By Jueseppi B.
Americans can learn quite a bit from Sikhism.
Sikhism (/ˈsiːkɨzəm/ or /ˈsɪkɨzəm/; Punjabi: ਸਿੱਖੀ, sikkhī, IPA: [ˈsɪkːʰiː]) is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh gurus (the last teaching being the holy scripture Gurū Granth Sāhib Ji). It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with over 30 million Sikhs and one of the most steadily growing. This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as the Gurmat (literally ‘wisdom of the Gurū’). Punjab, India is the only region in the world with a majority Sikh population.
Sikhs are expected to embody the qualities of a “Sant-Sipāhī”—a saint-soldier. One must have control over one’s internal vices and be able to be constantly immersed in virtues clarified in the Guru Granth Sahib. A Sikh must also have the courage to defend the rights of all who are wrongfully oppressed or persecuted irrespective of religion, colour, caste or creed.
The principal beliefs of Sikhi are faith in Waheguru—represented by the phrase ik ōaṅkār, meaning one God, along with a praxis in which the Sikh is enjoined to engage in social reform through the pursuit of justice for all human beings. Sikhi advocates the pursuit of salvation in a social context through the congregational practice meditation on the name and message of God.
The followers of Sikhi are ordained to follow the teachings of the ten Sikh gurus, or enlightened leaders, as well as the holy scripture entitled the Gurū Granth Sāhib Ji, which, along with the writings of six of the ten Sikh Gurus, includes selected works of many devotees from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth guru, conferred the leadership of the Sikh community to the Gurū Granth Sāhib and the corporate body of the Khālsā Panth (the Granth and the Panth).
Sikhi’s traditions and teachings are associated with the history, society and culture of Punjab. Adherents of Sikhī are known as Sikhs (students or disciples) and number over 30 million across the world.
Most Sikhs live in Punjab, India, although there is a significant Sikh diaspora. Until the Partition of India with the division of Punjab and the subsequent independence of Pakistan and later India, millions of Sikhs lived in what is now Pakistani Punjab.
Philosophy and teachings
The Harimandir Sahib, known popularly as the Golden Temple, is a sacred shrine for Sikhs.
The origins of Sikhi lie in the teachings of Guru Nanak and his successors. The essence of Sikh teaching is summed up by Nanak in these words: “Realization of Truth is higher than all else. Higher still is truthful living”. Sikh teaching emphasizes the principle of equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, and gender. Sikh principles encourage living life as a householder.
Sikhi is a monotheistic and a revealed religion. In Sikhi, God—termed Vāhigurū—is shapeless, timeless, and sightless: niraṅkār, akaal, and alakh. The beginning of the first composition of Sikh scripture is the figure “1“—signifying the universality of God. It states that God is omnipresent and infinite with power over everything, and is signified by the term ēk ōaṅkār. Sikhs believe that before creation, all that existed was God and God’s hukam (will or order). When God willed, the entire cosmos was created. From these beginnings, God nurtured “enticement and attachment” to māyā, or the human perception of reality.
While a full understanding of God is beyond human beings, Nanak described God as not wholly unknowable. God is omnipresent (sarav viāpak) in all creation and visible everywhere to the spiritually awakened. Nanak stressed that God must be seen from “the inward eye”, or the “heart”, of a human being: devotees must meditate to progress towards enlightenment. Guru Nanak Dev emphasized the revelation through meditation, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between God and human beings.
God has no gender in Sikhi, (though translations may incorrectly present a male God); indeed Sikhi teaches that God is “Akaal Purkh” with characteristic of “Nirankar” [Niran meaning "without" and kar meaning "form", hence "without form"]. In addition, Nanak wrote that there are many worlds on which God has created life.
Pursuing salvation and Khalsa
Guru Nanak‘s teachings are founded not on a final destination of heaven or hell, but on a spiritual union with God which results in salvation. The official Khalsa Code of Conduct laid out by the tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, makes it clear that human birth is obtained with great fortune, therefore one needs to be able to make the most of this chance. The Sikhs believe in living ‘Chakar Vati’ – roaming free as freedom, not as slaves or be oppressed.
