What is Sikhism?

iBrian

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Sikhism is a tradition that I know very little about. I've read about the various symbols of Sikhism, and encountered something of the history (Amritsar, etc).

However, I have no real idea what Sikhism stands for as a religious belief, and how it compares to other religious traditions. I am open for educating. :)
 
I studied the holy writ (being as respectful with the preparations as I knew how) and I'm still not clear on the doctrine. I know after September 11th I had to hold back several idiots to keep them from getting smacked around by Sikhs simply because they believed turban equaled terrorist.
 
Namaste all,


for your edification:

A progressive religion well ahead of its time when it was founded over 500 years ago, The Sikh religion today has a following of over 20 million people worldwide and is ranked as the worlds 5th largest religion. Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstitions and blind rituals. Sikhism is open to all through the teachings of its 10 Gurus enshrined in the Sikh Holy Book and Living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

http://www.sikhs.org/topics2.htm
 
I hate to jump directly to hostile questions, but I've heard that Sikhism denounces superstitions and ritualism, even while the mode of dress and protocols to reading the Granth seem at odds with this.
 
I have to admit, I did wonder at that statement, too - though I guess the notion of "blind" ritual is the heart of the question and answer. :)
 
Vajradhara said:
Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstitions and blind rituals. [/font]
http://www.sikhs.org/topics2.htm

Wow, I'm pleasantly surprised! Now I understand why I got 100% Sikhism the first time I took the 'what's your religion test'. :)
 
I said:
I have to admit, I did wonder at that statement, too - though I guess the notion of "blind" ritual is the heart of the question and answer. :)
Yeah, that's what I was thinking.

Avinash said:
Wow, I'm pleasantly surprised! Now I understand why I got 100% Sikhism the first time I took the 'what's your religion test'.
Yeah, first time I was told about Sihkism, I thought, where do I sign up. But then like most faiths, I figured I'd just read the holy writ and try to see how it could help me. I'm wary as a westerner looking to 'gurus'. Good stuff, though!
 
Mus Zibii said:
Yeah, that's what I was thinking.
[]Yeah, first time I was told about Sihkism, I thought, where do I sign up.
Namaskar,

I visited their Golden Temple and museum at Amritsar once and helped to carry the Holy Book to its "bedroom" from the island in the lake (sunset time) but don't know very much about the philosophy. They suffered a lot of persecution from the Muslim rulers of the time according to the many bloody scenes on the paintings in the museum.
 
My paltry understanding is that Sikhism was the result of the meeting of Islam with Hinduism. The definition sounds like Hinduism without the giggery-pokery.
 
Namaskar,

Found this intro on the ReligiousTolerance site:

>>>>No consensus exists on the origins of this religion. Historians and specialists in Eastern religions generally believe that Sikhism is a syncretistic religion, originally related to the Bhakti movement within Hinduism and the Sufi branch of Islam, to which many independent beliefs and practices were added.

Some Sikhs believe that their religion is a re-purification of Hinduism; they view Sikhism as part of the Hindu religious tradition.

Many Sikhs disagree; they believe that their religion is a direct revelation from God - a religion that was not derived from either Hinduism or Islam.

Sikhism does contain many unique postulates and principles that are quite different from both Hinduism and Islam. Joseph D. Cunningham (1812-1851), the author of "A History of the Sikhs" (1848), observed: "It has been usual to regard the Sikhs as essentially Hindu... yet in religious faith and worldly aspiration, they are wholly different from other Indians, and they are bound together by an objective unknown elsewhere.">>>>

I find the mentioned connection to Bhakti and Sufism very interesting. Does this mean that Sikhism is a mystic re-purification of Hinduism?
 
Fateh Ji,

I am posting the same article, I just posted for replying the thread "Sikhism and Islam" elsewhere in this forum... it should be usefull...

Question: "I have heard it said that (Hazrat) Baba Nanak was a true Moslem believer, or, at least he was a great admirer of the Holy Prophet of Islam and a staunch supporter of the Koranic Revelation. I request for authoritative comments from some eminent Sikh theologian and scholar on this matter."

Answer: Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was born in the 15th Century in the North of India that had already been politically integrated to the organized world of Islam for almost 500 years. Arabic was already the official and cultural language at Lahore, a place only a few miles from the birth-place of the Sikh Prophet. Islam and its culture, was not only the dominant strain of the world civilization and culture of those days, but had also percolated into the common idioms and modes of thought of the North-Western Punjab. It was in this milieu that the oecumenical religion of Sikhism took birth.

