A great stress is given on Naam Simran (remembrance of Naam) in Sikhism. ‘Naam’ refers to the ‘Divine-Name’ revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib Jee. Naam is also the ‘Divine Presence’ everywhere, supporting all things at all times – in today’s language we could say the energy structure or power of the whole Universe. Essentially it is the presence of Waheguru, which is inside us, and supporting absolutely everything, which is manifested in the Divine-Name given by the Guru to the seeker.
Naam is something to Jap (chant), reflect and contemplate through which Naam becomes woven in the heart of the devotee and Waheguru becomes imprinted on the heart of the devotee. There is nothing in this world, which equals the value of the Divine-Name. The Lord and His Name are identical. They are one.
Naam Simran (remembrance of Naam) is the only way to attain unity with God. Guru Nanak Sahib Jee established God’s golden rules for leading a pure and pious life. He preached the concepts by practically enforcing them in his life first.
A Sikh is required to lead a virtuous, pure and pious life. Always remembering and repeating the Divine-Name with full concentration, breath by breath, can attain this virtue. Naam will awaken the consciousness, and create love and affection for all those who are created by God. It is strongly believed that a pious person would be compassionate and contended. He will aspire to serve the needy. He will have no enmity with anyone, as he knows that God lives in every human being. To serve His Creation is to serve God and remember Him day and night. The mortal can merge with God by living and dying in Him, singing his Divine Praises and loving Him.
A Sikh place of worship is called ‘Gurdwara’, which is open to visitors, irrespective of their religion or gender, at all times. The common translation of the term as temple is not satisfactory, as Sikhism possesses no sacrificial symbolism. Sikhs have neither idols nor altars in their holy places. They have no sacraments and no priestly order. The essential feature of a Gurdwara is the presiding presence in it of Sikh Sacred Scripture, ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee’, living Guru of the Sikhs. Hence the name Gurdwara (guru + dwara = the Guru's Door).
The main function of the Gurdwara is to provide Sikhs with a meeting-place for collective worship through ‘Keertan’, the collective singing of God's praise through the Shabads (Sacred Hymns) in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee, and seeking support and guidance from the Guru. The Gurdwara also serves as a community centre, a school, a guesthouse for pilgrims, and a base for local charitable activities. Since the Sikh faith does not have an ordained clergy, public worship can be lead by any competent initiated male or female Sikh.
An essential part of any Gurdwara is the Langar (free kitchen). The Guru designed an institution in which all people would sit on the floor together, as equals, to eat the same simple food. It is here that all people high or low, rich or poor, male or female, all sit together to share and enjoy the food together, expressing the ideals of equality, sharing, and the oneness of humanity.
Sikhism does not have a clergy and all human beings are capable of realizing God. In 1699, the tenth Sikh Guru manifested the Order of the Khalsa to establish a society dedicated in the face of all odds to practicing the essential Sikh values. The physical authority of leading Sikhs was bestowed upon Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee and the Sikh Nation (Khalsa Panth), represented by selected five initiated Sikhs. These five Beloved One’s should be fully committed Sikh believers initiated through a special ceremony, Amrit Sanchaar.
In Sikhism there are 4 cardinal sins (Bajjar Kurehats). Sikhs should not:
Sikhism identifies 5 vices, which a Sikh must regulate and control. These are Kaam (lust/desires), Krodh (anger), Lobh (greed), Moh (emotional attachment) and Ahankaar (ego).
Sikhs maintains long unshorn hair (Kesh) as an act of acceptance of God's Will and living as nature intended, sustaining him or her in higher consciousness. Keeping unshorn hair is one of the basic requirements for a Sikh.
Unshorn hairs are a marker of Sikh identity. The hair is sacred due to the fact that spiritual energy abides within each and every pore of hair on the body. The hairs are like electrical wires, which preserve, carry and vibrate energy. When one chants & meditates the Divine-Name (Naam), each hair vibrates, and therefore each hair is sacred as it acts like tongues which repeats the Name of God. Sikhs do not forcibly or intentionally remove any hair from the body but maintain clean hair with proper washing; tying and keeping them covered are requirements for a Sikh.
