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Founder: Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji

No consensus exists on the origins of this religion. Historians and specialists in Eastern religions generally believe that Sikhism is a religion fused together from several others, originally related to the Bhakti movement within Hinduism and the Sufi branch of Islam, to which many independent beliefs and practices were added. Many Sikhs disagree; they believe that their religion is a direct revelation from God - a religion that was not derived from either Hinduism or Islam. Sikhs have rejected the caste system of the Hindu religion. They believe that everyone has equal status in the eyes of God. This is a very important principle that permeates all Sikh beliefs, behaviors, and rituals. The goal of Sikhs is to build a close, loving relationship with God.

The name of the religion means learner. Its founder was Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, (1469-1538) who was born in the Punjab area of what is now Pakistan. At Sultanpur, he received a vision to preach the way to enlightenment and God. He is responsible for the saying "There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim" which has since become one of the pillars of Sikhism. Guru Nanak and Panth (his followers) later built the first Sikh temple at Katarpur.

A succession of nine Gurus (regarded as reincarnations of Guru Nanak) led the movement during the period from Guru Nanak's death until 1708. At that time, the functions of the Guru passed to the Panth and to the holy text, considered the 11th Guru.

In 1801, the Sikh state of Punjab was founded in Northern India by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. An invasion by Great Britain triggered the Sikh Wars (1845-1849). The British successfully gained control over all of India. After independence in 1947, occupied India was partitioned on religious grounds into a mostly Muslim Pakistan and mostly Hindu India. A mass migration of Sikhs from Pakistan to India and a reverse migration of Muslims resulted. The Sikhs have been seeking an independent homeland since the late 1940's.

The Five K's: These are clothing practices followed by stricter Sikhs, called Khalsa saints:

  1. Kesa (long hair, which is never cut)

  2. Kangah (comb)

  3. Kacha (short pants)

  4. Kara (metal bracelet)

  5. Kirpan (a ceremonial dagger)

Cult Beliefs:

  • They believe in a single, Formless God, with many names, who can be known through meditation.

  • They believe in samsara (the repetitive cycle of birth, life and death), karma (the accumulated sum of one's good and bad deeds, and reincarnation the belief of a rebirth following death. These beliefs are similar to Hinduism.

  • They believe praying multiple times each day.

  • They do not worship idols, images, or icons.


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