followers to treat everybody equally. A Sikh must respect and value the faith of others but at the same time, he or she must adhere to the teachings of the Gurus and no one else.

To fulfil his aim Guru Nanak started the institution of Langar. Where everyone regardless of colour, sex or creed would help to prepare food and serve the same. Everyone was instructed to sit at the same level. In fact the third Guru would not even see anybody who did not join in the langar, not even Emperor Akbar the great. An Emperor of the time wanted a meeting with the Guru but the Guru will not meet him until he agreed to site on the flood and accept langar along with every one.