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Introduction To Sikhism

Discussion in 'History of Sikhism' started by luv4u, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. luv4u

    luv4u
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    Sikhism a Religion

    Sikhism is a religion that began in fifteenth century in Northern India with the teachings of Guru Nanak and nine successive human gurus. This system of religious philosphy and expression has been traditionally known as the 'Gurmat' (literally the teachings of the gurus) or the Sikh Dharma. Sikhism comes from the word Sikh, which in turn comes from the sanskrit root meaning "disciple" or "learner".Sikhism is the fifth largestreligion in the world, and is generally considered the fifth largest organized religion, depending on how one defines an "organized religion".

    The principal belief in Sikhism is faith in waheguru represented using the sacred 'Ik Ongkar'. Sikhism advocates the pursuit of salvation through disciplined, personal meditation on the name and message of God. The followers of Sikhism are ordained to follow the teachings of the ten Gurus or enlightened leaders, as well as the holy scripture—the Guru Granth Sahib which includes the selected works of many authors from diverse socioeconomic and religious backgrounds. The text was decreed by Gobind Singh, the tenth guru, as the final guru of the Khalsa Panth. Sikhism's traditions and teachings are distinctly associated with the history, society and culture of the Punjab. Adherents of Sikhism are known as Sikhs (students or disciples) and number over 23 million across the world. However, most Sikhs live in the Punjab in India; prior to partition, millions of Sikhs lived in what is now the Provine of Punjab of Pakistan.

    Sikh Gurus

    Sikhism was established and developed by ten Gurus during the period 1469 to 1708. Sikhs regard the ten Gurus not as divine, but as enlightened teachers through whom God revealed his will. Each Guru appointed his successor. Guru Nanak Dev was the first Guru and Guru Gobind Singh the final Guru in human form. Guru Gobind Singh designated the Sri Guru Granth Sahib the ultimate and final Sikh Guru.


    The ten Gurus are:
    1. Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539). The founder of Sikhism (see above).
    2. Guru Angad Dev (1504-52). Developed Gurmukhi, the script used for the Punjab language and composed 62 hymns that were later included in the Guru Granth Sahib.
    3. Guru Amar Das (1479-1574). Became Guru at the age of 73. Organized three annual gatherings for Sikhs, set up the first pilgrimage site at Goindval Sahib and introduced Sikh rituals for birth and death. His most famous hymn, Anand Sahib, is part of Sikh daily ritual.
    4. Guru Ram Das (1534-1581). Founded Amritsar, the holy city of Sikhism. His followers dug the pool that became the holy lake surrounding the Golden Temple. Composed the Lavan marriage hymn, still used in Sikh marriages.
    5. Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606). Collected the hymns of previous Gurus and added 2616 of his own to form the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism. He also built the Golden Temple.
    6. Guru Hargobind (1595-1644). The son of Guru Arjan. Proclaimed that the Guru is a military leader as well as spiritual leader, leading to conflict with the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.
    7. Guru Har Rai (1630-1661). Grandson of Guru Hargobind.
    8. Guru Har Krishan (1656-1664). Younger son of Guru Har Rai. Became guru at the age of 5 and died of smallpox at the age of 8. He is the only Guru depicted in art without a beard.
    9. Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-75). Great-uncle of Guru Har Krishan. Was barred from Amritsar by Sikh rivals, so founded the Sikh center of Anandpur. Was beheaded in Delhi by Muslims for helping Brahmins avoid forcible conversion to Islam.
    10. Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708). Son of Guru Tegh Bahadur. Second only to Guru Nanak in importance, he is often shown prominently next to Nanak in Sikh art. Resisted oppression by Muhgal and Hindu authorities, exemplifying the Sikh ideal of the heroic saint-soldier. Founded the Khalsa and Sikh baptism, composed many poems, and nominated the Sikh sacred text as the final and enduring Guru.
    "The Palace of the Lord God is so beautiful. Within it, there are gems, rubies, pearls and flawless diamonds. A fortress of gold surrounds this Source of Nectar. How can I climb up to the Fortress without a ladder? By meditating on the Lord, through the Guru, I am blessed and exalted. The Guru is the Ladder, the Guru is the Boat, and the Guru is the Raft to take me to the Lord’s Name. The Guru is the Boat to carry me across the world-ocean; the Guru is the Sacred Shrine of Pilgrimage, the Guru is the Holy River. If it pleases Him, I bathe in the Pool of Truth, and become radiant and pure." (Guru Nanak, Sri Rag, pg. 17)

    The word "Guru" is a Sanskrit word meaning teacher, honoured person, religious person or saint. Sikhism though has a very specific definition of the word Guru. It means the descent of divine guidance to mankind provided through ten Enlightened Masters. This honour of being called a Sikh Guru applies only to the ten Gurus who founded the religion starting with Guru Nanak in 1469 and ending with Guru Gobind Singh in 1708; thereafter it refers to the Sikh Holy Scriptures the Guru Granth Sahib. The divine spirit was passed from one Guru to the next as "The light of a lamp which lights another does not abate. Similarly a spiritual leader and his disciple become equal, Nanak says the truth."


    "They distinguish and separate one Guru from the other. And rare is the one who knows that they, indeed, were one. They who realised this in their hearts, attained Realisation of God." (Guru Gobind Singh, Dohira, Vachitra Natak)


    Basic Philosphy
    Sikhism rejects any form of idol worship including worship of pictures of the Gurus. Although some of the Gurus did pose for paintings, unfortunately none of these historical paintings have survived. Artists renditions are for inspirational purposes only and should not be regarded as objects of worship themselves.

    Important Links for Self study
    Following are some of the links that can be used for ready reference.

    Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji
    Sri Guru Angad Dev ji
    Sri Guru Amardas ji
    Sri Guru Ramdas ji
    Sri Guru Arjan Dev ji
    Sri Guru Hargobind ji
    Sri Guru Harrai ji
    Sri Guru Harkishen ji
    Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur ji
    Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji
    Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji


    Some early Gurusikhs

    Bhai Bala ji
    Bhai Langah ji
    Bibi Rajni ji
    Kabul wali Mai
    Bhai Bhagatu ji
    Bhai Kanhaiya ji
    Bhai Makhan Shah
    Bhai Nand Lal
    Mata Jito ji
    Bhai Daya Singh
    Bhai Dharam Singh
    Bhai Himmat Singh
    Bhai Mukham Singh
    Bhai Sahib Singh
    Kirpa Singh Dutt
    Bhai Dala Singh
    Bhai Dan Singh


    Religious Authority

    The ultimate source of authority and doctrine in Sikhism is the sacred book, the Adi Granth. In the event of disputes, a council is convened at the Akal Takht ("Throne of the Timeless"), a building facing the Harimandir temple in Amritsar. Resolutions passed by this council carry spiritual sanction.
    God
    Sikhism is monotheistic, strongly emphasizing belief in one true God. Guru Nanak used the Hindu mystic syllable om as a symbol of God. He added the qualifications of God as one and creator, resulting in the ik om kar symbol. Sikhism forbids the representation of God in images and the worship of idols.
    Karma and Reincarnation
    Sikhism retains the general Hindu conception of the universe and the doctrine of samsara, or rebirth, based on karma. Human birth is the only chance to escape samsara and attain salvation.
    Khalsa and State
    Especially after conflict with the Mughal empire in Sikh history, religion and politics have been closely associated in Sikhism. Establishment of a Sikh state is a matter of religious doctrine, and all services end with the chant, "Raj karey Ga Khalsa" (the Khalsa shall rule).
    Fast Facts Of sikhismname From Punjabi sikh, "learner" or "disciple" founded c. 1500 in India founder Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1538) adherents 23 million main location Punjab region of India original language Punjabi sacred text Adi Granth (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) spiritual leaders Granthi, giani house of worship Temple, gurdwara theism monotheism ultimate reality God (Ik Onkar, Nam) purpose of life Overcome the self, align life with will of God, and become a "saint soldier," fighting for good afterlife Reincarnation until resolve karma and merge with God. major holidays Vaisakhi Day
    Birthday of Guru Nanak
    Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh
    five vices 1. lust 2. anger, 3. greed ,4. worldly attachment ,5. pride

    Sources
    1. "Sikhism." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service, Feb. 2005. <Sikhism --* Encyclopaedia Britannica>.
    2. John Bowker, ed., Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions (Cambridge UP, 2002).
    Compiled by luv4u
     
    #1 luv4u, Jun 6, 2007
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2007
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  3. luv4u

    luv4u
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    SIKH MONOTHEISM

    In the history of religions the concept of monotheism was certainly there, even outside Judeo-Christian culture. Zoroastrianism and Islam, for example, were practical monotheistic religions, opposing all that was contrary to worship of the one only God. Now Sikhism was not an exception to this rule. It also originated as a practical monotheistic religion, before it was expressed theoretically as such.


    The "Mul Mantra", that epitomizes the formula of the Sikh creed, enunciates that God is the One only God whose name is Truth, and who is the Creator, without fear and without hate; the Eternal, whose "spirit pervades the universe"; the Ungenerated Purakh, Self-existent, to whose worship the grace of the "Guru" leads.

    God is described as One, "Ek Oankar". There is but One God. Innumerable passages in the Guru Granth amply prove this. But what does "unity" mean? Does it mean a unity in the sense of monoism, that is, the unification of all realities (whether finite of infinite; whether created or uncreated), into the one Reality called God? Or does it mean the unification of all gods and goddesses into One God, as the Greeks did in ancient times? Or does it mean the One underlying principle or source from which all multitudes arise as the Greek philosophers' thought? Or does it mean the one only Good as opposed to evil in the world as Zoroaster's God came to represent? Or does it mean the Unique One, the Transcendental One?

    The God of Guru Nanak cannot be the God of "Advaitists", because for Guru Nanak and his Sikhs, the world is not illusion, "maya". It is real:

    "Sache tere khand sache brahamand
    Sache tere loa sache akar" (SGGS, p.463)

    (Real are Thy realms and real Thy Universe. Real are Thy worlds and real the created forms.)

    Professor Harbans Singh in his book, "Guru Nanak and Origins of the Sikh Faith", poits out:

    "One of the conspicuous mark of Guru Nanak's teaching was its spirit of affirmation. It took the world as real and embraced man's life in its various aspects."

    The God of Guru Granth cannot be the Absolute of the monists, because the entire Guru Granth is a litany of hymns addressed to someone personal. The One, Guru Nanak speaks of is a transcendental one. But the transcendence is not in the sense of Deism, whose deity has no connection whatsoever with the world. For Guru Nanak He is also immanent, that is, not in the sense of pantheism but in a monotheistic sense. He is transcendent, since He is above the world as the highest being and as the ultimate cause, unique in every sense of the word. He is also immanent, since He is "present in" the world. This "present in" is certainly not the same as "identical with" the world. In the Guru Granth transcendence of God is greatly emphasized:

    "Sochai soch(i) na hovai je sochi lakh var.
    Chupai chup na hovai je lai raha liv tar.
    Bhukhia bhukh na utari je banna puria bhar.
    Sahas sianapa lakh hohi ta ik na chalai nal(i)" (SGGS, p.1)

    The English translation follows:

    "Not by thought alone;
    Can He be known
    Though one thinks
    A hundred thousand times;
    Not in a solemn silence
    Nor in deep meditation
    Though fasting yields and abundance of virtue
    It cannot appease the hunger for truth
    No by none of these,
    Nor by a hundred thousand other devices,
    Can God be reached."

    The hymn extolling His transcendence are comparably more in number than those which stress His immanence.

    Transcendence should be conceived not as something, "Up above" or beyond space; it is rather an essentially absolute independence, self-sufficient. In like manner, immanence is not a mixture of Divine Beings with created realities, but a mode of spiritual prescence, absolutely irreducible to that of corporeal prescence and by that very fact, infinitely more intimate, enveloping and capable of inhering in everything.

    Guru Nanak says:

    "Ekai pargat(u) ekai gupta ekai dhundhukaro"

    i.e.

    "The One is Revealed
    The One is Hidden
    The One is behind the Dark Veil"

    This states that God is so transcendent that revelation is needed to know Him:"The One is Revealed". He is so immanent that He cannot be seen:"The One is Hidden", yet since He is the Ground of all, He is said to be the One behind the veil: "The One is behind the Dark Veil"

    .........Therefore the God of Sikhism is a "personal" God, otherwise the "Pita", "Pritam" and "Khasam-sahib" will have no meaning.

    "Ek(u) pita ekas ke ham barik" (SGGS, p.611)

    i.e.

    "The One God is the Father of all;
    We are His children."

    ......Guru Nanak says that God is the Creator of heaven and earth. Even the highest gods of Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are all created by Him. Guru Nanak denies any kind of material cause by bringing in "Hukam" in the concept of creation, consistently and rightly. The creation takes place through His Will.

    "Hukami hovan(i) akar..."
    "kita pasau eko kavau"
    "Jo tis(u) bhavai soi karasi"

    His Will it is that creates the forms...
    How speak of Him who with one Word did the
    whole Universe create.
    What He wills He ordains

    Some scholars such as Dr. Sher Singh think that Guru Nanak's idea of creation is monistic. This is misleading. A correct understanding of the Guru's concept of creation, gives a better clue to the understanding of his concept, than using Hindu philosophy. The term creation expresses the way in which the world and everything pertaining to the world have their origin, ground and final goal in God. It implies a comprehensive action of God on the world and a total relationship of the world to God. The concept transcends all categories of thought, and the metaphysical systems like pantheism, emanationism and dualism cannot be reconciled with the doctrine of creation, because on the positive side, it is the action of a "personal" God.

    Creation embraces the whole of reality of the world, not just its begining, but its whole existence including its consummation; and not just its static being, but its dynamism and activity. We must, therefore, insist that creation is not a "cause" within the category of causes, but the living transcendent ground of the world and its movement. Creation means everything without exception, is God's action and God's beneficient action towards man. The belief in Creation is to see someone behind all things, to see the world as "gift".

