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.