(Last Updated on : 10/09/2009)
Sikhism a faith made of principals based on humanity, equality, tranquility, obedience, service, self-sacrifice, purity, justice and courage possesses a very unique perception. Sikhism contains many exceptional postulates and principles that are quite different from both Hinduism and Islam. The goal of Sikhs is to build a close, loving relationship with God.
Sikhs believe in a single, formless God, with many names, who can be known through meditation. The highest entity can be variously named as Wahe guru, Kartar (creator), Akal (eternal), Satt-nama (the holy name). He is also known as Allah, Khuda, Karim (benevolent), rahim (merciful) and Sahib (Lord). The same Lord may be variously named and worshipped in different languages. For His devotees He is dayalu (kind) and Kripalu (compassionate). God as both manifest and un-manifest is in accordance with Indian tradition, but is most marked in Dadu and Rai Das, the.Saint poets of medieval India. To some extent even Namadeva admits the worship of Pauranic deities, though his deity is essentially without attributes. They trust that God cannot take human form.
Sikhism says the goal of human life is to break the cycle of birth's and deaths and merge with God. This can be accomplished by following the teachings of the Guru, meditation on the Holy Name and performance of acts of service and charity. It principals, the five cardinal vices are; Kam (lust), Krodh (anger), Lobh (greed), Moh (worldly attachment) and Ahankar (pride). If one can overcome these, they will achieve salvation. Sikhism deems in rejection of all forms of blind rituals such as fasting, religious vegetarianism, pilgrimages, superstitions, yoga, as well as any form of idol worship. It preaches the devotee must live in the world yet keep his mind pure. He must be a soldier, a scholar, a saint.
For the Sikh's, their Holy Book (Guru Granth Sahib) is the perpetual Guru, there is no place in Sikhism for a living Guru today. For spiritual matters, the Sikhs have to refer to the "Siri Guru Granth Sahib", a compilation of sacred writings by those who have experienced Truth. Sikhs all over the world consider the "Sri Guru Granth Sahib" as their living Guru, as the source of spiritual instruction and guidance.
Sikhism rejects all distinctions of caste, creed, race or sex. It Guru's stressed the full equality of women, rejecting female infanticide, sati (wife burning), permitting widow remarriage and rejects purdah (women wearing veils). Vand Chhakna, sharing with others is also a social responsibility. The individual is expected to help others in need through charity. Seva, community service is also an integral part of Sikhism. The free community kitchen (langar) found at every gurdwara and open to people of all religions is one expression of this community service.
Though it appears to have some resemblance with the Muslim doctrine of Jehad, yet it appears to have arisen among the Sikhs as a result of religious persecution and social injustice in the form uf jizya. Even the first guru, Guru Nanak had advised his followers to fight against social evils. Guru Hargobind wielded the two swords of miri and piri. But it was Guru Gobind Singh who infused the martial spirit into the Sikhs in defense of one's faith. Hence, one of the salient features of Sikhism is that there is a fusion of bhakti and Shakti, and Khalsa is a symbol of a saint soldier.
Sikhism teaches strict monotheism. It teaches that Maya is the creative manifestation of God, but is also the source of five traditional evils in man, namely, Kama (passion), Krodh (anger), lobha (greed), moha (infatuation) and ahamkara (egoity). These can be removed through prayer, meditation and social service. Kabir also teaches that Maya is the power of God, called Raghunath and that it is a great enchanting power which leads to man's spiritual fall.
Nama-sumirana (constant muttering) of God's name with complete surrender to him has been emphasized by Guru Nanak. This is a powerful means of winning the Grace of God. Guru Nanak does not recommend sannyasa as a means of mukti. He himself was a householder and considers the life of a householder as very important in society. But Sikhism does not teach that either Hinduism or Islam is wrong. It teaches both Hindus and Muslims to practice their own faiths with a view to strict moral life and social service, without caring much for rituals and external observances. In this sense it was a reformist religion. Sikhism favors local language and its script is Gurmukhi, which is also its distinctive feature.
Every Sikh baptized as Khalsa vows to wear the Five "K's, viz:
Kesh - uncut hair and beard, as given by God, to sustain him or her in higher consciousness; and a turban, the crown of spirituality.
Kangha - a wooden comb to properly groom the hair as a symbol of cleanliness.
Katchera - especially 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.
Khalsa vowed to have a daily spiritual practice of reading 5 banis (scriptures) Khalsa vowed to follow the basic tenants of Bana (uniform), Bani (scripture), Simran (meditative recitation), Seva(service). Khalsa also vows to refrain from any sexual relationships outside of marriage, and to refrain from taking meat, tobacco, alcohol, and all other intoxicants.