• Google+ icon
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • You Tube icon

    Search  

Guide To Discover Sikhism

Contents

1. Sikh

1.1 Etymology

1.2 Who Is A Sikh? (Definition)

1.3 How Did Sikhism Begin?

1.4 Types Of Sikhs

1.4.1 Amritdhari - Gursikh - Gurmukh - Khalsa

1.4.2 Keshdhari

1.4.3 Sehajdhari

1.4.4 Patit

2. Sikh Beliefs (Concepts/ Thoughts)

2.1 Relationship With God

2.2 God And The Cycle Of Life

2.3 The God Of Grace

2.4 Connecting With God

2.5 God Beyond Us

3. Sikh Practices (Physical)

3.1 Five Pillars

3.1.1 Naam Japo - Remember God

3.1.2 Ensaaf - Stand for justice

3.1.3 Kirat Karo - Live honestly

3.1.4 Sarbat Da Bhala - For the good of all

3.1.5 Vand Chhako – Share with others

4. Rehat Maryada (Sikh Code Of Conduct)

4.1 How Do You Greet A Sikh?

5. Articles Of Faith (5 K's)

5.1 Kesh - uncut hair

5.2 Kangha - a comb

5.3 Kara - a circular iron bracelet

5.4 Kirpan - a sword

5.5 Kachera - shorts

6. Gurbani (Sikh Scripture)

6.1 Adi Granth

6.2 Guru Granth Sahib

6.2.1 Larivaar Gurbani

6.3 Ardas

6.4 Asa Di Vaar

6.5 Dasam Granth

6.5.1 52 Hukams of Guru Gobind Singh

6.6 Dukh Bhanjani Sahib

6.7 Mool Mantar

6.8 Maha Mantar

6.9 Nitnem (Daily Prayers)

6.9.1 Japji Sahib

6.9.2 Jaap Sahib

6.9.3 Tav Prasad Savaiye

6.9.4 Chaupai Sahib

6.9.5 Anand Sahib

6.9.6 Rehras Sahib

6.9.7 Sohila Sahib

6.10 Sukhmani Sahib

6.11 Zafarnama

7. Paath - Reciting Gurbani

7.1 Akhand Paath

7.2 Sadharan/ Sehaj Paath

7.3 Sampat Paath

7.4 Sukhmani Sahib Paath

8. Sikh Emblems

8.2 Khanda

8.1 Nishan Sahib

9. Sikh National Anthem

10. Gurdwaras

10.1 Historic Sikh Gurdwaras

10.2 Service In Gurdwaras

10.2.1 Prakash

10.2.2 Nitnem

10.2.3 Ardas

10.2.4 Hukumnama

10.2.5 Kirtan

10.2.6 Katha

10.2.7 Gurbani Santhiya And Ucharan

10.2.8 Langar

10.2.9 Sukh Aasan

11. Five Takhts - Holy Thrones

11.1 Sri Akal Takht

11.2 Takht Sri Damdama Sahib

11.3 Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib Patna

11.4 Takht Sri Hazur Sahib

11.5 Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib

12. Sikh Ceremonies

12.1 Naam Karan - baby naming

12.2 Amrit Sanchar – Sikh initiation

12.3 Anand Karaj - marriage

12.4 Antam Sanskar - funeral rites

13. Sikh Festivals

13.1 Gurpurbs

13.1.1 Nagar Kirtan

13.2 Nanakshahi Calendar

13.2.1 Months

13.3 Vaisakhi

14. Gurmukhi (Punjabi)

14.1 Numbers

15. Sikh Literature (Historical)

15.1 Janam Sakhis (non-canonical Sikh history)

15.2 Varan

16. Sikh Saaj - Music And Instruments

16.1 Dilruba

16.2 Jori

16.3 Rabab

16.4 Saranda

16.5 Sarangi

16.6 Taus

16.7 Others including Harmonium and Tabla

17. Philosophy And Teachings

17.1 Amritvela

17.2 Five Realms

17.2.1 Dharam Khand - righteous action

17.2.2 Gian Khand - knowledge

17.2.3 Saram Khand - spiritual endeavour

17.2.4 Karam Khand - deeds

17.2.5 Sach Khand - truth

17.3 Five Thieves

17.3.1 Kaam – lust

17.3.2 Krodh – anger, wrath

17.3.3 Lobh – greed

17.3.4 Moh – attachment

17.3.5 Ahankaar – ego, pride

17.4 Five Virtues

17.4.1 Sat – truth

17.4.2 Santokh – contentment, satisfaction

17.4.3 Daya – compassion, kindness

17.4.4 Nimrata – humililty, benevolence

17.4.5 Pyaar – love

17.5 Hukam

17.6 Ik Onkār (One God) - God In Sikhism

17.7 Panentheistic

17.8 Women In Sikhism


Sikh

A Sikh (Punjabi: ਸਿੱਖ) is a follower of Sikhism, or Sikhi, which means to be a learner of the Sikh Gurus. The anglicized word 'Sikhism' is derived from the Punjabi verb 'Sikhi', with roots in 'Sikhana' (to learn). Sikhi refers to the 'path of learning'.

Etymology

The term 'Sikh' originated from Sanskrit words such as शिष्य (Shiṣhya; disciple, student) and शिक्ष (Sikṣa; learning, study). The Pali Canon, from 29BCE, mentions 'Sekha' which means 'one who has still to learn'. 'Sikh' literally means 'learn' as Sikhs strive to learn throughout their lives.

Who Is A Sikh? (Definition)

According to Chapter 1 of the Sikh Rehat Maryada (the official Sikh code of conduct), the definition of a Sikh is any human being who faithfully believes in;

1. One Immortal Being,
2. Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib,
3. The Guru Granth Sahib,
4. The utterances and teachings of the Ten Gurus and
5. The initiation (taking of Amrit and wearing the five K's) as bequeathed by the Tenth Guru and,
6. Who does not owe allegiance to any other religion.

This definition is important as some individuals from Punjabi descent proclaim themselves as Sikh without understanding what this really means. For example, if an individual cuts their hair or uses a surname other than 'Singh' or 'Kaur' then they are not a proper Sikh.

How Did Sikhism Begin?

The Sikh religion was founded in the fifteenth century upon the teachings of Guru Nanak and ten succeeding Gurus (the eleventh being the sacred text Guru Granth Sahib), emphasizing that there is only one God, and that all human beings can have direct access to God with no need of rituals or priests.

An Amritdhari Gursikh

An Amritdhari Gursikh

Types Of Sikhs

Amritdhari - Gursikh - Gurmukh - Khalsa

An Amritdhari is a Sikh who has taken the 'Amrit' initiation called Amrit Sanchar into the Khalsa. A Gursikh is a Sikh fully devoted to the true Guru.

A Gurmukh (meaning 'to face the Guru' in Punjabi) is the practice of following the 'ways of the Guru' instead of following your animal instincts and basic desires of the mind. The opposite of Gurmukh is Manmukh.

The Khalsa is the army of all initiated Sikhs represented by the five beloved-ones and can be called the Guru Panth, the embodiment of the Guru.

Khalsa which means 'pure' is the name given by Guru Gobind Singh to all Sikhs who have been initiated by taking Amrit. The Khalsa is considered the pinnacle of Sikhism. Amritdhari - Gursikh - Gurmukh - Khalsa are all terms that are synonymous with one another and match the official definition of a Sikh.

Keshdhari

Keshdhari is someone who keeps hair or kesh but hasn't taken Amrit yet. This definition can apply to those who are about to become Sikhs or children.

Sehajdhari

Sehajdhari is literally a 'slow adopter' and someone who believes in all the tenets of Sikhism and the teaching of the Sikh Gurus but has not put all of them into practice. A Sehajdhari may or may not adorn the five articles of the Sikh faith. The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) has said Sehajdhari's are novices born in non-Sikh families.

Patit

Patit literally means a former Sikh who has fallen or become disgraced. It is a term which refers to a person who was born into a Sikh family or has been initiated into the Sikh religion, but violates the religion's precepts. The term is sometimes translated as apostate (ie. someone who abandons their beliefs or principles).

Note: There is no such thing as a fashion-conscious, beard triming or clean-shaven Sikh.

Sikh Beliefs (Concepts/ Thoughts)


The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include prayer and faith on the name of God, unity of all humankind, engaging in selfless service, striving for social justice for the benefit and prosperity of all, and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder's life.

Ik Onkar - One God

◾ There is only Ik Onkar (One God).

◾ God is without form, or gender.

◾ Everyone is equal and has direct access to God.

◾ A good life is lived as part of a community, by living honestly and caring for others.

◾ Empty religious rituals and superstitions have no value.

Relationship With God

Sikhs focus their lives around their relationship with God, and being a part of the Sangat (community). The Sikh ideal combines action and belief with physical and spiritual focus. To live a good life, a person should do good deeds as well as pray to God. This includes having a code of conduct and high moral values.

The Sikh Guru's taught the importance of living an 'active, creative, and practical life' of 'truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity' and that the ideal person is one who 'establishes union with God, knows God's will, and carries out that will'. Social teachings denounced the caste system and taught that everyone is equal, regardless of caste or gender.

As Guru Nanak said, "Truth is the highest of all virtues, but higher still is truthful living." ~ Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 62. By wearing the two kirpans of Miri and Piri, as seen on either side of the Sikh Khanda, Guru Hargobind reinforced the importance of these two important aspects of life.

God And The Cycle Of Life

Sikhs believe that human beings spend their time in a cycle of birth, life, and rebirth. They share this belief with followers of other Indian religious traditions such as hinduism, buddhism and jainism. The quality of each particular life depends on the law of Karma.

Karma sets the quality of a life according to how well or badly a person behaved in their previous life. The only way out of this cycle, which all faiths regard as painful, is to achieve a total knowledge of and union with God. Once achieved they become mukt (liberated). A person achieves mukti (liberation) through the grace of God.

The God Of Grace

Sikh spirituality is centred around the need to understand and experience God, and eventually become one with God. To do this a person must switch the focus of their attention from themselves to God. The Mool Mantar ends with 'Gur Prasaadh', meaning 'by Guru's grace' as nothing happens without God's will. God's grace is essential for all people to follow their chosen path.

Although realization of God comes through Guru's grace, Guru Nanak also explained that God is not met through recitation and great cleverness but by practicing truth, through love, and following the Guru's teaching. God shows people, through holy books, and by the examples of saints, the best ways to get close.

Sikhs believe that God can't be understood properly by human beings, but he can be experienced through love, worship, and contemplation. Sikhs look for God both inside themselves and in the world around them. They do this to help themselves achieve liberation (mukti) and union with God.

