Introduction to Sikhism:The Sikh Teachings
TEACHINGS OF SIKH GURUS & SIKH CONCEPTS
TEACHINGS OF THE SIKH GURUS
The Three Truths
1. Guru Nanak taught three noble truths:
Meditation (Nam Japna): Every one must recite or listen to God’s praises and offer prayers
Truthful Living (Kirt karna): Everyone must lead a truthful life. The actions must be true and noble.
Sharing (Wand ke chheako): Everyone must share wealth, knowledge and services with others who are less fortunate. A Sikh must give one-tenth of his/her disposable income into charity.
The Commandments of the ten Sikh Gurus are as follows:
Worship only one Almighty God.
Make worship a part of your daily life.
Do not make images of God.
Treat all humans to be equal.
All the Gurus had the same spirit.
Guru Granth Sahib is the living Guru of the Sikhs.
The authority of the Five Takhats is supreme.
Do not indulge in the following:
Take alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
Eat halal meat.
Eat any food which inflames passions
Commit theft or stealing
Hurt others ( do not lie, do not be envious, do not back bite)
In addition a baptised Sikh must wear 5 Ks:
Kesh, long uncut hair (symbol of strength and saintliness)
Kanga, a small comb to tidy hair (symbol of cleanliness)
Kirpan, a sword for protection (symbol of bravery)
Kara, a steel bracelet (symbol of everlasting love for God)
Kuchcha, an underwear (symbol of piety)
3. The teachings of the Sikh Gurus are embodied in both Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth. In addition they are also listed in Rehat Maryada, a book of Code of Conduct, published by SGPC and prescribed as a compulsory reading for every Sikh.
4. The Gurus were practical people. They practised what they taught. They created a nation of Saint Soldiers out of ordinary people. They taught their followers the sweetness of : humility, modesty and compassion and the necessity of: bravery, freedom and justice.
5. For a Sikh, Truth is supreme; but still higher is the Truthful life. Both meditation and noble deeds are a pre-requisite of an ideal life. The perfection comes only when meditation and good actions are merged. To realise God a union of meditation and noble deeds is required.
6. The Sikhs also believe in the Grace of God. It is believed that all our possession are a result of God’s Grace. The qualification to invoke God’s grace are of course: Meditation and noble deeds. The mortals meditate and perform actions, God gives the rewards. He is the master of all the treasures, He distributes them according to His judgment of our performances. There is no appeal against His judgment.
7. According to the Sikh belief, we do the meditation and perform noble deeds and then pray to God for His benevolence and charity. We must believe that He is the eternal judge of our actions and His decisions are always right. We must worship him in both happiness and adversity. Our belief in him must not waver in grief or pain.
THE SIKH CONCEPTS I
The Law of Karma (Actions)
1. Like any modern scientific theory, the Sikh doctrine of `Karma’ is also based on the premise of cause and effect. The good actions of a person have good results and the bad actions have bad effects. This is called the law of Karma.
2. Everything emerges from its seed. The admirable actions breed pleasing results and the bad deeds give birth to painful consequences. The people have to suffer for their unsatisfactory behaviour. The sufferings, as a part of punishment, if not pardoned by God or if not completely consumed in this life, go with the persons to their next life.
3. A person lives a series of lives. The tragedy of this life could be the result of one’s actions in both this life and the previous lives. The cycle of `Karma’ goes on for ever; but it is not a never-ending span. The repentance, the meditation and the grace of God can pardon both the un-consumed punishment and the bad actions and put an end to the vicious cycle of the Karma.
4. The universality of the doctrine of Karma is one of the chief factors which binds all the lives together. According to this law we all are constantly creating karma, enlisting obligations, and all of these activities must be paid for. The exact date, the time and place of settlement is not known to any one; but one fact which stands absolutely clear and unalterable, is that all must pay for their actions.
5. God allows us time for the adjustment of our Karmas’ account; it may be extended over periods of this life and the next life. At times people complain that there is no justice in this world. They notice that the wrongdoers are going seemingly unpunished, while the nobles are non-rewarded. It is at this juncture that the law of Karma comes to the salvage and offers a logical explanation.
6. The death of a person is not the end of his/her life, it is only the destruction of his physical body. So long as the punishment or reward remains non-consumed one must return to this world to use it. Misery or happiness of this life could be the result of the Karma of the previous lives. If a wrongdoer seems to enjoy the present life, he might be getting results of his previous good actions; and if an honest and God fearing person is suffering it might be a direct result of his bad Karmas of the previous life.
7. The Karmas of a person will definitely have their effect, both good and bad. No worldly power can change the course of their movement. But according to the Sikh thought, the Almighty God, with his Grace, may pardon the wrongs of a person and thus release him/her from the pangs of sufferings.
8. To invoke God’s Grace, a person must do concentrated meditation and must perform good Karmas. The unison of meditation and Karma is the basic qualification to go for God’s Grace. A person who does not perform any prayers and who continuously and deliberately indulges in bad actions cannot get God’s Grace and thus must suffer for his bad actions.
HEAVEN AND HELL
1. Many people believe that the concept of heaven and hell is only imaginary and was used by the prophets for enlightening purposes only. They stress that heaven and hell exist only in this world and there are no other divisions above in the skies.
2. The Sikh thought, however, mentions the existence of heaven and hell both in this world and in the upper realms.
3. In the upper realms the heaven and the hell are two different areas which are strictly guarded and there is no movement of the souls between the two. The hell is like worldly prisons, where the souls are subject to various degree of punishments. The heaven, on the other hand is like the Garden of Eden, wherein flows the streams of milk and honey, there are tress of all sort of fruits and all around there is happiness, contentment and satisfaction.
4. The heaven has many tiers. On the uppermost tier lives God himself, this tier is called Sach Khand. This is the capital of all creation. From this grand centre of music and light, and power and life , Waheguru – the Supreme God , creates, governs and sustains all divisions. The second tier is reserved for prophets, at the third tier live the saints and holy men and next to them live the noble and blessed souls. There are other tiers where souls stay for a short period before being transferred to other tiers.
5. But in this world the heaven and hell are not divided into compartments or areas. Here, like a moving train, our lives go through the passages of both heaven and hell. Some trains have longer stay at stations designated as hell (when one is going through sufferings and pain) rather than other trains. But all trains pass through these two terrains. The time period of stay at different stations depend on the Karmas of both previous lives and this life and the qualified period of meditation in all the lives.
THE MUKTI (LIBERATION):
1. The word Mukti means freedom of soul from transmigration. It refers to living in peace and comfort, in the regions next to saints and prophets and ultimately having access to visit the abode of God.
2. According to the Sikh philosophy, a soul emerges from God and after completing the circles of life and death and after consuming the unsettled Karma, it re-merges in God and stays there until the next divine assignment. Before finally merging with God the souls pass through various forms of lives according to their worldly karmas.
3. During the long, hard and arduous journey of living in this universe and various sub-regions, the soul encounters countless sufferings and pains, trying to make its way to re-merge in God. The body is only a temporary abode for the soul. Different regions have different types of shells to store the soul. All these shells are mortal whereas the soul is immortal.
4. The human life is the principal `karam bhoomi` (action ground) where a person gets a chance to work for `Mukti` to finally get rid of all the sufferings and sorrows.