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What is Sikhism ?

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by richard o, Jun 18, 2004.

  1. richard o

    richard o
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    Sikhism is a tradition that I know very little about. I've read about the various symbols of Sikhism, and encountered something of the history (Amritsar, etc).

    However, I have no real idea what Sikhism stands for as a religious belief, and how it compares to other religious traditions. I am open for educating. I read the following article recently, i would like it to be critically analyzed for my benefit...

    What is Sikhism?

    Answer: Sikhism arose, historically, as an attempted harmonization between Islam and Hinduism. But such harmonization, while historically accurate, does not capture the theological and cultural uniqueness of Sikhism. To call Sikhism a compromise between the two would be taken as an insult akin to calling a Christian a heretical ***. Origin is rarely the best means of defining things. And Sikhism is not a cult or a hybrid but a distinct religious entity.

    The recognized founder of Sikhism, Nanak (1469-1538) was born of a Hindu father and a Muslim mother in India. He received a direct call from God establishing him as a guru. He soon became known in the Punjab region of Northeast India for his devotion and piety and his bold assertion, "There is no Muslim, and there is no Hindu." He accumulated a considerable number of disciples (s ikhs). He taught that God is one and designated God as the Sat Nam (true name) or Ekankar combining the syllables ek (one), aum (mystical sound expressing God), kar (Lord). This monotheism does not include personality nor should it be blurred with any kind of pantheism (God is all), the latter being a characteristically Eastern tendency. However, Nanak retained the doctrines of reincarnation and karma which are notably Eastern such as with Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and others. Opting against legalistic ritualism, Nanak taught that one can escape the reincarnation cycle (samsara) only through mystical union with God, namely through devotion and chanting. Nanak was followed by an unbroken line of nine appointed guru successors maintaining the line of leadership into the 18 th century (1708). In the time of its early gurus it grew out with an increasing hymnody, communal meals, interrupted but spreading social acceptance, and a pacifist disposition.

    While Sikhism was originally pacifist it could not stay that way for long. Its rejection of the supremacy and completion of Mohammad the prophet was taken as blasphemy and inspired much opposition from the historically warring faith of Islam. By the time of the tenth guru, Gobind Rai, also known as Gobind Singh ("lion") had organized the Khalsa, a world-renowed class of warriors, conspicuous and brave, zealous and deadly. They stood out because of their characteristic "five K's:" kesh (long hair), kangha (steel comb in the hair), kach (shortpants), kara (steel bracelet), and kirpan (sword or dagger worn at the side). The British having a colonizing presence in India at that time made great use of the Khalsa as warriors and body guards. Gobind Singh was eventually assassinated by Muslims. He was the last human guru. Who was his successor? The Sikh holy book, the Adi Granth took his place as indicated by its alternate name, Guru Granth. The Adi Granth, while not worshipped, is ascribed divine status.

    Despite pacifist roots Sikhism has come to be known as militant, which is unfortunate because such militancy stems largely from geographical issues outside of Sikh control. The hotly contested border of India and Pakistan partitioned in 1947 cuts directed across the Punjab region where the Sikhs had had a high degree of autonomy. Efforts to retain their political and social identity have often failed, shot down in the crossfire of Muslim and Hindu border quarrels. Extreme measures have been taken by terrorists to establish a Sikh state, Khalistan, but the majority of Sikhs are peace-loving gentle people.

    It is important to understand that Sikhs do not understand their religion to be a mere hybrid. Nor does the militaristic label apply fairly to Sikhism proper. Sikhism is more than the Khalsa. And much of its ****** history was provoked or was in self-defense. The Christian and the Sikh can identify with each other insofar as both religious traditions have undergone much persecution and both worship only one God. The Christian and the Sikh, as persons, can have peace and mutual respect. And much can be found worth celebrating in the rich Sikh faith, even for the Christian.

    But, Sikhism and Christianity should not be hastily fused. It is naïve to think these two can mesh theologically. Their belief systems have some points of agreement but ultimately have a different view of God, a different view of Jesus, a different view of Scripture, and a different view of salvation.

    First, Sikhism's concept of God as abstract and impersonal is directly contradictory to the loving, caring Abba Father God revealed in the Bible (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). Our God is intimately involved with His children, knowing when we sit down and rise up and understanding our very thoughts (Psalm 139:2). He loves us with an everlasting love and draws us to Himself in patience and faithfulness (Jeremiah 31:3). He also makes it clear that He cannot be reconciled with any other so-called god of another religion: "Before Me there was no god formed, and there will be none after Me" (Isaiah 43:10) and "I am the Lord and there is no other; besides Me there is no god" (Isaiah 45:5).

    Second, if someone hopes to reconcile Sikhism and Christianity there remains no middle ground between the two in regards to Christology. Sikhism denies the unique status of Jesus Christ. And Christian Scripture asserts that salvation can come only through Him, "I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6). "And there is salvation in no other One; for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

    Third, the Sikh and the Christian each claim that their's is the uniquely inspired Scripture. The source books for Christianity and Sikhism cannot both be "the only word of God." When these books support contrary views on God and Christ they cannot both be correct. To be specific, the Christian claims that the Bible is the very Word of God. It is God-breathed, written for all who seek to know and understand, "and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible is given to all of us by our Heavenly Father that we might know and love Him and that we might "come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), and that we might come to Him for eternal life.

