The focus of this report is to understand the role of the local Gurduara within Sikh communities from the Gurmat (Guru’s Way) perspective, as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle). In understanding the Gurmat explanation of the function of the Gurduara, local governance teams and Sikh sangat (community) can come together to create a Gurduara that is a cohesive community-focused place of learning.
A global survey, included in the report, presented 1,172 self-identified Sikhs with questions related to the place of the local Gurduara. The survey highlights a disconnect with the Miri-Piri doctrine but emphasizes the desire of local sangats to revive the community focus of their Gurduaras.
This study presents recommendations based on the Gurduara components on an individual and institutional level as a way to create a safe and open place of learning within global Sikh communities. Individuals cannot remain passive to the programs of their local Gurduaras while institutions need to evaluate how thoughtfully or deliberately the Miri-Piri doctrine is being manifested in their governance.
The role and function of the Gurduara is specified throughout Bani, Tavarikh, and Rahit. Building Gurmat-focused Gurduaras is essential to create community-centered places of learning.
The Gurduara is the central space for Sikhs, playing a vital role in the daily lives of local Sikh communities around the world. Gurduara is derived from “gur” and “duara,” together forming “through the Guru.” In Sikhi, the worldview of a Sikh is centered around the Guru. “Through the Guru” is the lens from which Sikhs strive to see the world. Traditionally, the role of Sikh institutions exemplifies the twin doctrine of Miri-Piri: each individual is to be trained to become sovereign in all spheres of life. The epitome of Miri-Piri is Akal Takht Sahib (Timeless Throne Sovereign) in Amritsar, Panjab. Hence, each Gurduara needs to be viewed from a Gurmat perspective.
From their conception, Gurduaras are spaces for political-spiritual growth, with emphasis on education, food, shelter, and security for the community. Local Gurduaras play a significant role in influencing the lives of the Sikh communities globally. It is necessary to continue to reflect on the development of Gurduaras to keep the Sikh community Gurmat-oriented. A survey of 1,172 self-identified Sikhs from 22 different countries was conducted by the Sikh Research Institute. It captures the views and aspirations of Sikhs about the role of Gurduaras within their local communities. The results included emphasis on investment in education based on Sikh principles, funding for community outreach projects, and empowerment of the Sikh youth. The Miri-Piri doctrine was not evident in the responses to how the Gurduara is defined, highlighting the changing role of the Gurduara in the lives of the Sikh community in the 21st century. Recommendations are made based on Gurmat as inferred from Bani, Tavarikh, and Rahit that can be used by individuals and institutions to create positive change in their local Gurduaras and Sikh communities.