Fundamentals of Sikhi

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Fundamentals of Sikhi

The practice of the "Sikh way of life" (Sikhi) has been laid out by the Gurus in a simple, well defined and practical manner. The Gurus emphasise that a Sikh should lead a disciplined and focussed life engaged in Naam Simran - awareness and meditation on God's name, Kirat Karni - living a life engaged in honest work and Wand kay Shako, sharing ones wealth with the community.

This translates into a pure way of living; focussed and unfettered mind, honest living, love of fellow humans and through them service to God, the primal power. This way of life is said to have been stripped of complications, myths, jargon, rituals and exploitation of man by man in the name of religion.

In Sikhism, no benefit is gained by where or to which family a person is born – We all have to undertake our own "good actions" (Karmas) in this life. This is done by joining in Simran (meditation and contemplation) and in Sewa (selfless service for the community). Only then can one progress spiritually. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib asks the Sikh to "Practice truth, contentment and kindness; this is the most excellent way of life. One who is so blessed by the Formless Lord God renounces selfishness, and becomes the dust of all. (3)" ( [SGGS] page 51 (1))

The Basics of Sikhi

The Sikh who has mastered the basic requirements must undertake the following observances in their daily life:

  • A. Disciplined Living,
  • B. Personal Regulations and
  • C. Community Involvement

There is only one God

Main article: One God

The Sikh religion has various established beliefs and values that are inherent in the basic philosophy of the faith. A Sikh's primary belief is in only one supreme God – This sole God is the same for all the peoples of the Universe. Guru Arjan, the fifth Sikh Guru highlights this point by saying in the Sikh holy text called the Guru Granth Sahib, "There is only the One Supreme Lord God; there is no other at all" (SGGS p 45); this belief is the starting point of the Sikh faith.

Next, God is considered gender neutral in Sikhism. So when a Sikh refers to "God", this God can be refered to as masculine or feminine; so God can be called ‘He’ or ‘She’. Guru Arjan reinforces this concept by saying: "You are my Father and You are my Mother.....You are my Protector everywhere...." (SGGS p 103).

Further, this one God is the same God of the Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc – of all the peoples of the world; everyone in this world belongs to that same one God! Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru explains: "All living beings are Yours - You are the Giver of all souls" (SGGS p 10).

All humans are equal

Main article: Equality of mankind

Gender and race equality are the bedrock of Sikhi. If you cannot accepts other humans as equals, you are a failed Sikh! Accept and treat all other people as equals and then you can become a follower of Guru Nanak.

Equality and brotherhood of mankind is a fundamental requirement of Sikhi. Since about 1499, the Sikh Gurus have emphasised the concept of the equality of mankind in the sacred verses found in the Sikh holy scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak says in Japji Sahib (the first composition in the holy Granth): "Accept all humans as your equals, and let them be your only sect" (Japji 28), and Guru Gobind Singh tell the world: "manas ki jat sabhe eke paihcanbo - recognise all of mankind as a single caste of humanity".

So during the 239 years of the Guruship of the 10 Sikh Gurus, this message of the equality of mankind was vigorously promoted by them. It was there mission to root-out the injustices and prejudices of discrimination from common human behaviour and to bring to the masses this concept in clear focus.

Therefore, Sikhs believe that all human beings are equal. “We are sons and daughters of Waheguru, the Almighty”. Sikhs have to treat all peoples of the world on an equal footing. No gender, racial, social, etc discrimination is allowed. This is the message of Guru Nanak as taught by the 10 Sikh Masters during the period 1469 to 1708.

Focus on God, Work hard & Share with others

Main article: The Three Pillars

Remember God:- This part of the three pillars of Sikhism; the rememberance of God by repeating and focussing the mind on His name and His blessings. The names given to God primarily refer to the attributes of the Almighty and His various qualities. The guideline in the Sikh scriptures demands that the Sikh engages in Naam Simran as part of his or her everyday routine.

Honest work:- To work and earn by the "sweat of the brow", to live a family way of life, and practice truthfulness and honesty in all dealings is a fundamental part of Sikhi. The term mean to carry out good deeds and earn a honest, pure and upright livelihood by exercising ones God given skills, abilities, talents and hard labour for the benefit and improvement of the individual, their family and society at large.

Share with others:- to share ones wealth with others in the community, to give to charity, to distribute in Langar (free Kitchen) and to generally help others in the community who need help. A Sikh is expected to contribute at least 10% of their wealth/income called Dasvandh to the needy people of the world or to a worthy cause.

