We are aware of the Sikh religion and its founder Guru Nanak. But the women who encouraged the guru were also his first followers and are hardly highlighted. Meenakshi Rajan in her debut book Spiritual Warriors: Eminent Sikh Women writes about women who have inspired Sikh men since the medieval period.
“Guru Nanak who founded the Sikh religion was a different child. His mother was however very alarmed seeing his subtle behaviour and it was his sister who first noticed the spark in her brother. In addition, Guru Nanak’s first followers were women — his mother and sister,” says Rajan.
Women, according to Rajan, are prosecuted most of the times but are still the ones who take the faith forward. Through her book, the author aims to understand the role of Sikh women in the medieval period. She states, “The book aims to comprehend women’s position in society, their dreams, visions, hopes and spiritual aspirations. In addition, it explores how women, when offered relative equality within a system of religious beliefs, perceived themselves and the special societal roles they undertook, making Sikhism a women’s religion”
Researching and writing the book consumed two years, conveys Rajan, but the only challenge was lack of literature on positions of women and in particular Sikh women in society. She says, “I did not get much material, as there is hardly anything documented about Sikh women. It is always just a line here and there and I had to do psychological analysis of the woman’s character. Women’s names conveyed a lot about their character.”
Being a Sikh woman herself, Rajan realised that there was nothing much done on these spiritual warriors who can serve as role models for the women population of our country and the world at large. “Through this book we come to know about their courage and what they have done despite being governed by the society. Women, during the medieval period could not even step out of their houses,” says Rajan.
Claiming that she is not anti-men, Rajan puts across her views about how women are treated in society. She says, “People should know that women are active agents in all aspects in society and this has not been recognised. Women are portrayed strangely but they are very powerful and this has to be uncovered. I am not anti-men but we are women of substance.”
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