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Sikhism

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Portal: Sikhism

Sikhism,[1] founded in fifteenth century Punjab on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev and ten successive Sikh Gurus (the last one being the sacred text Guru Granth Sahib), is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world.[2] This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as the Gurmat (literally the counsel of the gurus) or the Sikh Dharma. Sikhism originated from the word Sikh, which in turn comes from the Sanskrit root śiṣya meaning "disciple" or "learner", or śikṣa meaning "instruction".[3][4]

The principal belief of Sikhism is faith in waheguru—represented using the sacred symbol of ik ōaṅkār, the Universal God. Sikhism advocates the pursuit of salvation through disciplined, personal meditation on the name and message of God. A key distinctive feature of Sikhism is a non-anthropomorphic concept of God, to the extent that one can interpret God as the Universe itself. The followers of Sikhism are ordained to follow the teachings of the ten Sikh gurus, or enlightened leaders, as well as the holy scripture entitled the Gurū Granth Sāhib, which, along with the writings of six of the ten Sikh Gurus, includes selected works of many devotees from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds. The text was decreed by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru, as the final guru of the Khalsa Panth. Sikhism's traditions and teachings are distinctively associated with the history, society and culture of the Punjab. Adherents of Sikhism are known as Sikhs (students or disciples) and number over 23 million across the world. Most Sikhs live in Punjab in India and, until India's partition, millions of Sikhs lived in what is now Pakistani Punjab.[5]

Philosophy and teachings

Amritsar-golden-temple-00

The Harimandir Sahib, known popularly as the Golden Temple, is a sacred shrine for Sikhs.

The origins of Sikhism lie in the teachings of Guru Nanak and his successors. The essence of Sikh teaching is summed up by Nanak in these words: "Realisation of Truth is higher than all else. Higher still is truthful living".[6] Sikhism believes in equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, and gender. Sikhism also does not attach any importance to asceticism as a means to attain salvation, but stresses on the need of leading life as a householder.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion.[7][8] In Sikhism, God—termed Vāhigurū—is shapeless, timeless, and sightless: niraṅkār, akāl, and alakh. The beginning of the first composition of Sikh scripture is the figure "1"—signifying the universality of God. It states that God is omnipresent and infinite, and is signified by the term ēk ōaṅkār.[9] Sikhs believe that before creation, all that existed was God and Its hukam (will or order).[10] When God willed, the entire cosmos was created. From these beginnings, God nurtured "enticement and attachment" to māyā, or the human perception of reality.[11]

While a full understanding of God is beyond human beings,[9] Nanak described God as not wholly unknowable. God is omnipresent (sarav viāpak) in all creation and visible everywhere to the spiritually awakened. Nanak stressed that God must be seen from "the inward eye", or the "heart", of a human being: devotees must meditate to progress towards enlightenment. Guru Nanak Dev emphasized the revelation through meditation, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between God and human beings.[9] God has no gender in Sikhism, (though translations may incorrectly present a male God); indeed Sikhism teaches that God is "Nirankar" [Niran meaning "without" and kar meaning "form", hence "without form"]. In addition, Nanak wrote that there are many worlds on which God has created life.[12]

Pursuing salvation and khalsa

Sikh.man.at.the.Golden.Temple

A Sikh man at the Harimandir Sahib

Nanak's teachings are founded not on a final destination of heaven or hell, but on a spiritual union with God which results in salvation.[13] The chief obstacles to the attainment of salvation are social conflicts and an attachment to worldly pursuits, which commit men and women to an endless cycle of birth—a concept known as reincarnation.

Māyā—defined as illusion or "unreality"—is one of the core deviations from the pursuit of God and salvation: people are distracted from devotion by worldly attractions which give only illusive satisfaction. However, Nanak emphasised māyā as not a reference to the unreality of the world, but of its values. In Sikhism, the influences of ego, anger, greed, attachment, and lust—known as the Five Evils—are believed to be particularly pernicious. The fate of people vulnerable to the Five Evils is separation from God, and the situation may be remedied only after intensive and relentless devotion.[14]

Nanak described God's revelation—the path to salvation—with terms such as nām (the divine Name) and śabad (the divine Word) to emphasise the totality of the revelation. Nanak designated the word guru (meaning teacher) as the voice of God and the source and guide for knowledge and salvation.[15] Salvation can be reached only through rigorous and disciplined devotion to God. Nanak distinctly emphasised the irrelevance of outward observations such as rites, pilgrimages, or asceticism. He stressed that devotion must take place through the heart, with the spirit and the soul.

