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Sikh Identity - Are Sikhs Hindus?
The Sikh Scripture
Banda Establishes First Sikh State
Sikhs Establish their Kingdom
Sikh Nation Rules North India
British Attempts to Hinduize Sikhs
Partition of India
Are Sikhs Hindus?
Summary of Sikh Religion
To answer the above questions we must go back to the times of Sri Guru Nanak Dev (1469 to 1539), the founder of the Sikh religion. Sikhism began with the preaching of Guru Nanak. He based his right to teach on his personal experience of a hukum (command) received from God. Guru Nanak's simple monotheistic creed, supported by a set of humanitarian principles of conduct and presented with humility and conviction, made a deep impact on the Indian population, then suffering under the heavy heel of the Mughal conquerors and the ritualized Hindu religious observances. Guru Nanak won a large number of adherents to his teaching. It was the beginning of a new religious fellowship, which in course of time developed into a well-defined Faith. Its chief doctrines were the unity of God, the brotherhood of man, rejection of caste and the futility of idol worship. Guru Nanak is viewed by Sikhs as the preacher of a new Gospel, the founder of a new Faith, the perfect example of piety and a person worthy of deep devotion, but not to be worshipped as God.
The new religion founded by Guru Nanak was nurtured by nine other Gurus who succeeded him in the holy office of Guruship. The Guru is the Enlightener, the instructor who shows the path leading to the Divine.
The first Guru, Nanak Dev, lived in the 15th century, a time of immense social and political turmoil. He witnessed the brutality of the Mughal invaders who swept through Afghanistan into the Northern sub-continent of India, terrorizing, the local population. According to Sikh historian Harbans Singh, Guru Nanak's voice offered " the only vocal protest in India against the invasions of Barbar, founder of the Mughal dynasty". Guru Nanak also spoke out against the social evils of the caste system which promoted vast inequality among fellow human beings. Guru Nanak recognized all humanity as one and knew the free life was the only life worth living.
The succeeding nine Gurus of the Sikh faith further developed what Guru Nanak set in motion. When the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, baptized the Sikhs into nationhood in 1699, he specifically commanded all Sikhs to stand up to tyranny no matter where it existed. Guru Gobind Singh, too, knew the importance of maintaining one's freedom, and he was certain to pass this legacy to the Sikh nation. Every morning Sikhs pray "Raj Karega Khalsa : The Khalsa Shall Rule". After the death of Guru Gobind Singh, Banda Singh Bahadur swept through the Punjab, defeating the forces of the Mughal rulers who had earlier outlawed the Sikhs, placing a heavy bounty on severed Sikh heads. Banda Singh's rule lasted from 1710 to 1716.
The Sikhs ruled Punjab until it was annexed by the British in 1849 at the conclusion of the Anglo-Sikh Wars. The Sikhs were the last nation on the Indian sub-continent to fall to the British. The records show that the British recognized the Sikhs as a sovereign and independent nation. History is clear that the British were close to being routed in the Anglo-Sikh wars. Indeed, if not for the treason of a few highly placed Dogras, who betrayed the Sikh nation by sabotaging the Sikh army in return for British favours, the Punjab may never have fallen into British hands. Sikhs were also the first nation on the sub-continent to fight for freedom from the British. It was the Sikhs who suffered the overwhelming number of casualties during the bloody struggle to oust the British. Though the Sikhs then comprised 1.6%of the population of the sub-continent, 85% of those hanged were Sikhs; 80% of those exiled were Sikhs; and 75% of those jailed were Sikhs!