    The goal of creation can only be man, as person and as community. How true this is when the sociological implication of "langer" is considered. Only man can receive love as love. Creation is considered as a free act of God to man. It means that the whole of reality comes to him as a "sabad" (Word) of God, summoning and inviting him to an equally total response, in which man responds to the "sabad" with the fullness of his own being and of his world.

    "Nirankar(u) akar(u) hoi, ekmakar(u) apar(u) sadaia
    Ekmakarah(u) sabad dhuni Oankar(i) akar(u) banaia"...Varan Bhai Gurdas, 26.2

    The Guru uses words like "Kartar", "Siranda", "Usaranahar", "Khaliq" and "Karanhar", which are all personal names, as if to mean that the Creation is the action of a Personal God.

    adopted from:***************
    http://www.{url not allowed}/Sikhne...ed8c87256623002a5e2d!OpenDocument&Highlight=0

    A FEW SABADS OF PRAISE AND PRAYER:
    • "Thou art the Lord, I make this supplication unto Thee;
      Soul and body are all Thy gifts.
      Thou art mother and father, we are Thy children;
      By Thy favor we obtain many comforts.
      Nobody knows Thy limit;
      O God, Thou art the most Exalted of the exalted.
      The whole creation is strung on Thy Will;
      And must obey the orders Thou issuest.
      Only Thou knowest Thine Own condition and limit;
      Nanak, Thy servant, is ever a sacrifice unto Thee."
      (Gauri sukhmani Mohalla 5, IV-8, p-268)


      "O Eternal, O Infinite, Imperishable, Destroyer of sins;
      O Competent, O All-Pervading, Destroyer of sufferings, Ocean of Virtues.
      O Companion, O Formless, O Bodiless, Prop of all;
      O World-Creator, O Treasure of attributes, in Thy court there is always justice.
      O Incomprehensible, Destroyer of sins, most remote Thou
      art, wast, and shalt be;
      O Constant Companion of saints, Support of supportless.
      O Lord! I am Thy servant, I am virtueless, I have no merit;
      Saith Nanak, grant me the gift of Thy Nam that I may engrave it in my heart."
      (Gauri Bavan Akhri Mohalla 5, 55, p-261)


      "Thou art my father, Thou art my mother,
      Thou art my relation, Thou art my brother,
      Thou art my protector everywhere; then why should I fear O my mind.
      By Thy favor I recognize Thee;
      Thou art my shelter, Thou art my honor.
      Besides Thee there is none other, the whole world is the arena of Thy play.
      Men and lower animals all hast Thou created;
      Thou didst appoint them to whatever duties pleaseth Thee.
      Everything happens according to Thy Will, there is nothing ours.
      I have obtained great comfort by meditating on Thy Name;
      And my mind is refreshed by singing Thy praises.
      The perfect Guru hath congratulated me; Nanak hath overcome his difficulties."
      (Majh Mohalla 5, p-103)


      "Ocean of mercy, dwell for ever in my heart;
      So enlighten my understanding that I may love Thee, O God.
      May I obtain the dust of Thy saints' feet and apply to my forehead;
      From being a great sinner may I be purified by singing Thy praises.
      May Thine order be sweet to me, and what Thou doest please me;
      May what Thou givest, satiate me, and I may run after no one else.
      O Lord, may I ever know Thee near me, and may I remain the dust of all men's feet;
      May I meet the company of saints so that I may obtain my God.
      We are ever ever Thy children; Thou, O God, art our Master;
      Nanak is Thy child, Thou art mother father: put Thy Nam in my mouth."
      (Todi Mohalla 5, p-712)


      "O Lord, the Pardoner, O compassionate to the poor,
      O Kinder to the saints and ever Merciful.
      O Patron of the patronless, world Protector, world Sustainer,
      Thou cherisheth all creatures.
      O Primal Being, the Creator of the world,
      Thou art the support of the souls of the devotees.
      He shall become pure, whosoever repeateth Thy Name,
      With devotion, affection and heartfelt love.
      We are devoid of virtue, low and ignorant,
      Nanak seeketh Thy protection O Supreme Power."
      (Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, 20-7, p-290)
     
  4. roopk

    roopk
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    The main diferences of Hinduism and Sikhism are extracted from the followings.

    Millions of Krishnas

    In the Akal Ustat, Guru Singh describes God by making use of metaphysical references, imaginative language and image-creating phases. Extended similes and comparisons are also employed, addressing directly the expression of the deity in other religious traditions.

    "There are millions of Indras and incarnations of Brahma, Vishnu and Krishna. But, without worship of God, none are accepted in His Court." (stanza 38)

    Sikhism Discards Hindu’s Vedas and Shastras


    All the Vedas, the religious books of the Muslims, the Simirtis and Shashtras, by reading these, salvation is not obtained. He who by Guru's instruction utters the one Name; He gathers the pure glory." (Guru Arjan Dev, Suhi, pg. 747)

    Rituals Of Hindus Discarded.
    • Although respected, the Vedas, Puranas, Shastras (Hindu scriptures) hold no relevance to Sikhs.
    • Sikhs do not believe in fasting
    • Sikhs do not believe in the tilak and jineu, marks of the Hindu
    • Sikhs do not believe in high caste or low, all are one in the eyes of the Lord.
    • Sikhs do not hold any significance in ritual shaving of the head, in fact removing of hair id forbidden in Sikhism.
    • Sikhs reject of Idol worship
    • Although Sikhs respect great deities like Brahama, Shivji and Vishnu there belief in the One almighty God is unshakable[1].
    • You may bathe and wash, and apply a ritualistic tilak mark to your forehead, but without inner purity, there is no understanding. ||6||Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Raag Raamkalee. p903

    Akal Creates Millions Of Krishnas and annihilate Them



    • The Lord Akal creates millions of Krishna, annihilates them and recreates them. Some hang stones as gods around their necks, while others erroneously call Mahesh 'God' I have discarded all these false religions and am of the firm view that He who is the creator of the Universe, is the only Lord. Everyone is caught in the noose of Death, no Rama or prophet can escape from it. All of them who made grand claims of being Avtars of God died repentant. Why doest not thou, O, hapless being seek the shelter of the One Lord. (15th swayya) Dasam Granth
    [1]Sikh Information Guru Nanak Gobind Singh
     
  5. luv4u

    luv4u
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    Can You quote any reference if the Vedas and Upnishdas are not to be accepted by the sikhs?
     
  6. luv4u

    luv4u
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    Sikh Rituals

    The sikh faith condemns empty rituals and superstitions. The practice of blind rituals, worshiping of idols and inanimate objects, participating in religious fasts, pilgrimage to holy places, offering of food to sadhus (religious leaders), or believing in any other such rituals, superstitions or fads, will not bring one closer to HIM or make one a better human being. In all societies round the world, through fear and uncertainty, members undertake in ritualistic and worthless behaviour at times of worry, uncertainty or trouble. These poor people, wrongly believe that undertaking these empty customs and penances will bring them special assistance from Vaahguru or some other higher power.


    The reliance on these blind customs appears to increase at time of stress in human existence. For example, In 1989, Susan Starr Sered conducted fieldwork among women who has just had a baby on the maternity ward of a Jerusalem hospital. The women who she interviewed reported having performed close to two hundred different religious and secular rituals during pregnancy, birth, and the immediate post-partum period. So, it is clear that ritualism has not faded but may be on the increase.


    Superstition is an irrational belief arising from ignorance or doubt. Many people all around the world are gripped by various superstitions and they live their lives in fear and uncertainty. Most of these fears are irrational and superfluous but they still cannot unbind themselves from these evil and false notions. Some common and well-known examples of superstitions are:

    "When a black cat crosses one's path, something will happen if one crosses the line where the cat passed. To "undo" either wait for someone who didn't know about the black cat to cross the path or think of another route."

    "If you wash your hair on the first day of the month you will have a short life."

    "13 in the western world is considered an unlucky number. This double-digit represents JUdas, who was the guest at the Last Supper who betrayed Jesus. As a result it is also thought to be unlucky to have a dinner party with 13 guests. Many hotels are missing a thirteenth floor or have omitted the number from their room doors. Friday the 13th of any month is said to be an unlucky day."


    But the SGGS says "The mind is diseased with doubt, superstition and duality." p1416 and also "High and low, social class and status - the world wanders lost in superstition." p1243. Superstition is like a disease for the mind it brings confusion and fear and takes you away from reality.



    The holy Granth narrates clearly and unambiguously about these human customs. The Sikh Gurus say:
    "I observe neither Hindu fasting nor the ritual of the Muslim Ramadan month; I serve the One, who at the last shall save. The Lord of the Universe of the Hindus, Gosain and Allah to me are One… I do not make pilgrimages to Mecca, nor do I worship at Hindu sacred shrines. I serve the One Lord, and not any other. I perform neither the Hindu worship nor the Muslim prayer. I have taken the One Formless Lord into my heart; and I humbly worship my Lord there. We neither are Hindus nor Muslims; our body and life belong to the One Supreme Being who alone is both Ram and Allah for us." [SGGS 1134]

    Before the advent of Sikhism, many religions, due to the long passage of time, had become engrossed in worthless ritualism, sacrifice and penance which brought no spiritual enhancement or value to the life of the devotee. The Gurus spoke strongly against blind ritualism and misguided superstition. Guru Nanak ,the first Sikh Guru, even when he was still a child spoke against valueless rituals.

    Young Guru Nanak disagreed with the Brahmin priest and declined to wear the cotton thread. He reminded the priest what qualities a person should attempt to master: Make compassion the cotton, contentment the thread, modesty the knot and truth the twist. This is the sacred thread of the soul; if you have it, then go ahead and put it on me. [p471 SGGS]


    In addition to this, the Gurus spoke against other empty ritualistic practices of their time. The spoke against idol-worship or belief in gods and goddesses; astrology and fortune telling; tantra, mantra and yantra; hattha yoga and maceration of body; pilgrimages and the notions of good and bad days, places and omens; dress or deity. They also decried other negative practises like: dishonesty, slander, false-hood, alcoholism and drug-addictions, breach of faith and violence. The Gurus disapproved of renunciation of the world and sanctified the life of the householder.

    source
    http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Rituals
     
  7. luv4u

    luv4u
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    The situation before Guru Nanak


    Before the arrival of Guru Nanak, the situation in South-East Asia was bleak and oppressive and in keeping with the practice to be found elsewhere on the Globe. Inequality, oppression, torture, abuse, corruption, idol worship, and blind ritualism composed the thread of society. The majority of people comprised of lower castes, mainly consisting of peasants, labourers and servants. These accounted for more than seventy to eighty percent of the population and were labelled sudars. Most of their day was spent working extremely hard and long hours, just to be able to eat and provide crumbs for their families. Many of these outcastes were literally owned by the upper caste (Khatris and Brahmins) and were severely maltreated by their masters.


    Child labor and abuse, along with physical, verbal and sexual abuse towards the majority of the population was quite common and was generally tolerated and accepted by society. The Sudars along with women were thought of as impure, polluted, and the equivalent of animals. They were not allowed to participate in any sort of "religious" ceremony or ritual performed by the Brahmins priest. They had no access to the Sanskrit language and were not allowed any sort of education as they were thought incapable of being educated. Equally, they had no desire to demand equality and had accepted their subservient status as a law of Nature.
    Guru Nanakvery quickly started to question these prevalent practices and recited many Shabads (hymns) preaching his message against inequality, oppression, abuse, corruption, idol worship and blind ritualism. He instilled in the masses the need to live a life of righteousness; to respect the rights of others; the need for equality and the respect for the values of all life; to back away from rituals; to only worship and remember one God; to respect and protect God's entire creation; etc.
    He said clearly that:



    Through ritual actions, God cannot be won over;




    God could not be found through ritualistic actions. By "feeding" images of God; by taking cleansing baths in holy places, God could not be won over. The only way to reach God was by remembering him through reciting His Naam and living a life of righteousness and pure actions.

    Sikh Beliefs

    Sikhs believe in the following:
    There is only one God. Truth is his name. He is the Creator.
    He is without fear. He is without hate. He is timeless and without form.
    He is beyond death, the Enlightened One. He can be known by the grace of the Guru.
    Mool Mantar




    • When Sikhs speak of the Guru they are referring to God, the Great Teacher. God, the unknowable, becomes the teacher who reveals God to those who follow. God created everything, so all life is good, but attachment to material things leads to reincarnation and the sufferings of birth and death. The goal of Sikhism is to end the cycle of rebirth and be united with God.
    Sikhs emphasise two primary aspects of daily life: service and devotion to God. Service means honest work and service to the community - Sewa, in which all are equal regardless of caste, creed, race or gender. Devotion is cultivated by singing devotional hymns and by meditation on the holy name of God - Simran and Naam Japna
    • There is only One God who is purely spiritual and does not take human form.
    • All creation is part of God and is an expression of God’s Divine Spirit Naam and His Will Hukam.
    • All human beings have an immortal soul ( atma) which is part of God and is on a journey to reunite with Him ( Mukti).
    • All human beings are equal regardless of race, religion, gender, age or social class.
      • All people are equal:
      • You must all live together.
      • You must be kind are share what you have. ( Wand kay Shako)
      • All people can talk to God.
    • Lasting happiness can only be found when the soul reunites with God
    • Service to others ( sewa), while remembering God at all times ( simran), are essential if the soul is to reunite with God
    • Live a life of a house-holder and live a truthful life earning a honest living while remembering God ( Kirat Karni)
    Sikhs must not drink alcohol, smoke or gamble. They have one wife or husband. They must pray every morning. They must read the holy book everyday. The Ten Gurus (teachers) of the Sikh told the people what God wanted; how they should live their lives; and how peace and tranquillity could be obtained. Sikhs who become Khalsa must wear the 5Ks – Uncut Hair Kesh, Small Comb Kanga, Bangle Kara, Special Shorts Kacha and Sword Kirpan.

    Concept of God

    Followers of the Sikh faith believe that all life, including human life, comes from God. God is the Creator of the universe and the force that keeps it in existence. God is purely spiritual, has no physical body and cannot be known or experienced through the five senses. God is infinitely above and beyond everything else that exists (transcendent). God is also within all creation, including human beings (immanent) and, therefore, Sikhs believe that all creation is part of God.

