SIKHISM - SIKH RELIGION
Sikh religion emerged during the early 16th century
in the state of Punjab in North India. The founder of
this faith was Guru Nanak, who from his childhood was
attracted to both Hindu and Muslim saints. Born a Hindu,
but also inspired by the teachings of Islam, he began
to preach the message of unity of both religions. According
to him, the basic teachings of both faiths were essentially
the same. Nanak attracted many followers and came to
be known as a Guru or a teacher. His disciples came
together to form a new religious tradition called Sikhism.
The Gurus who followed Nanak contributed to the consolidation
and spread of Sikhism. The teachings of Guru Nanak were
incorporated in the 'Guru Granth Sahib', the Holy Book
of the Sikhs which became a symbol of God for Sikhs.
The fifth Guru, Guru Arjun built the Golden Temple at
Amritsar which became the holiest of Sikh shrines. The
tenth Guru, Govind Singh imparted military training
to the Sikhs to help them defend themselves.
On Baisakhi day of 1699 at Anandpur, Guru Govind Singh
ordered his Sikhs to assemble before him as was customary
and created a new brotherhood of Sikhs called the Khalsa
(Pure Ones). Five men selected for their devotion to
the Guru were called Panj Pyares and given nectar (amrit)
for initiation into the brotherhood of Khalsa. Later
the Guru himself received initiation from Panj Payares
as did others.
The members of the new brotherhood were instructed to
wear the five symbols (the five Ks )- uncut hair, a
comb, a steel wrist guard, a sword and breeches. The
initiated men took the name Singh (Lion) and the women
Kaur (Princess). The Guru also decided to terminate
the succession of gurus and was thus the last of the
Sikhism propounds monotheism, i.e. worship of one God.
It also opposes the caste system and believes that all
men are equal. However the ideas of karma and rebirth
from Hinduism are accepted. Today, many Sikh practices
are common to Hindus. Intermarriages between the two
communities are also common. However the Sikh community
has its own unmistakable identity. Though the Sikhs
constitute less than 2 percent of the Indian population,
they have become a distinct element in the configuration
of the Indian religious tradition and the Indian society.