Sikhism: Principles and Practices and it’s evolution
Sikhism or Sikhi pronounced from Sikh, meaning a “disciple”, or a “learner”), is a religion that originated in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent about the end of the 15th century. It is one of the youngest of the major world religions. The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include constant spiritual meditation of God’s name, being guided by the Guru instead of yielding to capriciousness of mind or psyche, living a householder’s life instead of monasticism, truthful action to dharam (duty), being of selfless service to others, equality of all human beings, and believing in God’s grace. In the early 21st century there were nearly 25 million Sikhs worldwide, the great majority of them living in the Indian state of Punjab. Sikhism is based on the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak, the first Guru (1469 – 1539), and the nine Sikh gurus that succeeded him. The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, named the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib as his successor, terminating the line of human Gurus and making the scripture the eternal, impersonal spiritual guide for Sikhs. Sikhism rejects claims that any particular religious tradition has a monopoly on Absolute Truth Sikhism emphasizes simran (meditation on the words of the Guru Granth Sahib), that can be expressed musically through kirtan or internally through Nam Japo (repeat God’s name) as a means to feel God’s presence. It teaches followers to avoid the “Five Thieves” (lust, rage, greed, attachment and conceit). Hand in hand, secular life is considered to be intertwined with the spiritual life. Guru Nanak taught that living an “active, creative, and practical life” of “truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity” is above the metaphysical truth, and that the ideal man is one who “establishes union with God, knows His Will, and carries out that Will”. Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh Guru, established the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms to be mutually coexistent.
Principles of Sikhism
- Believe in only One Almighty God.
- Salvation can only be attained by meditating on God.
- All human races are equal. Women have equal status and equal rights.
- Keep diet simple and vegetarian.
- Not to cut hair.
- Not to believe in superstitions.
- Concept of selfless Seva (Selfless Service)
- Concept of Sarbat Da Bhala (Well-being of all)
- Concept of Degh and Tegh
- Concept of Miri and Piri (Temporal & Spiritual power)
- Concept of Sangat and Pangat
- Concept of universal peace and prosperity
- Concept of democracy Concept of liberty, equality and fraternity Concept of sacrifice
- Concept of universal brotherhood, peace and prosperity
- Concept of householder’s life Concept of Maya Concept of Charhdi Kala (Optimism & high spirit)
- Concept of Bhana (Will of God)
- Concept of healthy mind in a healthy body Concept of Guru
- Concept of equality of woman
- Concept of immortality of soul
- Concept of transmigration, etc. Concept of Karma (Actions and deeds)
Practices in Sikhism
Sikhs believe that there is only one God, to show respect and honour towards Him, they perform practices on a day to day basis which exemplify the basic Sikh principles of service, humility and equality.
The Sikh is required to undertake the following observances:
- Wake up very early in the morning.
- Bathing and cleansing of the body should be performed.
- Cleanse the mind by meditating on God.
- Engage in family life and address your responsibilities within the family.
- Attend to a work or study routine and earn a living by earnest means.
- Undertake to help the less well off with monetary and/or physical help.
- Exercise your responsibilities to the community and take active part in the maintenance and safeguard of the community.
Wear the 5Ks
Kesh – long and uncut hair and a turban to protect the hair on the head.
Kanga – small comb to be used twice daily to keep the hair in clean and healthy condition.
Kacchera – worn in the form of shorts to exercise self-control.
Kara – a steel slave bangle on the dominant arm to remind the Sikh to always remember the Guru before undertaking any action.
Kirpan – a short, often dagger-sized sword to remind the Sikh that he is to defend against repression of the weak.
- Meditate by reciting his Gurbani and by singing his Kirtan (music based hymns) and remember Him always.
- Wash your mind clean with Sewa, selfless service to the community by doing manual work at the Gurdwara by cleaning the dishes, washing the floors, painting the walls; working in Community Centres; in old peoples homes, etc.
- Practice Truth at all times: To live by the Gurus instruction to practice Truth thus: “Those who practice Truth reap the profits, abiding in the Will of God. With the Merchandise of Truth, they meet the Guru, who does not have a trace of greed. and also “O Siblings of Destiny, follow the Guru’s Teachings and dwell in truth. Practice truth, and only truth, and merge in the True Word of the Shabad.
Organise Gurdwaras: As a community Sikhs set up local places of worship called Gurdwara. Services are held in the morning and evening including:
- Asa-di-war kirtan
- Sukhmani sahib path
- Akhand Paath
- Ardas and Hukamnama
- Kirtan programs
- Naming Ceremony
- Marriage Ceremony
- Antam Sanskar
- Amrit Sanskar, etc
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