    Mukti or Salvation
    However, salvation (reunion with God Mukti) cannot simply be gained by attention to physical, emotional and intellectual needs. The physical world may be real in the sense that it does actually exist, but it is not real in a lasting or ultimate sense. The only True Reality is God and the only truly lasting part of a human being is the soul ( Atma). If a person forgets this, and allows the physical world to become a barrier between God and the soul, he/she will lose the unique opportunity to reunite with God. Too much concentration on the material aspects of life ( Maya) leads the soul further and further away from reunion with God ( Mukti). Human pleasures and needs pass, the human body eventually dies and only the soul remains – if a person forgets this he/she will have wasted the unique opportunity which is part of being born human.

    Transmigration of the soul
    The Sikh Gurus taught that existence in the universe involves the soul in a journey through many life forms. During this journey, provided the being perform good deeds, the soul travels towards ever-closer reunion with the Creator and One True Reality of which it is a part. The human form is only one of 8.4 million forms that the soul has inhabited during its existence in the physical world. The soul will have lived through many lives and will have inhabited many different forms before eventually being born in a human body.
    Being reborn in human form is regarded as a special blessing because human beings are different to all other forms of life and have a higher form of consciousness. Only human beings have this higher form of consciousness, awareness of a moral conscience and, as a result, free will. Humans should not be pure slaves of their instinct which is how lower life-forms are governed.

    The natural law of Karma
    The law of karma can be described simply as the belief that all actions have consequences for the person who acts. These consequences do not just involve the immediate physical results – for example, when someone uses violence against another person and he/she is injured as a result. There are also moral consequences which affect the soul on its journey towards reunion with God and determine the nature of further rebirths if reunion with God is not achieved.


    If a person returns to the cycle of life, death and rebirth, it is not because God actively punishes that person for doing wrong. The Sikh Gurus taught that a person moves closer to reunion with God or further away from reunion as a result of the natural law of karma. The law of karma is part of God’s created order, not a force or power independent of God.


    The Gurus taught that it is not necessary to die in order to be free from karma and reincarnation (rebirth). Anyone who chooses to live in complete harmony with God’s Will or Hukam, and keeps God in mind at all times, no longer creates either positive or negative karma. Although, the Sikhs will avoid negative karma and try to create positive karma, this is not the main focus. The main focus is in listening to, and obeying, God’s Will or Hukam and remaining open to God’s Grace at all times ( Kudrat). A person who constantly keeps God in mind and lives in harmony with God’s Will or Hukam is known as gurmukh.

    Maya
    Maya is often translated into English as "illusion". In Sikhism, however, the word maya is not used to suggest that the physical world is unreal or imaginary. Sikhs believe that everything in the world is real and good because it has been created by, and is part of, God.


    Maya, for Sikhs, is the part of human nature which misunderstands what is important in life and becomes attached to things that do not last. This attachment ( Moh) can be to possessions, success, physical pleasure, a good name – even family and friends. Maya makes human beings forget that God is the only lasting or important part of everything that exists.

    Developing virtues and controlling vices


    The Sikh Gurus taught that to achieve Salvation ( Mukti), it was important to work hard at developing positive human qualities which lead the soul closer to God. The Gurus taught that all human beings have the qualities they need to reunite with God but they must train their minds to make the most of these qualities. In order to reach the final goal of life, Sikhs believe that they must constantly develop their love for God by developing compassion for all God’s creation.

    Five Virtues - Sat, Santokh, Daya, Nimrata and Pyare

    Sikhs believe that human beings must work at developing all the God-like qualities they have in order to truly love God. Love of God is not just a feeling but always involves showing love for God by selfless service to God’s creation. A person who is gurmukh does not act out of selfishness but, by focusing on God, acts out of compassion for others "… becomes the slave of the Lord’s slaves, then …. finds the Lord and eradicates ego from within". Maya and haumai are overcome by focusing only on God while serving God in creation. Material wealth, fame and praise are unimportant because the gurmukh is focused on the only thing of lasting value – God "The wealth of the Naam shall never be exhausted; no one can estimate its worth"

    One of the most important virtues which Sikhs try to develop during life is that of truth ( Sat). God is Truth and by trying to practise truth, i.e. live a truthful life, Sikhs believe that they can live in accordance with God’s Will/Hukam. The other virtues are: Compassion ( Daya), Contentment ( Santokh), Humility ( Nimrata) and Love ( Pyare).

    Five Evils - Kam, Krodh, Lobh, Moh and Ahankar


    The Guru Granth Sahib often refers to five evils, vices or ‘thieves’ which human beings should try to control. By focusing on developing virtues, a Sikh hopes to control these five evils. These evils lead the soul away from God and steal the unique opportunity to reunite with God. Within this body dwell the five thieves: sexual desire ( Kam), anger/rage ( Krodh), greed ( Lobh), emotional attachment ( Moh) and egoism ( Ahankar).
     
  8. roopk

    roopk
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    Women in Sikhism

    I have tried to examine the status of Sikh women as per the following question and answer format.

    1. Is God considered male or female?

    Guru Granth Sahib (G.G.S.) contains many names for God, both masculine and feminine. These are all used to describe God. Ultimately, the Gurus do not consider God to be male or female. The Mul Mantra states that God is Ajuni (Unborn), in other words, God belongs to neither sex


    2. What does Guru Granth Sahib say about women?


    Guru Nanak dismissed the prevailing values that downgraded women. He says: 'It is through woman that order is maintained. Then why call her inferior from whpm all great ones are born.' G.G.S.,p.473
    The Gurus use woman symbolically in the bani to represent the disciple. Bhai Gurdas, the scribe of G.G.S., says, "Of all the Vedas' knowledge and all other virtues, it is the woman who can best guide man to the gates of salvation."

    3. What rights do I have as a Sikh woman?

    A Sikh woman has equal rights to a Sikh man. Unlike Christianity, no post in Sikhism is reserved solely for men. Unlike Islam, a woman is not considered subordinate to a man. Sikh baptism (amrit) is open to both sexes. The Khalsa nation is made up equally of men and women. A Sikh woman has the right to become a granthi, a ragi, one of the panj pyaras (five beloved), etc.

    4. Are there any restrictions on what I can wear?

    When Sikhs take amrit they must all, regardless of sex, keep the 5 K's. Guru Nanak says that one should only wear clothes which do not distress the mind or body.

    'Friend, all other wear ruins bliss, The wear that to the limbs is torment, and with foul thinking fill the mind.' G.G.S., p. 16

    The Gurus were against the wearing of the veil, which is so popular amongst Muslims and Hindus. Even Christian nuns are made to cover themselves more than Christian priests. Guru Amar Das refused to allow a Hindustani Queen from entering the sangat unless she removed her veil. In Guru Granth Sahib, the veil is compared to suppression.

    'False modesty that suppressed is ended. Now, with veil cast off, am I started on the way of devotion.' G.G.S., p. 931

    5. Can I read Guru Grarsth Sahib?

    Yes. The reading of Guru Granth Sahib, is open to all. In Hinduism, a woman is not considered capable of reading the Vedas in a mandir. Guru Amar Das got attracted to of Sikhism after hearing Bibi Amro reciting bani.

    6. Can I be forced into an arranged marriage.?

    Sikhs are forbidden to marrying off their children without their prior consent. Both sons and daughters are required to reach a mature age, both physically and mentally, before they marry. Thus, parents must ensure that their children are allowed to grow and be educated to the fullest. Arranged marriages are the norm for Sikhs. Sikhs are forbidden from marrying outside their faith and are not allowed to keep sexual relationships outside of marriage. The Gurus considered marriage an equal partnership. Guru Amar Das states:

    'They are not said to be husband and wife who merely sit together, Rather they alone are called husband and wife, who have one soul in two bodies.' G.G.S., p. 788.

    This is in contrast to other faiths. In Islam the husband is permanently the dominant partner.

    'If your wives are overbeanng, advise them against it. If they do not care, refuse them sexual intercorse. If they still persist, then give them a thrashing.' Holy Quran, Ulnissa 434.

    7. What about dowry?

    Sikhs are forbidden from marrying off their children for monetary benefit. Concerning dowry, Guru Ram Das states:

    'Any other dowry, which the perverse place for show, that is false pride and worthless gidding.' G.G.S.,p.79

    8. Who is considered more spiritual ~ man or woman?

    Unlike other faiths, Sikhism states that both man and womxn are capable of reaching the highest levels of spirituality. A particular hymn in Guru Granth Sahib states:

    'In all beings is He Himself pervasive, Himself pervades all forms, male or female.' G.G.S., p. 605

    9. Why is the birth of a boy more welcome than that of a girl?

    If this is the case, it is totally against the teaching of Sikhism. The birth of a girl or boy should be equally joyous for Sikhs. The practice of giving sweets and celebrating Lohri only on the birth of a boy is anti-Sikh behaviour. Female foeticide is condemned in the Sikh Code of Conduct. There are clear instructions that one who kills female infants, has no place in Sikh society, and has to be excommunicated.

    10. What about my independence?

    No Sikh is taught to be subservient to anyone else. Thus, independence is open to both sexes. Every Sikh is able to attain spirituality independently, as there is no priestly dass in Sikhism. The path of love which Guru Nanak initiated is open to all.

    'Shouldst thou seek to engage in the game of love, Step into my street with thy head placed on thy palm, While onto this stepping, ungrudgingly sacrifice your head.' G.G.S., p. 1412

    The Khalsa nation is open to men and women alike. Guru Nanak observed how defenceless women had been when Babar, the first Mughal Emperor of Hindustan, invaded Punjab:

    'Babar with wedding party of Sin from Kabul rushed down, and forcibly demanded surrender of Indian womanhood'

    'Set aside were KaSs and Brahmins, and Satan went about solemnizing marriages. Muslim women, reciting the Quran, in their affliction called on Muda. Other women of lower castes and of the Hindus in this suffering too include in your account. Saith Nanak: Sung are paeans of blood and sprinkled is blood for saffron'. G.G.S., p. 722

    The Gurus ensured that such an event will never occur again. They made a nation of soldiers capable of defending themselves as well as others. Thus, ensuring they need not depend on anyone.

    11. Asian women in general are subservient to their husbands. What is the Siki view-point?

    Hinduism does state that women are under the control of men. The laws of Manu state: 'In childhood, a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead, to her sons; a woman must never be independent.' Law 148, Chapter V.


    Sikhism is totally opposed to this view. Christian women must change their names after marria&. The concept of maiden and married names is alien to Sikh philosophy. Sikhs practising it now do so out of ignorance. A Sikh woman is born with the surname Kaur and dies with it. Thus, allowing her to keep her identity throughout life.

    12. Are there any famous Sikh women in history?

    Sikh history is one which has been made by both men and women. There are many, many outstanding Sikh women. The Gurus' wives led highly spiritual and independent lives. Mata Sundri led the Sikhs for a long period after Guru Gobind Singh's death. Sada Kaur was a famous Sikh General who led the Khalsa army along side Ranjit Singh. The list of important Sikh women is endless.

    This month's featured article at www.sikh-history.com


    Sikhism : As the world sees It.

    The following is the write up taken from http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9105865/Sikhism. It is widely referred to . The world sees us as per the references made.

    Indian religion founded in the Punjab in the late 15th century. Its members are known as Sikhs. The Sikhs call their faith Gurmat (Punjabi: “the Way of the Guru”). According to Sikh tradition, Sikhism was established by Guru Nanak (1469–1539) and subsequently led by a succession of nine other Gurus. All 10 human Gurus, Sikhs believe, were inhabited by a single spirit. Upon the death of the 10th, Guru Gobind Singh (1666–1708), the spirit of the eternal Guru transferred itself to the sacred scripture of Sikhism, Guru Granth Sahib (“The Granth as the Guru”), also known as the Adi Granth (“First Volume”), which thereafter was regarded as the sole Guru. In the early 21st century there were nearly 25 million Sikhs worldwide, the great majority of them living in the Indian state of Punjab.




    The following discussion of the lives of the 10 Gurus relies on the traditional Sikh account, most elements of which are derived from hagiographic legend and lore and cannot be verified historically. This point should be borne in mind throughout, especially in the sections on the early Gurusn.

    History and doctrine

    Sikh in Punjabi means “learner,” and those who joined the Sikh community, or Panth (“Path”), were people who sought spiritual guidance. In its earliest stage Sikhism was clearly a movement within the Hindu tradition; Nanak was raised a Hindu and eventually belonged to the Sant tradition of northern India, a movement associated with the great poet and mystic Kabir (1440–1518). The Sants, most of whom were poor, dispossessed, and illiterate, composed hymns of great beauty expressing their experience of the divine, which they saw in all things. Their tradition drew heavily on the Vaishnava bhakti (the devotional movement within the Hindu tradition that worships the god Vishnu), though there were important differences between the two. Like the follwers of bhakti, the Sants believed that devotion to God is essential to liberation from the cycle of rebirth in which all human beings are trapped; unlike the followers of bhakti, however, the Sants maintained that God is nirgun (“without form”) and not sagun (“with form”). For the Sants, God can be neither incarnated nor represented in concrete terms.

    Certain lesser influences also operated on the Sant movement. Chief among them was the Nath tradition, which comprised a cluster of sects, all claiming descent from the semilegendary teacher Gorakhnath and all promoting Hatha Yoga as the means of spiritual liberation. Although the Sants rejected the physical aspects of Hatha Yoga in favour of meditation techniques, they accepted the Naths' concept of spiritual ascent to ultimate bliss. Some scholars have argued that the Sants were influenced by Islam through their contact with the Mughal rulers of India from the early 16th century, but there is in fact little indication of this, though Sufism (Islamic mysticism) may have had a marginal effect.