A key practice to be pursued is nām: remembrance of the divine Name. The verbal repetition of the name of God or a sacred syllable is an established practice in religious traditions in India, but Nanak's interpretation emphasized inward, personal observance. Nanak's ideal is the total exposure of one's being to the divine Name and a total conforming to Dharma or the "Divine Order". Nanak described the result of the disciplined application of nām simraṇ as a "growing towards and into God" through a gradual process of five stages. The last of these is sac khaṇḍ (The Realm of Truth)—the final union of the spirit with God.[15]

Nanak stressed now kirat karō: that a Sikh should balance work, worship, and charity, and should defend the rights of all creatures, and in particular, fellow human beings. They are encouraged to have a chaṛdī kalā, or optimistic, view of life. Sikh teachings also stress the concept of sharing—vaṇḍ chakkō—through the distribution of free food at Sikh gurdwaras (laṅgar), giving charitable donations, and working for the good of the community and others (sēvā).

The ten gurus and religious authority

Sikh Gurus with Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana

A rare Tanjore-style painting from the late 19th century depicting the ten Sikh Gurus with Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana.

The term guru comes from the Sanskrit gurū, meaning teacher, guide, or mentor. The traditions and philosophy of Sikhism were established by ten specific gurus from 1499 to 1708. Each guru added to and reinforced the message taught by the previous, resulting in the creation of the Sikh religion. Nanak was the first guru and appointed a disciple as successor. Gobind Singh was the final guru in human form. Before his death, Gobind Singh decreed that the Gurū Granth Sāhib would be the final and perpetual guru of the Sikhs.[16] The Sikhs believe that the spirit of Nanak was passed from one guru to the next, " just as the light of one lamp, which lights another and does not diminish ",[17] and is also mentioned in their holy book.

# Name Date of birth Guruship on Date of ascension Age
1 Nanak Dev 15 April 1469 20 August 1507 22 September 1539 69
2 Angad Dev 31 March 1504 7 September 1539 29 March 1552 48
3 Amar Das 5 May 1479 26 March 1552 1 September 1574 95
4 Ram Das 24 September 1534 1 September 1574 1 September 1581 46
5 Arjan Dev 15 April 1563 1 September 1581 30 May 1606 43
6 Har Gobind 19 June 1595 25 May 1606 28 February 1644 48
7 Har Rai 16 January 1630 3 March 1644 6 October 1661 31
8 Har Krishan 7 July 1656 6 October 1661 30 March 1664 7
9 Tegh Bahadur 1 April 1621 20 March 1665 11 November 1675 54
10 Gobind Singh 22 December 1666 11 November 1675 7 October 1708 41
11 Guru Granth Sahib n/a 7 October 1708 n/a n/a

After Nanak's passing, the most important phase in the development of Sikhism came with the third successor, Amar Das. Nanak's teachings emphasised the pursuit of salvation; Amar Das began building a cohesive community of followers with initiatives such as sanctioning distinctive ceremonies for birth, marriage, and death. Amar Das also established the manji (comparable to a diocese) system of clerical supervision.[15]

Interior of Akal Takht

The interior of the Akal Takht

Amar Das's successor and son-in-law Ram Das founded the city of Amritsar, which is home of the Harimandir Sahib and regarded widely as the holiest city for all Sikhs. When Ram Das's youngest son Arjan succeeded him, the line of male gurus from the Sodhi Khatri family was established: all succeeding gurus were direct descendants of this line. Guru Arjan Sahib was captured by Mughal authorities who were suspicious and hostile to the religious order he was developing.[18] His persecution and death inspired his successors to promote a military and political organization of Sikh communities to defend themselves against the attacks of Mughal forces.

The Sikh gurus established a mechanism which allowed the Sikh religion to react as a community to changing circumstances. The sixth guru, Har Gobind, was responsible for the creation of the concept of Akal Takht (throne of the timeless one), which serves as the supreme decision-making centre of Sikhdom and sits opposite the Darbar Sahib. The Sarbat Ḵẖālsā (a representative portion of the Khalsa Panth) historically gathers at the Akal Takht on special festivals such as Vaisakhi or Diwali and when there is a need to discuss matters that affect the entire Sikh nation. A gurmatā (literally, guru's intention) is an order passed by the Sarbat Ḵẖālsā in the presence of the Gurū Granth Sāhib. A gurmatā may only be passed on a subject that affects the fundamental principles of Sikh religion; it is binding upon all Sikhs.[19] The term hukamnāmā (literally, edict or royal order) is often used interchangeably with the term gurmatā. However, a hukamnāmā formally refers to a hymn from the Gurū Granth Sāhib which is given as an order to Sikhs.

History

Nanak (1469–1538), the founder of Sikhism, was born in the village of Rāi Bhōi dī Talwandī, now called Nankana Sahib (in present-day Pakistan).[20] His father, Mehta Kalu was a Patwari, an accountant of land revenue in the employment of Rai Bular Bhatti, the area landlord. Nanak's mother was Tripta Devi and he had one older sister, Nanaki. His parents were Khatri Hindus of the Bedi clan. As a boy, Nanak was fascinated by religion, and his desire to explore the mysteries of life eventually led him to leave home and take missionary journeys.