    Fourth and finally, the Sikh view of salvation does not have the elaborate view of substitutionary and sacrificial atonement that sets Christianity apart from its peers. Sikhism has the doctrine of karma together with a devotional orientation towards God. Karma is an inadequate explanation of sin since it reduces to a "scales of justice" scenario, yet no amount of good works can compensate for even one sin against an infinitely holy God. We incur the infinite and righteous anger of God when we sin. Perfect holiness cannot bare to do anything less than to hate evil with a white hot wrath. God cannot simply forgive sin without repayment of that debt since that would be a fault on his justice. God cannot let people into the bliss of heaven unchanged since that would be a fault on his goodness. But in Christ, the God-man, we have a sacrifice of infinite worth to pay our debt. Our forgiveness was expensive beyond measure, so expensive we humans cannot afford it. But we can receive it as a gift. And such is the doctrine of grace in Christianity. Christ paid the debt that we couldn't afford to pay. He sacrificed his life, in substitution for us, so we could live with him. We need only put our faith in Him, turning to Him therein turning away from everything opposed to Him. Sikhism, on the other hand, fails to adequately address the infinite consequence of sin, the complex interplay of God's goodness and justice, and man's total depravity.

    In conclusion we may say that Sikhism has historical and theological traces of both Hinduism and Islam but cannot be properly understood as a mere hybrid of these two. It has evolved into a distinct religious entity. The Christian can find common ground at some points with the Sikh but ultimately the two faiths of Christianity and Sikhism cannot be reconciled.

    Source : What is Sikhism?
     
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  3. AmbarDhara

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    Mata Tripta Ji (Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Mother) was not Muslim.
     
  4. AmbarDhara

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    Mata Tripta Ji
    The history of Sikh women has to start with Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh Religion.
    According to the Bala Sakhis, Guru Nanak was very fond of his maternal grandmother. They were very close. Her name was Mata Bhirai, she was married to Rama of the village Chahal near Lahore.1 She was likely a frequent visitor to the home of Mata Banarasi, his paternal grandmother. In the prevalent custom of a joint family system, a woman always went to live in her husband’s family household, and because it was the custom for the grandparents to raise the children, one can assume that he would have been brought up by Mata Banarasi,2 his paternal grandmother. She was the mother of two sons, Kalu and Lalu, and wife of Shiv Ram, resident of Talvandi Rai Bhoi Ki, now called Nankana Sahib.
    Much of what we know about the women of that era, has to be conjecture. One must look at what is known about socio-political, as well as the economic situation of the era, before one can even begin to guess what life must have been like for any given woman. The oral history or Janamsakhis give clues to events, but cannot be taken too seriously, in that they are coloured by the tellers’ own perception and background. As with any oral history, the story changes with time. Each story-teller tries to put his personal stamp on the story, as well as embellishment, so that it is always told better than the time it was told before. We do know that at that time in Hindu society, woman, at least in theory, controlled the family finances. In fact, they probably controlled only the portion of income that dealt with the personal household; i.e., the groceries and small household items. In a joint family system, even that would be limited to the "mother-in-law" and not to all the women. Also, it would be subject to the whims of the man of the house. Nevertheless, this was the situation at the time of the birth of the first Guru.
    The mother of Guru Nanak was Mata Tripta.3 He was born on the third day of the month of Vaisakh, Saturday April 15, 1469.4 A midwife assisted Tripta on the occasion. Her name was Daulatan.5 MacAuliffe narrates in the tradition of the Janamsakhis that the midwife, when interrogated the following morning by Hardial, the astrologer, as to nature of the child’s voice uttered at birth, said it was "as the laughing voice of a wise man when joining a social circle."
    Mata Tripta was reputed to be a kind lady. The young Nanak had a sociable nature, and, therefore, had many friends. He liked to treat them often. We know from the oral history tradition that Mata Tripta would sometimes slip him a coin or two to spend on his friends. She also often made sweets for him to share with his friends. She loved her son dearly, but his rejection of tradition and custom was a source of constant aggravation. Her son, Nanak, questioned the authority of the Brahmin priests, refused to wear the holy thread, and rejected the validity of the caste system. Mata Tripta did not understand the divine mission of her rebellious son. This is clear in the story6 of Nanak’s return from his first travel. His parents met him at the edge of town. Nanak was overcome with emotion, and wept when he met his mother. She offered him sweets and asked him to remove the beggar’s gown and put on the clothes she brought him. She obviously worried about the friends and neighbours and what they would say, should they see him like this. On the same occasion his parents were much distressed. They believed that his travels and the rejection of present conventions were a sign of great unhappiness. His father, Kalu, was greatly disturbed when he exclaimed; "Only if I knew what has disappointed you in life, I would set things right. If you want to marry another woman, I’d get you one, if another house, I’d provide you with it." This clearly was a generation gap. His parents, who were well-to-do and respected in their community, were greatly disturbed, because they did not understand why he would not conform to social customs of the day.
     