Connecting With God

Sikhs do not believe priests can monopolise religion and exploit people on the path to God. When a Sikh wants to connect with God they can do so through the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib. When a Sikh wants to see God, they look both at the created world and into their own heart and soul.

Most human beings can't see the true reality of God because they are blinded by their own self-centred pride and concern for physical things. Sikhs call this 'Haumai', it means 'YouMe' or the distance, the difference, between you and me, which is the source of all discord, war, brutality, oppression, greed and anger.

Sikhs believe that God is inside every person, no matter how wicked they appear, and so everyone is capable of change. "Just as fragrance is in the flower, and reflection is in the mirror, in just the same way, God is within you." Sikhs aim to see the divine order that God has given to everything, and through it to understand the nature of God.

God Beyond Us

Sikhs believe that God's message can be found in several ways outside ourselves. The message is written in the whole of creation; look at it with open eyes and see the truth of God, for creation is the visible message of God. Sikhs believe that most of us misunderstand the universe. We think that it exists on its own, when it really exists because God wills it to exist, and is a portrait of God's own nature.

God's message has been shown to us by the Gurus in their lives, in their words and is set down in the teachings of Sikh scripture. Sikhs don't think it pleases God if people pay no attention to others (like hermits) and simply devote themselves slavishly to religion.

Sikhism doesn't ask people to turn away from ordinary life to get closer to God. In fact it demands that they use ordinary life as a way to get closer to God. A Sikh is expected to learn to defend themselves and others as well as continuing Sikh traditions such as archery, sword fighting and horseriding.

A Sikh serves God by serving (seva) other people every day. By devoting their lives to service they get rid of their own ego and pride. Many Sikhs carry out chores in the Gurdwara as their service to the community. These range from working in the kitchen to cleaning the floor. The Langar, or free food kitchen, is a community act of service. Sikhs also regard caring for the poor or sick as an important duty of service.

Sikh Practices (Physical)


Sikh Practices can be summarized in three words: Pray, Work and Give.

Sikh's believe God is the same for all races and people so when Sikhs 'Work' and 'Give' they do so with equality. Sikhs are expected to show the qualities of a 'Sant-Sipāhī' - a saint-soldier, this means to be strong, courageous, be ready to defend themselves and fight to protect the weak from the cruel unjust attackers. Together, these form the five pillars.

Five Pillars

The Sikh way of living is described as an "active, creative, and practical life" of "truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity". The following main five Sikh practices or pillars are based on the principle of 'Gurmat Rehni' which means to 'live according to the Guru's principles';

Naam Japo - Remember God

Naam Japo, Naam Japna, or Naam Simran refers to the prayer, kirtan (vocal singing of hymns) from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and contemplating the various names of God (or qualities of God). Simran is a commonly used term as a verb in Gurmukhi, which refers to praying to, or remembrance of, God. Simran is carried out by reciting aloud 'Waheguru' with devotion.

Ensaaf - Stand for justice

One of the duties of the Khalsa is to practice arms and to stand for justice. Guru Gobind Singh formed the Khalsa and told Sikhs that they must fight against oppression. He said that military action was only to be used as the last resort, "When all other means have failed, it is right to draw the sword."

At least eight of the ten Sikh Guru's rode horses and Guru Gobind Singh was an expert archer who also practiced shooting with a musket. All Sikhs, especially women, should learn martial arts and practice with modern weapons as well as continuing Sikh traditions such as archery, sword fighting and horseriding. This is to supplement their responsibilities as Gursikhs and being part of the Khalsa panth.

Kirat Karo - Live honestly

Kirat Karo means to work hard, to live within a family, and practice truthfulness and honesty in all dealings. The term mean to carry out good deeds and earn a honest, pure and truthful livelihood by exercising ones God given skills, abilities, talents and hard labour for the benefit and improvement of the individual, their family and society at large.

Sarbat Da Bhala - For the good of all (equality)

A Sikh selflessly prays daily for 'the good of all'. At the centre of Sikh teaching about equality is the langar (kitchen). Every gurdwara has a langar where all people are welcome to a free meal regardless of their gender, colour or religion. There are no discrimination or rituals observed in the langar and everyone eats together.

Vand Chhako – Share with others and provide charity (Sewa)

It is an important aspect of Sikhism to provide a service to the community, including the Sikh community (Khalsa) and others. All Sikhs should be prepared to give up some of their time, talents and energy to help others. Sikhism requires service to Waheguru (God), to the Khalsa and to all of humanity.

A Sikh is expected to contribute at least 10% of their wealth/ income called Dasvandh to the needy people of the world or to a worthy cause. Sikh teachings stress the concept of sharing through the distribution of free food (laṅgar), giving charitable donations, and working for the good of the community and others (sēwā).

Rehat Maryada (Sikh Code Of Conduct)


The Rehat Maryada is the official Sikh code of conduct, which is a set of rules outlining the responsibilities and the proper practices for individual Sikhs and the collective community (as part of the Khalsa/ Sangat).

Although Sikhs have a primary scripture (the Guru Granth Sahib), it does not provide a practical structure for the arrangement of the community. Consequently, the Rehat Maryada was created to standardise Sikh Gurdwaras and religious practices to foster cohesion throughout the community. The official version of the Rehat Maryada was drafted between 1932-1936 and approved by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) Amritsar in 1945.

How Do You Greet A Sikh?

The very first test of a Sikh is when they meet another Sikh. How do you greet a Sikh? Hi, Hello, Welcome... No! How about 'Sat Sri Akal!' No!!! The only way to greet a Sikh is to pronounce 'Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh'. Translated this means, 'The pure belong to God, Victory belong's to God'. Those people, mainly non-Sikh punjabi's, that use the term 'Sat Sri Akal!' are very ignorant in their Sikh knowledge and embarass genuine Sikhs.

It is important to remember that the most common greeting used by Guru Nanak was 'Sat Kartar', and throughout the period of the Sikh Gurus this remained a popular greeting among the Sikhs. However, it was with the advent of the Khalsa and after Guru Gobind Singh's first battle (Battle of Bhangani) that the use of 'Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh' began.

It was the subsequent popularity of Sat Sri Akal (a term also started by Guru Gobind Singh) as a 'Jaikara', that the use of Sat Kartar became almost obsolete among the Sikhs. The Rehat Maryada confirms, 'Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh' is the official Sikh greeting. Read more on Bole So Nihal... Sat Sri Akal!

Articles Of Faith (5 K's)


The Pañj Kakaār (five k's) are five articles of faith that Khalsa Sikhs wear at all times as commanded by the tenth Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh who so ordered it at the Vaisakhi Amrit Sanskar in 1699. The Five K's are not just symbols, but articles of faith that collectively form the external identity and the Khalsa devotee's commitment to the Sikh way of life. They were incorporated as a mandate for all Sikhs. This act created an external uniform for the spirit of the Khalsa that was easily identifiable in the public.

Kesh

Kesh - uncut hair

Keeping hair uncut indicates that one is willing to accept God's gift as God intended it. Uncut hair symbolizes adoption of a simple life, and denial of pride in one's appearance. Not cutting one's hair is a symbol of one's wish to move beyond concerns of the body and attain spiritual maturity.

Kesh are a highly visible symbol of membership of the Khalsa and follows the appearance of the Gurus. Sikh women are just as forbidden to cut hair just as Sikh men are forbidden to trim their beards.

Kangha

Kangha - a comb

The comb keeps the hair tidy, a symbol of not just accepting what God has given, but also an injunction to maintain it with grace. The Guru said hair should be allowed to grow naturally. For men, this includes not shaving. At the time of Guru Gobind Singh, some holy men let their hair become tangled and dirty. The Guru said that this was not right. Hair should be allowed to grow but it should be kept clean and combed at least twice a day.

Kara

Kara - a circular iron bracelet

The kara is a symbol of restraint and gentility. It is a symbol that a Sikh is linked to the Guru. It acts as a reminder that a Sikh should not do anything of which the Guru would not approve. It is also a symbol of God having no beginning or end and a symbol of permanent bonding to the community-being a link in the chain of Khalsa Sikhs (the word for link is 'kari'). The Kara is made of iron, rather than gold or silver, because it is not an ornament.

Kirpan

Kirpan - a sword

The Kirpan is a sword which symbolizes a Sikh's duty to come to the defence of those in peril. All Sikhs should wear a Kirpan on their body at all times as a defensive side-arm. Its use is only allowed in the act of self-defense and the protection of others.

This injunction was primarily in order to protect the weak from tyranny and slavery, to maintain a state of harmony and security, to allow for the free development of trade, craftsmanship, arts & literature and to safeguard and protect the universal right of all beings to live their lives in a peaceful, stable and sheltered environment.

Kachera

Kachera - shorts

Originally, the Kachera was made part of the five Ks as a symbol of a Sikh soldier's willingness to be ready at a moment's notice for battle or for defense. It was to get around quickly in a fight. The Kachera symbolises self-respect, and always reminds the wearer of mental control over lust, one of the five evils in Sikh philosophy.

Gurbani (Sikh Scripture)


Gurbani is unique amongst the world's major religious scriptures in that the founders, the Sikh Guru's, composed their own writings. Gurbani is a Sikh term, very commonly used by Sikhs to refer to any compositions of the Sikh Gurus and other writers of Guru Granth Sahib. In general, 'hymns' in the central text of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, and the Dasam Granth, are called Gurbani.

Sikh historical writings, unauthentic writings or apocryphal compositions written under the names of Sikh Gurus and other writings by Sikhs are not considered Gurbani and are referred to as 'Kachi Bani'. Gurbani is composed of two words: 'Gur' and 'Bani'. 'Gur' has multiple meanings depending on context. In the Guru Granth Sahib, Gur is used for multiple meanings, as per context of hymn. The common use of 'Gur' is either for wisdom and internal conscious mind (referred to as Chitta or Antar Atma).

Extracts from the Guru Granth Sahib are called Gutkas (small books) containing sections of Gurbani. These Gutkas can vary from just a few pages to hundreds of pages and are used by the Sikhs to read Gurbani on a daily basis. For the faithful Sikhs, reading, reciting and understanding Gurbani, provides a sense of contentment with meaning and purpose. Gurbani helps maintain a positive outlook in life.

Adi Granth

Adi Granth, or Aad Granth, refers to the first rendition of the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Arjan wanted to establish the credibility of the Sikh religion as a casteless and secular society. In Sikhism worship consisted of singing the hymns of Gurus. Guru Arjan wished to lay down the exact Gurbani to be sung and performed by the Sikhs. This would also increase consistency and hinder divergent principles.