In 1947, when the British pulled out of India, three nations representing three distinct ethnic groups, were recognized and specifically identified in preparation for the transfer of power : The Muslims, the Hindus and the Sikhs. The Muslims took their share in the newly created Pakistan; the Hindus took current-day India and the Sikhs opted to support the Hindus under solemn assurances by Jawarhar Lal Nehru and Mohandas Gandhi that the Sikh nation would lead an autonomous existence in the North. Gandhi personally guaranteed that no law would be passed in the new India that was unacceptable to the Sikh nation. In 1950, however, when the Constitution was being finalized, Sikhs found the document contrary to their interests as a nation, as it made no allowance whatsoever for their free existence! The Sikh delegates at the Constituent Assemble naturally refused to sign the document. The Hindu political leaders reneged on their promises. To this day, no Sikh has signed the Indian Constitution. Later the Sikh representative, Master Tara Singh was jailed by Nehru for agitating for the implementation of promises made to the Sikhs. Nehru is reported to have said: "I shut my ears when someone speaks to me about honoring promises made to Sikhs during the independence movement". The Sikhs were outwitted and cheated by Nehru. Sadly the history of the Sikh nation since ratification of the Indian Constitution is the story of Sikhs struggling for their most basic right of self-government in an autonomous Sikh State.
Contrary to the practice of the ancient Indian ascetics, the Gurus held that man might obtain eternal happiness without forsaking his ordinary worldly duties. Sikhism defines God as gender-free. The use of he or him for God is indicative of the limitatations of language. All the Gurus and the Bhagats whose writings find a place in the Granth Sahib emphasise that reunion with the Absolute should be the supreme object of man's devotion and aspirations. Merger in God is completely foreign to Sikh theology. Union or link with God but not merger is aspired, for merger involves loss of identity and can be possible only in a pantheistic creed and not in a theistic creed like Sikhism. In Sikhism the goal of personal salvation is excluded. God-centred activity in one's life and not salvation is the goal.
The Gurus emphasized the idea that God resides within the human heart and the way to solve our problems and difficulties is to establish a relationship with Him. The presence of God in us has variously been described as Naam, Guru, Word, Light and Will. Naam is the Dynamic and Attributive Immanence of God, representing his Hukum, Raza or Will. In short, Naam is the essence of God. The goal in life for a Sikh is to link himself with Naam. Love, contentment, truth, humility and other virtues enable the seed of Naam to sprout. Our deeds alone bear witness unto our life. It is only the virtuous and altruistic deeds that lead one away from the Haumei (self-exaltation, self-centredness) and towards the path of Naam or God-centredness.
In many sections in the Guru Granth, it has been emphasized that the path of virtuous deeds is the only discipline acceptable to God. In the hymn of Dharamkhand, which lays down man's duties in life, Guru Nanak advises that man's assessment will be entirely according to his deeds and the final approval will only be by God's grace.
Extreme humility is the dominant tone of all the Gurus' hymns. Everywhere in comparison to God and even others, they speak of themselves as the lowest of the low. The theological fundamentals and the doctrines of the Sikh religion are clearly and completely embodied in the Guru Granth Sahib.
After the defeat of Banda Bahadur in 1716, the Sikhs were almost wiped out. The Mughal Emperor Farukh Siyar issued an edict according to which every Sikh was to be arrested and offered only one option, either Islam or the sword. This order was carried out with great zeal. With the death sentence on their heads the Sikhs withdrew to the Punjab hills where they sought refuge in the jungles. Safe in these inaccessible jungles, they sang Raj Keraga Khalsa (The Khalsa shall rule) for the fulfillment of their aspirations and bided their time.
The Sikh nation, which possessed one of the most powerful and disciplined armies in the whole of Asia was highly respected even in Europe. Louis Philippe of France and King William of England sent presents to the Sikh monarch, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, all the way from Europe.
Ranjit Singh named his government, "Sircar-e-Khalsa", but it was hardly the government of the Khalsa Panth, that is implied in the name. Ranjit Singh had so many non-Sikhs in positions of power that in the end it was these non-Sikhs who brought about the dissolution of the Sikh Raj. The true standard bearers of the Khalsa Panth, reared from the beginning on republican principles, were the Khalsamisls, who fought against the greatest conquerors of all time to save the Panth from extinction. Whereas Ranjit Singh showed great kindness to the British, almost to the extent of becoming subservient to them, the misls showed scant respect for the British. On 3rd January 1791, they captured Lt. Col. Robert Stuart, in charge of Anupshahar on the Ganga. They kept him as a prisoner at Thanesar for ten months and released him only when Lord Cornwallis, British Governor-General, paid a ransom of Sixty Thousand Rupees for his release, (Gupta, Volume 4 page 389). Such was the courage and might of the Khalsa misls.
