Addiction Totally Alien to Sikh Way of Life
Addiction is one
of the major international problems today. Despite the concerted
efforts of World Health Organization (W.H.O.) and governments of
several countries to keep effective check on it, the use of
intoxicants is showing a steep rise year by year. Sikhs
(particularly the youth) have not been able to stay immune to the
ambient situation. They have not simply fallen prey to it, are
rather in the tight grip of the menace.
To blame Sikh
youth alone shall amount to flinching away from the responsibility.
It becomes of adults in a people to properly nurture the youth, we
have utterly failed in this aspect of life. However, it would be too
much to expect from the adult Sikhs to dissuade youth from
intoxicants because they themselves are habituated to it in large
numbers. The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that many
baptized Sikhs are given to drinking. Quite a percentage of Sikh
leaders regularly take intoxicants and many are known to have been
involved in drug pushing. It is common to see Sikhs drinking as soon
as continuous recitation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is over (Samapti
of Akhand Path). Illicit distillation goes on unabated in the
countryside of Punjab, even
with the connivance of law enforcing agencies in several cases.
variously nicknamed as the 14th Rattan (Gem) or the milk of tigress
(as it relieves one from social restrictions) etc. But commendable
was the wisdom of the person who jestingly designated it 'shar-aab"
i.e. the water of mischief, that is what really it is.
thought to the ever-increasing menace of narcotics amongst the Sikhs
in still awaited from any Panthic organization. It is going to cost
very dearly if we just slept over the problem, situation is already
getting out of hand in the country side. May Satguru put us
on the right path.
been variously classified, for our purposes, they are generally of
nervous system stimulants like amphetamine and L.S.D.
nervous system depressants as opium. cannabis preparations (Bhang),
wine and tobacco etc. Latter are more prevalent.
There could be
various etiological factors of drug abuse but following are the
1. Having fallen
in wicked company and due to affluence of wealth. people initiate
intoxicants for fun and frolics just as pass time. After sometime
such individuals let bogged into the problem as a fish gets hooked
after whelming the bait. Once they get trapped they can not escape
even if they like to. Such persons may dodge the family members for
some time but ultimately the cat
out of the bag.
2. Many persons
initiate drugs just for getting a break from stresses and strains of
routine life. Some loss, a quarrel, illness or death of a relative
could be the cause of such dejection. To surmount such situations
generally the prop of drinking (wine) is taken and it is called
"writing off the worries." Gains and loses are very much a part of
life. Gains are to be taken as blessings of Almighty and so are the
losses but need to be overcome by Will power sought from Gurbani.
Taking the aid of drugs in such situations means an open invitation
to more and more complications.
3. Offspring of
addicts are more prone to get hooked up to drugs because such
parents take the drug abuse as a routine of life. Further, the
parents generally serve as models for their children. Addicts are
all praise for their habit and do not hesitate even to induce their
children to drug use. An addict will recommend his drug for every
ailment as it really is a panacea for him.
person will leave no stone un turned to nurture his kids on right
lines but it is an admitted fact that most of the addicts actuate
their own sons to such vices. This is purposely done with two aims
in sight, to escape the blame of bringing ruin to the family and
drug user’s children shall make provisions for their old parents as
well to- morrow.
4. In several
instances young people are put on drugs unawares with the malicious
intention of pulling down their family status and bringing disaster
to them. In the beginning drug is supplied free till the fellow
becomes hooked to it and afterwards he continues at his own.
This practice is
not confined to individual alone, even governments participate in
such muddles with aim of weakening, capturing or economically
exploiting other nations. For instance Portuguese merchants promoted
the use of opium in China with the aim of economic gains This and
other exploitations led to an armed conflict leading to
international regulation of opium trade by the League of Nations and
at present United Nations, However drug trafficking is a flourishing
international trade involving even highups.
medicinal use of habit-forming drugs may al so end up in addiction,
if used under medical supervision chances of drug dependence
decrease. Misuse of analgesics (pain killers) and sleeping pills
(general barbiturates) is notorious in this respect.
between people from distant areas has increased with improved means
of communication, thus exchange of vices and virtues has also been
facilitated. Debauchery of chewing tobacco and lime was unknown in Punjab
two decades ago but this addiction has been acquired from
agricultural laborers seasonally visiting Punjab from U. P. and
Bihar. Though a prolific source of cancer it is a
profligacy among Sikh youth.