Guru Arjan included his own hymns and those of his predecessors, Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das, and Guru Ram Das, and a wide ranging selection of other contributors. The Granth was classified into raag's, with each raag subdivided according to length and author.

At the end, Guru Arjan Sahib has summed up the nature of the Granth Sahib in Mundavani; "In this dish are placed three things; Truth, Contentment and Wisdom. These are seasoned with the Name of God which is the basis of all; whoever eats and enjoy it, shall be saved." Guru Arjan’s aim was to provide a scripture of universal religion, for everybody, everywhere. He wanted to guide and regenerate all types of people.

Guru Granth Sahib

In 1708, Guru Gobind Singh conferred the title of "Guru of the Sikhs" upon the Adi Granth. Guru Gobind Singh, added all 115 of Guru Tegh Bahadur's Gurbani to the Adi Granth, and affirmed the text as his successor. This second rendition became known as Guru Granth Sahib. After Guru Gobind Singh re-joined with God, Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Mani Singh prepared many copies of the work for distribution.

The Guru Granth Sahib is the central religious scripture of Sikhism, regarded by Sikhs as the final, sovereign and eternal living Guru following the lineage of the ten human Gurus. The text consists of 1430 Angs which are poetically rendered and set to a rhythmic ancient north Indian classical form of music. All Gurdwaras contain one or more Guru Granth Sahib's that visitors kneel and bow before, as a sign of respect.

Larivaar Gurbani

Larivaar Gurbani

The Guru Granth Sahib was originally written in Larivaar Gurmukhī script, in various dialects, including Western Punjabi, Braj Bhasha, Khariboli, Sanskrit, Sindhi, and Persian.

Larivaar is where Gurbani is written in continuous form (ie. with no breaks in between the words of Gurbani). This form of writing was used by the Sikh Guru Ji's and other historical Sikhs.

Unfortunately, since the 1950's modern Sikhs have started to use printed 'Padd-Chhed' (split word) Guru Granths which are contrary to history and traditional Sikh teachings.

The heresy being committed by Sikhs is largely through a lack of awareness, understanding and knowledge.

"To print the whole collection into one copy in separated words "padd chhed," is improper and harmful for the nation (Panth)" ~ Chief Khalsa Diwaan's Resolution no. 2982 dated Jan 21, 1945.

"No man or organization should print the "padd chhed Bir," even its Parkash is not desirable." ~ Resolution no. 197 dated May 28,1950. S.G.P.C.

Ardas

The Ardās is a Sikh prayer that is carried out before performing or after undertaking any significant task; after reciting the daily nitnem (prayers); or completion of a service like the Paath (scripture reading/ recitation), kirtan (hymn-singing) program or any other religious program. The Ardas is also said before and after eating. The prayer is a plea to God to support and help the devotee with whatever he or she is about to undertake or has done.

The Ardās is usually always done standing up with folded hands and is commonly preceded by the eighth stanza of the fourth ashtapadi of Sukhmani Sahib, beginning "Tu Thakur Tum Peh Ardaas". The beginning of the Ardās is strictly set by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh and may not be altered or omitted. It appears as the opening passage of Var Sri Bhagauti Ji Ki (see Chandi di Var) and is an invocation to God and reminder of the Sikh Gurus.

Asa Di Vaar

This Gurbani, also known as Asa Ki Var, appears on Ang's 462 to 475 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. It carries twenty-four pauris or stanzas with a total of fifty nine slokas, 45 by Guru Nanak and 14 by Guru Angad. It is said that Bhai Lehna (the later, Guru Angad) was the first to sing it in the presence of Guru Nanak. In its present form, Asa Di Vaar contains a few more shabads recited by Guru Ram Das.

The theme in Asa Di Vaar is how to become a spiritual person - a devta, 'a spiritual being'. In it, Guru Nanak also warns us against the rituals and tricks of priests and monks. The most important thing is how to build up one's character and how to remove the obstacles that lay in the path of a Sikh like ego, selfishness or conceit.

Initially, the fear of God's wrath or displeasure can inspire the seeker to prayer and worship. Over the years this fear should gradually become replaced by love and humility, so that one loses their impatience with those who are imperfect; one is in sympathy with them, for they are like stray sheep. Only by self-discipline and serving other people, can one become worthy of divine grace. Associate with holy persons and learn the secrets of spiritual wisdom from them.

Dasam Granth

The Dasam Granth is a religious text containing many of the texts which is traditionally attributed to Guru Gobind Singh. It is primarily in Braj Bhasha with Awadhi, Hindavi, Punjabi and Persian compositions written almost entirely in the Gurmukhī script except for the Fatehnama, Zafarnama and Hikayat, which are in the Perso-Arabic script.

The Dasam Granth is a separate religious text from the Guru Granth Sahib. Some compositions of the Dasam Granth such as Jaap Sahib, Tav-Prasad Savaiye and Benti Chaupai are part of the Nitnem or daily prayers and also part of the Amrit Sanchar or Sikh initiation ceremony.

Hukam number 30 - Learn and train in the skills of weaponry and horseriding

Hukam number 30 - Learn and train in the
skills of weaponry and horseriding.

52 Hukams of Guru Gobind Singh

The Sikh code of conduct, Rehat Maryada, is based on 52 hukams or edicts issued by Guru Gobind Singh in 1708 in Nanded and sent to the Sikhs living in Kabul and Sri Hazur Sahib.

The 52 hukamnamas or edicts giving instruction on appropriate behavior were written by order of Guru Gobind Singh and copied down by Baba Raam Singh Koer whose great grandfather was Bhai Baba Buddha.

Guru Gobind Singh affixed his personal seal to the document, a copy of which can be seen at historic Gurdwara Paonta Sahib built on the Yamuna river banks in the town of Paonta Sahib of Sirmaur in Himachal Pradesh about 44 kilometers from Dehradun.

These edicts sum up the ideal way of life of the Khalsa and serve as a code of conduct for the Khalsa Panth.

Dukh Bhanjani Sahib

Dukh Bhanjani Sahib is a selection of shabads compiled (by unknown persons in recent times) from differing places in the Guru Granth Sahib, beginning with the Shabad, 'Dukh bhanjan tera naam ji' meaning 'the destroyer of sorrow is your name'. The compilation which includes many shabads was written by Guru Arjan during the illness and recovery of his young son, Guru Hargobind, and begins at Raag Gauree, Ang 218.

The deliverance from fever and disease is the image that is embedded everywhere in the Dukh Bhanjani. The fever, all disease, all pain, all fear, all doubt is dispelled and this happens because of the True Guru, whose mercy and grace restores everything to peace and health. The story of deliverance from physical pain and fever and disease of young Hargobind forms the basis for understanding deliverance from spiritual pain and return to spiritual wellness.

There are many places in the Dukh Bhanjani where one is reminded that the path to finding union with God is not easy. Dukh Bhanjani echoes that trust overcomes doubt and that eventually submission to God heals all pain and suffering and restores peace and wellness in the home of our own heart. In this context the whole of the Guru Granth Sahib is Dukh Bhanjani Sahib. Reading a 'particular' Shabad or collection of Shabads to dispel sorrow is not Gurmat (the Sikh way).

The real essence of Gurbani is to live in and abide by God's hukam (will). Sorrow and pleasure are two sides of same coin, a real Gurmukh has the strength to treat both alike. Chanting mantras in false hopes of attaining 'maan mangi muraad' (heart's desire) is contrary to Sikh teachings and Gurbani does not support such practices. Sorrows or problems are minimised only by following the dictates of the Sikh Gurus in true letter and spirit, as described in the complete Guru Granth Sahib.

Mool Mantar

The Mool Mantar (also spelt Mul Mantar) is the first (and most important) composition in the Sikh holy text, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. It is the basis of Sikhism. The word 'Mool' translates as 'foundation' or 'main', and 'Mantar' translates as 'words that are frequently repeated by someone who is praying'. The Mool Mantar, composed by Guru Nanak, is an explanation and amplification of the single phrase – Ik Onkar (meaning 'One God'), which is the first entry in the holy Granth. The Mool Mantar as follows;

ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
Ik Onkar Sat Naam Karta Purakh Nirbhau Nirvair Akaal Murat Ajuni Saibhan Gur Prasaadh ॥
One God, True Name, Creator Being, No Fear, No Hatred, Timeless Form, Beyond Birth, Self-Existent, By Guru's Grace.

~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Nanak, Ang 1

It is said that the Guru Granth Sahib is an elaboration of the Mool Mantar and is a description of God, according to the Sikh ideology. When a person begins to learn Gurbani, this is the first verse that most would learn. For all true Sikhs, the Mool Mantar is repeated each morning as part of Japji Sahib (also composed by Guru Nanak).

Maha Mantar

The Maha Mantar is a slightly longer than the Mool Mantar. While the Mool Mantar ends at 'Gur Prasaadh', the Maha Mantar extends to end of the first verse at 'Nanak Hosi Bhee Sach'.

ਜਪੁ ॥ ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ ॥ ਹੈ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ॥੧॥
Jap || Aadh Sach Jugaadh Sach || Hai Bhee Sach Naanak Hosee Bhee Sach ||1||
Recite. True In Beginning, True Throughout The Ages. True Here And Now, Nanak, Forever And Ever True. ||1||

~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Nanak, Ang 1

Nitnem

Nitnem, or Nit-Nem, which literally means 'daily routine' is a collection of selected Sikh hymns that are designated to be read by the Sikhs every day. Nitnem is generally read by Sikhs in three phases, morning, evening and at night and includes Gurbani which is part of the Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth.

Firstly, after waking up at 'Amritvela' (approx 2-3 hours before dawn) a Sikh washes and completes Simran, which is the remembrance of God by repeating the name 'Waheguru'. There is no fixed time limit for completing Simran, although most Sikhs allocate approx 1 hour. A Sikh continually remembers God throughout the day, however Simran at Amritvela is just the start.

Following Simran, a Sikh completes Japji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Tav Prasad Savaiye, Chaupai Sahib and Anand Sahib followed by an Ardas. The morning nitnem, which takes approx 1 hour, is ideally completed before dawn and is said aloud as part of a family or Sangat. After the days work, in the evening, Rehras Sahib followed by an Ardas is completed. Rehras Sahib is also said aloud as part of a family or Sangat. And then, just before bedtime Sohila Sahib is completed.