    []Sikhism --* Encyclopaedia Britannica
     
  9. luv4u

    luv4u
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    An Ideal Religion


    From times immemorial, man has felt the need of some power of deity to liberate him from his toils and to protect him from dangers. Further, he seeks to obtain peace and hope through contact with a superior power which is called Divinity. Society and religion go together. Religion has occupied an important place in the history of civilization and philosophy. It gives a meaning and purpose to human life and satisfies man's longing for peace and salvation. Some form of religion existed in primitive societies. They believed in spirits, magic and images of gods and offered sacrifices to them. The basic forms of relgious expression are sacrifice, prayer and ritual. Religion has been defined as

    "the relationship between man and the super- human power he believes in and depends upon".

    According to Jakob Burchardt,

    "Religions are the expression of the eternal and indestructible metaphysical cravings of human nature."

    It includes a rule of conduct or principle of individual life on which one's peace of mind depends. Religions offer different paths to salvation. The goal of religion is getting in tune with the infinite. Moreover, the philosophy of religion is neither ceremony nor ritual nor going to the temple, but an inner experience which finds God everywhere. Relgion consists of a number of beiefs relating to a reality which connot be demonstrated by proof, but which is an inexorable certainty to the believer.

    This reality induces him to adopt certain modes of action and behaviour. When Guru Arjan(fifth Sikh Guru) was asked as to which is the best religion in the world, he answered:

    "The best religion in the world is the one which stresses the power of prayer and the performance of noble deeds." Holy living or altruistic action is the practical side of religion.

    Science Of Religion

    Some people think that religion is contrary to science because religion insists on faith, while science stresses reasoning and proof. But there is something like the science of religion. It includes two things: a general history of religions and the developments of a particular faith. While the science of comparative religion seeks to assess the varieties of religious experiences and a systematic analysis of their development, the history of a particular religion reveals the special features and deeper issues of an individual faith. It studies in depth the change in the forms and expression of a particular religion, the psychological development of particular communities in the matter of dogma and ritual. Connected with the science of religion are the sociological studies of the influence of social forms on the development of religion and psychology of religion which determine the palce of religion in human life.


    Theology must be distinguished from the science of religion. While the first is the pursuit of knowledge in the interests of a creed, the latter is a factual study of religious experience. Theology is based on the church, on the dogma. The religious scientist is objective and dispassionate. Religious science in its braodest sense is a history of ideas and therefore, has to find general answers to the common problems of life.

    One of the important ideas is holiness: what is holy as opposed to profane?

    Holiness creates reverential awe: The fear of God.

    An understanding of the basic concepts of religion has to be linked up with the practical demands of active and purposeful living.


    Metaphysics and the supernatural are beyond the realm of evidence. Their appreciation will largely depend on the widening of the frontiers of human knowledge and experience.


    The inter-relationship between science and religion has been summed up by Prof. A. Toynbee as under:

    "Science must be based on religion and religion must include scientific rationality. I think that the words of Albert Einstein. 'Science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind', are of even greater importance now than when he uttered them".

    Place Of Religion

    Throughout the ages man has believed in some sort of religion. It is thought that without religion he cannot comprehend the real purpose of his existence. In fact, religion has had a definite place in society and will continue to play a vital part in this age of science.


    While science and technology might assist man in improving his physical conditions, surroundings and economic standards, religion and ethics help to develop his personality and inner self. Man may live in comfort and prosperity and yet have no peace of mind. Even in a highly affluent society like that of the United States of America, it is realised that wealth and power are not everything. Spiritual progress is intrinsic and shows itself in inner satisfaction and sense of fulfilment.
    Moreover, modern society dominated by technology cannot be regarded as an ideal society. It suffers from great strains and a sense of frustration and futility. Science has now given the man the power to destroy his own civilization and the human race. It is religion alone that can save society from such a catastrophe and check the erosion of human values. It reinforces basic ethical values and discourages racial prejudice, economic exploitation and social injustice. Religion like science is devoted to the service of man. Religion corrects the lopsidedness of science, because without moral and spiritual foundations, science can bring ruination to mankind. Religion and ethics humanise the scientist and make him realize his social responsibility. It shifts the emphasis in science and industry from exploitation and power to social uplift, peace and co-operation. Man must be the master and not the slave of machines.


    Great scientists themselves realize the limitations of science. They look to religion to remedy the social evils.

    According to Dr. Julian Huxley: "Religion of some sort is probably a necessity."

    One need not accept the dogmas of religion, but one must appreciate its search for Truth and its endeavour for the uplift of the masses. Prof. A.N. Whitehead says in this connection.

    "The future of civilization depends on the degree to which we can balance the forces of Science and Religion."

    Can One be Happy without Religion

    Much depends on one's idea of happiness. True happiness is a state of mind in which man finds transquility and contentment. The external happiness conferred by material possessions and worldly activities is ephemeral and superficial. In Communist countries people may appear to be satisfied and contented as their material conditions improve, but can they really be said to have achieved true happiness and real peace of mind?


    Perhaps one of the reasons for the present day decline in morals is the neglect of religion. Without high ethical standards, which are the foundations of all religions no organized and disciplined life is possible. Promiscuity and sexual aberrations are no doubt due to ignorance and a neglect of the fundamental principles of ethics. In a secular state, it is the duty of parents and voluntary organizations to impart to children a knowledge of moral and spiritual values and ennoble them. If a man who is under a strong temptation thinks that moral rules are man-made, he may easily violate them. He will hesitate more to disobey them, if he believes that they are God made and have been revealed to him through a Divine Teacher or the Guru.
    Even men of piety and great devotion are apt to fall a prey to temptation. There are such notable examples as Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Joga Singh. If religion is not sincerely practised, it has little effect on our private lives or that of the community.


    An interest in religion makes people seek the company of holy men, which can give them the solace and happiness they really need.

    Some people make a show of being religious. This does not serve any useful purpose. What is needed is a positive attitude, to seek the company and assistance of those persons who are truly devoted to religion.


    Some people think that religion is an irrelvance, a matter of no consequence, and that they lose nothing if they exclude religion from their lives. They believe in the motto: 'Eat, drink, and be merry'. But does this give an edge or meaning to life? Life has a purpose. Religion makes a man conscious of his spiritual heritage and goal.
    Sikhism FAQs:Can I be happy without religion?
     
  10. luv4u

    luv4u
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    Status Of women in Sikhism ,...contd.


    No Sikh is taught to be subservient to someone else. Thus, independence is open to both sexes. However, this does not mean that you merely know your rights and not your responsibilities. There is no priesthood in Sikhism, so every Sikh must lead a devotional life. The path of love which Guru Nanak initiated is open to all,

    The Khalsa nation started by Guru Gobind Singh is open to men and women. Guru Nanak had observed how defenceless women had been when Babar, the first Mughal Emperor of Hindustan, had invaded Punjab.

    Guru Gobind Singh ensured that such an event would never occur again. By taking Amrit every Sikh man and woman would be able to protect themselves with their Kirpan. Thus, ensuring they would not need to be dependent on anyone. Further, Rakhri Bandan is a tradition implying that women are dependent for protection on their brothers. 11. Asian Women are subservient to their Husbands. Does Sikhism state that I must be also?

    Hinduism does state that women are under the control of men.[laws Of Manu] Sikhism is totally opposed to this view. Christian women must change their names after marriage. The concept of maiden and married names is alien to Sikh philosophy. Sikhs practising it now do so out of ignorance. A Sikh woman is born with the surname Kaur and dies with the same surname. Thus, allowing her to keep her identity throughout her life. Further, Ms is preferable to Miss or Mrs.

    Sikh history is one which has been made by both men and women. There are many, many outstanding Sikh women. The Gurus' wives led highly spiritual and independent lives. Mata Sundri ji led the Sikhs for a long period after Guru Gobind Singh returned to his heavenly home. Sada Kaur was a famous Sikh Jathedar and ally of Ranjit Singh who made possible the Sikh empire of the 19th Century. The list of important Sikh women is endless.

    The Importance of Kaur

    Have you ever thought why Guru Ji, Guru Gobind Singh, gave the Kaur surname to Sikh women? Why did he not accept the status quo and keep the tradition of the woman's surname being determined by her family's name? What was Guru Ji trying to achieve by calling the Sikh woman "A Princess" (literal meaning of Kaur)?

    To try to understand the possible reasons behind Guru Ji's decision, we need to look at the situation at the time in different cultures. In Indian society, the brides first and last name was often changed after her marriage. This still happens today. However, this tradition of name changing does not occur just in India. It is a phenomenon which occurs across the whole world today.

    Why are women's surnames changed?

    The reason is family linkage. Surnames allow others to identify you and your family. In some cases the surname can tell others much more about you, such as your caste. For women the linkage to family is different in comparison to men. Their identity changes with marriage. They are no longer associated with their parents, but with their Husband's family. Unsurprisingly, the man's name never changes. Some cultures go as far as considering the woman to be the property of others. This was so forthe Hindu Law giver, Manu, who claimed that no woman should ever be independent. Christianity considered woman to be a product of man as Eve had come from "the rib" of Adam.

    Psychologically, women have accepted these unjust rules. They have resigned to male dominance and allowed themselves to become second class citizens. Guru Ji changed all this with the revelation of the Khalsa. He gave women the opportunity to live life free of the chains of a dogmatic society. It was God's Hukam (will).
    Once initiated into the Khalsa, Sikh women obtain the surname Kaur. The surname Singh (Lion) is given to men, but Kaur (princess) is reserved solely for women. This difference in names is not about inequality. Rather, Guru Ji recognises the difference between men and women. As individuals we are all different from each other, but this difference does not imply inequality. Women and men are different but remain equals. Guru Ji considered women and men to be unique. He respected the genders and, therefore, made the distinction in respectfully. When you take Amarat you are told to consider Guru Gobind Singh as your father and Mata Sahib Kaur as your mother. By joining the Khalsa you abandon all previous chains of linkage. You become the direct descendants of Guru Gobind Singh and Mata Sahib Kaur. You become their daughters. The Khalsa becomes your family. Thus, from the day you are born to the day you die your name remains the same. You do not have to change it due to marriage.


    Unfortunately, the tradition of using the "Kaur" surname has all but disappeared amongst Sikh womenn.[ the author does not agree with it .] It is either dropped, in favour of caste surnames, or misused as a middle name. Guru Ji never designed it as such. Have we not belittled his concepts? Have we lost so much faith and selfesteem that we must copy the bigoted traditions of others ?


    Sikh women are today demanding equal rights. Rightly so. However, they fail to realise that they themselves create inequality by not considering themselves princesses. They no longer consider themselves as daughters of the Khalsa. Why should Sikh women feel that they must change their names after marriage ? This is not part of the Sikh tradition. It belongs to others. Leave it to them. It has nothing to do with the Sikhism. Waheguru gave us these names. Real freedom can only be found in Sikhi. Real freedom is the freedom ones feels from within, and not the show of freedom we pretend to have in the outside world and to others. By keeping your unique and beautiful Sikh identity you are maintaining the freedom given to you by Guru Ji Ultimately, by keep and being content with the "Kaur" surname can you truly understand its importance. Others will make excuses about the difficulty of having such a surname. Why make such excuses?

    The importance of "Kaur" is truly inexpressible. It is something very unique in the history of the world.
     
  11. roopk

    roopk
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    Sikhism & the Status of Women
    By Harjit Kaur Arora, Professor of Economics, Le Moyne College, University of Syracuse, USA

    We as human beings belong to a social group at birth and our development and growth is influenced largely by that groups' philosophy. Being a Sikh woman by birth and part of Panjabi society, I have seen women being glorified as goddesses as well as downgraded. Over the years this observation has developed into a search for an explanation, and recently I have turned to the Sikh Scriptures (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) for an answer.

    The Sikh Religion was founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1539 AD) who was born in Panjab, Pakistan. A brief reference about the social inequalities of that period, especially with respect to women, helps to appreciate the progressive doctrine adopted by the Sikh Gurus. For centuries, the status of women in India was being systematically downgraded. The caste system, economic oppression, denial of right to property and inheritance, a false sense of impurity attached to menstruation and child birth, deliberate deprivation of education led to the deterioration of women's position in society. This was further justified by religious sanctions as was done by Manu, the Hindu law giver:

    • By a girl, by a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house.
    • In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord (husband) is dead to her sons;
    • a woman must never be independent. She must not seek to separate herself from her father, husband, or sons;
    • by leaving them she would make both her own and her husband's families contemptible.
    Code of Manu 5:147-49

    Woman was referred to as a 'seducer', 'unclean', and a 'temptress'. She was denied the right to preach or to participate in other religious rites. Manu went to the point of declaring that the service of the husband by the woman is considered to be equal to the service of God.

    Though he be destitute of virtue, or seeking pleasure elsewhere, or devoid of good qualities, yet a husband must be constantly worshipped as god by a faithful wife. No sacrifice, no vow, no fast must be performed by women apart from their husbands; if a wife obeys her husband, she will for that reason alone be exalted in heaven.

    Code of Manu 5:155

    Per Manu's laws only a male could perform the last rites and death anniversaries (saradhas) for the dead. Inheritance of the family's property was also limited to males and dowry was prevalent. Men could be polygamous whereas women were supposed to burn themselves alive on the pyre of their dead husbands (Sati). A male child was preferred since he alone could carry his father's name whereas women's names (both first and last) were often changed at her marriage. Education of women was looked down upon. They were supposed to do household work only so that they became economically dependent on men. Women were considered to be the property of men. The value on this property was assigned based on the type of service women could render to men. Women were mainly considered seducers and distractions from man's spiritual path. Another system whereby some young women in their late teens (called Dev Dasi's - God's slave) are supposed to be married to stone idols and are to remain celibates, is adopted in temples in parts of India. Such women are occasionally sexually abused by the priests of these temples.
    This article examines the philosophy of the Sikh Gurus in regards to the Status of women and the Sikh doctrine regarding women as enshrined in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The article ends with a brief reference to Sikh women in history. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is replete with feminine symbolism. When we explore the causes of women's degradation one by one we find the hollowness of the various theories advanced by Manu and his followers to enslave women. Also, it is only the Sikh Gurus who have advocated and promoted social equality between the sexes and different castes. Guru Ji not only suggests remedial measures for rectification of the situation but also orders their adoption in our day to day conduct. The first step in this direction is taken by writing in respect of women.

