Welcome to Sikh University USA website
Waheguru jee ka khalsa, Waheguru jee ki fateh
Sikhism an Introduction
There is one God.
He is infinite. He is eternal reality. He is Enlightener and Gracious.
Dr Jagraj Singh was born in village Mari Megha Tehsil Kasur, District Lahore (now Tehsil Patti, District Tarn Taran) in the Sikh heartland called ‘Majha’ (central Punjab), the land of early Sikh veterans. He passed his matriculation examination from Majha Khalsa High School Khalra and F.Sc. medical from Khalsa college Amritsar, where Dr Taaran was his professor of divinity. He was trained as an allopath at Arya Medical School Ludhiana and passed his LSMF examination in 1963. Thereafter he had a short stint with government service in the Punjab but soon he resigned from his government job and started his private practice at the historic town of Sri Hargobindpur in Gurdaspur district. Before his migration to USA in 1998, he practiced there for about thirty five years. During all these years of his life he witnessed the partition of the Sikh homeland in 1947, the Punjabi Suba agitation by the Sikhs and the re-organization of the Punjab, the emergency of Indo-China war, emergency imposed by Mrs. Indra Gandhi, two Indo-Pak wars, operation Blue Star, operation Black Thunder and the aftermath. He had the good luck of coming into personal contact with almost all important Sikh political and religious leaders of afore said period.
Founded and built Guru Harkishen Public School (Chief Khalsa Diwan) at Sri Hargobindpur.
Published author of :
Rejection of Ritual Brahmanical practices of Hinduism
A Comparative Study of Sikhism and Hinduism
Who are Sikhs ?
Coming Soon - The Sikhs - A Complete Narrative
All Sikh Gurus or their parents were born within a radius of about fifty miles around Lahore. The Moghul, Muslim governments of the Punjab and Hindustan were forced by the Sikhs through armed struggle to accept their suzrenity over the Parganas of Jhabal, Patti, Dipalpur, Kanaganwal and Chunian areas along the north-west bank of Beas and Satlej rivers. These areas were granted to the Sikhs as Jagir (estate) with Amritsar as their headquarter in the province of Lahore in the Punjab in 1733 A.D, by the Moghul Muslim government and their leader Kapur Singh was given the title of Nawab. Eleven Misals out of the total twelve Sikh Misals who successfully destroyed the Muslim domination and rule in the Punjab and established Sikh rule in their homeland (Punjab) belonged to this area.
Basic Postulate (Mool Sidhant) of Sikhism
The basic postulate of Sikhism is popularly called‘Mool Sidhant’. It reads: <siqnwmu krqw purKu inrBau inrvYru Akwl mUriq AjUnI sYBM gur pRswid[[ ----Ik Oan kar, Sat Naam, Karta Purkh, Nirbhao, Nirvair, Akaal Moorat, Ajooni, Saibhang, Gur Parsad.
<-Ikk Oankar--------------There is only one Oh (God), the infinit
siqnwmu-Satnam--------------He/ She (genderless) is Eternal Reality / Exists / His existence can not be denied.
krqw purKu-Karta Purkh----He does everything in this universe-(He is the creator, sustainer and
inrBau-Nirbhao--------------He is fearless
inrvYru-Nirwair--------------- He is inimical to none
Akwl mUriq-Akaal moorat--He is immortal
AjUnI-Ajooni-------------------He neither takes birth nor dies
sYBMg-Sai-bhang--------------He is self-existent (Created by itself)
gur -Gur ----------------------He is *Enlightener
pRswid-Parsaad – ----------- -He is Gracious.
*AigAwn AMDyrw kitAw gur igAwnu Gt bilAw[[--Aghiaan andhera katiaa, gur gian ghat baliaa --The Guru removes their darkness of ignorance and Divine knowledge is illuminated in their heart (GGS.p.78, 450, 845)
AigAwnu AMDyrw kitAw gur igAwnu pRcMfu blwieAw[[--The darkess of my ignorance is removed. The Guru has blazed a very bright light of Divine knowledge in me (GGS.p.78)
AigAwnu AMDyrw kitAw joiq prgitAweI rwm—My darkness of ignorance is dispelled and the Divine Light is manifested unto me (GGS, p. 845).
gur dIpku igAwn sdw min blIAw jIau—The lamp of Guru-given Divine knowledge, ever remains burning within my mind (GGS, p 173).
· As Kalma is to Muslims in Islam, ‘Mool Mantra’ in Sikhism is to the Sikhs.
Sign used as invocation (Mangal-mMgl) in Sikhism
· Invocation in Punjabi language is called ‘Mangal’. <siq nwmu krqw purKu inrBau inrvYru Akwl mUriq AjUnI sYBM gur pRswid[[-which forms the basic postulate of Sikhism and is the opening verse in the holy Scripture of Sikhism, Guru Granth Sahib,is used as invocation (mMgl) in Sikhism.
· Its recitation is called Manglacharn in Punjabi, the religious language of the Sikhs.
The commencing verse of Gurbani in Guru Granth Sahib has been represented by Guru Arjan many times throughout the Guru Granth Sahib as invocation before the beginning of every Raag, every section and every subsection of GGS as such without abridgement or in an abridged form as follows:
(1) Complete form: < siq nwmu krqw purKu inrBau inrvYru Akwl mUriq AjUnI sYBM gUr pRswid[[..
(2) Abriged forms:
<siq nwmu krqw purKu gur pRswid[[
<siq nwmu gur pRswid[[
<siq gur pRswid[[
Hence the shortest abridged form of Basic Postulate of Sikhism / Sikhi da mool sidhant---ਸਿੱਖੀ ਦਾ ਮੂਲ ਸਿਧਾਂਤ, most commonly used in the Guru Granth Sahib as sign of invocation (Mangal) is: < siq gur pRswid[[
Ikk Oankar Satgur Parsad- <siq gur pRswid
(Ikk Oankar Satgur Parsad)
There is one Supreme Being. He is infinite. He is eternal reality. He is enlightener and gracious.
Implication: I / We begin by the grace of God who is infinite (Beant), eternal reality, enlightener and gracious.
MUSIC IN SIKHISM
SIKH RELIGIOUS MUSIC
Sikh Gurus understood the power of music in men's minds and it was for this reason that they conveyed their message in sacred and devotional music. This sublime music called Kirtan inspires the disciple to higher spiritual goals. It promotes spiritual vision and is quite different from ordinary wordly music that is meant for entertainment. Divine poetry sung in appropriate raagas in perfect accompaniment of musical instruments stir the mind of the listener. This magical impact helps an ordinary mind for a change in his behavior towards betterment. Music in both vocal and ininstrumental formats helps the devotees to meditate on the Invincible God. Guru Granth Sahib contains excellent formats of Divine poetry to stir the mind, soul and heart of the reader and listeners. Gurbani Kirtan creats Divine environment wherein the pangs of affected mind and soul get new lease of fruitful living. This Divine Balm leaves soothing and rejuvenating effect on the defeated soul. The effect of tender words of Shabad, in Guru Darbar, release waves of Divine elative comfort to the ailing minds. This lasts in the subconscious mind off the dedicated listener for long duration thereafter while he is doing his routine work in the following hours.
The entire holy book of Sikhism, ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ except for the initial pre-raga section (pages 1 to 13) and the concluding post-raga section, seventy seven pages (pages 1353 to 1430) is structured on the basis of ragas (Gurmat Sangeet) in which the portions are supposed to be sung. Bani under Shabad Kirtan is to be sung according to the prescribed Ragas, raag forms, singing styles, music signs, Rhaao, Ank, (digit) ect. This style of singing is known as Gurmat Sangeet called Shabad Kirtan.
The Indian classical music has two main branches: Hindustani and Karnatic, constituted by 84 Ragas, the mention of which is found on the last two pages of Guru Granth Sahib (1429-30) in the Rag Maala, which says that there are major six raagas which form parental axis along with the major raaginies. Their collective number becomes 84. Rag maala in Guru Granth Sahib gives their break up thus: “Khasht (6) raag un gaaa-ay sang raagi tees (30), sabhay puttar raagin kay aatharh (18) das (10) bees (20) making a total 84.
Guru Granth Sahib has representation of 31 Shudh and 31 Mishrat Ragas in which the Bani is composed. In Guru Granth Sahib there is no distinction between Ragas and Raginies like the Indian catalogue style. The Hindustani and Karnatic Ragas which did not conform to the ideology of Sikhism did not find place in the holy book of Sikhism, Guru Granth Sahib. Some ragas included in Guru Granth Sahib are such that were developed by the Sikh Gurus from Lok Dhuns eg, Aasa, Tilang, Maajh, and Vadhans etc. The 31 ragas are included in Guru Granth Sahib. The 31 ragas, which appear in Guru Granth Sahib are:
Raga Page No Raga Page No
Sri Raga 14 to 93 , Raga Gaund 858 to 875
Raga Majh 94 to 150 Raga Ram Kali 876 to 974
Raga Gauri 151 to 346 Raga Nat Naryan 975 to 983
Raga Asa, 347 to 488 Raga Mali Gaura 984 to 988
Raga Gujri, 489 to 526 Raga Maru 889 to 1106
Raga Devgandhari 527 to 536 Raga Tukhari 1107 to1117
Raga Bihagra, 537 to556 Raga Kedara 1118 1124
Raga Vadhans, 557 to 594 Raga Bhairon 1125 to 1167
Raga Sorath, 595 to 659 Raga Basant 1168 to 1196
Raga Dhanasri, 660 to 695 Raga Saarang 1197 to 1253
Raga Jaitsri, 696 to 710 Raga Malar 1254 to 1293
Raga Todi, 711 to 718 Raga Kanra 1294 to1318
Raga Bairari, 719 to 720 Raga Kalyan 1319 to 1326
Raga Tilang, 721 to 727 Raga Parbhati 1327 to1351
Raga Suhi, 728 to 794 Raga Jaijaiwanti 1352 to 1353
Raga Bilaaval 795 to 858
The ancient Ragas like Megh, Deepak, Maalkauns, jog etc, which create more than desired tranquility, hype, sadness or happiness have not been used in Gurbani and if used at all, then in a mixture with other Ragas viz, Gauri-Deepki, Basant Hindol etc. Ragas in Guru Granth Sahib begin with Sri Rag. There are a large number of Shabads pertaining to Jogis in Ram Kali, whereas Aasa, Suhi and Tilang have more sermons pertaining to Muslims, Because Muslim Divines freely made use of these Ragas.
Each raga is associated with the specific hour of the day or night or sometimes with particular season, and is designed, by virtue of its constitution, to express a certain mood or sentiment. Each Raga is associated with the specific timings (Pehar) of the day or night or sometimes with particular season and is designed, by virtue of its constitution, to express a certain mood or sentiment. 24 hours of the day and night have been divided into three hour time span each of a Pehar making 8 Pehars. There are various Ragas specified for each particular Pehar and the learned Gurbani Kirtan performers choose Shabads from those hymns which have been composed accordingly. The impact of specific Raga can be appreciatedat a specified time. This time theory, which governs the Raga is most unique feature of the Sikh religious music.
