I. What is Sikhism?
A. Religion centered in Punjab State, in northwestern India.
B. A monotheistic religion.
C. Founded by Nanak (1469–1539)
D. 22 million adherents.
E. Sikh means "disciple."
F. Youngest of major world religions
G. About two million Sikhs live in the U.S.
H. Many view Sikhism as a reform movement of Hinduism and Islam.
1. Appears to be a combination of Hinduism and Buddhism.
2. Sikhs reject this claim—for them Sikhism comes from divine inspiration to Guru Nanak.
3. Guru Nanak: "There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim."
II. History of Sikhism
A. The life of Nanak (1469–1539), the first guru, is the starting point for Sikhism.
B. Nanak was born a Hindu.
C. Greatness predicted for him at a young age.
D. At age 9, he rejected initiation into Hinduism.
E. He showed miraculous powers.
F. At 30, had a spiritual crisis.
G. He left his wife and two sons to search for truth and wisdom.
H. One morning, in a forest, he had a vision of God.
I. God's blessing promised to those who took his name.
J. God made Nanak his Supreme Guru.
K. Nanak was called to evangelize India in the one True Name.
L. Nanak was succeeded by nine gurus.
M. The tenth and last Guru was Gobind Rai (1666–1708).
N. Today the only Guru is the Adi Granth (Scripture)
III. Worldview of Sikhism
1. There is only one God (monotheism). This is a significant departure from the other three religions of Indian—Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
2. God is both personal (Saguna) and impersonal (Nirguna). In relation to his creation he is personal.
3. God cares for humans and approaches them through his Word (Matthews, 193).
4. He is Creator, Sustainer, and Destroyer.
5. God cannot take human form.
1. World is created by God and is good. It can be enjoyed.
2. God is immanent in the world but he is also transcendent.
3. World can be experienced as good or evil.
4. "The world can be a place of beauty for the soul who loves God properly; it is a place of suffering for a soul that loves self more than God" (Matthews, 189).
C. Humans "Humans are essentially souls in bodies. The soul has functions of Atman, mind, and emotions. The soul is made for communion with God; when separated from God, it suffers. For a soul that loves God, being in the body does not cause suffering. However, for a self-centered soul, loving only itself, body and world can intensify suffering" (Matthews, 189).
D. Human Problem
1. Karma and cycle of rebirths.
2. Five cardinal vices:
d) Worldly attachment
E. Human solution— Goal of human life is to:
1. Break the cycle of rebirths.
2. Merge with God.
3. This can be done by:
a) Following the teachings of the Gurus.
b) Meditating on God's name.
c) Acts of service and charity.
4. God "does not abandon humans to their own efforts; God's grace comes to assist them on their path" (Matthews, 190).
5. God exists in the human heart. As humans turn toward their heart, they find God.
F. Community and ethics
1. Normal family life encouraged.
2. Celibacy or renunciation of world not required.
3. Key is to keep mind pure. (soldier, scholar, saint)
4. Rejects distinctions based on:
5. Stresses equality for women. Has a higher view of women than does Hinduism.
6. Smoking forbidden
7. Work, not begging, is the best way to provide for oneself.
8. Sharing with others is important.
9. Community service is important.
G. Life after death
1. Sikhism believes in reincarnation.
2. It also believes that one can find union with God in this life.
3. Salvation is not entering paradise after a last judgment, but a union and absorption into God.
4. There is no heaven or hell.
H. Interpretation of history Mostly cyclical—belief in reincarnation.
I. Other religions
1. Sikhism welcomes men and women off all economic and social status.
2. Sikhism rejects the Vedas of Hinduism and the Koran of Islam. This has angered both Hindus and Muslims.
3. Sikhs call on people to follow the Adi Granth.
4. Sikhs have had bloody conflicts with both Hindus and Muslims.
5. Perhaps Sikhism can be considered mildly exclusivistic in regard to other religions.
J. Rituals and symbols
1. The primary symbol of Sikhism is the sword.
2. Not stress rituals like:
b) Religious vegetarianism
3. Sikhs have a naming ritual. At birth hymns are sung and the Adi Granth is opened. The child is given a name beginning with the first letter of the first word on the left page.
4. Marriage is an arrangement between families.
5. Cremation takes place after death.
6. Many ceremonies celebrate the birth and death of the ten gurus.
7. All Sikh festivals are marked by 48-hour readings from the Adi Granth.
8. Sikhs are encouraged to join the Khalsa, a religious and military order.