    Advocation of Womens Rights in Sri Guru Granth Sahib In Praise of Women
    Guru Nanak writes.


    "from the woman is our birth, in the woman's womb are we shaped; To the woman we are engaged, to the woman we are wedded; The woman is our friend and from woman is the family; Through the woman are the bonds of the world; Why call woman evil who gives birth to the leaders of the World? From the woman is the woman, without woman there is none". (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 473)

    The Guru reprimands those who consider women as inferior to men. He sees them as active partners in advancing goodwill, general happiness and the collective moral values of society. This declaration definitively requires women to be placed in high esteem. Guru Nanak openly chides those who attribute pollution to women because of menstruation and asserts that pollution lies in the heart and mind of the person and not in the cosmic process of birth.

    "If pollution attaches to birth, then pollution is everywhere (for birth is universal). Cow-dung (used for purifying the kitchen floor by Hindus) and firewood breed maggots; Not one grain of corn is without life; Water itself is a living substance, imparting life to all vegetation. How can we then believe in pollution, when pollution inheres within staples? Says Nanak, pollution is not washed away by purificatory rituals; Pollution is removed by true knowledge alone". (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 472).

    In many religions God has been addressed as father. However, it was Sikhism which introduced the concept of God as mother and father. The fifth Guru (Guru Arjan Dev) reinforces the high status given to women by the first Guru by placing the feminine name given to God (mother) before the name of father. God is our Mother as well as our Father.

    "Thou O Lord, art my Mother and Thou my Father. Thou art the Giver of peace to my soul and very life". (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1144).

    Gender Equality

    In Sikhism widespread and practical steps are advised to be taken for the socio-religious equality of woman. Guru Nanak introduced the Concept of Sangat (holy congregation) - where both men and women can sit together and equally participate in reciting the praises of the Divine and Pangat - sitting together, irrespective of caste or social status differences, to eat a common meal in the Institution of Langar (common kitchen). Women were never excluded from any specific task. Both men and women took equal part in essential tasks, i.e., drawing water from wells, reaping and grounding corn, cooking in the kitchen, and cleaning of the dishes. The Guru says:

    "Come my sisters and dear comrades! Clasp me in your embrace. Meeting together, let us tell the tales of our Omnipotent God. In the True Lord are all merits, in us all demerits". (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 17).


    There are no priests or commentators, no rituals or philosophical doctrines that stand between a person and the Guru's Bani (teachings). There is a direct relationship with God for every man, woman and child. Only the veil of ignorance or one's ego stands in the way between the human and the Divine Being.
    Chastity.

    Sikhism stresses family values and faithfulness to one's spouse.

    "The blind-man abandons his own, and has an affair with another's woman. He is like the parrot, who is pleased to see the simbal tree, but at last dies clinging to it". (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1165).


    Sikh Gurus declared that marriage is an equal partnership of love and sharing between husband and wife. Married life is celebrated to restore to woman her due place and status as an equal partner in life.

    "They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together. Rather they alone are called husband and wife, who have one soul in two bodies". (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 788).

    Status of women in general elevated Sikhism:

    • Condemns the practice of women burning themselves on their husband's funeral pyre (sati). "A 'Sati' is not she who burns herself on the pyre of her spouse. A 'Sati' is one who lives contented and embellishes herself with Good conduct". (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 787).
    • Condemns prevalence of female Infanticide and the ritual of dowry in Indian society. "O' my Father! give me the Name of Lord God as a gift and dowry. Let the Lord be my wear, His Glory my Beauty, that my Task be accomplished. Blessed is the Lord's worship; the True Guru has blessed me with it. In all lands, nay, in all Universe Pervades the Glory of the Lord; the gift of the Lord's (Name) is matchless; All other Dowry displayed by the selfwilled is false egoism and a vain show." (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 78/79).
    • Condemns the wearing of veils by women. One of the simplest but most effective instruments for the subjugation of women in society has been the invention of the veil. It hampered free movement and restricted their activities. It made them stay within the four walls of the home. One of the reasons advanced for the veil was that women were 'temptresses' for the celibate priests and sages. If that be so, perhaps the priests and sages should have the veils and not the women. Guru Nanak abolished the system of veils by introducing the system of sangat (Sikh congregation) where no veil was allowed. Both men and women are required to cover their head in rememberance of Waheguru. Jews, Muslims and others cover their hair in places of worship, but for Sikhs the whole world is a place for Waheguru’s remembrance and holy living. Women are also expected to participate in Keertan as equal partners and even to lead the prayers.
    • Condemned the rape and brutalities committed against women by the Mughal invader Babar. "Modesty and righteousness both have vanished and falsehood moves about as the leader, O Lalo. The function of the Qazis and the Brahmins is over and Satan now reads the marriage rites (rape). The Muslim women read the Quran in suffering and call upon God, O Lalo. The Hindu women of high caste and others of low caste, may also be put in the same account, O Lalo." (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 722).


    A novel method applied by the Sikh Gurus for the uplifting of women was the abundant use of feminine symbols in Sikh Scriptures and in day to day life. The Sikh Gurus have used poetry as the medium of communication. The poetic utterances of the Gurus were not called "Guru Vak" which is masculine but 'Guru Bani" which is feminine. Thus the fourth Guru (Guru Ram Das) says: Bani guru guru hai bani, vich bani amrit sare Bani is the Guru, the Guru Bani, Within Bani are contained all nectars. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 982).


    Similarly, the Divine light was frequently referred to as Joti (a feminine symbol) and not chanana (which is masculine). Among the other steps taken in Sikhism to enhance the status of women were:


    (1) Guru Amar Das (the third Guru) trained and appointed a large number of women as missionaries in charge of areas in which they had complete religious jurisdiction. All men and women gave them respect. Guru Ji established these “Perheas”.

    (2) Women Religious Leaders and Warriors: Sikh women were also cast into the role of saints and soldiers just like Sikh men. They could organise men and lead them in the battles for the freedom of people and their human rights.

    (3) Education and Economic empowerment to women. Sikhism places a great emphasis on the education of women. Since they are considered as equal partners and are permitted to lead prayers and perform all religious ceremonies, their education is considered an asset for them. In the areas of Panjab and New Delhi, we have a large number of schools for Sikh children which are funded by the donations to Sikh Gurdwaras (temples). Free education is provided not only to Sikh girls and boys but also to any other person without distinction of colour, creed, or religion.

    (4) Widow remarriage is allowed in Sikhism. Earlier it was considered only as a right for men.

    Sikh Women in History
    This article would not be complete without a brief mention of the names of some of the great Sikh women who played an important part in Sikh history. Mention can be made of:
    1. Bebe Nanaki - Guru Nanak's sister and Mata Tripta - Guru Nanak's Mother. They played very important roles in encouraging young Guru Nanak to pursue his life long mission. They were the first to recognise Guru Nanak's saintliness.

    2. Mata Khivi, wife of Guru Angad Dev (the second Guru), was in charge of Langar (the common kitchen). She was an unlimited resource of bountiful food and helped to create a new social consciousness in Sikh women. In Gurbani she is mentioned as an example for how to serve.

    3. Bibi Bhani has a unique position in Sikh history. She was the daughter of the third Guru (Guru Amar Das), wife of the fourth Guru (Guru Ram Das), and mother of the fifth Guru (Guru Arjan Dev). Bibi Bhani was an inspiration during the formative period of Sikh history and symbolises responsibility, dedication, humility and fortitude.

    4. Mata Gujari was an illuminating force behind her husband Guru Tegh Bahadur (the ninth Guru) and her son Guru Gobind Singh (the tenth Guru). After the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Mata Gujari guided and inspired her son Guru Gobind Singh. She was responsible for the training of the Sahibzadas (the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh) who gave up their lives for Sikhism while they were still very young. Mata Gujri was an inspiring force during one of the most difficult times in Sikh history.


    5. Mata Sundri helped provide leadership for the Sikhs in a very difficult and tumultuous time following the passing away of Gur Gobind Singh. She helped maintain the sanctity of the Guru Granth Sahib as the successor of Guru Gobind Singh and dealt strictly with pretenders and other aspirants of Guruship.


    6. Mata Sahib Kaur - the spiritual mother of the Khalsa. During the first Amrit ceremony of the Khalsa on Baisakhi 1699, Mata Sahib Kaur added sugar cakes in the preparation of the amrit (Holy nectar) which was administered to the Khalsa on that day for initiation into the Guru Khalsa Panth.


    7. Sikh Missionaries - Guru Amar Das trained missionaries to spread Sikhism throughout the country. According to one account, of the 146 missionaries Guru Amar Das trained and sent out, 52 were women. At one time the religious seats in the country of Afghanistan and Kashmir were under the jurisdiction of women. These women had complete jurisdiction in decision making as well as preaching to congregations.



    8. Mai Bhago Kaur was the brave woman who led a battalion of 40 men in the battle of Muktsar. All of them achieved martyrdom and were blessed by Guru Gobind Singh. Mai Bhago kaur survived to remain a member of the Khalsa army.


    Women continued to play important roles even in politics after the passing away of the tenth Guru. Notable among them were Sardarni Sada Kaur, mother-in-law of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Sardarni Sharnagat Kaur, and Mata Kishan Kaur. What is the situation today? Not an ideal one. With the passage of time, social pressures, male chauvinistic attitudes, and the forgetting of the essence of the teachings of the Sikh Gurus, the position of Sikh women in today's society has suffered a set back. Some of the Sikh men have adopted chauvinistic attitudes of the existing Hindu and Islamic society of the Indian sub-continent. The recent materialistic attitude of some Sikhs living in India have added to the deterioration in the status of women. Many of the progressive teachings of the Sikh Gurus which were 500 years ahead of their time have been forgotten.


    Our Gurdwaras, Sikh organisations and Sikh societies should take an active interest in rectifying this evil situation so that Sikhs can again go with their heads held high in the western society. The Gurdwaras should also provide marital counselling as is done in Christian Churches and Synagogues. I am an optimist and believe the day is not far off when all women irrespective of their education and economic station in life will enjoy the same rights and privileges as were provided to them by the Sikh Gurus.


    By Dya Singh (Australia) [extracts prepared]
     
  12. Nanak Guru

    Nanak Guru
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    Sukhmani Sahib Paath Was Dictated By Which Guru Ji?
     
  13. luv4u

    luv4u
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    To All The Beautiful Sikh Women...

    "Why are you crying?" a young naujawan asked his mom.

    "Because I'm a woman" she told him.
    "I don't understand," he said. His mom just hugged him and said, "And you never will".......... Later the little boy asked his daddy, "Why does mother seem to cry for no reason?" "All women cry for no reason" was all his dad could say........

    The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why women cry. Finally he put in a call to WAHEGURU JI; when He got on the phone, the man asked:

    "O WAHEGURU JI, why do women cry so easily?"

    WAHEGURU said.......

    "When I made women she had to be special. I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world; yet, gentle enough to give comfort.... I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from her children...... I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going when everyone gives up and take care of her family through sickness and fatigue without complaining...... I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child has hurt them very badly....... This same sensitivity helps her make a child's booboo feel better and shares in their teenagers anxieties and fears....... I gave her strength to carry her husband through his faults and fashioned her to protect his heart. I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly. I also gave her a tear to shed, It's hers exclusively to use whenever it is needed. It's not her weakness, it is her strength.... It's a tear for mankind........."


    The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows and the beauty of a woman, with passing years, only grows!

    Sikh Women in State Affairs

    In Indian history, we find only a few women actively participating in government affairs. In the early medieval Muslim period Razia was a solitarywoman who conducted the affairs of government for a short time but she suffered early death mainly because of the weakness of her sex. During the Mughal period the inmates of the Emperor's harem lived in seclusion excepting Nur Jahan. And in later times, Rani of Jhansi flashed into prominence for a while, during the uprising of 1857. But, strange enough. the short span of Sikh history is replete with the remarkable role of Sikh women of princely families. Guru Nanak had preached quality and respect for womenfolk and the Guru's observations in favour of women went a long way in getting them an honourble status and share in the various fields of life.
    The Sikh ranis (queens) as and when an occasion arose, actively participated in state affairs. They occasionally took charge of state administration and their contribution. to the Sikh polity as rulers. regents, administrators and advisers has been creditable indeed. "The Sikh ladies ruled with vigour and diplomacy," says General Gordon In the words of William Francklin, "Instances indeed, have not unfrequently occurred, in which they (women) have actually taken up arms to defend their habitations, from the desultory attacks of the enemy, and throughout the contest, behaved themselves with an intrepidity of spirit, highly praiseworthy
    To quote Griffin, the Sikh women "have on occasions shown themselves the equals of men in wisdom and administrative ability."

    Usually the dowager ranis were up to commendable works. A passing reference of the role of some of them towards the end of the eighteenth century and in the first half of the nineteenth century may not be out of place here. Rani Sada Kaur, widow of Sardar Gurbakhsh Singh Kanaihya and mother-in-law of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was well versed in the affairs of the state and commanded her soldiers in the battle-field. She was a very shrewd lady with a thorough grasp of statecraft. Mai Desan, the widow of Charhat Singh Sukarchakia, was a great administrator, an experienced and a wise diplomat who conducted the civil and military affairs dexterously. Rattan Kaur, the widow of Tara Singh Ghaiba, was a brave and an able lady who kept the Lahore Durbar forces at bay for a sufficient time till the gate-keepers were bribed by the Lahore army. Mai Sukhan, the widow of Gulab Singh Bhangi, strongly defended the town of Amritsar against Ranjit Singh for some time. Dharam Kaur, wife of Dal Singh of Akalgarh, after her husband's imprisonment by Ranjit Singh, mounted guns on the walls of her fort and fought against the Durbar forces. She was a brave and a wise lady who was able, for some time, to foil the designs of the Lahore ruler on her territory.


