A way of life and philosophy well ahead of its time when it was founded
over 500 years ago,
The Sikh religion today has a following of over 20 million people worldwide.
Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times,
equality of mankind, social justice and denounces superstitions and blind
Sikhism is open to all through the teachings of its 10 Gurus enshrined
in the Sikh Holy Book and Living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Who and What is a Sikh?
The word 'Sikh' in the Punjabi language means 'disciple',
Sikhs are the disciples of God who follow the writings and teachings of
the Ten Sikh Gurus.
The wisdom of these teachings in Sri Guru Granth Sahib are practical and
in their appeal to all mankind.
"I observe neither Hindu fasting nor the ritual of the Muslim
Him I serve who at the last shall save. The Lord of universe of the Hindus,
Gosain and Allah to me are one; From Hindus and Muslims have I broken
I perform neither Kaaba pilgrimage nor at bathing spots worship; One sole
Lord I serve,
and no other. I perform neither the Hindu worship nor the Muslim prayer;
To the Sole Formless Lord in my heart I bow. We neither are Hindus nor
Our body and life belong to the One Supreme Being who alone is both Ram
and Allah for us.
" (Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Granth Sahib, Raga Bhairon pg. 1136)
"Any human being who faithfully believes in:(i) One Immortal Being,
(ii) Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak
Dev to Guru Gobind Singh, (iii) The Guru Granth Sahib, (iv) The utterances
and teachings of the ten
Gurus and, (v) the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru, and who does
not owe allegiance to any other
religion is a Sikh" (Reht Maryada, Sikh Code of Conduct)
Philosophy and Beliefs
There is only One
God. He is the same God for all people of all religions.
The soul goes through cycles of births and deaths before it reaches the
The goal of our life is to lead an exemplary existence so that one may
merge with God.
Sikhs should remember God at all times and practice living a virtuous
and truthful life while
maintaining a balance between their spiritual obligations and temporal
The true path to achieving salvation and merging with God does not require
of the world or celibacy, but living the life of a householder, earning
a honest living and
avoiding worldly temptations and sins.
Sikhism condemns blind rituals such as fasting, visiting places of pilgrimage,
worship of the dead, idol worship etc.
Sikhism preaches that people of different races, religions, or sex are
all equal in the eyes of God.
It teaches the full equality of men and women. Women can participate in
any religious function or
perform any Sikh ceremony or lead the congregation in prayer.
History and Practices
The founder of the Sikh religion was Guru Nanak who was born in 1469.
He preached a message of love and understanding and criticized the blind
rituals of the Hindus and Muslims.
Guru Nanak passed on his enlightened leadership of this new religion to
nine successive Gurus.
The final living Guru, Guru Gobind Singh died in 1708.
During his lifetime Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa order (meaning
soldier-saints. The Khalsa uphold the highest Sikh virtues of commitment,
dedication and a social conscious.
The Khalsa are men and women who have undergone the Sikh baptism ceremony
and who strictly follow
the Sikh Code of Conduct and Conventions and wear the prescribed physical
articles of the faith.
One of the more noticeable being the uncut hair (required to be covered
with a turban for men)
and the Kirpan (ceremonial sword).
Before his death in 1708 Guru Gobind Singh declared that the Sikhs no
longer needed a living and
appointed his spiritual successor as Sri Guru Granth Sahib, his physical
successor as the Khalsa.
Guru Gobind Singh felt that all the wisdom needed by Sikhs for spiritual
guidance in their daily lives
could be found in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Eternal Guru of the Sikhs.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib is unique
in the world of religious scriptures because not only is it accorded the
status of being the spiritual
head of the Sikh religion, but besides the poetry of the Gurus, it also
contains the writings of saints
of other faiths whose thoughts were consistent with those of the Sikh
Sikhism does not have priests, which were abolished by Guru Gobind Singh.
The Guru felt that they had become corrupt and full of ego. Sikhs only
of the Guru Granth Sahib (granthi), and any Sikh is free to read the Guru
Granth Sahib in the Gurdwara
(a Sikh temple) or in their home. All people of all religions are welcome
to the Gurdwara.
A free community kitchen can be found at every Gurdwara which serves meals
to all people of all faiths.
Guru Nanak first started this institution which outline the basic Sikh
principles of service, humility and equality.
The most significant historical religious center for the Sikhs is Harmiandir
Sahib (The Golden Temple)
at Amritsar in the state of Punjab in northern India. It is the inspirational
and historical center of Sikhism
but is not a mandatory place of pilgrimage or worship.
All places where Sri Guru Granth Sahib are installed are considered equally
holy for Sikhs.