They belief in one pantheistic God. The opening sentence of the Sikh scriptures is only two words long, and reflects the base belief of all who adhere to the teachings of the religion: Ek Onkar “Ek” is One and “Onkar” is God – “There is only one God.”
Founder of Sikhism was Guru Nanak Dev. The Sikhs have ten Gurus. It is believed that they all had same soul though they had different bodies, and that it was Guru Nanak Dev’s spirit which passed on into his nine successors.
The Sikhs call God as ‘Waheguru’, meaning that God is great. Their common salutation is Sat Siri Akal (God is supreme and is immortal).
“Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh”
has a two fold meaning. It denotes a special relationship between God and those who dedicate their lives to his love and service. Guru Granth Sahib is the holy book of the Sikhs. According to the Sikh belief, God is the eternal truth; he is beyond fear, enmity and death. He himself is the creator, preserver and destroyer.
The Sikhs believe that all existence is controlled by one omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient Lord called by different names: Ishwar, Jehovah, Allah and Waheguru.
Sikh Beliefs about God:
- There is only one God
- God is without form, or gender
- Everyone has direct access to God
- Everyone is equal before God
- A good life is lived as part of a community, by living honestly and caring for others
- Empty religious rituals and superstitions have no value
Sikhs focus their lives around their relationship with God, and being a part of the Sikh community. The Sikh ideal combines action and belief. To live a good life a person should do good deeds as well as meditating only in God in abstract form. They have rules to believe in truthful life with hard work and honest living, share earnings with others in need, love your children and respect your parents, Do not harm anyone.
God and the cycle of life
Sikhs believe that human beings spend their time in a cycle of birth, life, and rebirth. They share this belief with followers of other Indian religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
The quality of each particular life depends on the law of Karma. Karma sets the quality of a life according to how well or badly a person behaved in their previous life. The only way out of this cycle, which all faiths regard as painful, is to achieve a total knowledge of and union with God.
The God of grace
Sikh spirituality is centered round this need to understand and experience God, and eventually become one with God.
To do this a person must switch the focus of their attention from themselves to God. They get this state, which is called mukti (liberation), through the grace of God. That means it’s something God does to human beings, and not something that human beings can earn. However, God shows people through holy books, and by the examples of saints, the best ways to get close to him.
Sikhs believe that God can’t be understood properly by human beings, but he can be experienced through love, worship, and contemplation. Sikhs look for God both inside themselves and in the world around them.
Getting Close to God
When a Sikh wants to see God, they look both at the created world and into their own heart and soul. Their aim is to see the divine order that God has given to everything, and through it to understand the nature of God.
Most human beings can’t see the true reality of God because they are blinded by their own self-centered pride and concern for physical things.
God inside us
Sikhs believe that God is inside every person, no matter how wicked they appear, and so everyone is capable of change. The message is written in the whole of creation; look at it with open eyes and see the truth of God, for creation is the visible message of God.
Sikhs believe that most of us misunderstand the universe. We think that it exists on its own, when it really exists because God wills it to exist, and is a portrait of God’s own nature.
Living a good life in this world
Sikhs don’t think it pleases God if people pay no attention to others and simply devote themselves slavishly to religion. Sikhism doesn’t ask people to turn away from ordinary life to get closer to God. In fact it demands that they use ordinary life as a way to get closer to God. A Sikh serves God by serving (seva) other people every day. By devoting their lives to service they get rid of their own ego and pride.
Many Sikhs carry out chores in the Gurudwara as their service to the community. These range from working in the kitchen to cleaning the floor. The Langar, or free food kitchen, is a community act of service.
The Sikh Value System comprises the following-
(I) Physico-economic values : A Sikh treats body as the sacred abode of the Spirit. There is no place for austerities and torturing of the body as a way of salvation.
(2) Intellectual Values : Knowledge and wisdom are the key concepts; reason plays the pivotal role and truth is the highest value to be cherished.
(3) Aesthetic Values : Loving devotion to the Lord, generating ecstatic state of bliss leading to the enjoyment of the grandeur and beauty of his creation.
(4) Ethical Values : Virtue as reflected in valor, purity of conduct, realization of the Divine presence in all the human beings and service of the mankind.
(5) Spiritual Values : Mukti and Nirvana in Sikhism is emancipation in life through Divine Grace.
The three pillars of such way of life are –
- a) Naam-Japna: Meditation of God –
Sikhs are directed to concentrate their minds on God, to reflect on God’s virtues such as love, benevolence, and kindness. Sikhs practice this to inculcate such virtues into their own character. This can be done by reciting Gurbani, by listening to the singing of hymns from Gurbani, or by sitting in a quiet place and attentively thinking of God, forgetting all else.
- b) Kirt Karni: Earningwith hard labor-
Sikhs are advised to earn their livelihood by honest means. They are not supposed to be parasites on society. Non-earners become dependent on others and because of this, are influenced to think and act as their benefactors expect. If a person is dishonest, and takes what is not justly his, the Gurus declare these earnings as the ‘blood of the poor’. They are prohibited to Sikhs, just as beef is prohibited to Hindus and pork to Muslims.
There is temptation to live a comfortable life by earning money through unfair means. The Gurus want us to resist this desire by keeping in mind that such earnings pollute the mind. Only honest earnings are like “milk” and hence “nourishing”.
Kirat Karni is one of three primary pillars of Sikhism. To perform Kirat is like saying a prayer or performing meditation. It is equal to your Sunday Service attendance at your place of worship.
- c) Wand Chhakna: Sharing one’s earning with the needy –
The recitation of Nam helps disciples realize that they are members of the human brotherhood. This thought creates in them feelings of kindness and love for those who need their help. As a consequence, they enjoy sharing their earnings with those less fortunate. This sharing must be done out of a sense of responsibility, and not of pride. A person can judge their closeness to God by sharing their bread with the needy. If this can be done without feeling as if they are doing someone a favor, then they are on the right path and are close to God.
The Five Vices:
Sikhs try to avoid the five vices that make people self-centered, and build barriers against God in their lives – Lust, Covetousness and greed, Attachment to things of this world, Anger and Pride.
If a person can overcome these vices they are on the road to liberation.