Time Period Raga
6 AM-9 AM: Bairari, Devghandhari
9 AM-12 PM: Saarang, Suhi, Bilaaval, Gujri, Gond, Todi
12-3PM: Vadhans, Maru, Dhanasari
3-6 PM: Maajh, Gauri, Tilang, Tukhari
6-9 PM: Sri, Basant, Maali Gaura, Jaitsri, Kedara, Kalyaan
9-12 PM-AM: Bihagra, Nat Narayan, Sorath, Malaar, Kaanra,
12 AM-3AM: No Ragas from Guru Granth Sahib
3 AM-6AM: Asa, Ram Kali, Bhairav, Parbhati
Bani composed in some Ragas has seasonal effects, for instance Raag Basant is very popular raga and is sung during the entire season of Spring (Basant-Ritu). Shabads with this theme of happiness are clustered under this raga in Guru Granth Sahib. Also, Malaar raga can be sung at any time in the rainy season. Shabads with this theme of separation are clustered under this raga in Guru Granth Sahib.
Maryada (Tradition) of Gurmat Sangeet was established by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev ji. Today Gurmat Sangeet has its own recognized placement in Indian classical Divine music.
Sikh religious music has two subdivisions:-
(a) Shabad Kirtan
(b) Dhadi Darbar
Commonly used instruments used for Sikh Religious Music
Sikh Gurus while creating Gurmat Sangeet (Shabad Kirtan) developed and chose special musical instruments. Playing on Rabab by Bhai Mardana during Guru Nanak’s time, Jori Saranda, and Israj during the period of Guru Arjan Dev, Taus and Dad Sarangi for vaar singing during the period of the 6th Guru, Mirdang the ninth Guru’s time, Tanpura and Dilruba during Guru Gobind Singh’s time are peculiar, which explicitly proves the use of special instruments. The use of Tanti (stringed) instruments is especially for purity of notes, of Ragas and traditional excellence of Gur Shabad Kirtan. Dhadis use Sarangi and Dhads for singing balads (Varaan). During Nagar Kirtan These days ragis generally perform kirtan with harmonium and tablas (drums), but sometimes string instruments like Sitar, guitar, Rebec (Rabab), Taoos and Dilruba etc may be added. Dhadis use Sarangi and Dhads for singing ballads (Varan). During Nagar Kirtan and Parbhat Pheris Dholki, Chimta and Chhanay are used.
These days ragis generally perform Kirtan with harmonium and tablas (drums). Harmonium was developed in Europe in 1842 and subsequently introduced in Punjab by the Hidustani court musicians and thereafter adopted by Keertankaars (Sikh Religious musicians) for performing Kirtan.
SIKH FOLK MUSIC
It includes: Kissey, waraan, jugni and mahia, dohray, tappay, suhag, ghorian etc. Folk music is part of every day Sikh life in Punjab. There is no festival or event in Sikh life, which is without music.
Commonly used Instruments for Folk Music:
Dhol, toombi, algozay, vanjali (bansuri) and been (bIn) are the commonly used Sikh folk musical instruments in Punjab.
Sensual music is prohibited in Sikhism.
EMBLEM OF SIKHISM
The Sikh national Emblem was created by the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) after its constitution in the early twentieth century, when it depicted the Sikh doctrine “Deg Teg Fateh” in the form of Emblem (logo). Since then it is seen inscribed on the Sikh national flag/ letter heads and the stamps of various Sikh organizations. The doctrine is first found in written form in Persian, on the seal of Banda Singh Bahadur (1708-1716), stamped on his letters. The seal bore the inscription:
“Deg-O-Teg 0 Fateh-Nusrat-I -Bedrang Yafat -Az Nanak--Guru Gobind Singh”i.e, “The kettle (Deg)- (The Sikh symbol of economy, the means to feed all and sundry on an egalitarian base), sword (Teg)-(The Sikh symbol of power, to protect the weak and hapless and smite the oppressor), victory and unending patronage are obtained from Gurus Nanak-- Gobind Singh “. After Banda Singh this inscription was adopted by the Sikh Misals and then by Sikh rulers for their coins also. Now the official seal of Akal Takhat bears this inscription.
Deg Teg Fateh
The circle in the emblem of Sikhism represents the Deg (caldron) used to prepare food, Guru ka Langar initiated by the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak to remove caste barriers, teach people equality and humility before each other and to feed all and sundry on an egalitarian base so that no body sleeps empty stomach.
The two swords on the outside represent the Miri--Piri (Bhagti and Shakti) doctrine of Sikhism, revealed by Guru Nanak and put into practice by his sixth successor, Guru Hargobind indicating the integration of spiritual and temporal powers together and not treating them as two separate and distinct entities.
In the center is the Khanda, the double-edged sword, used by the tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh to prepare Amrit to initiate the Sikhs. Khanda has cutting edge on both sides indicative of two swords fused together representing Bhagti and Shakti (spiritual and temporal powers), giving birth to “The Khalsa”, who is a saint-soldier (Sant-Sipahi), the saint meaning scholarly in knowledge of Gurbani and soldier meaning martial in spirit.
To summarize, the Sikh national Emblem, reminds the Sikhs that they are warriors, they should take Pahul (Amrit), become ‘Khalsa’ i.e, The ultimate form of the Sikh, keep Guru Ka Langar going so that no body sleeps hungry, protect the weak and hapless, fight injustice and oppression, wherever it takes place, the victory will be theirs: ‘Deg-Teg-Fateh’.
The Sikh Calendar Year
The Sikh calendar year is based on the ‘Baramah’ authored by the Gurus, which starts from the month of ‘Chet’. 01 Chet Nanakshahi corresponds with 14 March CE. The year one of Nanakshahi calendar starts in 1469 CE-the year of the birth of Guru Nanak. It is based on the length of Tropical (solar) year 365d 5h 48m 45s. Its first five months contain 31 days each and last seven months 30 days each--a very simple rule to remember. It has a fixed leap year rule-last month to have 1 extra day every four years. It was prepared by, Sardar Pal Singh Purewal, a Canadian Sikh. Earlier Baba Banda Singh Bahadur adopted Nanak Shahi calendar in 1710 CE after the victory of Sirhind by the Sikh army. According to that calender the year 1710 CE became 241 NS (Nanakshahi), but this too was lunar.
Calendar is the system of measuring time for the needs of civil life, by dividing time into days, weeks, months and years, Calendar divisions are based on the movements of the earth and regular appearances of the sun and moon. A day is the average time required for one rotation of the earth on its axis. The measurement of a year is based on one revolution of the earth around the sun and is called a seasonal, tropical or solar year. A solar year contains 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45.5 seconds.
A month was originally calculated by ancient people as the time between two full moons, or the number of days required for the moon to circle the earth (29. 5days). The measurement called a synodic or lunar month, resulted in a year of 354 days, 11.25 days shorter than a solar year.
The Hindu Calandar year is lunar and is called Bikrami Samvat, which is named after Maharaja Bikramajit who is said to have ruled over Ujjain more than 2000 years ago. Gurpurb dates based ion lunar Thitees change from year to year in CE. Every third or fourth lunar year has two months of the same name. The extra month is called Malmas in which no celebrations can be held, which is not in accordance with Gurbani, which says, “mhw idvs mUrq BlY ijn kau ndir kry[[-Mahan divas moorat bhale jis ko nadar kare—The months, days and moments are auspicious for those on whom the Lord casts His merciful glance.” (GGS,p.136). “iQqI vwr syvih mugD gvwr[[-Thitee vaar sevah mughad gavaar-The omens regarding the days, Lunar or Solar, only the fools and idiots observe-” (Ibid, p.843).
Since the birth of Sikhism the Sikhs followed the Hindu Bikrami calendar according to which the dates of the Sikh historical events changed every year and also the relation of the months with seasons as given in Gurbani was changing. For instance as per Hindu Bikrami calendar in 1999 CE there was no Parkash Gurpurb of Guru Gobind Singh and similarly, Vaisakhi, the Khalsa Sajna Divas (The formal consecration day of Sikhism) fell on 9th April in 1753 CE, in 1799 CE on 10th April, in 1899 CE on 12th April, in 1999 CE on 14th April and accordingly after about 1100 years Vaisakhi shall fall in the month of May and after 13000 years in the middle of October.
Because of these reasons the Sikhs all over the globe decided to discard the Hindu Bikrami Calendar based on lunar year and adopted Nanakshahi Calendar based on the length of solar (Tropical) year on the 300th anniversary of the birthday of the Khalsa in 1999 CE. It was -officially adopted by SGPC Amritsar in 2003, after holding detailed delibrations with various Sikh organizations lasting for many years. Since then SGPC uses Common Era calendar for its secular life. For Sikh religious life it uses the Sikh Nanakshahi calendar. It has fixed dates of Sangrands in Common Era. The permanent relation between seasons and months will stay according to Gurbani. Gurpurbs fall on fixed dates according to both Nanakshahi and Common Era Calendars All Gurpurbs occur once every year according to both Nanakshahi and Common Era Calendars. All Gurpurbs and other important dates of the Sikh history have been fixed according to solar dates e.g 23 Poh for Parkash of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib and 23 Poh will always occur on January 5. The present year 2007 CE corresponds with 539 NS.
In modern calendar, however, the number of days in a month is not based on the phases of moon. The length of the month is approximately one twelfth of a year (28 to 31 days) and is adjusted to fit the 12 months into a solar year. The ancient Egyptians were the first to replace lunar calendar with the solar calendar, the Christians followed suit. Now the solar calendar is used almost through out the world and is the most accurate calendar that is adjusted every fourth year to its accuracy. Since the solar calendar has been accepted throughout the world it is no more called as Christian Era Calendar. It is now called Common Era Calendar (CE). Now the entire world follows the Common-Era Calendar, which previously used to be called the Christian Era Calendar.
· Christianity has, the Christian- Era Calendar (now common-Era Calendar).
· Judaism has, Jewish calendar
· Islam has, Hijri calendar
· Hinduism has, Bikrami calendar
· Sikhism has, Nanak Shahi calendar
Name of months as per Sikh Calendar year:-
(d) Asaar / Haar)—AwswVu / hwV
(e) Sawan (Saon)—swvix / swaux
(f) Bhadon / Bhaadue (Bhadron)—Bwduie / Bwdro
(h) Kattak (Katten)—kiqk / k~qy
(j) Maghar—mMiGir / mGr
(k) Pokh / Poh—poiK / poh
(j) Phalgun / Phagan—Plguix / Pgx
Name of days of the Week as per Sikh Calendar:
(a) Aitwaar / Aaditvaar-AYqvwr-Awidqvwir
GGS, Bilawal M3 vaar Sat Ghar 10, p.841
Guru Nanak has co-related Sun, seasons, months, weeks, dates, days, pehars, gharhi, chasa, visa, nimakh etc;
· “ivsuey cisAw GVIAw phrw iQqI vwrI mwhu hoAw[[ sUrj eyko ruq Anyk[[nwnk krqy ky kyqy vys”[[-- Visue chasiaa ghariaa pahraa thitee vaaree maah hoaa Sooraj eko rutt anek, Nanak kartay kay ketay ves—As seconds, minutes,, hours, quarter of day, lunar days, week days, months and several seasons spring from one sun. Nanak says, the Creator has many forms” (Ibid, p.12). As per Gurbani there are eight perhars in each day and each night, each pehar consists of three hours. First pehar of the day starts at 6.00 AM and the first pehar of the night starts at 6.00 PM.