In his early teens, Nanak caught the attention of the local landlord Rai Bular Bhatti, who was moved by his intellect and divine qualities. Rai Bular was witness to many incidents in which Nanak enchanted him and as a result Rai Bular and Nanak's sister Bibi Nanki, became the first persons to recognise the divine qualities in Nanak. Both of them then encouraged and supported Nanak to study and travel. Sikh tradition states that at the age of thirty, Nanak went missing and was presumed to have drowned after going for one of his morning baths to a local stream called the Kali Bein. One day, he declared: "There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim" (in Punjabi, "nā kōi hindū nā kōi musalmān"). It was from this moment that Nanak would begin to spread the teachings of what was then the beginning of Sikhism.[21] Although the exact account of his itinerary is disputed, he is widely acknowledged to have made four major journeys, spanning thousands of miles, the first tour being east towards Bengal and Assam, the second south towards Tamil Nadu, the third north towards Kashmir, Ladakh, and Tibet, and the final tour west towards Baghdad and Mecca.[22]

Nanak was married to Sulakhni, the daughter of Moolchand Chona, a rice trader from the town of Bakala. They had two sons. The elder son, Sri Chand, was an ascetic, and he came to have a considerable following of his own, known as the Udasis. The younger son, Lakshmi Das, on the other hand, was totally immersed in worldly life. To Nanak, who believed in the ideal of rāj maiṁ jōg (detachment in civic life), both his sons were unfit to carry on the Guruship.

Growth of the Sikh community

In 1538, Nanak chose his disciple Lahiṇā, a Khatri of the Trehan clan, as a successor to the guruship rather than either of his sons. Lahiṇā was named Angad Dev and became the second guru of the Sikhs.[23] Nanak conferred his choice at the town of Kartarpur on the banks of the river Ravi, where Nanak had finally settled down after his travels. Though Sri Chand was not an ambitious man, the Udasis believed that the Guruship should have gone to him, since he was a man of pious habits in addition to being Nanak's son. They refused to accept Angad's succession. On Nanak's advice, Angad shifted from Kartarpur to Khadur, where his wife Khivi and children were living, until he was able to bridge the divide between his followers and the Udasis. Angad continued the work started by Nanak and is widely credited for standardising the Gurmukhī script as used in the sacred scripture of the Sikhs.

Amar Das, a Khatri of the Bhalla clan, became the third Sikh guru in 1552 at the age of 73. Goindval became an important centre for Sikhism during the guruship of Amar Das. He preached the principle of equality for women by prohibiting purdah and sati. Amar Das also encouraged the practice of langar and made all those who visited him attend laṅgar before they could speak to him.[24] In 1567, Emperor Akbar sat with the ordinary and poor people of Punjab to have laṅgar. Amar Das also trained 146 apostles of which 52 were women, to manage the rapid expansion of the religion.[25] Before he died in 1574 aged 95, he appointed his son-in-law Jēṭhā, a Khatri of the Sodhi clan, as the fourth Sikh guru.

Jēṭhā became Ram Das and vigorously undertook his duties as the new guru. He is responsible for the establishment of the city of Ramdaspur later to be named Amritsar. Before Ramdaspur, Amritsar was known as Guru Da Chakk. In 1581, Arjan Dev—youngest son of the fourth guru—became the fifth guru of the Sikhs. In addition to being responsible for building the Darbar/Harimandir Sahib (called the Golden Temple), he prepared the Sikh sacred text known as the Ādi Granth (literally the first book) and included the writings of the first five gurus. In 1606, for refusing to make changes to the Granth and for supporting an unsuccessful contender to the throne, he was tortured and killed by the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir.[26]

Political advancement

Hargobind, became the sixth guru of the Sikhs. He carried two swords—one for spiritual and the other for temporal reasons (known as mīrī and pīrī in Sikhism).[27] Sikhs grew as an organized community and under the 10th Guru the Sikhs developed a trained fighting force to defend their independence. In 1644, Har Rai became guru followed by Harkrishan, the boy guru, in 1661. No hymns composed by these three gurus are included in the Sikh holy book.[28]

Tegh Bahadur became guru in 1665 and led the Sikhs until 1675. Teg Bahadur was executed by Aurangzeb for helping to protect Hindus, after a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits came to him for help when the Emperor condemned them to death for failing to convert to Islam.[29] He was succeeded by his son, Gobind Rai who was just nine years old at the time of his father's death. Gobind Rai further militarised his followers, and was baptised by the Pañj Piārē when he formed the Khalsa on 13 April 1699. From here on in he was known as Gobind Singh.

From the time of Nanak, when it was a loose collection of followers who focused entirely on the attainment of salvation and God, the Sikh community had significantly transformed. Even though the core Sikh religious philosophy was never affected, the followers now began to develop a political identity. Conflict with Mughal authorities escalated during the lifetime of Teg Bahadur and Gobind Singh. The latter founded the Khalsa in 1699. The Khalsa is a disciplined community that combines its religious purpose and goals with political and military duties.[30] After Aurangzeb killed four of his sons, Gobind Singh sent Aurangzeb the Zafarnamah (Notification/Epistle of Victory).

