Who are the Sikhs?
A Sikh is the one who follows the Sikh religion. The word 'Sikh' means disciple or learner. Sikhism is a divinely revealed religion founded by Guru Nanak (1469 - 1539). A Sikh believes in the teachings of the ten Gurus, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy scripture), and in no other religion. A pious Sikh endeavors to live up to the principles, ideals and the code of conduct as described in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Guru Nanak laid down the foundation of Sikhism and over a period of about 239 years, the ten Sikh Gurus developed it into a universal faith. The Sikh beliefs are a product of their practice, preaching, and sacred writings.
- One God: Sikhs believe in one God; the sole creator of the universe. God is eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, fearless, without enmity, is not incarnate, is not born and does not die, is self-illuminated and is without shape or form.
- Equality: The Sikhs believe in the equality of all human beings and stress gender equality. The first Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, gave equal status to women, stating that woman can not be inferior to men as they give birth to emperors, kings, queens, and scientists. According to Guru Nanak, "So kiyon mandaa aakhiye, jit jamme raajaan" (Asa-Di-Var), Sikh women enjoy equal status in religious services and ceremonies. Also, Sikh do not believe in the caste system. Said the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, "Recognize ye all the human race as one."
- Kirat (Work): The Sikh faith teaches that one should earn a living by honest means. One should not take what rightfully belong to others. Guru Nanak said, "Taking away other's rights is as sinful as pork to a Muslim and beef to a Hindu."
- Wand Chhakna (Sharing): Sharing your earnings with the poor and needy is a fundamental principle of Sikhism.
- Sewa (Service): Sewa means service to humanity regardless of religious or political affiliation. During a battle between the Sikhs, Hindu kings and Mughal forces, a Sikh named Bhai Kanhaya was on duty to provide water to the wounded. Some Sikhs complained to Guru Gobind Singh that he was serving water to the enemy troops in addition to Sikh troops. He answered to the Guru, "I don't see a friend or a foe, I only see you amongst the wounded." The Guru was pleased and blessed him for his spirit of service to humanity.
- Non-Violence: The Sikhs are peace-loving people who stand firm for truth and justice. The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh said, "It is right to use force as a last resort when all the other peaceful means fail."
- Simran (Meditation): Simran is "remembering God" and repeating the holy name "Satnaam-Waheguru Satnaam-Waheguru..." Simran helps one to get closer to God and brings peace to mind.
- Tolerance of Other Faiths: Sikhism is a secular religion and its followers do not believe in forced conversions. Mian Mir, a Muslim saint, laid down the foundation-stone of Hari Mandar Sahib (Golden Temple), Amristar.
- Wellness of the Entire Human Race: Sikhs, in their daily prayer, wish for the wellbeing of humanity. Said Guru Nanak: "Nanak naam Charhdi kalaa tere bhaane sarbat da bhalaa." (O God! Endow us with ever rising spirit, and provide for the wellness of the entire human race.)
- Self-Discipline: Sikhs are expected to be able to control passion(Kaam), anger(Karodh), greed(Lobh), materialistic attachment(Moh), and ego(Hankaar).