Sikhism in India

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Indian Sikhs
Amritsar Golden Temple 3.JPG
Golden Temple (Darbar Sahib), located in Amritsar, Punjab is the holiest shrine of Sikhism.
Total population
20.8 million (2011 census report)[1]
Fourth largest religion in India
Regions with significant populations
Majority in Punjab, India. Significant populations in Chandigarh · Himachal Pradesh  · Haryana · Delhi · Jammu & Kashmir · Rajasthan  · Uttarakhand
Punjabi • Hindi • Sindhi • Kashmiri • Marathi • English

Sikhism is the fourth largest religion in India and has existed for 549 years, beginning with the birth of its founder Guru Nanak. The Sikhs are predominantly located in Punjab, but also in many other parts of India. It is also the fifth largest religion in the world, with more than 27 million followers in the world as of the year 2010.

Prominent Sikhs in India[edit]

Though Sikhs are a minority in India, the community occupies a significant place in the country. The former Chief Justice of India, Jagdish Singh Khehar, and the former Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh[2] are Sikh, as is former President of India Gyani Zail Singh. Almost every council of ministers in India has included Sikh representatives. Sikhs are also conspicuous in the Indian army, primarily because of their history as defenders of righteousness, they formed the sword arm of the British empire. The Late Indian officer with a 5 star rank, Arjan Singh, is a Sikh. Sikhs have also led the Indian army through JJ Singh and the Indian Air Force was led by Air Chief Marshal Dilbagh Singh. Sikhs have been prominent in Indian sports, with the only Indian individual gold medalist in Olympics, Abhinav Bindra, being a Sikh. Similarly they occupy important official positions, like Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia;[3] governor Surjit Singh Barnala. Sikhs are also known for entrepreneurial business in India. Milkha Singh, also known as The Flying Sikh, is a former Indian track and field sprinter who was introduced to the sport while serving in the Indian Army. One reason for visibility of Sikhs in the Indian spectrum is the disproportionate role played by the Sikh community during the Indian freedom struggle, with Bhagat Singh remaining a youth icon to Indian youth.[4]

Gurdwara Bangla Sahib

A Sikh place of worship is called Gurdwara. [5] The Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar in Punjab is a prominent Sikh Gurdwara. The Golden Temple represents the highest spiritual seat of Sikh Authority.

Langar (the communal meal)[edit]

One emphasis of Sikhi is community services and helping the needy. One of the distinct features of Sikhism is the common kitchen called Langar. In every Gurdwara there is a Langar. All people can contribute in preparing a communal meal in the free kitchen. The meals are served to all and are eaten sitting on the floor. This idea stems from Indian history, and the harshness of the caste system. When everyone sits on the floor together, the ideas of caste are thrown away, emphasizing the importance of equality. Sikhism does not believe in holding religious fasts, for the body is God's present to the human being; and therefore humans must foster, maintain and preserve it in good, sound condition, unless fasting is done to foster the human body like healthy diets. The Sikh Guru's taught away from rituals which they believed lacked real purpose. It is available for all people following any religion.

Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib

The Guru Granth Sahib[edit]

Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism and the first Sikh Guru. The last living Guru, Guru Gobind Singh passed the Guruship of the Sikhs to the Eternal Guru of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, the last Guru of Sikhism (the sacred text of Sikhism). It also includes the writings of the some Sikh Gurus and the writings of Hindu and Muslims saints because all of these Bhagats and Bhatts shared the view of one universal creator God, they have experienced unison with almighty. Every human being is equal in front of Waheguru.

A Sikh man wearing a turban

Sikhs combat with the Mughals[edit]

Aurungzeb's religious policy was against Hindus, they had to pay more taxes than Muslims. Sir Mohd. Latif writes "He discouraged the teaching of the Hindus, burnt to the ground the great Pagoda near Delhi, and destroyed the temple of Bishnath at Benares, and the great temple of Dera Kesu rai at Mathura, said to have been built by Raja Narsingh deo, at the cost of 33 lakh rupees. The gilded domes of this temple were so high that they could be seen from Agra 54 km distant. On the site of the temple he built a mosque at a great cost. About year 1690, the emperor issued an edict prohibiting Hindus from being carried in palanquins or riding on Arabian horses.

Khalsa Panth (Punjabi: ਖਾਲਸਾ ਪੰਥ ) meaning: the worldwide community of Khalsa or Sikhs generally (baptised Sikhs are called "Khalsa"), is a name given to the religious structure and the community that manages the affairs of the global Khalsa community. "Khalsa" refers to the entire group of people who have taken an active decision to follow the way of life laid down by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru; it is the way of the life managed by the Khalsa community, who are self-managed through their democratic and collective wishes. Since Vaisakhi 1699 when the Khalsa was first forged, this community has existed as a distinct group; completely involved in their own local societies but also aware of its social and spiritual responsibility as stipulated by the tenth master. Unlike, other societies, this group did not lay claim to territory or land and property, even when they had rightfully defeated their aggressive opponents. The Panth's aim are the same as that of Sikhi in general and one is just the distillation of the other. The Panth has always existed as a community within other social groups. So, you have had panthic members living as Khalsa in locations away from Punjab where the Khalsa was originally created. Today, you will find the Khalsa located in almost all the major countries of the world; living in harmony with their local societies but always aware of the underlying requirements of their spiritual masters.

Kesh (Sikhism): (Kesh is uncut hair) A Sikh is to maintain and adorn this natural God-given gift. To work with nature and not against it. The Kesh is covered with a turban, Keski or Chunni to keep it clean and manageable.

Kanga (Sikhism) (wooden comb) for the maintenance and ongoing upkeep of Kesh. A reminder to regularly maintain the body and mind in a clean and healthy state.

Kara (Sikhism) (steel bracelet or slave bangle): Symbolises an unbreakable bond with God. It is a constant reminder that the Sikh is a servant and student of the Lord. He or she must only do His work in accordance with the Holy Scripture; to abstain for wrongdoing at all times.

Kachhera (cotton underwear) Standard, Naturally Comfortable, dignified attire reflective of modesty and control of Kaam (Lust). A sign of a soldier; ever ready; dignified and highly mobile.

Kirpan (a small sword) A sign that a Sikh is a soldier in "Akal Purakh's (God's) Army" (Akal Purakh de fauj); to maintain and protect the weak and needy and for self-defence. Never to be used in anger or to attack.

Sikh population in India[edit]

Sikhs as percentage of total population in different districts of India (data from the 2011 Census).
Sikh people at Golden Temple.

India's Sikh population stands at 24 million, which is only 1.72% of the country's total population.[6] Out of the total Sikhs in India, 77% are concentrated in state of Punjab. Sikhism is the dominant religion in Punjab, where it is followed by 58% of the population, the only Indian state where Sikhism is the majority faith.

Other states where Sikh population has some impact are U.T. of Chandigarh (13.11%), New Delhi (5.4%), Haryana (4.91%), Uttarakhand (2.34%), Rajasthan (1.27%), Jammu & Kashmir (1.87%) and Himachal Pradesh (1.16%).[7]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Swarup, Ram: Hindu-Sikh Relationship. 1985. Whither Sikhism? 1991. New Delhi: Voice of India.
  • Elst, K. (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. New Delhi: Voice of India. ISBN 978-8185990743
  • Fauja, S., & Talib, Gurbachan Singh (1996). Guru Tegh Bahadur: Martyr and teacher. Patiala: Punjabi University.


External links[edit] (english) - (german & english)