The word 'Sikh' in the Punjabi language means 'disciple', Sikhs are the disciples of God who follow the writings and teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus.
Philosophy and Beliefs
Introduction to Sikhism, Sikhism Homepage
Over twenty million Sikhs follow a revealed, distinct, and unique religion born five centuries ago in the Punjab region of northern India. Between 1469 and 1708, ten Gurus preached a simple message of truth, devotion to God, and universal equality. Often mistaken as a combination of Hinduism and Islam, the Sikh religion can be characterized as a completely independent faith:
Sikhism rejects idolatry, the caste system, ritualism, and asceticism. It recognizes the equality between both genders and all religions, prohibits the intake of any intoxicants, and encourages an honest, truthful living. Sikhs have their own holy scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. Written, composed, and compiled by the Sikh Gurus themselves, the Guru Granth Sahib serves as the ultimate source of spiritual guidance for Sikhs. While the Sikhs hold their Gurus in high reverence, they are not to be worshipped; Sikhs may only worship God.
Introduction, Gateway to Sikhism
The founder and first Sikh guru, the mystic Nanak (c.1469–c.1539), proclaimed monotheism, the provisional nature of organized religion, and direct realization of God through religious exercises and meditation; he opposed idolatry, ritual, an organized priesthood, and the caste system. Angad (1504–52), the second guru, separated the ascetics (udasis) from the laity, eliminated most features of Hinduism, and introduced the Gurmukhi script. Under the fourth guru, Ram Das, Amritsar was founded as a sacred city. Arjun, the fifth guru, compiled devotional poetry by earlier Sikh gurus and other prominent saints into the Sikh scripture, the Adigranth, which remains central to Sikh religious life. Under succeeding gurus the Sikh community gradually united and began to develop military power; the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb responded by executing the ninth guru and ordering the destruction of Sikh temples.
In 1699, Govind Singh (1666–1708), the tenth and final guru, instituted certain practices that have become fundamental to Sikh identity. Through an initiatory rite, after which the initiate takes the surname Singh [lion], he created the military fraternity called the Khalsa, or ''pure,'' whose ideal was the soldier-saint. He introduced the Sikh practices of wearing a turban, carrying a dagger, and never cutting the hair or beard.
Sikhism, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth edition
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