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The Spirit of Sikhism


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    Whenever and wherever man has headed towards decay and given way to the beast in him, there has appeared on the stage some vital force to bring about regeneration in human affairs. This eternal law has kept the candle of humanity burning down countless ages of chequered human life.

    In the fifteenth century India, people had been cut adrift from their spiritual, social and cultural moorings and groaned under the iron heel of the powers to be. In the political field, the Mohamadan rulers had started their campaign of tyranny and oppression and forcible conversion of the Hindus into Mohamadans. The government existed not to establish peace and order but to loot its subjects for the upkeep of its magnificent court and army. Bhai Gurdas has aptly described the condition in his graphic description: ‘the hedge was devouring the crop’

    In the spiritual sphere the Brahmin was all powerful. He claimed to be the incarnation of God and thus the very roof and crown of things. He, by his birthright, enjoyed the spiritual allegiance of all the other three castes and he alone could secure the salvation for them. A person who incurred his displeasure was condemned to eternal perdition. This arrogation to himself of divine powers by the Brahmin landed the people into depths of delusion and the result was spiritual aberration.

    In the society there was a wide chasm between man and man; the Brahmin looked down upon all the other three castes and the sudras were treated worse than a dog.

    At this hour of extreme derogation of man in all spheres of life, appeared Sikhism to cure the ills of suffering humanity. It brought a message of spiritual emancipation and social justice for all and raised the standard of revolt against political tyranny.

    God, according to Sikhism, is the fountain-head of all virtues and is all permeating. He is the source of all life. Man is flesh of his flesh and bone of His bone. ‘Thy beloved is within thyself, where do you search for Him without’ says the Gurbani. The path of Love – in contradistinction of Knowledge, the Brahminical formula of communion with God – leads to oneness with God. ‘He who loves achieves union with God’, says Guru Arjan Sahib Ji. Worth not birth is the Saviour of man. ‘On the judgement day you will be judged by your actions and not by your blood, says the Holy Guru Granth Sahib Ji’.

    This conception of divine –human relations and path to communion with God brought spiritual emancipation within the easy reach of every pariah and raised the spirit of man to its native place of empyrean heights.

    To do away with the gulfs that separated man from man and created water-tight compartments among men, Sikhism preaches that all men are equal at birth and death, why should they be unequal in life? All life is an emanation of one light. It is preposterous to talk of high or low.

    In order to sink all differences of caste and creed and to bring all men on the common platform of universal brotherhood, the tenth guru, Guru Govind Sahib Ji, created the Khalsa. A Brahmin or a pariah, when initiated into the ranks of the Khalsa is a Khalsa, a Khalsa, a Khalsa, nothing but a Khalsa, still a Khalsa and a Khalsa alone. Thus Sikhism restored to the down-trodden their human rights which had long been robbed of them by the astute Brahmin class for serving their own material and worldly ends.

    In political affairs Sikhism stands for justice and equity and is impatient of all authority that seeks to oppress and suppress. To die for the defence of the defenceless is an eternal life for a Sikh. The sixth guru, Guru Hargovind Sahib Ji, fought for the whole of his life for defending the weak. The ninth guru, Guru Teg Bahadhur Sahib Ji, sacrificed his life for the sake of the Kashmiri Brahmins. The tenth guru, Guru Govind Sahib Ji, sacrificed his self, his sons and his disciples to give deliverance to the down-trodden people from the yoke of helotry of the forces of aggression.

    Sikhism, in short, has brought into this world a driving force that eggs man onto attaining spiritual heights, enjoins upon man just and equitable social behaviour and urges man to lead a peaceful life of fearlessness. A Sikh is a warrior-saint, always devoted to his spiritual uplift, but up in arms to defend all that is righteous and just.

    Read more essays on Sikhi at

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