Gurudwara Nanak Darbar, Duncan, SC

Sikhism

Sikhism (Sikhi, ਸਿੱਖੀ in Panjabi), amongst the youngest of the major world religions, originated and primarily developed in the 15th-17th century sub-continental India (South Asia). The word Sikhi derives from the word Sikh, which itself is based on the Sanskrit root "śiṣya" (शिष्यः), meaning a "disciple" or "learner". Guru Nanak Dev Ji was the founder of Sikhi. He was born in 1469 in the village of Nankana Sahib, near Lahore in present-day Pakistan. The faith system is based on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and ten successive Sikh Gurus (divine messengers or enlighteners), with the last one being the revealed sacred scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as Gurmat (literally the counsel of the Gurus) or the Sikh Dharma. With around 30 million followers worldwide, Sikhism is the fifth largest organized religion in the world.

The principal belief of Sikhism is faith in waheguru — represented using the sacred symbol of ik ŝaṅkĝr, the Universal God. Sikhism advocates the pursuit of salvation through disciplined, personal meditation on the name and message of God. A key distinctive feature of Sikhism is a non-anthropomorphic concept of God, to the extent that one can interpret God as the entire creation itself. 

The followers of Sikhism, or Sikhs, are ordained to follow the teachings of the ten Sikh Gurus, enshrined in the holy scripture the Guru Granth Sahib. While compiling the scripture, the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji incorporated not only the writings of the Sikh Gurus, but also included selected works of many devotees and saints from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds, who believed in the unity of God and denounced caste and superstition. The text was decreed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth and last human guru, as the final guru of the Khalsa Panth

Sikhism's traditions and teachings are distinctively associated with the history, society and culture of the Punjab region, the traditional homeland of the Sikhs and the site of the Sikh Empire. Presently, a majority of the Sikhs live in Punjab, India, and until India's partition in 1947, millions of Sikhs had lived in what is now Pakistani Punjab. 

Besides Sikhi and Gurmat, Sikhism is also referred to as Aad-Matt (the primal counsel).

 
 

Core Beliefs 

Belief in one God

The belief in one pantheistic God. The opening sentence of the Sikh scriptures is only two words long, and reflects the base belief of all who adhere to the teachings of the religion: Ek Onkar "Ek" is One and "Onkar" is God - "There is only one God."


The Teachings of the Sikh Gurus

The teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus (as well as other selected Muslim and Hindu saints and scholars) are enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib. These teachings propagate the following values:

  • to see God in everyone; understand and practice equality among all races irrespective of caste, religion, colour, status, age, gender, etc;
  • to remember God at all times; to always engage in Simran or "remembrance of God", the primal being; virtuous, merciful, bountiful, fearless and Creator of everything; be always aware of His persona and behave accordingly;
  • to value and respect positive ideals like truthcompassioncontentmenthumilitylove, etc; (a reflection of God-like features)
  • to suppress the inner evils lustanger/ragegreedmaterial attachmentego, etc; (a reflection of anti-God features)
  • to aspire and engage in useful, productive, honest and peaceful life of a householder; to work diligently while holding the image of God within you; (Kirit Karni)
  • to engage in selfless service (Sewa) and help build a loving community life; to be a contributor to society whenever possible; (Wand kay shakna)
  • to be ready to protect and stand for the rights of the weak among us; to fight for justice and fairness for all;
  • to always accept the Will of God, (Hukam) and stay focused and in "Positive Spirits" (Chardikala), etc.

 
 

Primary beliefs and principles

 

Sikhism advocates the belief in one pantheistic God (Ek Onkar) who is omnipresent and has infinite qualities. Sikhs do not have a gender for God nor do they believe God takes a human form. All human beings are considered equal regardless of their religion, sex or race. All are sons and daughters of Waheguru, the Almighty.

Followers of Sikhism are encouraged to wake in the early morning hours, before the sun has risen, and meditate on God's name. They must work hard and honestly and never live off of others, but give to others from the fruits of one's own labour. A Sikh's home should always be open to all.