    After Sardar Baghel Singh's death in 1802, his two widows, Ram Kaur and Rattan Kaur, looked after their territories very well. Ram Kaur, the elder Sardarni, maintained her control over the district of Hoshiarpur which provided her a revenue of two lakh ruprees and Sardarni Rattan Kaur kept Chhalondi in her possession, fetching her an annual revenue of three lakh rupees. She administered her territory efficiently. Similarly, Rani Chand Kaur, widow of Maharaja Kharak Singh, and Rani Jindan, widow of Ranjit Singh, played important roles in the Lahore Durbar polity.


    From the Patiala house also many names like that of Rani Fato, wife of Baba Ala Singh, Rani Ranjinder Kaur, Rani Aus Kaur and Rani Sahib Kaur may be mentioned. In the words of Lepel Griffin. "Rani Rajinder (Kaur) was one of the most remarkable women of her age. she possessed all the virtues which men pretend are their own—courage perseverance and sagacity—without mixture of weakness which men attribute to women."'9 Sahib Kaur was proclaimed as Prime Minister of Patiala at the age of 18. She managed the affairs, both in office and in the battle-field, wonderfully well. Later, when her husband, Jaimal Singh Kanaiyha, was imprisoned by his cousin, Fateh Singh, she hastened to Fatehgarh at the head of a strong force and got her husband released. In 1794, when the commander of the Maratha forces coming northwards sent a message to Sahib Kaur of Patiala house for submission, she preferred to settle the issue in the field of battle. Hurriedly sheformed a league of the neighbouring chiefs, Bhag Singh of Jind, Bhanga Singh and Mehtab Singh of Thanesar, and rushed forth to check the advance of the Marathas- The two armies came to Frips near Ambala She infused new spirit in her disheartened soldiers, led a surprise night attack on the Marathas. In the words of John J. Pool, "With mingled feelings of fear and respect they (Marathas) turned their forces homeward and gave up the expedition. Thus, Patiala was saved by the skill and daring of Rani Sahib Kaur." Rani Desa of Nabha and Daya Kaur of Ambala's role, in shaping the destinies of their territories was no less noteworthy. Daya Kaur, wife of Gurbakhsh Singh, ruler of Ambala, succeeded to her husband after his death. In the words of Lepel Griffin, "She was an excellent ruler and her estate was one of the best managed in the protected territory.'' These ladies were well known for their administrative acumen, grasp of political situations, and dexterity in handling arms and organising defence.


    Article-excerpts taken from:
    "History of Sikh Misals"by Bhagat Singh ji. Published by Punjabi University., Patiala.



    Sikh Women in State Affairs.......contd. [sikh women]

    Women strive for success in the future Equality has been an issue for the last decade. Injustices against women were not going unnoticed leading to female movements. Finally, women have taken a stand against these grave injustices to claim their innate rights as a human beings. This was to stop the dominance of males to create an equal base for women to be comfortable within. Despite this active move female negligence has occurred and continues to occur in present day.
    As I recall growing up as a child the birth of an Indian girl was seldom welcome. They were seen as an economical strain on their families and unable to continue the family name. Males on the other hand were regarded with such love and respect. The females that survived were either fortunate enough to find a loving husband or unfortunate to have to spend a life-time with mates who had them on a constant beck and call.

    Domestic violence soon became an issue, to the male what seemed, an innocent slap was enough to hurt her. This act was to state his superiority and keep her under control. What action could women take? None whatsoever, they took it never realizing the impact this would have on their children. At an early age, children found this act of violence as ‘normal’ and just accepted it. Psychologists have shown that later on this led to the abused mothers’ male children abusing their wives just as the fathers did. What could lead to this hatred? Why were women the targets of such hatred?

    Looking at it through a religious and cultural view, it is ironic to see how religion and culture contrast. People that follow their religion, yet abuse their wives are actually disobeying the religion. In pertaining to Sikhism, many people have felt that the Sikh religion discriminated against women. However this is an influence from society. From the beginning of the Sikh religion, women have played central roles in the religion that has helped shape the Sikh faith. Sikh women are truly a part of the backbone of history in educating, fighting etc. In the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of the Sikh religion, women were of inferior status. Societal pressures had dictated this stance, but this did not fit the Guru's vision. Guru Ji was appalled by the notion of female infanticide, thereby abolishing any negativity towards women. He preached that both men and women are of equal rank and should therefore treat one another equally. Nowadays, when a baby girl is born, tears are seldom shed as they used to before. Instead they are replaced with gifts of joy. Women have taken a new and brighter step, violence may not have ended in communities, but simply women have stopped taking it. This change is seen due to increased levels of education and an increased awareness of their civil rights. They realize neither they have to follow the paths their mothers took nor any other female predecessors for that matter. They do not have to put others ahead of their well-deserved happiness. Shelters, hotlines, women’s group and more understanding from the community notice women and only time will tell when we see prominent Sikh women in high places.

    Fundamentals of Sikhism


    The seed for the reformation of humanity which was sown by Guru Nanak and watered by his successors, ripened in the time of Guru Gobind Singh and culminated in the creation of the Khalsa. The sword that carved the Khalsa's way to sublime glory was undoubtedly forged by Guru Gobind Singh but its steel was provided by Guru Nanak.

    The whole program of Guru Nanak's initiation reached its exalted state of finality when the tenth Nanak (Guru Gobind Singh) passed on 'Gur Nanak Jot' to the Adi Granth, Holy Scripture- par excellence, and proclaimed it as Guru Granth Sahib, the last Guru for ever.


    From the moment of its initiation by Guru Nanak to its consecration by the tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh, a period of 239 years, Sikhism acquired its holy scripture, signs and symbols, and unmistakable form or stance. Transformation from one Guru to the other happened in the same way as one lamp were to lit from another. The holy transformation of ten Gurus is recognized as ONE, since all of them came from the same Divine Flame in continuity of the same Divine Mission. The establishment of Guruship, the story of succession, the founding of Amritsar and other seats of Sikhism, the compilation of the Adi Granth, the institution of Sangat (holy congregation) and Pangat (Guru's free kitchen), the martyrdom of the Gurus, the panoply and plumage of power, the investiture of the Khalsa, all these and many other events which make the Sikh chronicle, give Sikh religion a color of the highest distinction.


    In Sikhism, Guruship does not stand for mere order of mystics, since the Guru attached no values to renunciation of worldly life. Those who practiced renunciation such as Yogis and Sidhas were condemned as shirkers of responsibilities- they were considered as escapists and runaways from social responsibilities and obligations. In Sikhism a man is called upon to accept the Will of God and thus sublimate his suffering and loss. Sikhism believing in the conquest of sorrow and suffering, stipulates ceaseless endeavor.

    [SIZE=-1]Importance Of Gurdwara In Sikhism: Satsang and Practice as per Rehat Maryda Of SGPC[/SIZE]

    • [SIZE=-1]a. One is more easily and deeply affected by Gurbani (the holy Bani bequeathed by the Gurus) participating in congregational gatherings. For this reason, it is necessary for a Sikh that he visit the places where the Sikhs congregate for worship and prayer (the Gurdwaras), and joining the congregation, partake of the benefits that the study of the holy scriptures bestows. [/SIZE]​
    [SIZE=-1]b. The Guru Granth Sahib should be ceremonially opened in the Gurdwara every day without fail. Except for special exigencies, when there is need to keep the Guru Granth Sahib open during the night, Guru Granth Sahib should not be kept open during the night. It should, generally, be closed ceremonially after the conclusion of the Rehras (evening scripture recitation). Guru Granth Sahib should remain open so long as a granthi or attendant can remain in attendance, persons seeking darshan (seeking a view of or making obeisance to it) keep coming, or there is no risk of commission of irreverence towards it. Thereafter, it is advisable to close it ceremonially to avoid any disrespect to it. [/SIZE]​

    [SIZE=-1]c. The Guru Granth Sahib should be opened, read and closed ceremonially with reverence. The place where it is installed should be absolutely clean. An awning should be above. The Guru Granth Sahib should be placed on a cot measuring up to its size and overlaid with absolutely clean mattress and sheets. For proper installation and opening the Guru Granth Sahib , there should be cushions/pillows appropriate kind etc. and, for covering it, romalas (sheet covers of appropriate size). When the Guru Granth Sahib is not being read, it should remain covered with a romal. A whisk too, should be there. [/SIZE]​


    [SIZE=-1]d. Anything except the afore-mentioned reverential ceremonies, for instance, such practices as the arti (Waving of a platter with burning lamps and incense set in it in vertical circular motion) with burning incense and lamps, offerings of eatables to Guru Granth Sahib , burning of lights, beating of gongs, etc., is contrary to gurmat (the Guru's way). However, for the perfuming of the place, the use of flowers, incense and scent is not barred. For light inside the room, oil or butter-oil lamps, candles, electric lamps, kerosene oil lamps, etc., may he lighted. [/SIZE]​


    [SIZE=-1]e. No book should he installed like and at par with the Guru Granth Sahib . Worship of any idol or any ritual or activity should not be allowed to be conducted inside the Gurdwaras. Nor should the festival of any other faith he allowed to be celebrated inside the Gurdwara. However, it will not be improper to use any occasion or gathering for the propagation of the gurmat (The Guru's way). [/SIZE]​


    [SIZE=-1]f. Pressing the legs of the cot on which the Guru Granth Sahib is installed, rubbing nose against walls and on platforms, held sacred, or massaging these, placing water below the Guru Granth Sahib's seat, making or installing statues, or idols inside the Gurdwaras, bowing before the picture of the Sikh Gurus or elders - all these are irreligious self-willed egotism, contrary to gurmat (the Guru's way). [/SIZE]​

    [SIZE=-1]g. When the Guru Granth Sahib has to be taken from one place to another, the Ardas should be performed. He/she who carries the Guru Granth Sahib on his/her head should walk barefoot; but when the wearing of shoes is a necessity, no superstitions need be entertained. [/SIZE]​

    [SIZE=-1]h. The Guru Granth Sahib should be ceremonially opened after performing the Ardas. After the ceremonial opening, a hymn should be read from the Guru Granth Sahib. [/SIZE]​


    [SIZE=-1]i. Whenever the Guru Granth Sahib is brought, irrespective of whether or not another copy of the Guru Granth Sahib had already been installed at the concerned place, every Sikh should stand up to show respect. [/SIZE]​

    [SIZE=-1]j. While going into the Gurdwara, one should take off the shoes and clean oneself up. If the feet are dirty or soiled, they should be washed with water. [/SIZE]​

    [SIZE=-1]K.One should circumambulate with the Guru Granth Sahib or the Gurdwara on one's right. k. No person, no matter which country, religion or caste he/she belongs to, is debarred from entering the Gurdwara for darshan (seeing the holy shrine). However, he/she should not have on his/her person anything, such as tobacco or other intoxicants, which are tabooed by the Sikh religion. [/SIZE]


    [SIZE=-1]L The first thing a Sikh should do on entering the Gurdwara is to do obeisance before the Guru Granth Sahib. He/she should, thereafter, have a glimpse of the congregation and bid in a low, quiet voice, "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh." [/SIZE]​

    [SIZE=-1]m. In the congregation, there should be no differentiation or discrimination between Sikh and non-Sikh, persons traditionally regarded as touchable and untouchable, the so-called high and low caste persons, the high and the low. [/SIZE]​

    [SIZE=-1]n. Sitting on a cushion, a distinctive seat, a chair, a stool, a cot, etc. or in any distinctive position in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib or within the congregation is contrary to Gurmat(Guru's way). [/SIZE]​

    [SIZE=-1]o. No Sikh should sit bare-headed in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib or in the congregation. For Sikh women joining the congregation with their persons uncomfortably draped and with veils drawn over their faces is contrary to gurmat (Guru's way). [/SIZE]​


    [SIZE=-1]p. There are five takhts (lit., thrones, fig., seats of high authority) : namely- [/SIZE]​

    [SIZE=-1]I. Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Amritsar, ,[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]II. Takht Sri, Patna Sahib, ,[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]III. Takht Sri, Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur, [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]IV. Takht Sri, Hazur Sahib, Nanded, ,[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]V. Takht Sri, Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo. [/SIZE]



    [SIZE=-1]q. Only an Amritdhari Sikh man or woman, who faithfully observes the discipline ordained for the Amritdhari Sikhs, can enter the hallowed enclosures of the Takhts (Ardas for and on behalf of any Sikh or non-Sikh, fallen or punished (tankhahia) Sikh, can be offered at the takhts. [/SIZE]​


    [SIZE=-1]r. At a high-level site in every Gurdwara should be installed the nishan sahib (Sikh flag). The cloth of the flag should be either of xanthic or of greyish blue colour and on top of the flag post, there should either he a spearhead or a Khanda (a straight dagger with convex side edges leading to slanting top edges ending in a vertex). [/SIZE]​


    [SIZE=-1]s. There should he a drum (nagara) in the Gurdwara for beating on appropriate occasions. [/SIZE]



    Source: SGPC.net

    Broad Concept of God in Sikhism and Allied Concepts

    Followers of the Sikh faith believe that all life, including human life, comes from God. God is the Creator of the universe and the force that keeps it in existence. God is purely spiritual, has no physical body and cannot be known or experienced through the five senses. God is infinitely above and beyond everything else that exists (transcendent). God is also within all creation, including human beings (immanent) and, therefore, Sikhs believe that all creation is part of God. [One may go through Jap ji Sahib thatis a completeeulogisation Of the creator. This has been translated by many philosphers and the religious personas. It is not necessary that all of themhave arrived at a uniform meaning.]


    Mukti or Salvation

    However, salvation (reunion with God Mukti) cannot simply be gained by attention to physical, emotional and intellectual needs. The physical world may be real in the sense that it does actually exist, but it is not real in a lasting or ultimate sense. The only True Reality is God and the only truly lasting part of a human being is the soul ( Atma). If a person forgets this, and allows the physical world to become a barrier between God and the soul, he/she will lose the unique opportunity to reunite with God. Too much concentration on the material aspects of life ( Maya) leads the soul further and further away from reunion with God ( Mukti). Human pleasures and needs pass, the human body eventually dies and only the soul remains – if a person forgets this he/she will have wasted the unique opportunity which is part of being born human.

