Sri Guru Granth Sahib:
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scriptures of the Sikhs, is unique in having been composed and compiled by the founders of the Sikh faith during their lifetime. Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth guru, compiled it in 1604, and Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru, added hymns, composed by Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth guru.Before his death in 1708, Guru Gobind Singh declared that there would be no more living gurus. He also ordered that henceforth “Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scriptures, shall be the Guru of the Sikhs, and advised them to seek guidance (spiritual and temporal) from these scriptures.” The Holy Book contains compositions by the Sikh gurus as well as those of saints from other religions (Hindus and Muslims), from all castes (high and low), social status (rich and poor), and hailing from different parts of India.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib is a 1430 page volume written in poetry in the Gurmukhiscript (also called Punjabi) and has approximately 6,000 hymns, arranged in thirty-one ragas (musical measures of Indian classical music). It contains the wisdom and spiritual thoughts of a time span spread over five centuries. The language is primarily Punjabi, although it contains words of many languages such as Sanskrit and Persian and many dialects of Punjabi and Hindi. Its teachings promote the message of universal love and harmony among all communities.
Sikh Philosophy and Beliefs:
The Sikh beliefs are simple and of value to everyone:
• There is only one Supreme God, who is the Creator of this universe, has no shape or form, and is beyond time and the cycle of birth and death. He is immortal, omniscient, and is beyond human comprehension. He does not incarnate in the human form.
• Sikhs believe in the Karma theory, and transmigration of soul from one form of life to another until ultimate union with God. They believe that one can merge with God only during human life. Sikhs are to lead a life based on three fundamental rules:
• Kirt Karo (Do honest work to earn livelihood)
• Wand Chhako (Share what you earn, with the less fortunate), and
• Naam Japo (Recite the name of the Lord).
An important tenet of Sikhism is the individual responsibility to improve one’s own destiny. Each person can influence his/her fate by own deeds in this life.
• The true path to achieve union with God does not require renunciation of the world, forsaking one’s ordinary worldly duties or adopting celibacy, but by being of value to the society and by avoiding worldly temptations and vices.
• God is present in every person. All are equal, regardless of their ethnic, racial or religious origin and beliefs. Guru Nanak’s refusal to recognize birth, as the basis of caste and division of the society was a revolutionary step in the social set up of his times. In the Sikh religion, a woman has equal rights and privileges to grow spiritually and participate in all religious ceremonies. She receives profound respect for her role in the family and society. “How can they be called inferior,” asked Guru Nanak, “when they give birth to kings and prophets?”
• Idol worship, religious rituals, and superstitions are discouraged. The Sikh religion emphasizes the role of the guru as a guide. The daily prayer concludes with a wish for the prosperity of the entire mankind.
• The Sangat (congregation) and Pangat (community kitchen) are important features of Sikh religion. The community kitchen is to share food with all devotees, pilgrims and visitors, irrespective of caste and creed.
The Khanda is the symbol of the Sikh faith, and has the same importance for them as the Cross has for Christians. It represents some basic teachings of Sikhism, and is formed by three elements. The double-edged sword in the middle symbolizes divine knowledge. Its two sharp edges separate truth from falsehood. The circle represents oneness of the God, who is without beginning and end. This also represents unity of humanity and rejects divisions based on caste, race and sex. The two curved swords on the outside represent the concept of miri and piri, or worldly and spiritual responsibilities. This shows that a Sikh should be a saint-soldier and maintain a balance between spiritual aspirations and societal obligations. The Khanda is generally made of stainless steel or is painted.
The Nishan Sahib is the Sikh flag, and is provided in front of each Gurdwara. The flag is a saffron-colored triangular cloth with a Khanda, the Sikh emblem. The flag post is also covered with the same color cloth as the flag, and has a Khanda or a spear on top.
Read as “Ik Onkar,” it means, "There is Only One Supreme God.” This is the first statement of the Mul Mantra, a basic vivid summary defining God, in the beginning of Guru Nanak’s most philosophical composition – the Jap Ji Sahib – included in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Additional Links for Sikh Religion, Philosophy & Teachings:
The Philosophy & Beliefs of the Sikh Religion:
Sikhism – Beliefs, Customs, History, andRites and Rituals (BBC):
Guide to Sikhism, its social and spiritual roots, its history, beliefs and philosophy:
Religion Facts on Sikhism – Beliefs, History and Timeline: