Thus the language spoken by the people of that area was started to be called as “Panjabi” and the people of this area were also started to be called as “Panjabi” by these new settlers, the Persians.

Sanskrit was never a spoken language of the people because it was meant only for the elites and the Brahmins. It is estimated that the Sanskrit was synthesized in the erstwhile Punjab by Pananni around about 400 BC from the language spoken by the people of the erstwhile Punjab i.e. “Ancient Panjabi.” Pananni also prepared the grammar of this newly synthesized language, Sanskrit (Sans = perfect + Krit = to adore or to arrange). As the Sanskrit was a grammatically arranged language, therefore, it is evident that the so called “Prakrit” is a sophisticated name given to the “not grammatically arranged language” i.e. Ancient Panjabi by the pro-Sanskrit scholars. In other words “Prakrit” is an antonym of “Sanskrit”, and a synonym of “Ancient Panjabi.” Therefore, it is clear that Pananni synthesized the word “Shishya” from the commonly spoken word “Sikh” of “Ancient Panjabi”, the language of that time. There is a long list of Panjabi words being spoken today which are very similar to those of “Prakrit” (“Ancient Panjabi”) and “Pali” (which were spoken before Sanskrit came into existence) and also to those of Sanskrit (which shows similarities of Sanskrit with Panjabi) (Panjabi The Hoar Bhashawan (1970) (in Panjabi), Bhasha Vibhag, Patiala) to prove the above thesis. Therefore, it is absolutely wrong to say that the word “Sikh” was derived from Sanskrit word “Shishya” as is quoted in many books, encyclopedias and dictionaries by many scholars. In fact, it is just the reverse i. e, the word “Shishya” was derived from “Ancient Panjabi” word, “Sikh”, which was spoken as early as 600 BC i.e. at least 200 years before the Sanskrit was synthesized.

It is interesting to add here that Barth (quoted by P.Masson Oursel, H.D. William-Grabowska, and P. Stern. Ancient India and Indian Civilization (1934) Routledge & Kegan Paul Lid London) gave very convincing documents that the great epic, Mahabharata, (and Veds) were written as early as 3102 BC or more correctly about 800 BC, If it is so, then the language of these sacred books could be the language spoken at the time i.e. “Ancient Panjabi or the so-called “Prakrit” because Sanskrit was not evolved by that time (it was evolved only about 400 BC). The language of these sacred books could be only “Ancient Panjabi” because these were written in the erstwhile Punjab. Later on these sacred books were translated into Sanskrit to keep them confined to the Brahmins only.

Definition of “Sikh” in Sikh Rahit Maryada of SGPC: To discuss the definition given by the SGPC it was necessary to reproduce here the original definition in Panjabi to understand its English translation properly.

 Original Punjabi version: English translation of the above: “A woman or a man who believes in one Almighty, ten Guru Sahibans (from Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Sri Guru Gobind Singh Sahib), Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Bani and advice of ten Guru Sahibans and the Amrit of Dashmesh Ji and does not accept any other religion, is a Sikh,” The above definition of “Sikh” is the best one ever given by any Sikh scholar or the Sikh institution 90 far. This definition was coined by the committee of most eminent Sikh theologians of 40s after having many sittings and discussions, The draft of the Sikh Rahit Maryadha prepared by this committee was submitted to the SGPC on Jan.7,1945 and recommendations of the committee the SGPC accepted (approved) this draft on Feb.3,1945 for some addition and deletions. It is not clear from the available literature whether some additions and deletions, recommended by the committee, were done in this draft or not so far. However, there are a few apparent redundancies in this definition, which can be amicably settled. For example“A woman or a man” could easily be replaced with “One” or “A person,” “Bani and advice of ten Guru Sahibans” is not a correct statement in this definition because all the ten Sikh Gurus did not write the Bani. It could also be easily modified. Another statement “does not accept any other religion” is redundant, since the believer in Gurbani automatically would not accept any religion other than the Sikhism. Thus the suggested definition of “Sikh” is as follows: SIKH: “One, who believes in the One Almighty, the Ten Sikh Gurus (from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh) and their Bani (which was incorporated into the Aad Guru Granth Sahib by the Fifth Nanak, Guru Arjan Sahib, and the Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh), the Amrit-system of the Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, is a Sikh.”

Now let us try to define “Sikhism”:

SIKHISM is a religion based on philosophy given in the Gurbani revealed by the Sikh Gurus (which is incorporated into the Aad Guru Granth Sahib by the Fifth Nanak, Guru Arjan Sahib, and the Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh). The above short definition is based on the following stanza from Gurbani: But the above definition does not give the salient characteristic of Sikhism, which must be included into a self-contained definition. Therefore, the following definition of “Sikhism” has been coined according to the Gurbani of the Sikh Gurus:

 SIKHISM founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1539): is believing in the One and Only Almighty (who never incarnates Himself into any form, and cannot be structured into any form); living under the command of His hukms (rules created by Him to control the life and the Universe); leading a truthful worldly life in humility, without egoism and in equality; realizing His Being (The Naam) to achieve salvation without falling into any rituals; and the Amrit system of the Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh.

All the characteristics used to define “Sikhism” have been taken from the Gurbani of Sikh Gurus, which was incorporated into the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS) by the Fifth Nanak, Guru Arjan Sahib and by the Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, The superscripts on all the above characteristics refer to the verse of Gurbani from the AGGS and the page with the succession number of Guru Nanak as Mahila (M) e.g. M5 means Fifth Nanak, Guru Arjan Sahib. There could be many more appropriate verses from Gurbani which could be cited to support the above characteristics of the term, Sikhism. And there are also possibilities that I might have omitted some important characteristics in this definition.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 15, 1992