Founder: Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji
No consensus exists on the
origins of this religion. Historians and specialists in
Eastern religions generally believe that Sikhism is a religion fused
together from several others,
originally related to the Bhakti movement within Hinduism
and the Sufi branch of Islam, to which many
independent beliefs and practices were added. Many Sikhs disagree; they believe
that their religion is a direct revelation from God - a religion that was
not derived from either Hinduism or Islam. Sikhs have rejected
the caste system of the Hindu religion. They believe that everyone has equal
status in the eyes of God. This is a very important principle that permeates
all Sikh beliefs, behaviors, and rituals. The goal of Sikhs is to build a
close, loving relationship with God.
The name of the religion means learner.
Its founder was Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, (1469-1538) who was born in the Punjab
area of what is now Pakistan. At Sultanpur, he received a vision to preach the
way to enlightenment and God. He is responsible for the saying "There is
no Hindu, there is no Muslim" which has since become one of the pillars
of Sikhism. Guru Nanak and Panth (his followers) later built the first Sikh
temple at Katarpur.
A succession of nine Gurus (regarded as
reincarnations of Guru Nanak) led the movement during the period from Guru
Nanak's death until 1708. At that time, the functions of the Guru passed to the
Panth and to the holy text, considered the 11th Guru.
In 1801, the Sikh state of Punjab was
founded in Northern India by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. An invasion by Great Britain triggered
the Sikh Wars (1845-1849). The British successfully gained control over all of
India. After independence in 1947, occupied India was partitioned on religious
grounds into a mostly Muslim Pakistan and mostly Hindu India. A mass migration
of Sikhs from Pakistan to India and a reverse migration of Muslims resulted. The
Sikhs have been seeking an independent homeland since the late 1940's.
The Five K's: These are clothing
practices followed by stricter Sikhs, called Khalsa saints:
Kesa (long hair, which is never
Kacha (short pants)
Kara (metal bracelet)
Kirpan (a ceremonial dagger)
They believe in a single, Formless God,
with many names, who can be known through meditation.
They believe in samsara (the repetitive cycle of birth, life and death), karma (the
accumulated sum of one's good and bad deeds, and reincarnation the belief of
a rebirth following death. These beliefs are similar to Hinduism.
They believe praying multiple times
They do not
worship idols, images, or icons.