Sikhism - Valus and Beliefs
Sikhism - Valus and Beliefs
It is the opening verse of the Guru Granth Sahib.
This occurs hundreds of times in the Guru Granth Sahib.
It summarises Sikh beliefs.
It is taught to young children, and used by all Sikhs, for prayer.
There is One God
Whose Name is True
Beyond the cycle of birth and death
Self-revealing As Grace
There is One God
Sikhism is monotheistic. This means that there is only One God to whom we should pray.
80% of the 1430 pages of the Guru Granth Sahib are praises of God. The Sikh scripture (Guru Granth Sahib) begins with Ik Onkar which means "There is One God". The Ik is the number 1. `Ik Onkar' written in a circle.
There cannot be any image or statue of God.
The Gurus are only God's messengers. They were humans who lived a few hundred years ago. Pictures of them are for the educational purposes of showing their life stories (janam sakhis).
Whose Name is True
Naam means the Numenon or a Numinous feeling. Numinous means a sense of awe such as when one sees the stars at night. SatNam means that the Presence of God is the True Reality.
Naam also means Names. The Names of God such as Ram (from Hinduism), Allah and Rahim (from Islam) and Sunnya (from Buddhism) are all true. The Names describe the actions of God.
The most popular Sikh names are WaheGuru (wonderful or amazing grace), Akal Purukh (eternal spirit), and SatNam (true reality). The Creator
God has created numberless worlds and solar systems with life on those worlds.
Before creation, God was in 'sunnya samadhi' meaning 'meditation on the void'.
God commanded creation to begin and hundreds of thousands of rivers began to flow.
Air became water and all life has come from water.
Without fear, without hate
God's Presence (Naam) fills creation.
God's Light is the Inner Light of all beings.
Since God is with everyone there is no one to fear or to hate - all people are equal: people of different races ("Recognise the human race as one" - Guru Gobind Singh); people of different religions; and women and men.
Immortal, Beyond the cycle of birth and death
God existed before the beginning of creation and will exist after the end of creation.
Creation exists so that we can experience God's Names as a creature. The law of karma is a law of cause and effect - what goes around comes around. People will be rewarded and punished according to their actions on earth by God in heavens and hells and then sent back to earth to receive another learning opportunity.
There are five major problems or panj chor (five thieves) that stand in our way. These are kam (lust), krodh (anger), lobh (greed), moh (favouritism), and haunkar (pride). These feelings become problems when we think of samsara (the physical world) as the true reality and, therefore, feel doubt about our existence which leads to self- obsession (haumai). The world then becomes maya (the world of illusions).
However, when we realise that God is the Reality (SatNam), then the 5 feelings become a way of interacting with the physical world (samsara) in a positive way. Through simran (remembrance of God) we come to recognise God's love for us and for others and begin sewa (selfless service), the opposite of haumai (selfishness). Mukti (liberation) is when we are free of the cycle of life and death because our actions are good and will lead us to God. This is following God's hukam (law).
Self-revealing as Grace
God reaches out to us in creation as grace/love. This aspect of God is called SatGuru or True Guru. God is our Inner Tutor or intuition. 'Gurmukh' is when we turn our face (mukh) to God, while 'manmukh' is when we turn our face (mukh) to our selves and become self-obsessed. Since God reaches out to everyone, there is no need to follow any particular religion or to follow any intermediary (someone in between), e.g. a priest.
Eventually, all beings will surrender to the flow, their inner nature, and re-join God.
Golden Threefold Path
The Sikh way of life can be summarised as Nam Japna (remember God), Kirt Karna (work honestly) and Vand Chhakna (share with others).
Nam Japna means to remember God in your life, to think about God's activities (Names), and to sing the praises of God.
Kirt Karna means to regard all honest work as acceptable. There is no work that a Sikh cannot do. (Under the Hindu caste system certain jobs were reserved for 'untouchables'.) However, a Sikh cannot harm or exploit another person through their labour, e.g. drug dealing or prostitution. Sikhs should work rather than beg (which was common among Hindu and Buddhist holy men at the time).
Vand Chhakna means to share your earnings with others. Many Sikhs believe in giving daswandh or ten per cent of their money to help others. Sometimes this is given in the langar (free vegetarian kitchen) or for other sewa (selfless service).
Attitudes To Other Religions
Attitude to Hinduism
The Gurus disagreed with Hindu worship because they believed:
- that there was only One God and not 33 million deities.
- that God has no form and, therefore, idols cannot represent God.
- that God is in everyone so there is no need for a brahmin (Hindu priest).
- that God is in everyone so the caste system is wrong, especially the exclusion of the lowest castes, the untouchables. They were not allowed to enter temples.
Attitude to Islam
The Gurus disagreed with Muslim worship because they believed:
- that God is everywhere so that there is no need to visit any particular place or pray in a particular direction, e.g. Mecca.
- that God is in everyone so that there is no division between Muslim (believer) and kafir (unbeliever).
- that God is in everyone so that dhimmis (non-Muslims in a Muslim controlled country) should have the same rights as Muslims.
- that God judges people on their moral actions (e.g. compassion, faithfulness, modesty), rather than ritual actions (e.g. prayer times, washings, fastings). "Let compassion be your mosque, faith your prayer carpet and righteousness your Qur'an. Let modesty be your circumcision, and uprightness your fasting. Thus you will become a true Muslim" (Guru Granth Sahib).
Attitudes To Women
All 10 Gurus said that women were equal to men.
Guru Nanak wrote hymns to challenge the exploitation of women. "Why curse her from whom all the greatest of men have been born? None can exist without a woman" (Guru Granth Sahib, p.473).
Women can lead all Sikh religious ceremonies in the Gurdwara such as reading prayers and singing hymns.
By encouraging men to serve in the langar (free vegetarian kitchen) the Gurus gave dignity to household chores.
Women as well as men can receive amrit. By using the name 'Kaur' (meaning princess) they are showing that they do not need to use their father's name and then their husband's name (showing that they belong to them).
Female saint-soldier (Archeress)
Women and family life were regarded as taking people away from God's worship but Guru Nanak said, "Living within the family people can find mukti (liberation)" (Guru Granth Sahib, p.661). All the Gurus, except one, were married and had families.
Guru Amar Das ordered Sikhs to avoid practices, and those who took part in practices, that restricted women, e.g. killing of female babies, sati (where the woman would kill herself on her husband's funeral pyre), purdah (veiling of the face of women), and child marriage. He encouraged widows to re-marry.
Sikhsim - Valus and Beliefs
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