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Dharmic Religions : An Overview of Sikhism

Dharmic Religions Contd : Jainism


Sikh religious philosophy has roots in the religious traditions of northern India. The Sant Mat traditions are fundamental to the teachings of Sikhism's founder, Nanak. Especially important to the connection with Sikhism were the teachings of some of the saints such as Ravidas and Kabir. Sikhism is also inspired by the emphasis on devotion to God in the traditions of Vaishnavism, especially through the Bhakti movement, as well as influences of Sufism. However, Nanak's teachings diverge significantly from Vaishnavism in their rejection of idol worship. Sikhism is professed to be a more difficult personal pursuit than Bhakti. The evolution of Nanak's thoughts on the basis of his own experiences and study have also given Sikhism a distinctly unique feature. Scholars have presented Sikhism as both a distinct faith and a syncretic religion which combines some elements of Hinduism and Islam.

God In Sikhism, God – termed Vahiiguru – is formless, eternal, and unobserved. Nanak interpreted Vahiiguru as a single, personal and transcendental creator. The beginning of the first composition of Sikh scripture is the figure "1"—signifying the unity of God. To achieve salvation, the devotee must develop an intimate faith in and relationship with God. God is omnipresent and infinite, and is signified by the term Ek Omkar.

Sikhs believe that prior to creation, all that existed was God and his infinite hukam (will). When God willed, the entire cosmos was created. From these beginnings, God nurtured "enticement and attachment" to Maya, or the human perception of reality. While a full understanding of God is beyond human beings, Nanak described God as not wholly unknowable. God is omnipresent in all creation and visible everywhere to the spiritually awakened. Nanak stressed that God must be seen from "the inward eye," or the "heart" of a human being: devotees must meditate to progress towards enlightenment. Nanak emphasised the revelation through meditation, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between God and human beings.

Pursuing Salvation

Nanak's teachings are founded not on a final destination of heaven or hell, but on a spiritual union with God which results in salvation. The chief obstacles to the attainment of salvation are social conflicts and an attachment to worldly pursuits, which commit men and women to an endless cycle of birth - a concept known as karma.

Maya—defined as illusion or "unreality"—is one of the core deviations from the pursuit of God and salvation - people are distracted from devotion by worldly attractions which give only illusive satisfaction. However, Nanak emphasised Maya as not a reference to the unreality of the world, but of its values. In Sikhism, the influences of ego, anger, greed, attachment and lust—known as the Five Evils—are to be particularly avoided.

The fate of people vulnerable to the Five Evils is separation from God, and the situation may be remedied only after intensive and relentless devotion. Nanak distinctly emphasised the irrelevance of outwardly observations such as rites, pilgrimages or asceticism. He stressed that devotion must take place through the heart, with the spirit and the soul.

The Ten Gurus and Religious Authority

The traditions and philosophy of Sikhism were established by ten specific gurus from 1469 to 1708. Each guru added to and reinforced the message taught by the previous, resulting in the creation of the Sikh religion. Guru Nanak Dev was the first guru and appointed a disciple as successor. Guru Gobind Singh was the final guru in human form.

Ten gurus were Nanak Dev, Angad Dev, Amar Das, Ram Das, Arjun Dev, Har Gobind, Har Rai, Har Krishnan, Teg Bahadur, Gobind Singh.

After Nanak's death, the most important phase in the development of Sikhism came with the third successor, Amar Das. Nanak's teachings emphasized 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's successor and son-in-law Ram Das founded the city of Amritsar, which is home of the Harimandir Sahib and regarded widely as the holiest city for all Sikhs. Arjun Dev was responsible for compiling the Sikh scriptures. Arjun Dev was captured by Mughal authorities who were suspicious and hostile to the religious order he was developing. His persecution and death inspired his successors to promote a military and political organisation of Sikh communities to defend themselves against the attacks of Mughal forces.


There are two primary sources of scripture for the Sikhs: the Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth. The Guru Granth Sahib may be referred to as the Adi Granth—literally, The First Volume—and the two terms are often used synonymously. The Adi Granth refers to the version of the scripture created by Arjun Dev in 1604. The Guru Granth Sahib refers to the final version of the scripture created by Gobind Singh.

The Resemblance Among Dharmic Religions.

All religions have been greatly influenced by the natural and historic characteristics of the place, from where they originated. Dharmic Religions have endless courtesy to the various cultures that were built and destroyed millions of years ago in the Indian sub-continent.

Sanatana darma is the value formed imbibing the aspects of Harappa, Indus-valley and Dravidian civilization. While Hinduism got directly linked with the ideas of Sanatana, other Dharmic Religions questioned some aspects and superstitions in a way that these protests become the cause for the evolution of such religions. All Dharmic Religions conceive the concept of Guru. Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism is founded by gurus. The concept of Karma and samsara and moksha are been mentioned in all except Sikhism.

Religions Of India Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Contributing Writer Pradeep kumar, Kerala Scripted and Directed Graduation documentary film The Beautiful Land, winner of college level Malayalam short-story writing competition, instituted by Madyamam Daily. His Malayalam short stories have been published in magazines and news paper supplements. [email protected]


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