7. Athletes and
players may take drugs to improve their performance and stamina,
this illegal practice is called doping. Opiates, amphetamine,
procaine and many other varieties of drugs have been abused for this
purpose. After prolonged use of these agents the individual becomes
8. Some people
invent the plea that drinking is essential for healthy living at
cold places as in the case of soldiers and may also claim that it
keeps one in high spirits during fighting But these claims get
falsified when many soldiers living under same conditions do not
drink at all without hampering their performance. In short any
justification for drugs' use indicates a lack of will power and
determination. Mind control drugs are not yet commonly available.
Change of food habits may affect the health of people as much as
intoxicants. Sikhs have abandoned their traditional nutritious food
articles like milk, curd and butter milk (Lassi) in favor of
tea, which they do not consider to be an intoxicant. Infect tea is
the one. Youth complains of muscle cramps if they take curd or Lassi.
Tea has been
adopted from western world and China. In the
beginning it was offered free of cost by the tea companies to
habituate the people. Now males and females of all age groups are
"addicted" to it Even village folk do not lag behind in the custom
of bed tea. Sikh youth is almost
about milk and milk products. Tea is injurious to health in many
ways. It suppresses growth of children as it lacks nutrients
essential for the purpose. Children reared entirely on tea are
weaklings usually and undersized. That is why the youth are small
statured these days nicknamed as "pocket edition khalsa". In western
societies very little tea is offered to children during growth
Though a vast
majority of people take tea the world over, it is harmful for adults
as well. It contains low quantities of caffeine, theophylline and
theobromine which stimulate the heart and may lead to high blood
pressure and heart disease. Coffee being richer in these contents is
still more dangerous. Tea almost lacks in nutritive value and
suppresses appetite. Due to astringent action of its tannins,
interferes with assimilation of normal food and induces
constipation. Limitless drinking of tea results in excessive
consumption of sugar which may lead to diabetes.
People in the
villages sell nutritious milk at a nominal price and purchase tea
instead, thus making a losing bargain. If given option children
commonly prefer to take tea because they are not acquainted with its
harmful effects, People who regularly take milk are healthier and
can work harder.
Due to the use
of drugs and excessive tea intake the health status of Sikhs is
dwindling down, we do not see outstanding athletes and players
amongst us as used to be the case years ago. Inspite of strict
interdiction against the use of drugs in Sikh scriptures one is
puzzled to comprehend how the use of cannabis indica (variously
termed Bhang, Sukha or Sukh Nidhan)
creeped into the staunch organization of Sikhs like Nihang Singhs
It is not
possible to discus each and every intoxicant individual1y in a write
up like this but a brief over-all view of the problem is called for.
In the fol1owing paragraphs an effort has been made to draw a sketch
of the feelings of an addict, which force him to make determined
efforts to procure the enticement.
associated with comparatively low levels of drug use are enhancement
of sensory pleasures which make the real world seem like an
imaginary paradise. It aids the addict to compensate for his
inability to cope with the responsibilities of psychological
engagement with the problems of life. The addicts perceive to be
procuring the derive and energy needed to succeed in tough
competitive life. Gratification obtained by the addict must be
immense particularly in view of the enormous sacrifices he makes to
keep him supplied with the drug.
.uptake of opiates for some period creates physiological need for
its continuation. Once the habitual consumption is stopped, a number
of distressing symptoms show up. Severity being proportional to the
period of addiction and the size and frequency of the dose.
matter how the drug was initially started, its continuous use leads
to periods of artificially produced depression, mental and physical
distress which disappear upon repetition of dosage. Three weeks of
regular use produce the abstinet1ce symptom which may become severe
and even dangerous.
