History of Sikhism

Sikhism (also referred to as Sikh) is the 5th largest religion in the world with 24.5 million devotees and also one of the youngest of the world’s major religions. Its founder, Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in the Indian sub-continent and began preaching about his vision for the Sikh way of life in 1498. Guru Nanak spread a simple message of “Ek Onkar”, translated as “We are all one, created by the One Creator of all Creation”. He respected all religions and expressed the reality that there is one God and many paths, and the Name of God is Truth, “Sat Nam”.

guru_nanak_dev_ji

Guru Nanak, our first Guru, was born in 1469 and began preaching his vision of the Sikh way of life in 1498.

Nine other Gurus followed him, the last one being Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who passed away in 1708. Before he died, Guru Gobind Singh Ji proclaimed that henceforth, the only Guru of the Sikhs would be the collection of the Scriptures called the Guru Granth Sahib. It is now the focus of all services in a Sikh Gurdwara and it is the central object that you see. It is covered with decorated shawls and is read ceremoniously at the conclusion of the service.

The Major theme of the Sikh religion is strict Monotheism. We believe that there is only one God and that we are all His children. He is the Absolute Truth, our Creator, Eternal, without fear or favor, is self-created and formless. The Creator resides within the Creation, and is beyond the Creation. There is no single name for the Creator more sacred than any other, whether it is God, Jesus, Allah, Ram, etc. All humans, young and old, men and women, Sikhs and non-Sikhs are equal before Him. We believe that we are all part of His creation, and that a portion of His soul resides in all of us. Hence Sikhs are not superior to any other religious group, and are equal to all before God. A Sikh’s agenda is to live a life of humility, within awe and love of the Creator, abiding by the Will of the Creator, as revealed by the Holy Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib.

Sikhism fervently believes that the human life is a precious gift given to the soul. The mission in life is to live a life worthy of Grace of the Creator, whereby his or her soul may be immersed in the super-soul, the Creator. Sikhism believes that there are other paths for this immersion, and each of those paths (other religions) are to be respected. The Sikh scriptures and writings describe Him as a loving God. We begin life without Sin. Sikhism believes that we create our own heaven or hell, within this very lifetime. Salvation can be attained, through the Grace of the Creator, while we are alive or after death.

The Sikhs were persecuted for their belief system. Sikhism originated in the northern border area of present day India & Pakistan – Punjab region. The dominant rulers at that time were the Mughals. As a result of this persecution, the last Guru of the Sikhs formed the order of the Khalsa with a Baptism ceremony (the Pahul). He decreed that all baptized Sikhs would wear the Five “K’s”: Kesh – uncut hair and beard, as given by God, to sustain him or her in higher consciousness; and a turban, the crown of spirituality; Kanga – a wooden comb to properly groom the hair as a symbol of cleanliness; Kachera – specially made cotton underwear as a reminder of the commitment to purity; Kara – a steel circle, worn on the wrist, signifying bondage to Truth and freedom from every other entanglement; Kirpan – the sword, with which the Khalsa is committed to righteously defend the fine line of the Truth.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji was the last Guru of the Sikhs in human form. He created the Khalsa, a spiritual brotherhood and sisterhood devoted to purity of thought and action. For spiritual matters, the Guruship was given to the “Sri Guru Granth Sahib”. For Sikhs, “Sri Guru Granth Sahib” containing 1,430 pages is the living embodiment of the Guru, and is regarded with the utmost reverence and respect wherever it is found. Sikhs all over the world took to the “Sri Guru Granth Sahib” as their living Guru, as the source of spiritual instruction and guidance.

Gurus of Sikhism

The 10 Sikh Gurus
The foundation of Sikhism was laid down by Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak infused his own consciousness into a disciple, who then became Guru, subsequently passing the light on to the next, and so on. The work “Guru” is derived from the root words “Gu”, which means darkness or ignorance, and “Ru”, which means light or knowledge. The Guru is the experience of Truth (God).

Each one of the ten Gurus represents a diving attribute:

      • Guru Nanak Dev – Humility
      • Guru Angad Dev – Obedience
      • Guru Amar Das – Equality
      • Guru Arjan Dev – Self-Sacrifice
      • Guru Hargobind – Justice
      • Guru Har Rai – Mercy
      • Guru Harkrishan – Purity
      • Guru Tegh Bahadur – Tranquility
      • Guru Gobind Singh – Royal Courage

Gur Gobind Singh Ji, the Tenth Guru, exemplified the Sikh ideal of the Soldier Saint. He was also an inspired and prolific writer, courageous warrior, and a source of Divine Wisdom to his Sikhs. “When all other means have failed,” he said, “only then is it righteous to take up the sword.” He was the defender of the poor, the meek, and the oppressed masses of India.

Gurupurab
Gurupurabs are anniversaries associated with the lives of the Sikh Gurus. The Sikhs celebrate 10 Gurupurabs in a year. At each of these festivals, one of the ten gurus of the Khalsa Panth is honored. Of these, the important ones are the birthdays of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh and the martyrdom days of Guru Arjun Dev and Guru Teg Bahadur.

Baisakhi
Baisakhi or Vaisakhi is New Year’s Day in Punjab. It falls on the month of Vaisakh. The festival marks the ripening of the Rabi harvest. The day coincides with the solar equinox on the 13th of April. It was on this day that the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa (the Sikh brotherhood) at Anand Pur Sahib in 1699. Guru Gobind Singh selected the auspicious day of Baisakhi to form the order of the Khalsa.