The Five Banis are also the prayers recited by the Panj Pyare while preparing Amrit on the occasion of Amrit Sanchar (initiation) held to admit a Sikh into the Khalsa. It is important to note that nitnem provides a regular opportunity to pray in between conducting a days work. In Sikhism there no fixed timings or rituals to say individual prayers, the focus is on remembering and connecting with God.

Japji Sahib

Japji Sahib was composed by Guru Nanak Sahib Ji. It is regarded amongst the most important Gurbani or 'set of verses' by Sikhs. The Guru Granth Sahib starts with Japji Sahib which begins with the Mool Mantar, the opening verse, followed by a set of 38 Pauris (stanzas) and a final closing Slok.

The word 'Jap'' means to 'recite', 'Sahib' is a word that is used to show respect as is the word 'Ji'. Japji Sahib is notable for its discourse on what is true worship and the nature of God. It states that God is indescribable, the only true form of worship is acceptance of God, and to remain one with loving God, always.

Jaap Sahib

Jaap Sahib was composed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The Jaap Sahib is reminiscent of Japji Sahib composed by Guru Nanak, and both praise God. The Jaap Sahib is composed predominantly using the Arabic, Persian, Braj Bhāshā and Sanskrit languages, in Gurmukhi script. The Jaap Sahib, structured as a stotra (meaning 'ode, eulogy or a hymn of praise') has 199 Pauris and describes God as unchanging, loving, beyond birth and death, and the ultimate power.

Tav Prasad Savaiye

Tav Prasad Savaiye was composed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Tav Prasad Savaiye is a short composition of 10 stanzas and is recited after completing Jaap Sahib. In this Gurbani, Guru Gobind Singh tells us how to worship and realise God. This composition strongly rejects idolatry, pilgrimages, grave worshiping, samadhis of yogis and other ritualistic beliefs in hinduism, jainism and islam.

Chaupai Sahib

Chaupai Sahib, also known as Benti Chaupai, was composed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Chaupai Sahib is an Ardas or 'request' or 'sincere plea' to God for protection. Chaupai Sahib is also a part of the evening prayer of Rehras Sahib. As with all Gurbani, Chaupai Sahib can be read at any time during the day to provide protection, positive focus and energy.

Anand Sahib

Anand Sahib, written in the Ramkali Raag, was composed by Guru Amar Das Sahib Ji. It is said that the person who recites this Holy Gurbani daily with dedication, attention and comprehension, will achieve Anand (complete happiness) in life.

Anand Sahib is also recited at all religious occasions of the Sikhs irrespective of the nature of event, be it a marriage or death. In the beautiful composition and with the Grace of Sri Guru Amar Das, the mind and soul of a true Sikh remains focussed, steadfast and determined in all circumstances of life. All Dukh (pain), and Sukh (pleasure) appear as the same to the devoted Sikh of the Guru.

Rehras Sahib

Rehras Sahib, an evening prayer, speaks of the greatness of Waheguru. As recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib, it contains the hymns of four different Gurus; Guru Nanak, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjan. Chaupai Sahib, attributed to Guru Gobind Singh, was added to Rehras Sahib in the late 19th century. The addition was later ratified by the Supreme Sikh religious body - Sri Akal Takht.

Each section of the prayer casts light on an aspect of God. It is recited after a hard days work when one is tired out. After returning home, washing up, and changing into more comfortable indoor clothing the family gathers together to recite this Gurbani. It adds energy to both the body and the mind allowing one to conclude their day, giving thanks to the Almighty for the completion of another successful day.

Sohila Sahib

Sohila Sahib, also known as Kirtan Sohila, is the night time prayer recited by all Sikhs before they go to sleep. Three Sikh Gurus – Guru Nanak, Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjan - contributed five shabads in total to this Gurbani. Sohila Sahib means 'Song of Praise' and provides the golden gift of peaceful sleep. Sohila Sahib is also recited before a cremation following a Sikhs rejoining with God.

Sukhmani Sahib

Sukhmani Sahib, known as the 'Song of Peace', was composed by Guru Arjan Sahib Ji. This sacred prayer spans 35 Ang's from Ang 262 to Ang 296 of the Guru Granth Sahib. Many ardent Sikhs include the recitation of this Gurbani in their daily regimen of Nitnem.

Sukhmani Sahib has structural unity. The composition consists of 24 Astpadis each of which begins with a Slok. Each of the Astpadis contain 8 Pauris (or stanzas) which have 10 Pangatis (lines). The 10 Pangatis are arranged as five couplets. There is also the unity of theme: the perfection of people mentally. morally and spiritually. The Slok at the beginning of each Astpadi (canto) provides a summary of the 8 Pauris (stanzas) that follow this Slok.

One of the fundamental texts of the Sikh faith, Sukhmani Sahib presents a complete scheme of the teachings of the Sikh faith. While each Astpadi has a fresh vision to impart, a particular aspect of truth to unfold, the whole text may be regarded as the reiteration of basic themes such as god's presence, god's compassion, god's grace, the merit of devotion, of holy company and humility. With such reiteration, the composition as a whole has a remarkable gripping quality reinforced by the striking imagery which in Pauri after Pauri brings home to the seeker the truths one must own.

The Zafarnama of Guru Gobind Singh

The Zafarnama of Guru Gobind Singh

Zafarnama

Zafarnama, literally means the 'Epistle of Victory' and is the name given to the letter sent by Guru Gobind Singh in 1705 to Emperor Aurangzeb. The letter is written in exquisite Persian verse.

In this letter, Guru Gobind Singh reminds Aurangzeb how he and his henchmen had broken their oaths taken on the holy Koran. The Zafarnama is included in Hidayatan (an arabic word that literally translates to 'pieces of advice') and it's the first Hidayat of the Dasam Granth.

Despite Aurangzeb's deception, his treacherous leadership could not harm the Guru. Guru Gobind Singh states in this letter that in spite of his several sufferings, he had won a moral victory over the crafty mughal who had broken all his vows and had resorted to underhand behaviour. Despite sending a huge army to capture or kill the Guru, the mughal forces did not succeed in their mission.

The letter reads like a reprimand by a superior personality on a higher plane to a cruel and distorted inhuman being on a lower and pitiful plane. Guru Gobind Singh in the 111 verses of this notice rebukes Aurangzeb for his weaknesses as a human being and for excesses as a leader. Guru Gobind Singh confirms his confidence and his unflinching faith in the Almighty even after suffering extreme personal loss.

Paath - Reciting Gurbani


Paath, or Paath, orginates from the Sanskrit 'patha' which means reading or recitation. Paath, in a religious context, refers to the recitation of Gurbani, or recitation of the holy texts. It may be done individually or in a group; it can be the recitation of just one section of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib or the complete recitation of the Holy Granth. One can recite alone with others listening or a whole group reciting together.

Whether conducting a Paath or reciting Gurbani it is important that the reading is loud, clear and each word is correctly pronounced. It is essential for a person to understand the words that are being recited. There are many reasons for doing a Paath. It can be in honor of a particular occasion; to mark a happy or sad occasion within the family; or simply to increase one's feeling of connection to the Guru.

Akhand Paath

Akhand Paath, Akhand means uninterrupted, is the non-stop, continuous recital of the complete Guru Granth Sahib from beginning to end. Such a recital normally takes at least 48 hours. The Akhand Paath reading must go on day and night, without a moment's intermission. The relay of reciters who take turns at reading the scripture must ensure that no break occurs in the reading. As they change places at given intervals, one picks the line from his predecessor's lips and continues.

Sadharan/ Sehaj Paath

Sadharan means 'simple' and Sehaj means 'slow'. The Sadharan/ Sehaj Paath is the normal intermittent reading of Guru Granth Sahib from beginning to end, with no time-limit for completion. One may read any number of Angs on a given day or even at a longer interval.

Sampat Paath

Sampat Paath is a variation of Akhand path in which the reading of every single complete hymn of the Guru Granth Sahib is followed by the reading of a predetermined shabad or slok (from the Guru Granth Sahib itself) which is repeated throughout the recitation. In the hindu tradition, a mantra, prefixed and suffixed by another mystic word or mantra, is called sampat mantra.

Sampat Paath is contrary to Gurmat Maryada and is a hindu tradition used by brahmins when reading Hanuman Chalisa, Geeta or Ramayan, adopted by Deras (sects) and self-proclaimed god-men as another money-making opportunity. Although some so-called 'Sants' (saints) attempted to promote this practice, it not an accepted form of Sikh worship and is no longer in common vogue.

Sukhmani Sahib Paath

Sukhmani Sahib Paath is believed to bring peace to one's mind. The full recital takes between 60-90 minutes and is normally undertaken by everyone in the congregation. In keeping with the fast pace of modern life, Sukhmani Sahib Paath is often seen as a conveninent and popular choice for family gatherings. However, may Sikhs conduct this Paath by themselves.

Sikh Emblems


Khanda

Apart from the Pañj Kakār (five k's), the five articles of faith, which Khalsa Sikhs wear at all times, there are two main Sikh emblems, the Khanda and the Nishan Sahib.

Khanda

The Khanda emblem in Sikhism derives its name from the double edged sword – The Khanda – at the heart of the symbol. The Khanda is a potent metaphor of divine knowledge, its sharp edges cleaving truth from falsehood.

The circle around the Khanda is the Chakar – a figure without beginning or end – symbolising an infinite God.

The two Kirpans that flank the Chakar symbolise the twin concept of Miri and Piri – temporal and spiritual responsibility. They occupy a central place in Sikh theology which places equal emphasis on the worldly and spiritual aspiration of the individual to serve society.

Nishan Sahib

Nishan Sahib

The Nishan Sahib, the flag of the Sikh nation, is made from a cotton or silk cloth and is triangular in shape. The Nishan Sahib symbolises the independant sovereignty of the Sikhs. The Nishan Sahib, that is in vogue today, is supported by a metal or timber pole with a Khanda, a double edged sword, fixed at its top.

The symbol on the Nishan Sahib cloth is the Khanda emblem. The Nishan Sahib, as a matter of religious injunction, must be hoisted at a high-level in every Gurdwara building. It is this Nishan Sahib that is referred to in the daily prayer (Ardas) of the Sikhs asking for immortality.

Sikh National Anthem


The Sikh national anthem was written by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Sikhism is the only religion with its own national anthem. It is one of the most celebrated and widely quoted hymns by Guru Gobind Singh and describes the qualities that makes one fit to become part of the Khalsa Panth - To live with courage and bravery to the highest levels of righteousness.