The notion that
addict's inner life is serene and trouble free and he lives in a
world of fantasy and dreams or that his life is full of ecstasy is
totally false. In fact average addict is a troubled, worried and
harried person. In place of pleasure and ecstasy, misery, alienation
and despair are the key features of his life. Due to heavy demands
of addiction, he feels trapped by the unrelenting rhythm of his
habit. Without drug the life may appear intolerable. Tragedies seem
to depress the user more than they normally should.
There is intense
desire and striving for drug on the part of an addict. This craving
is not vague or casual but a powerful conscious effort driving him
to seek satisfaction in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles
and a t the price of unbelievable sacrifices. They allow nothing to
stand between them and the drug. Majority of addicts have a tendency
to increase the dosage of the drug beyond the bodily needs to get a
good "kick" as the tissues get tolerant to it, also the drug pusher,
adulterate them to make more profit. Success in containing this
tendency needs resolute and calculated self control which is hard to
influence of drug an addict feels elated and in control of the
problems of life which he can not face without it. People take drugs
for enjoyment which in turn raise a host of problems. Our ancestors
took a dim view of anything that gave pleasure except the pleasure
of prayer to Akal Purkh (The Timeless God, Almighty) and diligent
labor. We may engage ourselves in the enjoyment of prayer, social
work and games etc. which could be more productive and rewarding.
A majority of
addicts sell off their properties to squander for drugs, leaving
their families nothing more than destitute. Many of them ultimately
resort to stealing, deceitful acts and other social evils. In case
the addict abandons drug consumption, he may revert to normal state
of mental and physical health. But performance of such a feat needs
to be backed up by a strong determination and will power which are
seriously lacking in a vast majority of them. Rather they become
slaves of their habit and can not resist the allurement of enhancing
the drug dosage. Hence have to spend more and more for procuring
drugs which leads to financial implications. Such individuals turn
out to be a great affliction for t he family because they give top
priority to their booze, ignoring rest of the liabilities. But to
others it means superfluous wastage, because rest of the family have
to face social and economic dilemma.
A drunkard dad
is a terror for children due
to his aggressive behavior and children general1y shun such a
father. Usually the brunt of wrath is borne by the wife and family
lives a cat and dog life. Alcoholics have a tendency to have
vi1lainous behavior under the pretext of being intoxicated. In
contrast when a sober father comes home with a bagful of edibles
(fruit etc) the children run to receive him with open arms. Such
articles may cost much less than booze but are more nutritious and
make the family a close knit unit rather than creating mistrust and
panic. On pay day rest of the families feel jubilant as it is their
feast day. But the family of an addict keep shivering in their shoes
ti1l he returns home lest he may meet with an accident or get
involved in a scuffle as he would be on drinking spree.
Not only the
family members but relatives and neighbors as well get fed up with
addicts and hate them. They often get secluded from rest of the
community. Addiction does not create problems for the family alone
but for the whole society. It may be conjectured not exactly
calculated as to how many murders, robberies, thefts, criminal
assaults and other crazy acts are committed annually under the
influence of intoxicants all the world over. Goodman and Gilman in
their internationally recognized book on Pharmacology which forms
not only the basis of medical, dental and veterinary practice but
also the one for drug research, comment on drinking as under:
terms of accidents, lost productivity,
death or damaged health, the combined social costs of problem of
drinking in the United States have been estimated to exceed 150
billion dollars annually. The cost of broken homes, wasted lives,
loss to society and human misery is beyond calculation. Babies born
to mothers who drink heavily during pregnancy not only experience
alcohol withdrawal after delivery but also in some cases are
believed to suffer permanent mental retardation.”
It may seem that
drinking is alien to women folks, in fact this vice is steadily
catching up among the youth of both sexes. Drunk drivers are a
constant risk to passengers and passers by. Thrasher accidents
during harvest are also a direct result of drug abuse.
