My focus is to highlight how Sikhs living in a western society have to deal with problematic issues, where certain western values don't blend with Sikh religious principles. I also believe that up the point that I was "lucky" to know of the Sikh religion, which helped guide my decisions, but unfortunately many of today's young grow up ignorant to what Sikhism is.
Below I have listed 13 points why I think Sikhism is the best religion in the world, and what it has to offer to Sikhs and to the World, and why Sikhs should not abandon their faith, but strive harder to understand it, learn about it, and one day realize that it is worth keeping, holding on to, and prizing in our hearts and souls.
1. Sikhism does not look down upon people who follow other religions as "inferior, non-believer, etc". That is one reason why you don't see Sikh Missionaries actively pursuing conversions.
2. Sikhism is a religion of Equality. Equality between Men and Women and also stressing "universal equality" amongst all human beings. Which all other religions do not have.
3. Sikhism is a modern way of life, it doesn't subject people to valueless rituals. A few examples being the caste system, bathing in holy rivers, facing a certain direction for a prayer, slaughtering animals in the name of God, circumcision.
(NOTE: I'm talking of Sikhism, not cultural practices which at times are not up to date with the teachings of the religion, as can be seen in all religions)
4. Sikhism, is a religion of worship of One God (Waheguru). A God that has no 'chosen people', a God compassionate to all, Who is not bonded to a "single religion", Who is to be found and realized by all, Who is not pleased with ritualistic behaviour, and that is only pleased by "ANYONE" who with true devotion LOVES HIM, yes a God for all the UNIVERSE.. not just of Jews, Sikh, Hindus, Muslims, etc.
Waheguru himself spoke to Guru Nanak Dev Ji the founder of Sikhism on the "Day of Revelation", when Guru Nanak Dev Ji was called to God's court and given his directives to preach to this world.
Waheguru spoke the following verse on this most blessed day to Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the entire world. Known as the Mul Mantra.
The Mul Mantra is the very first verse written in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji (the Sikh scripture) and is also found at many other places before other hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
(There is but One God)
(Truth is His name)
(The Creator, The Supreme Being)
(He is without fear)
(Timeless, without form)
(He is beyond births and deaths)
(He is self-enlightened)
(He is realised by the grace of the True Guru)
(Meditate on the Name)
And in God's court Guru Nanak spoke the following, which God accepted and condoned, and comes after "Jap".
(He was True in the beginning, (before anything (the universe, time) existed)
(He was True when the ages commenced and has ever been True)
Hai bhi sach
(He is also True now)
Nanak hosi bhi sach
(Satguru) Nanak (says that) he will eternally be True.)
5. Sikhism believes in reincarnation. As the worldly science is improving and people are starting to realize this phenomenon is true (through hypnosis and near-death experiences) they will understand the "Greater Glory" in the Sikh scriptures to have realized this concept while others don't believe in it at all.
(Note: Only Hinduism and Buddhism share these values of reincarnation, and many Christians are starting to believe it, and though Muslims rejects this notion, I believe many believe in it as well.)
6. Sikhism stresses that God judges all people as to their actions in this world. It does not matter which religion they practice, or were born to. Hence the theory of Karma is also a part of Sikh religion.
The ultimate reward in Sikhism is to be freed from the PAINS of 'births and deaths' that Humans undergo. Reflect for a few minutes, and think of how much we as people suffer in life? A tremendous amount!
The older you are the more you will know of it.
Unlike other religions, which offer a heavenly paradise, where one is rewarded with Virgins (only for the males as one scripture has it) and rivers of wine (which ironically is not sanctioned for one to drink here on this earth). Sikhism rewards people with the concept of becoming "one with God". Where the soul is immersed back into the Godly soul, like a raindrop is immersed into the ocean and hence finding ever lasting bliss. (Never to be reborn again)
This is for both MALE and FEMALE. No sexism exists in the scripture. I challenge all to look for themselves, and see that a religion born 500 years ago, has accepted the equality of sexes as well as people, which not even today's western society has, nor any other religion has. This is just one reason why I adore the Sikh religion. Men and Women are Equal in all respect.