After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the crafty British annexed Punjab through treacherous and treasonable acts of Tej Singh, Lal Singh and the Dogra Gulab Singh , all of whom, for personal gain, betrayed the trust placed in them by the descendents of Ranjit Singh. But inspite of the treachery and betrayal of the Dogras and Purbias, it was no easy cake-walk for the British. They had to fight eight bloody battles against the Khalsa Army before they could annex the Sikh Kingdom.
The battle fought at Mudki (18-12-1845), Ferozeshahr (21-12-1845), Aliwal (27-1-1846), Sabraon (10-2-1846), Buddowal (22-2-1846), Ramanagar (22-11-1846). Chellianwala (13-1-1849) and Gujrat (21-2-1849) were the bloodiest the British had fought in their entire history. British accounts of these battles, glorify the feats of their Army but the truth is that the British were making no headway, so much so that in England, the aged Duke of Wellington threatened to come to India and take over command of the British forces fighting the Khalsa Army.
The supplies of arms and rations to the Khalsa Amry were cut off by a treacherous civil government at Lahore under Dogra Gulab Singh and the non-Sikh generals, Tej Singh and Lal Singh, treacherously sold their tactical plans to the crafty British. In the battle of Mudki, on 18th December 1845, the Khalsa Army was considered the loser simply because their General, traitor Lal Singh Brahmin after issuing attack orders, himself ran away with the munition stores, in accordance with a plan previously approved and agreed to by the enemy. In the battle of Ferozeshahr (formerly Pheru Shahr), on 21st December 1845, although the Generals Lal Singh and Tej Singh shamelessly repeated their tactics of three days earlier, the Khalsa Army which had gone without food rations and which had been deprived of their reserve munitions through treachery, inflicted such heavy losses on the enemy that according to the admissions made by Sir Robert Cust himself in his log book entry (dated 22nd December 1845) the British Command had formally decided in the night to "surrender unconditionally" next morning before the Khalsa Army. And Lord Hardinge, the British Governor-General, who took part in this battle, also thought that everything was over. After making out his Will, he handed to his son, who was his ADC, together with his sword _ a present from Duke of Wellington and which once belonged to Napoleon, his Star of the Bath, and ordered him to escape in the night to Ferozepore, saying "if the day were lost, I must fall". The next morning, it was again the ignominious sabotage and treachery of Lal Singh and Tej Singh which saved the British Indian Empire when they deceived and persuaded the fresh reinforcements of the Khalsa Army to refrain from pressing the previous evening's advantage by attacking the beaten enemy.
Before the Sabraon battle of 10th February 1846, Gulab Singh Dogra, the de facto Prime Minister of the Sikh Government at Lahore, was already in treasonable communication with the British and had promised to render all possible help and aid the enemy to inflict a defeat on the Khalsa Army with a view to facilitate occupation of Lahore by the British forces. Gulab Singh Dogra had also his private army of 40,000 Dogras standing by, ready to come to the aid of the British, in case they found difficulty defeating the Khalsa Army. While these battles were going on, Gulab Singh looted Ranjit Singh's treasury. "Gulab Singh Dogra carried off to Kashmir the accumulated treasures of Ranjit Singh. Sixteen carts were filled with rupees and other silver coins, while 500 horsemen were each entrusted with gold mohurs (coins) and his orderlies with jewellery and other valuable articles" (Latif, History of Punjab, page 507). Lord Hardinge, the British Governor-General of India, in a letter dated 2nd March 1845 to his wife, Lady Hardinge, wrote, "The man I have to deal with, Gulab Singh, is the greatest rascal in Asia" (Hardinge Family Papers, Penhurst, Kent).
Lord Gough, the British Commander-in _Chief, described the battle of Sabraon as the Waterloo of India, for had they lost it, that would have been the end of the British in India. But Chellianwala was even more ferocious and was the worst defeat suffered by the British since their occupation of India. Three thousand British and thousands of their native soldiers lay dead. The Khalsa Army fired a 21 gun salute to commemorate their victory. Lord Dalhousie, the new British Governor-General, made a candid admission of the true state of affairs in a private letter to the Duke of Wellington. He wrote, "In public I make, of course, the best of things. I treat it as a great victory. But writing confidentially to you, I do not hesitate to say that I consider my position grave".
The British realized that unless they won the next battle, they would have to leave India. They brought with them reinforcements from the rest of India, fresh troops and more heavy guns. On the other hand the Khalsa Army, already depleted after so many battles, suffered from desertions brought about by the crafty British. The Dogras and Rohillas deserted the Sikhs and joined the British. In the last battle of Gujrat, fought on 21st February 1849, the Khalsa army which held the British power at bay with a stubborn skill hitherto unparalleled in Indian history, had to give way. The weight of numbers and armour decided the issue. The battle of Gujrat ended Sikh resistance to the British.
On March 30, 1849 in full Durbar at Lahore, the proclamation was read which formally placed the land of the Five Rivers under British sovereignty. The young Maharaja Dalip Singh handed over the Koh-I-Nur diamond to the British Governor-General and stepped down from his illustrious father's throne - never to sit on it again.
The Sikhs resented the objectionable Hindu practices introduced with the connivance and support of the British. The resentment in time took the shape of the Sikh Gurdwaras Reform Movement, which had as its object the wresting of control of all Gurdwaras from the hands of corrupt Hindu Mahants. A corps of volunteers, the Akali Dal was constituted for recovering Gurdwaras from the recalcitrant Mahants. The Akali Dal became the spearhead of the struggle for the liberation of the Sikhs places of worship, which were under the control of the Mahants. The Akali Dal made great sacrifices for this cause. The struggle went on for many years and many Akalis faced bullets and sacrificed their lives during the reform movement. There were Akali morchas (unarmed confrontation) at Guru Ka-Bag, Muktsar and Jaito. Hundred of Sikhs were killed. Finally, perturbed at the effect which these agitations were having on Sikh soldiers in the Indian Army, the British relented and the Sikh Gurdwaras Act of 1925 which met all the demands of the Sikhs, was passed. British representatives appeared at the Golden Temple to personally hand over the keys of the gurdwara to the Sikhs. It vested control and management of the Golden Temple and all other historical Sikh shrines in Punjab in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, a representative body of the Sikhs and the Akali Dal became the political party of the Sikhs.
For example, as far back as 1929, at the annual session of the Indian National Congress, held that year in Lahore, which was presided over by Jawaharlal Nehru, the following resolution was passed:
"The Congress assures Sikhs that no solution in any future Constitution of India will be acceptable to Congress that does not give them (the Sikhs) full satisfaction."Immediately after independence of India, the Sikhs were unashamedly betrayed by the Indian National Congress. They were deceived and denied the promised "semi-autonomous Unit" in Punjab. The Congress reneged on their solemn promises which Nehru described as " a contract" and "in the nature of an oath"; the promises on which the Sikhs had acted by opting for India and rejected Jinnah's very tempting offer of a sovereign State federated with Pakistan. J. N. Sahni the veteran editor of the "Hindustan Times" wrote, "The letting down of the Sikhs was not an act of carelessness on the part of the Congress leaders nor even a blunder, but an act of gross and unpardonable betrayal".
(A.C. Banerjee "Indian Constitutional Documents". Vol. II page 317)
In 1947, when the Sikh leader Master Tara Singh reminded Nehru of the solemn promises made to the Sikhs by Congress leaders, and of his speech in Calcutta a year earlier, Nehru replied, "the situation is different now". The Sikh leader was branded "an extremist" and imprisoned for demanding a measure of autonomy for the Sikhs.
a. Monotheism : Guru Nanak believed in only One God as the ultimate Reality. In the Mul Mantra he describe Him thus; `The Sole Supreme Being; of eternal manifestation; Creator; Immanent Reality; Without Fear; Without Rancor; Timeless Being; Unincarnated; Self-Existent.'
b. Reality of the World : Guru Nanak rejected the earlier view of the world being Mithya or unreal or a place of suffering and human life a punishment. Since God is Real, he argued, so is His creation _ `the continents, the universes, the worlds and the forms' `In the midst of air, water, fire and the nether regions, the world has been installed as Dharamsal or a place for righteous actions.' `This world is the abode of the Lord who resides in it.' ` Human life is a rare opportunity for spiritual fulfillment.'
c. Goal of Life: In Sikhism the goal is not Moksha, Nirvana or personal salvation after death. It is the status of Gurmukh or Sachiara or a Godman to be attained in this life. A Gurmukh is attuned to the Will of God, and engages himself carrying out the Divine Will. There is no selfishness in his goal. He wants to liberate not only himself but the whole world.
d. The Methodology : Guru Nanak did not accept the dichotomy between empirical and spiritual lives preached by earlier systems. Asceticism, which was considered essential for spiritual attainments, was described by the Guru as escapism and parasitism. He advocated a householder's life, with emphasis on hard work, honest means for a livelihood, and sharing earnings with others in need. God loves His creation, and takes pleasure in looking after it. In fact He is immanent in it. So the Godman must also love his fellow beings and carry out the Divine Will through altruistic deeds. Only thus can one find the path to Him. Guru Gobind Singh ordained full social participation, and resistance against oppression, injustice and tyranny. Help to the poor and the weak, is an essential part of the Guru's system. While the need for worldly pursuits is recognized, there is a very clear warning against acquisitiveness, accumulation of wealth and indulgence or what is called consumerism. Ritualism is condemned. Instead the emphasis is on Naam i.e., remembering God or keeping Him in mind or being conscious of Him always. This means a realization of his immanence in the entire creation, or living in His presence all the time. All this comes under sach archar or truthful living which, the Guru says, is even higher than truth. Sikhism is, therefore, a system of noble deeds and moral conduct. It is the deeds in one's lifetime that determine whether one is close to or away from God.
e. Equality and Human Dignity: Sikhism recognizes no distinction between man and man on the basis of birth or otherwise. The Guru rejected the 3,000 year old caste system in India, and accepted and associated with the lowliest among them. His concept of equality for women cannot be surpassed. `How can she be considered inferior, when she gives birth to kings?' he asked. He also preached a life of honour and dignity. ` He who lives with dishonour, does not deserve the food he eats', says the Guru.
f. Removal of Inhibitions: Apart from the caste system, which restricted one's right to spiritual pursuits and selection of occupation, there were several other restraints in earlier religious systems in India. Ahimsa, celibacy, vegetarianism and asceticism were considered essential in the practice of religion. Guru Nanak rejected all these and recommended a householder's life with emphasis on noble deeds, dignity of labour, service to humanity and full social responsibility. Later the Tenth Master confirmed this through his famous Nash Doctrine by which he broke away from all earlier traditions.
g. Development of the Society : The Guru was not concerned with the individual alone. His concern covered the society as a whole also. Based on the Gospel preached by him, he founded a settlement towards the end of his mission at Kartarpur, which was open to all and in which everybody worked and ate together. People subdued under the rigours of caste system, the oppressive alien rule and religious bigotry, could not be expected to take over the social responsibilities and adjust to the liberation offered in the new society, overnight. This infant society had to be nurtured for some time, and it had to spread geographically. So the Guru introduced the system of succession under which nine other Gurus carried the mission forward up to the time when Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa. A practical demonstration of Guru Nanak's system had been given. A personal successor after the Tenth Lord was not considered necessary, and the guruship was conferred on the Adi Granth (Guru Granth Sahib), or the shabad or the `Word' of the lord.
h. The Scripture : The Adi Granth, compiled by Guru Arjun Dev, with a later addition of bani of Guru Teg Bahadur is the sacred scripture of the Sikhs. As pointed out above, the scripture was given the status of Guru by the Tenth Master. This appointment of the Scripture or the Word as Guru is unique to Sikhism. It simply means that in spiritualism the real Guru is the `Word' or the command or shabad of the Lord, and not the human body. Also it is only in Sikhism that the Scripture was written and authenticated by the founder himself or his successors. In other religions the scriptures were written decades or even centuries after the founder had left.
Besides the above there are some other features that need to be mentioned. In contrast to earlier religious systems, Sikhism is a life-affirming faith with a positive attitude towards the world. It is a religion of activism., noble actions and altruistic deeds. It is a religion of hope and optimism with rich tradition of chardi kala or ever-rising spirits. Pacificism and pessimism have no place in Sikh thought. Sikh discipline is a conscious effort to live in harmony with nature and to carry out the altruistic Divine Will."
Macaucliffe in his classic study ` the Sikh Religion' (1910), summed up the moral and political merit of the Sikh Religion thus :
"It prohibits idolatry, hypocrisy, caste-exclusiveness, the concremation of widows, the immurement of women, the use of wine and other intoxicants, tobacco smoking, infanticide, slander, pilgrimage to sacred rivers and tanks of Hindus; and it inculcates loyalty, gratitude for all favours received, philanthropy, justice, impartiality, truth, honesty and all the moral and domestic virtues known to the holiest citizens of any country.
On the originality of the Sikh religion Macaucliffe's conclusion was:
"The illustrious author of Vie de Jesus asks whether great originality will again arise, or the world would be content to follow the paths open by the daring creators of the ancient ages. Now there is here presented a religion totally unaffected by Semitic or Christian influences. Based in unity of God, it rejected Hindu formalities, and adopted an independent ethical system, rituals and standards, which are, totally opposed to the theological beliefs of Guru Nanak's age and country. And we shall see hereafter, it would be difficult to point to a religion of greater originality or to a more comprehensive ethical system."
"The religion and the society founded by Guru Nanak grew steadily and in the hands of his successors brought about a complete revolution in the minds of the people as well as in the social and political set up in the North-West of India. His followers challenged the oppressive Mughal rule, overthrew it, and supplanted it with an empire of their own based on egalitarian principles and freedom of religious practice, with real power in the hands of the common people who had had nothing but oppression and exploitation at the hands of earlier rulers. The values taught by Guru Nanak are as relevant today as in the 15th century when he started his mission. The world today needs this faith of hope and optimism that preaches `sarbat da bhala' (welfare of all). The Sikhs owe it to the world to share their rich heritage with the rest of mankind. Even more, they need to do this in their own interest in order to project a correct image of themselves."
(Dr. Kharak Singh in "Recent Researches in Sikhism", Page 359)
"Sikhism is essentially a Religion of the Way, i.e. something that must be lived and experienced rather than something, which may be intellectually grasped and declared. True, there can be no practice without the dogma. Sikhism therefore, has its doctrine, its dogmatic stand, its view of Reality, its view of the nature of man, and their inter relationship, but it lays primary stress on the practice, the discipline, the way which leads to `cessation of suffering', as Gautam, the Buddha formulated it.
A careful reading and understanding of the Sikh scripture reveals that the religion of the Sikhs has three postulates implicit in its teachings. One, there is no essential duality between the spirit and the matter. Two, that man alone has the capacity to enter to the conscious participation in the process of Evolution, with further implication that the process of Evolution, as understood by modern man, has come to a dead-end and it therefore, must be rescued by the conscious effort of man who alone is capable of furthering this process. Three, that when man has reached the highest goals of Evolution, namely, the vision of God, he must remain earth conscious so as to transform this mundane world into a higher and spiritual plane of existence."