Māyā—defined as illusion or “unreality”—is one of the core deviations from the pursuit of God and salvation: people are distracted from devotion by worldly attractions which give only illusive satisfaction. However, Nanak emphasised māyā as not a reference to the unreality of the world, but of its values. In Sikhi, the influences of ego, anger, greed,attachment, and lust—known as the Five Evils—are believed to be particularly pernicious. The fate of people vulnerable to the Five Evils is separation from God, and the situation may be remedied only after intensive and relentless devotion.
Nśabad (the divine Word) emphasizes the totality of the revelation. Nanak designated the word guru (meaning teacher) as the voice of God and the source and guide for knowledge and salvation. Salvation can be reached only through rigorous and disciplined devotion to God. Nanak distinctly emphasised the irrelevance of outward observations such as rites, pilgrimages, or asceticism. He stressed that devotion must take place through the heart, with the spirit and the soul. According to Gurbani the supreme purpose of human life is to reconnect with Truth.
However, our Ego is the biggest disease in the reunion with Truth / God and the solution to this disease also lies within human ego (mind and body). With Guru’s grace the seeker meditates honestly on “Word” which leads to the end of ego. Guru is indistinguishable from God and are one and same thing as God which cannot be found with thousands of wisdoms. One gets connected with Guru only with accumulation of selfless search of truth.
Ultimately the seeker realizes that it is the consciousness within the body which is seeker / follower and Word is true Guru. Human body is just a means to achieve the reunion with Truth. Truth is a form of matter which lies within human body but is beyond the realm of time / death. Once truth starts to shine in a person’s heart, the essence of current and past holy books of all religions is understood by the person.
A key practice to be pursued is nām: remembrance of the divine Name. The verbal repetition of the name of God or a sacred syllable is an established practice in religious traditions in India, but Nanak’s interpretation emphasized inward, personal observance. Nanak’s ideal is the total exposure of one’s being to the divine Name and a total conforming to Dharma or the “Divine Order”. Nanak described the result of the disciplined application of nām simraṇ as a “growing towards and into God” through a gradual process of five stages. The last of these is sach khaṇḍ (The Realm of Truth)—the final union of the spirit with God.
Guru Nanak stressed now kirat karō: that a Sikh should balance work, worship, and charity, and should defend the rights of all creatures, and in particular, fellow human beings. They are encouraged to have a chaṛdī kalā, or optimistic, view of life. Sikh teachings also stress the concept of sharing—vaṇḍ chakkō—through the distribution of free food at Sikh gurdwaras (laṅgar), giving charitable donations, and working for the good of the community and others (sēvā).
Sikhs believe that no matter what race, sex, or religion one is, all are equal in God’s eyes. Men and women are equal and share the same rights, and women can lead in prayers.
Guru Nanak (1469–1539), the founder of Sikhism, was born in the village of Rāi Bhōi dī Talwandī, now called Nankana Sahib (in present-day Pakistan). His parents were Khatri Hindus of the Bedi clan. As a boy, Nanak was fascinated by God and religion. He would not partake in religious rituals or customs and oddly meditated alone. His desire to explore the mysteries of life eventually led him to leave home and take missionary journeys.
In his early teens, Nanak caught the attention of the local landlord *Rai Bular Bhatti, who was moved by his amazing intellect and divine qualities. *Rai Bular Bhatti was witness to many incidents in which Nanak enchanted him and as a result *Rai Bular Bhatti and Nanak’s sister Bibi Nanki, became the first persons to recognise the divine qualities in Nanak. Both of them then encouraged and supported Nanak to study and travel. At the age of thirty, Nanak went missing and was presumed to have drowned after going for one of his morning baths to a local stream called the Kali Bein. On the day he arrived, he declared: “There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim” (in Punjabi, “nā kōi hindū nā kōi musalmān“).
It was from this moment that Nanak would begin to spread the teachings of what was then the beginning of Sikhi. Although the exact account of his itinerary is disputed, he is widely acknowledged to have made five major journeys, spanning thousands of miles, the first tour being east towards Bengal and Assam, the second south towards Andhra and Tamil Nadu, the third north towards Kashmir, Ladakh, and Tibet, and the fourth tour west towards Baghdad and Mecca. In his last and final tour, he returned to the banks of the Ravi River to end his days.