Sikhs believe in the concept of reincarnation. All creatures are believed to have souls that pass to other bodies upon death until liberation is achieved. Sikhs should defend, safeguard, and fight for the rights of all creatures, and in particular fellow human beings. They are encouraged to have a "Chardi Kala" or positive, optimistic and buoyant view of life.

The Sikh religion is not considered the only way to salvation - people of other religions may also achieve salvation. This concept is shared with other religions.

Upon baptism, Sikhs must wear the 5Ks, strictly recite the 5 prayers. Sikhs do not believe that any particular day is holier than any other and general adopt the religous day of the country within which they reside.

It is every Sikh's duty to defeat these five vices: ego, anger, greed, attachment, and lust in his/her being with contentment, charity, kindness, positive attitude and humility.

 

History of Sikhism 


Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1538), the founder of Sikhism, was born in the village of Talwandi, now called Nankana Sahib, near Lahore in present-day Pakistan. His father, Mehta Kalu was a Patwari- an accountant of land revenue in the government. Guru's mother was Mata Tripta and he had one older sister, Bibi Nanki. From the very childhood, Bibi Nanki saw in him the Light of God but she did not reveal this secret to anyone. She is known as the first disciple of Guru Nanak. Even as a boy, Nanak was fascinated by religion, and his desire to explore the mysteries of life eventually led him to leave home. He wandered all over India in the manner of Hindu saints. It was during this period that Nanak met Kabir (1441-1518), a saint revered by both Hindus and Muslims. He made four distinct major journeys, which are called Udasis spanning many thousands of miles. 


In 1538, Guru Nanak chose Bhai Lehna, his disciple as a successor to the Guruship rather than his son. Bhai Lehna was renamed Guru Angad and became the second guru of the Sikhs. He continued the work started by Guru Nanak. Guru Amar Das became the third Sikh guru in 1552 at the age of 73. Goindwal became an important centre for Sikhism during the Guruship of Guru Amar Das. He continued to preach the principle of equality for women, the prohibition of Sati and the practise of Langar. In 1567Emperor Akbar sat with the ordinary and poor people of Punjab to have Langar. Guru Amar Das also trained 140 apostles of which 52 were women to manage the rapid expansion of the religion. Before he died in 1574 aged 95, he appointed his son-in-law, Jetha as the fourth Sikh Guru.


Jetha became Guru Ram Das and vigorously undertook his duties as the new guru. He is responsible for the establishment of the city of Ramdaspur later to be named Amritsar. In 1581Guru Arjan- youngest son of fourth guru - became the Fifth Guru of the Sikhs. In addition to being responsible for the construction of the Golden Temple, he prepared the Sikh Sacred text and his personal addition of some 2,000 plus hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib. In 1604 he installed the Adi Granth for the first time as the Holy Book of the Sikhs. In 1606, he was arrested and fined an enormous sum, by the newly installed Mughal Emperor Jahangir, which he refused to pay. His followers and a highly respected friend the Sufi Sant Hazrat Mian Mir attempted to intercede on his behalf, but believing he had done nothing to warrant the fine he told them he wanted no one to interfere with the workings of Waheguru. He was also asked to change some wording of the former Gurus which he had collected in the Adi Granth--this he refused to do. He was tortured severely and finally allowed to bath in the nearby river. His followers and admirers watched as he walked on his badly burned and blistered feet to the river's edge, waded in and then disappeared under the water never to be seen again, becoming the first Martyr of the Sikhs.

Guru Hargobind, became the sixth guru of the Sikhs. He carried two swords; one for Spiritual reasons and one for temporal (worldly) reasons. From this point onward, the Sikhs became a military force and always had a trained fighting force to defend their independence. In 1644Guru Har Rai became Guru followed by Guru Har Krishan, the boy Guru in 1661Guru Teg Bahadur became Guru in 1665 and led the Sikhs until 1675, when he sacrificed his life in defense the Kashmiri Hindus who had come to him for help.


