Humanities
Temple University Sikhism In The United States Discussion

Temple University

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Please see the attachments and write two page long. There is also a video to watch

From your reading what are 2 features that you would identify as unique to Sikhism, and why? Identify also 2 features that you find comparable to another tradition we have studied and why? Make sure to reference the reading in your answer. Additionally, what if anything did the video add to what you learned from your reading? Did it contradict anything from your reading?


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SIKHISM MANJIT KAUR, a sixteen-year-old girl, and Sandeep Singh, a fourteenyear-old boy, stand in the gurdwara, the place of Sikh worship, in their small village in northwestern India. Here in the region known as the Punjab, Sikhism's ancestral homeland, Manjit and Sandeep are members of the majority religion, and gurdwaras are common sights in the farming villages that dot the land. Most of the village has gathered together to witness the proceedings, and Sandeep and Manjit have spent the morning preparing for this momentous event-their initiation into the Sikh Khalsa, or community of"Pure Ones." They have both bathed and washed their long hair carefully and have dressed especially for the occasion. Most notably, they both don the five articles of faith, known as the Five Ks: uncut hair, a comb, a steel wristlet, a short sword, and a pair of shorts. Manjit and Sandeep join a group of five older villagers who also don the Five Ks and who for this ceremony play the part of the Panj Piare, or "Beloved Five." They are established members of the Khalsa and will oversee the initiation. The grouping of five recalls the founding of the Khalsa centuries ago, when Guru Gobind Singh (1675-1708 C.E.), the tenth in a line of Gurus going back to Guru Nanak (1469-1539 C.E.), chose five original initiates who had distinguished themselves for their loyalty to the Guru and for their commitment to Sikh ideals. On this day of Amrit Sanchar, the Khalsa initiation ceremony, the stirring memory of The five Sikh men who participate in the Amrit Sanchar represent the original "Beloved Five" in commemoration of the founding of the Khalsa. 218 Chapter 7 SIKHISM Significant sites in the history of Sikhism. these founding figures and the ideals they embody is palpably felt. But the most vital presence of all is a large book, lying open on a special platform. It is Sri Guru Gran th Sahib, or the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of Sikhism, and the Sikhs' Guru, or spiritual teacher, from the time of Guru Gobind Singh forward. Sandeep and Manjit stand before the Panj Piare, one of whom explains the basic principles of Sikhism. They agree to accept these principles by nodding, the ritual action that makes the initiation official. The new members of the Khalsa are then served amrit ("immortalizing fluid"), a special drink made from water and sugar crystals, which has been mixed by the Panj Piare in an iron bowl and stirred with a two-edged sword. Meanwhile, hymns from the Adi Granth are sung by the congregation. The amrit is drunk and sprinkled on the eyes and heads of the initiates, who recite the Mui Mantra, the summary of Sikh doctrine that comprises the opening lines of the Adi Granth. The Panj Piare then instruct Manjit and Sandeep about the ethical requirements of the Khalsa. These include prohibitions against the cutting of one's hair, the eating of meat that has been improperly slaughtered, extramarital sexual relations, and the use of tobacco. The initiates are also told that all Sikhs are brothers and sisters and that there should not be any distinctions made on the basis of caste. UZBEKISTAN TUR-KM EN ISTAN ) CHINA IRAN PAKISTAN ,~~ J < Arabian Sea OCEAN ~~J INDIA 200 400 200 400 The Teachings of Sikhism Manjit and Sandeep are among a minority of Sikhs, approximately 15 percent, who undergo the traditional ceremony of initiation into the Khalsa. Some 70 percent of the approximately 25 million Sikhs in the world,' however, are popularly considered to be members of the Khalsa, insofar as they observe the Five Ks, or at least the one that is generally deemed most important: not cutting one's hair. And regardless of percentages or degrees of membership, the traditional ways of the Khalsa greatly influence the practices and customs of the entire Panth, or Sikh community. We can thus glimpse in this ceremony, with its powerful ties to tradition and its rich symbolism, key aspects that are at the heart of Sikhism. $!~ 2 Tl MELINE Sikhism 1469 c.E. Birth of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism. 1520s Establishment by Guru Nanak of the township of Kartarpur, the first Sikh community. 1539 Death of Guru Nanak. 1606 Death (execution?) of Guru Arjan, under Mug ha I emperor Jahangir. 1675 Execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur, under Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. 1699 Founding of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh. 1708 Death of Guru Gobind Singh and establishment of the Adi Granth as Guru. 1799 Establishment of independent Sikh kingdom by Ranj it Singh. 1849 Annexation of Sikh kingdom by the British. 