• Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

Monotheism In Sikhism - My Response To The Doubt Expressed In A Email


Jun 11, 2004
Dear Khalsa Ji

I received a mail which said

'I am even more confused because several times other Gods names like Shiva, Ram, and Gopal appear'

My response is given below -


I refer to God as ‘The Sat’ and this term will appear in the text that follows.

Guru Sahib knew that there is only one God. It is for this reason when Guru Sahib started compiling Siri Guru Granth Sahib, right at the beginning; Guru Sahib used the numeral ‘1’i.e. one - we pronounce this numeral as ‘Ek’. Use of numeral is important; it means one and one only, there cannot be any other interpretation. It was followed by the work Oankar. The word Oankar means the entity above us; here it means ‘The Supreme’; ‘The Absolute’; ‘The Sat’. This way Guru Sahib has made it clear to this audience that there is only ONE supreme entity. The same theme he has elaborated in the subsequent text of Siri Guru Granth Sahib.

The name of the supreme entity:

The history of language is not more than 60,000 years old. Before that time, the life of humans was very simple. They could manage their lives with few sounds, as the animals and birds do.

As life became complicated, more and more words and terms were needed to convey what the individual has in mind. New words where created by the people. This process is still continuing e.g. nanotechnology, compact-disk are terms of relatively recent origin.

When one uses the word Compact Disk or its abbreviation CD an image comes to our mind. This image is the content of the word or term. This is the case with all the words that we human use – each word or term has a content, which emerges in our mind when we hear the sound denoting the specific word.

This way you can see that words are nothing by artificial verbal sounds which the society has accepted to have some specific content. It is for this reason different language has different words for the same entity.

As I have said earlier, each word has content which set boundaries for its meaning. ‘The Sat’ whom you refer as God is limitless, it has not boundaries, it cannot be contained. The entire creation has sprung out from ‘The Sat’. How can there be a word that can contain this entity as its meaning.

Further, the languages have coined/designed words for entities that we can directly of indirectly perceive or infer e.g. table, gravity etc. An average human really does not know what ‘The Sat’ is. How can any word be created that will reflect all what ‘The Sat’ is; it simply not possible. To give a name to ‘The Sat’ will be an attempt to contain the uncontainable; it is bound to fail.

Guru Sahib too must have faced this difficulty. Guru Sahib knew that God is the Ultimate essence which cannot be dissolved or divided further. Such an entity is called ‘Sat’. In my opinion, faced with this difficulty arising from the limitation of language, which is utilitarian in its application, Guru Sahib must have come to the conclusion that the word that can truly describe ‘Sat’ (God) to we human only can be the ‘Nam’ (name) of ‘The Absolute’. Since there is no word in languages, Guru Sahib probably (this is my understanding) fused the two words ‘Sat’ and ‘Nam’ and called it ‘Satnam’. This way Guru Sahib avoided giving any form to the Formless; Infinite; Absolute. ‘Satnam’ is the word that follows Oankar in the very first line of Siri Guru Granth Sahib. The Siri Guru Granth Sahib the word ‘Nam’ is used again and again, implying clearly the Guru Sahib did not want to give any specific name to ‘The Sat’.

With the above background explanation, now I come to the real cause of your confusion - the names of the Gods that appear in the ancient scripture of the land (Hindu Scripture) and they are in the text of Siri Guru Granth Sahib also.

Guru Sahib was addressing an audience that was predominantly Hindu. In their understanding, Gopal, Ram, Shiva, Brahma etc --- all were their Gods, this was their mindset. As an excellent teacher, Guru Sahib spoke to the people at the level at which they were. That is why Guru Sahib used the names of their perceived Gods. Guru Sahib in his elaboration explained to them that Gopal, Ram, Shiva, Brahma etc all were born and had a life span. This life span is, in fact, given in the ancient scripture of the land. For Example, the life span of Brahma is given in Bhagwat Gita and Bhagvatam both. Guru Sahib explained that the perceived Gods in the ancient scripture of the land are all part of the creation like you and me; they are born and they die. This is what is said in Siri Guru Granth Sahib also. This way he explained to them that their perception of God is not perfect. Guru Sahib asked us to associate ourselves with the Ultimate entity, who is even worshiped by these perceived Gods of ancient scripture of the land. Ancient scripture of the land very clearly states that Gods at a lower rung of hierarchy worshiped the one above them. Consequently it is clear that when Guru Sahib used these names, it was not implied that that they are the Gods for Sikhs. Still it needs to be answered why these names have come in Siri Guru Granth Sahib? The text that follows provides the answer.

As one progresses on the path of spiritual evolution, a stage comes, where mentally the individual, resonates with idea of ‘The Sat’. This is a mental state where the thought process is fully engaged with the idea of ‘The Sat’.
As explained earlier, all the languages are human creations. They are created by us for our own convenience. Words are not the creation of God. As I understand, words do not matter at all to ‘The Sat’. That is why no matter in which language you say your prayers God receives them. It is not the words but the frame of the thought process and its purity that matters to link up with ‘The Sat’. In this frame of mind one can use what ever word the divine person wishes because all have the same meaning in this state of mind, the entire world for this divine person has fused into one, all words mean the same i.e. ‘The Sat’.

In such frame of mind when Guru Sahib uses some names that are used for Gods in ancient scripture of the land, it does not mean that Guru Sahib is importing that God or the concept of it into Sikh religion. In this state of being, words loose their individual worldly meaning; only the ‘The Sat’ remains. The sayings of Guru Sahib need to be studied and followed in this context. After all in the very opening sentence Guru Sahib has said God is One; thus the question of any second or third does not arise..

Further, Guru Sahib had included in Siri Guru Granth Sahib the sayings of other divines which were in agreement with the philosophy being promoted under Sikhism. Their sayings have been included as they existed in literature/ scripture. If the name of God of other religion came in the saying, it was not expunged and replaced buy some other name. This is part of intellectual honesty. This truthfulness too has contributed names of God from other religions in the text of Siri Guru Granth Sahib.

In conclusion, I say that purity of Monotheism in Sikh religion is Absolute. Much should not be read in the used of names in Siri Guru Granth Sahib.

God is ONE

With love and respect for all.

Amarpal Singh


Oct 31, 2007
Sat Nam and Greetings, everyone! I am trusting this finds you all well!
I am posting in response to the individual's posts regarding converting to Christianity from Sikhism, as well as addressing the posts of Monotheism in Sikhism.

Nanak said, "If you cannot see God in all, you cannot see God at all."
Whenever I am in doubt about anything or anyone, I must say I take great comfort and guidance in this saying by Guru Nanak.

That being said, I am highly recommending everyone who has an inquiring mind to check out the movie, Zeitgeist - The Movie, 2007

It is most interesting on a number of levels. It is about 2 hours long, give or take a few minutes, but it is so thought provoking it will not seem that long at all. It also sheds a whole new perspective on the Christian Bible, as well as the current political climate in various parts of the world.

Please do not let the length of it or the information put you off. No need for anyone to succumb to mindless emotionalism. God gave us minds for a very good reason; let's use them!
Bless you all,

❤️ Tap / Click or Scan