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Who Are Sikhs?

Updated By Karen and Gary Singh

  • Sikh means to learn
  • Sikhism is a way of living a life that gives you complete satisfaction, easy-going life, full of happiness and you face every situation gracefully
  • Sikhs believe in the equality of humankind, the concept of universal brotherhood of man and One Supreme God (Ik Onkar).
  • There is God, you and Shri Guru Granth Sahib (Shabad Guru) who will make you one with the Eternal One.
  • It makes you - yourself. You start realizing yourself. You start loving yourself. You become proud of yourself.


A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It originated in the 15th century in the Punjab (India also some part of Pakistan). Its origin in Sanskrit term (śiṣya)-- meaning "disciple, student and disciple of the Guru.Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism. The tenth Guru appointed Sri Guru Granth Sahib as the final and eternal Guru of the Sikhs. Sri Guru Granth Sahib is revered by Sikhs as their supreme guide. Their daily prayers include the well-being of all of mankind. Protecting the religious and political rights of all people and preventing discrimination is an integral part of the Sikh faith.

  • The 5th Guru Arjan Dev was martyred by the Mughal ruler Jahangir on 16 May 1606.
  • The martyrdom of Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Ji 9th Guru to protect Hindus from religious persecution, in Delhi, on 11 November 1675 AD, is another example of upholding minority religious freedom.He gave his life to protect freedom of worship for all religions mainly Hindu, when Hindu Pandits (priests) came to ask for help

Sikhs population worldwide is estimated around 27-28 million, 76% live in Punjab State of India and form 2/3 majority.


  • Any person being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being; ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev to Sri Guru Gobind Singh; Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
  • Any person being who faithfully believes the teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru; and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion"
  • Sikhs believe in the equality of humankind, the concept of universal brotherhood of man and One Supreme God (Ik Onkar)
  • A Sikh disciplines his thoughts and actions so that the five obstacles—lust, anger, greed, materialism and ego
  • The guiding principles of the Sikh faith are Truth, Equality, Freedom, Justice, and Karma.
  • Sikhism teaches to respect all other religions and that one should defend the rights of not just one's own religion but the religion and faith of others as a human right.
  • Sikh prayer is a supplication for the welfare of all of humanity.

Baptised Sikhs shall have Five Ks---:not cut your haires and have turban; beard and mustache; an iron/steel bracelet (kara); a Kirpan, a small sword in a gatra strap; Kashera and a Kanga, comb under turban. Guru Gobind Singh infused a new spirit into the community by creating the Khalsa brotherhood – or the "pure brotherhood". Khalsa. The "pure brotherhood". Khalsa is strictly forbids the use of intoxicants, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, narcotics and any other foreign substance which disrupts the body, sexual relationship out of marriage, consuming sacrificial meat (Kutha meat), and cutting of hairs.

Sikhism can be considered one of the more universal religions-- There is one supreme eternal reality; the truth; immanent in all things; creator of all things; imminent in creation. Without fear and without hatred; not subject to time; beyond birth and death; self-revealing. Known by the Guru’s grace.Most male Sikhs have Singh (lion) and most female Sikhs Kaur as their surname

Seva (selfless service) is an integral part of Sikh worship, very easily observed in the Gurdwara. Visitors of any religious or socio-economic background are welcomed, where langar (food for all) is always served to people of all origins, the same (vegetarian) food, while sitting together on the same level of the floor.

The Sikh human rights struggle morphed into a political struggle which was one of the dominant causes of the fall of the Mughal empire in India and led to the formation of the strongest kingdom in India before being annexed by the British in 1849. Yet at the peak of their political power the Sikhs under the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh had a large powerful kingdom centered in Lahore which was also secular and egalitarian.Wearing a turban and a distinct identity also made the Sikhs very easily recognizable. Sikh history is built on examples of brave men and women who defended an ideology built on the fundamentals of human rights and equality of all human

Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar also known as the Golden Temple--was laid not by the many eminent Sikh leaders or the 4th Sikh Guru Ramdas, who was the leader of the Sikhs at that time, but by a Sufi by the name of Sain Mian Mir. This ia an example of Sikhism's commitment to tolerance is the fact that the foundation stone of the holiest shrine of the Sikhs

Sikh history:

  • The evolution of Sikhism began with the emergence of Guru Nanak as a religious leader and a social reformer during the 15th century in the Punjab.
  • In 1606, it have begun with the death of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev
  • In 1699, Sikh distinction- Khalsa was the establishedthe Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh . The religious practice was also formalised by Guru Gobind Singh on 30 March 1699. The latter baptised five people from different social backgrounds to form Khalsa. The first five, Pure Ones, then baptised Gobind Singh into the Khalsa fold.
  • Now Sikhism, as an organized grouping, a religious history of around 400 years.

Sikhism always has had amicable relations with other religions. Between 1556–1707, the Mughal rule of India the emerging religion had strained relations with the ruling Mughals.Hindu Hill rajahs fought frequent battles against Guru Gobind Singh because they were largely opposed to Guru Gobind Singh's casteless principles of religion.

Sikh Empire under reign of the Maharajah Ranjit Singh

  • It was characterised by religious tolerance and pluralism with Christians, Muslims and Hindus in positions of power. The establishmet of the Sikh Empire is commonly considered the zenith of Sikhism at a political level, during which time the Sikh Empire came to include Kashmir, Ladakh, and Peshawar.
  • Hari Singh Nalwa, the Commander-in-chief of the Sikh army along the North West Frontier, took the boundary of the Sikh Empire to the very mouth of the Khyber Pass. The Empire's secular administration integrated innovative military, economic and governmental reforms.

In World War I & World War 2 : In worldwide , 100,000 Sikhs, around 20% in the British Indian Army and in 1945, 14 Victoria Crosses were awarded to the Sikhs, a per capita record given the size of the Sikh Regiments

Partition of India in 1947: It was marked by heavy conflict in the Punjab between Sikhs and Muslims. The effect was the religious migration of Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus from West Punjab, mirroring a similar religious migration of Punjabi Muslims in East Punjab. Sikhs emigrated from both India and Pakistan, most going to the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Malaysia, East Africa, Australia and Thailand.

Sikhs, 1.87% of the Indian population, make up 12-16% in the Indian Army and 20% of its officers which makes them over 10 times more as India population.Punjabi Sikhs are prominent in varied professions, such as scientists, engineers and doctors.

In 1960: the Green Revolution in the Sikh-majority state of Punjab was known as "the breadbasket of India". It is also considered wealthiest (per capita), almost 3 times the national Indian average