Monday, 1 May 2017

One Detail Of Sikhism

Copied from here. (This question arose because there is a Singh in Poul Anderson's Ensign Flandry and both a Singh and a Kaur in SM Stirling's The Sunrise Lands.)

Sikh men are surnamed "Singh" whereas Sikh women are surnamed "Kaur."

"Singh" means "lion" so does "kaur" mean "lioness"? See SM Stirling, The Sunrise Lands (New York, 2008), Chapter Eight, p.  187. If so, should the two words not have the same root but with an affix for feminine gender?

When learning about Sikhism, I was told or read that "kaur" means "princess." See here.

The Wiki article here tells us that "kaur" means "prince" but is applied to women as a sign of their equality.

8 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, I recall the Sikhs we see in Anderson's ENSIGN FLANDRY and Stirling's THE PESHAWAR LANCERS and THE SUNRISE LANDS. I did thought it odd for a Sikh brother and unmarried sister to NOT share the same surname.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
The Sikh practice is for all men to share a surname and for all women to share a different surname. The question that has arisen is what these surnames mean.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

In that case, as regards your first point, it would seem to make more sense for all Sikhs, male or female, to have the same surname. Yes, I know, all male Sikhs are surnamed "Lion" and females "Princess."

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Well, Wiki says that "kaur" means "prince." It was reading three different explanations of "kaur" that generated a mini-discussion of it.
Sikh women's equality is expressed by them not having the same surnames as their fathers or husbands. Mr Singh's wife and daughter are not Mrs Singh and Miss Singh, respectively.
Paul.

S.M. Stirling said...

Sikhism was originally even more radical about women's status, btw; the early gurus were quite explicit on the injustice and waste of the low social and legal status of women in 16th-century India.

The Sikh common kitchens and communal feasts played a similar role with regard to caste -- the purpose was to break the food taboos and feelings of ritual purity and impurity which sustained caste distinctions.

Paul Shackley said...

I wish we had a Gurdwara near here. Good music, good food, good people.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Understood, altho I would expect everyone to understandf "Kaur" in the sense of "princess," instead of "prince."

Iow, Mr. Singh's wife and daughter is Mrs. Kaur and Miss Kaur.

Sean

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

And I have wondered if the early Sikh leaders had contact with Christians who told them of how their faith teaches both that ritual purity in food and the Hindu caste system were either unnecessary or plain wrong.

If the only thing I disagree with in Hinduism was its gross polytheism, that would have been one thing. I would have simply dismissed it as mere superstition. But the absurdities, cruelties, and injustices of the caste system makes me feel contempt for Hinduism as well.

Sean