Guru Nanak not only was in intimate contact with the Moslem learned men and centers of religion of Islam of those days, but he also made a close study of the basic Islamic literature. His knowledge of the fundamental Hindu sacred texts now being revealed through a critical study of the Sikh Scripture, is not only pleasantly surprising but it also impresses. Needless to say that Guru Nanak was thoroughly conversant with the texts and the teachings of the Koran. Since Guru Nanak was a Prophet in his own right and according to his own claim, he neither gives direct quotation nor makes precise references to Hindu and Muslim texts, as a mere scholar would be expected to make, and it is, therefore, only a trained scholar of Comparative Religion who can spot out and pin-point the exact sacred texts which Guru Nanak had in mind when delivering a particular Revelation.

When such a critical study of the Revelations of Guru Nanak is made, there is left no doubt in the mind of a balanced scholar that even when apparently affirming or repudiating a particular doctrine or text, the Guru almost always amplifies his own statement by added nuances of critical exposition. An appraisal of this character alone can make it clear that Guru Nanak had a definite and positive attitude towards the Koran.

The Koran has three distinct elements in its texts:
a. Dissertations on the nature of God and man's relation to Him
b. Pronouncements on Social organization and ethics
c. Statements on Judaic mythology

Guru Nanak ignores the last as irrelevant to the message that he has to preach to the mankind. He also considers this as uninteresting, for, he makes very sparse, if at all, even passing references to it. With regard to the second element in the Koran, namely, the laws and principles of social organisation and social ethics, Guru Nanak would seem to reject most of them as contingent and non-perennial. It is the first element in the Koran which the Guru takes seriously and on which he has made a large number of pronouncements.

The space and scope of this answer forbids any detailed discussion of this point and I would, therefore, just state that Guns Nanak seems to find most of it as worthy of consideration and even assent and he has explicitly incorporated its essentials in the Sacred Book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth, though only after a personal digestion and re-interpretation.

I must make this statement slightly clearer.

In sura 2, called Albaqr, the Cow, for instance, amid brief disquisitions on a multitude of subjects, including pilgrimages, divorce, menstruation, the rights of women, proposals of marriage, and the need for killing the adversaries of Islam, there appears, quite unexpectedly, one of the grandest verses of the loran the famous throne-verse.

There is no God save Him, the living the eternal;
Slumber overtaketh Him not, nor doth sleep weary Him.
Unto Him belongeth all things in Heaven and on the earth.
Who shall intercede with Him save by His will.
His throne is as vast the Heavens and the earth.
And the keep of them wearieth Him not.
He is exalted, the mighty One.

It is this beautiful and noble text which claims the attention and general assent of Guru Nanak and it is this text which he has matched by his own famous text, the Sodar, that Gate, or The Gate, as there being no definite article in the Indo-Sanskrit languages, it can only be expressed as that,

Like what is that Gate?
With what compares that Abode?
By visiting where He sustains All?

Then in this text Guru Nanak goes to imply that the formal nature of this "Throne" is best comprehensible by human mind through reference to those areas of Reality that pertain to sound and feeling rather than those that pertain to visual and spatial aspects of Reality, as is implicated by the Koranic text. Herein Guru Nanak has the advantage of his acquaintance with the categories of the Samkhya school of Hindu Philosophy that categorises sound as the subject element of sensibilia and perception. It is only by a careful and critical analysis of such parallel texts in the Koran and the Guru Granth, that the true interrelationship between Islam and Sikhism can be properly understood.

Another grand verse, sura 24 in the Koran goes under the name of mishkatul-anwar. The tabernacle. This is the text to which the Mohamedan mystics and Sufis have returned again and again, never tiring of the mysterious Lamp whose rays bathe the whole universe:

God is the Light of the heavens and earth.
The similitude of His Light is a niche wherein is a lamp.
And the lamp is within a glass.
And the glass, as it were a pearly star.
This lamp is lit from a blessed tree.
An olive neither of the east nor of the west;
Almost this oil would shine though no
fire touched it.
Light upon Light, God guideth whom He will to His Light,
And He speaketh in parables to men, for He knoweth all things.

