The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India

Sikhism is a monotheistic dharmic religion that originated in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent about the end of the 15th century. It is one of the youngest of the major world religions. The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include faith and meditation on the name of the one creator, divine unity and equality of all humankind, engaging in selfless service, striving for social justice for the benefit and prosperity of all, and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder's life.  According to Pew Research, a religion demographics and research group in Washington DC, "more than nine-in-ten Sikhs are in India, but there are also sizable Sikh communities in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada."Within India, the Sikh population is founded in every state and union territory, but it is predominantly found the northwestern and northern states.

Sikhism is based on the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak, the first Guru (1469 – 1539), and the nine Sikh gurus that succeeded him. The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, named the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib as his successor, terminating the line of human Gurus and making the scripture the eternal, religious spiritual guide for Sikhs. Sikhism rejects claims that any particular religious tradition has a monopoly on Absolute Truth.

Sikhism emphasizes simran (meditation on the words of the Guru Granth Sahib), that can be expressed musically through kirtan or internally through Nam Japo (repeat God's name) as a means to feel God's presence. It teaches followers to transform the "Five Thieves" (lust, rage, greed, attachment, and ego). Hand in hand, secular life is considered to be intertwined with the spiritual life. Guru Nanak taught that living an "active, creative, and practical life" of "truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity" is above the metaphysical truth, and that the ideal man is one who "establishes union with God, knows His Will, and carries out that Will". Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh Guru, established the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms to be mutually coexistent.

Estimated Followers: 30 Million 
Of Global Population: 0.4%


Beliefs and Practices

Sikhs are disciples of God who follow the writings and teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus.  Sikhism believes there is only One God. He is the same God for all people of all religions.   They also believe the soul goes through cycles of births and deaths before it reaches the human form and that the goal of their life is to lead an exemplary existence so that one may merge with God. Sikhs have a duty to remember God at all times and practice living a virtuous and truthful life while maintaining a balance between their spiritual obligations and temporal obligations.  They believe the true path to achieving salvation and merging with God does not require renunciation of the world or celibacy, but living the life of a householder, earning an honest living and avoiding worldly temptations and sins.  Sikhism condemns blind rituals such as fasting, visiting places of pilgrimage, superstitions, worship of the dead, idol worship etc.  They also preach that people of different races, religions, or sex are all equal in the eyes of God. It teaches the full equality of men and women and encourages women to participate in any function.

The Sikhi temples are called Gurdwaras. The word 'Gurdwara' means 'Gateway to the Guru'. Gurdwara is a room in one’s own house or a separate building where the Sikhs could worship.  There were three main functions of the public Gurdwaras:

  1.  Kirtan, which is the singing of hymns;
  2.  Katha, which is reading the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book) and explanations; and
  3.  Langar, which is a free community kitchen for all visitors of all religions. 

The Gurdwaras are all very community minded by providing teachings, libraries and other charitable work for their own religion. 

There are four stages to Sikh spiritual evolution.

Stage One: Manmukh, one who is self-centered and only thinks about himself and the material world around him. He is totally oblivious to God.

Stage Two: Sikh, one who sets out on the path of learning and meets the specific definition of a Sikh as it appears in the Rehat Maryada (Official Code of Conduct).  

Stage Three: Khalsa, one who has shed his ego and personality and truly honors the memory of Guru Gobind Singh through his actions and deeds.  He is totally dedicated to Sikhism.

Stage Four: Gurmukh, one who has achieved mukhti (salvation) and is totally God-centered.

Over two million Sikhis live outside of India today. Sikhs outside of India today have begun to address issues of Sikh tradition and innovation. There are some who renounce their tradition in order to conform into their host cultures. Other Sikhs choose to limit their interactions in non-Indian settings to people of their own religion grounding themselves in what they may see as a distinctively Sikh way of life. The vast majority of Sikhs are integrating into other cultures while celebrating traditions from their homeland.


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