The same authors
narrate about smoking as follows:
"It has been
estimated that 360,000 persons die annually in the United States
because of tobacco use. The devastating statistical calculation has
been made that one's life is shortened 14 minutes for every
cigarette smoked. In epidemiological studies a positive correlation
was observed between the incidence of lung cancer and cigarette
smoking. The studies have shown that approximately II cigarette
smokers die from cancer of the lung for each non-smoker who dies
from the same cause."
We should be
thankful to our Gurus who fore warned us and commanded us to
strictly refrain from these menaces.
It is hard to cite more from that book keeping in view the size of
booklet but interested readers may have a panoramic view of the
problem by reading more from the relevant portions of it.
strength, stamina and derive to work which in turn results in
poverty, ignorance and wretched life. They are overtaken by sloth,
lack of self confidence and demoralization. Choudhry Afzal Haq aptly
described the working habits of smoking Muslim farmers and
non-smoking Sikhs when he made an acute comment on their economic
conditions. Though the Sikhs themselves may not have pondered on
this issue. He wrote something like this in his Urdu booklet
referred at the end:
"The fields of
the farmers who smoke give withered and deserted look due to the
meager labor they can put in, those of non-smoker farmers bloom and
are highly productive. In the same village the Sikhs who do not
smoke have a far better economic position compared to Muslim farmers
who habitually smoke. Allah. Allah (O, God! O, God!) there is a
sprinkle of splendor in the fields of Sikhs and the ones of smoker
Muslims are in ruins though, the soil is of same quality".
interdiction of all intoxicants is a great gift of our Gurus to us
but we have miserably failed to evaluate and honour this boon. As a
result of this we have reached the disgusting stage of finding many
Sikhs smoking, chewing tobacco and drinking. Chaudhry a non-Sikh
could easily appreciate
the secret of success of Sikh farmers. These: comments are not
pertinent to farming alone but are true in every walk of successful
May be one
started intoxicants to forget worries, for fun or overcoming
fatigue, ultimately lands in an enigma. With the help of intoxicants
he wants to solve his problems but due to economic and other already
discussed points, gets more and more entangled in difficulties. This
is termed a "vicious circle" in technical terminology. It. is
exemplified as if a dog tried to catch the tip of his tail in his
mouth which he can not do, he shall keep circling in the vain effort
and ultimately fall down exhausted. Exactly same is the plight of
One may commonly
hear that such and such addict liquidated all his property in
pursuit of drug pranks and was ultimately compeI1ed to take to
begging. Having realized the morbid effects produced by addiction,
Government, of many countries have enacted laws requiring liquor and
tobacco companies to prominently display warnings like "Drinking or
smoking is injurious to your health". But addicts forced by the
vicious habits ignore a11 such warnings. There is a strange
situation in that world of addicts, normal1y no trader shall say
that his merchandise is worthless and hurtful. If he did so no one
would go in for such a bargain. For instance a fruit seller shall
not say that his melons are cotton and mouldy and are likely to
cause cholera. But addicts have no options to make they are simply
driven by their habit.
pointed out the shortcomings of addiction
also laid down broad guidelines for refraining from them. Sikhs have
ignored these instructions of late and that is why the present
situation has arisen. Sikhism lays a great stress on self control,
sacrifice and total abstinence from immoral acts. A Sikh is expected
never to indulge in any pursuit for which he may have to repent
wont accompany you, why to attention pay, Do not pursue something
for which ultimately repent you may.
Only good deeds,
service to mankind and prayer help one in the court of Almighty.
Many people take to drugs or drinking to overcome the stresses and
strains of daily life but Sikhism teaches one to spend life with
unshaken faith in the benevolence of Almighty Akal Purkh who is
always kind. One must make all possible effort to tackle the
problems of life like disease etc. should be got treated according
to ones financial capacity, living be earned by fair means (kirt).
