This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly covers the origins of Sikhism back to its founding guru, Guru Nanak, who believed in the oneness of ...
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With 23 million Sikhs globally, Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world. It originated around 1500 CE in Punjab, a region that is today part of India and Pakistan. While most Sikhs still live in the Punjab province, there are also significant populations in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, was born in 1469 to a Hindu family. After experiencing a powerful revelation, he set out to spread his belief that there is one God, beyond human conception. While Guru Nanak accepted the Hindu ideas of reincarnation and karma, he rejected other elements of Hinduism, such as polytheism and the love of ritual. Guru Nanak also preached against the caste system, animal sacrifice, and fasting. The result of his thinking is that Sikhism exhibits elements of Hinduism and Islam, both of which have a long history in its region of origin, but holds its own as a unique religion in the view of Sikhs and recent scholars. While Sikhism started as a movement, it became increasingly formalized as each successive guru incorporated sacred texts and religious practices. In 1699, the tenth guru, Gobind Singh, developed a special military group for men and women called the Khalsa, aimed at empowering Sikhs to defend their faith. He created an initiation ceremony, known as the "baptism of the sword," and instituted the Five K's of the Khalsa to identify and bind the members of the community. The Five K's, still in practice today, are Kesh, uncut hair; Khanga, wooden hair comb; Kach, cotton underwear; Kirpan, ceremonial sword, and Kara, steel bracelet. Gobind Singh declared that he would be the last human guru and that after his death the new spiritual guide of the Sikhs would be the book of scripture, the Adi Granth, also called Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs, believing that God is inside everyone, focus on their personal relationships with God and work to eventually become one with God. To them, an honorable life includes performing good deeds and serving others. They strive for honesty and justice, as well as freedom and equality for all. The three duties asked of them are to pray, work, and give. Sikhs also try to avoid the vices of lust, greed, materialism, anger and pride, believing these will create barriers between themselves and God.
- What are the Sikh articles of faith and how do they reflect the values of Sikhs?
- Why do you think keeping hair uncut is important?
- What challenges might Sikh students face in America?
- Describe three main beliefs of Sikhs.
- What are the circumstances that would make a Sikh willing to pick up arms and fight?
Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly: "Belief and Practice: Sikh Saint-Soldier"
Learn more about the Religion & Ethics segment "Belief and Practice: Sikh Saint-Soldier."
Production of Thirteen.
Production of Thirteen.