    Transmigration of the soul

    The Sikh Gurus taught that existence in the universe involves the soul in a journey through many life forms. During this journey, provided the being perform good deeds, the soul travels towards ever-closer reunion with the Creator and One True Reality of which it is a part. The human form is only one of 8.4 million forms that the soul has inhabited during its existence in the physical world. The soul will have lived through many lives and will have inhabited many different forms before eventually being born in a human body.

    Being reborn in human form is regarded as a special blessing because human beings are different to all other forms of life and have a higher form of consciousness. Only human beings have this higher form of consciousness, awareness of a moral conscience and, as a result, free will. Humans should not be pure slaves of their instinct which is how lower life-forms are governed.

    The natural law of Karma

    The law of karma can be described simply as the belief that all actions have consequences for the person who acts. These consequences do not just involve the immediate physical results – for example, when someone uses violence against another person and he/she is injured as a result. There are also moral consequences which affect the soul on its journey towards reunion with God and determine the nature of further rebirths if reunion with God is not achieved. The law of Karma is exactly the same is is followed by Hindus. Even west has started leaning on this law of Cause and effect.

    If a person returns to the cycle of life, death and rebirth, it is not because God actively punishes that person for doing wrong. The Sikh Gurus taught that a person moves closer to reunion with God or further away from reunion as a result of the natural law of karma. The law of karma is part of God’s created order, not a force or power independent of God.


    The Gurus taught that it is not necessary to die in order to be free from karma and reincarnation (rebirth). Anyone who chooses to live in complete harmony with God’s Will or Hukam, and keeps God in mind at all times, no longer creates either positive or negative karma. Although, the Sikhs will avoid negative karma and try to create positive karma, this is not the main focus. The main focus is in listening to, and obeying, God’s Will or Hukam and remaining open to God’s Grace at all times ( Kudrat). A person who constantly keeps God in mind and lives in harmony with God’s Will or Hukam is known as gurmukh.

    Maya

    Maya is often translated into English as "illusion". In Sikhism, however, the word maya is not used to suggest that the physical world is unreal or imaginary. Sikhs believe that everything in the world is real and good because it has been created by, and is part of, God.

    Maya, for Sikhs, is the part of human nature which misunderstands what is important in life and becomes attached to things that do not last. This attachment ( Moh) can be to possessions, success, physical pleasure, a good name – even family and friends. Maya makes human beings forget that God is the only lasting or important part of everything that exists.

    Developing virtues and controlling vices


    The Sikh Gurus taught that to achieve Salvation ( Mukti), it was important to work hard at developing positive human qualities which lead the soul closer to God. The Gurus taught that all human beings have the qualities they need to reunite with God but they must train their minds to make the most of these qualities. In order to reach the final goal of life, Sikhs believe that they must constantly develop their love for God by developing compassion for all God’s creation.

    Five Virtues - Sat, Santokh, Daya, Nimrata and Pyare

    Sikhs believe that human beings must work at developing all the God-like qualities they have in order to truly love God. Love of God is not just a feeling but always involves showing love for God by selfless service to God’s creation. A person who is gurmukh does not act out of selfishness but, by focusing on God, acts out of compassion for others "… becomes the slave of the Lord’s slaves, then …. finds the Lord and eradicates ego from within". Maya and haumai are overcome by focusing only on God while serving God in creation. Material wealth, fame and praise are unimportant because the gurmukh is focused on the only thing of lasting value – God "The wealth of the Naam shall never be exhausted; no one can estimate its worth"

    One of the most important virtues which Sikhs try to develop during life is that of truth ( Sat). God is Truth and by trying to practise truth, i.e. live a truthful life, Sikhs believe that they can live in accordance with God’s Will/Hukam. The other virtues are: Compassion ( Daya), Contentment ( Santokh), Humility ( Nimrata) and Love ( Pyare).

    Five Evils - Kam, Krodh, Lobh, Moh and Ahankar


    The Guru Granth Sahib often refers to five evils, vices or ‘thieves’ which human beings should try to control. By focusing on developing virtues, a Sikh hopes to control these five evils. These evils lead the soul away from God and steal the unique opportunity to reunite with God. Within this body dwell the five thieves: sexual desire ( Kam), anger/rage ( Krodh), greed ( Lobh), emotional attachment ( Moh) and egoism ( Ahankar).
    __________________
     
    #12 luv4u, Jun 9, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2016
  14. roopk

    roopk
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    Fundamental Of Sikhism -contd.

    PURPOSE OF LIFE:

    According to the Guru, moral life is not a matter of a few commandments or a code or a ritual, but the fruit of a life directed towards spiritual quest involving incredibly hard discipline. Most people generally believe in enjoying materialistic life to the brim. Thus, the life goes on till a person ultimately finds oneself physically spent up and spiritually bankrupt. Lured by the charm of success in this materialistic world, one gives little or no thought to the Eternal values of life.


    According to the eastern religions, there are eighty-four lakhs (8.4 million) of lives in the world, half of which are in the water and the other half are on the land and air. All life is transient. It moves on and on through the wheel of transmigration in accordance with its 'karmas' or actions good or bad. The human soul is achieved after transmigrating through various lower species as Gurbani (the Divine Word) confirms it:
    • "In how many births wert thou a worm or a moth!
      In how many births an elephant, a fish, or a deer!
      In how many births a bird or a serpent!
      In how many births wert thou yoked as a horse or an ox!
      Meet the Lord of the world, this is the time to meet Him
      After long period of time hast thou attained human body."
      (Gauri Guareri Mohalla 5, p-176)
    The Gurmat (Guru's teaching) defines the purpose of life as:
    • "This time having born as human being
      This is thy turn to meet the Supreme Lord.
      Thy other activities will be of no avail at the end,
      Seek the company of the holy men
      And only contemplate on God.
      Set thy mind on crossing the sea of life,
      For life is being wasted away
      In pursuits of pleasures of the world."
      (Asa Mohalla 5, p-12)
    Human soul is the door for liberation, but enchanted by the materialistic world, one loses highly precious chance of life:
    • "O man, thou comest to earn merit (spiritual)
      But how vainly art thou engaged
      While the night of life passeth away."
      (Sri Rag Mohalla 5, p-43)

      "Sleeping through, man wasteth the night,
      Eating, he wasteth the day away
      And lo, the Jewel of life is bartered away for a trite."
      (Gauri Bairagan Mohalla 1, p-156)

      "Having wandered through eighty-four lakhs of species
      Thou hast obtained the very precious human life,
      Nanak, remember thou then the Nam
      For thy days are numbered."
      (Sri Rag Mohalla 5, p-50)

      "Without the Name of God, birth into this world is fruitless,
      Without Nam one eats poison, speaks evil, dies without
      merit and transmigrates."
      (Bhairo Mohalla 1, p-1127)

      "O God, the mothers of those who keep not God's Name in their hearts ought to have been barren,
      For they who wander without the Name, pine away and die in agony."
      (Jaitsari Mohalla 4, p-697)
    The purpose of human life in Sikhism is not to attain paradise or Swarga of the popular Hindu conception, but to seek God, and be united with Him. The ultimate goal of Sikh religion is to merge with the Supreme Soul and then enjoy the Uninterrupted Bliss for ever. A Sikh aspires for spiritual union with the Lord- a state of Bliss. Human life is an opportunity to attain that goal, if it is missed, a person falls back in the cycle of birth and rebirth.
     
  15. luv4u

    luv4u
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    Fundamental Of Sikhism
    CONCEPT OF GOD IN SIKHISM:
    The definition of God is given in the very opening sentence of Guru Granth Sahib, which is called Mool-Mantar (Preamble of Japji):
    • There is but One God
      He is the Eternal Truth
      The Creator, All-Pervading Divine Spirit
      Unfearful, Without hate and enmity
      Immortal Entity, Unborn, Self-Existent, and
      He is realized by His Own Grace.

      Meditate upon
      Who was True before the Creation
      Who was True in the beginning of the Creation
      Who is True now, and
      O Nanak, Who shall be True for Ever.
    As a matter of fact the whole of Guru Granth Sahib is the explanation of the above definition. The Guru elaborates the concept of God in Rag Sorath:
    • The Unseen, Infinite, Inaccessible, Inapprehensible God is not subject to death or destiny.
      He is of no caste, unborn, self-existent, without fear or doubt.
      I am a sacrifice to the Truest of the true.
      He hath no form, or color, or outline;
      He becometh manifest by the true Word.
      He hath no mother, father, son, or kinsman;
      He feeleth not lust, and hath no wife
      Or family; He is pure, endless, and infinite; all light is Thine, O Lord.
      God is concealed in every heart; His light is in every heart.
      He whose understanding's adamantine doors are opened by
      the Guru's instruction, fixeth his gaze on the Fearless One.
      God having created animals made them subject to death, and retained all contrivances in His Own power.
      He who serveth the True Guru obtaineth the real boon, and is delivered by repeating the Word.
      Truth is contained in pure vessels; few there are whose acts are pure.
      By seeking Thy protection, saith Nanak, the soul blendeth with the Supreme Soul.

      (Sorath Mohalla 1, p-597)
    God is both Impersonal (Nirgun) and Personal (Sargun). Impersonal God is Formless and beyond the human reach. When He reveals Himself through His Creation, He becomes related and personal. It is just like the rays coming out of the sun. The source is Formless, and the whole universe is His Personal form. No form howsoever unique it may be, is independent of Him. Infinite can manifest into unlimited number of finites, but any number of finites, alone or together, cannot be equal to the Infinite. So any finite form cannot be worshipped as God, Who is Infinite and Formless:
    • "God is Formless, colorless, markless,
      He is casteless, classless, creedless;
      His form, hue, shape and garb
      Cannot be described by any one,
      He is the Spirit of Eternity,
      Self-Radiant, He shineth in His Splendor."
      (Guru Gobind Singh)
    God neither takes birth nor does He die:
    • "Burnt be the tongue that says
      The Lord takes birth and undergoes death."
      (Bhairon Mohalla 5, p-1136)
    The Guru warned that he was not God, and those who called him God, should fall into hell:
    • "Whosoever calleth me God
      May fall into hell."

      (Guru Gobind Singh)
    i) God protects His saints and devotees from dangers, unless He wills that their sufferings and martyrdom should serve a higher purpose. To protect the righteous is His Sovereign Characteristic . In the face of some acute dangers, saints have prayed for aid and intervention of God to help them in distress. God came to their help and protected them in a miraculous way. The stories of Prahlad, Dhru and others, and the autobiographic statements of Namdev and Kabir in Guru Granth Sahib, show His Sovereign Power to protect the righteous. Such miracles are part of the doctrine of divine Providence and Preservation. These supernatural miracles of God should be distinguished from the miracles of human beings performed by their occult powers, which in Sikhism are considered dangerous and unbecoming.


    ii) 'As you sow, so shall you reap', leads to the theory of 'Karma', actions, good or bad, where a person is rewarded for his good actions and punished for his bad deeds. Therefore, according to the theory of Karma, a worst sinner will always suffer for his deeds and can never attain salvation. Guru Nanak has rejected this stating that pardoning even the worst sinner is the Sovereign Characteristic (Birdh) of God:
    • "Patat pavan prabh birdh tumaro."
      (Bilawal Mohalla 5, p-829)

      'Redeeming the repentant sinner, is Thy Characteristic.'
      (Translation of the above)
    The Guru emphasizes that the sinner whom no body affords protection in the whole world, if he surrenders before the Almighty, becomes pure, that is he is blessed by His Grace:
    • "Jis papi kau milai na dhoee Saran aawai ta nirmal hoee."
      (Bhairon Mohalla 5, p-1141)

      'The sinner who is patronless in the world When surrenders before God, gets deliverance.'
      (Translation of the above)
    The Guru reiterates that to save the saints, to protect the righteous, and even to redeem the repentant sinners is Paramount Characteristic of God.
     
  16. roopk

    roopk
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    CONCEPT OF GOD IN SIKHISM:

    The definition of God is given in the very opening sentence of Guru Granth Sahib, which is called Mool-Mantar (Preamble of Japji):
    • There is but One God
      He is the Eternal Truth
      The Creator, All-Pervading Divine Spirit
      Unfearful, Without hate and enmity
      Immortal Entity, Unborn, Self-Existent, and
      He is realized by His Own Grace.
      Meditate upon
      Who was True before the Creation
      Who was True in the beginning of the Creation
      Who is True now, and
      O Nanak, Who shall be True for Ever.
    As a matter of fact the whole of Guru Granth Sahib is the explanation of the above definition. The Guru elaborates the concept of God in Rag Sorath:
    • The Unseen, Infinite, Inaccessible, Inapprehensible God is not subject to death or destiny.
      He is of no caste, unborn, self-existent, without fear or doubt.
      I am a sacrifice to the Truest of the true.
      He hath no form, or color, or outline;
      He becometh manifest by the true Word.
      He hath no mother, father, son, or kinsman;
      He feeleth not lust, and hath no wife
      Or family; He is pure, endless, and infinite; all light is Thine, O Lord.
      God is concealed in every heart; His light is in every heart.
      He whose understanding's adamantine doors are opened by
      the Guru's instruction, fixeth his gaze on the Fearless One.
      God having created animals made them subject to death, and retained all contrivances in His Own power.
      He who serveth the True Guru obtaineth the real boon, and is delivered by repeating the Word.
      Truth is contained in pure vessels; few there are whose acts are pure.
      By seeking Thy protection, saith Nanak, the soul blendeth with the Supreme Soul.
      (Sorath Mohalla 1, p-597)
    God is both Impersonal (Nirgun) and Personal (Sargun).