· pdRh iQNqI qY sq vwr[[ mwhw ruqI Awvih vwr vwr[[ idns rYix iqvY sMswru[[ Awvwgaux kIAw krqwir[[ inhclu swcu rihAw Dwir[[-Pdrah thitee tai sat waar. Maahaa rutee aavah waar waar. Dinas rain tivai sansaar. Aavaagaon keeaa kartaar Nihchal saach rahiaa kal dhaar i.e; The fifteen lunar days, seven week days, months, seasons, days and nights come again and again, like them the world moves around. Coming and going the Creator Lord has ordained. The possessor of might, the True Lord, Himself remains ever stable (GGS, p.842).
Sangrand is a Punjabi word for Sankranti (in Sanskrit), the day when the sun enters the new Rashi. It is the first day of every month. On this day special congregations are held in Gurdwaras, in which the new month is announced with reading of the relevant portion of Baarah Mahaa from Guru Granth Sahib. It does not have any sacredness in Sikhism, but is just a method of telling the Sikh masses that the new month has begun as till recently most of them were illiterate and could not remember the calendar, which was a great necessity for sowing different crops at different times of the year and breeding of the cattle and other civil needs. Gurbani says:
· “iQqI vwr syvih mugD gvwru[[-Thiteen vaar sevay mughad gawaar”---Those who worship certain days or dates are great fools (GGS,p.843).
“mhw idvs mUrq Bly ijn kau ndir kry[[--Maaha divas moorat bhale.jin kao nadar karay . The months days and moments are auspicious for those on whom the Lord casts His merciful glance” (lbid, p.136).
Who are Sikhs?
• In simple words the Sikhs may be described as the people of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
• In the words of Gokal Chand Narang, “Hindus had a religion but no national feeling while Guru Gobind Singh made nationalism the religion of the Khalsa”.
History of the Sikhs, Gokal chand Narang
• Na kahoon ab keen a kahoon tab kee je na hundey Guru Gobind Singh Sunnat hudee sab kee
Khalsa Akaal Purkh kee fauj, pargatio Khalsa Akaal Purkh kee mauj” meaning that Khalsa is the army of God and it has taken its birth at his pleasure”
(Mukh waak Guru Gobind Singh).
The story of human efforts towards a higher life in the Indian subcontinent began on the soil of the Punjab in the Indus Valley during the Old Stone Age and the Sikhs now found globally are product of the plains of the Punjab, a region in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent. It is universally agreed upon now that man evolved in Africa and gradually spread over the entire globe. According to Dr H.D Sankalia, the renouned anthropologist, “it is more or less established that at the end of the First Glacial Period and into the beginning of th Second Ice Age, Early man entered the foot hills of the Northwest Punjab, in the area traversed by the Soan, Haro and other rivers within the Indus-Jhelum Doab. Early man spread into the area comprised by Rawalpindi and Attock districts of the Punjab, and the Jammu and Kashmir Statets”. Recent Genographic studies reveal that these people arrived in India from Central Asia by travelling through the rugged and mountainous Pamir Knot, some 30,000 years ago. Early humans lived as gatherers and hunters, who gradually developed into a great civilization, now known as “The
Indus Valley Civilization”, which is one of the oldest civilizations of the world. The natives here farmed the lands and were called ‘Jatt’-j~t’, which is the oldest named tribe in India whose name is found even in Mahabharta. After the region was named Punjab by Emperor Akbar in 1590 A.D, the natives of this land came to be called Punjabis. Sikhism took its birth here at the fag end of the 15th century among two already well-established religions Hinduism and Islam along with Bhuddism and Jainism. The Sikh homeland, because of its location has been the target of frequent invasions from the Middle-East and Central Asia. The Aryan groups entered here from Asia Minor through the passes in the Hindu Kush mountain range as graziers of cattle and settled in the Kashmir region around 2000 B.C. After centuries of their development and multiplication they descended into the plains of the Punjab and tried to culturally domoniate the natives of the Punjab called Jatts, through their Brahman priest. But the Jatts of the Punjab refused to accept the Brahmanical dominance and pushed the Aryans out of the limits of the Punjab beyond Jamna River into the Ganga-Jamna divide.
Islamic invasions of the Punjab started in 711 A.D; the Punjabis resisted for three centuries, but the Islamic invaders coming in hordes occupied Punjab and established their rule here in the beginning of the eleventh century (1001 A.D). In-spite of all odds the Jatts never left Punjab, they gathered on both sides of the river Ravi around Lahore and kept resisting the invaders including Alexander the Great.
Guru Nanak founded Sikhism in Punjab at the fag end of the 15th century and he laid down its complete ideology, propagating the oneness of God and oneness of man. At that time Punjab was under the oppressive Islamic rule with Hinduism as dominant religion dividing the society on caste distinctions. Sikhism developed and matured under the guidance of its Gurus over a period of next about two hundred years and it was formally consecrated by Guru Gobind Singh on the Vaisakhi day 1699 A.D; when he laid down the religious code of conduct for the Sikhs distinct from the followers of Hinduism and Islam and declared the abolishen of the caste system in Sikhism. The ‘Jatts’ of Majha (Central Punjab) accepted Sikh initiation enmass. Although all the Sikh Gurus were Hindu Khatris, but the majority of the Khatris, (the descendants of Aryans) refused to sip Amrit from the same communion bowl along with the Shudras as it broke caste, which forms the bed-rock of Hinduism also known as Varn Ashram Dharma. The Hindu hill Rajput rulers around Anandpur Sahib joined hands with the Moghul Muslim government at Delhi and vowed to destroy Guru Gobind Singh and his nascent Khalsa. Guru Gobind Singh accepted their challenge and refused to submit and compromise his principles. Guru Gobind Singh left the mortal world in 1708 AD; after vesting the leadership of Sikhs and Sikhism into “Guru Granth” and “Guru Khalsa Panth”. The Sikhs under Banda Singh Bahadur declared the war of independence of the Sikh
Nation in 1710 A.D, overcame Muslim oppression and domination of both Muslims and Hindus in their motherland and established their own rule after destroying the unjust and oppressive Muslim rule in their motherland-Punjab in the middle of the 18th century. They built up a commanding position on the NorthWestern frontier, checking for the first time the inflow of the invaders who had incessantly swept through the passes in the hills to loot or rule the Indian subcontinent since the earliest Aryan groups had discovered the route about 2000 to 3000 BC. The Sikhs for the first time in the history of this region reversed the tide of attacks and subjugated the turbulent Afghans and recovered from them the Kohinoor diamond and doors of the Hindu temple of Som Nath, which were taken to Afghanistan in the 11th century by Mehmud of Gazni. During the Sikh rule in Punjab, “Sarkare Khalsa” entered into many international agreements with other governments including various kings of Afghanistan, Dalai Lama of Tibet, China and the British. They ruled their country from 1765 to 1849, when it was annexed by the British after many bloody wars not due to the lack of bravery on the part of the Sikhs, but treachery of their civil government dominated by the neo-convert Hindus into Sikhism. A treaty of annexation was signed by the British with the Sikhs. The Sikhs were the last defenders of liberty in India and most difficult nation to fall to the British imperialism in the Indian subcontinent. Disregarding the treaty of annexation with the Sikhs the British at the time of the decolonization of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, divided the Sikh homeland in two parts, the western part 62% was made over to the newly created Islamic State of Pakistan, while the eastern part 38% was attached to the Hindu India. Since then they are a stateless people. Presently they are internationally recognized as an important and distinct community, but are not identified as a nation in the absence of their separate country. They have been even denied religious identity in India after the decolonization of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. Therefore, they are most misunderstood people in the world. In order to fully understand the Sikhs of the Punjab who are a distinct ethnic group one has to go to the prehistoric era. The description of their story falls into following well marked periods from:
• The entry of man into the Indus valley--Sikh homeland-(Punjab) to the arrival of the Aryans and the aftermath,
• The start of the Muslim invasions of the Punjab to the end of the Moghul rule, Birth and evolution of Sikhism under the Sikh Gurus from Nanak to Gobind Singh, Period of struggle (1708-1799).
• Sikh rule (1799-1849)
• Annexation of the Punjab by the British in 1849;
• The British Period (1849—1947 A.D) and; Decolonization of the Indian subcontinent
• The post independence era.
A Sikh is one who follows the Sikh religion /Sikhism / Sikhi. The Sikh religious code of conduct (Sikh Rehat Maryada), defines a ‘Sikh’ as `any person who believes in ‘One Immortal Being’ (God), in the ten Gurus from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh; in the Guru Granth Sahib and other writings of the Gurus and their teachings, the Khalsa initiation / Khanday Baatay dee pahul (Amritpaan) ceremony and who does not believe in the doctrinal system of any other religion. Guru Nanak founded Sikhism in 1496 CE; as revealed to him by the Supreme Eternal Reality—‘Akaal Purkh’ at Sultanpur Lodhi in the present day Kapurthala district of the Punjab..
The term ‘Sikh’, was adopted by the founders of the new religion—Sikhi / Sikhism for its followers. The word *Sikh is purely Punjabi in origion and is derived from the term ‘Sikhna’ meaning to learn. As in English and many other languages of the world some words have more than one meaning, similarly in Punjabi the word ‘Sikh’ has many literal meanings, for instance:
• It may mean sermon / instruction / teaching (Updesh),"jy iek gur kI isK suxI[[--Je ikk
Gur kee Sikh sunee –i.e, If one were to act and listen to the instructions of the Guru (GGS, p.2 Japji).
• It may mean Choti / Bodi / --Tuft of hair on the shaven head-mUMfu mufwie jtw isK bwDI moin rhY AiBmwnw[[--Moond muda-ay jata sikh baandhi i.e, Some shave their heads, some keep matted locks, some wear hair tuft (Bodi--bodI) and some observe silence full of pride
(GGS, M1, p. 1013).
• It may mean follower of Sikh Religion:
1. "gur siqgur kw jo isK AKwey[[-Gur Satgur ka jo Sikh akha-ay----jo saas giraas dhiaay mera har har so Gur-Sikh guru mann bhaa-ay (GGS. p.305).
2. "Awp Cf sdw rhY gur prxY gur ibnu Avr n jwxY koie[[ khY nwnk suxhu sMqhu so isKu snmuK hoey[[--Aap chhad sda rahay parnay Gur bin avar na janay koay. Kahay
Nanak sunho santoh so Sikh sanmukh hoay—By renouncing his ego, he ever remains towards the Guru. Without the Guru he knows not any other. Nanak says such a follower abides in the presence of the Guru (GGS, Anand, p 919).
