Sikhism, a faith founded in the Indian subcontinent in the late 15th century, is characterized by its deep core beliefs and sacred practices. With more than 30 million followers worldwide, Sikhism is a vibrant and influential religion that believes in oneness of God, equality of all, selfless service and devotion to the Guru Granth Sahib, the central religious scripture.Sikhs, followers of Sikhism, follow these basic principles in their daily lives, making Sikhism not only a religion but also a way of life.
Oneness of God(Ik Onkar)
A central belief of Sikhism is the belief in one God, often referred to as "Ik Onkar", meaning that the universe has only one creator. This monotheistic belief is the basis of Sikh philosophy. Sikhs believe that this one God is formless, eternal and all-pervading, beyond human understanding.
Equality & Social Justice
Sikhism is known for its commitment to equality. Sikhs believe that all people, regardless of background, race, caste or gender, are equal in the eyes of God. Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, strongly rejected the caste system and spread the message of "Langar" - a community kitchen where free meals are served to all, rich or poor, to promote social equality and humility.
The Guru Granth Sahib
Sikhs consider the Guru Granth Sahib to be a living guru and eternal spiritual guide. This scripture contains hymns and teachings of Sikh gurus, saints and spiritual leaders from various backgrounds. Sikhs treat the Guru Granth Sahib with utmost respect and devotion, covering it with a decorative cloth and placing it on a raised platform in the gurdwara, the Sikh place of worship.
Seva (Selfless Service)
Seva, or selfless service, is a staple of Sikhism. A Sikh is motivated to serve humanity without expecting reward or recognition. Sikhs aim to express divine virtues like compassion, humility, and love through their good deeds. The tradition of volunteer service extends to the gurdwara, where community members contribute to cooking, cleaning and other tasks to ensure that worship runs smoothly.
Sikhism places great emphasis on meditation and prayer. Sikhs practice simran, repeating the name of God or sacred hymns to focus the mind and maintain a spiritual connection. This practice encourages Sikhs to remain aware of their divine purpose and develop a deeper sense of inner peace and spirituality.
Five Ks (Five Articles of Faith)
Sikh men and women initiated into the Khalsa, a community of baptized Sikh believers, often choose to wear the five K's, which are the five articles of faith: Kesh (uncut hair), Kara (steel bracelet), Kanga (wooden comb) , Kachera (cotton underwear) and Kirpan (ceremonial sword). These articles symbolize the commitment of Sikhs to live according to the values and principles of Sikhism
Gurdwara and Sangat (Community)
Gurdwara, meaning "Gate of the Guru", is the center of worship and community gatherings for the Sikh congregation. Sikhs gather at the gurdwara to listen to songs from the Guru Granth Sahib, practice kirtan (devotional chanting) and enjoy a langar, a communal meal. The sangat or congregation promotes a sense of unity and solidarity among Sikhs .
Guru Panth and Guru Granth
Sikhism recognizes two forms of guru: Guru Panth (Sikh community) and Guru Granth Sahib. The Guru Panth refers to the collective wisdom and guidance of the Sikh community. Decisions are made collectively and management is chosen by agreement. Guru Granth Sahib, as mentioned earlier, is the eternal guru and the ultimate spiritual authority.
The Cycle of Birth and Rebirth:
Sikhs believe in the concept of reincarnation, where the soul passes through cycles of birth and rebirth until it is reunited with the divine. Liberation from this cycle, known as mukti, is the ultimate goal achieved through devotion, righteous living and meditation on God's name.
Gurdwara and Langar
A Gurdwara, meaning "Guru's Door", is a place of worship and community gathering for Sikhs. In Gurdwaras, Sikhs gather to listen to chants, sing devotional songs and seek spiritual guidance. A unique feature of Gurdwaras is the langar, a free community kitchen that serves meals to all visitors regardless of their background. Langar exemplifies Sikhism's spirit of equality, humility and community service.
Naam Japna (Meditation on God's Name)
Sikhs engage in "naam japna," the continuous repetition of God's name throughout daily life. This practice promotes mindfulness, spirituality, and a deeper connection with the divine.
In conclusion, the basic beliefs and practices of Sikhism are deeply rooted in devotion to the oneness of God, principles of equality, selfless service and spiritual growth. A Sikh is encouraged to live righteously, promote social justice and strive for spiritual awakening. Through the Guru Granth Sahib, the five Ks, and a deep sense of community, Sikhism offers a spiritual path that continues to inspire and uplift millions around the world, fostering a deeper connection with the divine and a commitment to the service of humanity.