Sikh Missionary Society U.K. (Regd)
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‘Sikhi,’ wrongly termed ‘Sikhism’
The Sikh religion is the newest - about 535 years old today in 2004. It came into being with the birth of Guru Nanak Dev in 1469 AD. In the Sikh world, the Guru means a Sikh Prophet or the Master. Father of Guru Nanak Dev was Kalyan Das, popularly called Mehta Kalu, and mother was Mata (Mother) Tripta. He was born at the village Talwandi (Nankana Sahib), now in the undivided Punjab, the great Northern state of India.
Guru Nanak was followed by nine Gurus, and the last, Guru Gobind Singh, died in 1708. Their followers are called Sikhs. The word means “disciple,” a seeker - an apprentice, a student. Today, they are about twenty-two millions, and make the fifth largest nation in the world. Their homeland is the State of Punjab, in India, but they are nearly all over the country (India) and the world.
This new religion was the result of an action against ignorance and superstitions. It was reinforced by the desire of the people to get rid of oppression, discrimination and cruelty. The lust, greed, ego etc. of the rich and powerful were beyond toleration.
The Gurus kept uplifting the downtrodden for 239 years, from the birth
of Guru Nanak to the death of Guru Gobind Singh. They united the people
to one God, and revived in them the realization of their duties and rights.
They taught equality of all human beings, and liberated them from discrimination
against caste, creed, class, sex, color, faith, and of the geographical
regions. They liberated the people from superstitions, unfounded taboos,
meaningless customs, and useless rites.
The Sikh Belief
A Sikh believes in one God and prays only to Him, has faith in Ten Gurus, and follows the dictates of Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book the Guru). This Book has 1430, pages - fixed by the Sikh world in the recent past. It has the Hymns not only of the Sikh Gurus, but of the saints from other faiths and of different castes, too. The last Guru, Gobind Singh, declared the Holy Book to be the Guru of the Sikhs after him and no more a human Master for them. The Sikhs consider Guru Granth Sahib - Gurbani (the Word) their Living Guru.
The Tenth Master established “Order of the Khalsa.” Khalsa means the
Guru’s own i.e. his special, loved one: the pure one. This order was to
uplift the masses to fight for their rights, to struggle for freedom including
that of their faith, to stand up against oppression, discrimination, cruelty,
and to lead the people for selfless service combined with universal love,
help to the needy and protection to the weak. The people properly initiated
into the Sikh faith were also called Khalsa. The Khalsa keep their hair
unshorn, head covered, and observe other dictates of the order. The men
tie turbans and usually a long cloth is worn by the women to cover their
heads. The use of caps, hats etc. is not permitted in the Sikh world.
The people are initiated into the Sikh faith by a special ceremony of
drinking “Amrit” - the Holy Drink. The Khalsa’s (properly initiated Sikh’s)
name should end in “Singh” for males, and “Kaur” for females, as it is
usual for the Sikhs in general. Singh means a lion, and Kaur is a princess.
The regular salutation of the Sikhs is “Satsri Akal”- Hail the Lord! However,
more formal one is, “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh” - the
Khalsa belongs to God, Glory to Him.
The Sikhs recite their set prayers in the morning, evening and at bedtime. They bow to the Holy Book and recite it with reverence. They believe that the Hymns composed by the Gurus, and given in Guru Granth Sahib were revealed to them by God.
Besides, the individual i.e. personal meditation on God, they perform “Kirtan” - sing His praise, and meditate on Him in the congregation. They hold their gatherings usually on weekends in the presence of the Holy Book in their place of worship called “Gurdwara”- residence of the Guru. Sometimes, they get-together to pray at their homes, too. Their every ceremony is performed in the presence of their Holy Book. Their gatherings mostly end in “Langar” - common (community) food - sitting together and eating. It may be prepared singly, jointly, at home or at the Gurdwara. This is a free service.
The Sikhs call God “Waheguru”- Wondrous One i.e. the Wonderful God.
‘Wahe’ means an appreciation in wonder. ‘Guru’ means the eliminator of
ignorance. The central theme of their teaching is known as “Mool-Mantar.-
the Basic i.e. Root-Formula.” This is - “There is only One
God, He is all pervading, the supreme Truth, the only Creator, all powerful
and without discrimination, above the time and space, not bound by the
birth and death, self-created. And this realization comes through His own
Every “Ardas” - Invocation or supplication by the Sikhs, is mainly a very brief repetition of their history, and begs for His mercy. It ends with “O Lord, be merciful to all, and bless everyone with a high morale!”
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