Shortly before his death, Gobind Singh ordered that the Gurū Granth Sāhib (the Sikh Holy Scripture), would be the ultimate spiritual authority for the Sikhs and temporal authority would be vested in the Khalsa Panth—the Sikh Nation/Community.[16] The first scripture was compiled and edited by the fifth guru, Arjan Dev, in 1604.

A former ascetic was charged by Gobind Singh with the duty of punishing those who had persecuted the Sikhs. After the guru's death, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur became the leader of the Sikh army and was responsible for several attacks on the Mughal empire. He was executed by the emperor Jahandar Shah after refusing the offer of a pardon if he converted to Islam.[31]

The Sikh community's embrace of military and political organisation made it a considerable regional force in medieval India and it continued to evolve after the demise of the gurus. After the death of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, a Sikh Confederacy of Sikh warrior bands known as misls formed. With the decline of the Mughal empire, a Sikh Empire arose in the Punjab under Maharaja Ranjit Singh, with its capital in Lahore and limits reaching the Khyber Pass and the borders of China. The order, traditions and discipline developed over centuries culminated at the time of Ranjit Singh to give rise to the common religious and social identity that the term "Sikhism" describes.[32]

After the death of Ranjit Singh, the Sikh Empire fell into disorder and was eventually annexed by the United Kingdom after the hard-fought Anglo-Sikh Wars. This brought the Punjab under the British Raj. Sikhs formed the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and the Shiromani Akali Dal to preserve Sikhs' religious and political organization a quarter of a century later. With the partition of India in 1947, thousands of Sikhs were killed in violence and millions were forced to leave their ancestral homes in West Punjab.[33] Sikhs faced initial opposition from the Government in forming a linguistic state that other states in India were afforded. The Akali Dal started a non-violence movement for Sikh and Punjabi rights. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale emerged as a leader of the Bhindran-Mehta Jatha—which assumed the name of Damdami Taksal in 1977 to promote a peaceful solution of the problem. In June 1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian army to launch Operation Blue Star to remove Bhindranwale and his followers from the Darbar Sahib. Bhindranwale, and a large number of innocent pilgrims were killed during the army's operations. In October, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards. The assassination was followed by the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots massacre[34] and Hindu-Sikh conflicts in Punjab, as a reaction to the assassination and Operation Blue Star.

Scripture

There are two primary sources of scripture for the Sikhs: the Gurū Granth Sāhib and the Dasam Granth. The Gurū Granth Sāhib may be referred to as the Ādi Granth—literally, The First Volume—and the two terms are often used synonymously. Here, however, the Ādi Granth refers to the version of the scripture created by Arjan Dev in 1604. The Gurū Granth Sāhib refers to the final version of the scripture created by Gobind Singh.

Adi Granth

The Ādi Granth was compiled primarily by Bhai Gurdas under the supervision of Arjan Dev between the years 1603 and 1604.[35] It is written in the Gurmukhī script, which is a descendant of the Laṇḍā script used in the Punjab at that time.[36] The Gurmukhī script was standardised by Angad Dev, the second guru of the Sikhs, for use in the Sikh scriptures and is thought to have been influenced by the Śāradā and Devanāgarī scripts. An authoritative scripture was created to protect the integrity of hymns and teachings of the Sikh gurus and selected bhagats. At the time, Arjan Sahib tried to prevent undue influence from the followers of Prithi Chand, the guru's older brother and rival.[37]

The original version of the Ādi Granth is known as the kartārpur bīṛ and is claimed to be held by the Sodhi family of Kartarpur. (In fact the original volume was burned by Ahmad Shah Durrani's army in 1757 when they burned the whole town of Kartarpur.)

Guru Granth Sahib

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Nishan

Gurū Granth Sāhib folio with Mūl Mantra

The final version of the Gurū Granth Sāhib was compiled by Gobind Singh in 1678. It consists of the original Ādi Granth with the addition of Teg Bahadur's hymns. It was decreed by Gobind Singh that the Granth was to be considered the eternal guru of all Sikhs; however, this tradition is not mentioned either in 'Guru Granth Sahib' or in 'Dasam Granth'.

Punjabi: ਸੱਬ ਸਿੱਖਣ ਕੋ ਹੁਕਮ ਹੈ ਗੁਰੂ ਮਾਨਯੋ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ।
Transliteration: Sabb sikkhaṇ kō hukam hai gurū mānyō granth.
English: All Sikhs are commanded to take the Granth as Guru.

It contains compositions by the first five gurus, Teg Bahadur and just one śalōk (couplet) from Gobind Singh.[38] It also contains the traditions and teachings of sants (saints) such as Kabir, Namdev, Ravidas, and Sheikh Farid along with several others.[32]

The bulk of the scripture is classified into rāgs, with each rāg subdivided according to length and author. There are 31 main rāgs within the Gurū Granth Sāhib. In addition to the rāgs, there are clear references to the folk music of Punjab. The main language used in the scripture is known as Sant Bhāṣā, a language related to both Punjabi and Hindi and used extensively across medieval northern India by proponents of popular devotional religion.[30] The text further comprises over 5000 śabads, or hymns, which are poetically constructed and set to classical form of music rendition, can be set to predetermined musical tāl, or rhythmic beats.