Observant Sikhs adhere to long-standing practices and traditions to strengthen and express their faith. The daily recitation from memory of specific passages from the Gurū Granth Sāhib, especially the Japu (or Japjī, literally chant) hymns is recommended immediately after rising and bathing. Family customs include both reading passages from the scripture and attending the gurdwara (also gurduārā, meaning the doorway to God; sometimes transliterated as gurudwara). There are many gurdwaras prominently constructed and maintained across India, as well as in almost every nation where Sikhs reside. Gurdwaras are open to all, regardless of religion, background, caste, or race.
Worship in a gurdwara consists chiefly of singing of passages from the scripture. Sikhs will commonly enter the gurdwara, touch the ground before the holy scripture with their foreheads. The recitation of the eighteenth century ardās is also customary for attending Sikhs. The ardās recalls past sufferings and glories of the community, invoking divine grace for all humanity.
The Sikh faith also participates in the custom of “Langar” or the community meal. All gurdwaras are open to anyone of any faith for a free meal. People can enter and eat together and are served by faithful members of the community. This is the main cost associated with gurdwaras and where monetary donations are primarily spent.
Technically, there are no festivals in Sikhism. However, the events mostly centred around the lives of the Gurus and Sikh martyrs are commemorated. The SGPC, the Sikh organisation in charge of upkeep of the historical gurdwaras of Punjab, organises celebrations based on the new Nanakshahi calendar. This calendar is highly controversial among Sikhs and is not universally accepted. Sikh festivals include the following:
- Gurpurabs are celebrations or commemorations based on the lives of the Sikh gurus. They tend to be either birthdays or celebrations of Sikh martyrdom. All ten Gurus have Gurpurabs on the Nanakshahi calendar, but it is Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh who have a gurpurab that is widely celebrated in Gurdwaras and Sikh homes. The martyrdoms are also known as a shaheedi Gurpurabs, which mark the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Tegh Bahadur.
- Baisakhi occurs on 13 April. Sikhs celebrate it because on this day which fell on 30 March 1699, the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, inaugurated the Khalsa, the 11th body of Guru Granth Sahib and leader of Sikhs till eternity.
- Bandi Chhor celebrates Guru Hargobind’s release from the Gwalior Fort, with several innocent Hindu kings who were also imprisoned by Jahangir, on 26 October 1619. This day usually commemorated on the same day of Hindu festival of Diwali.
- Hola Mohalla occurs the day after Holi and is when the Khalsa gather at Anandpur and display their individual and team warrior skills, including fighting and riding. Cannabis or Bhang is also pounded by the Sikhs on this day.
Ceremonies and customs
Guru Nanak Dev Ji taught that rituals, religious ceremonies, or idol worship are of little use and Sikhs are discouraged from fasting or going on pilgrimages. Sikhs do not believe in converting people but converts to Sikhi by choice are welcomed. The morning and evening prayers take about two hours a day, starting in the very early morning hours. The first morning prayer is Guru Nanak’s Jap Ji. Jap, meaning “recitation”, refers to the use of sound, as the best way of approaching the divine. Like combing hair, hearing and reciting the sacred word is used as a way to comb all negative thoughts out of the mind.
The second morning prayer is Guru Gobind Singh’s universal Jaap Sahib. The Guru addresses God as having no form, no country, and no religion but as the seed of seeds, sun of suns, and the song of songs. The Jaap Sahib asserts that God is the cause of conflict as well as peace, and of destruction as well as creation. Devotees learn that there is nothing outside of God’s presence, nothing outside of God’s control. Devout Sikhs are encouraged to begin the day with private meditations on the name of God.
Upon a child’s birth, the Guru Granth Sahib is opened at a random point and the child is named using the first letter on the top left hand corner of the left page. All boys are given the last name Singh, and all girls are given the last name Kaur (this was a once a title which was conferred on an individual at joining the Khalsa). Sikhs are joined in wedlock through the anand kāraj ceremony.
Sikhs are required to marry when they are of a sufficient age (child marriage is taboo), and without regard for the future spouse’s caste or descent. The marriage ceremony is performed in the company of the Guru Granth Sahib; around which the couple circles four times. After the ceremony is complete, the husband and wife are considered “a single soul in two bodies.”
