The Sikh Religion
The Philosophy & History of Sikh Religion
The Sikh religion originated in one of the Provinces of India, namely, the Punjab. Its founder Guru (prophet), Guru Nanak Dev was born in village TALWANDI of RAI BHOEN (now in PAKISTAN) in 1469. From his very birth he was one with God. He believed in one omnipresent God who is personal as well as absolute, creator of the Universe, without fear and enmity, above birth and death, and is Light born of itself; with whom we can meet and be one with him through the grace of the Guru.
When the grace of the Guru is received by a person, the self-ego of his mind vanishes and mind becomes transparent through which GOD, already present in the mind itself, becomes visible. GOD being the source of origin of the soul, the very sight of Him makes the soul happy and being one with Him puts the soul into ETERNAL PEACE and makes the soul ETERNAL like GOD himself. The highest aim of religion is to enable one to be God-like.
To attain the GRACE of the Guru and thereby remove the wall of ego, Guru Nanak has taught the necessary method which is to sing the praises of God to inculcate love of him, to serve all believing that God is present in every human being and to serve him or her with all humility. To repeat the name of God, to earn one’s own livelihood through honest means and share the fruits thereof is another form of the same method.
The divine soul of Guru Nanak adopted ten Guru-bodies only to give practical training in this method to the people, and the respective names of the Ten Gurus (prophets) are: Guru Nanak, Guru Angad Dev, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Har Gobind, Guru Har Rai, Guru Har Kishan, Guru Teg Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh.
The divine thoughts of the Gurus, as dawned on them, have been contained in the Holy Scripture, known as Guru Granth Sahib, believed to be the embodiment of the spirit of the ten Prophets of Sikh religion. That is why the last personal Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, installed the Holy Scripture on his own Guru-Throne at the time of his passing away to the Heavenly abode. As such all Sikhs consider the Holy Scripture as the living Guru for all time to come and now they remember God, through it and in presence of it. When the Sikhs gather together in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, to remember God, they are collectively known as ‘‘Ssangat’’.
When the tenth Guru baptised the Sikhs in a new impersonal way, he called the baptised ‘“SSANGAT”’ as ‘‘PANTH KHALSA”’ and also called the same as the “ARMY of GOD”’, the aim of which is to implement and carry out the will of All-Mighty God. As a soldier wears a uniform, similarly every ‘‘Singh”’ (Baptised Sikh) wear five religious’ symbols, namely Kesh (Uncut hair), Kangha (Wooden comb), a Kirpan (Small sword), Kara (Iron bracelet), and Kachhera (Underwear).
These symbols have spiritual significance also, i.e., to be as natural as possible we keep uncut hairs—it is a surrender to the will of God; to keep them clean we keep a wooden comb in the head; to fight the evil from within the society and the individual-self we keep the symbol of sword; and iron bracelet is there to remind us of the truth that we are slave of the Guru, in the use of the sword especially; underwear suggests chastity.
As a soldier is required to remain in discipline similarly a ‘‘Singh’’ is not to indulge in four ‘‘Don’ts’’ namely (I) not to cut the hairs, (II) not to smoke, (III) not to eat meat (Kutha Type), (IV) not to indulge in adultery. Guru Gobind Singh entrusted to the Khalsa Panth the mission of remembering God and enabling others to remember God and if anyone puts hurdles in the fulfilment of this mission, to remove him from the way forcibly and to fight the cruel and aggressive always. The exact translation of Guru’s words is as under: –
“Grant me this boon O God, from thy GREATNESS May I never refrain from righteous acts; May I fight without fear all foes in life’s battle with confident courage claiming the victory! May my highest ambition be singing thy praises, and may thy Glory be grained in my mind. When this mortal life reaches its limits, May I die fighting with limitless courage.’’
This prayer of the Guru instilled such a spirit in the Sikhs that they faced every eventuality willingly and happily, sacrificed their lives, their families and their properties but did not surrender to the cruelty of the enemy and neither agreed to the forcible conversions the rulers of the time wanted them to.
The Sikhs have been rulers also in the time of Mahanraja Ranjit (1780-1839) but they did not show any bigotry, and treated all alike. Moreover, the Panth Khalsa is above these mundane attachments. They do not fear anyone; they are attached to Guru God direct and that is why they consider themselves as king even without any worldly kingdom. As such they are in fact kings. Death for them is only a play-thing, a door to an eternal life. That is why a Sikh accepts it gladly. He does not shirk work, rather he considers every work a service to God and is always busy doing it. He is successful in every field of life, like Army, Agriculture, Sports, Education and Business and as such is well-known everywhere.
The Sikhs are present in almost every Country and wherever they go, they keep their Holy Scripture with them. They always receive necessary inspiration from it and consider themselves as dead without it. In every Sikh Temple, free food and free lodging facilities are provided for the visitors and needy, though for a limited time and according to their needs. The members who attend the religious places also prove to be helpful to them in other fields also.