Sikhism

Sikh (meaning a “disciple”), Sikkism originated in the Punjab region during 15th century.sikh-symbol

Guru Nanak founded the religion of Sikhism and the first of the eleven Sikh Gurus, the eleventh being the living Guru, Guru Granth Sahib

The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism:

  • Faith and meditation on the name of the one creator,
  • Unity and equality of all humankind,
  • Engaging in selfless service,
  • Striving for social justice for the benefit and prosperity of all, and
  • Honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder’s life.
  • 25 million followers worldwidesikh-gurus-ten

Sikhism is based on the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak, the first Guru, and the ten successive Sikh gurus. After the death of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, became the literal embodiment of the eternal, impersonal Guru, where the scripture’s word serves as the spiritual guide for Sikhs.

Sikhism emphasizes simran (meditation on the words of the Guru Granth Sahib), that can be expressed musically through kirtan or internally through Nam Japo as a means to feel God’s presence, and to have control over the “Five Thieves” (lust, rage, greed, attachment and conceit).

  • Living an “active, creative, and practical life” of “truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity” is above the metaphysical truth, and that the ideal man is one who “establishes union with God, knows His Will, and carries out that Will”.

Sikhs also reject claims that any particular religious tradition has a monopoly on Absolute Truth.

Sikh terminology

  • Sikh scriptures were written in Gurmukhī alphabet, a script standardised by Guru Angad
  • Adherents of Sikhism are known as Sikhs, which means students or disciples of the Guru.
  • Sikhism is a monistic religion and states that there is one supreme entity Ik Onkar holding control of the entire universe.

Philosophy and teachings

A Sikh is defined in Sikh Rehat Maryada(SRM) as any person who faithfully believes in:

One Immortal Being;
The ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib;
The Guru Granth Sahib;
The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus;
The baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru;
and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion

  • The essence of Sikh teaching is summated by Guru Nanak’s words: “Realization of Truth is higher than all else. High still is truthful living”.
  • Sikh teaching emphasizes the principle of equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, and gender. Sikh principles encourage living life as a householder.

God

  • Ik Onkar, the One Supreme Reality. or the all-pervading spirit. This spirit has no gender in Sikhism. Akaal Purkh (beyond time and space) and Nirankar (without form).
  • Akaal is omnipresent (sarav viāpak)
  • God must be seen from “the inward eye”, or the “heart”, of a human being:
  • devotees must meditate to progress towards enlightenment of heavenly life.
  • Guru Nanak emphasized the revelation through meditation, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between god and human beings.
  • The Mul Mantra, the opening line of the Guru Granth Sahib and each subsequent raga, mentions Ik Oankar:

Worldly illusion

  • Five thieves -ego, anger, greed, attachment, and lust are distracting and hurtful.
  • Kali Yuga (Age of Darkness) – the world is led astray by the love of and attachment to Maya. The fate of people vulnerable to the Five Thieves (‘Pānj Chor’), is separation from God, and the situation may be remedied only after intensive and relentless devotion and self-control.

The timeless truth

  • The supreme purpose of human life is to reconnect with Akal (The Timeless One),
  • Remembrance of nām (the Name of the Lord) leads to the end of egotism.
  • Guru means the voice of “the spirit”: the source of knowledge and the guide to salvation.
  • As Ik Onkar is universally immanent, guru is indistinguishable from “Akal” and are one and the same.
  • The human body is just a means to achieve the reunion with Truth. Once truth starts to shine in a person’s heart, the essence of current and past holy books of all religions is understood by the person.

Liberation

  • Human birth is obtained with great fortune, therefore one needs to be able to make the most of this life. Sikhs believe in reincarnation and karma
  • To get closer to God: Sikhs avoid the evils of Maya, keep the everlasting truth in mind, practice Shabad Kirtan, meditate on Naam, and serve humanity.
  • Sikhs believe that being in the company of the Satsang or Sadh Sangat is one of the key ways to achieve liberation from the cycles of reincarnation.