According to Sikh religious rites, neither husband nor wife is permitted to divorce unless special circumstances arise. A Sikh couple that wishes to divorce may be able to do so in a civil court. Upon death, the body of a Sikh is usually cremated. If this is not possible, any means of disposing the body may be employed. The kīrtan sōhilā and ardās prayers are performed during the funeral ceremony (known as antim sanskār).
Worldwide, there are 25.8 million Sikhs, which make up only 0.39% of the world’s population. Approximately 75% of Sikhs live in the Punjab, where they constitute about 60% of the state’s population. Even though there are a large number of Sikhs in the world, certain countries have not recognized Sikhi as a major religion. Large communities of Sikhs live in the neighboring states such as Indian State of Haryana which is home to the second largest Sikh population in India with 1.1 million Sikhs as per 2001 census, and large communities of Sikhs can be found across India. However, Sikhs only make up about 2% of the Indian population.
Sikh migration beginning from the 19th century led to the creation of significant communities in Canada (predominantly in Brampton, along with British Columbia), East Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the United Kingdom as well as United States and Australia. These communities developed as Sikhs migrated out of Punjab to fill in gaps in imperial labour markets. In the early twentieth century a significant community began to take shape on the west coast of the United States. Smaller populations of Sikhs are found in within many countries in Western Europe, Mauritius, Malaysia, Fiji, Nepal, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Singapore, Mexico, the United States and many other countries.
Since 1968, thousands of non-Punjabis have taken up the Sikh belief and lifestyle primarily in the United States, Canada, Latin America, the Far East and Australia. These first and second generation Sikhs are of various ethnic backgrounds and include Caucasians, African-American,and Chinese.
Since 2010, the Sikh Directory has organized The Sikh Awards, the first Sikh award ceremony in the world
Prohibitions in Sikhism
There are a number of religious prohibitions in Sikhism.
- Cutting hair: Cutting hair is strictly forbidden in Sikhism. Sikhs are required to keep unshorn hair.
- Intoxication: Consumption of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and other intoxicants is not allowed. Intoxicants are strictly forbidden for a Sikh. However the Nihangs of Punjab take an infusion of cannabis to assist meditation.
- Adultery: In Sikhism, the spouses must be physically and mentally faithful to one another.
- Blind spirituality: Superstitions and rituals should not be observed or followed, including pilgrimages, fasting and ritual purification;circumcision; idols & grave worship; compulsory wearing of the veil for women; etc.
- Material obsession: Obsession with material wealth is not encouraged in Sikhism.
- Sacrifice of creatures: The practice of sati (widows throwing themselves on the funeral pyre of their husbands), ritual animal sacrifice tocelebrate holy occasions, etc. are forbidden.
- Non-family-oriented living: A Sikh is encouraged NOT to live as a recluse, beggar, yogi, monastic (monk/nun) or celibate. Sikhs are to live as saint-soldiers.
- Worthless talk: Bragging, lying, slander, “back-stabbing”, etc. are not permitted. The Guru Granth Sahib tells the Sikh, “Your mouth has not stopped slandering and gossiping about others. Your service is useless and fruitless.”
- Priestly class: Sikhism does not have priests, they were abolished by Guru Gobind Singh (the 10th Guru of Sikhism). The only position he left was a Granthi to look after the Guru Granth Sahib, any Sikh is free to become Granthi or read from the Guru Granth Sahib.
- Eating meat killed in a ritualistic manner (Kutha meat): Sikhs are strictly prohibited from eating meat from animals slaughtered in a religiously prescribed manner (such as dhabihah or shechita, known as Kutha meat, when the animal is killed by exsanguination via throat-cutting.), or any meat where langar is served. The meat eaten by Sikhs is known as Jhatka meat.
- Having premarital or extramarital sexual relations
I am willing to bet my life, that this ignorant, uneducated failure of an American bred racist caucasian, could not tell you the difference between a Sikh, a Sunni, a Hindu or a Muslim.
He was so fueled by his inbreed hatred of all things different, pumped up by racist asshole Americans such as Rush Limbaugh, Michele Bachmann, Lyin Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, Allen West and a host of other TeaTardedRepubliCANTS.
The blood of these innocent, tolerant, peace loving, members of the Sikh religion are squarely on the heads of ALL who incite unstable racist to do unacceptable acts of violence against any American citizen….or visitor to America from any foreign nation.
America is a cesspool.
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