  5. AmbarDhara

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    Richard O Ji,

    Read 'Siri Guru Granth Sahib' if you want to actually know about Sikhism. English Translations of Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is available world wide if you dont want to read in the Original Language-Gurmukhi, at least you will get some idea that will be original.
     
  6. Archived_Member1

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  7. Sikh80

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    We cannot know the limits of HIs crative potency. WE cannot understand the creation Of the Lord. How can we even think Of making a claim that we can know HIM.In sikhism it is almost myth reflecting human's limitations. Our mind is not adequate to understand all that is necessary to know the limits. It would be like weighing a load Of tonnes with a weight of 1 kg.

    As stated in the above post we can only appreciate all that we know. It is useless to know the limits that we can never do. Only HE knows all that HE is capable of. I think most of the things have been nicely covered in the above post.
     
  8. BhagatSingh

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  9. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    richard o

    Jasleen ji and AmbarDharra ji have contributed two very unique but complementary responses that should help focus your study of Sikhism. One without the other will be half the story. A former Christian, strangely I am left wondering how your source (the web site) came to some of its conclusions. After comparing and contrasting on my own, I came to very different conclusions. You need to read Sikh sources, suspending judgment initially. Then compare and contrast the two traditions. Sikhism is unique. Sometimes non Sikhs will consult sources that confuse Sikhism with Hindu traditions, and then their comparisons of Sikhism with other religions wind up being wildly off the mark. Just my understanding of things. ;)
     
  10. spnadmin

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    Here is something to think about from the hukamnama for Feb 7.

    um dwqy Twkur pRiqpwlk nwiek Ksm hmwry ]
    thum dhaathae t(h)aakur prathipaalak naaeik khasam hamaarae ||
    You are the Giver, O Lord, O Cherisher, my Master, my Husband Lord.

    inmK inmK qum hI pRiqpwlhu hm bwirk qumry Dwry ]1]
    nimakh nimakh thum hee prathipaalahu ham baarik thumarae dhhaarae ||1||
    Each and every moment, You cherish and nurture me; I am Your child, and I rely upon You alone. ||1||

    ijhvw eyk kvn gun khIAY ]
    jihavaa eaek kavan gun keheeai ||
    I have only one tongue - which of Your Glorious Virtues can I describe?

    bysumwr byAMq suAwmI qyro AMqu n ikn hI lhIAY ]1] rhwau ]
    baesumaar baea(n)th suaamee thaero a(n)th n kin hee leheeai ||1|| rehaao ||
    Unlimited, infinite Lord and Master - no one knows Your limits. ||1||Pause||


    koit prwD hmwry KMfhu Aink ibDI smJwvhu ]
    kott paraadhh hamaarae kha(n)ddahu anik bidhhee samajhaavahu ||
    You destroy millions of my sins, and teach me in so many ways.

    hm AigAwn Alp miq QorI qum Awpn ibrdu rKwvhu ]
    ham agiaan alap math thhoree thum aapan biradh rakhaavahu ||2||
    I am so ignorant - I understand nothing at all. Please honor Your innate nature, and save me! ||2||

    qumrI srix qumwrI Awsw qum hI sjn suhyly ]
    thumaree saran thumaaree aasaa thum hee sajan suhaelae ||
    I seek Your Sanctuary - You are my only hope. You are my companion, and my best friend.

    rwKhu rwKnhwr dieAwlw nwnk Gr ky goly ]3]12]
    raakhahu raakhanehaar dhaeiaalaa naanak ghar kae golae ||3||12||
    Save me, O Merciful Saviour Lord; Nanak is the slave of Your home. ||3||12||

    Here, on the subject of sin, we can see that, in our personal relationship with God, we find resolution and deliverance from sin. This God, who is too great to comprehend in His totality, is also so very near "too near to be far". Near as our companion, our friend, our savior, our teacher, our Master, the one who gives without end, the one who cherishes us, our Husband Lord. A supreme and transcendent Lord with whom we can have, if we chose this, an intensely intimate relationship. In this relationship, he teaches us; we learn not to sin. And in sensing his presence, we find forgiveness; and the desire to sin, the attraction to sin, grows less. Because when we sin we feel so much sorrow. "Nanak is the slave of Your home." Through submission we receive the gift of liberation.
     
  11. soniadatta_cc

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    ***************************************************
    Richard jie,

    I have read the same post that you have put here on www.gotquestions.org site. I was as surprised with it as based on History and facts we know that Guru Nanak was born in a Bedi family of reputed Hindus. In those times, it was not possible for anyone to have inter religious marriages so easily and if it would have happened - Our SIkh history would know more than anyone else.

    Infact, Spreading this kind of information on a website without knowing the facts is incorrect and i will write to the management of this website to make sure of the data they post.

    We would welcome you to download the English version of Guru Granth Sahib( our holy book) and read for yourself. We are there to assist you with all supporting information and your journey towards exploring our faith in greater detail..
     

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