Influences of Islam in Sikhism
Guru Nanak, the 10th Sikh Guru had travelled extensively to Mecca and Medina to propagate the teachings entailed in Sikhism. Moreover, the Sikhs adherence to monotheism and their propagation of universal brotherhood among all devotees reflected Islamic beliefs. However, there is no enough evidence to suggest that Sikhism was considerably influenced by the teachings of Islam.
Influences of Hinduism in Sikhism
With respect to Hinduism, certain ideologies practiced in Sikhism are considerably similar to those of 'karma', 'moksha', 'maya' and 'dharma'. The Hindu concept of transmigration of souls’ is also reflected in the teachings of Guru Nanak where he calls for maintaining a disciplined form of life to ensure the attainment of salvation and union with God.
However, various traits of Hindu religious belief had also been rejected by the Sikh scriptures formulated by the Gurus. The concept of worshipping the formless God as practiced by Sikhism is completely opposed to the Hindu practices of idolatry. Moreover, the class hierarchies devised by the Hindu scriptures were condemned by the Sikh faith which called for equality of all human beings irrespective of caste, creed or gender. The concept of 'avatars' or incarnations of the deities were also rejected by Sikhism.
Observations of the Western commentators have also been critiqued for considering Sikhism as a homogenized version of the Hindu and Muslim religions rather than recognizing its diversity.
Influence of Sant Tradition in Sikhism
A significant influence on Sikhism was derived from the Sant tradition of northern India. The Sants, prevalently known as the 'Nirguna Panth' or 'Nirguna Sampradaya' were popularly believed to have been an offshoot of the Vaishnava sects. Throughout 15th to 17th centuries, they exercised considerable influence over certain theological faiths of the eras, particularly Sikhism. The philosophies of Guru Nanak expose a significant impact of the Sant figures, prominently Kabir. The concept of mystical union with God and the theories of salvation formulated and preached by Guru Nanak derived their origins in the Sant tradition only. The concept of the ‘Satguru’ of the Sant tradition also finds an echo in Sikhism. Under the Sant tradition, the term ‘Satguru’ symbolizes the one responsible for aiding a devotee to achieve union with God. In Sikhism, the ‘Satguru’ is the intermediary who abets the ways and means of comprehending the presence of God.
The primary purpose of Guru Nanak was to establish a faith that called for a unification of all beliefs. This holds immense importance in the pages of history as it was a thought, much ahead of its times and conceived in an era which was marked by constant strife between the principal religions of the age, Islam and Hinduism. ‘Na koi Hindu, na koi Musalman’ was one of the memorable excerpts of Guru Nanak. While, an acute observation reveals various features that were common between these religious faiths, the primary intention of Guru Nanak was to establish a faith that would eventually saturate the conflict between these religions and the product was a universal faith, Sikhism.