Power and meditation (Shakti and Bhakti)

Singing and music

  • Sikhs refer to the hymns of the Gurus as Gurbani (The Guru’s word). Shabad Kirtan is the singing of Gurbani.
  • The entire verses of Guru Granth Sahib are written in a form of poetry and rhyme to be recited in thirty one Ragas of the Classical Indian Music as specified.
  • Guru Nanak started the Shabad Kirtan tradition and taught that listening to kirtan is a powerful way to achieve tranquility while meditating; Singing of the glories of the Supreme Timeless One (God) with devotion is the most effective way to come in communion with the Supreme Timeless One.
  • The three morning prayers for Sikhs consist of Japji Sahib, Jaap Sahib and Tav-Prasad Savaiye. Baptized Sikhs – Amritdharis, rise early and meditate and then recite all the Five Banis of Nitnem before breakfast.

Service and action

  • Meditation is unfruitful without service and action.
  • Sikhs are taught that selfless service, or sēvā, and charitable work enables the devotee to kill the ego.../downloads/Sikhism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.htm – cite_note-89 Service in Sikhism takes three forms: “Tan” – physical service; “Man” – mental service (such as studying to help others); and “Dhan” – material service.
  • Guru Nanak stressed now kirat karō: that a Sikh should balance work, worship, and charity, and should defend the rights of all human beings.
  • They are encouraged to have a chaṛdī kalā, or optimisticresilience, view of life. Sikh teachings also stress the concept of sharing—vaṇḍ chakkō—through the distribution of free food at Sikh gurdwaras (laṅgar), giving charitable donations, and working for the good of the community and others (sēvā).

Justice and equality

  • According to the Tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh “when all efforts to restore peace prove useless and no words avail, lawful is the flash of steel, it is right to draw the sword”.
  • Men and women are equal in Sikhism and share the same rights. Women have been leading prayers at Sikh temples since the founding of Sikhism.

Ten gurus and authority

The term guru comes from the Sanskrit gurū, meaning teacher, guide, or mentor. The traditions and philosophy of Sikhism were established by ten gurus from 1469 to 1708. Each guru added to and reinforced the message taught by the previous, resulting in the creation of the Sikh religion. Guru Nanak was the first guru and appointed a disciple as successor. Guru Gobind Singh was the final guru in human form. Before his death, Guru Gobind Singh decreed in 1708, that the Gurū Granth Sāhib would be the final and perpetual guru of the Sikhs.

Guru Nanak stated that his Guru is God who is the same from the beginning of time to the end of time. Nanak claimed to be God’s mouthpiece, God’s slave and servant and even God’s dog, but maintained that he was only a guide and teacher, was neither a reincarnation of God nor in any way related to God. Nanak stated that the human Guru is mortal and not divine, who is to be respected and loved but not worshipped. When Guru, or Satguru (The true guru) is used in Gurbani it is often referring to the internal soul rather than a living Guru.

Guru Angad succeeded Guru Nanak. Later, an important phase in the development of Sikhism came with the third successor, Guru Amar Das. Guru Nanak’s teachings emphasised the pursuit of salvation; Guru Amar Das began building a cohesive community of followers with initiatives such as sanctioning distinctive ceremonies for birth, marriage, and death. Amar Das also established the manji (comparable to a diocese) system of clerical supervision.

Guru Amar Das’s successor and son-in-law Guru Ram Das founded the city of Amritsar, which is home of the Harimandir Sahib and regarded widely as the holiest city for all Sikhs. Guru Arjan was captured by Mughal authorities who were suspicious and hostile to the religious order he was developing. His persecution and death inspired his successors to promote a military and political organization of Sikh communities to defend themselves against the attacks of Mughal forces.

The Sikh gurus established a mechanism which allowed the Sikh religion to react as a community to changing circumstances. The sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, was responsible for the creation of the concept of Akal Takht (throne of the timeless one), which serves as the supreme decision-making centre of Sikhism and sits opposite the Harmandir Sahib. The Sarbat Ḵẖālsā (a representative portion of the Khalsa Panth) historically gathers at the Akal Takht on special festivals such as Vaisakhi or Hola Mohalla and when there is a need to discuss matters that affect the entire Sikh nation. A gurmatā (literally, guru’s intention) is an order passed by the Sarbat Ḵẖālsā in the presence of the Gurū Granth Sāhib. A gurmatā may only be passed on a subject that affects the fundamental principles of Sikh religion; it is binding upon all Sikhs. The term hukamnāmā (literally, edict or royal order) is often used interchangeably with the term gurmatā. However, a hukamnāmā formally refers to a hymn from the Gurū Granth Sāhib which is a given order to Sikhs.

