Sikhism at a Glance
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion based on a definitive revelation. With over 25 million followers worldwide, it is one of the youngest major world religions. Sikhism was revealed to Guru Nanak over 500 years ago in the Punjab, the Sikh Homeland in South Asia. Sikhism preaches a message of devotion, remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality between all human beings, social justice, while emphatically denouncing superstitions and blind rituals.
The Sikh Gurus
The word “Guru” in Sikh parlance means an enlightener and a prophet. Ten Gurus founded Sikhism. The first, Guru Nanak (1469 to 1539), rejected the ritualistic practices of the dominant religions in South Asia and he based his message strictly on divine revelation. Nine other living Gurus followed Guru Nanak. The last living Guru, Guru Gobind Singh (1666 to 1708) crystallized the practices and beliefs of the faith and determined that no future living Guru was needed. In consonance with Guru Gobind Singh’s last wishes, today the religion is guided by joint sovereignty of Guru Granth and Guru Panth. Guru Granth is the Sikh scripture, as the spiritual manifestation of the Guru, while the Guru Panth is the collectivity of all initiated Sikhs worldwide, as the physical manifestation of the Guru.
Articles Of Faith
Sikhs wear an external uniform to unify and bind them to the beliefs of the religion and to remind them of their commitment to the Gurus at all times. Initiated Sikhs wear the uniform which includes the Kesh (uncut hair), which is kept covered by a distinctive turban, the Kirpan (religious sword), Kara (metal bracelet), Kanga (comb) and Kaccha (under-shorts). They all have deep religious meanings for Sikhs who wear them to honor the Sikh Gurus while being ambassadors for their faith.
- Everyone has equal status in the eyes of God. No differentiation in status or ceremonies is made between men and women.
- Stresses the importance of leading a good moral life.
- Encourages moral and domestic virtues, such as loyalty, gratitude for all favors received, philanthropy, justice, truth and honesty.
- A monotheistic faith, Sikhism recognizes God as the only God who is Creator of all people and all faiths.
- Moral qualities and the practice of virtue in everyday life are vital steps towards spiritual development. Qualities like honesty, compassion, generosity, patience, humility etc. can be built up only by effort and perseverance.
- A modern, logical, and practical religion, Sikhism believes that normal family-life is no barrier to salvation.
- Life has a purpose and a goal. Human beings cannot claim immunity from the results of their actions and must be very vigilant in what they do.
- The individual has a right to develop his or her personality to the maximum extent possible. The Sikh is essentially a person of action, with an overwhelming sense of self-reliance.
- The individual must make a contribution to the social welfare as a sacred duty. The gulf between the more fortunate and the less fortunate has to be bridged.