Sikh musicians

A group of Sikh musicians at the Golden Temple complex

The Granth begins with the Mūl Mantra, an iconic verse created by Nanak:

Punjabi: ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
ISO 15919 transliteration: Ika ōaṅkāra sati nāmu karatā purakhu nirabha'u niravairu akāla mūrati ajūnī saibhaṅ gura prasādi.
Simplified transliteration: Ik ōaṅkār sat nām kartā purkh nirbha'u nirvair akāl mūrat ajūnī saibhaṅ gur prasād.
English: One Universal Creator God, The Name Is Truth, Creative Being Personified, No Fear, No Hatred, Image Of The Timeless One, Beyond Birth, Self Existent, By Guru's Grace.

All text within the Granth is known as gurbānī. Gurbānī, according to Nanak, was revealed by God directly, and the authors wrote it down for the followers. The status accorded to the scripture is defined by the evolving interpretation of the concept of gurū. In the Sant tradition of Nanak, the guru was literally the word of God. The Sikh community soon transferred the role to a line of men who gave authoritative and practical expression to religious teachings and traditions, in addition to taking socio-political leadership of Sikh adherents. Gobind Singh declared an end of the line of human gurus, and now the Gurū Granth Sāhib serves as the eternal guru, with its interpretation vested with the community.[30]

Dasam Granth

Dasam.Granth.Frontispiece.BL.Manuscript.1825-1850

A frontispiece to the Dasam Granth

The Dasam Granth (formally dasvēṁ pātśāh kī granth or The Book of the Tenth Master) is an eighteenth-century collection of poems by Gobind Singh. It was compiled in the shape of a book (granth) by Bhai Mani Singh some 13 to 26 years after Guru Gobind Singh Ji left this world for his heavenly abode.

From 1895 to 1897, different scholars and theologians assembled at the Akal Takht, Amritsar, to study the 32 printed Dasam Granths and prepare the authoritative version. They met at the Akal Takhat at Amritsar, and held formal discussions in a series of meetings between 13 June 1895 and 16 February 1896. A preliminary report entitled Report Sodhak (revision) Committee Dasam Patshah de Granth Sahib Di was sent to Sikh scholars and institutions, inviting their opinion. A second document, Report Dasam Granth di Sudhai Di was brought out on 11 February 1898. Basing its conclusions on a study of the old handwritten copies of the Dasam Granth preserved at Sri Takht Sahib at Patna and in other Sikh gurudwaras, this report affirmed that the Holy Volume was compiled at Anandpur Sahib in 1698[3] . Further re-examinations and reviews took place in 1931, under the aegis of the Darbar Sahib Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee. They, too, vindicated the earlier conclusion (agreeing that it was indeed the work of the Guru) and its findings have since been published.

Janamsakhis

The Janamsākhīs (literally birth stories), are writings which profess to be biographies of Nanak. Although not scripture in the strictest sense, they provide an interesting look at Nanak's life and the early start of Sikhism. There are several—often contradictory and sometimes unreliable—Janamsākhīs and they are not held in the same regard as other sources of scriptural knowledge.

Observances

Observant Sikhs adhere to long-standing practices and traditions to strengthen and express their faith. The daily recitation from memory of specific passages from the Gurū Granth Sāhib, especially the Japu (or Japjī, literally chant) hymns is recommended immediately after rising and bathing. Family customs include both reading passages from the scripture and attending the gurdwara (also gurduārā, meaning the doorway to God; sometimes transliterated as gurudwara). There are many gurdwaras prominently constructed and maintained across India, as well as in almost every nation where Sikhs reside. Gurdwaras are open to all, regardless of religion, background, caste, or race.

Worship in a gurdwara consists chiefly of singing of passages from the scripture. Sikhs will commonly enter the temple, touch the ground before the holy scripture with their foreheads, and make an offering. The recitation of the eighteenth century ardās is also customary for attending Sikhs. The ardās recalls past sufferings and glories of the community, invoking divine grace for all humanity.[39]

The most sacred shrine is the Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar, famously known as the Golden Temple. Groups of Sikhs regularly visit and congregate at the Harimandir Sahib. On specific occasions, groups of Sikhs are permitted to undertake a pilgrimage to Sikh shrines in the province of Punjab in Pakistan, especially at Nankana Sahib and other Gurdwaras. Other places of interest to Sikhism in Pakistan includes the samādhī (place of cremation) of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Lahore.

