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Sikhism – A Brief Description


Sikh Temple Armritsar


Background
  • Born from the borders between the countries we now call India and Pakistan, Sikhism is a 15th century religion that has become one of the largest religions in the modern world. Although most people identify Sikhs by the turbans and beards. Sikh men wear, Sikhism is much more than meets the eye.
  • A famous teacher, Guru Nanak, was a great teacher who began the religion. Nanak has an extensive biography but the prominent points in his life set the basis for Sikhism. Nanak was said to have divine qualities and at the age of 30 had a vision where he met God. In this vision, God gave Nanak instructions on how to properly worship him.
  • Through this devotional worship, which remembers and praises the Lord, a Sikh is able to attain not heaven but rather liberation and entrance into Akal. Akal literally means “without death” or perhaps “without time” (aka timeless). However, its meaning in Sikhism refers to the entirety of existence. Therefore, union with Akal is akin to reaching a heavenly state of being where one achieves union with the divine.
  • After Nanak, there were nine other gurus. This sequence of prominent teachers ended with Guru Gobind Singh who lived in the 17th century. The word guru in Sanskrit means “teacher” or “mentor” and is also used to describe the continuing divine authority for Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, which is not actually a person but rather a holy book. The Guru Granth Sahib itself exists as the 11th guru of the Sikh tradition. Although the real life gurus of Sikhism compiled it, the scripture acts as the endearing authority for Sikhs. In the book are a collection of hymns that praise God and elaborate upon core Sikh teachings.
  • Sikhism teaches that an individual soul travels through many births and deaths until that soul is reborn in human form where the person is able to live a virtuous life. During that virtuous life, Sikhs balance their spiritual life with their house-holding life in order to moderate between extreme acetic practices like renunciation and fasting and completely giving in to temptations and sinful acts. Many Sikhs join the Khalsa, an organization of Sikh adults who have taken vows to live a lawful and righteous life according to ancient principles.
  • In accordance to the Khalsa’s laws, adult male Sikhs do not cut their hair and are obligated to keep it covered with a turban and ceremonial sword called a Kirpan. As such, when one thinks of Sikhs one often thinks of men with long beards and turbans held together with a small dagger, often hidden and ceremonial in nature.



Sikh Temple Armritsar