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Sikhism. Homeland of Sikhism is the Punjab area of India Sihism is a young faith (only from the 15 th century) An example of successful eclecticism Both Hindu and Muslim elements in its doctrines The word “ Sikh ” means disciple

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Homeland of Sikhism is the Punjab area of India

Sihism is a young faith (only from the 15th century)

An example of successful eclecticism

Both Hindu and Muslim elements in its doctrines

The word “Sikh” means disciple

India was invaded by the Muslims in the early 8th century (Mohammad: 510-632 AD)

Islam was a threat to Hindu rule

By the 15th century, Hindu reaction and resentment had grown to the point where several reform movements emerged

These were Hindu in spirit, but paralleled the Islamic criticisms of Indian religion

Two reformers:

Kabir (1440-1518)

Nanak (1469-1539)

  • Son of Muslim parents
  • Taught that Hindus and Muslims were brothers
  • He followed neither the Vedas nor the Koran
  • He opposed caste, idolatry and externalism
  • He disliked the external forms of religion…….
    • Ritual
    • Scripture
    • Pilgrimage
    • Asceticism
    • Bathing in the Ganges
  • …if these are not accompanied by inward sincerity, or morality of life
  • His credo: “simple love of God”
  • Anecdote: fresh milk for ancestors
  • One of his disciples was Nanak…
Guru Nanak (1469-1539)
  • A disciple of Kabir
  • The “founder” of Sikhism
  • Nanak lived at about the same time as Luther and Calvin
  • His personal history is a mixture of fact and legend
  • Born in a Kshatriya family
  • Was sickly, meditative, and dreamy
  • Married at age 19; 2 sons
  • He was raised on Hindu sacred texts
  • He never intended to “found” a new religion, just to reform Hinduism
    • Hinduism had too many empty rituals and forgot the passion of faith
    • Like Muhammed; like Jesus in the temple (vs $ changers), vs idol worship (Johar 81)
  • Familiar with the Vedas and Upanishads, but did not subscribe to them
  • He also studied the Koran
  • His father wished him to become an accountant, but he chose the contemplative life instead; he rejected the “sacred thread ceremony” of Hinduism; he was not satisfied with formal Hinduism or with Muslim intellectuals
  • Faithful to the morning devotions; he would rise before dawn to meditate
  • He loved to sing
In 1497. at the age of 30, he had a mystical experience while doing devotions at the Bein Stream
    • Cole, p 9f; Johar p 5f
    • An experience equal to that of Is 6:1, B. Gita, ch 11, or Matt 3:16
    • His experience when worshipping in a Muslim mosque
      • The concern of the Imam
    • Anecdote concerning his death
      • On his deathbed, Hindus and Muslims quarrelled over the disposition of his body
      • Blooming flowers in the morning
Nanak was the first of a line of 10 human Gurus
  • “Guru” means “guide” or teacher
  • Nanak,
  • Angad (1504-1552) he was appointed to carry on; he stressed physical fitness and the langar (community kitchen) where all people can sit together and share a common meal in brotherhood and genuine fellowship,
  • Amar Das, Ram Das,
  • Arjun (1563-1606) was the first Guru to have born a Sikh; developed the Sacred Scripture and the Sacred City; was a martyr,
  • Har Govind (1595-1644) developed the “two swords”,
  • Har Rai, Har K’ishan, Tegh Bahadur (was a martyr for Hinduism),
  • Gobing Singh (1666-1708) developed the Khalsa (community of the pure); developed the 5 “K”s; held to the authority of the Adi Granth (scripture)
Guru Gobind Singh proclaimed that the line of Gurus was at an end and that thereafter, the Sikhs were to regard the Adi Granth as the Living symbol of the 10 Gurus.
  • The origin of the Adi Granth lies in the hymns of Guru Nanak
    • “Adi Granth” was an earlier title for the scripture
    • “Adi” means first or original (in terms of importance)
    • “Granth” means collection or anthology, a book
    • Later, after 1708, the title came to be (Shri) Guru Granth Sahib as a more respectful title. This means the “venerable book.”
  • It is the “earthly Guru,” considered to be a visible representation of the invisible God.
  • The Adi Granth is more revered by the Sikhs than the Torah by the Jews, the Bible by the Christians, or the Koran by the Muslims
  • It is the Deity of the shrine or Gurdwara and is treated as if it was real.
  • Every copy is said to be identical with every other (1,430 pages)
  • This, the Sikh Scripture is considered to be very sacred and is highly revered
    • You never sit higher than the scripture; you dust it off periodically; you “put it to bed every night”
  • Guru Arjun’s compilation was intended to be definitive, and it was definitive
The Adi Granth consists of 1,430 pages
    • Textual form is poetry (Johar 131)
    • Kirtan Johar 131
    • Its medium is music
    • Songs and music are central in Sikhism
  • Almost 6,000 hymns (uses – Dictionary of Living Rels 4)
  • Includes many hymns of Guru Nanak
  • First section is the Japji or “recitation”
    • 38 hymns or stanzas
    • The Japji begins with the Mool Mantra or “root belief” WS 31
    • An opening prayer or preamble Cole 69
    • Nanak is said to have recited this upon his call to mission
