How does Sikhism see Shiva

The Sikhs: godly warriors with swords and turban

Who founded the Sikhs' religion?

The religious community was founded at the beginning of the 16th century by Nanak (1469–1539), a wealthy Hindu. Influenced by the poet and mystic Kabir (1440–1518), who had created a connection between Islam and Hinduism, Nanak began to independently process the religious teachings proclaimed by Brahmins, mullahs and Zoroastrian priests. Similar to Mohammed, Nanak, according to tradition, had a vision at the age of 50. "God gave him a cup of nectar," reports the Japji, a kind of New Testament of the Sikhs, "and God commanded him to pronounce his name and to inspire other people to do it."

Is Sikhism closer to Islam or Hinduism?

Similar to the religious formula of Islam, the teaching of the Sikhs begins with the words: "There is only one god whose name is true: the Creator!" However, this god Nanak is more closely related to the Hindu Brahman than to Allah. Nanak's central idea was the unity of the god of the world, whose only name and spirit are truth and beings. Through this conception, Nanak approached the highest and most abstract philosophy of the Brahmins as well as the fiery spirit of the Prophet Mohammed.

But since Nanak was convinced of the correctness of the belief in the automatic effectiveness of human deeds (karma) as well as of the doctrine of salvation, his ideas remained more in the religious realm of Hinduism than that of Islam. However, Nanak turned against the popular embellishments of Hinduism. He forbade the worship of idols, the Hindu rites related to sorcery, and pilgrimages to holy places. Nanak considered the Hindu prayer formulas and litanies to be meaningless.

What social ideas did Nanak represent?

Nanak was not only a founder of religion, but also a social reformer. He sharply attacked the impermeable Hindu caste system that presses every person into certain roles from birth. He did not grant the higher Hindu castes any privilege of birth or religious education. Nanak called widow burnings a barbarism and he hated the walling up of unfaithful women.

How did the Sikhs become a major movement in India?

Accompanied by a string player, Nanak wandered through northwest India around 1500 and proclaimed the existence of the one god of the world. Legend has it that his travels took him to Ceylon, Kashmir and even Mecca. The generosity of Nanak in his concept of God became clear when he preached his teaching in mosques as well as in Shiva temples. Nanak did not create a hierarchical organization, but did appoint a successor, a guru (master), to lead the Sikh community.

Initially it was only the poorest peasants who professed the Sikhs' religion, but soon men and women from all walks of life followed. The religious community gradually developed into a serious political force. In 1604, Arjun Mal, the fifth guru, compiled the Adi Granth, the sacred book of the Sikhs. In addition to the statements of the Sikh gurus, it also contains selected texts of Hindu and Muslim origin. The extensive book with over 6000 verses is not based on content, but on ragas, the beats of classical Indian music, as these hymns are also sung. Arjun Mal died a martyr's death two years later, as the Mughal rulers of northern India saw the spread of the Sikhs as a threat to their empire.

What changed after the death of Arjun Mal?

The character of Sikhism changed, the Sikhs began to arm themselves in order to avenge wrong done and to prevent something new. Especially the Mughal ruler Aurangseb was adamant about them. Teg Bahadur, the ninth guru, was captured and beheaded in Delhi in 1675. His successor, Govind Singh, transformed the religious community into a warlike fighting alliance and made himself the final guru.

In 1699 Govind Singh introduced the ritual of baptism. A Sikh was now baptized with sweetened water that had previously been stirred with a sword. The baptized swore to adhere to the code of conduct of the "five K": the regulation of the kesa forbids shaving and cutting hair on the head. The other four regulations require a comb under the turban (kangha) to stick a sword in the hair as a weapon (kripan) and a steel bracelet as protection (kara) to wear.

Furthermore, a Sikh must always wear underpants (kachh) be dressed to the knee. This symbolized the deviation from the traditional rules of dress. The baptized Sikhs thus belonged to the Khalsa ("pure"), the religious and military brotherhood that soon filled large parts of north-west India with an ineradicable hatred of Islam.

The Golden Temple in Amritsar

The Sikhs usually call their most important sanctuary Darbar Sahib. In the west it became known as the "Golden Temple". It was created under Guru Arjun Mal in the village of Ramdaspur (today's name Amritsar). The Guru had the temple built on a level lower than the surrounding land, so visitors had to come down to enter. This was in contrast to the Hindu custom of building a sanctuary on a high pedestal wall.

Did you know that …

the Sikhs have a central sanctuary? It is the Golden Temple in Amritsar in the Indian state of Punjab.

Guru Arjun Mal had the temple built on a level lower than the surrounding land? So the visitors had to come down to enter, which was contrary to the Hindu custom of building a sanctuary on a high pedestal wall.

radical Sikhs founded an independent state in the Golden Temple in 1984? As a result, the sanctuary was stormed by Indian soldiers.