History of Sikh Religion in India
The people of Sikh Religion follow the teachings of ten leaders whom they call Guru. All these Gurus lived between 1469 AD and 1708 AD in Punjab.
Over the centuries, guided by the Gurus, the community belonging to the Sikh religion expended and increased its strength in India. Most of these are settled in Punjab. Many Sikhs people have settled in many parts of the world including UK, Canada, USA, Germany and Kenya.
The Sikhs are spread all over India. They are also in many professions including business, academics, civil service, medicine and defense of India.
The primary occupation of Sikh pe0ple is agriculture. Next to this profession, army career is the next most popular vocation. They form 10% of the armed forces. The Sikh farmers played a leading role in the Green Revolution in the Sixties raising the wheat yield per acre by 300 percent.
Ideological Tenets of Sikhism
Around 500 years ago it had its origins in the religious revolt called Bhakti movement which was mainly directed against the bigotry and caste-based narrowism in which the then Hindu religion was steeped. In this variant of Hinduism, the caste system which was founded upon the notion of ritual purity and pollution and given top position to the Brahmin and lowest to the Shudra was particularly isolated for its inhuman bias. The same Bhakti movement also tended to define the relationship between man and the God in simple term of devotion.
The movement thus tended to build a fraternity of the devoted ones, bound together in their common love of God. It came down with a heavy hand upon the iniquitous caste system which imposed upon the lowly untouchables a variety of indignities. The untouchables under the caste system were denied any social status. The status they were accorded was that which accrues to a slave and one which reduces a human being to the level of a commodity. Sikhism strongly denounced this caste-based inequity and declared a fraternity of God’s beings. In this there were neither any barriers nor any caste-based system of inequality. Thus a spirited affirmation of the principle of religious equalitarianism and a contemptuous rejection of the purity-pollution barrier by Sikhism because a point of fission which tore away this newly born religion from contemporary Hinduism.
At the same time Sikhism also declared an open revolt against an endless array of inhuman practices carried on in the name of religion. Sikhism emerged and evolved as a revolt against all religious bigotry and irrationality.
Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak who was born in the year 1469 in a village called Talwandi now in Pakistan. Nanak received an education in traditional Hindu lore and the rudiments of Islam. Early in life he began associating with holy men.
At Sultanpur, Nanak had his first vision of God in which he was ordered to preach to mankind. Many miracles and marvels are associated with the life of Guru Nanak. Principles of religious morality in Sikhism are not taught or preached as abstractions. Rather they are illustrated in the ways the Sikh Gurus lived their lives.
It is believed that in an incident, Nanak demonstrated the sanctity of honestly earned bread, one central canon of Sikh faith. While stopping over in a town during one of his spiritual wanderings, he deliberately chose to dine at the house of a poor carpenter rejecting an invitation from a rich moneylender. There he demonstrated that he was correct. He squeezed the bread of the money—lender. Drops of blood came out of it. He then squeezed the bread of the carpenter. Drops of milk came out of it. He said that the money lender earned his livelihood by exploiting the poor while the carpenter earned his livelihood through honest means. Hence he preferred to dine with the carpenter.
Nanak holds that the only entity which exists in the world is that of God and that everything else partakes of that entity.
According to Nanak, God is a formless, timeless, all powerful master-creator who is not influenced by feelings of jealousy and discrimination. As such he fears none and favors none. Nanak chose Waheguru as the specific way of addressing God by the members of Sikh faith.
Guru Granth Sahib
Every religion centers round a sacred text having a regulating effect upon its followers and their life. The sacred scripture of Granth Sahib was compiled by the 5th Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev. The Granth is the life blood of Sikhs which is worshipped by them as respectfully as they would respect and worship their living guru. That is why; the Granth is normally addressed by Sikhs as Guru Granth Sahib, as if it is a living guide, master or a guru.
The Granth is handled by the devotees more like a person than a book. The Granth is placed in all places of Sikh worship called Gurdwara.
A unique feature of Sikh scripture which is not shared by other religious scripture lies in that it includes religious hymns not merely of the Sikh gurus but also of several Hindu as well as Muslim saints who were contemporaries of the Sikh gurus.
The line of Sikh gurus, starting from their founder Guru Nanak, went as far as the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.
It literally means the guru’s abode is a place of worship. This is the seat of the holy Granth. Golden Temple at Amritswar is the most sacred Gurudwara of Sikhs. It has the same sanctity for Sikhs as Kashi for Hindus, Mecca for the Muslims, Vatican for the Catholics or Jerusalem for the Jews. It was built by the fifth guru of the Sikhs, Guru Arjan Dev. The foundation of the temple was laid down by Sayyid Main Mir—a Muslim saint of Lahore. This fact highlights religious catholicity of Sikhism.
The secular and equalitarian character of Sikhism was manifested through the institution of langar community Kitchen. Here every one, without any discrimination of caste and creed, sat together and ate in company. Every gurudware, big or small, has a langar attached to it and is maintained from offerings made at that gurudwara.