Sikhism

The Sikh religion emerged during the early 16th century in the state of Punjab in North India. The founder of this faith was Guru Nanak, who from his childhood was attracted to both Hindu and Muslim saints. Born a Hindu, but also inspired by the teachings of Islam, he began to preach the message of unity of both religions. According to him, the basic teachings of both faiths were essentially the same. Nanak attracted many followers and came to be known as a Guru or a teacher. His disciples came together to form a new religious tradition called Sikhism.

The Gurus who followed Nanak contributed to the consolidation and spread of Sikhism. The teachings of Guru Nanak were incorporated in the 'Guru Granth Sahib', the Holy Book of the Sikhs which became a symbol of God for Sikhs. The fifth Guru, Guru Arjun built the Golden Temple at Amritsar which became the holiest of Sikh shrines. The tenth Guru, Govind Singh imparted military training to the Sikhs to help them defend themselves. He also decided to terminate the succession of gurus and was thus the last of the Sikh Gurus.

Sikhism propounds monotheism, i.e. worship of one God. It also opposes the caste system and believes that all men are equal. However the ideas of karma and rebirth from Hinduism are accepted. Today, many Sikh practices are common to Hindus. Intermarriages between the two communities are also common. However the Sikh community has its own unmistakable identity. Though the Sikhs constitute less than 2 percent of the Indian population, they have become a distinct element in the configuration of the Indian religious tradition and the Indian society.

The following are the main principles on which Sikhism is based:

  • Belief in the One true God.
  • Implicit surrender of one’s will to God.
  • The practice of righteousness and rectitude.
  • Fatherhood of God and universal brotherhood of man.
  • No worship, but of the Lord God.
  • To work in good faith as a duty imposed by God, abandoning fear for a bad result and giving up hope of reward for a good result.