Five virtues

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Part of a series on
Sikh Practices

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History of Sikhism
Sikh Beliefs


Amrit Sanskar
Anand Karaj
Antam Sanskar
Naam Karan

Sikh rites

Ardas . Dasvandh
Langar . Paath
Kirtan . Kara Parshad


5 Banis . Five ks
Five Evils
Five Virtues
Simran . Seva
Three Pillars

Articles on Sikhism

The five virtues commonly recognised in Sikhism are:
Sat (Truth), Santokh (Contentment), Daya (Compassion), Nimrata (Humility) and Pyare (Love).

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.


In the quotation below from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Guru explains how by meeting a the "True Guru", a person's destiny can change and life become more meaningful:

The foolish self-willed manmukh does not remember the Lord’s name;

he wastes away his life in vain. But when he meets the True Guru, then he obtains the Name;
he sheds egotism and emotional attachment. The Lord’s humble servants are True
– they practise Truth, and reflect upon the Word of the Guru’s Shabad.
The True Lord God unites them with Himself, and they keep the True Lord enshrined in their hearts.
O Nanak, through the Name, I have obtained salvation and understanding; this alone is my wealth.

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.

Ways of the Gurmukh

The word 'Gurmukh' literally means "facing the Guru"; it refers to a person who takes his advice and directions in life from the True Guru.

A person who is gurmukh does not act out of selfishness but, by focusing on God, acts out of compassion for others. 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".


Truth - Sat:

One of the most important virtues which Sikhs try to develop during their life is that of truth. 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).

Truth is not just about speaking the truth but also about recognising and living in line with the true nature of reality. Acting justly towards others, honesty, treating everyone as equals and avoiding criticising others are all examples of truthful living for Sikhs.

Part of a series on
Sikh Beliefs

Khanda Blue small.png


History of Sikhism
Sikh practices

1a. Simran
1b. Seva

2. Three Pillars
2a. Naam Japo
2b. Kirat Karni
2c. Wand kay Shako

3. Five Evils
3a. Kam
3b. Krodh
3c. Lobh
3d. Moh
3e. Ahankar

4. Five Virtues
4a. Sat
4b. Santokh
4c. Daya
4d. Nimrata
4e. Pyare

Articles on Sikhism

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".


Compassion - Daya:

Daya is a divine quality and a moral virtue highly prized in all religious traditions. Daya is a virtue of the mind. In Indian thought, virtues are classified into (i) those of the body: dana (charity), paritrana (succouring those in distress), paricharana (social service); (ii) those of speech: satya (veracity), hitovachana (beneficial speech), priyavachana (sweet speech), svadhyaya (reciting of Scriptures) and (iii) those of the mind which, besides daya, also include aparigraha (unworldliness) and sraddha (reverence and piety).

In the Sikh Scripture, mahadaial (super compassionate), daiapati (lord of compassion), daial dev (merciful god), karima, rahima (the merciful one), etc., have been used as attributive names of God (GG, 249, 991, 1027, 727). In Sikh ethics, too, daya is inter alia, a basic moral requirement, a moral vow. “Keep your heart content and cherish compassion for all beings; this way alone can your holy vow be fulfilled” (GG 299).


Contentment - Santokh:

Another important virtue is that of contentment. Instead of constantly thinking of how to satisfy personal desires, Sikhs try to accept the circumstances of their lives and concentrate on acting in accordance with God’s Will (Hukam). They try to remember that all aspects of life are a result of God’s Will (Hukam). Contentment leads to freedom from care, fear and worry.

Because Sikhs believe that self-centredness (haumai) leads the soul away from God, they also try to develop a selfless attitude to everything they do. By concentrating on God while going about their day-to-day lives in the world, Sikhs believe that haumai will gradually be conquered. Focusing the mind on God helps people to stop thinking about themselves and their actions eventually become truly selfless.

Living truthfully, trying to remain content and acting selflessly are difficult attitudes for human beings to develop. Sikhs recognise this and believe that they must work hard to train their minds to think and act virtuously. Not everyone will achieve this in this present life and different people will be at different stages of spiritual development. But eventually, if they focus on God who will help to develop these virtues, all will reach reunion:

The life of the spirit is not achieved in one step.

The Path to Reality cannot be (travelled) in a short time.
For the journey is quite a long one.
But sooner or later everyone has to travel it through.


Humility - Nimrata:

Nimrata is a virtue that is vigorously promoted by Gurbani. The literal translation of this Punjabi word is "Humility", "Benevolence" or "Humbleness". This is a very important human quality that needs to be part of a Sikh's Mind Set and must accompany the Sikh at all times. The other four qualities in the arsenal are: Truth (Sat), Contentment (Santokh), Compassion (Daya) and Love (Pyar). These five qualities are essential to a Sikh and it is their duty to meditate and recite the Gurbani so that these virtues become a part of their personality.


Love - Pyare:

This is a very positive and powerful tool in the Sikhs arsenal of virtues. When one's mind is full of love, the person will overlook deficiency in others and accept them wholeheartedly as a product of God. Sikhism asks all believers to take on "god-like" virtues and this perhaps is the most "god-like" characteristic of all. Gurbani tells us that Waheguru is a "loving God", full of compassion and kindness. It is the duty of the Sikh to take on qualities of this nature and to easily forgive; to never hate anyone; to live in His Hukam - "Will" and to practise compassion and humility.

"My mind is imbued with the Lord's Love; it is dyed a deep crimson. Truth and charity are my white clothes." (SGGS page 16) Ones mind has to be immersed in "love" of the Lord at all times to comply with this line from Gurbani. "Join the Sat Sangat, the True Congregation, and find the Lord. The Gurmukh embraces love for the Lord." (sggs page 22) and "Attuned to the Love of the One, there is no sorrow or suffering. ||3||" (sggs page 45), when one loves the Lord, all their sorrows and suffering are removed.

For many Sikhs, reunion with God seems far away. Serving God by training the mind to live in harmony with His Will (Hukam) is the most immediate goal during life. If spiritual progress is made, then the soul may be reborn in human form and it can continue to move closer to reunion.

See also

Five Virtues
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Sat Santokh Daya Nimrata Pyare
(Truth) (Contentment) (Compassion) (Humility) (Love)