Who and What is Sikh??
The word ‘Sikh’ in the Punjabi language means ‘disciple’, Sikhs are the disciples of God who follow the writings and teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus. The wisdom of these teachings in Sri Guru Granth Sahib are practical and universal in their appeal to all mankind.The Sikhism has approximately 20 million followers ( according to 1994 World Almanac). A progressive religion 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 and is ranked as the worlds 5th largest religion. Sikhism preaches a message of Devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstitions and blind rituals. 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.
What is “Guru”??
The word “Guru” is a Sanskrit word meaning teacher, honored person, religious person or saint. Sikhism though has a very specific definition of the word Guru. It means the descent of divine guidance to mankind provided through ten Enlightened Masters. This honour of being called a Sikh Guru applies only to the ten Gurus who founded the religion starting with Guru Nanak in 1469 and ending with Guru Gobind Singh in 1708; thereafter it refers to the Sikh Holy Scriptures the Guru Granth Sahib. The divine spirit was passed from one Guru to the next as “The light of a lamp which lights another does not abate. Similarly a spiritual leader and his disciple become equal, Nanak says the truth.”
Ten Sikh “Guru”
Guru Nanak (1469 to 1539)
Guru Angad (1504 to 1552)
Guru Amar Das (1479 to 1574)
Guru Ram Das (1534 to 1581)
Guru Arjan (1563 to 1606)
Guru Hargobind (1595 to 1644)
Guru Har Rai (1630 to 1661)
Guru Harkrishan (1656 to 1664)
Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621 to 1675)
Guru Gobind Singh (1666 to 1708)
The philosophy and belief of Sikh
There is only One God. He is the same God for all people of all religions.
The soul goes through cycles of births and deaths before it reaches the human form. The goal of our life is to lead an exemplary 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 obligations.
The true path to achieving salvation and merging with God does not require renunciation 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, superstitions, worship of the dead, idol worship etc.
Sikhism preaches that people of different races, religions, or sex are all equal in the eyes of God. 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.
Sikh Religious Philosophy
There is only one God, he is the Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer.
God cannot take human form.
The goal of human life is to break the cycle of birth’s and deaths and merge with God. This can be accomplished by following the teachings of the Guru, meditation on the Holy Name and performance of acts of service and charity.
The five cardinal vices are; Kam (lust), Krodh (anger), Lobh (greed), Moh (worldly attachment) and Ahankar (pride). If one can overcome these, they will achieve salvation.
Narm Marg; emphasizes daily devotion to the remembrance of God.
Rejection of all forms of blind rituals such as fasting, religious vegetarianism, pilgrimages, superstions, yoga, as well as any form of idol worship.
Normal Family life (Grasth) is encouraged, celibacy or renunciation of the world is not necessary to achieve salvation. The devotee must live in the world yet keep his mind pure. He must be a soldier, a scholar, a saint.
The Sikh Holy Book (Guru Granth Sahib) is the perpetual Guru, there is no place in Sikhism for a living Guru today.
Sikhism rejects all distinctions of caste, creed, race or sex.
The Guru’s stressed the full equality of women, rejecting female infanticide, sati (wife burning), permitting widow remarriage and rejects purdah (women wearing veils).
Honest labour and work (Kirat Karna) are the approved way of living ones life. It is considered honourable to earn ones daily bread through honest work and not by begging or dishonest means.
Vand Chhakna, sharing with others is also a social responsibility. The individual is expected to help others in need through charity.
Seva, community service is also an intergral part of Sikhism. The free community kitchen (langar) found at every gurdwara and open to people of all religions is one expression of this community service.