- "Sikh" literally means disciple or student
- Sikhism is currently the 5th largest religion in the world
- There are 23 million Sikhs worldwide
- Sikhism is approximately 500 years old
- Sikhs believe in ONE GOD
- Sikhs believe that the human life is a precious blessing and that we should treat ourselves and our bodies with the utmost respect
- Sikhs believe that everyone is divine; there is no evil in anyone
- Sikhs believe in equality of all mankind—there is no class, caste, color, sex, or religious distinction
- Sikh history is traced to 10 human Gurus, or prophet-teachers from 1469 to 1699
- The Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy scripture, is the eternal, spiritual guide, or Guru, of the Sikhs
- Sikhs encourage living a family life and making an honest living
- Sikhs promote education and science
- 99% of the people in the world that wear turbans are Sikhs
The word "Sikh" means disciple or student. Sikhs are students and followers of Guru Nanak (b. 1469), the founder of the Sikh religious tradition, and the nine-prophet-teachers—called Gurus—who succeeded him. Though sometimes mistaken for members of a sect of Hinduism or Islam, Sikhs belong to a distinct religion with its own unique, divine scriptures, which are collected in the Guru Granth Sahib, the eternal, spiritual guide of the Sikhs. This extraordinarily poetic treasure of sacred and practical wisdom contains not only the writings of the Sikh Gurus, but remarkably, those of Muslim and Hindu saints as well. It is also notable in that the holy text was written by the Gurus themselves, without the use of intermediaries.
Sikhism’s central theological belief is that there is one God for all of creation, a loving Creator attainable through meditation upon and remembrance of God’s name. In addition, Sikhs are enjoined to lead moral lives, earn their living through hard work and honest means, and to share the fruits of their labor and engage in self-less community service. Sikhism is a way of life that advocates the practice of holistic life experiences—work, worship, and service—in order to attain perpetual union with God, while creating a just social order in this world. A Sikh is required to lead a wholesome family lifestyle and avoid asceticism as a means to reaching God. Spurred by their religious dictates, Sikhs have a long, celebrated heritage of speaking out against injustice and standing up for the defenseless.
The twenty-three million Sikhs worldwide trace the origin of their religion to Punjab, meaning the land of the 5 rivers, located in present-day northern India. Now the fifth largest religion in the world, Sikhism is universal in that it is open to all, and that it recognizes and respects all human beings as equals. Sikhs do not condemn other faiths. Just as God transcends the boundaries of race, class, gender, and ethnicity, the Sikh religion dismisses such distinctions. The Sikh religion is profoundly egalitarian and democratic, as its adherents believe steadfastly that all people have civil rights, including the freedom of religion. Sikh doctrine resonates with the Gurus’ belief that all people have the right to follow their own path to God, without condemnation or coercion from others.
Nearly five centuries ago, Sikhism’s founder, Guru Nanak, denounced the invidious, wretched caste system that still plagues Indian society today. He strove to create a spiritual community in which such marks of social status would be dissolved, and all would be recognized as equals by the fact of their humanity. A truly revolutionary social reformer, Guru Nanak also condemned the mistreatment of women in his every respect—political, social, and religious—over two and a half centuries before the founding of the United States.
For more information, visit AllAboutSikhs.com