Now, Guru Nanak has taken an unmistakable note of this text. Guru Nanak was also familiar with certain Hindu sacred texts (Vaikunth, and Dipaparijvalanam in the Guradudapauranam) that speak of the Lamp that guides men here and hereafter, Guru Nanak has revealed a text which not only takes note of all these Moslem and Hindu sacred texts but which constitutes the Guru's own disquisition on the Lamp that guides. Guru Nanak opens by declaring:

My Light is the Name of One and only God.
And its oil is the pain and suffering:
The former is consumed and the latter is then done away with.
And, lo! there is no-doing between I and Death.

A large number of similar texts in the Guru Granth, are, in this manner, grounded in the Islamic and Hindu sacred texts but invariably the former have the content and identity of their own.

This is true and correct relationship between Islam and Sikhism. As for Guru Nanak's attitude towards the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, it has to be a matter of inference, for, nowhere in the voluminous Guru Granth, the name of the Moslem Prophet occurs, directly or indirectly, though Koran is mentioned by name more than once. The Sikh doctrine on the subject is sharp and clear, the born is perishable, and all praise is due to the Timeless. In so far as the Guru perceived excellence in Mohammed, he attributed it exclusively to the grace of God, and whatever was contingent, unenduring in the words and deeds of Mohammeqhe deemed as merely human and impermanent trait.

There is no other way of answering the question put by the learned Quadi from Mosul.

The below arguement was made on another website and it has good information to clear it. You is not for you but it was used for user of that forum. It was asked by Muslim member.

Quote:
I had a good laugh at your suggestion that Guru Nanak was a muslim! Maybe you need to read page 1428 of the SGGS where Guru makes his opinions on reincarnation, pilgrimages (Hajj) and fasting perfectly clear! You suggested that its only after Guru Nanak that Sikhs believed in reincarnation, well I hate to dissapoint you but read the translation, it may clear things up!

I suggest that you stop believing the Islamic schollars whose material you read (they are obviously unbiased arent they?!) and just read Guru Nanak's direct opinion which can only be found in the SGGS as it written by him! Not by some clown 200 years after his birth who you seem to believe for some reason! You seem to keep on mentioning that Guru Nanak went to Mecca, but you conveniently forget to mention that he went there and pointed his feet at Kabba. When the Muslims asked him to change the direction of his feet because hes showing disrespect by pointing his feet at a place of god, he said move my feet,but wherever you move my feet god will be in that direction (sikh ideology: god is eveywhere). Hardly the typical actions of a person doing HAJJ!!!!!

As far as a non-Muslim not being allowed in Mecca, i dont think guru Nanak would have cared about any restrictions Muslims would have put on any land as he was guided by god to spread the truth. At the end of the day when Babar went to visit Guru Nanak, guru Nanak said to him that 'tu babar nehi tu jabar hai' this basically shows that Guru Nanak was not scared of anyone (babar was the mughal empire) or anything. Guru Nanak believed God is everywhere and there should be no worldy attachment (so this belief of only Muslims being allowed in Mecca would be against his Ideology and anything against his Ideology he would challenge!)

There also seems to be alot of meaningless points like Guru Nanak giving money to beggers, wearing certain clothes or the belief in one god. How can you say someone believing in one god means they are Muslim, that is a very frail argument. I didnt think Islam had a 'copyright' in the belief of one god! Especially since its far from being the first to believe in one god. The arguments of clothes and money to beggers implying he's Muslim are astonishing.

You say that Khalsa was created 200 years after Guru Nanak, but then Guru Nanak laid the foundations for it. Guru Gobing Singh was just the eventual successor of guru nanak. Guru Nanak actually gave his gurgaddi ('successorship') to Guru Angad Dev ji, was he a muslim? doesnt that answer the question. Saying that Guru Nanak came 200 years before Guru Gobind Singh means that he was not Sikh is like me saying Adam came an eternity before Prophet Muhammed hence he is not a Muslim! Do I see contradictions in your views?! Guru Nanak did have 5 prayers, but they werent Islamic prayers, if they were then why did he write the Jap ji sahib? which is the morning prayer God gave him. Another thing Guru Nanak had 5 prayers which he did 3 times a day, theres a difference!

You talk of this Saffron robe which is supposedly of Guru Nanak, but does this take prescedent over his own revelations in the sri Guru Grant Sahib where he says 'naa hum hindhu, naa hum musulmann', (if you would like exact page number and traslation you only have to request! I thought 1 was enough for you!). At the end of the day one thing for sure is that his written teachings have been preserved since his time, but can the same really be said about this supposed saffron, which has been kept in a predominately Muslim area for the last 300 years?

