Sikhism

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Whether Sikhism is a part of the religion as enunciated in the Constitution of India[1] or a separate and independent religion, depends on the way one looks at it. If its acceptance of the theory of karma and rebirth, sansāra[2] and mukti[3] through jñāna[4] and bhakti[5] are the criterion then it becomes a part of the religion.

If its rejection of the Vedic religion of sacrifices and rituals, the vehement criticism of the caste system and denunciation of image worship are given prominence, it can be considered as being outside the pale of orthodox religion. It may be safer to assume that it is a vigorous reform movement against the degenerated forms of the religion that existed during its origin and growth.

The Gurus

Guru Nānak lived in A. D. 1469-1539. He was the founder of Sikhism. He was followed by a succession of nine more Gurus, the pontifical tradition ending with Guru Gobind Singh,[6] the tenth in the series. Though each one of them contributed to the growth and success of the Sikh movement, the benefaction of the last Guru was, by any standard more significant. It was Guru Gobind Singh who transformed Sikhism into a dynamic religion and the Sikhs into a race of warriors in defense of their dharma. He also terminated the Guru-tradition with himself as the last Guru and declared that the Granth Sāhib would hereafter fill that place with all the respect due to the Guru and has to be venerated as such.

Guru Granth Sāhib

The Guru Granth Sāhib is the significant scripture of the Sikhs just as the Vedas are for the Hindus, the Bible for the Christians and the Quran for the Muslims. It was compiled by Guru Arjan Dev[7] in A. D. 1604 with the help of Bhai Gurudas. It is also called Ādi Granth.[8] The Daśam Granth is the secondary scripture containing the writings of the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh. Some of its hymns are used in Sikh worship.

Metaphysics

Aspects of Sikhism

Sikhism accepts only one God. He can have two aspects:

  1. Nirguṇa - One without attributes. It is called Ek-Oṅkār.
  2. Saguṇa - One with attributes. It is called Oṅkār.

In reality these two aspects are one and the same. God endowed with his power of māyā is the creator of this universe. In this aspect, he is also called Parabrahmā and īśvara. He is dayālu[9] and kṛpālu.[10] Thus he becomes an object of worship and devotion.

Evils of Human Being

Māyā has the peculiar power of concealing God and give rise to five evils which bind the human beings. They are:

  1. Kāma - lust
  2. Krodha - anger
  3. Lobha - greed
  4. Moha - infatuation
  5. Ahaṅkāra - egoism, pride

Human beings can free themselves from these five evils only by the grace of God. According to Sikhism God does not incarnate himself in this world.

Other Names of God as per Sikhism

Other names used for God are:

  1. Satnāma - Holy name
  2. Kartār - Creator
  3. Akāl - Eternal
  4. Allāh
  5. Khudā
  6. Paravardigār - Cherisher

In later literature, Wahe-guru is also used as his name.

Ideology of Sikhism

  • Man is an embodied soul.
  • The soul is immortal but the body is not.
  • Man as the soul is like a spark from a blazing fire or like the water of the ocean kept in a tumbler.
  • Body is the greatest bondage.
  • To get mokṣa or liberation, he has to put an end to transmigration.
  • Bondage has been caused by the five evils stated above.
  • When the divinity in him makes him gurumukh[11] and prevents him from becoming manmukh.[12]
  • He surrenders to the will of God and is freed by His grace.
  • This world is a wonderful creation of God, his līlā or sport.
  • It is real but dependent on him.
  • Hence everyone has to perform his duty properly, please God by it and win his release by His grace.
  • Man can realize God only with the help of a sadguru.
  • To realize the Nirguṇa aspect he has to follow the path of jñāna consisting of three steps:
  1. Suniyai - śravaṇa or listening to the guru
  2. Mannai - manana or pondering over it
  3. Dhyāna - nididhyāsana or deep meditation
  • To realize the Saguṇa aspect or īśvara, the path of devotion has to be adopted.
  • Here nāmasumirana[13] or constant utterance of God’s name is also the total surrender to him are the disciplines recommended.
  • Release comes by the grace of God which is his gift.
  • The released soul attains Sac-khaṇḍ, the eternal abode of God and lives there happily.
  • The unreleased soul has to undergo countless rebirths according to his karma.

Epilogue

It can be thus concluded that Sikhism and Hinduism have many things in common. It is also a historical fact that the Sikhs have often fought for and even sacrificed their lives in defense of the religion. Consequently, the social relationship between the Sikhs and the Hindus is quite close and intimate.

References

  1. Article 25.2 explanation 11
  2. Sansāra means transmigratory existence.
  3. Mukti means liberation.
  4. Jñāna means knowledge.
  5. Bhakti means devotion to God and faith in his grace.
  6. He lived in A. D. 1666-1708.
  7. He lived in A.D. 1563-1606.
  8. Adi granth means the Original or the Primary Book.
  9. Dayālu means kind.
  10. Kṛpālu means benevolent.
  11. Gurumukh means turn towards God.
  12. Manmukh means turn towards the evils of the mind.
  13. Nāmasumirana means nāma-smaraṇa.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore