How it all began

Sikhism{ਸਿੱਖੀ, sikkhī} is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev which continued to progress with ten successive Sikh gurus (the last teaching being the holy scripture Gurū Granth Sāhib Ji). It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with approximately 30 million Sikhs. This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as the Gurmat (literally ‘wisdom of the Gurū’). Punjab, India is the only region in the world with a majority Sikh population. Sikhs are expected to embody the qualities of a “Sant-Sipāhī”—a saint-soldier. One must have control over one’s internal vices and be able to be constantly immersed in virtues clarified in the Guru Granth Sahib. The principal beliefs of Sikhi are faith in Waheguru—represented by the phrase ik ōaṅkār, meaning one God, along with a praxis in which the Sikh is enjoined to engage in social reform through the pursuit of justice for all human beings. Sikhi advocates the pursuit of salvation in a social context through the congregational practice of meditation on the name and message of God. The followers of Sikhi are ordained to follow the teachings of the ten Sikh gurus, or enlightened leaders, as well as the holy scripture entitled the Gurū Granth Sāhib Ji, which, along with the writings of six of the ten Sikh Gurus, includes selected works of many devotees from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth guru, conferred the leadership of the Sikh community to the Gurū Granth Sāhib and the corporate body of the Khālsā Panth (the Granth and the Panth). Sikhi’s traditions and teachings are associated with the history, society and culture of Punjab. Adherents of Sikhī are known as Sikhs (students or disciples) and number over 30 million across the world. Most Sikhs live in Punjab, India, although there is a significant Sikh diaspora. Until the Partition of India with the division of Punjab and the subsequent independence of Pakistan and later India, millions of Sikhs lived in what is now Pakistani Punjab.

The word ‘Sikh’ in the Punjabi language means ‘disciple’, Sikhs are the disciples of God who follow the writings and teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus. The wisdom of these teachings in Sri Guru Granth Sahib are practical and universal in their appeal to all mankind.

“I observe neither Hindu fasting nor the ritual of the Muslim Ramadan month; Him I serve who at the last shall save. The Lord of universe of the Hindus, Gosain and Allah to me are one; From Hindus and Muslims have I broken free. I perform neither Kaaba pilgrimage nor at bathing spots worship; One sole Lord I serve, and no other. I perform neither the Hindu worship nor the Muslim prayer; To the Sole Formless Lord in my heart I bow. We neither are Hindus nor Muslims; Our body and life belong to the One Supreme Being who alone is both Ram and Allah for us.” (Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Granth Sahib, Raga Bhairon pg. 1136)

“Any human being who faithfully believes in: (i) One Immortal Being, (ii) Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, (iii) The Guru Granth Sahib, (iv) The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus and, (v) the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru, and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion is a Sikh.” (Rehat Maryada, Sikh Code of Conduct)

  • There is only One God. He is the same God for all people of all religions.
  • The soul goes through cycles of births and deaths before it reaches the human form. The goal of our life is to lead an exemplary existence so that one may merge with God. Sikhs should remember God at all times and practice living a virtuous and truthful life while maintaining a balance between their spiritual obligations and temporal obligations.
  • The true path to achieving salvation and merging with God does not require renunciation of the world or celibacy, but living the life of a householder, earning a honest living and avoiding worldly temptations and sins.
  • Sikhism condemns blind rituals such as fasting, visiting places of pilgrimage, superstitions, worship of the dead, idol worship etc.
  • Sikhism preaches that people of different races, religions, or sex are all equal in the eyes of God. It teaches the full equality of men and women. Women can participate in any religious function or perform any Sikh ceremony or lead the congregation in prayer.

The Five Ks (Punjabi: ਪੰਜ ਕਕਾਰ Pañj Kakār) are five Articles of Faith that Khalsa Sikhs wear at all times as commanded by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh who so ordered it at the Vaisakhi Amrit Sanskar in 1699. The Five Ks are not just symbols, but articles of faith that collectively form the external identity and the Khalsa devotee’s commitment to the Sikh rehni “Sikh way of life”.

A Sikh who has taken Amrit, dons all five Ks is known as Khalsa (“pure”) or Amritdhari (“Amrit Sanskar participant”), while a Sikh who has not taken Amrit but follows all rules and keeps all five Ks is called a sahajdhari (“slow adopter”).

THE 5K’S:

  1. Kesh(ਕੇਸ) – uncut hair
  2. Kanga(ਕੰਘਾ) – a wooden comb
  3. Kara(ਕੜਾ) – a metal bracelet
  4. Kachera(ਕੱਛ) – a specific style of cotton undergarments
  5. Kirpan( ਕਿਰਪਾਨ) – a strapped curved sword.
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