Shabads from the Guru Granth Sahib
From woman, man is born
In this Shabad, the Guru expresses the importance of a woman. It begins with the line "From a woman, a man is born" which removes a doubt from the minds of man that they are all a produce of a woman. This theme then continues with the Guru highlighting in a logical sequence the various stages of life where the importance woman is noted – "within woman, man is conceived" and then " he is engaged and married" to a woman who becomes his friend, partner and the source for future generations. So throughout man's life, he is dependent on woman and every critical stage. The Shabad continues, " When his woman dies, he seeks another woman" – so if his wife dies, he may seek another woman and bound to the female gender. In the final lines, the Guru asks: "So why call her bad?" – when even kings are born from a female mother as are other women themselves. The Guru then conclude that "without woman – there would be no one at all". So this leave no doubt in the faithful person's mind that the female gender is critical for the survival of the race and that there would be no one alive without women. The Guru in very simple terms has outlined the importance, the magnitude and value of women and shown how significant a role they play in the propagation of the race.
From woman, man is born;
within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married.
Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come.
When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound.
So why call her bad? From her, kings are born.
From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all.
– Guru Nanak, Raag Aasaa Mehal 1, Page 473
Shabad against Sati
Sati is an Indian custom of immolation of a woman on her dead husband's funeral pyre either self-willingly or by societal inducement and compulsion. Guru Nanak say the following about this practice:
Do not call them 'satee', who burn themselves along with their husbands' corpses.
O Nanak, they alone are known as 'satee', who die from the shock of separation. (1)
…Some burn themselves along with their dead husbands: [but they need not, for] if they really loved them they would endure the pain alive.
– Sri Guru Granth Sahib page 787
The Guru said that if the wife really loves her husband, then she should endure the pain of separation alive and she would rather live her life then suffer a quick death in the fire of her husband's funeral pyre. Further Guru Nanak explains that a true "Sati" is the person who cannot endure the pain of separation from their loved one.
Shabad against dowry
The Sikh Gurus spoke against the common practice of dowry when a gift of money or valuables had to be given by the bride's family to that of the groom at the time of their marriage. Huge pressure was exerted on the bride's family for the extraction of a sizeable fortune at times of marriage. It has been regarded as contribution of her family to the married household's expenses. The Guru's called this giving of gifts an "offer for show" of the guests and a "worthless display" which only increase the "false egotism". Sikhs families were discouraged this practise and slowly this trend has diminished. The following Shabad explains the Guru's position:
Any other dowry, which the self-willed manmukhs offer for show, is only false egotism and a worthless display.
O my father, please give me the Name of the Lord God as my wedding gift and dowry. (4)
– Sri Guru Granth Sahib page 79