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The fundamental belief of Sikhism is that God exists, not merely as an idea or concept, but as a Real Entity, indescribable yet knowable and perceivable to anyone who is prepared to dedicate the time and energy to become perceptive to His/Her persona.
Sikhism as a religion is uncompromisingly monotheistic. The Gurus have described God in numerous ways in their hymns (Shabads) included in the Guru Granth Sahib; but the oneness of the deity is consistently emphasised throughout. The Guru Granth Sahib deals with the concept of God in great detail.
The primary qualities of God for the Sikhs as described in the Mool Mantar, the first passage in the Guru Granth Sahib and the basic formula of the faith. This first line of the Sikh Holy Scripture deals with this difficult concept thus:
There is Only One God; Truth is His Name; He is the Creator; Fearless; without Enmity; Immortal primal being; Without Incarnations; Self-perpetuating; With Guru’s grace.
The Gurus never spoke about proofs of the existence of God: For them He/She is too real and obvious to need any logical proof.
Guru Arjan, Nanak V, says, "'God is beyond colour and form, yet His/Her presence is clearly visible"' (GG, 74), and again, '"Nanak's Lord transcends the world as well as the scriptures of the east and the west, and yet He/She is clearly manifest'" (GG, 397).
In any case, knowledge of the ultimate Reality is not a matter for reason; it is like trying to explain nuclear physics to a child. Understanding of God comes by revelation of the ultimate reality through "nadir" or grace and by "anubhava" or mystical experience or by enhancing ones conciousness and spiritual awareness. Says Guru Nanak, budhi pathi na paiai bahu chaturaiai bhai milai mani bhane which translates to "He/She is not accessible through intellect, or through mere scholarship or cleverness at argument; He/She is met, when He/She pleases, through devotion" (GG, 436).
This concept is further explained later in the holy script. The Guru tells us that there is only one God who is eternal and cannot be destroyed; He is everywhere; outside and inside everyone; He does not discriminate and all are the same to Him. The full script is:
|The One God is the treasure of peace; |
I have heard that He is eternal and imperishable.
|sggs page 319|
The Shabads below help explain the position the Gurus take on this issue:
1). God is father and mother
In the following Shabads, the Guru explains in clear terms how the Lord is to be considered as our Father, Mother and Protector thus:
|ਏਕੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਏਕਸ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਤੂ ਮੇਰਾ ਗੁਰ ਹਾਈ ॥|
Ėk piṯā ėkas kė ham bārik ṯū mėrā gur hāī.
|sggs page 611|
|ਤੂੰ ਮੇਰਾ ਪਿਤਾ ਤੂੰਹੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਮਾਤਾ ॥ ਤੂੰ ਮੇਰਾ ਬੰਧਪੁ ਤੂੰ ਮੇਰਾ ਭ੍ਰਾਤਾ ॥ ਤੂੰ ਮੇਰਾ ਰਾਖਾ ਸਭਨੀ ਥਾਈ ਤਾ ਭਉ ਕੇਹਾ ਕਾੜਾ ਜੀਉ ॥੧॥|
Ŧūŉ mėrā piṯā ṯūŉhai mėrā māṯā. Ŧūŉ mėrā banḏẖap ṯūŉ mėrā bẖarāṯā. Ŧūŉ mėrā rākẖā sabẖnī thāī ṯā bẖao kėhā kāṛā jīo. ॥1॥
|sggs page 109|
2). He is found everywhere
In the following Shabad, the Guru tells us that God can be found in all the ten directions, on land, in water; in the forests and mountains; in heaven and hell; in mind and matter thus:
|ਦਸੇ ਦਿਸਾ ਰਵਿਆ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਏਕੁ ॥ ਧਰਨਿ ਅਕਾਸ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਪੇਖੁ ॥|
Ḏasė ḏisā raviā parabẖ ėk. Ḏẖaran akās sabẖ meh parabẖ pėkẖ.
ਜਲ ਥਲ ਬਨ ਪਰਬਤ ਪਾਤਾਲ ॥ ਪਰਮੇਸ੍ਵਰ ਤਹ ਬਸਹਿ ਦਇਆਲ ॥
ਸੂਖਮ ਅਸਥੂਲ ਸਗਲ ਭਗਵਾਨ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਪਛਾਨ ॥੧੪॥
|sggs page 299|
3). There is only One God
|ਸਭਨਾ ਕਾ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਏਕੁ ਹੈ ਦੂਜਾ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਮਨਿ ਵਸੈ ਤਿਤੁ ਘਟਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥੫॥|
Sabẖnā kā parabẖ ėk hai ḏūjā avar na koė. Gur parsādī man vasai ṯiṯ gẖat pargat hoė. ॥5॥
|sggs page 757|
4). He is in every heart
|ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਪੂਰਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਏਕੋ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥|
Gẖat gẖat pūr rahiā parabẖ ėko gurmukẖ pargat har har nām. ॥1॥ rahāo.
|sggs page 1334|