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APPRECIATING SIKHISM Sikh Foundation of Virginia

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1 APPRECIATING SIKHISM Sikh Foundation of Virginia
7250 Ox Road, Fairfax Station VA 22039

2 1. The Sikh Religion Introduction:
Sikh: Disciple or seeker of Truth (Sat) Founder: Guru Nanak ( CE, in the Punjab, India) Belief in: Only the One God (the Universal Creator of us all, Akaal Purkh) Followers: ~ 25 million worldwide (5th largest religion in the world), with several hundreds of thousands of Sikhs in the USA Scripture: Guru Granth Sahib (the only Holy Book of the Sikhs) Message: Love and equality (for the One God, and for all mankind)

3 2. Scriptural Teachings Holy Book: Way of Life:
Guru Granth Sahib, the sole Sikh scripture It contains Gurbani, the actual utterances (bani) of the Gurus (and of several Hindu and Muslim saints whose teachings strongly resonated with Sikh beliefs) Hymns (in 31 ragas, melodies) are meant to be sung (and read, understood, and followed) Ordained as Eternal Guru of the Sikhs in 1708 (by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh) Way of Life: Naam Japna - always remember the sole creator God Kirt Karni - always live an honest life and earn a just living Wand Shakna - always share your blessings with the less fortunate

4 3. The Ten Sikh Gurus Guru Nanak Dev: the first Guru, the religion’s founder ( ) Guru Arjan Dev: the fifth Guru, compiler of the Sikh scripture (in 1604) Guru Gobind Singh: the tenth Guru (the last human Guru of the Sikhs, d. 1708)

5 4. The Guru Granth Sahib (Sikhism’s Holy Book)

6 5. The Sikh Creed The Mool Mantar (creed):
This is the way Guru Nanak described and remembered the Creator. Accordingly, the sacred revealed text of the Guru Granth Sahib begins (on pg.1, in Punjabi) with: ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ॥ (Ik oaʼnkār saṯ nām karṯā purakẖ nirbẖao nirvair akāl mūraṯ ajūnī saibẖaʼn gur parsāḏ.) In English: The One All-pervading Universal God, Truth by Name, the Creator, is Without Fear, Without Hate, Eternal, Never-incarnated, Self-existent, and known by the Grace of God. (English translations vary) God’s Grace: The creed ends with ‘Gur Parsad’, meaning that the Creator, Akaal Purkh, is known through His Grace

7 Harmandar Sahib (the Golden Temple), in Amritsar, Punjab, India
6. The Gurdwara Harmandar Sahib (the Golden Temple), in Amritsar, Punjab, India

8 7. Prayers and Other Services
Kirtan, within the Darbar hall, Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar

9 8. Sikhism’s Universal Message
God’s Love: Sikhism is a religion built on a solid foundation of God’s love for His Creation, as revealed to Guru Nanak and his nine successor Gurus Revelation: The Sikh Gurus were human, not divine; but the message that Akaal Purkh (God) revealed through them provides the basis of the “Sikh way of life,” and has guided the Sikhs for the past 500+ years Universal: Sikhism’s beliefs are very progressive, and convey a universal message Mission: As is true for other prophets or messengers of God, Guru Nanak’s mission was to bring us all closer to God

10 9. Concept and Nature of God
One God: The Sikh religion is strictly monotheistic The Truth: Sikhism’s concept of God (Akaal Purkh) is that He is the Truth (Sat Naam), the One (and only) God   God’s Will: He directs the world with His Will, Justice, and Grace Omnipresent: God is present everywhere, and in everyone Transcendent: He is transcendent, all-knowing, and all-powerful Merciful: This God, the Creator, is merciful, benevolent, and full of Love for all His creation Just: He is without enmity, and does not play favorites among human beings

11 10. The Sikh Way of Life - 1 Importance of God’s Grace: With God’s Grace, and by following the path shown by the Sikh Gurus, everyone can be received into His eternal Divine presence at the end of this human life The Sikh Way of Life: Holistic: The Sikh “way of life” is holistic and integrated, with no separation of the spiritual and the secular in daily life Serve God: Sikhs believe that our human life is an opportunity to serve God’s Will, seek the Truth, and live Truth-fully God-centered: By overcoming the all-too-human affliction of self- centeredness, one can become God-centered Remember Him: Through reverential and meditative remembrance of Akaal Purkh (i.e., through Naam simran)

12 11. The Sikh Way of Life - 2 Morality: Sikhism emphasizes moral living, selfless service (seva), good deeds, charity, compassion, and social justice for all Equality: Everyone has equal human and religious rights in all respects, with no gender or any other bias Liberty: Sikhs defend religious freedom and human rights and social justice for all, and protect the weak and the oppressed, including by force, if necessary Choice: Everyone is expected to choose to make the effort needed to live a moral life

13 12. The Sikh Way of Life - 3 Responsibility: Sikhs believe that every person bears personal responsibility for his/her own actions and their consequences Discipline: Sikhs are asked to exercise self-discipline, and to control the five major human failings—anger, greed, egotism, covetousness, and attachment to worldly things Effort: Human failings are not easy to overcome, and require lifelong effort and commitment Access: Every Sikh can directly access God; there are no priests as intermediaries