7. In Sikhism, Men and Women are able to carry out prayer rights. There is no priest class, unlike other religions, where it is controlled by men. Hence again women are equal partners in Sikhism. Sikhism is a very egalitarian religion.
8. "Sikhism is an intellectual way of life"! Sikhs are told to explicitly seek knowledge within the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Knowledge is the "key" to enlightenment.
One must understand the Guru's written words in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, in order to help themselves transcend this worldly ocean and reach the higher spiritual goals given to Humankind by God.
The challenge of being a Sikh is truly a hard one, the majority of the world today have not the courage in them, nor the will power, nor the willingness to spend time to pursue this "intellectual" and "spiritual" journey and achieve that ultimate state of ETERNAL BLISS.
People are reluctant to face this challenge, since it is a difficult and long one, this is why people are unaware of the greatness of their Sikh religion. They continue to play in this world (metaphorically speaking) in pursuit of happiness, yet never achieve it. Happiness is only temporary. It is eternal bliss (Anand) that we want, which the Guru guides us on how to achieve, in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
Happiness (Bliss) can not be bought with riches, etc. Happiness is a state of mind. Bliss is the state of being one with our mind, soul, and heart. One can only find it by being able to control (cleansing) the mind, which Sikhism stresses one to do, with God's Naam (Name. Then only will one achieve true lasting happiness (bliss) within ourselves.
I challenge the readers to spend some time, to read up on the lives of Sikh Gurus, read the Sikh scripture, along with the other religions open mindedly, and Sikhism will pass as the most objective, logical, equal, humanitarian religion.
9. Sikhism is a religion which builds character. It tells its followers to be "hard workers" to earn their daily bread. To share this with others, as well as to remember the Lord in their heart. Hence within Sikhism, there is a compassion towards all of humanity, a fact of social reform.
10. Sikhism is the only religion that allows all people, of any caste, colour, creed, religion to come to "ANY"! of their holy places, without restriction, and be given equal respect in all matters.
All are served in the Gurdwara (holy temple of the Guru), and in the kitchen with the same dignity. All are allowed to participate in Singing Hymns on stage even if they are not Sikhs. All are allowed to read the Guru Granth Sahib Ji (if they know how to read Gurmukhi Script) All are allowed to discuss Sikhism in these places of worship even if they are not Sikhs.
"A very good example which comes to mind is Bhai Chaman Lal even though he is a Hindu. He sings Gurbani hymns all over India in Gurdwaras and tells wonderful stories of the Gurus. Sikhs respect and give him equal dignity, even though he is not a Sikh." I personally love his singing and his stories. He's more of a Sikh than I am.
Hence one does not have to even change religion, to follow Sikh practices and sing the Glories of God using Sikh scripture and that truly is the greatness of Sikhism.
11. Sikhism allows one to follow the path to enlightenment, at their own speed. This enlightenment comes with their own understanding and awareness of the message in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and how much effort they have given to incorporate it in their lives.
Sikhism allows people to interpret the Guru Granth Sahib for themselves (unlike other religions) and with increasing awareness and understanding, the person will gain greater (deeper) understanding of the "divine" words of the Gurus, who were in direct communication with The Creator and wrote what God told them in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
12. Sikhism is the only religion where the Scripture is written by the Prophet of the religion who was in divine communication with God, out of all the other worldly religions whose scriptures were written later by people.
13. Sikhism is the only religion that has in its Scripture, Hymns of Divine saints who had attained htat state of perfection and communion with God in life. Be them Muslim or Hindu (from every caste). Hence Sikhism is truly a religion that has broken down barriers between religions, to show the world that, "anyone" can reach God by immersing themselves in His love. That is why Hindu and Muslim saints divine hymns from God are also recorded in Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
Sikh Gurus are not only honouring the achievement of these Saints throughout time, but are sending a message to the world. Sikhism is not the property of those who are born in Panjab or to Sikh families. It is a religion for all of humanity, men and women, be they of any caste, creed or colour and be they born to any religion in the world. Sikhism is for all of humanity, let us not forget the entire universe.
By Jaswinder Singh