Place of Worship – Gurdwara
A Gurdwara is the place of worship for Sikhs, which traditionally includes a congregation hall, a community kitchen called the Langar hall, guest rooms, and a library. These facilities are open at no charge to all; without any distinction to race, religion, color gender or national origin. The Gurdwara is managed in accordance with the Sikh Rahit Maryada (Sikhs code of conduct) by a democratically selected or elected body.
Guru Nanak preached universal equality and devotion to one God: the Creator of the entire universe and an all-pervading divine spirit. From this basic premise of Creator and His creation (the universe), Guru Nanak derived the principles of equality, fraternity, respect for human dignity and freedom of conscience for all, without any distinction to caste, creed, color, gender or race.
Sikhism blends cosmic unity (divine spirit) and physical diversity of one universe (divine reality). It provides harmony between matter and spirit, individual and society, and represents confluence of religion and diplomacy. The basic value system is:
- To have faith in One God: the ultimate Truth, the Creator of all creations, without fear or malice, unbounded by time, beyond the cycle of birth and death, very kind and gracious
- To earn an honest living (i.e. according to those principles of justice and truth which are social manifestations of divine reality)
- To share one’s honest earnin/gs with the needy: not as a charity, but in gratitude to God’s blessing on oneself, transcending self-centered and egotistic tendencies.
- To seek God’s grace through selfless service of humanity in the true spirit of equality, fraternity and respect of human dignity, without any distinction of cast, creed, color, gender, race or national origin.
- To nurture the characteristics of a Saint-Soldier: Courage and dignity blended with humility and compassion, integrity of character, discipline, truth, justice, righteousness, and freedom for all.
Guru Nanak and his nine successors raised a powerful voice against religious persecution, political oppression, lust for power, and all forms of social injustice especially the prevailing Hindu caste system. Guru Nanak’s mission was completed by Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708 AD), the tenth and the last Sikh Guru in human form.
The Sikh National Symbol
This Symbol consists of a Chakar (circle) with a double-edged sword in its center and two curved swords on either side.
The Chakar reminds Sikhs that there is one God, who has no beginning and no end. The double-edged sword stands for the creative and primal power of God. The two swords on the outside are symbols of the spiritual (Piri) and temporal (Miri) the balance in Sikh life.
Forms and symbols are essential for uniformity and for sustaining enthusiasm for religion as an organization. Sikh symbols are a living index of the ideal, arousing deep remembrance of the personality (Guru) that created them. The symbols make the ideal more real and meaningful to the disciples, and they are meant to assist in the corporate life of the community.
In 1699 Guru Gobind Singh, following the philosophy of Guru Nanak, prescribed five articles of faith for the followers of the Sikh religion. The articles are known as “Five Ks”:
- Kesh – unshorn hair symbolizing saintly appearance;
- Kangha – a comb for cleanliness of hair;
- Kara – a steel bracelet signifying discipline and responsibility;
- Kachhera – cotton underwear, a sign of commitment to modesty and procreation; and
- Kirpan – a ceremonial sword symbolizing soldierly qualities: right to bear arms to uphold justice, truth, freedom and human dignity.
Guru Gobind Singh bestowed the spiritual authority to Guru Granth Sahib (the Holy Scripture), and the temporal authority to a council of the Five Sikhs, selected democratically by consensus.
“By bestowing spiritual sovereignty on the Holy Book and temporal sovereignty on the Panth (people), Guru Gobind Singh envisioned a relationship in which the two sovereignties are not only correlated and complementary, but also distinct from each other. Their distinctiveness, that is their operation in distinctive fields, ensures a positive basis for secularism, while their correlation means that the institutions of religion as value carrying social structures are essential for the social integrity and temporal sovereignty of the people.”
Siri Guru Granth Sahib is a source book; an expression of man’s loneliness, his aspirations, his longings, his cry to God and his hunger for communication with that Being. I have studied the Scriptures of other great religions, but I do not find elsewhere, the same power of appeal to heart and mind as I found here in these volumes. They are a revelation of the vast reach of the human heart. There is something strangely modern about these Scriptures … Pearl S. Buck, Nobel Laureate, USA
In the coming religious debate, the Sikh religion and its’ Scripture, the Adi Granth, will have something of special value to say to the rest of the world …Arnold Toynbee, Philosopher, Historian, USA
Sikhism is a Universal world Faith, a message for all men. This is amply illustrated in the writings of the Gurus. Sikhs must cease to think of their faith as just another good religion and must begin to think in terms of Sikhism being the religion for this New Age … It completely supplants and fulfils all the former dispensations of older religions. Books must be written proving this. The other religions contain the truth, but Sikhism contains the fullness of truth…. Rev. H. L. Bradshaw of the U.S.A
In his book, “The Sikh Religion,” Mcauliffee writes: Unlike the scriptures of other creeds, they do not contain love stories or accounts of wars waged for selfish considerations. They contain sublime truths, the study of which cannot but elevate the reader spiritually, morally, and socially. There is not the least tinge of sectarianism in them. They teach the highest and purest principle that serve to bind man to man and inspire the believer with an ambition to serve his fellow men, to sacrifice all and die for their sake. Mcauliffee deems it necessary to draw the reader’s attention to another significant feature of Sikhism which distinguishes it and separates it from other philosophical and religious systems of thought: The Sikh religion differs as regards the authenticity of its dogmas from most other great theological systems. Many of the great teachers the world has known, have not left a line of their own composition, and we only know what they taught through tradition or second-hand information….Max Arthur Mcauliffe , UK
The more I dig into the pages of the Guru Granth Sahib , the more I fell in love with them, Few if any, amongst the world’s Scripture attain so high a literary level or so constant a height of inspiration …“Gospel of the Guru Granth” by Duncan Greenlees. UK
Russell said “that if some lucky men survive the onslaught of the third world war of atomic and hydrogen bombs, then the Sikh religion will be the only means of guiding them.” He was asked that he was talking about the third world war, but isn’t this religion capable of guiding mankind before the third world war? In reply, Russell said, “Yes, it has the capability, but the Sikhs have not brought out in the broad daylight, the splendid doctrines of this religion which has come into existence for the benefit of the entire mankind. This is their greatest sin and the Sikhs cannot be freed of it.”… Bertrand Russell UK