Ek Onkar, the most central and profound symbol of Sikhism, embodies the essence of this monotheistic faith. Derived from the Punjabi language,"Ek" means one, and "Onkar" symbolizes the supreme reality or divine presence. This sacred symbol confines Sikh beliefs, highlighting the unity of God and the interrelation of all creation.
Origin & Meaning
The origin of Ek Onkar can be traced back to the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, who introduced this symbol as a means of expressing the basic concept of monotheism. Ek Onkar means belief in one eternal god who is both formless (Nirankar) and formal (Sakar). The symbol visually represents the concept of God as a single, unchanging reality from which everything originates .
Symbolism Of Ek Onkar
Ek Onkar is a visually simple but deeply meaningful symbol. It consists of two parts:
Ek (ੴ): The number "1" represents the concept of "oneness" in Sikhism. This means that there is only one God, the Creator of the universe and the sustainer of all life. This concept rejects the idea of a plurality of gods and emphasizes monotheism.
Onkar (ੴ): The word "Onkar" is a variant of the Sanskrit word "Om", which has enormous importance in several Indian religions, including Hinduism. In Sikhism, "Onkar" symbolizes the divine sound or vibration of God's creation. It means the continuous and harmonious creation of the universe by one Creator.
Ek Onkar has deep spiritual significance in Sikhism. Ek Onkar contains the core belief of Sikhism known as "Ik Onkar Satnam" which means "One God is Eternal Truth". Sikhs believe that this one God is formless, beyond human understanding, and exists in every living being. It serves as a reminder to Sikhs to focus on God's oneness and work towards a spiritual connection with the divine.
Usage in Sikh Prayers & Daily Life
Ek Onkar has an important place in Sikh prayers and rituals. It is recited at the beginning of the Sikh scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib, and is central to the daily Sikh prayer "Japji Sahib".Sikhs often recite this symbol when they begin their daily prayers, emphasizing their commitment to acknowledge the divine presence in all areas of life.In Gurdwaras, the symbol is prominently displayed on flags and banners.
Relation to the Sikh Gurus
The Sikh Gurus played a central role in spreading the message of Ek Onkar and the basic beliefs of Sikhism. Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus, emphasized the unity of God and introduced the concept of Ek Onkar. The teachings of Guru Nanak laid the foundation for the spiritual philosophy of Sikhism and its unique identity. Later gurus continued to be supportive of it and spread the message of Ek Onkar.
Impact on Sikh Identity
Ek Onkar plays a vital role in shaping the Sikh identity. It serves as a unifying symbol that reminds Sikhs of their shared beliefs and values. It is prominently displayed in Sikh Gurdwaras (places of worship), on Sikh flags, and in religious literature.
Ek Onkar is a symbol of pride and identity for Sikhs worldwide.It acts as an emblem that distinguishes Sikhs from other communities and signifies their commitment to the oneness of God and the values of equality, justice, and selfless service.
Examples of Art & Symbols
Ek Onkar is often included in Sikh art and architecture. In Gurdwaras, it can be found decorating the main entrance, carved on the doors, or prominently displayed in the prayer hall. The symbol is also used in various forms of Sikh art such as paintings, sculptures and calligraphy to convey the essence of Sikh spirituality.
Ik Onkar" is more than just a symbol; it is the core of Sikh spirituality. It embodies a fundamental belief in the oneness of God and the oneness of all beings. It represents the unity of God, the equality of all beings, and the interconnectedness of the universe. It is a constant source of inspiration for Sikhs on their spiritual journey, reminding them to live in harmony with the divine and with each other. Ik Onkar's universal message of unity and love relates with people of all backgrounds, making it a symbol of peace, unity .