14 13. The ‘Khalsa’ Order Khalsa: The ‘Pure Ones’ (established by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699) An ‘initiated’ Sikh (Khalsa) is expected to be a saint-soldier (sant-sipahi) who lives his/her life according to Gurbani, and always wears five articles of Faith (the “5 Ks”; punj kakaar) as commanded by the 10th Guru Five K’s: The five items of dress and physical appearance given to the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh: Kesh - uncut hair (and beard for Khalsa males, with a turban to cover the head) Kangha - a small comb to keep the hair clean and tidy Kara - a bracelet made of iron or steel Kachhehra - a special pair of shorts, usually worn as undergarment Kirpan - a sword (this can be small, about 6-9 inches)

15 14. The Panj Piare, in Khalsa attire

16 15. Sikhism and Other Religions
Acceptance: Sikhism is remarkable in that it accepts all religions as valid pathways to God—from their own point of view. In their daily prayers, Sikhs pray for the well-being of all (sarbat da bhala) Non-exclusive: As a non-exclusive religion, Sikhism does not claim that any particular religion is the only way to reach God, or to accomplish whatever a particular believer genuinely seeks through his or her faith Similarities: Some Sikh beliefs are shared with the other great religions of the world

17 16. Commonalities – Examples
The One God (Akaal Purkh)—with Islam (Allah) and Judaism (Yahweh); and possibly with Christianity and Hinduism (if these religions are considered monotheistic, and not polytheistic) Karma and the soul’s reincarnation—if human life has not enabled the soul to escape from the “unending” cycle of birth, death, and re-birth—with Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism Integrating the sacred and the secular—with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam Personal choice and responsibility for one’s own actions—with the Abrahamic and Indic religions Importance of social justice, charity, and gender- and racial-equality—with most religions, though to varying degree Importance of leading a moral and ethical life—with all other religions

18 17. Distinctiveness of Sikhism
Sikhism is a distinct religion with a unique set of beliefs (as are all other religions) Examples of differences: Unlike other Indic religions, Sikhism does not approve of asceticism and renunciation; Sikhs believe in living a full life in the secular world, as a householder Unlike Christianity and Hinduism, Sikhism believes in only One God who does not incarnate Unlike Islam and Judaism, the Transcendent loving God favors no particular faith or creed Thus: Sikhs believe that the One Transcendent God loves all mankind as one, making no distinction between one human being and another on the basis of gender, race, caste, creed, nationality, or religion

19 18. Respect for All Religions
Sikhs believe that Akaal Purkh (God) has revealed a way of dealing with the diverse religions He Himself has created Sikhs subscribe to the ‘Golden Rule’ -- that in all (or most) religions asks us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Hebrew Bible), and to “Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you” (Christian Bible) (paraphrased) Sikhs believe in the Unity of God, and the unity of mankind; i.e., they believe that God makes no distinctions amongst all His children In their daily prayers, Sikhs pray for the well being of all, not just the Sikhs (sarbat da bhala)

20 19. Summary of Sikh Beliefs - 1
Sikhs worship only the One God, the Creator, and believe in His Word (Shabad), as enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib (the sole Scripture of the Sikhs) Our basic creed (mool mantar) makes known God’s Oneness, nature, and Love of all His creation Sikhs do not believe that God incarnates as an avatar, and they do not believe in image-, idol-, or deity worship It is God’s Will (Hukam) that Sikhs wish to honor and follow, believing that a life devoted to the Truth (Sat), contemplation, and righteous deeds helps accumulate good karma A moral life and Truth-full living are all that matter; honest living and selfless service (seva) are key values

21 20. Summary of Sikh Beliefs – 2
Such a life prepares one to receive God’s Grace, without which salvation (mukti) is not possible, for good deeds alone are not enough The Sikh way of life emphasizes devotional remembrance of God (Naam Simran) at all times; and it integrates secular and sacred aspects of daily living, through honest labor and charitable giving (i.e., the 3 key aspects are: Naam japna, kirit karni, and wand shakna) In their daily life, Sikhs believe in tolerance, mutual acceptance, social justice, and freedom of religion for all. (The Ninth Guru embraced martyrdom in 1675 CE in defense of the religious rights of Hindus) Sikhism considers everyone equal in all respects. The Hindu caste system is not accepted; nor is gender- or race- or any other kind of discrimination Sikhs do not believe in active proselytizing, but they accept voluntary conversions into their faith community

22 21. Inter-Faith Interaction
Sikhs celebrate Guru Nanak as the founding prophet of Sikhism, as well as his nine successor Gurus. They believe they have much to be thankful for! From its very inception, Sikhism has been a distinct religion, with a unique set of beliefs and practices. It is not a sect of Hinduism, nor a syncretic blend of Hinduism and Islam Sikhism shares with all religions some common features, and differs on others. Both the similarities and differences deserve recognition As a non-exclusive religion based on the Oneness of God and the unity of all mankind, Sikhism has much to offer the modern world. Its beliefs and values are worthy of respect by all

23 Your Comments, Questions, and Reflections are Welcome. Thank You!
22. Concluding Request Sikhs welcome and seek interfaith dialogue and understanding, and a genuine appreciation of all religions. The goal is to encourage and facilitate respectful religious tolerance and acceptance It is in the spirit of sharing and learning that key Sikh beliefs are summarized here. We seek your indulgence for any errors of omission and commission, for they are entirely unintended Sikhs believe that all religions are created or inspired by the One God—our common God, the Creator of all that exists—so, presumably, all religions are equally valid in the eyes of God Accordingly, Sikhs believe that all religions are equally worthy of respect in the eyes of man. Our belief in the One Loving God requires no less! Your Comments, Questions, and Reflections are Welcome. Thank You!

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