Sikhism is ranked as the world’s fifth largest religion. It began about 500 years ago by Guru Nanak and preaches a message of devotion and remembrance to God at all times, truthful living and equality of mankind and renounces superstitions and blind rituals. Sikhism is open to all through the teachings of its ten Gurus enshrined in the Sikh Holy Book, ‘Adi Granth’ or ‘Guru Granth Sahib’.
Fundamental Beliefs of Sikhism:
Sikhs believe that God is monistic or non-dual. He is the creator of the universe, whose existence and continued survival depends on His will. God is both ‘Saguna’ (with attributes) and ‘Nirguna’ (without attributes) and is called by names such as ‘Sat’ (truth), ‘Sat Guru’ (true Guru), ‘Akal Purkh’ (timeless being), ‘Kartar’ (creator) and ‘Wahi-Guru’ (praise to the God). Sikhism does not believe in the incarnation of God in human form. However, belief in the ten Gurus or spiritual guides is the essential element of Sikhism. It disapproves asceticism and self-mortification as path to enlightenment. The only way to achieve liberation (‘mukti’) from the cycle of birth and death is by being God-conscious (‘gurmukh’). Sikhs follow the path of ‘japa’ i.e. recitation of hymn, devotional prayers (‘kirtana’) and singing the names of God (‘Nam Simran’).
The Khalsa :
The concept of ‘Khalsa’, literally meaning ‘the pure’, was introduced by Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur Sahib on the Baisakhi day on 13th April, 1699. He established this new fraternity with five followers (later known as ‘Panj Pyares’), who were baptized with ‘amrit’ as ‘Khalsas’. The Khalsa symbolised coalescence of serenity and strength, purity and power, ‘shastra’ (scripture), ‘shastra’ (weapon), ‘jnana Shakti’ (power of wisdom) and ‘kriya shakti’ (power of action). It was made obligatory for every Sikh to wear the Five K’s – ‘Kesha’ (long hair), ‘Kangha’ (comb), ‘Kara’ (steel bracelet), ‘Kaccha’ (short drawers) and Kirpan (sword). The year 1999 marked the tercentenary of the Khalsa Panth.
Guru Granth Sahib:
The ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ (or the ‘Adi Granth’) is considered as the Supreme Spiritual Authority and Head of the Sikh religion. It is perhaps the only scripture of its kind which not only contains works of its own religious founders but also writings of people from other faiths. Guru Granth Sahib, containing 1430 pages, is a collection of devotional hymns and poetry which proclaims God, lays stress on meditation on the ‘True Guru’ (God) and lays down moral and ethical rules for development of the soul, spiritual salvation and unity with God. The writings of the Gurus appear chronologically. Each of the Gurus signed their hymns as ‘Nanak’. Guru Granth Sahib has 3,384 hymns, of which Guru Nanak contributed 974 hymns including ‘sloks’ and ‘pauris’, Guru Angad contributed 62 ‘sloks’, Guru Amar Das contributed 907 hymns including ‘sloks’ and ‘pauris’, Guru Ram Das contributed 679 hymns including ‘sloks’ and ‘pauris’, Guru Arjan Dev contributed 2,218 hymns including ‘sloks’ and pauris, Guru Tegh Bahadur contributed 59 hymns and 56 ‘sloks’, while Guru Gobind Singh contributed one ‘slok’. It also contains ‘Bhagtas’ of Kabir, Namdev, Ravidas, Sheikh Farid, Trilochan, Dhanna, Beni, Sheikh Bhikan, Jaidev, Surdas, Parmanand, Pipa and Ramanand. The fifth Guru Arjan Dev collated and compiled the Holy Granth Sahib. The tenth Guru Gobind Singhji ceded the Guru-Gaddi to the Guru Granth Sahib commanding that the Holy Book be henceforth regarded as the Eternal Guru of the Khalsa Panth.