Unfair means lead to more and more complications and tension, prayer
should form part of routine life.
understanding the instruction of Gurubani (Babek Budhi)
relives one of all worries. In case the difficulties still persist
and death occurs, it should be accepted as the writ of Almighty
instead of getting drowned in the ocean of intoxicants. Human beings
have only limited powers and resources and they may mould the things
within that frame work only. It
problems when humans want and assert that every event of life should
go according to their wishes, only beneficial things should happen,
not obnoxious ones. If we submit to His "Bhana" after making our due
efforts the problem gets solved right away and we escape further
revelation) instructs that all of the happenings are pre-ordained
and we can not do much to mould them.
Under His order
we are in jaws of death or may live truthful1ife if He may
O' Nanak whatever He likes happens, humans can nothing estroy or
A Sikh is
ordained to muse in the all prevailing Will (Bhana) of Aka1 Purkh.
falsehood never even a grain, In Almighty's command(Guru's) disciple
shall ever remain.
(sacred revelation) commands that one, attains salvation by
willingly submitting to Almighty's Will alone, even if some one
tried to evade it and find alternative means, he virtually receives
slaps on his face.
may attain through His will alone alternative to it can say no one
If a fool may dare to say He knows how many slaps get he may.
Whatever He does, as a blessing take we may.
human beings try to be clever and refuse to submit to Almighty's
will and strive to find a solution to their worries and mental
problems with the aid of intoxicants. Consequently land in more and
more complications like enhanced expenses, dwindling stamina for
hard work and increased vulnerability to worries Along with these,
drug habituation tightens its grip and forces the poor fellow to
procure more and more of the intoxicant (even intoxicants).
ultimately become slaves of their habit. Habit is a good servant but
a had master. In case a Sikh is accustomed to rising up early in the
morning, brushing his teeth, early morning bath and to attending
sacred congregation (Sat sang) the habit is his servant and lucky he
is. Contrarily if habit forces him to procure the booze at any cost
then it is a treacherous master.
enslaved by the drugs or intoxicants to which they totally
surrender. Such fellows seriously lock self respect or human dignity
and get prepared to do any thing
possible to obtain their bait. Gurbani commands in plain words that
one must refrain from pleasures (intoxicants) because such sensual
approbations are a source of untold sufferings.
Due to the
deeds, plunge info into affection if (we) indulge in pleasures. May
be few comfort" but life falls in miseries without measures.
In case a person
goes lunatic, all his relatives feel upset and sad about it, spend
huge amounts to get him treated and put him back on the normal track
of life, But one fails to understand why people get seduced to
insanity of drugs by spending their fortune what gains they foresee
in this game? Gurbani forbids the use of intoxicants in strong words
and warns against the evil results of treading on this path.
Man is pervadad
(with sins), becomes so more and more, Drinking which, sagacity
disappears, insanity creeps in sure, (One) fails to discriminate kin
and alien, from Lord gets severe jolt,
Drinking which (one) neglects the Master, gets chastised in His
court, Never take false intoxicants, salvation if you wish to
attain, O ! Nanak true intoxication is contemplation if true Guru's
blessing one may obtain.
One should not
indulge in addiction, it is prohibited because it makes one
lethargic and idler, dissuades from Prayer and routine work of life.
Instead prompts one for joys and immoral deeds. Pursuit of delights
results in immoral deeds. It lead to a bad end.
betel nuts, enjoy tobacco puff, Never pray Almighty, shall be caught
by death's angel rough.
True bliss is
attained by meditating on Akal Purkh through Gurbani and doing
virtuous deeds. Pleasure or intoxicants is fake and useless
according to Sikh instruction. Sometimes not only common people but
even Sikh preachers are heard to say that such and such intoxicant
is prohibited and so and so is not, thus creating a lot of
misunderstanding and confusion. For instance some one may say L. S.