Sikh festivals

Festivals in Sikhism mostly centre around the lives of the Gurus and Sikh martyrs. The SGPC, the Sikh organisation in charge of upkeep of the gurdwaras, organises celebrations based on the new Nanakshahi calendar. This calendar is highly controversial among Sikhs and is not universally accepted. Several festivals (Hola Mohalla, Diwali, and Nanak's birthday) continue to be celebrated using the Hindu calendar. Sikh festivals include the following:

  • Gurpurabs are celebrations or commemorations based on the lives of the Sikh gurus. They tend to be either birthdays or celebrations of Sikh martyrdom. All ten Gurus have Gurpurabs on the Nanakshahi calendar, but it is Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh who have a gurpurab that is widely celebrated in Gurdwaras and Sikh homes. The martyrdoms are also known as a shaheedi Gurpurab, which mark the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Tegh Bahadur.
  • Vaisakhi or Baisakhi normally occurs on 13 April and marks the beginning of the new spring year and the end of the harvest. Sikhs celebrate it because on Vaisakhi in 1699, the tenth guru, Gobind Singh, laid down the Foundation of the Khalsa an Independent Sikh Identity.
  • Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali celebrates Hargobind's release from the Gwalior Fort, with several innocent Hindu kings who were also imprisoned by Jahangir, on 26 October, 1619.
  • Hola Mohalla occurs the day after Holi and is when the Khalsa Panth gather at Anandpur and display their warrior skills, including fighting and riding.

Ceremonies and customs

Sikh wedding

The anand kāraj (Sikh marriage) ceremony

Nanak taught that rituals, religious ceremonies, or idol worship is of little use and Sikhs are discouraged from fasting or going on pilgrimages.[40] However, during the period of the later gurus, and owing to increased institutionalisation of the religion, some ceremonies and rites did arise. Sikhism is not a proselytizing religion and most Sikhs do not make active attempts to gain converts. However, converts to Sikhism are welcomed, although there is no formal conversion ceremony. The morning and evening prayers take about two hours a day, starting in the very early morning hours. The first morning prayer is Guru Nanak's Jap Ji. Jap, meaning "recitation", refers to the use of sound, as the best way of approaching the divine. Like combing hair, hearing and reciting the sacred word is used as a way to comb all negative thoughts out of the mind. The second morning prayer is Guru Gobind Singh's universal Jaap Sahib. The Guru addresses God as having no form, no country, and no religion but as the seed of seeds, sun of suns, and the song of songs. The Jaap Sahib asserts that God is the cause of conflict as well as peace, and of destruction as well as creation. Devotees learn that there is nothing outside of God's presence, nothing outside of God's control. Devout Sikhs are encouraged to begin the day with private meditations on the name of God.

Upon a child's birth, the Guru Granth Sāhib is opened at a random point and the child is named using the first letter on the top left-hand corner of the left page. All boys are given the middle name or surname Singh, and all girls are given the middle name or surname Kaur.[41] Sikhs are joined in wedlock through the anand kāraj ceremony. Sikhs are required to marry when they are of a sufficient age (child marriage is taboo), and without regard for the future spouse's caste or descent. The marriage ceremony is performed in the company of the Guru Granth Sāhib; around which the couple circles four times. After the ceremony is complete, the husband and wife are considered "a single soul in two bodies."[42]

According to Sikh religious rites, neither husband nor wife is permitted to divorce. A Sikh couple that wishes to divorce may be able to do so in a civil court—but this is not condoned.[43] Upon death, the body of a Sikh is usually cremated. If this is not possible, any means of disposing the body may be employed. The kīrtan sōhilā and ardās prayers are performed during the funeral ceremony (known as antim sanskār).[44]

Baptism and the Khalsa

Kakaars x3

A kaṛā, kaṅghā and kirpān.

Khalsa (meaning pure) is the name given by Gobind Singh to all Sikhs who have been baptised or initiated by taking ammrit in a ceremony called ammrit sañcār. The first time that this ceremony took place was on Vaisakhi, which fell on 29 March 1698/1699 at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. It was on that occasion that Gobind Singh baptised the Pañj Piārē who in turn baptised Gobind Singh himself.

Baptised Sikhs are bound to wear the Five Ks (in Punjabi known as pañj kakkē or pañj kakār), or articles of faith, at all times. The tenth guru, Gobind Singh, ordered these Five Ks to be worn so that a Sikh could actively use them to make a difference to their own and to others' spirituality. The 5 items are: kēs (uncut hair), kaṅghā (small comb), kaṛā (circular iron bracelet), kirpān (dagger), and kacchā (special undergarment). The Five Ks have both practical and symbolic purposes.[45]

Sikh people

Punjabipeople

Punjabi Sikh family from Punjab, India

Worldwide, there are 25.8 million Sikhs and approximately 75% of Sikhs live in the Indian state of Punjab, where they constitute about 60% of the state's population. Even though there are a large number of Sikhs in the world, certain countries have not recognised Sikhism as a major religion as Sikhism is closely related to Hinduism. Large communities of Sikhs live in the neighboring states, and large communities of Sikhs can be found across India. However, Sikhs only make up about 2% of the Indian population.

In addition to social divisions, there is a misperception that there are a number of Sikh sectarian groups[clarification needed], such as Namdharis and Nirankaris. Nihangs tend to have little difference in practice and are considered the army of Sikhism. There is also a sect known as Udasi, founded by Sri Chand who were initially part of Sikhism but later developed into a monastic order.These udasis were exiled for misconduct and malpractice of sikhism.

