What is Sikhism?


Sikhism is one of the living religions in the world today. The others are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. Sikhism in the youngest of these. There are lots of other philosophical speculations which have tried to give solutions to life's problems, but they are not included above because they had no belief in SPIRIT or GOD. A purely ethical Code of Conduct cannot be termed as religion unless it places its faith in SPIRIT or GOD.

Sikhism is the ONLY indigenous religion of INDIA. Hinduism has all its roots in the Vedic religion of Aryans who migrated to India from outside. The remaining religions above are of SEMITIC origin. Sikhism is not a mere reform of Hinduism. It has certain principles in common with Hinduism as all religions have, but has fundamental differences which clearly define it as a separate religion.

The word Sikh means a ‘disciple’. A Sikh is a person who believes in:

  • ONE GOD, and
  • Teachings of the TEN GURUS or Teachers as enshrined in the GURU GRANTH SAHIB, the Sikh Holy Book.

Sikhism was born in the Punjab region in the fifteenth century with the Birth of GURU NANAK in 1469. Guru Nanak was born in TALWANDI, now called Nankana Sahib near Lahore in Pakistan. Right from his early childhood, Guru Nanak did not accept groundless rituals, superstitions and dogmas which passed for religion in those days. He and the following Nine Gurus who succeeded him set a wonderful example of LIVING SPIRITUALLY while TAKING AN ACTIVE and SECULAR part in the world. 

The names of all the Gurus and their periods are as follows:-

  1. Guru Nanak Dev Ji 1469 - 1539
  2. Guru Angad Dev Ji 1504 - 1552
  3. Guru Amardas Ji 1479 - 1574
  4. Guru Ramdas Ji 1534 - 1581
  5. Guru Arjan Dev Ji 1563 - 1606
  6. Guru Hargobind Ji 1595 -1644
  7. Guru Har Rai Ji 1630 - 1661
  8. Guru Har Krishan Ji 1656 - 1664
  9. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji 1621 - 1675
  10. Guru Gobind Singh Ji 1666 - 1708

Impact of Guru Gobind Singh Ji

The tenth and last Guru created the KHALSA by initiating the Sikh Baptism or AMRIT Ceremony in 1699 and thus gave the Sikhs a distinctive identity. The first Five Baptised Sikhs were named Panj Pyare (Five Beloved ones) who in turn baptised the Guru at his own request - an event hitherto unknown in history.

Before passing away, Guru Gobind Singh ordained that the Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Sikh Book, would be the ultimate spiritual authority for the Sikhs and the Temporal authority would be vested in the KHALSA PANTH - The Sikh Commonwealth.

Guru Gobind Singh DID NOT CHANGE the religion preached by his preceding Gurus as claimed by some people. In creating the Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh gave his Sikhs a strict Code of Conduct and ordained they should UPHOLD RIGHT in EVERY PLACE and DESTROY EVIL in EVERY FORM by ALL MEANS AVAILABLE and not to submit to ‘ZULUM’ (oppression and tyranny) but resist it, if necessary, by FORCE.

His mission in life is best explained in his own words:

I came into The World charged with the duty to uphold the Right in every place, to destroy sin and evil. O ye Holy men, know it well in your hearts that the only reason I took birth was to see that righteousness may flourish: that good may live and tyrants be torn out by their roots. My sword strikes tyrants not men. A weapon is to protect the weak and destroy the wicked.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji

The Guru Granth Sahib is the only scripture compiled by the Founders of a Faith during THEIR OWN LIFE TIME. This was compiled by the 5th Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji in 1604 A.D.

The Views of Sikhism Summarised

The following is a short summary of Sikhism views in a few general areas.

God and His Creation

“God is Self Existent; so is His Name Beside Himself HE made Nature, wherein HE has his Seat and looks on with Fondness.” Page 463 - Asa Di Var.

Knowledge alone (without realisation of the Inner Self)

Car loads of knowledge if we have, the loads of books; Yea, the boat loads of them too, and fill up with them hollows and caverns, Read as one may, month upon month and year after year, Yea, Read as one may, life after life; breath upon breath The ONE thing alone is of account, the rest is all the prattle of ego.”  Page 467 - Asa Di Var.


“Religion does not consist in a patched coat, a Yogi’s staff, or in ashes smeared on the body, Religion does not consist in mere words; He who looks on all men as equals is religious. Religion does not consist in wandering to tombs or places of cremation, or sitting in different postures of contemplation;

Religion does not consist in wandering from country to country, or in bathing at sacred places; Abide pure amid the impurities of the world; thus shalt thou find the way of religion.” Suhi


“Earning a Thousand one runs after a Lakh (100,000) And is satiated not, however much one gathers He indulges in the pleasures of life. But is satiated not, and wears out his life to death. Without contentment , no one is satiated. And like the objects of a dream, all one’s works Avail not.” Page 279 - Sukhmani


“All men have the same eyes, the same ears, the same body, the same build - a compound of earth, air, fire and water. Allah and Abhek are the same, the Puran and Quran are the same, they are all alike, it is one God who created all.” Page 98 - A. Granth

Soul (Atma)

“The body is the dust and the breath is the wind, Who then dies, O, wise man, find out, Death is of body, strife and ego, Dies not the seer in thee, the undying Self.” Page 152 - Gauri

Basic Commandments of Sikhism

“Thou shalt earn thy livelihood by honest labour, Thou shalt share the fruits of thy labour with thy fellow being and shalt meditate on the Name of God.” By Guru Nanak - old Janam Sakhi

Further Information