One must never shirk from conducting oneself in the most upright and considerate possible manner. The Khalsa has to be prepared at all times to willingly and consistently behave in the most impartial and just manner and to always undertake to carry out righteous and Gurmat acts; to never have any fear or show even the slightest hesitation when taking such actions; to never flinch from stepping in front of the enemy to protect the poor, weak and needy of the world - to never have any apprehension or anxiety from the righteous fight ahead.

Gurdwaras


The literal translation of the term Gurdwara is "the Guru's door", but it also means "the gateway to the guru". Any place where the Guru Granth Sahib is installed and treated with due respect according to Sikh Rehat Maryada (the Sikh code of conduct and convention) can be referred to as a Gurdwara, whether it is a room in one's own house or a separate building. A Gurdwara is a place of worship for Sikhs; however, people of all faiths are welcomed in the Gurdwara.

The Gurdwara has a 'Darbar Sahib' where the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh scripture) is seen and a 'Langar' hall where people can eat free food. A Gurdwara may also have a library, nursery, and classroom. A Gurdwara can be spotted from a distance by the yellow triangular flag hoisted from a pole in the compound. The flag is called the Nishan Sahib.

Early Gurdwaras were known as a Dharamsala (a spiritual dwelling or religous resthouse, sanctuary). The most well-known Gurdwara is Sri Harmandir Sahib (also known as the Golden Temple) in Amritsar, Punjab, India. Please note, describing a Gurdwara as a 'Temple' is incorrect as the term is associated for places of worship with other religons.

Historic Sikh Gurdwaras

Sikhs are extremely proud of an amazing and distinct heritage. Many Gurdwaras in Punjab and surrounding areas have been in existence since the time of the Sikh Gurus. In the late 18th century, the Khalsa gained political strength and made many more Gurdwaras at historic locations linked to the Gurus. After 1947, many great Historic Gurdwaras located in the newly created Pakistan were lost to Sikhs. Even now, Sikhs are unable to gain access or receive 'permission' to visit some holy sites.

Service in Gurdwaras

Sikhism offers strong support for a healthy communal life and the Gurdwara sits at the heart of the Sikh community. Sikh ceremonies such as Naam Karan (baby naming ceremony), Amrit Sanchar – Sikh initiation, Anand Karaj - wedding ceremony and Antam Sanskar - funeral rites, take place at a Gurdwara.

Many gurdwaras have facilities for Sikhs to learn more about their religion, complexes for courses in Punjabi and Gurmukhi, Sikhism and Sikh scriptures, meeting rooms, and room-and-board accommodation for those who need it. Gurdwaras are generally open all hours of a day. If you are not a Sikh and want to visit a Gurdwara then read this article on Gurdwara Etiquette and Protocol.

Some gurdwaras also provide temporary accommodations (Sarai) for visitors. The Gurdwara also serves as a community centre and a guest house for travellers, occasionally a clinic, and a base for local charitable activities. Apart from morning and evening services, the gurdwaras hold special congregations to mark important anniversaries on the Sikh calendar.

Prakash

The Prakash is a short ceremony performed when the Guru Granth Sahib is formally opened each day. The Guru Granth Sahib is opened at a random place and a Hukumnama (command) is taken.

Nitnem

Most Gurdwaras have a routine of reciting daily simran and/ or nitnem (prayers). Some like Sri Harmandir Sahib recite Asa Di Var as part of the early morning service in a very melodious style and Rehras Sahib in the evening. In Sikhism there no fixed timings or rituals to say individual prayers, the focus is on remembering and connecting with God.

Ardas

The Ardas is carried out after reciting the daily nitnem; or completion of a service like the Paath, kirtan or any other religious program. In a congregational setting, the Ardas is recited by one member with everyone standing reverentially, hands folded, facing the Guru Granth Sahib. Periodically throughout the recitation, the assembly as a whole repeats the word Waheguru in order to support the idea that God, the "Wondrous Guru", is the Supreme Being. At the completion of Ardās, the congregation bows down as one. Upon rising, the Sangat (congregation) proclaims "Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh".

Hukumnama

Hukamnama, is a compound of two words 'Hukam', meaning command or order, and 'nama', meaning statement. The Hukamnama refers to a hymn randomly selected from the Guru Granth Sahib (on a daily basis in Gurdwaras). This is seen as the order of God for that particular day. The Hukumnama in a Gurdwara is normally selected during Prakash, which is then displayed on a notice board for the day and then another at the end of the day during Sukh Aasan. Otherwise, there is also a Sangrand Hukamnama which is for the current (Sikh) month.

Kirtan

Kirtan refers to the singing of Gurbani. Sikhs perform Kirtan in Gurdwaras everday and the Sangat is encouraged to join in. The singing of Gurbani should not be a performance which is silently listened to by the gathered Sangat. As a token of appreciation some Sikhs leave a small amout of money in front of the kirtan players (which covers travel and other expenses). Note: Although the Harmonium is used for Kirtan it is not a traditional Sikh instrument.

Katha

Katha is a religious discourse or lecture of Gurbani and Sikh history. Katha has been an integral Sikh practice since the time of Guru Nanak. Most Gurdwaras have regular Katha programs for the benefit of the Sangat.

Gurbani Santhiya And Ucharan

Gurbani Santhiya And Ucharan are arranged by freely arranged by Gurdwara volunteers so that Sikhs can correctly pronounce and read from the Guru Granth Sahib themselves. Sikhs have no need for priests, a Sikh can commnicate with God, with the aid of the Guru Granth Sahib, directly.

Langar

One of the halls within a Gurdwara is the Langar Hall. This is the room where food is freely distributed, it will typically contain a common kitchen where the langar is prepared. Traditionally, Sikhs sit on the floor, however many Gurdwaras in the Western world have seats and tables arranged for the elderly or disabled. Use of chairs and tables are not traditionally allowed. Neither is the use of food prepared by caterer's or outside sources.

Sukh Aasan

Sukh Aasan is a short ceremony when the Guru Granth Sahib is formally closed each day. A Hukamnama is taken, then Sohila Sahib and a short Ardas is completed after which the Guru Granth Sahib is retired for the night.

Five Takhts - Holy Thrones


Takht which literally means a throne or seat of authority is a result of the historical growth of Sikhism. There are five Takhts and these Takhts are the five gurdwaras which have a very special significance for the Sikh community.

Sri Akal Takht

Sri Akal Takht

Akal Takht Sahib literally means 'Eternal Throne'. Its foundation was laid by Guru Hargobind Sahib. The Akal Takht is situated opposite Sri Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. The building of the Akal Takht opposite Sri Harmandir Sahib has a special meaning.

The Akal Takht is the oldest of the Five Takhts. The Jathedar of the Akal Takht is the highest spokesperson of the Sikh Panth and is meant to be a spiritual leader without control or influence from any outside, politically motivated sources. While Sri Harmandir Sahib stands for spiritual guidance the Akal Takht symbolizes the dispensing of justice and temporal activity. During the day the Guru Granth Sahib is kept in Sri Harmandir Sahib, while at night it is kept in Sri Akal Takht Sahib.

Takht Sri Damdama Sahib

Takht Sri Damdama Sahib

Takht Sri Damdama Sahib (Talwandi Sabo) is situated in the village of Talwandi Sabo near Bhatinda. Literally, 'Damdama' means a place to have a break and rest. Guru Gobind Singh stayed here after fighting defensive battles against Mughal atrocities.

During Guru Gobind Singh's stay a large number of new converts embraced Sikhi and joined the fold of the Khalsa. Sri Guru Gobind Singh stayed here for approximately a year and compiled the final edition of Sri Guru Granth Sahib also known as the Damdama Sahib Bir in 1705. Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, adjoining the Darbar Sahib on the east, marks the site where Guru Gobind Singh held his daily assemblies during his stay.

Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib Patna

Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib Patna

Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib Patna (also known as Takht Sri Patna Sahib) is situated in Patna city which is also the capital of Bihar state. Sri Guru Gobind Singh was born here in 1666 and he spent his early childhood here before moving to Anandpur Sahib.

The site where the present Harmandir stands was originally called the haveli of Salis Rai Johri. Salis Rai was so influenced by the teachings of Guru Nanak that he converted his palatial house into a dharamsala (dharamsala's became Gurdwaras). When Guru Tegh Bahadur visited Patna, he stayed at the same place. A magnificent new house was built above the dharamsala of Salis Rai by Raja Fateh Chand Maini to accommodate the Guru's family.

Takht Sri Hazur Sahib

Takht Sri Hazur Sahib

Takht Sri Hazur Sahib is situated on the banks of Godavari River in Maharashtra state. This is the place where Sri Guru Gobind Singh re-joined with God. The inner room of the temple is called Angitha Sahib and is built over the place where Sri Guru Gobind Singh was cremated in 1708 AD.

Guru Gobind Singh also conferred guruship on Sri Guru Granth Sahib and commanded Sikh's to follow the Guru Granth Sahib as the Guru. Takht Sri Hazur Sahib is sometimes known as Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib, Sachkhand (literally means 'region of truth') was used a word by Guru Nanak Sahib Ji to mean the abode of God.

Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib

Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib

Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib is situated at Anandpur Sahib. It is the birthplace of the Khalsa. The order of the Khalsa was founded here by Sri Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Some of the weapons of Guru Gobind Singh are still displayed here.

Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib stands at the place where Guru Gobind Singh initiated the 'Panj Pyaras', the five beloved ones, and administered Amrit to them. On the day of Vaisakhi in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh destroyed the centuries old caste system by formalising Sikh philosophy in the concept of the Khalsa. In one stroke, Guru Gobind Singh removed the racial prejudices based on birth-right, caste and privilege.

Sikh Ceremonies


All the Sikh ceremonies like baby naming, taking of Amrit, marriage and funeral are simple, inexpensive and have a religious tone. They are held in the presence of Guru Granth. Sikhs are cautioned against celebrating personal birthdays, anniversaries and other occassions as this feeds ones pride, ego and haumai. Instead Sikhs are encouraged to use their time and money to help others less fortunate than them. Everyday is a viewed as a birthday, mothers day, fathers day, not just once a year.

The ceremonies (as outlined in the Sikh Rehat Maryada) which are most important to a Sikh are;

Naam Karan - baby naming

As soon as the mother and child are able to travel (irrespective of the number of days which that takes), the family visits the Gurdwara. There they recite hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib to celebrate the birth of the new child. The baby's name is chosen by Hukamnama, the Granthi randomly opens Sri Guru Granth Sahib and reads the first shabad. The first letter of the first word of the shabad is chosen to select the baby's name. Afterwards an Ardas completes the process.

Baby names are chosen with Sikh meanings, foreign names are not used by Sikhs. Male Sikhs have 'Singh' (Lion), and female Sikhs have 'Kaur' (princess) as their last name. The use of 'caste surnames' after 'Singh' or 'Kaur' are not Sikh practices and are used by shallow and superficial Sikhs. If your parents were ignorant and named you incorrectly, you should change your name.

Sarbloh Bata and Khanda

Sarbloh Bata and Khanda
used to prepare Amrit

Amrit Sanchar – Sikh initiation

The Amrit Sanchar is the Sikh initiation introduced by Guru Gobind Singh when he founded the Khalsa in 1699. It should be taken only by those who are fully mature enough to realize the commitment required and the significance.

The initiate may be a man or woman of any caste or previous religion. Generally people are encouraged to start behaving, acting and looking like a Sikh before seeking initiation.

Five Amritdhari Sikhs will conduct the ceremony while one reads Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The principles of Sikhism are explained to the initiate and this is followed by Ardas and taking of a Hukamnama. If a person does not have a Sikh name, they take a new name at this time.

When a Sikh takes the Amrit of the double-edged broadsword, they drink Amrit (the nectar of God). Symbolically this means that they are drinking death. The Amrit of a Sikh means that he no longer distinguishes between life and death. They are one and the same, except for a transformation. Sikhs do not view death in the same terms as the adherents of other religions and as a consequence they can be incredibly brave and dangerous.

Note: It is only one who takes Amrit who can be called a 'Sikh'.

Anand Karaj - marriage

Anand Karaj is the Sikh marriage ceremony, meaning "blissful or joyful union", introduced by Guru Amar Das. The four Laavan (marriage hymns which take place during the marriage ceremony) were composed by his successor, Guru Ram Das. The Sikh marriage is a very special ceremony in which two individuals are joined in an equal partnership.

Gurbani and Sikh history make it unmistakably clear that Sikhs of the Guru look upon the opposite gender as fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Except for Anand Karaj, nothing can alter this reality. Anand Karaj creates a new relationship, that of husband and wife. There can be no confusion over the reality that Anand Karaj, and Anand Karaj alone is the only avenue for creating this special relationship within the larger Khalsa family.

When the bride and groom 'matha tek' (bow) they signal their acceptance of Sikh principles and the Guru Granth as their Guru. Anand Karaj rules do not allow inter-faith marriages, just as other religons justifiably do not allow inter-faith marriages. Any marriage that takes place between a Sikh and non-Sikh via Anand Karaj would be illegitimate.

Antam Sanskar - funeral rites

'Antam' or 'Antim' means 'final or last', 'Sanskar' means 'rite, ceremony or service'. In Sikhism, the passing of a person's life is considered a natural process and God's will. To a Sikh, birth and death are closely associated, because they are both part of the cycle of human life of 'coming and going'. The word 'death' is not used, instead a person is described as 'pura ho giya' which means 'to have become complete'.

Any public displays of grief at the funeral such as wailing or crying out loud are discouraged. Cremation is the preferred method of disposal. However, where arrangements for cremation cannot be made, there should be no worry about the body being immersed in flowing water or disposed of in any other manner. Worship of the dead with gravestones, etc. is discouraged, because the body is considered to be only the shell, the person's soul is their real essence.

The body is usually bathed and clothed by family members and taken to the cremation grounds. There hymns are recited which induce feeling of detachment are recited by the congregation. As the body is being cremated, Kirtan Sohila the before bedtime prayer is recited and Ardas is offered. The ashes are disposed of by immersing them in the nearest river. An Akhand Paath or Sehaj Paath of the entire Sri Guru Granth Sahib is undertaken. This may be undertaken at home or in the Gurdwara.

Sikh Festivals


Since Guru Amar Das's time, Sikhs would gather three times a year at Vaisakhi (March/ April), Diwali (October/ November) and Maghi (January). These gatherings were not to celebrate hindu or muslim events but were a time when Sikhs (after taking their harvest) were free to gather as a Sangat, jointly pray and exchange views, news and other information. Subsquently, Bandi Chor Divas (the 'day of liberation') replaced the term Diwali.

With Guru Gobind Singh, Vaisakhi held special significance with the creation of the Khalsa. However, over time the celebration of Gurpurbs also became important. Note: The holding of Barsi's (death aniversaries) is against Sikh philosophy. The important Sikh festivals that are celebrated are;

Gurpurbs

Gurpurbs are important anniversaries (birthdays, martyrdom, etc.) that are associated with the lives of the Gurus. They are happy occasions which are celebrated most enthusiastically by Sikhs. Sikhs normally celebrate Gurpurbs with an Akhand or Sehaj paath.

Nagar Kirtan at Sri Harmandir Sahib

A traditional Nagar Kirtan at Sri Harmandir Sahib

Some of the most important Gurpurbs are;

◾ The birthday of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism (April or November)

◾ The birthday of Guru Gobind Singh, founder of the Khalsa (January)

◾ The martyrdom of Guru Arjan (June)

◾ The martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur (November/ December)

◾ The installation of the Guru Granth Sahib (September)

Nagar Kirtan

Nagar means a suburb, town or city. Kirtan refers to the singing of Gurbani. Nagar Kirtan's are ways of celebrating Gurpurbs and taking the Guru Granth into the community. Food may be freely provided from floats that follow the Scripture or from stationary points in the vicinity of the procession. The procession concludes at the Gurudwara with Ardas (prayer). Normally, the whole Sikh Sangat attends the event.

Nanakshahi Calendar

The Sikh calendar is called the Nanakshahi calendar, it takes its name from Guru Nanak. Year one is the year of Guru Nanak's birth (1469 CE). The Nanakshahi calendar is a tropical solar calendar that was adopted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee to determine the dates for important Sikh events. For most of its history Sikhism has used the traditional Vikrami (or Bikrami) calendar, shared by Sikhs and hindus in North India, to set the date of its festivals.

The calendar uses most of the mechanics of the Western calendar. The year length is same as Western calendar (365 days 5 hours 48 minutes 45 seconds). It contains 5 months of 31 days followed by 7 months of 30 days. There is a leap year every 4 years in which the last month (Phagun) has an extra day. It was approved by Akal Takht in 2003 but later amended. There is some controversy about the acceptance of the calendar as it does not fully and clearly reflect historic Sikh events. The SGPC's official calendar can be accessed in Gurmukhi here.

Months

There appears to be some confusion as to whether the Sikh calendar begins with Chet or Vaisakh. The Sikh New Year begins with 1st Chet which in the Common Era calendar is in mid-March. Bara Maha, Guru Arjan's Gurbani, starts with Chet at the first month. So, New Year's Day falls annually on what is 14th March in the Gregorian Western calendar.

No.

Western Months

Gurmukhi (Punjabi)

Transliteration

1.

Mid March – Mid April

ਚੇਤ

Chet

2.

Mid April – Mid May

ਵੈਸਾਖ

Vaisakh

3.

Mid May – Mid June

ਜੇਠ

Jeth

4.

Mid June – Mid July

ਹਾੜ

Harh

5.

Mid July – Mid August

ਸਾਵਣ

Sawan

6.

Mid August – Mid September

ਭਾਦੋਂ

Bhadon

7.

Mid September – Mid October

ਅੱਸੂ

Assu

8.

Mid October – Mid November

ਕੱਤਕ

Katak

9.

Mid November – Mid December

ਮੱਘਰ

Maghar

10.

Mid December – Mid January

ਪੋਹ

Poh

11.

Mid January – Mid February

ਮਾਘ

Magh

12.

Mid February – Mid March

ਫੱਗਣ

Phaggan



Vaisakhi

Vaisakhi marks the birth of the Khalsa on 30th March 1699. Guru Gobind Singh summoned Sikhs from all over Punjab and surrounding areas to the city of Anandpur Sahib. At this gathering, the Guru called upon Sikhs to uphold their faith and preserve the Sikh religion. Guru Gobind Singh then lifted his sword and asked that anyone prepared to give his life for his faith to come forward. Subsquently, dates for celebrating Vaisakhi changed to 13th/ 14th April.

Gurmukhi (Punjabi)


Gurmukhi Alphabet

Gurmukhi Alphabet

There appears to be a lot of confusion regarding Punjabi and Gurmukhi. People make the assumption that there is a language called Punjabi (what we use everyday) and there is the language called Gurmukhi - the language used to write the Guru Granth Sahib.

So are there two languages?? Did the Guru's use different language called Gurmukhi?? The answer is No. It would be more accurate to say one speak's Punjabi and read's or write's Gurmukhi.

The majority of Sikh scriptures were originally written in Gurmukhī alphabet, a script standardised by Guru Angad in the 16th century out of the Laṇḍā script used in the Punjab region. The whole of the Guru Granth Sahib's 1430 pages are written in this script. The name Gurmukhi is derived from the old Punjabi term "gurumukhī", meaning "from the mouth of the Guru".

Gurmukhi script is the most complete and accurate way to represent Punjabi sounds. Unlike Roman script, the Gurmukhi script is a true phonetic alphabet with a direct correspondence between Gurmukhi characters and Punjabi words (sounds). There is no concept of upper or lower case letters which makes Gurmukhi easier than the English language to learn.

Gurmukhi Numerals

Gurmukhi numerals are the numbering system used in Gurmukhi script and in the Guru Granth Sahib.

Numbers

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Gurmukhi numerals

੧੦

Gurmukhi (Punjabi)

ਸਿਫਰ

ਇੱਕ

ਦੋ

ਤਿੱਨ

ਚਾਰ

ਪੰਜ

ਛੇ

ਸੱਤ

ਅੱਠ

ਨੌਂ

ਦੱਸ

Transliteration

sifar

ik

do

tinn

chār

punj

ché

sāt

aṭh

nau

das



Sikh Literature (Historical)



Bhai Mani Singh's Janam Sakhis

Bhai Mani Singh's
Janam Sakhis

Janam Sakhis (non-canonical Sikh history)

The Janam Sakhis, literally mean 'birth stories', are writings which are biographies of the Guru Nanak. These compositions were written at various stages after the life of Guru Nanak. Though from the point of view of a historian the janamsakhis may be inadequate, they are invaluable for Sikhs in offering historical information.

Varan (early edition of the Sikh principles, written down by Bhai Gurdas)

Bhai Gurdas is considered the first interpreter of Gurbani. His writings are considered the 'key' to understanding the Sikh holy scriptures. Bhai Gurdas was the Guru Amar Das's nephew. Bhai Gurdas wrote 40 vars (ballads) and 556 kabits (both forms of Punjabi poetry).