The word Guru in Sikhism also refers to Akal Purkh (God), and God and Guru are often synonymous in Gurbani (Sikh writings). Sikhism does not subscribe to the theory of incarnation or the concept of prophethood, states Singha, but “it has a pivotal concept of Guru; He is not an incarnation of God, not even a prophet; He is an illumined soul.”

Scripture

There is one primary scripture for the Sikhs: the Gurū Granth Sāhib. It is sometimes synonymously referred to as the Ādi Granth. Chronologically, however, the Ādi Granth – literally, The First Volume, refers to the version of the scripture created by Guru Arjan in 1604. The Gurū Granth Sāhib is the final expanded version of the scripture compiled by Guru Gobind Singh. While the Guru Granth Sahib is an unquestioned scripture in Sikhism, another important religious text, the Dasam Granth, does not enjoy universal consensus, and is considered a secondary scripture by many Sikhs.

sikh-adigranthAdi Granth

  • The Ādi Granth was compiled primarily by Bhai Gurdas under the supervision of Guru Arjan in 1604.

Guru Granth Sahib

The final version of the Gurū Granth Sāhib was compiled by Guru Gobind Singh in 1678. It consists of the original Ādi Granth with the addition of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s hymns. The Guru Granth Sahib is considered the 11th and final spiritual authority of the Sikhs.

Punjabi: ਸੱਬ ਸਿੱਖਣ ਕੋ ਹੁਕਮ ਹੈ ਗੁਰੂ ਮਾਨਯੋ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ।

Transliteration: Sabb sikkhaṇ kō hukam hai gurū mānyō granth.

English: All Sikhs are commanded to take the Granth as Guru.

  • The text comprises 6,000 śabads (line compositions),which are poetically rendered and set to rhythmic ancient north Indian classical form of music. The bulk of the scripture is classified into thirty one rāgas, with each Granth rāga subdivided according to length and author. The hymns in the scripture are arranged primarily by the rāgas in which they are read.
  • The main language used in the scripture is known as Sant Bhāṣā, a language related to both Punjabi and Hindi. The text is printed in Gurumukhi script, developed by Guru Angad

The Granth begins with the Mūl Mantra, an iconic verse created by Nanak:

Punjabi: ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

Ika ōaṅkāra sati nāmu karatā purakhu nirabha’u niravairu akāla mūrati ajūnī saibhaṅ gura prasādi.

Simplified transliteration: Ik ōaṅgkār sat nām kartā purkh nirbha’u nirvair akāl mūrat ajūnī saibhaṅ gur prasād.

Translation: One God Exists, Truth by Name, Creative Power, Without Fear, Without Enmity, Timeless Form, Unborn, Self-Existent, By the Guru’s Grace.

  • The Guru Granth Sahib is installed every morning and put to bed at night in many Gurdwaras. The Granth is revered as eternal gurbānī and the spiritual authority.

Dasam Granth

The Dasam Granth is a scripture of Sikhs which contains texts attributed to the Tenth Guru. This does not have the same authority as Adi Granth.

Janamsakhis

The Janamsākhīs (literally birth stories), are writings which profess to be biographies of Nanak. Although not scripture in the strictest sense, they provide a hagiographic look at Nanak’s life and the early start of Sikhism.

  • Family customs include both reading passages from the scripture and attending the Gurudwara meaning the doorway to God, are open to all, regardless of religion, background, caste, or race.
  • Worship in a gurdwara consists chiefly of singing of passages from the scripture. Sikhs will commonly enter the gurdwara, touch the ground before the holy scripture with their foreheads. The recitation of the eighteenth century ardās is also customary for attending Sikhs. The ardās recalls past sufferings and glories of the community, invoking divine grace for all humanity.
  • The gurdwara is also the location for the historic Sikh practice of “Langar” or the community meal. All gurdwaras are open to anyone of any faith for a free meal, always vegetarian. People eat together, and the kitchen is maintained and serviced by Sikhs.