    • In the Japji is the quintessence of Guru Nanak’s teaching (like the Gita or NT)
  • Sikhs are expected to rise before dawn, bathe, and recite the Japji
  • The sense of the central importance of the right inner spiritual attitudes to the One God pervades the Adi Granth
The major theme in the Adi Granth
    • Man’s search for God
    • His longings and yearning for God (cf St Augustine)
    • Man’s intense love for God (the Creator and Destroyer)
    • To feel God’s presence and to live a healthy and clean life mentally, physically, and spiritually
  • Its major concern is soteriology (enabling the hearer or reader to realized essential unity with God).
  • There are no mythological narratives, though God is described in anthropomorphic terms and the Gurus are not afraid to use the imagery of family relationships to describe the union of God and man
  • Close textual study of the Adi Granth is something which Sikh scholars have yet to undertake
A Sikh is one who believes in the Ten Gurus and the Adi Granth
  • Guru (God); Bani (sacred words); Sangat (congregation)
  • “Wherever five Sikhs are gathered—there am I”
  • 3 institutions in Sikhism
    • Amrit (nectar) – initiation into the community
    • Sangat (congregation) worshipping community
    • Langar (community kitchen) eating together
The Golden Temple of God
  • Guru Arjun also built for the Sikhs the Temple of God or Golden Temple
  • Located at the Pool of Amritsar (the pool of immortality)
  • The Golden Temple was built in 1577
  • First called Harmander (Temple of God); later called Golden Temple
  • The most sacred shrine in Sikhism
  • It is open on all four sides, thus to each caste
  • Guru Arjun appointed his son as the 6th Guru and gave him 2 swords
    • One for spiritual power
    • One for temporal power
    • “Let him sit armed upon the throne and maintain an army to the best of his ability
  • Guru Arjun was a martyr
  • His martyrdom created a gulf between the Sikhs and the Muslims and ended the pacifist phase of Sikhism
The Tenth Guru, Gobind Singh
  • In 1699 created the Khalsa (military fraternity), the Community of the Pure
  • Its creation, through “baptism of the sword”
    • 3 men were “offered”
  • Men took the title “Singh” (lion)
  • Women took the title “Kaur” (Princess)
  • The Punjab Sikhs were not reluctant to fight to preserve their existence
  • The “5 Ks” became a distinguishing characteristic of all Sikhs (sense of brotherhood)
    • Kesh: Hair and beard uncut (positive)
    • Kangha: Comb (negative)
    • Kachcha: short trousers
    • Kara: steel bracelet (negative)
    • Kirpan: sword (positive)
    • More…..
Hair is a symbol of manliness, virility, honor, energy, dynamism, power (Samson); also a symbol of spirituality; aggressiveness, assertiveness
  • Comb is necessary for keeping the hair clean and tidy. It grooms the hair, keeps the hairknot in place, and symbolizes the discipline of the mind. A Sikh is reminded to keep his mind under control
  • Hair and comb form a complementary pair. Each evokes the meaning of the other. A combination of two different forces
  • Steel bracelet is an unbreakable link to the faith, the Khalsa and brother Sikhs. It represents the unbroken continuity of existence. Symbolic of strength and of kharma. Strong, but resilient
  • Sword: the bracelet controls the sword as the comb controls the hair. It represents the cutting of ignorance, and separates the transient individual self from the universal, immortal self. A declaration of sovereignty over oneself. It is also a symbol of freedom from oppression and servility; affirmation of self-respect. The sword in the mind cuts the root of ignorance, & worldly attachment
  • Kachcha: Symbolizes the spiritual and mental breakaway from traditional dress and thought
  • The primary meaning of the 5 symbols lies in the ritual combination of 2 different forces: like a subject and an object
    • Long hair and sword: assertive of forceful human potential
    • The comb, bracelet, and short trousers: represent moral constraint and discrimination
View of God (Saguna Brahman)
  • Especially from the personal experiences of the Gurus themselves, Sikhism derives its view of the uniqueness and personality of God
  • Central: the sovereignty of the one God, the Creator, sustainer, and destroyer of the world
  • Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are there, but as aspects of the One God. They have no independent existence
  • Nanak called his God Sat Nam (True Name) because he wanted to avoid delimiting terms for God, like Allah, Shiva, Rama, etc.
  • He felt God could be called by many names (but was above all names)
  • God is one, supreme, uncreated creator of all things, beyond birth, death, and rebirth, omnipresent and supreme truth WS 68, 76
  • God is both immanent and transcendent WS 72, 73
  • God has no incarnations and cannot be represented by idols
  • The Hindu doctrine of avatars is rejected Cole, 97
  • The Guru, though perfect and sinless, is not divine
  • God is omnipresent (Cole, 12 feet & Kaaba in Mecca) a true Muslim WS 615
  • Unity and fraternity (unity of God and the brotherhood of man)
  • Because God is real, the world as created by God, is also real
  • The world is “real” because made real to the senses, but ultimately unreal because only God is ultimately real. Two levels of truth