1947 Partition of Punjab with the establishment of I n this chapter we shall study these and other India's independence. key aspects, attending in turn to the founding 1984 Indian army attacks and occupies Sikh holy sites, including the Darbar Sahib (or Golden Temple). of Sikhism and its primary doctrines, its his1999 The Pa nth celebrates the third centenn ial of the torical development, and its most prevalent rituals establishment of the Kha lsa. and worship practices. By virtue of its size alone, 2004 Manmohan Singh elected prime minister of India, Sikhism is among the major religions of the world. the first Sikh to attain this office. Theologically, Sikhism's intermixing of concepts that are common to some Hindu traditions on one hand and to Islam on the other make it a very interesting subject for the comparative study of religion. And with nearly 2 million Sikhs living outside of India, and Sikh communities being found today in most of the large cities of the West, Sikhism clearly is a global tradition that has a significant impact on the world. THE TEACHINGS OF SIKHISM The term Sikh is derived from an ancient Sanskrit term that means "disciple." Sikhs are thus disciples, specifically of the ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak and ending with Guru Gobind Singh, founder of the Khalsa. Since then, Sikhs have been disciples of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the traditional name for their most important sacred text, the Adi Granth. A sound understanding of Sikhism therefore must begin with a consideration of the origins of this line of Gurus. By the time Guru Nanak had come on the scene, the important role of the guru had long been established within Hindu traditions of northern India. A guru is a spiritual teacher. Guru is actually used in three slightly different ways in Sikhism. Along with being the title of Guru Nanak and his successors and of the sacred text (Sri Guru Granth Sahib), it is used as a name for God. (In fact, Vahiguru, "Praise to the Guru," 219 220 Chapter 7 SIKHISM is the most common name for God used by Sikhs today.) In each case the guru functions as the teacher of God's will. As Sikhs believe that God lovingly reveals the divine will to humans, God, too, thus functions as Guru. We now consider the career of the guru of northern India whose extraordinary life experiences and bold spiritual leadership were to have such a profound impact that a new religion would arise. The Life of Guru Nanak Sikhs pay homage to Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, in a crowded room in Lahore, Pakistan. Nanak was born in 1469 C.E. in the small village of Talvandi (modern-day Nankan Sahib, located near Lahore, Pakistan). He was born to Hindu parents of a mercantile caste who probably were worshippers of Vishnu (for more information about the caste system and the worship of Vishnu, see Chapter 4). His parents arranged for him to marry early, when he was still in his teens, as was customary at the time. Nanak and his wife, Sulakhani, moved to Sultanpur, where Nanak's older sister Nanaki lived. Soon Nanak and Sulakhani had two sons. Sultanpur, located on the main rode between Lahore and Delhi, was a religiously diverse community, with residents and visitors who practiced varieties of Hinduism and Islam. Nanak, who is said to have been dissatisfied with traditional forms of religion, gravitated toward a religious outlook similar to Hindu bhakti, the path of devotion (see Chapter 4). Nanak believed in the oneness of God and in the need to move closer to God. This could best be accomplished, he believed, through meditation and singing hymns in praise of God. Eventually Nanak began composing his own hymns. With his friend Mardana, a Muslim musician, accompanying him on the rebab (a stringed instrument), Nanak sang his hymns at communal worship gatherings. These hymns are included in the Adi Granth and are sung in Sikh services today. According to tradition, Nanak became recognized as a spiritual leader early in his life. He would rise before dawn and bathe in the river, meditate, and then lead others in singing hymns of praise. When Nanak was about thirty years old, he underwent a crucial experience that led to the origin of the Sikh tradition. Receiving God's Revelation One morning while Nanak was bathing in the river, he did not resurface from the water. He was presumed drowned, and yet his body was not found. Three days and three nights later, however, Nanak emerged from the river, and, returning to the village, he proclaimed: "There is neither Hindu nor Muslim so whose path shall I follow? I shall follow God's path. God is neither Hindu nor Muslim and the path which I follow is God's."3 The Teachings of Sikhism When he explained what had happened, Nanak said that he had been escorted to the court of God, who gave him a cup of amrit (the same drink that is used in the Khalsa initiation ceremony) and said to him: This is the cup of the adoration of God's name. Drink it. I am with you. I bless you and raise you up. Whoever remembers you will enjoy my favor. Go, rejoice in my name and teach others to do so. I have bestowed the gift of my name upon you. Let this be your calling. 