Sikhism in Brief

Who and What is a Sikh?

The word 'Sikh' in the Punjabi language means 'disciple', Sikhs are the disciples of God who follow the writings and teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus. The wisdom of these teachings in Sri Guru Granth Sahib are practical and universal in their appeal to all mankind.

"I observe neither Hindu fasting nor the ritual of the Muslim Ramadan month; Him I serve who at the last shall save. The Lord of universe of the Hindus, Gosain and Allah to me are one; From Hindus and Muslims have I broken free. I perform neither Kaaba pilgrimage nor at bathing spots worship; One sole Lord I serve, and no other. I perform neither the Hindu worship nor the Muslim prayer; To the Sole Formless Lord in my heart I bow. We neither are Hindus nor Muslims; Our body and life belong to the One Supreme Being who alone is both Ram and Allah for us." (Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Granth Sahib, Raga Bhairon pg. 1136)

"Any human being who faithfully believes in: (i) One Immortal Being, (ii) Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev to Guru Gobind Singh, (iii) The Guru Granth Sahib, (iv) The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus and, (v) the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru, and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion is a Sikh." (Reht Maryada, Sikh Code of Conduct)

Philosophy and Beliefs

There is only One God. He is the same God for all people of all religions.

The soul goes through cycles of births and deaths before it reaches the human form. The goal of our life is to lead an exemplary existance so that one may merge with God. Sikhs should remember God at all times and practice living a virtuous life according to the writings in the Guru Granth Sahib.

The true path to achieving salvation does not require renunciation of the world or celibacy, but living the life of a householder and avoiding worldly temptation and sins.

Sikhism condemns such rituals as fasting, visiting places of pilgrimage, superstitions, worship of the dead, idol worship etc.

Sikhism preaches that people of different races, religions, or sex are all equal in the eyes of God. Sikhism teaches the full equality of men and women.

History and Practices

The founder of the Sikh religion was Guru Nanak who was born in 1469. He preached a message of love and understanding and criticized the blind rituals of the Hindus and Muslims. Guru Nanak passed on his leadership of the Sikhs and his enlightened spirit to nine successive Gurus. The final living Guru, Guru Gobind Singh died in 1708.

In his lifetime Guru Gobind Singh established a new voluntary order of Sikhs, the Khalsa brotherhood (meaning 'The Pure'), soldier-saints. The Khalsa upheld the highest Sikh virtues and fought many battles to fight injustice and preserve Sikhism. The Khalsa are Sikhs who have undergone the baptism ceremony initiated by Guru Gobind Singh and who follow a Code of Conduct and wear five physical symbols of the brotherhood. One of the more noticeable symbols is the uncut hair which is kept in a bun and covered with a turban.

Before his death Guru Gobind Singh declared that the Sikhs no longer needed a living Guru and appointed his successor as the Sikh Holy Book the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh felt that all the wisdom needed by the Sikhs for guidance in their daily lives could be found in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Eternal Guru of the Sikhs. The Guru Granth Sahib is unique in the world of religious scriptures because not only is it accorded the status of being the head of the Sikh religion, but besides the poetry of the Gurus, it also contains the writings of Hindu and Muslim Saints.

Sikhism does not have priests, which were abolished by Guru Gobind Singh. The Guru felt that they had become corrupt and full of ego. Sikhs only have custodians of the Guru Granth Sahib (granthi), and any Sikh is free to read the Guru Granth Sahib in the Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) or in their home. All people of all religions are welcome to the Gurdwara. A free community kitchen can be found at every Gurdwara which serves meals to all, community service is an important aspect of Sikhism. The most important religious center for the Sikhs is Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple) at Amritsar in Punjab. As the Vatican is to Catholics and Mecca to the Muslims so is The Golden Temple to Sikhs.

To find out more detailed information about Sikhism please explore the other categories within The Sikhism Home Page

All contents Copyright Sandeep Singh Brar, 1996 and all rights are reserved.