• It may mean learned, “isK aubwr AisK sMGwro[[-Sikh ubaar Asikh Sanghaaro”--Guru
Gobind Singh in his prayer to the almighty Supreme Eternal Reality says, “O Lord increase the number of the learned people and destroy the ignorant (not learned ones)”
(Guru Gobind Singh Chaupaee).
“Sikh” (isK) in Punjabi, literally means learned and “Asikh” (AisK) means not learned. Guru Gobind Singh in his prayer to the Supreme Eternal Realty (God) says, “isK aubwr AisK sMGwro[[-Sikh ubaar Asikh sanghaaro”, i.e, “ O Lord increase the number of the learned (Sikh) people and eliminate the non-learned - not knowledgeable (Asikh)- Chaupai, Guru Gobind Singh (Dasam Granth, p.1387).
There are many more similar terms in Sikhism viz:
Kaal--Death and Akaal--Deathless,
Mrit --dead and Amrit--immortal,
Shok--sorrow and Ashok—sorrowless and so on many more such terms.
Sish / Sishiya
Sish / Shishiya is a Sanskrit term, which in English means disciple and in Punjabi means Chela. According to the Hindu belief progress on the spiritual path was not possible without formally adopting a worldly Guru. Sanatan Dharma / Brahmanism now popularly called Hinduism has a very strong Guru and chela (disciple) tradition, but Sikhism forcefully denounces it. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism was not Chela (disciple) of any worldly Guru. At the time of his enlightenment he was an employee of Nawab Daulat Khan Lodhi working as manager of his food grain stores at Sultanpur Lodhi (district Kapurthala). When the Siddhas / Jogis questioned him in this regard, he replied, “Shabad Guru Surat dhun chela”i.e Shabad is Guru, consciousness and intention tuned towards it make one its disciple” (GGS M1, p. 943).
When Guru Nanak embarked upon his mission for preaching his message he had with a Muslim companion named Mardana. When people asked him as to who was his companions. He always replied: Bhai Mardana. He never mentioned him as his Chela (Shish) as is being advocated by the Hindu theologians. Even after Guru Nanak during the period of all his successor Gurus, the word of Bhai was used as title of honour for the Sikhs, for instance: Bhai Buddha, Bhai Mansukh, Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Salo, Bhai Manjh, Bhai Joga Singh, Bhai Mani Singh, Bhai Tara Singh, Bhai Taru Singh and so on.
Insisting upon the meaning of the Punjabi term-‘Sikh’ as ‘Shishya’--a ‘Sanskrit’ word meaning disciple is invention of Brahmans / Hindu writers / scholars in recent times.
Singh & Kaur
In order to abolish the divisive Hindu caste system and establish equality, Guru Gobind Singh at the formal consecration of Sikhism on Vaisakhi day 1699 instructed the followers of
Sikhism to drop their last names, which in India indicate one’s caste and take the last common name ‘Singh’ for males and ‘Kaur’ for females as compulsory suffix for their respective names. All Sikh men therefore take the last name ‘Singh’ and women take the last common name ‘Kaur’ to show their acceptance of equality of all people regardless of the caste / religion or country, they come from. Hence every Sikh male name ends with the word “Singh’ and every female name ends with the word ‘Kaur’.
Singh—isMG & Sinh--isNh
Both ‘Singh and Kaur’ are pure Sikh, Punjabi words. In Hinduism the word Sinh (isNh) is used for male names in some parts of India by Rajputs since ancient days, but for quite sometime, the Hindus have started pronouncing and spelling their names in English as ‘Singh’ to mislead the outside world. Every Sikh is a ‘Singh’, but all persons who spell their names in English as ‘Singh’ may not be Sikhs. Both ‘Singh and Kaur’ are pure Sikh and Punjabi words and used as suffix with every Sikh male and Sikh female name respectively. Both these words i.e; Singh and Kaur do not exist in Hindi or Sanskrit dictionaries till date. Singh in Punjabi language literally means lion (Syr).
Sardar and Sardarni
Sardar is an Arabic word and was used for the leader of a tribe / clan in Islam by the Muslims in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan etc countries. In the Indian subcontinent Punjab had the longest spell of Islamic rule, therefore many Arabic and Persian words came to be used in daily conversation by the the Punjabis. There are many Arabic and words and terms found in Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Book of Sikhism. After the formal consecration of Sikhism by Guru Gobind Singh on the Vaisakhi of 1699 CE, at Anandpur Sahib, the Sikhs organized themselves into various bands called jathas. The leader of each band / Jatha came to be addressed as Sardar. With the ascendancy of the Sikhs in Punjab, the term ‘Sardar’ became prefix for every Sikh male name and Sardarni for every Sikh female name. Since then the full official Sikh nomenclature for instance is ‘Sardar Jassa Singh’ or Sardarni Jaswant Kaur’. Guru Gobind Singh has extensively used Arabic and Persian words in his Banis Jaap Sahib, Akaal Ustat, Swaiyyas, Benti Chaupai and others.
“Khalsa” is an Arabic term meaning Sovereign. Sikhism was formally consecrated by Guru Gobind Singh on theVaisakhi day 1699 CE, at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. On this day he laid down distinct Sikh religious code of conduct for the initiated Sikhs. After the
Sikh initiation ceremony (Amritpaan), he named the initiated / baptized Sikhs: “Khalsa”, literally meaning Sovereign, who is not under any earthly king, but for the Supreme Eternal
Reality called ‘Akaal Purkh’. He said, Khalsa Akaal Purkh kee fauj, pargatio Khalsa Akaal Purkh kee mauj” meaning that Khalsa is the army of God and it has taken its birth at his pleasure”. He further said, “Khalsa mero roop hai khaas. Khalse mein haun karaun niwas” meaing, “Khalsa is my own self and I dwell within the Khalsa”. He then said, “Jab lag Khalsa Rahay naira, tab lag tej deo mein saara. Jab ih gehein bipran kee reet mein na karoon in kee parteet meaning” meaning, “As long as Khalsa strictly maintains its separate identity, I will lend him my full support, when they adopt the Brahmanical culture, I will not believe them”.
The use of this word i.e, ‘Khalsa’, in the Punjab came into vogue during the long spell of Muslim rule here who spoke Arabic and Persian languages. For instance in Punjab the lands belonging to the King / Sovereign of the country were recorded in revenue records as
Khalsa lands. It should not be confused with the Punjabi word, “Khalis”, meaning pure. Many other Arabic and Persian words were adopted by the local population of the Punjab during the long spell of the Muslim rule here. Many Arabic and Persian terms and words are found in tGuru Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh has freely used Arabic and Persian terms in his Banis viz Jaap Sahib, Akaal Utatat and others.
Belief in Akaal Purkh (God) through Gurbani to the strict exclusion of all other forms of worship, define the basic position of the Khalsa. They believe in ten Gurus and after them in Shabad Bani as the Guru, it is embodied essentially in Guru Granth Sahib.
pUjw Akwl kI--Pooja Akal Kee -------Worship only God prIcw* Sbd kw--Paricha Shabad Ka---Believe only in Gurbani dIdwr Kwlsy kw--Deedaar Khalsay Ka-- keep the company of the Khalsa.
*prIcX: It is a Sanskrit word meaning introduction and pronounced as preecha in Punjabi.
Sikh, Khalsa and Singh
The terms Sikh, Khalsa and the Singh refer to the same entity and there is no other category of Sikhs. There are no classification categories in Sikhism. Either one is a Sikh or not a Sikh.
Panth literally means path / way. Sikh Panth means Sikh way of life known as Gurmat. During the period of Guru Nanak and all his successor Gurus, the word Bhai was used as title of honour for the Sikhs, for instance: Bhai Buddha, Bhai Mansukh, Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Salo, Bhai Manjh, Bhai Joga Singh, Bhai Mani Singh, Bhai Tara Singh, Bhai Taru Singh and so on. Bhai in Punjabi means brother, meaning all Sikhs are brothers and this brother-hood, which follows the path (Panth)—way of life, shown to them by the founder of the Sikh faith is called Sikh Panth, “Nanak nirmal panth chalaio” (Bhai Gurdas). Guru Gobind Singh granted it the status of Guru Khalsa Panth at the time of his departure from this mortal world.
Signs of Sikh Identity
All practicing Sikhs express their religious identity in leaving the hair on their body unshorn, in wearing articles of the Sikh faith (by initiated--baptized Sikhs), in adopting a common suffix ‘Singh’ for male and ‘Kaur’ for female names, in avoiding tobacco, Halal meat, in shunning idolatry, ritualism and in abjuring any connection with Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or any other religion. All Sikh men wear turban in Sikh style to cover the unshorn hair on their head. Turban is an essential and complimentary adjunct to unshorn hair. Sikh women wear dupatta to cover their head. Because of their smart turbans, unshorn hair with flowing or well-set or rolled beards, practicing Sikh men can be easily identified among large crowds. They are highly conscious and committed to assert their identity through their dress and appearance and of course through their mother tongue, Punjabi. It stands for their willingness to be identified and held accountable so that their character and actions meet the standards set by the founders of the faith. Like all other religious communities of the world apostates and renegades are found in Sikhism too.
Outer appearance of the Sikhs
A young Sikh couple
Why identity is necessary?
It is enshrined in the holy Sikh Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, “,Daage hoay so run meh joojheh bin daage bhag jaaee ‘dwgy hoih su rn mih jUJih ibnu dwgy Big jweI i.e, The branded ones fight in the battle-field with zest, the unbranded turn away as renegades (GGS, p. 970).
Being a Sikh
One may be Sikh:
(1) *By birth: being born of Sikh parents or
(2) By conversion: who has embraced Sikhism through conversion from some other religion. Sikh Rehatmaryada (Sikh Dharm Achaar Shastar) OR
Sikh Religious Code of Conduct
Like all other major world religions, Sikhism too has its own religious code of conduct, which is called ‘the Sikh Rehatmaryada'. Sikh way of life is the honest house-holder’s life and to live in the world in the normal way with the endeavor to attain the higher consciousness without entanglements in temporary alluring materialistic attractions and leading a worldly desire free life in the world. Sikh Rehat Maryada (Sikh ReligiousCode of Conduct) is based on the doctrines and ideology of Sikhism. The Sikh way of life known as ‘Gurmat’ was demonstrated by the Sikh Gurus. They supervised the theoretical and practical aspects of Sikhism and guided their followers. Guru Ram Dass prescribed the daily routine of the Sikhs (GGS, p.305), while Guru Gobind Singh completed the form. A religious committee constituted at Akal Takhat, finalized a draft of ‘The Sikh Rehat Maryada’ ‘Sikh religious code of conduct’ based on the canon of the Sikh faith and released it for the Sikh nation, which was published in a booklet form by the Sharomani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in 1945, regulates individual and corporate Sikh life. It is based on the doctrines and ideology of Sikhism. It comprises of:
• The inner values of Sikhism as per Bani / Gurbani (contents of the scriptures constituting the canon of Sikhism.