Dispel the five evils and attract the five virtues

Main article: Five evils

Five evils or five thieves or pancadokh or panj vikar as they are referred to in Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, are, according to Sikhism, the five major weaknesses of the human personality at variance with its spiritual essence. The common evils far exceed in number, but a group of five of them came to be identified because of the obstruction they are believed to cause in man's pursuit of the moral and spiritual path. The group of five evils in Punjabi are:

  • kam (Lust), krodh (Rage or uncontrolled anger), lobh (Greed), moh (Attachment or emotional attachment) and ahankar (ego)

Translated into English these words mean lust/addiction, wrath/rage/anger, materialistic greed, attachment/worldly infatuation and ego/pride respectively. The word 'evil' here may be understood to represent the connotation of Punjabi pap (sin), dokh (defect), or kilbikh (defilement).

Main article: Five virtues

The five virtues commonly recognised in Sikhism are:

For Sikhs, the final goal of life is to reunite or merge with God (Mukti). The Sikh Gurus taught that to achieve this goal 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.

The mind of someone who is gurmukh (literally, 'Guru facing'), is constantly focused on God at all times; while the mind of Manmukh (literally, 'mind facing' or "mind centred") is full of desire, attractions, doubts, greed, etc and he or she will be full of sorrow and pain.

Be brave and fearless

Main article: Sikh bravery

Fear none but God:- It is known that fear is an emotional response to threats and danger. Although fear is different from anxiety, which typically occurs without any external threat, the two bring much pain and misery to the person who is suffering from these two emotions. Fear is related to the specific behaviours of escape and avoidance, while anxiety is the result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable.

The Guru Granth Sahib offers guidance on how one should become fearless in their life. The trials and tribulation of modern life means that both these ailments are on the increase in the world; many suffer from anxiety and fear due to losing one's identity and/or security; from constant and sustained financial, health and emotional pressures; from humiliation, oppression, victimization, feelings of inferiority, persecution of one's group, and other kinds of discrimination, etc. These external agents are relentless and become such a strain that many suffer constantly in pain.

Help others

Do Sewa:- is a word used to refer to "selfless service", performed without any thought of reward or personal benefit. All Sikhs are encouraged by their Guru, Guru Granth Sahib to perform selfless voluntary service for the community. This is not only good for community relations but also is good for the moral uplifting of the person. Sikhs should engage in in free service in Gurdwaras washing dishes, cleaning the floors, serving food; in community centres; in hospitals, etc

Protect the rights of others

Respect for rights of others:- In this regard, the ninth Nanak, Guru Tegh Bahadur provides a very valuable lesson for the Sikhs and for the other concerned peoples of the world relating to the security and protection of all human beings within our society. It is very common for communities to protect their own members. The evidence for this, is well documented in the history of mankind.

In protecting or seeking to spread their own religious beliefs or their own traditions or culture, they sometime decimate or destroy the beliefs and ways of others; when one becomes self-centred on ones “own people” or ones “own religion”, or ones “own community”; this can become the beginning of serious problems and many major conflicts have started in this way. The Guru showed the world how one should care for their neighbour and protect their rights; He stood by the Kashmiri Hindus to protect their way of life.

Be ever ready to sacrifice for others

Right to defend:- Guru Gobind Singh has very clearly set the mission for the Sikhs to tread the unique path of Akal Purakh ki Fauj - the 'Army of Lord' to protect and serve all the peoples of the World – only then can it be rightly called "Akal Purakh ki Fauj". When the Khalsa starts serving the needs of a few, or starts being concerned only with itself, it will fail in its duties as set out by the tenth Guru.

Care for all humanity

Sewa and support for the weak:- Sikhism is founded on the principles of Sarbat da bhalla - working towards the "common good of all". For Sikhs, this means reaching out to serve and uplift all of humanity as an expression or devotion to the Creator. Many other Sikh institutes, such as Guru-ka-Langar, Kirtan, Paath, etc., depend on the performance of Seva by many in the congregation. So the principles of Seva underpin many Sikh values - such is the importance given to Seva in Sikhism.

Seva or Karseva also shortened to ‘Sewa’ is a word used to refer to "selfless service" or "free-voluntary service", performed without any thought of reward or personal benefit. Doing 'Seva' is a central Sikh tenet; all Sikhs are encouraged by their Guru (Guru Granth Sahib) to perform Seva or Selfless Service within the community. Not only is this good for community relations but it is also good and moral uplifting of the person performing the voluntary service.

Live to the highest spiritual level

Live to the highest spiritual level:- O Lord, give me this boon. May I never ever shirk from doing good deeds. Never may I fear when I go to fight the enemy. With surety, victory will be mine Be bold and positive in your life; do not shirk away from doing good despite obstacles; pursue good missions to the end.

Be gentle, act with humility

Don't use force:- Kabeer, to use force is tyranny, even if you call it legal. When your account is called for in the Court of the Lord, what will your condition be then? ॥187॥ (SGGS p1374)

See also