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Basics of Sikhism

August 16, 2023

There are more than 25 million Sikhs across the globe, making Sikhism the fifth most practiced religion in the world. The Sikh Gurus also referred to as spiritual leaders or instructors, are the individuals credited with founding the religion. The first Guru, Guru Nanak was born in the Punjab region of India in the 15th century. He is considered to be the founder of the Sikh religion. The Sikh religion emphasizes the concept of the oneness of all beings as well as the equality of all people. 

The Sikh religion is a monotheistic faith, meaning its adherents worship just a single deity. Guru Nanak imparted the wisdom that to honor God, one must first honor others and then honor the Earth, which is God’s creation. After Guru Nanak, there were an additional nine Gurus who carried on his work and disseminated his teachings over the globe. The final Guru was Guru Gobind Singh, and he designated the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, as the Guru Granth Sahib, the everlasting Guru, to be the one who would lead the Sikhs into the future. 

The Guru Granth Sahib is composed of lines that are written in a poetic style and are designed to be recited or sung. Singing is an essential part of Sikhism; in fact, Guru Nanak himself was known to sing his sermons while he traveled on foot across South Asia to spread his teachings. Gurbani, also known as the Guru’s Word, refers to the hymns that were composed by the Gurus. 

Sikhism is built on three fundamental principles that Guru Nanak formulated. These include:

Sharing with one another, assisting those who are in need, and being an active member of one’s community are all aspects of Va Chakk. Sikhism places a significant emphasis on acts of generosity, including giving, sharing, and showing concern for one another.

Kirat Kar is defined as the practice of earning one’s income honestly, free from exploitation or fraud, and always speaking the truth.

Meditation in the name of God, also known as Naam Japna, is practiced to lead an honorable and submissive life. 

For Sikhs, the fleeting pleasures and temptations of the earthly world are seen as Maya, which is Sanskrit for an illusion. Ego, wrath, greed, attachment, and desire are the “Five Thieves” because they deprive a person of the potential to recognize their oneness with God and creation. These five attributes are often referred to together as “the ego.” By adhering to the Sikh beliefs of service, equality, and seeking justice for all, Sikhs make it their mission to combat the allure of the aforementioned characteristics.

Many Sikhs subscribe to the philosophy that the human body is nothing more than a temporary receptacle for the immortal spirit. Therefore, death of the physical body is an inevitable stage in the life cycle, yet survival of the spirit continues after death. Because Sikhs adhere to the doctrine of reincarnation, they consider death not to be the conclusion of life but rather a stage along the path that leads to God.

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