Universal Soul (God). The only way to attain this goal is through living the teachings of Gurus and repeating and meditating the Divine-Name (Naam) revealed through the Guru.
According to the Sikh belief, a Sikh must worship only God. Daily prayer and devotion to God and His Creation is required. Every one has equal status before God.
Sikhism promotes the unity of God, universal love, equality and brotherhood of humanity, strict moral conduct and the rejection of the caste system, any distinction made for class, religion, race, or gender, idol worship, superstitious belief and inferiority of women. The Sikh goal is to end the cycle of birth, death and reincarnation, is removed. It is considered a grave insult to touch or forcefully remove the turban.
According to the Sikh belief, there is One God who is all omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. God is the sole Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer. He is beyond birth and death. He is both merciful and compassionate. He is beyond fear and enmity. He is self-illuminated. All our possessions are a result of His grace. The Sikhs call God ‘Waheguru’, meaning the most ‘Wondrous Lord’.
Turban is a mark of visual identity, which conveys royalty, grace and uniqueness. The turban represents complete commitment. It is made up of cotton fabric and is about 3-6 meters long. Practicing Sikh men and women both wear the turban. It is a spiritual crown reminding a Sikh that he or she sits on the throne of consciousness, committed to higher principles. Practically, it keeps the hair clean, and protects the head and Dasam Duaar (spiritual energy gate on top of the head). The turban is not a hat and should not be referred to as one. It cannot be casually taken on and off. It must be carefully retied each time it is worn.
Sikhs can pray and meditate as much as they like when and where it practically suits them. The basic daily routine of a Sikh is to wake up before sunrise and after bathing, meditating upon the Divine-Name (Naam) revealed through the Guru in order to see the divine light of God within one's self and others. Morning daily prayers (Nitnem) follow this. Then in the evening, and at bed/night time a Sikh reads prayers. Every Sikh daily prays for the wellbeing of everyone by saying "O' God, in your Name, shower your blessings on everyone". Sikhs are expected to become and remain God-conscious with every breath and live their daily life in accordance with the Guru's Teachings (Gurmat).
The Sikh flag carries the insignia known as 'Khanda'. It is comprised of:
Khanda (double-edged sword in centre symbolizing Immortal God, as well as justice and liberty)
Chakar (circle symbolizing eternity of God and equality)
Miri (sword on left-hand side symbolizing political authority) Piri (sword on right-hand side symbolizing spiritual power)
For Sikhs, the “Guru” is the exalted master who shows the way to enlightenment and union with God. There were 10 Gurus in the human form from Guru Nanak Sahib Ji to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib Ji who developed the faith and manifested the completed form of the Sikh community. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee (the Divine Scripture), the scriptural embodiment of over two centuries of spiritual revelation and instructions became the eternal Guru of the Sikhs, ending the human lineage of Guru.
Sikhs consider the revelation contained within the Sacred Scripture to be the living Word of God, communicated directly through the enlightened Gurus and Saints who had experienced God. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji teaches through Divine Baani (Words of God) that is set to a formal system of Sikh classical music. In the compilation of the Sikh Scripture, the Gurus included the revelations of devotees of God who were born in a diverse socio-economic, caste, and religious backgrounds, however all shared the universal religion of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji and experienced God through which they received revelations.
Sikhs are a people sharing common religious, social and political institutions. Twenty five million people worldwide identify or associate themselves with the Sikh faith, making it the fifth largest world-religion. Word “Sikh” means disciple of the True Perfect Guru. A Sikh is a person whose sole faith consists of belief in One God and who follows the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee, the present Guru of Sikhs.
Sikhism is a monotheistic faith, which was founded by Guru Nanak Sahib Jee (1469 – 1539) and shaped by his nine successors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in South Asia. Sikhism is not a sect of Hinduism or Islam, or synthesis of these two faiths.
Sikhism is a way of life inspired by the Sikh Gurus. It proclaims human equality, futility of caste, sex or race prejudice and fruitlessness of idol-worship. It lays stress on the worship of One God and living a high spiritual life based on the principles laid down and demonstrated by the Sikh Gurus. Social service (Sewa) is considered meritorious in Sikhism.