• Outer appearance—Saroop Supporting of the articles of faith (Bana) by initiated Sikhs,
• Practices of Sikhism (dos and don'ts of Sikhism),
• Rites / social ceremonies, customs and traditions etc of Sikhism.
Inner values of Sikhism:
As per Bani / Gurbani a Sikh should possess following qualities / Inner values of Sikhism:
• Aaugux sB imtwieky pr aupkwr krY-“Augun sab mita-ay ke par upkar Karen” (GGS,
p.218). A Sikh should be free from all vices and do good to others. He should look different from others due to his inner qualities (Bani) and not, because of his outer looks only (Bana).
• Awqm rs ijh jwxhI so hY Kwls dyv, pRBU mih mo mih qws mih rMck nwhI nw Byv-“Aatam ras jih jaan he so hai-ay khalas dev prabhu mae mo mae taas meh ranchak nahin bhev” (Sarb Loh Granth).
• Alp Ahwr sulp sI inMdRw dXw iCmw qn pRIiq--“Alp ahar sulp see nindra daya chhama tan preet
i.e; Eat little and sleep little, love the practice of compassion and forbearance sIl sMqoK sdw inrbwihQo hYvbo iqRgux AqIiq--Seel santokh sada nirbahithio, havbho tregun ateet i.e ; Be calm and contended and thus you will gain freedom from the Three States
(Rajas, Tamas, Satva) kwm, kRoD, loB, hT, moh nw mn soN ilXwvy--Kaam, karodh, lobh, hath, moh na mann sion liavayKeep your mind away from lust, anger, pride, greed, obstinacy and wordly love.
qb hI Awqm qq ko drsy prm purK kh pwvY--Tab he atam tat ko darse parm purkh keh pavay”-Thus you will see the essence of your own soul and also realise the Supreme Lord. (Ram Kali Patshi 10).
• jih krnI qih pUrI mq krnI bwJo Gty Gt--“Jeh karni tahay poori mat, karni bajhon ghatay ghat” i.e “A Sikh should mean what he says, any person who does not possess this quality cannot be called a Sikh” (GGS, p.25)
• ieau gurmuK Awp invwrIey sb rwj siSRt kw ly--“Eo Gurmukh aap niwari-ay sab raj srishat ka lay”
-- “God shall himself honour such a Gurmukh Sikh and he can rule the whole world” (Ibid, p. 648).
Gurbani further says:
• Those who maintain only the outer appearance of a Sikh but do not possess inner values of Sikhism are not Sikhs. They are called Bhekhi (ByKI) Sikhs (Sikhs in disguise--hypocrites):
• rihq Avr ikC Avr kmwvq, mn nhI pRIq muKo gMD lwvq, jwnx hwr pRBU pRbIn, bwhr ByK nw kwh BIn-“Rehat avar kichh avar kamavat, mann nahin paret mukho gand laavat, jaananhaar prabhu parbu parbeen, bahir bhekh na kahoon bheen” i.e, "Man professes one thing and practices quite another, in his heart there is no love but in his speech he talks tall. The wise Lord who is inner-knower is not pleased with the outward uniform (Ibid, p. 269).
• ijn ky BIqr AMqrw, jYsy psU qYsy auh nrw--“Jin kay bheetar antra, jaisay pasoo taisay uh nara”
i.e, “Those who do not mean what they say, they are as good as animals” (ibid, p.1163).
• krqUq psU kI mwns jwiq lok pcwrw kru idn rwq--“Kartoot pasoo kee maanas jaat lok pachara karay din raat” i.e, “They only look humans but by actions they are animals" (Ibid, p.267). and while commenting on them, Guru Nanak says:
• nwnk sy nr Asl Kr jy ibn gux grB krn--“Nanak se nar asal khar, je bin gun garbh karan” (Ibid, p. 1246) i.e, “ Nanak, those persons who have not adopted good qualities, but are full of ego, they are in reality, donkeys and not human being (Ibid, p.1246)
Saroop (Outer appearance-Banaa):
A Sikh is a saint-soldier (Sant-Sipahi). Saint (Sant) means that he is scholarly in
his knowledge of Gurbani (Bani) and leads his life according to the teachings of the Gurus as enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib, while soldier (Sipahi) denotes that he is a fearless warrior and maintains the Sikh uniform (Bana- the five K’s--Kes, Kangha, Kachhehra, Kara and Kirpan)- “Saabat soorat dastaar sira—swbq sUrq dsqwr isrw” (GGS, p1084) and follows all the instructions of Guru Gobind Singh issued at the time of Amritpaan sanskaar. Guru Gobind Singh has issued a very strict warning in this regard, “jb lg Kwlsw rhY inAwrw qb lg qyj idau mY swrw-Jab lag Khalsa rahay naira tab lag tej deoon mein saara-- As long as Khalsa strictly maintains its separate identity, I will lend Him, my full support, jb ieh ghY ibprn kI rIq mY nw krUM ien kI pRqIq[[ Jab eh gahein bipran kee reet*, mein na karoon in kee parteet---when he adopts the Brahminical ways, then I shall not believe Him”
(Sarb Loh Granth, Patshahi Dasween).
Guru Gobind Singh further says:
• rihxI rhY soeI isK myrw, auh swihb mY aus dw cyrw-“Rehni rahay soi Sikh mera, oh sahib mein os da chera” i.e, “Only the follower of rehat is my Sikh, he is my sahib (master) and I am his disciple”.
• rihq ipAwrI mohI ko siK ipAwrw nwhI-“Rehat piari mohi ko Sikh piara nahin” i.e, "I love Rehat and not the Sikh i.e I love the law and not the follower of law”.
• ibnw ssqr kysm nrU Byf jwno, ghY kwn qw ko ikqy lY isDwno-“Bina sastra kesam naroo bhed jano, gahey kaan ta ko kitay lay sidhano” , - Without weapon (sword) a man with kesas (unshorn hair ) on the head is like a sheep, ready to be led by the ear into slaughterhouse any time by whosoever may wish to do so.
• ibnw ssqr kysm idau nw dIdwry-“Bina kes tegham deo na deedaray” ie, “Don't show me your face without unshorn hair and sword”.
Amrit also called Khanday Baatay Dee Pahul in Sikhism is the name of elixir used for formal initiation into Sikhism. Literally the term mrit means dead whereas A-mrit means immortal. Amrit in Sikhism means elixir of immortality. Amrit is that substance the intake of which is supposed to make a man immortal. Since the physical frame of the human body is mortal, there is nothing in the world, which can make the mortal frame immortal. Immortality cannot therefore means perpetuation of physical body of the individual. By immortality therefore is meant merging man’s Soul (Atma) with, the Supreme Soul (Parm- atma) while being alive and shun the fear of death. In this way the individual soul becomes immortal, while still in the body.
Guru Granth Sahib, the holy Sikh Scripture says:
• AMimRq eyko sbdu hY nwnk gurmuiK pwieAw[[--Nanak says, word, the Name (Naam) alone is the elixir of immortality and it is obtained by guidance of the Guru” (GGS, p.644) AMimRq swcw nwmu hY kihxw kCU n jwie—The holy Name is the true elixir of immortality beyond description (GGS, p, 33).
• AMimRq hir kw nwmu hY ijqu pIqY iqK jwie—God’s Name is the elixir of immortality by drinking which thirst goes (GGS, p, 1283).
• AMimRq nwm inDwnu hY imil pIvhu BweI—O, brothers the elixir of immortality is the treasure of
God’s Name. Get together and quaff it (GGS, p 318).
Sikh initiation called Amrit-paan, brings total transformation of man from a secular being to gradual progress and ultimate transformation into a divine man. There is spiritual, moral, social and cultural transformation of the whole being of a person who accepts this baptism and thereafter follows the Sikh religious code of conduct.
Amrit is prepared by five devout initiated Sikhs by reciting five Banis: Jap ji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Tavparsad Swayay, Chaupai-From Hamri karo haath de rachha-to---Dushat dokh te leho bachaaee and Anand Sahib, while each one of them turn by turn keeps stirring the water containing sugar flakes in the steel communion bowl (Bata) with Khanda, while seated in Bir Aasan. The hymns of Gurbani turn the elixir into Amrit—(elixer of immortality).
• guir AMimRqu hir muK coieAw myrI ijMdVIey[[ iPir mrdw bhuiV jIvwieAw rwm[[--The Guru has poured the elixir of immortality into my mouth. O myself, and then my dying self came to life again (GGS, p, 539).
• imrqk kau pwieE qin swsw ibCrq Awin imlwieAw] psU pryq mugD Bey sRoqy hir nwmw muiK gwieAw[[ pUry gur kI dyK vfweI[[ qw kI kImiq khxu n jweI[[--In the dead body the Guru infuses breath ad he unites the separated ones. When the Guru hymns the praise of the Lord’s Name with his mouth, even the beasts, goblins and fools become attentive listeners. Behold the greatness of the Perfect Guru. Hie worth can not be expressed
• gur siqguir nwmu idRVwieE hir hir hm muey jIvy hir jipBw[[--The Great True Guru has implanted the Lord God’s Name within me. By contemplating the Lord, I the dead one, have sprung to life (GGS, p, 1337).
Amrit also known as Khanday Batay dee Pahul) was introduced into Sikhism by Guru
Gobind Singh on the Vaisakhi day 1699 CE;, at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, in the Indian subcontinent when he formally consecrated it on this day and created Khalsa.
Sikh Baptismal / initiation ceremony is called Amritpaan. Amrtitpaan in Sikhism is not just a formal ceremony of conversion and attempt to make a Sikh appear different from the Hindus, Muslims, Christians and others. It brings total transformation of man from a secular being to gradual progress and ultimate transformation into a divine man. There is spiritual, moral, social and cultural transformation of the whole being of a person who accepts this baptism and thereafter follows the Sikh religious code of conduct. It symbolizes a rebirth by which the initiated are considered as having freed themselves of their previous family origion, caste or lineage (Kulnash), of having renounced their creeds--communal outlook (Dharamnash), of having renounced their previous occupations or professions (Kirtnash), of having given up superstition (Bharamnash), of having given up rituals (Karamnash) and develop catholicity and universality of outlook. By taking Amrit every one aquires equal status in the Sikh brotherhood. It is a total trasnsformation of man from a secular being to a spiritual man, leading him to gradual progress and ultimate transformatiom into a divine man. There is spiritual, moral, social and cultural transformation of the whole being of the person who accepts this baptism and thereafter follows the Sikh religious code of conduct. One has to prepare oneself for entering the life of an Amritdhari, who is an embodiment of all the virtues constituting the life of a Gur-Sikh
‘Khalsa-Sikh’. Amritdhari: One who has been initiated according to Sikh Rites.
An Amritdhari / initiated / baptized Sikh known as, ‘Khalsa’. Khalsa is one who remembers God in his words, mind and actions, but simultaneously remains ready to fight against injustice where ever it takes place and to protect the weak and hapless.