In 1675, Aurangzeb ordered the public execution of the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur. Sikh mythos (above) says that Guru Tegh Bahadur sacrificed himself to save Hindus, after Kashmiri pandits came to him for help when the Emperor condemned them for failing to convert to Islam. This marked a turning point for Sikhism. His successor, his son Guru Gobind Rai further militarised his followers (see Khalsa). After the treachery of his neighboring Hill chieftains (Katri Rajputs who he had expected to join him in expelling or at least putting an end to the Mughal tyranny and forced conversions of Hindus) who took the side of the Mughals and tricked him and the Sikhs, under a guarantee of safe passage, into abandoning Anandpur, many of his Sikhs including his four sons and his mother, Gobind Singh on reaching safety sent Aurangzeb a letter known as the Zafarnama (Epistle of Victory).

Shortly before passing away Guru Gobind ordered that Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Scripture, would replace the line of human Gurus and become the spiritual authority for the Sikhs and placed the temporal authority with the Khalsa Panth; the Sikhs themselves. 

The first Sikh Holy Scripture was compiled and edited by the Fifth Guru, Guru Arjan in 1604, although some of the earlier gurus are also known to have documented their revelations. This is one of the few scriptures in the world that has been compiled by the founders of a faith during their own life time. The Guru Granth Sahib is particularly unique among sacred texts in that it is written in Gurmukhiscript but contains many languages including PunjabiHindi-UrduSanskritBhojpuri and Persian. Sikhs consider the Guru Granth Sahib the last, perpetual living guru.


 

Ten Sikh Gurus


Sikhism was established by ten Gurus; teachers or masters; over the period 1469 to 1708. These teachers were enlightened souls whose main purpose in life was the spiritual and moral well-being of the masses. Each master added to and reinforced the message taught by the previous, resulting to the creation of the religion of Sikhism. Guru Nanak was the first Guru and Guru Gobind Singh the final Guru in human form. When Guru Gobind Singh left this world, he made the Sri Guru Granth Sahib the ultimate and final Sikh Guru.


Sri Guru Granth Sahib 

The Guru Granth Sahib is a sacred text considered by Sikhs to be their eleventh and final Guru. Sikhism was influenced by reform movements in Hinduism (e.g. BhaktimonismVedic metaphysics, guru ideal, and bhajans) as well as Sufi Islam. It departs from some of the social traditions and structure of Hinduism and Islam (such as the caste system and purdah, respectively). Sikh philosophy is characterised by logic, comprehensiveness, and a "without frills" approach to both spiritual and material concerns. Its theology is marked by simplicity. In Sikh ethics there is no conflict between an individual’s duty to oneself and that towards society.


The Guru Granth Sahib is the eleventh and final Guru of the Sikhs, is held in the highest regard by the Sikhs and is treated as the Eternal Guru, as instructed by Guru Gobind Singh. 

It is perhaps the only scripture of its kind which not only contains the teachings of its own religious founders but also writings of people from other faiths. Besides the Banis of the Gurus, it also contains the writings of saints like Kabir, Namdev, Ravidas, Sheikh Farid, Trilochan, Dhanna, Beni, Sheikh Bhikan, Jaidev, Surdas, Parmanad, Pipa and Ramanand. 

The Granth forms the central part of the Sikh place of worship called a gurdwara. The Holy Scripture is placed on the dominant platform in the main hall of the gurdwara during the day. It is placed with great respect and dignity upon a throne with beautiful and colourful fabric.


 

The Five Ks 

Practicing Sikhs are bound to wear five items, known as The Five Ks, at all times. It is done either out of respect for the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, or out of sense of duty or from understanding of their function and purpose and relevance in daily life. It is important to note that The Five Ks are not merely present for symbolic purposes. The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, ordered these Five Ks to be worn so that a Sikh could actively use them to make a difference to their own spirituality and to others' spirituality.

The 5 items are: Kesh (uncut hair), Kanga (small comb), Kara (circular bracelet), Kirpan (small sword) and Kacha (shorts).