4 The Journeys ofGuru Nanak Deeply moved by this revelation, Guru Nanak spent the next stage of his life, from age thirty to about age fifty, traveling far and wide and learning about a variety of religious customs, including Hindu, Muslim, and Jain. He is said to have undertaken four long journeys: eastward to Assan; southward to Sri Lanka; northward to the Himalayas; and westward, reaching as far as Mecca and Baghdad. He visited holy sites and encountered a wide variety of religious people. He also proclaimed and practiced his own teachings, sometimes to hostile audiences. Several incidents during Guru Nanak's travels illuminate the new message he proclaimed. On one occasion, while visiting a Hindu shrine in Haridwar, India, he found himself among brahmins throwing water toward the rising sun as an offering to their dead ancestors. Nanak turned and threw water the other way, explaining, "If you can send water to your dead ancestors in heaven, surely I can send it to my fields in the Punjab." 5 On another occasion, Nanak was awakened from sleep by an angry Muslim who chastised him for sleeping with his feet pointing toward the Ka'ba in Mecca, the most sacred site in Islam. (Showing the soles of one's feet is considered by many Muslims to be a grave insult.) Nanak responded: "Then turn my feet in some other direction where God does not exist."6 Such stories as these illustrate a general theme of Nanak's religious outlook. He consistently rejected traditional rituals and "proper" religious protocol, whether Hindu or Muslim. Founding the Sikh Community Drawing from his revelation experience and years of journeying, Nanak continued proclaiming his own religious ideals, among them monotheism; lack of distinctions based on gender, caste, or creed (for example, whether Hindu or Muslim); and doing good deeds. Nanak attracted a large following. At about the age of fifty, he established a new settlement called Kartarpur ("abode of the creator") in what is now Pakistan. Here he and his followers formed the first Sikh community and instituted the lifestyle that has characterized Sikh society to this day. Guru Nanak erected a special building, a dharamsala ("abode of faith"), for worship. In so doing, he provided the prototype of the gurdwara, which today is the central structure of any particular Sikh community. (The term dharamsala gradually was replaced in the eighteenth century with gurdwara to designate the Sikh place of worship.) Nanak welcomed people from all segments of society to reside in Kartarpur and to work together to maintain it. Nanak himself joined in the work, which was primarily 221 222 Chapter 7 SIKHISM agrarian. And though in most respects a regular member of the community, Nanak sat on a special seat when addressing the congregation. Followers recognized the nature of the Guru as merely human and yet also as very spiritually advanced. On September 22, 1539, after leading the Kartarpur community for about twenty years, Guru Nanak died. According to the traditional account the Guru, aware of his approaching death, settled a dispute regarding the proper disposal of his body. Compare Guru Nanak to founding figures of other religious traditions, with regard to establishing teachings and way of life and to the founding figure as a role model for others to follow. Hindus and Muslims who had put their faith in the divine Name began to debate what should be done with the Guru's corpse. "We shall bury him," said the Muslims. "No, let us cremate his body," said the Hindus. "Place flowers on both sides of my body," said Baba Nanak, "flowers from the Hindus on the right side and flowers from the Muslims on the left. If tomorrow the Hindus' flowers are still fresh let my body be burned, and if the Muslims' flowers are still fresh let it be buried." Baba Nanak then commanded the congregation to sing. They sang Kirtan Sohila and Arati. ... Baba Nanak then covered himself with a sheet and passed away. Those who had gathered around him prostrated themselves, and when the sheet was removed they found that there was nothing under it. The flowers on both sides remained fresh, and both Hindus and Muslims took their respective shares. All who were gathered there prostrated themselves again.7 Even with his death, Guru Nanak encouraged Hindus and Muslims to transcend their differences and to let peace prevail. Guru Nanak's example powerfully informs the beliefs and practices of Sikhs up to the present day. We will next turn our attention briefly to Sikh scripture, the collection of texts that contains the doctrinal position as set forth by Guru Nanak and his successor Gurus. Sikh Scripture We have previously identified the Adi Granth, commonly known as Sri Guru Granth Sahib, as Sikhism's most important sacred text. This is without question true for all Sikhs today. There are, however, other texts that most Sikhs would classify as scripture, of which the most important are the Dasam Granth and the Rahit, both of which we consider here. In addition, works by two disciples of the Gurus are granted sufficient status to be recited in the gurdwara: Bhai Gurda (disciple of Guru Arjan and Guru Hargobind) and Nand Lal (disciple of Guru Gobind Singh). A collection of stories about the life of Guru Nanak, called the ]anam-sakhi, also deserves mention. The account of Guru Nanak's death cited in the previous section is from the ]anam-sakhi. The Adi Granth Compiled by Guru Arjan in 1603-1604, the Adi Granth contains the works of his four predecessors, along with his own hymns and various works by poets, The Teachings of Sikhism such as Kabir (c. 1440-1518). Through the centuries, the Adi Granth has occupied a central place in Sikhism. Whereas the Gurus once sat on a special seat amid Sikh disciples, since the time of the tenth and last historical Guru, Gobind Singh, the Adi Granth has occupied the same type of seat in the middle of any place of worship. And whereas