These writings are considered the best specimens of Sikh literature and philosophy. Bhai Gurdas not only wrote the Adi Granth as dictated by Guru Arjan, he also supervised the writings of four other scribes, namely Bhai Haria, Bhai Sant Das, Bhai Sukha and Bhai Manasa Ram who were writing various Sikh scriptures.

Sikh Saaj - Music and Instruments


Saaj is a Punjabi word commonly used to refer to musical Instruments. Some of the instruments are decorated with ivory, silver, gold and peacock-feathers. Musical instruments are made by skilled craftsmen who have knowledge of musical sounds. The important towns where these instruments are manufactured are Lucknow, Rampur, Madras, and Tanjore. Sikh 'music' or 'Shabad kirtan' is Kirtan-style singing of hymns or Shabads from the Guru Granth Sahib.

Dilruba

Dilruba

The Dilruba originates from the Taus and is the work of Guru Gobind Singh. Guru Gobind Singh designed and created the Dilruba which is Persian for 'heart stealer', the instrument itself has a wonderfully enchanting sound which takes away your heart in an instance. The Dilruba is a smaller and modified version of the Taus. The reason for its creation was predominantly due to the practicality of carrying it.

Jori

Jori

The Jori also known as Panjabi Pakhawaj is an instrument which was created in the court of Guru Arjan by two musicians of the court, Sata and Balwand. The Jori emerged from the Mardang which is a one barrel drum, they cut this one piece instrument into two separate pieces to create the Jori which means 'pair'. The sound generated from this instrument is much louder and deeper to that of tabla.


Rabab

Rabab

The Rabab of Guru Nanak followed him as his shadow for over 27 years on his travels around the world, played by his beloved companion Bhai Mardana. This was the start of the Sikh Rababi (kirtani) tradition with the singing of Shabad pardhaan kirtan according to the hukam of the Guru's (following the specified raags).


Saranda

Saranda

The Saranda is a unique instrument, which originated amongst the Sikhs, designed, created and also played by Guru Arjan. Guru Arjan instructed his followers to practice and share the singing of sacred shabads with these instruments to elevate the soul to merge with God.


Sarangi

Sarangi

The Sarangi is a remarkably enchanting instrument which dates back to 5000BC, it was created by the great scholar, Raavan. The name of the instrument translates to mean 'one hundred colors', it is also known as the mother to all stringed instruments as well as the only instrument which is so close to the human voice.

Taus

Taus

The Taus is the blessing of Guru Gobind Singh. As a master of the Persian language, Guru Gobind Singh named this glorious instrument 'Taus' which is Persian for Peacock. This was an instrument which was designed and played by the great Guru himself to guide us by example. This instrument is played with a bow and is hand crafted from one piece of high quality wood (Tunn wood).

Others including Harmonium and Tabla

The Harmonium is a popular instrument for kirtan singing. However, the Sikh Gurus, early Gursikhs and Baba Banda Singh Bahadur never saw a Harmonium. In fact, Maharaja Ranjit Singh never saw, or used, or even heard a Harmonium. The Harmonium was invented in Europe in Paris in 1842 by Alexandre Debain, though there was concurrent development of similar instruments elsewhere.

The Tabla is the most popular percussion instrument used in the classical and popular music of the northern regions of South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, northern India, Pakistan). The term tabla is an Arabic word which means 'drum'. The origins of the word tabla come from the arabic word 'tabl,' and this attests to its status as a product resulting from the fusion of musical elements from indigenous hindu and central asian muslim cultures that began in the late 16th century.

Philosophy And Teachings


The philosophy of Sikhism is covered in great detail in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy text. Detailed guidance is given to followers on how to conduct their lives so that peace and salvation can be obtained. The holy text outlines the positive actions that one must take to make progress in the evolution of the person. One must remember the Creator at all times – it reminds the follower that the "soul is, but a part of the whole that is God, who is ever merciful", and that the follower must dedicate their life to all good causes - to help make this life more worthwhile.

Amritvela

Sikhs carry out Simran whenever possible throughout the day, however Amritvela is the best time. The importance of Amritvela is found throughout the Guru Granth Sahib. The significance of Amritvela is that it is a very special, silent and personal time with God that is much more difficult to recreate once the world begins its busy, noisy day. It is the best time to build your connection with God. In the Sikh Rehat Maryada it is written that a Sikh should wake up at Amritvela to wash and then pray. So, Amritvela is a very important time for Sikhs and 'Pehra' timings have important implications for Amritvela.

Amritvela is in the 4th pehra of the night and the time when all Sikhs must wake to wash, carry out simran and complete morning nitnem. Days and Nights are divided into 8 pehra's. Each day (from sunrise to sunset) is split into 4 equal pehra's. Each night (from sunset to sunset) is also split into 4 equal pehra's. This means a pehra during the day in the Summer can be longer than a pehra at night in the Summer. As seasons change and days become shorter or longer, Pehra can become longer or shorter (more than and less than 3 hours). Night time is the same. So, Amritvela is likely to differ in various countries and seasons. However, it is fairly easy to work out the timing.

Five Realms

The natural human instinct is to taste life through physical impulses and worldly desires – the mind is always looking outwards and seldom within. Only after persistent prayer and application will the initial urges for worldly comforts and pleasures will give way to sober thought and self-reflection. For this it is essential for an individual to glance into their soul.

On pauris 34-37, in the Japji Sahib, Guru Nanak refers to five realms (or Khands). The first four realms are the spiritual levels through which the soul has to progress before reaching, the fifth and the final 'Sach Khand' (the realm of truth). These khands deal with the travel of the soul, spiritual consciousness, not of the body.

Dharam Khand - the realm of righteous action (Japji Sahib, pauri 35)

In the first Khand, a person is shown by the Guru that there is a natural order of things in the universe. This world is, a house of Dharma, a house of Waheguru (God), meaning a place of righteous actions. All things perform their righteous set duties. Likewise, an individual learning from this natural order of things should find their place in this natural order.

In other words, they begin their spiritual journey by seeing God in all and treating the world around them as a 'home for all' and thus respecting all things in it accordingly. It is only with Karma (deeds/destiny) that one can appreciate that the world is a home for all and thus enter Dharm Khand. In the first realm a self-centered individual becomes conscious of themselves and begins to seek their true self beyond their ego.

The word dharam has been employed in the sense of duty. Duty is usually performed either out of a sense of social responsibility or through moral awareness. Guru Nanak links this sense of duty to a persons consciousness of divine justice. This spiritual journey is impeded many times by one's own judgmental attitude towards others, born of one's own self-conceit, that 'I know best and my way is best'. Guru Nanak taught that we should not judge others, but leave that to God. We are to perform our righteous duty as best we can.

Gian Khand - the realm of knowledge (Japji Sahib, pauri 36)

The second realm is Gian Khand. 'Gian' means 'knowledge' or 'intelligence' and is also a place of desires, but the desires here are more abstract then material. The need for mental satisfaction - the desire to gain power through knowledge or 'gian'.

Souls in Gian Khand find a fertile land for play and development of their imaginations. They shape their surroundings as they like just by desiring it. Everybody who resides here is a victim of his or her desires. To seek means to acquire knowledge. Thats where one, in the second Khand, begins to pursue the myriad avenues of knowledge.

Saram Khand - the realm of spiritual endeavour (Japji Sahib, pauri 36)

'Saram' means 'modesty' or 'humility'. In the third Khand, the person becomes modest and humble in their outlook and the realisation of the Almighty is increased. They begin to understand the deeper reality within the Guru's Word and humility begins to dominate their persona. They shed the last remnants of their ego which still afflict them in spite of experiencing strong emotions of humility in the previous stage of Gian Khand.

Armed now with humility and modesty, the person is able to develop an intuitive consciousness, a sharper and more capable intellect and deeper understanding of the mind. The Guru tells us that only when a person has attained this stage of awareness can the consciousness of the spiritual warriors and the persona of spiritual perfect beings be reached.

Karam Khand - the realm of deeds (Japji Sahib, pauri 37)

The forth realm is Karam Khand. 'Karam' means 'actions' or 'deeds'. In this sphere or domain, Gurbani or Guru Shabad is power. Without Gurbani, one cannot enter this realm. Those souls who are totally fulfilled, imbued with God's essence can dwell here; death and deception cannot touch the residents of this region.

The residents of this realm have the moral strength to speak the unspoken truth and to motivate others to stand up against exploitation and oppression by those who still love duality (dishonesty). All sense of dualism ends. One reaches here only after achieving a heroic victory over the evils. Yet they are not passive, but someone with awakened courage and great deeds.

Sach Khand - the realm of truth (Japji Sahib, pauri 37)

This is the final stage, 'Sach' means 'truth'. Sach Khand is where God abides. The whole of creation and the other 4 Khands are part of Sach Khand. Sach Khand does not just include planets, universes and more, but is also the final state of the evolution of consciousness.

Five Thieves (Evils)

The Five Thieves (Panj Dosh or Panj Vikar) are the five major weaknesses of the human personality at variance with its spiritual essence, and are known as 'thieves' because they steal a person's common sense. It is the aim of Sikhs to subdue and stop these five inner vices. The actions of one's mind should be above, beyond and without interference of inner evils.

The Guru Granth provides clear guidance on controlling these evils through Gurbani, the rememberance of God and Simran, which bring peaces and tranquillity.

Kaam – lust

The term 'Kaam' comes from the 'Kaamna', which means to desire. In itself it is a neutral term. ie. it may be used in a derogatory or non-derogatory manner. One may have a kaamna for anything, good or bad, virtuous or sinful. However when shortened to 'Kaam' it equates with a desire for sensual pleasures, though not necessarily defining the degree of propensity towards such obsession.

Again Kaam may be defined as 1) an essential and natural desire (but controlled and coupled with a sense of responsibility and commitment; this is a necessary process for procreation as designed by mother nature; 2) a deep desire. A person with obsessive propensity towards sensual desires is often referred to as a 'Kaami pursh' - a person obsessed with unrestricted propensity towards lust.

Sikhism does not preach celibacy. However, it does recommend certain guidelines, certain parameters which must not be crossed. Kaam in the form of unrestrained animal lust for pure physical gratification, without a sense of commitment is sinful. Sikhism supports restrained physical relationships between a man and woman only in the sanctity of marriage (Grihastha). Passions of sensual desires must be checked and there is no room for relationships outside marriage.

Krodh – anger, rage

Krodh translates to 'uncontrolled anger' or 'rage'. This is an emotion and state of mind. Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person or event, or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems or something said by someone else. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.

Krodh expresses itself in several forms from silent sullenness to hysterical tantrums and violence. In Sikh scripture Krodh usually appears in combination with Kaam — as 'Kaam Krodh'. This is because Krodh (anger) results from Kaam (desire) so when Kaam is prevented it produces Krodh.

Lobh – greed

Lobh is 'greed', 'temptation' or 'avarice'. Lobh or greed is the intense desire to possess material items like money, goods, gadgets, properties, cars, jewellery, etc to an extent that is far beyond ones real needs and requirements. A 'Lobhy' (a person subject to lobh) is the result of a foolish and feeble mind; is happy just thinking about their wealth; will continuously be occupied in this desire to possess material items.

Lobh makes an individual selfish and self-centred. A person can become blind with greed if an effort to control the desire for unlimited possessions is not made. Sikhs do not believe that it is wrong to enjoy the good things in life, to be wealthy or to be admired by others. However, if a person's actions and thoughts are predominantly focused on possessing material things in life then this removes them from the true path of Sikhi.

Moh – attachment

Moh refers to the 'strong attachment' that an individual has to worldly possessions and relationships. It blurs the perspective of a human being and makes them narrow minded. Moh hinders the soul's search for its ultimate goal and stops spiritual progress. It deviates a person from their moral duties or responsibilities and leads them toward a path of sin. It is through Moh that people are reincarnated over and over again. The cure to Moh is detachment but not at the expense of reclusion.

Ahankaar – ego, pride

Ahankar is the Gurmukhi word which translates to 'ego' or 'excessive pride' over one's possessions, talents, material wealth, beauty, intelligence, spirituality, authoritative powers, charity work etc. An individual can come to feel that these 'gifts from God' make them superior to others, who are therefore lower than them. It leads to jealousy, feelings of enmity and restlessness amongst people. Sikhism requires that a person serves society and the community with Nimrata or humility. Hence, the practice of cleaning the footwear of visitors to a Gurudwara is followed by many devout Sikhs.

Five Virtues

The Gurus taught that all human beings have the qualities they need to reunite with God but they must train their minds to make the most of these qualities. So, it is the Sikh's duty to live a life in devotion to Waheguru in a positive spirit (Chardi Kala) and in God's command (Hukam). To remember God in prayer, engaged in community service (Sewa) and to practice the Five Virtues. By taking these positive steps, the Five Thieves are overcome and rendered ineffective. By adopting this daily routine a Sikhs actions become pure (nirmal), negativity is removed and the soul is rewarded.

Sat – truth

Sat means more than just 'truth' it means 'truthful living', which is living according to the ways of the Gurus. A persons thoughts should match words with actions and actions with words. Truthful living brings a person closer to God. Sat means practising righteousness, honesty, justice, impartiality and fair play.

ਹਰਿ ਜਨ ਸਾਚੇ ਸਾਚੁ ਕਮਾਵਹਿ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ॥
Har Jan Saachae Saach Kamaavehi Gur Kai Sabadh Veechaaree ||
God's humble servants are true - they practice truth, and reflect upon the word of the Guru's shabad.

ਆਪੇ ਮੇਲਿ ਲਏ ਪ੍ਰਭਿ ਸਾਚੈ ਸਾਚੁ ਰਖਿਆ ਉਰ ਧਾਰੀ ॥
Aapae Mael Leae Prabh Saachai Saach Rakhiaa Our Dhhaaree ||
The True God unites them with itself, and they keep the True God enshrined in their hearts.

ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਵਹੁ ਗਤਿ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਈ ਏਹਾ ਰਾਸਿ ਹਮਾਰੀ ॥੪॥੧॥
Naanak Naavahu Gath Math Paaee Eaehaa Raas Hamaaree ||4||1||
O Nanak, through the Name, I have obtained salvation and understanding; this alone is my wealth. ||4||1||

~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Amar Das, Raag Sorath, Ang 600

Santokh – contentment, satisfaction

Santokh, or contentment, is freedom from ambition, envy, greed and jealousy. Without contentment, it is impossible to acquire peace of mind. Santokh means self control which has to be developed through meditation and prayers. A Sikh has to banish evil thoughts from his mind by constantly repeating Gods name and reciting prayers. Torturing the body or adopting body postures to develop self-control is not advocated in Sikhism.

ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਦਇਆ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਏਹ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰ ॥
Sat Santhokh Dhaeiaa Kamaavai Eaeh Karanee Saar ||
Practice truth, contentment and kindness; this is the most excellent way of life.

ਆਪੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਸਭ ਹੋਇ ਰੇਣਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਦੇਇ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ ॥੩॥
Aap Shhodd Sabh Hoe Raenaa Jis Dhaee Prabh Nirankaar ||3||
One who is so blessed by the formless God renounces selfishness, and becomes the dust of all. ||3||

~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Arjan, Sri Raag, Ang 51

Daya – compassion, kindness

The exercise of Daya, or compassion, involves considering another's difficulty or sorrow as one's own and helping to relieve it as far as possible. Compassion also includes the overlooking of imperfections and mistakes of others, for to err is human.

ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਸਗਲ ਪੁੰਨ ਜੀਅ ਦਇਆ ਪਰਵਾਨੁ ॥
Athasath Theerathh Sagal Punn Jeea Dhaeiaa Paravaan ||
Be kind to all beings-this is more meritorious than bathing at the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage and the giving of charity.

~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Arjan, Raag Maajh, Ang 136

Nimrata – humililty, benevolence

Nimrata means 'humility', 'benevolence' or 'humbleness' and is a virtue that is vigorously promoted by Gurbani. Someone whose mind is not poisoned by the thought that they are better or more important than others. This is a very important quality for all humans to nurture and one that is an essential part of a Sikh's mindset and must accompany the Sikh at all times.

ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਸਮਾਹਾ ॥
Brahm Giaanee Kai Gareebee Samaahaa ||
The God-conscious being is steeped in humility.

~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Arjan, Raag Gauri, Ang 273

Pyaar – love

Pyaar requires Sikhs to be filled with the love of God and God's creations. When one's mind is full of love, one will overlook deficiencies in others and accept them wholeheartedly as a product of God. The Sikh Gurus taught that to achieve the highest goals it was important to work hard at developing positive qualities which lead the soul closer to God. In order to reach the final goal of life, Sikhs believe that they must constantly develop their love for God by developing compassion for all God’s creation.

ਭੈ ਕੇ ਚਰਣ ਕਰ ਭਾਵ ਕੇ ਲੋਇਣ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਕਰੇਇ ॥
Bhai Kae Charan Kar Bhaav Kae Loein Surath Karaee ||
Let the fear of God be your feet, and let God's love be your hands; let God's understanding be your eyes.

~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Arjan, Raag Maajh, Ang 139

Hukam (Command)

Hukam (Punjabi: ਹੁਕਮਿ) is a Punjabi word derived from the Arabic hukam, meaning "command" or "divine order." In Sikhism, Hukam represents the goal of becoming in harmony with the will of God and thus attaining inner peace. It is by the command of Waheguru that we are born and pass away. The whole of the Universe is subject to the Hukam of the Creator God. Nothing ever happens without the Will of God. This is accepted as one of the primary concepts of Sikhism. For the Sikh, the acceptance of God's Hukam is a concept that needs to be learnt and understood.

Ik Onkār (One God) - God In Sikhism

In Sikhism, the concept of "God" is Waheguru - shapeless, timeless, and invisible (ie. unable to be seen with the physical eye); niraṅkār, akaal, and alakh. God is omnipresent and infinite with power over everything, and is signified by many terms like 'Ik Onkar'. Sikhs believe that before creation, all that existed was "God" and "God's" hukam (will or order). There are many names for God, the One Supreme reality, or the all-pervading spirit (which is taken to mean god) in Sikhism. God is Akaal Purkh (beyond time and space) and Nirankar (without form). In addition, Guru Nanak wrote that there are many worlds on which God created life.

Guru Nanak stated that the understanding of Akaal (God) is beyond human beings, but at the same time not wholly unknowable. Akaal is omnipresent (sarav viāpak) in all creation and visible everywhere to the spiritually awakened. Guru Nanak stressed that god must be seen from through the 'heart', of a human being; Sikhs must pray to progress towards enlightenment. Guru Nanak emphasized the revelation through prayer, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between god and human beings.

Panentheistic

Sikhism is a monistic form of monotheistic (panentheistic) religion. Panentheism (meaning "all-in-God", from the Ancient Greek πᾶν pân, "all", ἐν en, "in" and Θεός Theós, "God") is the belief that the divine interpenetrates every part of the universe and also extends beyond time and space. Unlike pantheism, which holds that the divine and the universe are identical, panentheism maintains a distinction between the divine and non-divine and the significance of both.

In pantheism, the universe and everything included in it is equal to the divine. In panentheism, the universe and the divine are not ontologically equivalent. God is instead viewed as the soul of the universe, the universal spirit present everywhere, in everything and everyone, at all times.

The classical monotheistic view is that God is of a wholly different substance than that which God 'creates' (ie. the universe) whereas the pantheistic/ panentheistic view is that the creator and creation are one substance. The distinction between the two latter views is that while pantheism posits the creation is all there is to this God, panentheism sees God as existing also distinctly (transcendently) from creation. Sikh belief aligns itself to the panentheistic view.

Women In Sikhism

Daughters Of The Khalsa

The role of women in Sikhism is outlined in the Sikh scriptures, which state that women are equal to men. The principles of Sikhism state that women have the same souls as men and therefore, possess an equal right to cultivate their spirituality.

Women lead religious congregations, take part in the Akhand Paath (the continuous recitation of the Holy Scriptures), perform Kirtan (congregational singing of hymns), work as a Granthi, and participate in all religious, cultural, social, and secular activities.

The Sikh Rehat Maryada makes it clear that Amritdhari Sikh women can administer Amrit and be part of the 'Punj Pyare'. This is the very highest responsibility a Sikh can have. As a result, Sikhism was among the first major world religions to imply that women were equals to men.

All women, regardless of whether they are Sikh or not, are regarded as mothers, sisters or daughters. It is only through the Anand Karaj ceremony that the relationship changes and becomes the union of souls between husband and wife.

Note: God has no gender in Sikhism, though many incorrect english translations may present God as masculine these translations distort the meaning of Gurbani. By stating 'he', 'him', 'his' when referring to God, the wrong impression is given, often this is not the message in the original script. The translators can be accused of severe ignorance and neglect from a womans perspective. Sikh women need to take a stand against these improper and unacceptable inaccurancies. No other religon values women as much as Sikhism. We would encourage all Sikh women to stand forward and lead their families and the community.







Guide To Discover Sikhism