Another argument was that he went to Baghdad! This is the most comprehensive nit-picking argument I have ever come across! Guru Nanak also went to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Afghanistan, Russia, Nepal, Burma. He went to these places because he was a messenger of god. I guess the Christian Equivalent of you will turn around tommorow and say he went to Israel to go Jerrusulam because he was actually Christian!

I mean at the end of the day, by all means follow Islam and I hope you good luck in becoming one with God, but your arguments on Guru Nanak are just based on what you've read written by these Islamic schollars that you choose to follow. Ultimately the only truth of Guru Nanak can be found in the Sri Guru Granth sahib because he actually a lot of it HIMSELF.
 
I've heard that Sikhism denounces superstitions and ritualism, even while the mode of dress and protocols to reading the Granth seem at odds with this.
well, a lot of religions denounce superstitions and ritualism, whilst apparently creating their own. so it is probably more correct to say that sikhism denounced a certain set of superstitions and rituals that were current at the time of the gurus, whilst attempting to reform religious practice somewhat - of course, to a modern western eye their own practices could seem vulnerable to such accusations. but then again, western critical thought doesn't seem to understand category systems that come from outside itself, although anthropology does its best - and is often at pains to dismiss what are considered superficial or illogical observances, whilst ignoring their deeper significance.

as i understand it, guru nanak was trying to stop the internecine hindu/muslim conflict of the indian subcontinent and sikhism was the result. this means that he was neither a hindu nor a muslim but was trying to reflect the best in both systems. either way, he was clearly trying to unify people and for that he is to be praised and remembered.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
bananabrain said:
guru nanak was trying to stop the internecine hindu/muslim conflict of the indian subcontinent
...a practice which is common through to today, notably in the example of Sai Baba, the one with the 'fro.
 
bananabrain said:
well, a lot of religions denounce superstitions and ritualism, whilst apparently creating their own. so it is probably more correct to say that sikhism denounced a certain set of superstitions and rituals that were current at the time of the gurus, whilst attempting to reform religious practice somewhat - of course, to a modern western eye their own practices could seem vulnerable to such accusations. but then again, western critical thought doesn't seem to understand category systems that come from outside itself, although anthropology does its best - and is often at pains to dismiss what are considered superficial or illogical observances, whilst ignoring their deeper significance.
Good point.
 
i'm glad to see a Sikhism forum here at last. :)

i was wondering, could someone give an outline of the basics of Sikh belief? i understand that Sikhs believe in one God, reincarnation, and the equality of men and women. but i don't understand much more beyond that, or the nuances of what i've listed.

thank you.

ISFP
 
i was wondering, could someone give an outline of the basics of Sikh belief? i understand that Sikhs believe in one God, reincarnation, and the equality of men and women. but i don't understand much more beyond that, or the nuances of what i've listed.
Ok, here are just some random points about the Sikh religion:

God is all-pervasive, much like the Brahman of Hindu belief. So, while we can't see it, all souls, and all of existence, while somehow independant (the explaination for that tidbit takes to long, and I'm lazy :)), are a part of God.

The Sikhs believe that the soul - because of this connection with God - is naturally good; it's the human's ego which brings about evil.

Love is the central focus of this religion - God's love, much like in Christianity. Courage is also especially honored.

The Guru is the central spiritual figure of Sikhism, and God is considered the One True Guru - their Holy Book is the Adi Granth, which is of similar importance to them as it is to Christians the Bible (I hope that made sense :p).

As you said before, they believe in reincarnation - however, they share a belief similar to other eastern religions that they can sort of merge with God upon death, if they walk the right path (though, those other eastern religions call God something else...)

They believe one can come in contact with God via meditation.

They believe God has manifested himself in many forms, thus creating many other religions.

Blah, those are the main points of Sikhism that I can pull off the top of my head. A rather fascinating religion, actually...one of my favorite eastern ones ;)

Anyways, later...
 
thank you, Knight. just a personal note, some of what you've described sound Hindu in nature (reincarnation, understanding of God's nature) and some sounds a bit like the Bahai faith (e.g. God manifesting himself/his message in many forms over the ages).

look forward to reading other threads in the Sikhism forum.
 
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