Paragraphs on Sikhism!
Guru Nanak (1469-1538) was an illustrious product of the Bhakti Movement in northern India. He founded a new religion, that of the Sikhs, the term ‘Sikh’ being derived from the Sanskrit word sishya meaning disciple.
Guru Nanak’s efforts lay in trying to unite Hinduism and Islam through a creed that could express the devotion of both communities.
God—termed Vahiguru—is nirankar (shapeless), akal (timeless), and alakh (sightless). Nanak stressed that God must be seen from ‘the inward eye’, or the ‘heart’, of a human being; it is through meditation that devotees may progress towards enlightenment.
The rigorous application of meditation permits communication between God and human beings. In Sikh belief, the influences of ego, anger, greed, attachment, and lust—known as the Five Evils—are believed to be specifically harmful. Those who fall prey to the Five Evils suffer separation from God, and can remedy the situation only after intensive and relentless devotion.
Nanak said that the guru (or teacher) is the voice of God and the guide for knowledge and salvation. It is with the guru’s grace that the seeker meditates honestly on the shabad or the ‘word’ which leads to the end of ego. And the shabad is the guru who is indistinguishable from God and they are one and the same thing. One gets connected with the guru only with the accumulation of selfless search of truth.
The human body is just a means to achieve the reunion with Truth – which is beyond the realm of time and death. With the achievement of this truth, a person can understand the essence of current and past holy books of all religions. He was against idolatry and spoke against superstitious beliefs whether of Hindu or of Islamic origin, teaching people to distinguish between superstition and true religious values.
He emphasised the irrelevance of outward observations such as rites, pilgrimages, or asceticism. Nanak’s own inspiring poems and songs were compiled in the Adi Granth. He retained the Hindu ideas of the soul’s immortality, transmigration and karma. But he conceived of the Godhead as one. Nanak spoke of equality of human beings and did not recognise distinction of caste or creed. He initiated the community kitchen of Guru Ka hangar.
After Nanak came nine gurus. The tenth (and last), Guru Gobind, brought to an end the guru system and organised the Sikhs into a brotherhood of soldiers. He instituted the ceremony of pahul or baptism in water stirred by a dagger, undergoing which ceremony a person would belong to the
Khalsa (the pure) and would be entitled to use the honorific ‘Singh’ after his name (and ‘Kaur’ for females). The Khalsa are enjoined to wear the five Ks—kesh (long hair), kanga (comb), kachcha (shorts), Kara (iron bangle) and kirpan (short sword).
The primary source of scripture for the Sikhs is the Guru Granth Sahib. The Guru Granth Sahib and the Adi Granth— literally, The First Volume—are often used synonymously. However, the Adi Granth refers to the version of the scripture compiled by Bhai Gurdas under the supervision of Guru Arjan Dev in 1604.
The Guru Granth Sahib refers to the final version of the scripture created by Gobind Singh in 1678. It consists of the original Adi Granth with the addition of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s hymns. The Guru Granth Sahib is considered the final spiritual authority of the Sikhs. All words in the Guru Granth Sahib constitute ‘Gurbani’ words, thus making the Gurmukhi language which has two components—spoken Gurmukhi words (in the form of Gurbani which originated from different languages) and the Gurmukhi script.