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Miri-Piri: The Spiritual-Political Sikh Doctrine

State of the Panth, Report 7

Wednesday
,
21
July
2021

Miri-Piri: The Spiritual-Political Sikh Doctrine

State of the Panth, Report 7

Wednesday
,
21
July
2021
Sikhism
Miri-Piri
State of the Panth
Politics
History
Sikh History

Miri-Piri: The Spiritual-Political Sikh Doctrine

State of the Panth, Report 7

Wednesday
,
21
July
2021
Sikhism
Miri-Piri
State of the Panth
Politics
History
Sikh History
Miri comes from Perso-Arabic “Amir” or “Emir” and signals political power. Piri comes from the Perso-Arabic “Pir” and signals spiritual power. Miri-Piri encapsulates the Political-Spiritual doctrine in Sikhi, rooted in both the worldly and the timeless, and in sovereignty beyond the nation-states.

This report aims to understand and explore how the Miri-Piri doctrine influences the political and spiritual behavior of Sikhs worldwide. The report analyzes ideas conveyed in Miri-Piri from a Gurmat (or Guru’s Way) perspective, as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle).

The Bani section explores Miri-Piri doctrine as it is found in primary and secondary texts, and explains other commonly-used terms rooted in Miri-Piri like Raj-Jog and Bhakti-Shakti. The Tavarikh section traces and analyzes Miri-Piri doctrine from its beginnings with Guru Nanak Sahib through its development, institutionalization, and application through time and context over 553 years — covering the Guru Period, the Khalsa Raj, the Sikh Empire, the Sikhs and the Crown, and the Sikhs and the Indian State. The Rahit section explores present-day tensions in application of Miri-Piri doctrine under competing citizenships across India and the diaspora, covering the US, UK, and Canada and exploring the following questions: Can Sikh politicians serve the State and the Panth? Will Sikhs rise to positions of political influence to serve the State and the Panth? Will Sikh political representation learn to develop consensus? How do Sikhs navigate Sikh issues, Panjab issues, and Indian issues without involving political leaders as the center of their struggle to pressure the Center?

A global survey, included in the report, was presented to more than 500 self-identified Sikhs from 19 countries. The purpose of this survey was to gain insight into Sikh understandings and applications of Miri-Piri doctrine today.

Overall, responses outlined both a desire to understand better Miri-Piri in idea and practice and a contemporary understanding of Miri-Piri that prioritizes the spiritual or religious over the temporal or political. There was, however, a large consensus that institutions can play a more significant role in encouraging civic engagement and political literacy, leading to more representation in politics and more coalition-building across lines of caste, class, race, ethnicity, and gender.

This report makes recommendations based on the Gurmat components that individuals and institutions can use to understand Miri-Piri better and live out the Political-Spiritual doctrine in competing nationalisms and citizenships. Bani, Tavarikh, and Rahit offer guidance to individuals on understanding Miri-Piri doctrine as it is found in primary and secondary sources and applying it to their contexts with the guidance of historical examples. The Gurmat framework offers guidance for institutions towards taking the lead on building a foundational understanding of the Miri-Piri doctrine, holding events that encourage political literacy and civic engagement, and fostering critical discussion and engagement with various political viewpoints.

Download the resources below.

This Content has been made available for educational purposes only. SikhRI does not make any representation concerning the completeness of the Content. This Content is not intended to substitute research or a deeper understanding of the topic. SikhRI encourages readers to read multiple authors to gain a complete understanding of the topic.

Miri-Piri: The Spiritual-Political Sikh Doctrine - Report

This is the full, downloadable PDF of the the State of the Panth report "Miri-Piri."

This report aims to understand and explore how the Miri-Piri doctrine influences the political and spiritual behavior of Sikhs worldwide. The report analyzes ideas conveyed in Miri-Piri from a Gurmat (or Guru’s Way) perspective, as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle).

DownloadView

Miri-Piri: The Spiritual-Political Sikh Doctrine - Raw Data

This is a download of the raw source data that was generated for the State of the Panth report "Miri-Piri: The Spiritual-Political Sikh Doctrine."

A global survey, included in the report, was presented to more than 500 self-identified Sikhs from 19 countries. The purpose of this survey was to gain insight into Sikh understandings and applications of Miri-Piri doctrine today.

Overall, responses outlined both a desire to understand better Miri-Piri in idea and practice and a contemporary understanding of Miri-Piri that prioritizes the spiritual or religious over the temporal or political. There was, however, a large consensus that institutions can play a more significant role in encouraging civic engagement and political literacy, leading to more representation in politics and more coalition-building across lines of caste, class, race, ethnicity, and gender.

DownloadView

Written By

Senior Fellow, Research & Policy

Harinder Singh is the Senior Fellow at the Sikh Research Institute. He holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Wichita State University, an MS in Engineering Management from the University of Kansas, and an MPhil from Punjab University in the linguistics of the Guru Granth Sahib. 

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Researcher

Jasleen Kaur is a Research Associate at the Sikh Research Institute. She has received a Religious Studies B.A./M.A. from the University of Virginia, focusing on South Asian Religions through the lens of literature and poetry.

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