Sikh Migration beginning from the 19th century led to the creation of significant communities in Canada (predominantly in Brampton, along with Malton in Ontario and Surrey in British Columbia), East Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the United Kingdom and more recently, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Western Europe. Smaller populations of Sikhs are found in Mauritius, Malaysia, Fiji, Nepal, China, Pakistan, Afganistan, Iraq, Singapore and many other countries.

See also

Template:Wikipedia-Books

References

  1. pronounced /ˈsiːkɪzəm/ (Speaker Icon.svg listen) or /ˈsɪkɪzəm/  (Speaker Icon.svg listen); Punjabi: ਸਿੱਖੀ, sikkhī, IPA: [ˈsɪkːʰiː](Speaker Icon.svg listen)
  2. Adherents.com. "Religions by adherents" (PHP). http://adherents.com/misc/rel_by_adh_CSM.html. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  3. Singh, Khushwant (2006). The Illustrated History of the Sikhs. India: Oxford University Press. p. 15. ISBN 0-19-567747-1. 
  4. Template:Pa icon Nabha, Kahan. Singh (1930) (in Punjabi). Gur Shabad Ratnakar Mahan Kosh/ਗੁਰ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਰਤਨਾਕਰ ਮਹਾਨ ਕੋਸ਼. p. 720. http://www.ik13.com/online_library.htm#mahankosh. Retrieved 2006-05-29. 
  5. Axel, Brian Keith (2001). The Nation's Tortured Body: Violence, Representation, and the Formation. Duke University Press. p. 88. ISBN 0822326159. 
  6. Teece, Geoff. Sikhism:Religion in focus. Black Rabbit Books. p. 4. ISBN 1583404694. 
  7. Mark Juergensmeyer, Gurinder Singh Mann (2006). The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions. US: Oxford University Press. p. 41. ISBN 0195137981. 
  8. Ardinger, Barbara (2006). Pagan Every Day: Finding the Extraordinary in Our Ordinary Lives. Weisfer. p. 13. ISBN 157863332X. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Parrinder, Geoffrey (1971). World Religions:From Ancient History to the Present. USA: Hamlyn Publishing Group. p. 252. ISBN 0-87196-129-6. 
  10. Dev, Guru Nanak Dev. Guru Granth Sāhib ji. p. 1035. http://www.srigranth.org/servlet/gurbani.gurbani?Action=Page&Param=1035&punjabi=t#l44288. Retrieved 2006-06-15. "For endless eons, there was only utter darkness. There was no earth or sky; there was only the infinite Command of His Hukam." 
  11. Dev, Nanak. Gurū Granth Sāhib. p. 1036. http://www.srigranth.org/servlet/gurbani.gurbani?Action=Page&Param=1036&punjabi=t#l44327. Retrieved 2006-06-15. "When He so willed, He created the world. Without any supporting power, He sustained the universe. He created Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; He fostered enticement and attachment to Maya." 
  12. Dev, Nanak. Gurū Granth Sāhib. p. 15. http://www.srigranth.org/servlet/gurbani.gurbani?Action=Page&Param=15&punjabi=t&id=632#l632. Retrieved 2006-06-15. "You are the One True Lord and Master of all the other beings, of so many worlds." 
  13. Brodd, Jefferey (2003). World Religions. Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press. ISBN 978-0-88489-725-5. 
  14. Parrinder, Geoffrey (1971). World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present. United States: Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited. p. 253. ISBN 0-87196-129-6. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Parrinder, Geoffrey (1971). World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present. United States: Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited. p. 254. ISBN 0-87196-129-6. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Mann, Gurinder Singh (2001). The Making of Sikh Scripture. United States: Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 0-19-513024-3. 
  17. "Sikh Gurus". Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee. http://sgpc.net/gurus/index.asp. Retrieved December 2007. 
  18. Parrinder, Geoffrey (1971). World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present. United States: Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited. p. 255. ISBN 0-87196-129-6. 
  19. "Sikh Reht Maryada - Method of Adopting Gurmatta". http://www.sgpc.net/sikhism/tankah.asp. Retrieved 2006-06-09. 
  20. Singh, Khushwant (2006). The Illustrated History of the Sikhs. India: Oxford University Press. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-19-567747-1.  According to the Purātan Janamsākhī (the birth stories of Nanak)
  21. Shackle, Christopher; Mandair, Arvind-Pal Singh (2005). Teachings of the Sikh Gurus: Selections from the Sikh Scriptures. United Kingdom: Routledge. xiii–xiv. ISBN 0-415-26604-1. 
  22. Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer (2008). Sikh Twareekh. Belgium & India: The Sikh University Press. 