There is no concept of devil in Sikhism but too much involvement in worldly pursuits at the cost of spirituality is thought to be a rebellion against God. This human failing is sinful for humans but, unlike the legendary devil, it can never challenge God.
For the Sikhs the devil is not a personality, which opposes God and stalks human beings. The Sikhs believe that we ourselves become devils through misdeeds and impious actions. Pride, anger, adultery, avarice, sloth, jealousy, lying, fraud, corruption etc are all human failings. The more a human falls prey to these, the more devilish and sinful he becomes. These exist in our mind, which must be kept clean at all times. The Guru says,
“Virtue and sin exist in your body brother” (SGGSJ Ang 126)
The solution in controlling the devil also lies with us. The Guru says,
“Control your mind which wanders after sin all the time like a falcon looking for prey” (SGGSJ Ang 776)
The Sikhs firmly believe that soul exists and is a spark from God. In the Holy Granth Kabir calls it ‘the part of God’ and the Sikh Gurus call it ‘The Light of the Eternal’. The Sikhs believe that impious deeds cloud our otherwise pure soul and we need to keep it clean through daily prayers and pious deeds.
The Sikhs believe that the soul never dies.
“God resides in our soul and our soul must remain close to God” (SGGSJ Ang 1153)
“When the human soul and the supreme soul become one, the duality of the mind is overcome” and we loose our identity in God. That is the goal of the Sikh.
The Sikhs believe that Sikhism is the true, straight and sure way to spiritualism and is an ideal way of living. They do not, however, call other religions false. The Guru says,
“Do not call the Hindu scriptures or the Semitic books false. False is he who does not analyze them.”(SGGSJ Ang 1350)
The Sikhs pray for the uplift of everybody irrespective of their religion or belief. The Guru says,
“The world is burning in the fire of egoism O Lord. Save it in thy mercy through whichever gate (religion) they approach you” (SGGSJ Ang 853)
The Sikh Gurus have neither approved nor denied the existence of heaven and hell. The Guru said,
“Heaven is wherever the praises of the Lord are sung” (SGGSJ Ang 749).
The Guru advises that one should not aspire for heaven nor should one live in fear of hell. He said,
“Never think of attaining heaven nor should you fear going to hell” (SGGSJ Ang 337).
“Those who remember the Lord will never have to see hell.” (SGGSJ Ang 460)
“Only those go to hell, who forgetting the philosophy of the Guru, follow their own mind. Devotees of the Lord will not suffer any hell fire.” (SGGSJ)
No. Sikhism believes that a dead person is gone forever. He/she is like:-
“a ripe fruit which falls down from the branch and does nor return to it” (SGGSJ Ang 1366)
Sikhism believes that what is important is not the person of a religious preceptor but his philosophy. The Sikhs have the spirit of their Gurus in the Guru Granth Sahib, which enshrines their Gurus’ philosophy.
Unlike many other religions Sikhism believes that religious leaders only show the way. They cannot condone our sins and open the door to heaven. The Guru says,
“You reap only what you sow in your field of deeds” (SGGSJ Ang 134)
Sikhism disapproves education geared to the accumulation of wealth and prestige. Sikhism advises that education must teach us the art of living and fellow feeling. The Guru says,
“Acquisition of education must make one charitable” (AGGS page 356)
As for the role of the teacher the Guru considered the teacher as the nation builder. The teacher should not join the profession simply for earning livelihood.
“A teacher is truly educated only if he practices what he preaches and is humble.” (SGGSJ Ang 937)
Yes the Gurus have said quite a lot about politics. They condemned factional rivalries and unprincipled political alliances. The Guru says,
“Some form alliances with powerful friends, sons and relatives. Some form alliances with in-laws and influential relations. Some form alliances with chiefs and leaders for selfish motives. My alliance is with the Lord pervading everywhere.” (SGGSJ Ang 366).
Thus they advised spiritual alliances instead of petty political and exploitative groupings.
In general the Sikh gurus preferred democracy established through truly religious but socially secular elite. The Guru said,
“The person in authority should occupy the seat only if he has the required qualifications.”
Politics must be guided by the moral power of religion.