  • From Hinduism, Sikhism derives its belief in the periodic creation and dissolution of the world
  • Creation is a continuing process (vs deism); God continually works in the world
  • Creation has a purpose, but it is not revealed to man. It can be seen in creation by one who cuts attachments to the world and its values.
  • When man destroys his selfishness and attains his true nature, it will be revealed to him
Human being and the human problem
  • Man is the highest being in creation; the most privileged creature of God
  • Highest concentration of reason and consciousness
  • Women are highly revered Johar 138
  • The human’s inner essence is the atman, the divine element within him
  • Our present state is a degenerate condition
  • Evil comes from being immersed in the illusions of the world, instead of being filled with God’s goodness WS 136
  • The Hindu doctrine of maya is accepted, but it does not have the connotation of pure illusion; maya is changeableness Cole 82-83
  • Maya: images of handcuffs, a net, a snare
  • Material objects may build a “wall of falsehood” around those who live in the mundane world of the senses WS 290
  • Five sins: lust (WS 336); anger; greed (WS 296); attachment (WS 676); and pride (WS 289)
  • These are the usual forms ascribed to maya
  • The pure atman becomes impure by the attachment of these passions
Four misdeeds: shaving/trimming the hair; eating meat of animals killed in the Muslim style; smoking tobacco or drinking intoxicants; committing adultery or immoral living
  • Haumai (pride): selfishness or self-centeredness; full of evil passions WS 322
  • We should not try to escape from the world, but try to live to our fullest potential of righteousness in the world
  • The world is like God’s garden WS 90
  • The world exists for man to use and enjoy; it is not to be regarded as evil
  • The Hindu notions of karma and rebirth are accepted WS 122-23
  • Following Hindu belief, man is reborn because of the influence of past karma
  • Although his essential nature contains a part of God, evil thoughts and evil deeds keep him separated from God
  • We prolong the round of rebirth by living apart from God, by choosing through egoism and sensuous desire life in the world (maya) in preference to ego-abandoning absorption in God. This accumulates karma
  • “He who conquers himself, conquers the world.”
  • Suffering is all due to ignorance (and haumai)
Salvation (WS 104)
  • We must cleanse the atman of evil passions and become God-centered
  • Destroy haumai (WS 292)
  • Attachment to maya is to be replaced by attachment to God
  • This is done through Nam Simran (Submission to the will and purpose of God)
A transitional process from being “self-centered” (haumai) to being “God-centered” (liberated from the wheel of birth)
  • The enlightened person grasps intuitively that he/she is one with God
  • The perceived unity can only become daily experience in mortal existence through discipline
  • This Sikh spiritual discipline is called Nam Simran
  • A “meditation on God’s name”
  • Meditate on God’s name; let it percolate into the heart to produce a “nectar”
  • Nam Simran is not a mere saying of words, but is a transforming of personality through practice
  • Very similar to the Unification concept of “resurrection”
  • Nam Simran results in a life of service to others
  • One becomes “God filled” (gurmukh) WS 280
Salvation is not going to Paradise after a last judgement, but is absorption in God, the True Name, the Infinite Soul
  • Nevertheless, this is not a complete loss of personality
  • This process requires a guru
Five stages of human development
  • 1. Stage of piety
    • All human beings are born into this realm; if they practice devotion, they may reach the realm of…
  • 2. Stage of knowledge
    • A person becomes aware of the vastness of the universe and the mystery of existence. A seeker may pass to…
  • 3. Stage of effort
    • Here the mind and intellect become perfected or attuned to God. A person has now gone as far as they can in developing their natural gifts. With God’s help….
  • 4. Stage of grace
    • This is only possible with the help of spiritual strength which comes from God.
    • “If man goes one step towards him, the Lord comes a thousand steps towards man.”
  • 5. Stage of Sah Khand
    • The is the region of truth where God exists in his formless state. It cannot be described, but only experienced by the liberated soul
  • All of these require a Guru, as a guide
Conduct/ethics (work, worship, charity)
  • The principal vice is self-centeredness (haumai)
    • Manifested as: lust, anger, greed, materialism, pride
  • Since God is truth, sincerity and authenticity are at the heart of Sikh ethics
  • One should seek the truth from a Guru and repeat the name of God
  • Do everything with a loving and pure heart
  • “The Sikh is to lead a healthy, normal life, serving his fellow human beings
  • Husband and wife WS 174 Cole 116, 142
  • [Singh, “The Sikhs” p 12]
  • A Sikh is to be a Brahman in piety

a Kshatriya in defense of the weak

a Vaishya in industriousness

a Sudra in serving his/her fellow human beings

  • All the Hindu “castes” (or their qualities) are to be embodied in one person