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Sikh History

Sikhism History

Everything about Sikhism

The word ‘Sikh’ means ‘disciple’, A Sikh is a person who worships One God and teachings of the Ten Gurus, enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Book. Additionally, he or she must take Amrit, the Sikh Baptism.

Brief History

The Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak, who was born in 1469 A.D. in the village Talwandi, now called Nankana Sahib, near Lahore (Pakistan). Right from his childhood his keen mind would not accept the groundless rituals, superstitions and dogmas which were passed for religion in those days.

Guru Nanak and the nine Gurus who succeeded him, set a wonderful example of living spiritually, while yet taking an active and secular part in the world.

The tenth and last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708 AD) initiated the Sikh Baptism ceremony in 1699 AD; and thus distinctive physical identity to the Sikhs. The first Five Baptised Sikhs were named Panj Pyare (Five Beloved Ones), who in turn baptized the guru on his request – an event hither to unknown in the history of world.

Shortly before passing away the Guru ordained that Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Scripture would be the ultimate spiritual authority for the Sikhs and the temporal authority would vest in the Khalsa Panth – The Sikh Commonwealth. Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Scripture was compiled and edited by the Fifth Guru Arjan in 1604 AD. This is the only scripture in the world which has been compiled by the founders of a faith during their own lifetime.

Guru Arjan also built the world famous Gurdwara – Darbar Sahib, at Amritsar which is the nucleus of Sikhism. During the eighteenth century the Sikhs were subjected to various suppressions and persecutions by authorities of the time motivated by communal fanaticism. They had to make supreme sacrifices to protect and preserve their faith and separate entity.

The Mughal Empire was on the verge of disintegration. The Afghans had started invading the country under Ahmed Shah Abdali. The Sikhs availed on this opportunity to establish their own kingdom, which they ultimately achieved under Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839 AD). The Sikh Empire lasted for half a century and was annexed by the English in 1849 AD.

During the freedom struggle in India a large number of Sikhs kissed the hangman’s noose, faced all the brutalities and braved the bullets and suffered long term imprisonments in order to liberate the country. Although the Sikhs constitute only 2 percent of India’s population, yet they have made a name for themselves in almost all walks of life such as armed forces, agriculture, sports, industry, education, medicine and engineering etc., through sheer dint of hard work and with a missionary dedication. Their adventurous and enterprising nature has taken them to almost all countries of the world.

Religion And Philosophy

The Sikh religion is strictly monotheistic, believing in One Supreme God. Absolute yet All-pervading, the Eternal, the Creator, the Cause of Causes, without enmity, without hate, both Immanent in His creation and beyond it. It is no longer the god of one nation: but the GOD OF GRACE. That being so, He creates man not to punish him for his sins, but for the realization of his true purpose in the cosmos and to merge in from where he issued forth.
My My mind, thou art the embodiment of Light; Know thy Essence’
‘O my mind, the Lord is ever with thee; through the Guru’s Word enjoy His love.’Knowing thy essence thou knowest thy Lord; and knowest thou the mystery of birth and death’. (Guru Granth, P. 441)
The basic postulate of Sikhism is that life is not sinful in its origin, but having emanated from a Pure Source, the True One abides in it. Thus sayeth Nanak: “O my mind, thou art the spark of the Supreme Light; know thy essence.

Not only the whole of Sikh philosophy, but the whole of Sikh history and character, flows from ‘this principle’.
The Sikhs do not recognize the caste system nor do they believe in Idol-worship, rituals, or superstitions. The gods and goddesses are considered non-entities.
This religion consists of practical living, in rendering service to humanity and engendering tolerance and brotherly love towards all. The Sikh Gurus did not advocate retirement from the world in order to attain salvation. It can be achieved by any one who earns an honest living and leads a normal life.
‘He alone, O Nanak, knoweth the Way, who earneth with the sweat of his brow, and then shareth it with others’. (Guru Granth, P. 1245)
Nanak gave new hope to the down-trodden mankind to join his fraternity as equals. He is a creator of the NEW MAN in the New World supported by a New morality.
Riches and personal possessions are not hindrance in living by spiritual ideals. Sikhism does not believe in the maxim, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eyes of a needle than a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”. On the other hand the Sikh dictum is as under:-
“They, who are attuned to the Lord, by the Guru’s Grace, Attain to the Lord in the midst of Maya, (i.e. Wealth).’ (Guru Granth. P. 921)
Sikhism does not accept the ideology of pessimism. It advocates optimism and hope. The maxim, “Resist not evil but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also does not find any place in the Sikh way of life. On the other hand it enjoins its followers.
“When an affair is past every other remedy it is righteous, indeed, to unsheathe the sword.” (Guru Gobind Singh. The 10th Guru)


A Sikh has a distinctive personality. This distinction is represented by five symbol’s, popularly known as Five K’s, because the first letter of each symbol begins with the letter “K”. These are:-

Keshas (long and unshorn hair). The hair remind a Sikh to behave like the saints of the past and are a mark of dedication and group consciousness. It shows the Sikh’s acceptance of God’s will.

