The Sikh Religion
Sikhism or the Sikh religion is fairly young, having been established in the Punjab region of India in the 15th century. Though its roots are in the Indian soil, the religion has spread itself in every part of the world. Guru Nanak was its founder who was followed by nine other Gurus or teachers. The last guru was Guru Gobind Sing who declared that the religious book of the Sikhs – Siri Guru Granth Sahib would be the teacher, source of spiritual inspiration and guidance after his demise. Sikh religion came into existence at the time when India was facing strife due to caste and religious fanaticism. Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world and one that is growing the fastest. Guru Nanak stood firm for the oneness of mankind, also called “Ek Ong Kar” and the theory of “Karma”.
The principles of the Sikh religion are simple and highly practical. They lay emphasis on being a “Sant Mat” or a religion preached by saints, and respected all other religions.
It makes no discrimination among the followers based on caste, creed, race or
gender. The theory propounded in Sikhism is that the one God, also called “Vahiguru”,
is “Nirankar”, “Alakh” and “Akal”, or shapeless, sightless and timeless. The Sikhs believe in communicating with the Almighty through personal meditation and by repeating the Holy Name or Naam internally. Equality of mankind, realization of Truth, and attainment of salvation is possible through living as a householder and not through asceticism. Sikh religion teaches the followers to seek enlightenment and freedom from the cycle of births and deaths through overcoming “maya” or attachments with worldly pursuits.
A fine balance of work, worship, charity, “seva” or service to others, and sharing is to be maintained if a man wants to achieve pure bliss and reunite with God. This prompts the Sikhs to distribute free food called “langar” at their place of worship, the Gurudwara. Guru Gobind Singh conceived the idea of “Khalsa” or sovereignty when the believers of the Sikh religion are baptized or initiated by taking the Holy Water or “amrit”. As a reminder of their commitment, all Khalsa have to carry the five Ks – Kesh (uncut hair and beard), Kangha (comb), Katchera (special underwear), Kara (a steel bangle), and Kirpan (a sword). These are considered articles of faith and a must for every Sikh. The Sikh religion is a unique approach to life, a method to serve the community selflessly by defending the weak, helping the poor, and seeking a reunion with the Omnipresent and Omnipotent.