    Impersonal God is Formless and beyond the human reach. When He reveals Himself through His Creation, He becomes related and personal. It is just like the rays coming out of the sun. The source is Formless, and the whole universe is His Personal form. No form howsoever unique it may be, is independent of Him. Infinite can manifest into unlimited number of finites, but any number of finites, alone or together, cannot be equal to the Infinite. So any finite form cannot be worshipped as God, Who is Infinite and Formless:
    • "God is Formless, colorless, markless,
      He is casteless, classless, creedless;
      His form, hue, shape and garb
      Cannot be described by any one,
      He is the Spirit of Eternity,
      Self-Radiant, He shineth in His Splendor."
      (Guru Gobind Singh)
    God neither takes birth nor does He die:
    • "Burnt be the tongue that says
      The Lord takes birth and undergoes death."
      (Bhairon Mohalla 5, p-1136)
    The Guru warned that he was not God, and those who called him God, should fall into hell:
    • "Whosoever calleth me God
      May fall into hell."
      (Guru Gobind Singh)
     
  17. roopk

    roopk
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    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    God in Sikhism


    God protects His saints and devotees from dangers, unless He wills that their sufferings and martyrdom should serve a higher purpose. To protect the righteous is His Sovereign Characteristic (Birdh). In the face of some acute dangers, saints have prayed for aid and intervention of God to help them in distress. God came to their help and protected them in a miraculous way.

    The stories of Prahlad, Dhru and others, and the autobiographic statements of Namdev and Kabir in Guru Granth Sahib, show His Sovereign Power to protect the righteous. Such miracles are part of the doctrine of divine Providence and Preservation. These supernatural miracles of God should be distinguished from the miracles of human beings performed by their occult powers, which in Sikhism are considered dangerous and unbecoming.


    As you sow, so shall you reap', leads to the theory of 'Karma', actions, good or bad, where a person is rewarded for his good actions and punished for his bad deeds. Therefore, according to the theory of Karma, a worst sinner will always suffer for his deeds and can never attain salvation. Guru Nanak has rejected this stating that pardoning even the worst sinner is the Sovereign Characteristic (Birdh) of God:
    • "Patat pavan prabh birdh tumaro."
      (Bilawal Mohalla 5, p-829)
      'Redeeming the repentant sinner, is Thy Characteristic.'
      (Translation of the above)
    The Guru emphasizes that the sinner whom no body affords protection in the whole world, if he surrenders before the Almighty, becomes pure, that is he is blessed by His Grace:
    • "Jis papi kau milai na dhoee Saran aawai ta nirmal hoee."

      'The sinner who is patronless in the world When surrenders before God, gets deliverance.'
      (Translation of the above)
    The Guru reiterates that to save the saints, to protect the righteous, and even to redeem the repentant sinners is Paramount Characteristic of God.

    Concept of God in Sikhism[ summarised]

    Followers of the Sikh faith believe that all life, including human life, comes from God. God is the Creator of the universe and the force that keeps it in existence. God is purely spiritual, has no physical body and cannot be known or experienced through the five senses. God is infinitely above and beyond everything else that exists (transcendent). God is also within all creation, including human beings (immanent) and, therefore, Sikhs believe that all creation is part of God. [One may go through Jap ji Sahib thatis a completeeulogisation Of the creator. This has been translated by many philosphers and the religious personas. It is not necessary that all of themhave arrived at a uniform meaning.]


    Mukti or Salvation

    However, salvation (reunion with God Mukti) cannot simply be gained by attention to physical, emotional and intellectual needs. The physical world may be real in the sense that it does actually exist, but it is not real in a lasting or ultimate sense. The only True Reality is God and the only truly lasting part of a human being is the soul ( Atma). If a person forgets this, and allows the physical world to become a barrier between God and the soul, he/she will lose the unique opportunity to reunite with God. Too much concentration on the material aspects of life ( Maya) leads the soul further and further away from reunion with God ( Mukti). Human pleasures and needs pass, the human body eventually dies and only the soul remains – if a person forgets this he/she will have wasted the unique opportunity which is part of being born human.

    Transmigration of the soul

    The Sikh Gurus taught that existence in the universe involves the soul in a journey through many life forms. During this journey, provided the being perform good deeds, the soul travels towards ever-closer reunion with the Creator and One True Reality of which it is a part. The human form is only one of 8.4 million forms that the soul has inhabited during its existence in the physical world. The soul will have lived through many lives and will have inhabited many different forms before eventually being born in a human body.

    Being reborn in human form is regarded as a special blessing because human beings are different to all other forms of life and have a higher form of consciousness. Only human beings have this higher form of consciousness, awareness of a moral conscience and, as a result, free will. Humans should not be pure slaves of their instinct which is how lower life-forms are governed.

    The natural law of Karma

    The law of karma can be described simply as the belief that all actions have consequences for the person who acts. These consequences do not just involve the immediate physical results – for example, when someone uses violence against another person and he/she is injured as a result. There are also moral consequences which affect the soul on its journey towards reunion with God and determine the nature of further rebirths if reunion with God is not achieved. The law of Karma is exactly the same is is followed by Hindus. Even west has started leaning on this law of Cause and effect.

    If a person returns to the cycle of life, death and rebirth, it is not because God actively punishes that person for doing wrong. The Sikh Gurus taught that a person moves closer to reunion with God or further away from reunion as a result of the natural law of karma. The law of karma is part of God’s created order, not a force or power independent of God.


    The Gurus taught that it is not necessary to die in order to be free from karma and reincarnation (rebirth). Anyone who chooses to live in complete harmony with God’s Will or Hukam, and keeps God in mind at all times, no longer creates either positive or negative karma. Although, the Sikhs will avoid negative karma and try to create positive karma, this is not the main focus. The main focus is in listening to, and obeying, God’s Will or Hukam and remaining open to God’s Grace at all times ( Kudrat). A person who constantly keeps God in mind and lives in harmony with God’s Will or Hukam is known as gurmukh.

    Maya

    Maya is often translated into English as "illusion". In Sikhism, however, the word maya is not used to suggest that the physical world is unreal or imaginary. Sikhs believe that everything in the world is real and good because it has been created by, and is part of, God.

    Maya, for Sikhs, is the part of human nature which misunderstands what is important in life and becomes attached to things that do not last. This attachment ( Moh) can be to possessions, success, physical pleasure, a good name – even family and friends. Maya makes human beings forget that God is the only lasting or important part of everything that exists.

    Developing virtues and controlling vices


    The Sikh Gurus taught that to achieve Salvation ( Mukti), it was important to work hard at developing positive human qualities which lead the soul closer to God. The Gurus taught that all human beings have the qualities they need to reunite with God but they must train their minds to make the most of these qualities. In order to reach the final goal of life, Sikhs believe that they must constantly develop their love for God by developing compassion for all God’s creation.

    Five Virtues - Sat, Santokh, Daya, Nimrata and Pyare

    Sikhs believe that human beings must work at developing all the God-like qualities they have in order to truly love God. Love of God is not just a feeling but always involves showing love for God by selfless service to God’s creation. A person who is gurmukh does not act out of selfishness but, by focusing on God, acts out of compassion for others "… becomes the slave of the Lord’s slaves, then …. finds the Lord and eradicates ego from within". Maya and haumai are overcome by focusing only on God while serving God in creation. Material wealth, fame and praise are unimportant because the gurmukh is focused on the only thing of lasting value – God "The wealth of the Naam shall never be exhausted; no one can estimate its worth"

    One of the most important virtues which Sikhs try to develop during life is that of truth ( Sat). God is Truth and by trying to practise truth, i.e. live a truthful life, Sikhs believe that they can live in accordance with God’s Will/Hukam. The other virtues are: Compassion ( Daya), Contentment ( Santokh), Humility ( Nimrata) and Love ( Pyare).

    Five Evils - Kam, Krodh, Lobh, Moh and Ahankar


    The Guru Granth Sahib often refers to five evils, vices or ‘thieves’ which human beings should try to control. By focusing on developing virtues, a Sikh hopes to control these five evils. These evils lead the soul away from God and steal the unique opportunity to reunite with God. Within this body dwell the five thieves: sexual desire ( Kam), anger/rage ( Krodh), greed ( Lobh), emotional attachment ( Moh) and egoism ( Ahankar).
     
  18. roopk

    roopk
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    Joined:
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    Can One be Happy withouit Religion

    Much depends on one's idea of happiness. True happiness is a state of mind in which man finds transquility and contentment. The external happiness conferred by material possessions and worldly activities is ephemeral and superficial. In Communist countries people may appear to be satisfied and contented as their material conditions improve, but can they really be said to have achieved true happiness and real peace of mind?
    Perhaps one of the reasons for the present day decline in morals is the neglect of religion. Without high ethical standards, which are the foundations of all religions no organized and disciplined life is possible. Promiscuity and sexual aberrations are no doubt due to ignorance and a neglect of the fundamental principles of ethics. In a secular state, it is the duty of parents and voluntary organizations to impart to children a knowledge of moral and spiritual values and ennoble them. If a man who is under a strong temptation thinks that moral rules are man-made, he may easily violate them. He will hesitate more to disobey them, if he believes that they are God made and have been revealed to him through a Divine Teacher or the Guru.

    Even men of piety and great devotion are apt to fall a prey to temptation. There are such notable examples as Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Joga Singh. If religion is not sincerely practised, it has little effect on our private lives or that of the community. An interest in religion makes people seek the company of holy men, which can give them the solace and happiness they really need.
    Some people make a show of being religious. This does not serve any useful purpose. What is needed is a positive attitude, to seek the company and assistance of those persons who are truly devoted to religion.
    Some people think that religion is an irrelvance, a matter of no consequence, and that they lose nothing if they exclude religion from their lives. They believe in the motto: 'Eat, drink, and be merry'. But does this give an edge or meaning to life? Life has a purpose. Religion makes a man conscious of his spiritual heritage and goal.
     
  19. roopk

    roopk
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    Fear : A general Basis Of All Religions
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    In ancient times, it is true that the fear of the unknown, the anger of gods and goddesses and the concept of divine punishment compelled people to believe in some sort of religion. They began to worship the forces of nature. In the Middle Ages, the Christian Church set up the Inquisition to punish the wrongs against the church. As man's knowledge increased, this fear was replaced by a conviction that behind the universe was a Creator, who was just and merciful and not revengeful or mischievous.


    Fear is not always a bad thing. Fear of police and of imprisionment makes many people abide by the law. The fear of veneral diseases keeps many persons away from sexual over-indulgence. The fear of sickness has turned men's minds to research and the discovery of remedies for many chronic diseases and violent epidemics.
    According to the new science of psychiatry, fear of any kind, particularly in the case of children, undermines their personalities. Instead of telling people about penalties for moral wrong doing they should appeal to their higher sense and considerations of the social good. It is in the interest of religion itself to discourage such fear and to strenghten the individual's moral values and social conscience. The moral code ought to be a part of daily life and any breach should be regarded as an injury to society, and against the best interests of the community.


    Sikhism does not encourage fear. It does not believe in a system of punishment or the inducement of rewards. In place of fear, it advocates personal courage. It believes optimistically in the ultimate victory of the moral order.


    Sikhism preaches that we should neither cause fright to anyone or be afraid of anyone. This healthy spirit has been responsible for the Sikh's willingness to offer his life for his faith. True heroism, requires a lack of fear and a lack of hatred. The Sikh believes in the cause he serves, without any idea of reward or punishment.
    In Sikhism, the awe of God turns into love. Just as a faithful wife is careful and cautious not to cause any annoyance to her husband but rather minister to his comforts. In the same way, the true devotee is prepared to offer his all to please God and to serve His Creation.
     
  20. gogi

    gogi
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    CONCEPT OF NAM (DIVINE NAME):
    According to Gurmat (Guru's teaching), before the creation, God lived Absolutely by Himself, Formless. When He made Himself manifest, He first formed Himself into NAM (Divine Name) and then created Nature. After creating Nature, He did not go away from it, rather He sustained His creation with His Own presence into it, and felt delighted.
    • "Aapinai aap sajio aapinai rachio Nao
      Dui kudrat sajiai kar asan ditho chao."
      (Asa Mohalla 1- pauri 1, p-463)
      "God created Himself and assumed Name
      Second besides Himself He created Nature
      Seated in Nature He watches with delight what He creates."
      (Translation of the above)
    1) NAM (Divine Name) and God are not two different entities. Nam is just another aspect of the Almighty, still Formless. Nam is the total expression of all that God is. Nam sustains everything:
    • "Nam sustains and controls all beings
      Nam supports the universe and its regions."
      (Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, 16-5, p-284)
    2) Nam is not expressed as mere noun and it does not mean that there is a special name of God and by enchanting of which, one will meet Him. He is Infinite and can be called with infinite names, but who can count His infinite names? The enlightened and the blessed ones remember Him through His Attributes:
    • "Tav sarb nam kathai kavan
      Karm nam barnat sumat."
      (Guru Gobind Singh- Jap Sahib)
    3) God may be called by countless names by the devotees, who create these names according to the attributes of their Godhead, but the first and the foremost name of God is clearly depicted as 'SAT' (Eternal Truth) which shows the ever-existence of God:
    • "Kirtam nam kathai terei jihba
      Satnam tera pra purbla."
      (Maru Mohalla 5, p-1083)
    4) The word NAM is a mystic Word used in practical religious life and in discipline of meditation. God is remembered by His attributive names. There is another aspect of it called true Name which emanates from a prophet's personal experience. It emerges from a vision that the Prophet has of the Divine Being. Such a mystic Word in Sikh religion is called 'Waheguru' or Wonderful God or 'Thou art Wonderful'. True Name is not the word by which we describe an object, but the total power, quality and character of Reality. Through the word 'Waheguru' the prophet has tried to sum up mystic power and experience of His presence all around. Prophets have given us Divine Names of the nameless God, which reflect His presence in our consciousness. Contemplation or meditation on true Name (Waheguru) is called practicing the presence of God in one's conscious.
     
  21. roopk

    roopk
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    BAPTISM IN SIKHISM:
    Nam is the whole source which takes a person back into the Unmanifest One. Guru is the sole Channel to Nam. The Gurmat tells us that the Jewel of Nam becomes manifest in the hearts of only those who resort to Guru's refuge.
    • How do we resort to Guru's refuge?
    When we go to the Guru, he gives us Nam and then we meditate upon the Guru given Nam which in turn takes us back to our destination, the Almighty.
     

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