'Sikhing' a husband: Bridal imagery and gender in Sikh scripture
Clary, Randi Lynn
Kripal, Jeffrey J.
Master of Arts
Bridal imagery is found in many religions, following the pattern of the soul, gendered female, longing for the male divine Beloved. Rich examples of this imagery are found in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture. Even though Sikhism is generally labeled as belonging to the nirguna school of devotional religion, the scriptures are full of passages describing a male Divine who enjoys his soul-bride, showing Sikhism's close connection to the saguna strand of devotion. Because all the poets canonized were men, any deviation from the pattern of a male devotee longing for a male Divine was rejected from the canon, as the case of Mirabai's inclusion and subsequent exclusion from the Sikh canon shows. I critique Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh's theory that bridal imagery is empowering to women, and apply John Stratton Hawley's theory about the reasons for the fixed genders of longing in bhakti poetry to Sikh bridal imagery.