Kangha (a comb). It is necessary to keep the hair clean and thus a sign of cleanliness.

Kara (a steel bracelet). It indicates restraint and wearer’s indebtness to the Guru. It reminds the Sikh of his ideal behavior in the event of his weakness leading him to misdeeds.

Kachha (pair of shorts). It ensures briskness and agility and is a mark of perpetual readiness. It also stands for chastity.

Kirpan (a sword). It is an emblem of power and the freedom of the spirit. The Sikhs use it primarily as an instrument of defence.

People who wear a uniform and who are imbued with disciplined outlook, are better able to achieve unity of purpose and acquire a real sense of brotherhood than those who have set no particular standards. A Sikh without these symbols is a non-entity.

Those who cut their hair or trim their beard commit a breach of the Cardinal Rules of the Order, and are considered as ‘apostates’.


Amrit (The Sikh Baptism) is a must for every Sikh. No minimum or maximum age is stipulated for getting baptized. A Sikh undertakes to uphold the principles of its faith and Code of Conduct as prescribed by the Gurus.

Any man or woman of any nationality, race or social standing, who adheres to the principles of the Faith, has a right to receive baptism and join the Sikh Commonwealth – The Khalsa Panth.


The Sikh Code of Conduct is known as “Sikh Rehat Maryada”. It is based upon the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh traditions and conventions. These rules are meant for carrying out the religious ceremonies and enforcing the discipline of the Faith in a uniform manner throughout the world. No individual or organization, whosoever important it may be, has a right either to amend these rules or to frame new ones. This power rests with the Panth i.e. the community as a whole acting through their Beloved Five (Panj Payare). Any rule which over-rides the basic teachings of the Faith is ultra vires.

All intoxications such as alcohol, tobacco and all its derivation are prohibited. Adultery is considered as a sin. A Sikh should regard another man’s wife as his sister or mother; and another man’s daughter as his own daughter. The same rule is applicable to Sikh women too.


Women are regarded as a significant part of the Sikh community. She receives the utmost reverence for her role in the family and society. The birth of a daughter is not considered inauspicious nor does there exist any custom like sati-the burning of the widow with her husband’s dead body on the funeral pyre. Rather a widow has a right to remarry if she so desires.

A woman is considered to have the same soul as man and she has an equal right to grow spiritually and to attend religious congregations and recite divine hymns in the Sikh Temple. She is also eligible to participate and perform all ceremonies including Baptism.

Sikh women do not put on Veil (Purdah). Dowry and divorce are not permitted. Wearing of clothes, which expose the body and breed lustful thoughts are considered dishonorable.


The important ceremonies among the Sikhs are those associated with Birth, Naming the child, Amrit (Baptism), Anand Karaj (marriage) and the Death ceremony. The most important among all these is the Amrit (Sikh Baptism) ceremony. No special rituals are attached to these ceremonies. The only important aspect is recitation of Shabad (hymns) from Guru Granth Sahib.

The dead amongst the Sikhs are cremated and their ashes are thrown into the nearest canal or river. No sanctity is attributed to any particular river. It is forbidden to erect monuments over the remains of the dead.

All these ceremonies have a common objective, namely to remind us of one’s relation with God. These are conceived as means to an end i.e. the union of soul with the Lord.


The Sikhs celebrate the following days: The birth and death anniversaries of the Ten Gurus.

The installation of the Holy Granth as the Spiritual Guide (Guru) of the Sikhs. The birth of the Khalsa i.e. Baisakhi Day which generally falls on the 13th April each year. Martyrdom days of the prominent Sikhs who died for the sake of their religion or in defense of the oppressed. The days connected with the important events of the Sikh history.


Every Sikh is expected to get up in the morning before dawn. After taking bath, he should meditate on the Name of God.

“Rise thou early and meditate on the Name, Yea, dwell on the Lord night and day; Then, thou sufferest not sorrow; and all thy woes depart.

(Guru Granth, P. 255)

The following five compositions are recited every day:

Morning: Japji Sahib, Jaap Sahib and Ten Swiyyas, Chopai, Anand Sahib.

Evening: Rehras.

Night: (before going to bed)-Sohila.

A Sikh is required to attend Gurdwara -the Sikh Temple -as a part of daily routine.

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