He is a saint-soldier (Sant-Sipahee), “Mukh thein har chit mein yudh veechaaray”
(Guru Gobind Singh).
The articles of Sikh faith
All initiated (Khalsa) Sikhs should support the articles of Sikh faith, commonly known as 5K's and these are:
Kes ---the unshorn hair
Kangha ----small comb for the topknot (Joora)
Kara ---a steel wrist bangle
Kirpan ---steel sword
Kachhehra or Kachha- (Punjabi name for breeches) inSwny isKI eI pMj hrP, kwP , hrigz nw bwSd eI pMj muAwP--“Nishane Sikhi een panj harf, kaaf, Hargiz na bashad een panj muaaf
kVw, krdo, k`C, kMGw ibdW, iblw kys hyc Asq jumlw inSwn---Kara, Kardho, Kachh, Kangha
Bidaan, Bila Kes hech ast jumla nishan”. (Bhai Nand Lal Goya, Dasam Granth)
Meaning: There are symbols of five letters Kaaf (Five K's) in Sikhism, which cannot be exempted. These are, “Kara, Kirpan, Kachha and Kangha”, but these are meaningless in the absence of Kes.
The Sikhs should wear turban (Dastaar--dsqwr) to cover the unshorn hair on their head.
Every Sikh male name should have ‘Singh’ and Sikh female name ‘Kaur’ as compulsory ending of the name.
The five symbols of Sikh faith, give an identity to the organized form of Sikhism. These are national uniform of the Sikhs. These symbolize the fact that the Sikh has been initiated / baptized.
Addressing the Khalsa after completing the Amrit Paan Sanskar–(Initiation / Baptismal ceremony) at Anandpur Sahib Guru Gobind Singh said:
Kwlsw myro rUp hY Kws, Kwlsy my hUM krUM invws--“Khalsa mero roop hae khas,
Khalse mein hoop karoon niwas"
Khalsa is my own-self and I dwell within the Khalsa.
To maintain separate identity from Muslims and to prevent the extinction of the distinct Sikh way of life and relapse of Sikhism into Brahminism (Hinduism) Guru Gobind Singh warned the Khalsa, extorting:
jb lg Kwlsw rhy inAwrw qb lg qyj idau mY swrw--“Jab lag Khalsa rahay niara, tab lag tej dioon mein saara,
jb ieh ghY ibprn kI rIq qb nw krUM ien kI pRqIq--Jab eh gahen bipran kee reet, mein na
karoon in kee parteet”. Meaning:
“As long as Khalsa strictly maintains its separate identity, I will lend him my full support, when He adopts the Brahmanical culture, I shall not believe Him”.
The rationale behind the articles of faith of Sikhism
Kes and Turban:
Before the birth of Sikhism, the Arabic and Turkish Muslim invaders took pride in supporting beard and turban. They did not like the slave Hindus to keep beard, long hair, support turban and look like them. Therefore the Muslim rulers after the occupation of Hindustan (now India) issued orders that the Hindus keep the beard and head shaved and wear a prescribed cap (Topi) instead of turban.
Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism and thereafter all his nine successors maintained unshorn hair and supported turbans in defiance of the Muslim imperial order. The sanctity of hair on human body was practiced by all the Sikh Gurus who kept it unshorn, to obey the God’s will. How can those be called Sikhs who disobey the Sikh dictum and defy the Sikh code of conduct? Guru Nanak in the very beginning of Japji Sahib at p.1 of GGS proclaimed: “hukm rjweI clnw nwnk iliKAw nwl[[-Hukam rajaee chalna Nanak likhia naal” i.e “To remain under the will of God, is ordained from the very beginning”. No doubt is left at all in this respect that God’s will has to prevail and everyone has to follow it. The hair on the body are in accordance with the will of God and the appearance of the human body is to be kept intact if one is to live in the will of God. The God’s will is defied when we cut hair and refuse to keep it intact. How can so called Sikhs (clean shaven) call themselves to have faith in the teachings of Guru Nanak and the Sikhism?
At the time of formal consecration of Sikhism in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh made Kes-and turban as part of the Sikh dress. Both Kes and turban in Sikhism represent freedom, liberty, justice and peaceful co-existence. Sikhs keep unshorn hair and wear turban as a distinctive identifying marks. It symbolizes their commitment living the Sikh values of humanity, service and leadership in both public and private lives. It stands for their willingness to be identified and held accountable so that their character and actions meet the standards set by the founders of their faith. Sikhism regards both shave (Hajamat-Bhaddan-Tonsure) and cap (Topi-) as signs of slavery.
Kangha in the topknot (Joora) is meant for combing the hair. It signifies negation of filthy living of Sadhus with matted hair.
Every Sikh (Khalsa) is a saint-soldier and weapons are life and soul of the soldier. Kirpan-in Sikhism signifies two fundamental tenets of Sikhism namely that it is the basic responsibility of a Sikh to confront and resist injustice, and that asceticism, monasticism or escape-ism of any kind is wrong. Thus Kirpan, on one hand is a constant reminder to the Sikh of his duty, and on the other hand, is a standing guard against reversion to pacifism and otherworldliness. It is meant to protect the weak / hapless and smite the oppressor.
Kachhehra or Kachha
The Hindus wore either Langoti or Dhoti to cover their loin. Langoti kept the person half naked and a person wearing a Dhoti cannot discharge the duties of a soldier. Guru Gobind Singh discarded both and made Kachehra a part of Sikh Rehat, which is a smart battle dress.
Kara (kVw): It is a sign of solemn pledge (Rakhree) for adhering to the tenets of Sikhism, to protect the weak / hapeless and smite the oppressor.
Kangha: Kangha in the topknot (Joora) is meant for combing the hair. It signifies negation of filthy living of Sadhus with matted hair.
The Sikhs, now found globally are natives of the Punjab, a region in the north-west of the Indian subcontinent forming major portion of the Indus valley. Punjab was an independent country ruled by the Sikhs, before its annexation by the British in 1849 A.D.
Punjab, the country of the Sikhs, separated the Hindu and the Muslim worlds. The Sikhs were the most difficult and last power in Asia to fall to the British imperialism. The British killed the Sikhs politically by not returning their country back to them at the time of decolonization of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, which they had annexed from them under a written agreement. They partitioned it into two parts, the western part 62% was made over to the newly created Islamic State of Pakistan and the remaining 38% eastern part was attached to Hindu India. Since then they are a stateless nation.
The Sikhs constitute a distinct ethnic group.They are a “religious community and a political nation” simultaneously and thus they are a unique society in the world. They are marked by a distinctive ideology / religion, distinctly clear Sikh ceremonies, Sikh civilization, Sikh culture including language and an intense devotion to their motherland-‘Punjab’. The initiated Sikhs are called ‘Khalsa’ (lit: sovereign), who now represent and spearhead the tasks of Sikh religion. They are recognizable throughout the world as bearded and turbaned persons in Sikh dress. They are concerned with the creation of a just social order and are committed to the social equality and peaceful co-existence. Their history is in essence two kinds of freedom—spiritual and political. The first was achieved through teachings of their Gurus. The second was, won by the Sikhs themselves.
Ethnically and culturally the Sikhs of the Punjab are a distinct people. According to
Professor Bruce La Brack, who has written extensively on the Sikh community, “Sikhs have been recognized as an ethnicity in more than sixty countries world-wide”. Recent Genographic studies reveal that these people arrived in India from Central Asia by travelling through the ruged and mountainous Pamir Knot, some 30,000 years ago, who gradually developed into a great civilization, now known as, “Indus Valley Civilization”, which is one of the oldest civilizations of the world. The natives here farmed the lands and are called “Jatt”, which is the oldest named tribe in India, whose name is found even in Mahabharta. After the region was named Punjab by Emperor Akbar in 1590, all natives of this land came to be known as Punjabis, irrespective of their religious affiliations. Majority of these people formally embraced Sikhism, when it was consecrated by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 at Anandpur Sahib.
Physically and mentally the Sikhs of the Punjab are a virile and assertive race. A living spirit possesses the Sikh people. Their skin complexion, their body built, their features, their habits, their language, their literature, their ethics, their dress, their food, their customs and religious ceremonies etc are entirely different from rest of the people in the Indian subcontinent and they have a distinct identity. They are strong, tall and muscular with well-shaped limbs, erect carriage, agile and hardy, brown complexioned, sharp-featured along with strong hair growth especially the beard. From childhood they are used to hard toil in the fields. They were hardened by burning summers and freezing winters, heavy rains and dust storms of the Punjab. During their struggle for sovereignty the teachings of the Guru lent them a dignified look and instilled in them the spirit of bravery and sacrifice. When the call came in the name of the Guru and the Panth, they emerged as fearless fighters. And, however severe their hardships, their mood was always cheerful and morale high. They earned praise even from their bitterest enemies. Qazi Noor Mohammad, a Muslim historian, who came along Ahmad Shah Abdali during his seventh invasion in 1764 A.D; and wrote his book Jangnama, which is a contemporary evidence of happenings, made the most contemptuous remarks about the Sikhs says, “After the Durranis no other troops can be compared with the Sikhs. This sect abounds in giant-sized and loin-limbed youth”. He usually called the Sikhs dogs. He further writes, “Do not call them “dogs”. In fact, they are loins in the times of battle and when in festivities they surpass Hatim (a legendary name in generosity). When they hold the Indian sword in hand, they gallop from Hind (Gangetic Doab) upto the country of Sindh. Besides their fighting, listen to one thing more in which they excel all other warriors. They never kill a coward and do not obstruct one who flees from the field. They do not rob a woman of her gold or ornaments, may she be a queen or a slave girl. Adultery also does not exist among the ‘dogs’. None of them is a thief”-------.
The Sikhs of the Punjab are outspoken, industrious, frugal, resourceful, optimistic, intelligent and tenacious people. They are neither intolerant nor bigoted nor selfish. They have a forgiving nature and do not hold grudge for long. They are frank, honest, simple and courteous people. They are admirers of nature, art and architecture and are quick to adopt good qualities of others. They are quick at learning and grasping, always keen to aquire latest knowledge. They have a natural aptitude for practical trades. They are dependable people and stick to their promise. They have an adventurous nature and are always prepared to take risk, sometimes even at the cost of their life. They are well known for their wanderlust and they have been foremost among the Hindustanis to seek out avenues of employment, agriculture and trade in foreign lands. They give warm reception to their guests. Hospitality and humane love is an organic trait of their culture. The warmth of ‘you are mine’ is inborn. They give a warm send off to their guests, not empty handed, but with a gift of whatever is available in the house. They love perfection and do not consider any time too long or labour too intense to secure perfection in the execution of a project. They have made name in all spheres of life, but are among the best soldiers, farmers and players in the world. Fighting spirit being the very substance of the Sikh psyche, they rely more on morale than on resources. Cracking jokes is their favourite past time. Initiated Sikhs (Amritdhari Sikhs) do not consume any intoxicants including alcohol. Tobacco is a taboo for all Sikhs.