Sikh festivals/events

The festivals in Sikhism are mostly centred around the lives of the Gurus and Sikh martyrs, the most sacred events being Vaisakhi and the births of Guru Nanak, Guru Ram Das and Guru Gobind Singh. The SGPC, the Sikh organisation in charge of upkeep of the historical gurdwaras of Punjab, organises celebrations based on the new Nanakshahi calendar. Sikh festivals include the following:

  • Gurpurbs are celebrations or commemorations based on the lives of the Sikh gurus. They tend to be either birthdays or celebrations of Sikh martyrdom. Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh gurpurb that is widely celebrated in Gurdwaras and Sikh homes.
  • Nagar Kirtan involves the processional singing of holy hymns throughout a community. It is customary in the month of Visakhi (or Vaisakhi). the procession is led by the saffron-robed Panj Piare (the five beloved of the Guru), who are followed by the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy Sikh scripture, which is placed on a float.
  • Vaisakhi which includes Parades and Nagar Kirtan occurs on 13 April. Sikhs celebrate it because on this day which fell on 30 March 1699, the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, inaugurated the Khalsa, the 11th body of Guru Granth Sahib and leader of Sikhs till eternity.
  • Bandi Chhor celebrates Guru Hargobind’s release from the Gwalior Fort, with several innocent Hindu kings who were also imprisoned by Jahangir, on 26 October 1619. This day usually commemorated on the same day of Hindu festival of Diwali.
  • Hola Mohalla occurs the day after Holi and is when the Khalsa gather at Anandpur and display their individual and team warrior skills, including fighting and riding.

Guru Nanak teachings:

  • Rituals, religious ceremonies, or idol worship are of little use.
  • Sikhs are discouraged from fasting or going on pilgrimages.
  • Sikhs do not believe in converting people but converts to Sikhism by choice are welcomed.
  • The morning and evening prayers take around two hours a day, starting in the very early morning hours.
  • The first morning prayer is Guru Nanak’s Jap Ji. Jap, meaning “recitation”, refers to the use of sound, as the best way of approaching the divine. Like combing hair, hearing and reciting the sacred word is used as a way to comb all negative thoughts out of the mind.
  • The second morning prayer is Guru Gobind Singh’s universal Jaap Sahib. The Guru addresses God as having no form, no country, and no religion but as the seed of seeds, sun of suns, and the song of songs. The Jaap Sahib asserts that God is the cause of conflict as well as peace, and of destruction as well as creation. Devotees learn that there is nothing outside of God’s presence, nothing outside of God’s control. Devout Sikhs are encouraged to begin the day with private meditations on the name of God.
  • Upon a child’s birth, the Guru Granth Sahib is opened at a random point and the child is named using the first letter on the top left hand corner of the left page. All boys are given the last name Singh, and all girls are given the last name Kaur (this was once a title which was conferred on an individual upon joining the Khalsa).
  • Sikhs are required to marry when they are of a sufficient age (child marriage is taboo), and without regard for the future spouse’s caste or descent. Sikhs are joined in wedlock through the anand kāraj The marriage ceremony is performed in the company of the Guru Granth Sahib; around which the couple circles four times. After the ceremony is complete, the husband and wife are considered “a single soul in two bodies.”,
  • Neither husband nor wife is permitted to divorce unless special circumstances arise.

Baptism and the Khalsa

Khalsa (meaning “Sovereign”) name given to those Sikhs who have been initiated by taking part in a ceremony called ammrit sañchār (nectar ceremony). During this ceremony, sweetened water is stirred with double edged sword while liturgical prayers are sung and is offered to the initiating Sikh, who ritually drinks it. The initiated Sikh, considered reborn, is referred to as Khalsa Sikh, while those who do not get baptized are referred to as Sahajdhari Sikhs.

To males who initiated, the last name Singh, meaning “lion”, was given, while the last name Kaur, meaning “princess”, was given to baptized Sikh females.