(Kapur Singh, "Sikhism, an Oecumenical Religion", Page 94)
"At one stroke Guru Nanak made revolutionary changes to the fundamentdal beliefs and the traditions of the Hindus. Instead of the world being Mithya, or a suffering, he called it real. He rejected monasticism, asceticism and withdrawal from life and instead recommended total participation in life and acceptance of social responsibility. Instead of downgrading the status of woman in relation to spiritual life and recommending celibacy, he recommended a householder's life and equality of man and woman. Instead of the religious doctrine of Varna Ashram Dharma and consequent rules of caste, pollution, social segregation and professional immobility, he accepted equality of all men. He rejected Ahimsa an as inviolable religious doctrine. Instead of life negation he recommended life affirmation in all the fields of life. In his ethical monotheism, the Guru Granth clearly denies the ideas of Avtars and their worship, including those of gods and goddesses. Instead of religion being a matter of personal devotion and salvation, Guru Nanak, because of his fundamental doctrine of combining the spiritual and the empirical, organized a society in which promotion of defence of righteousness became essential. Accordingly Guru Nanak not only organized a society but created a system of succession so as to develop it on the lines of his thesis. Hence the very wide differences between Hindu and Sikh societies, their value systems, their religious perceptions and social practices."There is no evidence at all on which Sikhs can be presented to the world as a sect of Hinduism. In fact the evidence points the other way. There is incontrovertible evidence that Sikhism is a world religion, separate and distinct from Hinduism. No amount of misrepresentation of Sikh history and distortion of their holy scripture can push the Sikhs into the Hindu fold. This is because in the words of Dr. Harnam Singh Shan :
("Recent Researches in Sikhism", Page 228)
"The Sikhs profess one of the higher religions of the world, which is not only an original, distinct and independent faith, but is also an autonomous, complete and dynamic religion born of a direct and definitive revelation like other major religions, of the world. It is primary in its source and pure in its contents, as any other religion on this planet. The authenticity of its dogmas, simplicity of its beliefs, exalted moral code, internal viguor, tenacity of purpose and sustained heroism together with the religious, spiritual energy, unshakable faith and indomitable spirit as well as the enterprising and self-sacrifising nature of its followers have kept it intact and firm on its ground in many a crisis, during its five hundred year-old history, raising it up again with greater strength and better prospects after every attempt to annihilate it."
("Fundamental Issues in Sikh Studies", Page 29)
"Sikhism is the youngest and the most modern of the world religions, being a wholly original and practical religion, having the whole humanity in view for its welfare and amelioration, it has been acclaimed by Bradshaw as the "Faith of the new Age" and Summum Bonum for the modern man. It has made valuable contributions towards the uplift of man and society in almost all spheres - thought, conduct, outlook, organization and cultural patterns etc,
It arose, five centuries ago, as a new mode of humanitarian thought, heralding a new conception of the Ultimate Reality, a new vision of the Universal Man, a new altruistic ideal of a democratic state and a new pattern of a casteless and classless society.
Equating God with Truth and Love for God with the Service to Humanity, it urges self-realization and recognition of the Creator through His Creation. Exhibiting a just, catholic and tolerant temperament, it admits no discriminating distinction of any kind anywhere and guarantees each individual his fundamental rights and freedom of conscience. Envisioning a new cultural ethos and ideal social order _ mental, spiritual, physical, social and political-transcending all types of religious exclusiveness, formalism and ego-centric individualism, it brushes aside all claims of incarnations and intermediaries, and advocates direct communion with the Almighty.
Sikhism gives optimistic hope of salvation, by Divine Grace, while leading a normal householder's life with virtuous conduct, remembering God, adoring Nature, doing work, performing duties and sharing earnings with fellow-beings, as against pursuing enforced celibacy, barren asceticism and mortification of human frame to attain it. It has set forth a strong moral force against the exploitation of man by man who by following its tenets and traditions neither fears nor frightens, remains stable and steadfast in all eventualities, embodies the universal spirit of liberation and tolerance, and seeks God's blessings for the welfare of the whole humanity in his daily prayers. Its cosmopolitan outlook, liberal essence and glorious traditions have contributed thus, significantly for its age and limitations, towards human uplift and well-being by offering the message of good cheer for all mankind and by furthering goodwill, general happiness and collective moral values of society, both at home and abroad, for building a new and peaceful pluralistic world order."
(Abstract of a paper read by Prof Dr. Harnam Singh Shan at the 34th International Congress of Asian & North African Studies held from 22 to 28 August 1993 at the University of Hong Kong.)
There is no better way of closing this essay than with Divine words from our holy scripture. The Sikh religion, as projected in the HolyGranth is concerned with the creation of a just social order, social equality and peaceful co-existence as proclaimed by Guru Arjun in the following words:
"Hun Hukum hua Meharvan da Pai koi kisae ranjhan da Sab sukhali wuthia Eho hoa Halemi Raj jio!" (AG.74)Choor Singh Sidhu 13th April 2001
(The Gracious Lord has now promulgated his ordinance:
None shall domineer over others or cause pain to them. All shall abide in peace and the governance shall be gentle and compassionate.)
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