Their religious faith and worldly aspirations are wholly different from other Indians. They believe in oneness of God, all humans are equal, and service and devotion, and morality lead to enlightenment. Honest work, sharing and remembrance of God in words, mind and actions are fundamentals of the Sikh faith. ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ is the holy book of the Sikhs and Gurdwara is their place of worship. The Sikhs donot worship Guru Granth Sahib as an idol or deity, instead they worship and rever the teachings of God revealed through sacred writngs. Sikh worship has plain simplicity, a quite suspicion of aesthetic graces, Path, Katha, keertan and Ardas. Public spirit and fellow feeling is the characteristic mark of the Sikhs. They donot worship idols, pictures, graves or tombs.They shun all ritualism and donot believe in the divisive Hindu caste sytem. Individualism is in Sikhism the cardinal sin without expiation, violation of obligation towards community means not just alienation from the holy but also social excommunication. To protect the weak and smite the oppressor are among the major traits of the Sikhs.
In politics, they are devoted to their motherland and have an ideal for Punjab. Democracy an important aspect of modern society is the guiding rule in Sikhism. The traditions of Sangat, Panj Piaray, Panches, Sarbat Khalsa and Gurmata are unparalleled institutions of the Sikhs in the history of religions and nations for taking collective decisions during the times of crisis facing the Sikh nation. Sikhs are not great communicators and are not very adept at striking deals. Political leaders of today show themselves up to be as corruptible as others of their ilk in rest of India, but Sikhs in general reject those who compromise and are quick to react if they realize betrayal of their interest.
The Sikhs are highly conscious and committed to assert their identity through their dress and appearance. It stands for their willingness to be identified and held accountable so that their character and actions meet the standards set by the founders of their faith. Because of their smart turbans, unshorn hair with flowing or well-set or rolled beards Sikh men can be easily identified among large crowds. Their ceremonial dress consists of a long coatdress called achkin (AYcikn) and tight trousers (cUVIdwr pjwmw), along with turban in smart Sikh style. They have a fine sense of matching colours they wear. They are very fond of good eating, historical experience has made them survivors and hospitable, also generous and with a zest for life. Meat eating is not a prohibition among the Sikhs. According to Sikh religious code of conduct (Sikh Rehat Maryada), the Sikhs are permitted to eat only jhatka meat. Eating halal (kosher) meat is prohibited in Sikhism and the Sikhs follow it very strictly. Tobacco in any form is a taboo for the Sikhs.
Of all the people of India, the Sikhs are perhaps the most travelled and best known in the west. Their handsome appearances, impressive beards and striking turbans, their valour and bravery as soldiers, tireless energy as workers and cheerful dispositions have combined to make them something of a legend.
Presently, the Sikhs constitute roughly a little over two percent of the total Indian population, which has recently crossed over one billion. According to rough estimates there are about twenty three million Sikhs in all, inhabiting the entire globe, out of which nearly 15 million live in the Punjab (Indian), where they constitute 62.2 percent of the total population, about 6 million live in rest of India outside Punjab and about two million are spread all over the world, out of which over half a million live in UK, another over half a million live in North America (Canada and USA) and the rest one million are spread all over the world. Big concentrations are located in Malaisya, Singapore, Africa, France, German, Australia and Newzealand etc. Wherever they have gone they have carried their unique philosophy with them. Every person in a new social, cultural or geographical environment faces many problems. Sikhs have had to face such problems more so because of their distinct appearance. However, they have adapted themselves to their new environment wherever they have settled. They have adopted new places as their homes and mixed well with the society.
Philosophy is a Greek word and comes from: Philo i.e love; and Sophia i.e wisdom or knowledge. Therefore, philosophy literally means love with wisdom. Man, from the very beginning has been engaged in this endeavour that nothing should remain beyond his knowledge. He was challenged with such important questions: Why it happened? How it happened? The education (ividAw), which deals with knowing i.e, why it happened is phlosophy, while the education which deals with how it happened is science. Philosophy deals with the vast principles regarding creation viz: What is universe? Who is its creator? What is human being? What is the purpose of life etc. etc.
It is a wellknown fact that the earliest spiritual / religious traditions in the world began in the Indus Valley in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. Those, practicing spirituality were called Jogis / Siddhas, who believed in one ‘Supreme Eternal Reality’, whom they called Brahma. They lived away from human habitations in the caves of snowclad mountains eating wild fruites, beries and tubers etc. They had a script, which was called Brahmi / Siddhmatrica. The statues / seals bearing the image of the meditating Jogis have been found among the ruins of Harappa and Mohenjodaro towns in the Indus Valley, but so far, no scriptures belonging to them have been found. In Punjabi jog literally means to unite / to yoke together, but in spirituality it means to unite with the ‘Supreme Eternal Reality-God’. The people of the Indus Valley had reached a very high level of civilization more than 4000 years (2000-1500 BC) ago, when people of a whitetribe from Asia Minor who called themselves Aryans entered the hills of the ancient Punjab through the Hindu Kush mountains as herds-men and graziers of cattle and settled in the mountainous region of the Punjab in Kashmir. They were smart people. Some of them learnt spirituality from the Punjabi Jogis. The Punjabis at that time spoke many different dialects of Punjabi language in various parts of the Punjab, which changed at almost every ten miles. The Aryans developed a slang version of a local Punjabi dialect for their worship purposes and named it Brahm Bhasha literally meaning language of God, which was subsequently named Sanskrit. Around 1000 BC the Aryand produced scriptures in Sanskrit and named the Vedas literally meaning books of knowledge, which were remembered by them orally and transmitted from generation to generation verbally. The oral tradition continued for centuries. Rishi Panini wrote its grammar Ashtadhia-ay around 500 BC in Taxilla, in the foot hills of the Punjab. The social interaction between the Aryans and the indigenous people produced a new culture, now known as Vedic culture. The Brahmanical language (Sanskrit) created by the Brahmins for their worship puposes was not understood by the common mass of people. The Vedas became the religious books of the Aryans and Sanskrit became their religious language. Aryans having knowledge of Vedas called themselves Brahmans (Who knew Brahma-God). Sanskrit became the domain of the Brahmans, the priestly class of the Brahmanism / Sanatan Dharma now called Hinduism. The Aryans were coviferously meat eaters. They ate beef (Gaomedh yajna).
Philosophy in Indian culture is called ‘Darsan’, which literally means to see. The thing which was realized or seen was named ‘Darsan’. The Aryan Brahmans developed six systems of philosophical thought, which are popularly known as ‘Khat Darsan’:
Nyaya system (Dardsana) of Risi Gautama
Purva Mimamsa system (Darsana) of Risi Jaimini
Vedanta system (Darsana) of Risi Vyasa
Sankhya system (Darsana) of Risi Kapila
Vaisesika system (Darsana) of Risi Kanada
Yoga system (Darsana) of Risi Patanjali
Before the birth of Sikhism, there were two ancient religious philosophies in the world: The Indian philosophy known as Eastern philosophy and the Greek philosophy called Western philosophy. The Indian Risihs (Philosophers) developed classical Indian music, poetry, astrology, mathematics, political science and social sciences etc, but simultaneously propagated pessimism and preached about the un-reality / Falseness of the world, detachment (Vairag) i.e asceticism and renunciation of the worldly life. All these things weakened the Indian society instead of making it strong. Instead of making the society dynamic they made it static. The pessimism put breaks on the development of the society. Buddhism and Jainism were born as a reaction to Brahmanical Hinduism. The Ahinsa (Ahimsa) propagated by Jainism made the people desert the profession of agriculture for fear of killing organisms and became traders (Banias). Buddhism described birth, youth and old age as suffering and desire as root cause of sufferings. The Brahmanical Varn Ashram Dharma divided the society on the basis if caste. All this made Indians weak, which resulted in their slavery to foreign powers.
When Guru Nanak appeared on the religious scene in the 15th century all the six systems of ancient Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma / Brahmanism), Islam, Jainism and Buddhism existed there in the Punjab. Guru Nanak received enlightenment at Sultanpur Lodhi in Punjab and founded Sikhism here in 1496 A.D. He laid down the complete ideology of Sikhism. Thus with the birth of Sikhism in the 15th century in the‘Punjab’in the Indian subcontinent the third branch of philosophy was born, which is called ‘Gurmat’or Gurdarsan, which is absolutely different and distinct from the previously existing eastern i.e Hindu philosophy. Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism says, “Ktu drsn vrqY vrqwrw gur kw drsnu Agm Apwrw-Khat darsan vartay vartaara, Gur ka darsan agamapaara i.e. Although six systems of Hindu philosophy are prevalent everywhere but the Guru’s philosophy is profound and unequalled” (GGS, p.360-61). The philosophy of Sikhism known as Gurmat / Gurdarsan has been propounded in the holy Sikh Scripture, ‘Guru Granth Sahib’. Its fundamentals differ from the fundamentals of all the major world religions including all the six systems of Hinduism. Before a Sikh goes to bed he reads a short prayer Sohila, which contains following stanza on six Hindu systems, “iCA Gr iCA gur Cy aupdys--Chhhea ghar chhea gur chhea updes, Guru Guru eko ves anek, meaning “Six are the Hindu systems; six are their divine teachers; six are their different teachings / doctrines, but the teacher of all is One Lord, though He has numerous forms--guru guru eyko vys Anyk[[. Pause. ivsuey cisAw GVIAw phrw iQqI vwrI mwhu BieAw[[ sUrj eyko ruiq Anyk[[ Nnwnk krqy ky kyqy vys[[-i.e-There are seconds, minutes, hours, quarters of a day, lunar days, week days, months and several seasons that spring from the lone sun, so all forms of beings, originate from the same creator, says Nanak.(GGS, Rag Asa M1 pp12, 357).
The holy Sikh Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, further adds: “Gur darsan udhray sansaara, je ko a-ay bhao piara”-“Through Guru’s philosophy the whole world can be saved if the same were accepted with devotion and love (GGS, Rag Asa, M3. P361).
Sikhism (Sikh religion) teaches uniformity in thought and action (ienswn dI kQnI qy krnI ivc Prk nhI hoxw cwhIdw i.e, A person should mean, what he says). The philosophy of Sikhism is not a matter of mere intellectual discussion of mantras only. It gives an insight into the metaphysics, ethics, mysticism and cosmology of Sikhism. It says, Akaal Purkh (God) is the creator of this universe and Soul is immortal. Sikhism believes in equality of all human beings as compared to Vedanta, who believes in the division of the society upon the basis of caste system. Sikhism says this world is the field of action and denounces asceticism and renunciation in strongest terms and preaches a house-holder’s life.
The philosophy of Sikhism envisages that a true Sikh loves all humanity, earns his livelihood by all fair means, shares his earnings with the deprived and strives for the realization of God by abiding His Will and seeking Grace. It believes in the doctrines of Karma, transmigration, salvation-(Mukti), Surag (Heaven), Narak (Hell), Hukam (Raza) and Grace, but according to its own way. From the inception of Sikhism by Guru Nanak in1496 AD, to its ritual consecration by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 AD, barely within a period of about two hundred years, the Sikhs were able to evolve a comprehensive philosophy embracing spiritual, religious, social, economic, cultural, political and military aspects with the objective of creating a more disciplined organization of saint soldiers.