the Gurus were once the authorities on religious matters, now Sikhs consult the Adi Granth. The name ''Adi Granth" ("the Original Volume" or "the First Book") is standard among scholars. Sikhs commonly express their reverence for the scripture by referring to it as Sri Guru Granth Sahib (sahib is a title of respect). Every copy is identical in both script and page number; there are 1,430 pages in every copy. It was composed using the Gurmukhi script and a variety of languages that were used in northern India at the time, most prevalently Punjabi. It also contains some words in Arabic, Persian, Prakrit, and Sanskrit. All of these factors render the Adi Granth somewhat difficult to read, as well as difficult to translate. Today, however, English and French translations are available. Many Sikh families have at least a condensed version of the Adi Granth, containing all of the works used in daily prayers, including Guru Nanak's ]apji, which is the only portion of the entire Adi Granth that is chanted, rather than sung. For Sikhs, the Adi Granth rings with brilliance when it is set to music and proclaimed in its original language. In the words of one commentator: "The poetic excellence, the spiritual content, and the haunting, lilting melodies of the hymns of the Adi Granth are Sikhism's greatest attraction to this day."8 The Dasam Granth The composition of the Dasam Granth ("Volume of the Tenth Master") has been traditionally attributed to Guru Gobind Singh, although many Sikhs today regard only some parts to have been authored by the Guru. The first compilation of works into the Dasam Granth is thought to have taken place in 1734 (twenty-six years after the death of Guru Gobind Singh), although in the ensuing decades variant versions appeared. In 1902, the version that is used today was officially authorized. During the eighteenth century, the Dasam Granth was considered to be Guru alongside the Adi Granth. Today, however, only one group of Sikhs, the Nihangs, bestow equal honor on the Dasam Granth. Nevertheless, the sections of the text that all Sikhs attribute to Guru Gobind Singh can safely be categorized as Sikh scripture. These sections include the well-known]ap Sahib and the Ten Savayyas; both are recited daily in morning prayers. The Rahit In the chapter's opening, we observed that the Amrit Sanchar, the Khalsa initiation ceremony, is undertaken only by a minority of Sikhs, even though the Khalsa 223 A Sikh reads from Sri Guru Granth Sahib, here occupying its customary place on a cushion within a gurdwara. 224 Chapter 7 SIKHISM continues to exemplify the ideals of Sikhism. These ideals are spelled out in written form in rahit-namas, texts composed over the centuries and collectively referred to as the Rahit. Traditionally, the contents of the Rahit are believed to stem from the teachings of Guru Gobind Singh himself. In both this section on Sikh doctrinal teachings and the following section on Sikh religious life, we shall draw frequently from the contents of the Rahit. On God, the Human Condition, and Spiritual Liberation More than anything else, Sikhism is a religious path to spiritual liberation through devotional praise of God, most especially by way of meditation on the divine Name. This meditation is often done through prayerful recitation of sacred words. In this section, we take up in more detail three main aspects of Sikh teachings that will shed light on this religious path: the nature of God and the "divine Name"; the nature of the human condition and its need, through the aid of the Guru, to move from darkness to enlightenment; and the nature ofliberation, which is release from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth. Sikhism teaches that the ultimate purpose of life is to attain mukti (spiritual liberation). This liberation is similar to Hindu moksha, "release" from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth (a concept Sikhism also adopted from Hinduism). This release is believed to bring about an experience of being in the presence of God, a state of eternal bliss. God: Formless One, Creator, True Guru Guru Nanak's understanding of the nature of God is the center from which all Sikh teachings emerge. It is fitting that the Adi Granth begins with a concise summary of Sikh theology. This summary is ...
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Final Answer

Attached.

Running head: SIKHISM

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Sikhism

Institution Affiliation

Date

SIKHISM

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Introduction

Sikhism is among the world’s largest religions. The religion was founded by Guru
Nanak, who had been born in 1469 C.E. According to the tradition, Nanak received a revelation
from God while he was bathing in a river. Nanak founded the first Sikh community in the 1520s.
Like several other traditions, Sikhism has features that are unique to the religion. The religion
also has features that are comparable to other religious traditions.
Features Unique to Sikhism
Several features are unique to Sikhism. One such feature is a Sikh community called the
Khalsa. The Khalsa is unique to Sikhism as it was founded by a Sikh Guru named Guru Gobind
Singh in 1699, and the community considers Sikhism to be its faith. The tradition has an
initiation ceremony that was created to admit new members into the Khalsa community. The
community also has ...

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