  23. Shackle, Christopher; Mandair, Arvind-Pal Singh (2005). Teachings of the Sikh Gurus: Selections from the Sikh Scriptures. United Kingdom: Routledge. p. xv. ISBN 0-415-26604-1. 
  24. Duggal, Kartar Singh (1988). Philosophy and Faith of Sikhism. Himalayan Institute Press. p. 15. ISBN 0-89389-109-6. 
  25. Brar, Sandeep Singh (1998). "The Sikhism Homepage: Guru Amar Das". http://www.sikhs.org/guru3.htm. Retrieved 2006-05-26. 
  26. Shackle, Christopher; Mandair, Arvind-Pal Singh (2005). Teachings of the Sikh Gurus: Selections from the Sikh Scriptures. United Kingdom: Routledge. pp. xv-xvi. ISBN 0-415-26604-1. 
  27. Mahmood, Cynthia (2002). A Sea of Orange. United States: Xlibris. p. 16. ISBN 1-4010-2856-X. 
  28. Shackle, Christopher; Mandair, Arvind-Pal Singh (2005). Teachings of the Sikh Gurus: Selections from the Sikh Scriptures. United Kingdom: Routledge. xvi. ISBN 0-415-26604-1. 
  29. Rama, Swami (1986). Celestial Song/Gobind Geet: The Dramatic Dialogue Between Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Singh Bahadur. Himalayan Institute Press. pp. 7–8. ISBN 0-89389-103-7. 
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Parrinder, Geoffrey (1971). World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present. United States: Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited. p. 259. ISBN 0-87196-129-6. 
  31. Singh, Khushwant (2006). The Illustrated History of the Sikhs. India: Oxford University Press. pp. 47–53. ISBN 0-19-567747-1. 
  32. 32.0 32.1 Parrinder, Geoffrey (1971). World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present. United States: Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited. p. 256. ISBN 0-87196-129-6. 
  33. Pandey, Gyanendra (2001). Remembering Partition: Violence, Nationalism and History in India. Cambridge University Press. p. 33. ISBN 0-521-00250-8. 
  34. Horowitz, Donald L. (2003). The Deadly Ethnic Riot. University of California Press. pp. 482–485. ISBN 0-520-23642-4. 
  35. Trumpp, Ernest (2004) [1877]. The Ādi Granth or the Holy Scriptures of the Sikhs. India: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. p. 1xxxi. ISBN 81-215-0244-6. 
  36. Grierson, George Abraham (1967) [1927]. The Linguistic Survey of India. India: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 624. ISBN 81-85395-27-6. 
  37. Mann, Gurinder Singh (2001). The Making of Sikh Scripture. United States: Oxford University Press. p. 19. ISBN 0-19-513024-3. 
  38. Brar, Sandeep Singh (1998). "The Sikhism Homepage: Sri Guru Granth Sahib - Authors & Contributors". http://sikhs.org/granth2.htm. Retrieved 2006-05-30. 
  39. Parrinder, Geoffrey (1971). World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present. United States: Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited. p. 260. ISBN 0-87196-129-6. 
  40. Sahib, Nanak. Guru Granth Sāhib. p. 75. http://www.srigranth.org/servlet/gurbani.gurbani?Action=Page&Param=75&english=t&id=3063#l3063. Retrieved 2006-06-30. "Pilgrimages, fasts, purification and self-discipline are of no use, nor are rituals, religious ceremonies or empty worship." 
  41. Loehlin, Clinton Herbert (1964) [1958]. The Sikhs and Their Scriptures (Second edition ed.). Lucknow Publishing House. p. 42. 
  42. "Sikh Reht Maryada - Anand Sanskar: (Sikh Matrimonial Ceremony and Conventions)". http://sgpc.net/sikhism/anand-sanskar.html. Retrieved 2006-06-08. 
  43. Mansukhani, Gobind Singh (1977). Introduction to Sikhism. India: Hemkunt Press. http://allaboutsikhs.com/mansukh/123.htm. Retrieved 2006-06-11. 
  44. "Sikh Reht Maryada - Funeral Ceremonies (Antam Sanskar)". http://sgpc.net/sikhism/antam-sanskar.asp. Retrieved 2006-06-08. 
  45. Simmonds, David (1992). Believers All: A Book of Six World Religions. Nelson Thornes. pp. 120–121. ISBN 0-17-437057-1. 

Further reading

  • Duggal, Kartar Singh (1988), Philosophy and Faith of Sikhism, Himalayan Institute Press, ISBN 0-893-89109-6
  • Parrinder, Geoffrey (1971), World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present, Hamlyn Publishing Group, USA, ISBN 0-87196-129-6
  • Singh, Khushwant (2006), The Illustrated History of the Sikhs, Oxford University Press, India, ISBN 0-195-67747-1
  • Teece, Geoff (2004), Sikhism: Religion in focus, Black Rabbit Books, ISBN 1-583-40469-4
  • Dilgeer, Dr Harjinder Singh (2007), Sikh Twareekh, publisher Sikh University Press & Singh Brothers Amritsar, 2007
  • Dilgeer, Harjinder Singh (2005), Dictionary of Sikh Philosophy, Sikh University Press

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