During the past about four hudred years the discoveries of science in the western world regarding nature have made remarkable progress and science threw challenge to the ancient religious ideologies. Science believes in proving and demonstrating things through experimentation and research. Religion makes efforts to know the Reality (Truth / Supreme Eternal Reality / God) and dependes upon the path of spiritual experience, devotion and belief. To think about God, good and evil fall within the domain of religion whereas the research on nature is the purview of science. Religion likes ancient-hood and stagnation. For the traditional religions progress, modernity and change are enemies. In the western world every scientific discovery was opposed by Christianity and described as irreligious by the religious leaders there. Scientists were tortured and even killed mercilessly. Science was treated as enemy of religion. Inspite of their repression, the scientists in the west remained undeterred and continued their research. During the 17th and 18th centuries science made rapid strides in Europe which changed the entire ideology there and gave birth to atheism and materialism, resulting in drift of the people away from religion in the western world.
In this universe everything is stable on its axis because of the gravitational force and it disappears if dislocated. Human society can flourish only on the support of religion. Because of the lack of mental peace which the religion provides, people in the western world remain mentally tense and upset.
The western world adopted science and relegated religious philosophy to the back burner but this did not happen in India. Unlike other traditional religious systems, Sikhism is not opposed to science rather it is a blend of Philosophy and science. Sikh Gurus were neither scientists nor trained in scientific methods. Yet they provided tremendous insight into working of the natural and physical world. They have remarkably stated their ideas in a language that not only satisfies religious but also proves true on the touchstone of science. Sikhism is scientific and consistently challenges the illogical superstitious beliefs.
Presently in Sikhism the self-styled Sant Babas, who are Sikh in appearance, Vedantic in thought and Hindu at heart are standing in the way of interpreting Gurbani scientifically and also in the way of doing away with the un-Sikh ritualistic practices prohibited in Sikhism.
Of all world religions, Sikhism alone can, with the fullest justification, claim to possess the gospels of its founders in their original purity. Truths revealed to Prophets and seers have often been mixed up, in course of time with spurious and imperfect additions through the ignorance, prejudices or ill-conceived zeal of their followers and lost their purity. The sagacity and the foresight of the Sikh Gurus envisaged the possibility of such a situation in respect of their own scriptures and they took steps to ensure against this eventuality. Guru Arjan compiled the Holy Granth embodying the Sikh teachings under his personal supervision and created for all times the imperishable and yet the visible embodiment of the Gurus as also of their wisdom (pRgt gurW kI dyh). He has thus placed all mankind under a permanent debt of gratitude by bequeathing to it the highest moral and spiritual Truths in the purest form as were revealed to the Gurus. These were clothed in the dialects and languages of the people of the land of their birth and were thus made accessible to every person without any distinction of caste, creed, colour or race.
All the fundamentals, thoughts both mystic and material, principles, doctrines and concepts etc, which constitute the theology and philosophy of Sikhism are very clearly enshrined in the holy Sikh Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. Further, the ten Sikh Gurus during their lives, apart from demonstrating the principles of religion, led the path of ideal life. Guru Granth Sahib is the only scripture in the world that has words of the Gurus compiled and authenticated by the Guru himself. And it is the only scripture that has been sanctioned by the Guru (Guru Gobind Singh) as the sole Guru or guide to the followers of the religion: “sB isKn ko hukm hY, gurU mwinau grMQ”—“Sabh Sikhan ko hukam hai Guru maio Granth”—“All Sikhs are commanded to have faith in Guru Granth Sahib.
Sikhism visualizes possibility, in everyone, of transforming himself from man to superman and thus gives opportunity to one and all to take care of himself / herself along with other fellow-beings without any distinction whatsoever, in love and harmony, getting away from petty self interests and ego-centricity.
According to Gurmat (Philosophy of Sikhism) biggest obstacle in the path of practice of Dharma (righteousness) and realization of God is ‘ego’ (Haumein). In Gurmat, God oriented man is called ‘Gurmukh’or ‘Sachiara’and a self-centered-egoistic person is called, ‘Manmukh’. In Sikhism, “I and I am-ness” is called ‘manmat’ in which man defies the Guru’s counsel and acts according to his own will. Gurmat is exactly in opposition to it. It talks only of ‘You’:
· jb hm hoqy qb qU nwhI Ab qU hI mY nwhI[[--When there was egoism in me, Thou were not within me now that Thou art there, there is no egoism (GGS, p, 657).
· “kbIr qUM qUM krqw qU hUAw muJ mY mih rhw n hUM[[ jb Awpw pr kw imit gieAw jq dyKau qqu qU[[-i.e; Kabir says, by repeating Your Name, I have become like you. In me there is no egoism now. When difference between me and others has been removed then there is wherever I see, there is I see but You, O Lord” (GGS, p 1375).
· dyv dwnvw nrw[[ n isD swiDkw Drw[[ Asiq eyk idgir kueI[[ eyk queI eyku qUeI—i.e; Neither gods, demons and men nor men of miracles, seekers and earth shall stay. The Lord alone is. Who else can there be? Thou alone art, O Lord! Thou alone art (GGS, p,144).
· AibnwsI Aibgq Awpy Awip aupiq[[ eykY qUhI eykY An nwhI qum Biq[[--i.e; My imperishable and Formless Lord, Thou art born of Thyself. Thou art but One None else is like Thee (GGS, p,1385).
· soeI imilE jo Bwvqo Twkur rihE smwie[[ eyk qUhI qUhI qUhI-He alone meets with Thee, who is pleasing to Thee. Slave Nanak remains merged in Him. Thou alone, the One alone art real, solely Thou, O Lord (GGS, p, 1305)
In Vedanta (Hinduism), the believer says, ‘Aham Brahma’: meaning, “I am Brahma” i.e ‘I am God’. Similarly Shankara (Hinduism) says, “Man is God”—Tat Tvam Asi--qqvmis, which has not been accepted by Gurbani / Sikhism, because when man is Brahma (God) Himself, there is no need for efforts towards the unification of man and God.
Guru’s teaching is universal. It has come from the ‘Supreme Eternal Reality’-‘Parm Purkh’. It never gets old like our worldly teachings. Gurmat says that during the development of human body in the mother’s womb with body suspended upside down, Atma (Human Soul) remains attached with its source (Parmatma-Creator) and is free from ego (Gurmukh), “Re nar garbh kundal jab aachhat urdh dhian liv laaga” (GGS, p. 93), but after coming out of mother’s womb and entering into the mortal world, he forgets the Creator (Parmatma-God), develops ego and becomes manmukh (self-centered),’ “Garbh chhod mrit mandal aaiya taan man har mano visaaria”(GGS, p.93). It is the ego that keeps man away from God, “Haumai nawein naal virodh hai, doe na vase ik tha-ay” i.e, “Ego and Naam (God) are opposed to each other and they cannot share same place” (GGS, p. Haumein kithon upje i.e; , “Where does the ego come from” Gurbani says, “Haumein vich jag upje, purkha Naam visre dukh paa-ay, i.e, “After coming in this world man develops ego and forgetting Naam (God) becomes unhappy, resulting in pain and suffering,”.
It is stated in Guru Granth Sahib that Maya (illusion of materialism) and Ego (self-hood), prevent man’s union with God, Ih Maya jit har visaray” i.e; ‘It is Maya that causes God to be forgotten”. Gurbani says,”Dhanpir ka ik sang he vaasa vich haumai bheet kararee, i.e,” “The bride (Atma-Soul) and the bride groom (Parmatma-God) live together in this body with a powerful wall of ego separating them”. It further says,” Antar alakh na jaee lakhia vich parda haumai pai” i.e, “The unfathomable is within, not realized because of the veil of ego in between (Ibid Gauri M5).
The evils of lust (Kam), anger (Karodh), greed (Lobh), attachment (Moh) and pride (Hankar) constitute Haumai (ego) and make a man self-centered (Manmukh) and prevent his union with God. Guru Nanak says, “Haumai boojhay taan dar soojay” i.e, “The gate way to Him opens when the fire of ego is extinguished” (GGS, Var Asa M1). According to Gurmat enlightenment happens only through God’s grace and inspires humans to dedicate their lives to the service (Sewa) of humanity and contemplation (Naam Simran), “Kirpa kare je apni taan Gur ka shabad kamahay, kahay Nanak sunuh jano it sanjam dukh ja-ay i.e, “Lord sends grace and man practices the Guru’s word, then this leads to elimination of the evil (ego). The reward is peace in mystical union.
Sikhism neither believes in the ritualistic path of Vedantic Bhagti nor outer acts of show of Vaisnava Bhagti for Moksha (salvation), as mentioned in Bhagwat Gita. Sikhism is unique, extremely radical in ideas and ideals and original in its approach to life. The Sikh Gurus have repudiated many of the ancient concepts and ideas and ideals that form the basis of earlier Indian religions, who have a tendency to regard Sikhism as their part and parcel.
Semitic religions believe that God lives up above in the seventh sky and they regard Him separate and distinct from nature and therefore condemn the worship of nature. Guru Nanak says, “The Creator resides in the creation / Kudrat”—blhwrI kudrq visAw (GGS, p 469). But Sikhism does not believe in the worship of created beings, it only believes in the rememberance of the Creator i.e God, “ibn krqwr nw ikrqm mwnUM—Bin Kartar na kirtam maano--Except the Creator do not worship ant created being” (Mukh vaak Patshahi 10). Vedanta (Hinduism) believes in reality of God but considers His creation as Mithya (unreal / false) but Sikhism believes in the reality of God and reality of the world-- ieh jg scy kI hY koTVI scy kw ivc vwsu[[ (GGS, 463).
The primary objective taught by this faith is not to look for a heaven or paradise in the hereafter but to aim for ultimate union with the Eternal Reality and to achieve liberation from moral death. In this endeavor one needs guidance which is contained in Guru Granth Sahib.
To realize the Eternal lord, an individual has to inculcate purity of body, mind and soul, both in personal conduct and in relation to society. Emphasis is on Naam Japo (meditate and pray), kirat karo (earn by honest labour) and vand chhako (share your earnings with the needy). The individual has to live in and as part of this world while resisting temptation.
Stress is laid on positive action or effort in any situation. Results are not in one’s control. They are dependent on what is ordained which in turn is subject to karmic forces. Therefore, what is required I acceptance of and surrender to the Divine Will.
The basics indicate the need for a balance between an active and contemplative life—one of a grahasti (householder) and seeker of salvation as an integral member of society and being a good individual. In the endeavor to tread an upright path in an active life, a Sikh is enjoined to br vary of and consciously resist the five elementary temptations or weaknesses of Kaam (lust), karodh (anger), lobh (greed), moh (attachment) and ahankar (pride).
The essence of Sikh faith then is harmony, universal love, honest labour, moderation in living and complete faith in One God—The God of all creation.Type your paragraph here.