Sikhism : The Epitome of Sanctity - Daily Current Affair Article

Why in news?

Ahead of Gur Purab, the Centre announced that the Kartarpur Sahib corridor will be reopened from November 17 to allow pilgrims from India to visit the Sikh shrine in Pakistan.

Pakistan had urged India to reopen the corridor and allow Sikh pilgrims to visit for Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary celebrations.

Introduction to the Topic-

  • India and Pakistan signed the historic agreement for the construction of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in 2018 , which connects Darbar Sahib Gurdwara located in Pakistan’s Narowal district with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in Punjab, India.
  • The Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib was established by first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji in 1522
  • Village Kartarpur is located at the west bank of river Ravi where Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent last 18 years of his life. Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak is about 1 km from the Indo- Pakistan border and on the east bank of River Ravi.
  • To the west side of the river is located the town of Kartarpur, Pakistan. Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib falls in district Narowal of Pakistan, about 4.5 kms. from the international border near the historic town of Dera Baba Nanak, District Gurdaspur, Punjab.
  • Dera Baba Nanak is a city situated in Gurdaspur district in the state of Punjab, India. Followers of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji built the town and named it Dera Baba Nanak after their great ancestor.

Evolution of Sikhism-

  • Sikhism was born in the Punjab area of South Asia, which now falls into the present day states of India and Pakistan. The main religions of the area at the time were Hinduism and Islam.
  • The Sikh faith began around 1500 CE, when Guru Nanak began teaching a faith that was quite distinct from Hinduism and Islam.
  • Nine Gurus followed Nanak and developed the Sikh faith and community over the next centuries.
  • According to Sikh tradition, Sikhism was established by Guru Nanak (1469–1539) .
  • All 10 human Gurus, Sikhs believe, were inhabited by a single spirit.
  • Upon the death of the 10th, Guru Gobind Singh (1666–1708), the spirit of the eternal Guru transferred itself to the sacred scripture of Sikhism, Guru Granth Sahib (“The Granth as the Guru”), also known as the Adi Granth (“First Volume”), which thereafter was regarded as the sole Guru.
  • Sikh in Punjabi means “learner,” and those who joined the Sikh community, or Panth (“Path”), were people who sought spiritual guidance.
  • Their tradition drew heavily on the Vaishnava bhakti (the devotional movement within the Hindu tradition.
  • Sants maintained that God is nirgun (“without form”) and not sagun (“with form”). For the Sants, God can be neither incarnated nor represented in concrete terms.
  • Guru Nanak Dev Ji - Nanak, (born April 15, 1469, Rai Bhoi di Talvandi [now Nankana Sahib, Pakistan], near Lahore, India—died 1539, Kartarpur, Punjab), Indian spiritual teacher who was the first Guru of the Sikhs, a monotheistic religious group.
  • It was presumably during this final period that the foundations of the new Sikh community were laid.

Other gurus of Sikh sect-

  • Guru Angad (1539-1552) - Originally named Lehna, Guru Angad became deeply devoted to Guru Nanak and his teachings. He created langar.
  • Guru Amar das (1552-1574) – he collected the writings of all prior Gurus, forming the first manuscripts of the Sikh holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib
  • Guru Ram Das ( 1574-1581)- Guru Ram Das' teachings focused on the doctrine of equality. He also preached against superstition and the empty adherence to ritual, dietary restrictions, and dress code.
  • Guru Arjan ( 1582- 1606 )- Guru Ram Das selected his youngest son, Arjan, to become next guru.
  • Guru hargobind ( 1606- 1644) - Guru Hargobind accepted the leadership of the Sikh faith only a month before his 11th birthday.
  • Guru Har Rai ( 1644- 1661) -. He accepted the Guruship at a young age, only 14. The Guru taught simplicity and devotion to God by the means of love and self-sacrifice.
  • Guru Har Krishan (1656-1664)- Guru Har Krishan was born in 1656. He was the youngest of all the Sikh gurus.
  • Guru Tegh Bahadur ( 1621-1675) - He believed strongly that people should be allowed and have the freedom to worship whatever religion they wanted.
  • Guru Gobind Singh ( 1666-1708) - Guru Gobind Singh was the last of the human Sikh gurus. He was born in 1666 and was the son of Guru Tegh Bahadur. He introduced the Khalsa, or ‘pure ones’ and the ‘five Ks’. Just before he died in 1708, he proclaimed Guru Granth Sahib – the Sikh scripture – as the future guru.

Wars waged with Mughal Empire-

  • Some historians say that Guru Arjan was executed by Jahangir because the emperor was threatened by the growing power of the Sikh community.
  • Jahangir himself said , Guru Arjan’s execution was justified as punishment for his support to Prince Khusrau, the emperor’s eldest son, who had led a rebellion against the throne soon after Jahangir took over.
  • Guru Hargobind fought three battles against Mughal forces during the reign of Shah Jahan. In all of them, his modest Sikh Army humbled the mighty Mughal forces.
  • Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed (by beheading) on the orders of Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor, in Delhi. His martyrdom is remembered as the Shaheedi Divas of Guru Tegh Bahadur every year on 24 November.
  • The battle of Rohilla was fought between Guru Hargobind and Mughal emperor Jahangir in 1621.
  • The Battle of Amritsar was a campaign by Mukhlis Khan against Guru Hargobind and the Sikhs in 1634.

Important practices as propounded by them-

  • A Sikh gurdwara includes both the house of worship proper and its associated langar, or communal refectory.
  • The dastaar or turban, is an integral part of Sikh Identity, in addition to the five kakaars. It is worn by Sikh males, and some females. It covers, protects and crowns the head–the center of wisdom.
  • Worship consists largely of singing hymns from the scripture, and every service concludes with Ardas, a set prayer that is divided into three parts.
  • Distribution of the karah prasad, which is prepared or donated by people of all castes.
  • Guru Nanak laid down three basic guidelines for Sikhs:
  1. Naam Japna (focus of God),
  2. Kirat Karni (honest living) and
  3. Vand Chakna (sharing with others).

Teachings of Sikhism and values as per religious beliefs-

  • The Adi Granth contains a forthright condemnation of caste, and consequently there is no toleration of caste in its presence (normally in a gurdwara). The Gurus denounced caste and preach that everyone is equal.
  • 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.

The five vices

  1. Lust
  2. Covetousness and greed
  3. Attachment to things of this world
  4. Anger
  5. Pride

Raja Ranjit Singh and his contribution to Sikhism-

  • Ranjit Singh, also known as Lion of the Punjab, (born November 13, 1780, Budrukhan, or Gujranwala [now in Pakistan]—died June 27, 1839, Lahore [now in Pakistan]), founder and maharaja (1801–39) of the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab.
  • He was the only child of Maha Singh, on whose death in 1792 he became chief of the Shukerchakias, a Sikh group.
  • His territory extended from the Khyber Pass in the northwest to the Sutlej River in the east and from the Kashmir region at the northern limit of the Indian subcontinent southward to the Thar (Great Indian) Desert.
  • In 1799 he seized Lahore, the capital of the Punjab (now the capital of Punjab province, Pakistan).
  • Ranjit Singh proclaimed himself maharaja of the Punjab. He had coins struck in the name of the Sikh Gurus.
  • A year later he occupied Amritsar (now in Punjab state, India), the most-important commercial region in northern India and sacred city of the Sikhs.
  • In 1809 , the Britishers compelled him to sign the Treaty of Amritsar, which fixed the Sutlej River as the eastern boundary of his territories.
  • In July 1819 he finally expelled the Pashtuns from the Vale of Kashmir, and by 1820 he had consolidated his rule over the whole Punjab between the Sutlej and Indus rivers.

Relevance of Sikhism in the contemporary world-

Sikhism teaches moral values and principles that are relevant for human awakening and peaceful coexistence.

  • Keep God in heart and mind at all times
  • Live honestly and work hard
  • Treat everyone equally
  • Be generous to the less fortunate
  • Serve others
  • Sewa is the key to humanity

Way forward-

Sikhism is one of the world’s major religions. There are approximately 27 million Sikhs worldwide, 76% of whom live in Punjab, a region of northern India that is divided between India and Pakistan. 83% of all Sikhs live in India itself.

Sikhs believe that each individual’s journey is unique and that we are all learners on the path toward leading a truthful life.

Sources- The Indian express, Britannica.com, BBC, mha.gov.in, scroll.in

General Studies Paper 1
  • History