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Sikhism - the Sikh religion.

Sikhism (or Sikh religion), founded on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev and nine successive gurus in fifteenth century Northern India, is the fifth-largest religion in the world. This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as the Gurmat (literally the counsel of the gurus) or the Sikh Dharma. Sikhism originated from the word Sikh, which in turn comes from the Sanskrit root sisya meaning "disciple" or "learner", or siksa meaning "instruction."

The principal belief of Sikhism is faith in Waheguru—represented using the sacred symbol of ek oankar, the Universal God. Sikhism advocates the pursuit of salvation through disciplined, personal meditation on the name and message of God. A key distinctive feature of Sikhism is a non-anthropomorphic concept of God, to the extent that one can interpret God as the Universe itself. The followers of Sikhism are ordained to follow the teachings of the ten Sikh gurus, or enlightened leaders, as well as the holy scripture entitled the Guru Granth Sahib, which includes selected works of many philosophers from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds. The text was decreed by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru, as the final guru of the Khalsa Panth. Sikhism's traditions and teachings are distinctively associated with the history, society and culture of the Punjab. Adherents of Sikhism are known as Sikhs (students or disciples) and number over 23 million across the world. Most Sikhs live in the state of Punjab in India and, prior to the country's partition, millions of Sikhs lived in what is now the Punjab province of Pakistan.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion. In Sikhism, God -termed Waheguru - is formless, eternal, and unobserved: nirankar, akal, and alakh. The beginning of the first composition of Sikh scripture is the figure "1"—signifying the universality of God. It states that God is omnipresent and infinite, and is signified by the term ek oankar. Sikhs believe that prior to creation, all that existed was God and his hukam (will or order). When God willed, the entire cosmos was created. From these beginnings, God nurtured "enticement and attachment" to maya, or the human perception of reality.

While a full understanding of God is beyond human beings, Nanak described God as not wholly unknowable. God is omnipresent (sarav viapak) in all creation and visible everywhere to the spiritually awakened. Nanak stressed that God must be seen from "the inward eye", or the "heart", of a human being: devotees must meditate to progress towards enlightenment. Nanak emphasized the revelation through meditation, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between God and human beings. God has no gender in Sikhism, though translations may incorrectly present a masculine God. In addition, Nanak wrote that there are many worlds on which God has created life.

Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
Gurudwara, meaning "the doorway to the Guru", is the Sikh place of worship and may be referred to as a Sikh temple. People of all religious backgrounds or of no religious faith are welcomed into a Sikh Gurudwara. However, it is necessary that any visitors remove their shoes and cover their head with a handkerchief or scarf before entering a gurudwara. Visitors are also forbidden to go into the gurudwara while they are inebriated or possess alcohol, cigarettes or any intoxicating substance.

Sikh Gurus
The term guru comes from the Sanskrit guru, meaning teacher, guide or mentor. The traditions and philosophy of Sikhism were established by ten specific gurus from 1507 to 1708. Each guru added to and reinforced the message taught by the previous, resulting in the creation of the Sikh religion. Guru Nanak Dev was the first guru and appointed a disciple as successor. Guru Gobind Singh was the final guru in human form. Before his death, Guru Gobind Singh decreed that the Guru Granth Sahib would be the final and perpetual guru of the Sikhs. 

 Sabb sikkhao ko hukam hai guru manyo granth. 
English Transliteration : All Sikhs are commanded to take the Granth as Guru. 

The Sikhs fully believe that the divine spirit of Nanak was passed from one guru to the next, just as the light of one lamp, which lights another and does not diminish, and is also mentioned in their holy book.

Sikh Scriptures
Sikhs have two primary sources of scriptures: the Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth. The Guru Granth Sahib may be referred to as the Adi Granth—literally, The First Volume—and the two terms are often used synonymously. Here, however, the Adi Granth refers to the version of the scripture created by Guru Arjan Dev in 1604. The Guru Granth Sahib refers to the final version of the scripture created by Guru Gobind Singh.

Baptism and the Khalsa
Khalsa (meaning pure) is the name given by Guru Gobind Singh to all Sikhs who  have been baptised or initiated by taking Amrit in a ceremony called Amrit Sancar. The first time that this ceremony took place was on Vaisakhi, which fell on 30 March 1699 at Anandpur Sahib in India. It was on that occasion that Gobind Singh baptised the Panj Piare who in turn baptised Gobind Singh himself.

Baptised Sikhs are bound to wear the Five Ks (in Punjabi known as panj kakke or panj kakar), or articles of faith, at all times. The tenth guru, Gobind Singh, ordered these Five Ks to be worn so that a Sikh could actively use them to make a difference to their own and to others' spirituality. The 5 items are: kes (uncut hair), kangha (small comb), kara (circular heavy metal bracelet), kirpan (ceremonial short sword), and kaccha (special undergarment). The Five Ks have both practical and symbolic purposes.

Philosophy and teachings
Sikh religious philosophy has roots in the religious traditions of northern India. The Sant Mat traditions are fundamental to the teachings of Sikhism's founder, Nanak. Especially important to the connection with Sikhism were the teachings of some of the saints such as Ravidas and Kabir. Sikhism is also inspired by the emphasis on devotion to God in the traditions of Vaishnavism, especially through the Bhakti movement, as well as influences of Sufism. However, Nanak's teachings diverge significantly from Vaishnavism in their rejection of idol worship, the doctrine of divine incarnations and a strict emphasis on inward devotion; Sikhism is professed to be a more difficult personal pursuit than Bhakti. The evolution of Nanak's thoughts on the basis of his own experiences and study have also given Sikhism a distinctly unique feature.




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