Thursday, August 12, 2010

What is Sikhism

The Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded in fifteenth century Punjab on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev, and ten successive Sikh Gurus (the last being the sacred text Guru Granth Sahib). It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world. This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as the Gurmat (literally the counsel of the gurus) or the Sikh Dharma. Sikhism originated from the word Sikh, which in turn comes from the Sanskrit root śiṣya meaning "disciple", or śikṣa meaning "Instructions" or "Education".

The principal belief of Sikhism is in one universal God. Guru Nanak's first description of God starts with the sacred symbol of ik ōaṅkār, the Universal God. Which means, There is one God: creator, sustainer, and destroyer. Sikhism advocates the pursuit of salvation through disciplined, personal meditation on the name and message of God. A key distinctive feature of Sikhism is a non-anthropomorphic concept of God, to the extent that one can interpret God as the Universe itself. The followers of Sikhism are ordained to follow the teachings of the ten Sikh gurus, or enlightened leaders, as well as the holy scripture entitled the Gurū Granth Sāhib, which, along with the writings of six of the ten Sikh Gurus, includes selected works of many devotees from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds including Hindu and Sufi saints. The text was decreed by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru, as the final guru of the Khalsa Panth. Adherents of Sikhism are known as Sikhs (students or disciples) and number over 26 million across the world. Most Sikhs live in Punjab in India and, until India's partition, millions of Sikhs lived in what is now Pakistani Punjab. After the partition many Sikhs left India and grew communities all around the world.

The Ten Gurus and Religious Authority

A rare Tanjore-style painting from the late 19th century depicting the ten Sikh Gurus with Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana.The term guru comes from the Sanskrit gurū, meaning teacher, guide, or mentor. The traditions and philosophy of Sikhism were established by ten specific gurus from 1499 to 1708. Each guru added to and reinforced the message taught by the previous, resulting in the creation of the Sikh religion. Nanak was the first guru and appointed a disciple as successor. Gobind Singh was the final guru in human form. Before his death, Gobind Singh decreed that the Gurū Granth Sāhib would be the final and perpetual guru of the Sikhs.[17] The Sikhs believe that the spirit of Nanak was passed from one guru to the next, " just as the light of one lamp, which lights another and does not diminish ",[18] and is also mentioned in their holy book.

#  Name              Date of Birth   Guruship on  Date of Ascension  Age
1. Guru Nanak Dev    15 Apr. 1469    20 Aug 1507  22 Sep 1539        69
2. Guru Angad Dev    31 Mar. 1504     7 Sep 1539  29 Mar 1552        48
3. Guru Amar Das      5 May  1479    26 Mar 1552   1 Sep 1574        95
4. Guru Ram Das      24 Sep. 1534     1 Sep 1574   1 Sep 1581        46
5. Guru Arjan Dev    15 Apr. 1563     1 Sep 1581  30 May 1606        43
6. Guru Har Gobind   19 Jun. 1595    25 May 1606  28 Feb 1644        48
7. Guru Har Rai      16 Jan. 1630     3 Mar 1644   6 Oct 1661        31
8. Guru Har Krishan   7 Jul. 1656     6 Oct 1661  30 Mar 1664         7
9. Guru Tegh Bahadur  1 Apr. 1621    20 Mar 1665  11 Nov 1675        54
10 Guru Gobind Singh 22 Dec. 1666    11 Nov 1675   7 Oct 1708        41
11 Guru Granth Sahib    n/a           7 Oct 1708     n/a            n/a

After Nanak's passing, the most important phase in the development of Sikhism came with the third successor, Amar Das. Nanak's teachings emphasised the pursuit of salvation; Amar Das began building a cohesive community of followers with initiatives such as sanctioning distinctive ceremonies for birth, marriage, and death. Amar Das also established the manji (comparable to a diocese) system of clerical supervision.

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