D. is not prohibited as it is a modern introduction to the
intoxicant arsenal. But Sikhism gives decisions not suggestions on
all aspects of life and dependable guidance can only be sought from
arouse sensual pleasures and have been condemned in any form they
may be used for futile purposes Some Sikhs say they drink wine as a
medicine, that is also a lame excuse to justify drinking and an
effort to mitigate the sin. Wine as such is not used as a remedy. A
Sikh is to seek pleasure by contemplating on Almighty through
recitation of Gurbani or simply Sat Naam, Wahe Guru
(True is your name O! Wonderful Lord) Cupful of ecstasy may offer
to whom He becomes kind, A merchant of ambrosia, hollow intoxicants
why should mind.
evil inducing drugs have a mad form of addiction, Those soaked in
essence of meditation have true benediction.
In the Sikh code
of conduct Bhai Chaupa Singh advocates addiction to the bread alone
since one cannot live without food but can do much better without
An organized and
sustained campaign is urgently cal1ed for to dissuade Sikh youth
from taking to addition. They need to be educated about the
delinquency and ultimate devastating results of addiction. Group
lectures and book lets on the subject can serve as very useful means
to bring home the desired purpose.
A small library
attached to each Gurdwara can go a long way in preaching against
these evils. Along with spiritual development, games and sports are
equally essential for physical development and have been very much a
part of Sikh life. This mode of life has been in vogue since the
time of Gurus and Gurdwara "Mal Akhara" (Wrestlers Arena) in Khadur
Sahib stands monument to the tradition. Here Guru Sahib used to
watch the Sikhs wrestling and playing games. These days physical and
spiritual aspects of life are both being badly ignored and hence we
are facing drug problems and indiscipline. Fencing (Gatka)
exists only as a vestige mong to-days Sikhs, only very few might be
Like the old
saying "Idle man's brain is devil's work shop" slothful Sikh youth
start thinking of drugs and related evils to while away their time,
in the absence of requisite guidance
from the mature generation. Hence the parents and teachers can give
the youth proper lead, if they them selves set example by refraining
from drugs and adopting productive pursuits. But quite a percentage
of parents, and teachers themselves are stranded in the muddle of
intoxicants, thus serving very poor models for youth.
preaching Sikh philosophy and history, games should be popularized
among the youth. For this purpose every area should have its own
voluntary preachers and game instructors. Help from outstanding
scholars may be sought by arranging big preaching camps, where
tournaments should be arranged along with religious preaching. To
popularize games among the youth, existing sports clubs he
strengthened and new ones initiated. These steps can help quite a
bit in ridding the youth from the curse of drugs. Players start
caring for their health as they think in terms of competing with
others in physical standards and refrain from evil habits. A healthy
young man is also an asset to the family since he can do more hard
Khalsa college Amritsar
used to be the venue of games and sports of Khalsa schools during
Diwali festival, it was named Diwali tournament. Somheow it has been
discontinued since partition. Such tradition may be beneficial1y be
start disliking intoxicants only if they are enlightened about their
obnoxious effects. If we keep looking at the Govt. to effectively
enforce prohibition it shall
amount to hoping against hope. Bootleggers start clandestine trade
as is the case of opium and other intoxicants at present. Also
Governments earn billions of rupees through excise duty. Only way to
withstand the onslaught of intoxicants is the wilful hatred against
this profligacy. Religious preaching should also become the subject
of Sikh masses as the people responsible for it may behaving
personal ends dearer than preaching.
It shall be a
grea1 relief to the families of addicts and service to Panth if an
organization(s) may Wean away these misguided fellows from this
debauchery. Such a step shall change despair of many families into
hope, broken families into well-knit and successful ones, troubled
families into cerene ones. Dangerous and hateful drunkards may be
sonverted into saints who could also do social welfare work as Guru
Nanak Dev converted Sajjan, the cheat and Bhoom Eia, the thief into
good Sikhs and preachers.
Hag (1944). "Deene Islam" urdu, Taj company Ltd. Quran Manzil, Railway
For, R. (1967).
Alcoholism Behavioral Research. Thera peutic Approaches. Springer
publishing company Inc. New York.
Goodman, L, S.,
Gilman, A., Gilman, A. G. and Koelle, G. B. (l975) The
Pharmacological Basis of Thera peutics Macmillan Publishing co.
It1c. New York 5th. ed.