Baptised Sikhs ritually wear five items, called the Five Ks (in Punjabi known as pañj kakkē or pañj kakār), at all times. The five items are: kēs (uncut hair), kaṅghā (small wooden comb), kaṛā (circular steel or iron bracelet), kirpān (sword/dagger), and kacchera (special undergarment). The Five Ks have both practical and symbolic purposes.

History

Guru Nanak (1469–1539), the founder of Sikhism, was born in the village of Rāi Bhōi dī Talwandī, now called Nankana Sahib (in present-day Pakistan). His parents were Khatri Hindus.

  • Sikhism does not subscribe to the theory of incarnation or the concept of prophethood.
  • But it has a pivotal concept of Guru. He is not an incarnation of God, not even a prophet but an illumined soul.

Growth of Sikhism

In 1539, Guru Nanak chose his disciple Lahiṇā as a successor to the guruship rather than either of his sons. Lahiṇā was named Guru Angad and became the second guru of the Sikhs.

Sikh confederacy and the rise of the Khalsa

The tenth guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh, inaugurated the Khalsa (the collective body of all initiated Sikhs) as the Sikh temporal authority in the year 1699. The Khalsa is a disciplined community that combines its spiritual purpose and goals with political and military duties. Guru Gobind Singh proclaimed the Gurū Granth Sāhib (the Sikh Holy Scripture) to be the ultimate spiritual authority for the Sikhs, to be worshipped and bowed to.

  • Sikhs are sturdy, hardworking and adventurous who have earned the reputation for being extremely brave and loyal soldiers.

Sikh castes

Although the Sikh Gurus and Sikh religious teachings criticize the hierarchy of the caste system, the caste system is still present in some Sikh communities.

Prohibitions in Sikhism

  1. Cutting hair: Cutting hair is forbidden in Sikhism for those who have taken the Amrit initiation ceremony. These Amritdhari or Khalsa Sikhs are required to keep unshorn hair.
  2. Intoxication: Consumption of alcohol, non-medicinal drugs, tobacco, and other intoxicants is forbidden in Sikhism.../downloads/Sikhism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.htm – cite_note-186 Some Nihangs of Punjab orally consume cannabis sativa, opium and other narcotics to assist meditation.
  3. Priestly class: Sikhism does not have priests, but does have liturgical service which employs people for a salary to sing hymns (Kirtan), officiate an Ardās Puja or marriage, and perform services at a Gurdwara. Any Sikh can become a Granthi to look after the Guru Granth Sahib, and any Sikh is free to read from the Guru Granth Sahib.
  4. Eating meat : Sikhs are strictly prohibited from eating meat from animals slaughtered by halal method, known as Kutha meat, where the animal is killed by exsanguination (via throat-cutting). Meat is not served in community free meals such as langar.
  5. Adultery is forbidden.

Ten Sikh Gurus (Period 1469 to 1708)

# Name Born Guru at Age Guruship Period of
Guruship (yrs)
Merged with
Eternity aged
1. Guru Nanak 1469 1469 to 1539 70 70
2. Guru Angad 1504 35 1539 to 1552 13 48
3. Guru Amar Das 1479 73 1552 to 1574 22 95
4. Guru Ram Das 1534 40 1574 to 1581 7 47
5. Guru Arjan 1563 18 1581 to 1606 25 43
6. Guru Hargobind 1595 11 1606 to 1644 38 49
7. Guru Har Rai 1630 14 1644 to 1661 17 31
8. Guru Har Krishan 1656 5 1661 to 1664 3 8
9. Guru Tegh Bahadur 1621 44 1665 to 1675 10 54
10. Guru Gobind Singh 1666 9 1675 to 1708 33 42
11. Sri Guru Granth Sahib 1604? 104? 1708 – forever Eternity forever

Amritsar Golden Temple is also called Sri Harmandir Sahib (The abode of God) is the holiest Gurdwara of Sikhism, was founded in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das. The fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan, designed the Harmandir Sahib to be built in the center of this holy tank, and upon its construction, installed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, inside the Harmandir Sahib.

The Harmandir Sahib complex is also home to the Akal Takht (the throne of the timeless one)

  • Over 100,000 people visit the holy shrine daily for worship

Source: Guru Granth Sahib, Wikipedia, Origin and evolution of Skikhism history.

 

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