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|Sikhism (; Punjabi: ), or Sikhi Sikkh?, pronounced ['s?k:?i:], from Sikh, meaning a "disciple", or a "learner"), is a monotheistic religion that originated in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent about the end of the 15th century. It is one of the youngest of the major world religions, and the world's fifth-largest organized religion. The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include faith and meditation on the name of the one creator, divine unity and equality of all humankind, engaging in selfless service, striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all, and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder's life. In the early 21st century there were over 30 million Sikhs worldwide, the great majority of them living in Punjab.
Sikhism is based on the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak, the first Guru (1469-1539), and the nine Sikh gurus that succeeded him. The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, named the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib as his successor, terminating the line of human Gurus and making the scripture the eternal, religious spiritual guide for Sikhs. Sikhism rejects claims that any particular religious tradition has a monopoly on Absolute Truth.
The Sikh Confederacy
(from 1716-1799) was a collection of small to medium sized political Sikh
states, which were governed by barons
, in Punjab
. They were loosely politically linked but strongly bound in the cultural and religious spheres. Guru Gobind Singh
before leaving for Nanded had divided responsibility of Punjab into separate regions (with borders). The records for these were kept at Amritsar
. As the Sikh Army (Dal Khalsa) grew new regions where administered and new Sikh barons came to the fore and the number of large misls
. The period from 1716 to 1799 in Punjab
was a highly turbulent time politically and militarily. This was caused by the overall decline of the Mughal Empire
, particularly in Punjab
caused by Sikh
military action against it. This left a power vacuum that was eventually filled by the Sikh Confederacy. The Sikh Confederacy would eventually be superseded by the Sikh Empire
but its influence would still remain strong throughout the empire's history. All the Sikh barons who were affiliated with the Sikh Confederacy were nobility with usually long and prestigious family histories in the Sikh religion and Punjab's history in general. Their military exploits outside their kingdoms were legendary and famous in Sikh history. The barons in the early stages of the Sikh Confederacy were very cordial and hospitable with each other. However, during the later stages of the Sikh Confederacy, they had lost most of idealism and great rivalry and friendships emerged between the later barons. This is one of the reasons given by scholars why such a powerful military force never conquered and governed large parts of India outside Punjab. Constant warfare between the later barons meant time, energy and resources were spent on feuds rather than large expansion.
The Eleven Gurus
Portrait Carved on Gold
Gurdwara Lachi Ber, Amritsar
Guru Arjan (Punjabi: ? Guru Arjan [ru dn]) 15 April 1563 - 30 May 1606) was the first of the two Gurus martyred in the Sikh faith and the fifth of the ten total Sikh Gurus. He compiled the first official edition of the Sikh scripture called the Adi Granth, which later expanded into the Guru Granth Sahib.
He was born in Goindval, in the Punjab, the youngest son of Bhai Jetha, who later became Guru Ram Das, and Mata Bhani, the daughter of Guru Amar Das. He was the first Guru in Sikhism to be born into a Sikh family. Guru Arjan led Sikhism for a quarter of a century. He completed the construction of Darbar Sahib at Amritsar, after the fourth Sikh Guru founded the town and built a pool. Guru Arjan compiled the hymns of previous Gurus and of other saints into Adi Granth, the first edition of the Sikh scripture, and installed it in the Harimandir Sahib.
Guru Arjan reorganized the Masands system initiated by Guru Ram Das, by suggesting that the Sikhs donate, if possible, one-tenth of their income, goods or service to the Sikh organization (dasvand). The Masand not only collected these funds but also taught tenets of Sikhism and settled civil disputes in their region. The dasvand financed the building of gurdwaras and langars (shared communal kitchens).
Guru Arjan was arrested under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and asked to convert to Islam. He refused, was tortured and executed in 1606 CE. Historical records and the Sikh tradition are unclear whether Guru Arjan was executed by drowning or died during torture. His martyrdom is considered a watershed event in the history of Sikhism. It is remembered as Shaheedi Divas of Guru Arjan in May or June according to the Nanakshahi calendar released by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in 2003. Read more...
Golden Temple (Amritsar, Punjab - India).
Free food is served in Golden Temple 24/7 throughout the year without any religious discrimination
Quotes from Guru Granth Sahib on various topics
- How life was created on Earth
? ? ? ? ? ? ?From the True Lord came the air, and from the air came water. From water, He created the three worlds; in each and every heart He has infused His Light.
? ? ? ? (472) First, there is life in the water, by which everything else comes into existence.
- On vastness of cosmos
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? After an immense and tiring search the authors of Vedas concluded that there are hundreds of thousands netherworlds under nether worlds and skies above skies. The Semitic texts say there are eighteen thousand worlds, but their Creator is One. However, the cosmos is so vast that it is beyond the scope of counting/measurement (i.e. beyond human comprehension)?one would run out of numbers if one were to undertake the counting. Nanak salutes the Great One, as It alone knows the vastness Its creation.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? What was the moment or time or date or day or season or month when the cosmos was created? Had the authors of Hindu scriptures or Quran known it, they would have mentioned it. Neither did the yogi know the date or day or month or season. It is only the Creator, Who knows when the cosmos was created.
- On birth of Cosmos
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ...For immeasurable length of time there was darkness. Neither there was Earth or sky nor day or night nor moon or sun, except the One Entity (Reality) and Its Hukam. It was in a transcendent mode filling the void like fog fills space. The cosmos was brought into being according to the Hukam without any visible support upholding the vast expanse.AGGS, M 1, p 1035.
? ? ? ? ?The cosmos sprang from a single act of Hukam generating innumerable currents of creation. M 1, Jap 16, p 3.
- On birth
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? (1022) From the union of the mother's egg and the father's sperm, the form of infinite beauty has been created. The blessings of light all come from You; You are the Creator Lord, pervading everywhere. ||4||
- On Death
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? The body is dust; the wind speaks through it. Understand, O wise one, who has died.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? .... The wind merges into the wind. The light blends into the light. The dust becomes one with the dust. What support is there for the one who is lamenting? ||1|| Who has died? O, who has died?
- On Nature and Environment
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? (1190) You have made this Earth like a great dish of yours which the living beings get only once in their life. It is the great source of all the materials needed by mortals. But the mortal becomes unsatisfied, and begs for more; his fickle mind brings him disgrace.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? (877) Binding together water and air, the Almighty infused the breath of life into the body, and made the lamps like the sun and the moon. The almighty has given us Earth to live and die on, but we have forgotten these blessings.
- On the cycles life goes through to reach Human form
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Many births (different evolutionary stages of life) created worm and insect. Many births created elephant, fish and deer. Many births created bird and snake. Many births created ox and horse, which are yoked. O human being, now is your time to meet the Lord of the universe?the Creator, since it took a very log time for the human body to evolve through many evolutionary stages of life. Pause. The matter constituting the human body was recycled many times as rocks and mountains. Many births resulted in abortion (defective mutations resulting in death of the species). Many births produced plant life. It took innumerable births to produced human body. AGGS, M 5, p 176.
- On other planets and existence of life on other planets
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? God's worth (greatness) is beyond measure, nor it can be overestimated. You alone are the True Lord of mine and of other beings of countless worlds. AGGS, M 1, p 15.
? ? ? ? ? ? There are living beings in water, on land and in the cosmos. O Creator, You know their needs as You take care of them. AGGS, M 1, p 466.
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