How the Sikh Religion Evolved to Its Present Form
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How the Sikh Religion Evolved to Its Present Form

The founder of the Sikh religion is Guru Nanak. Nine gurus followed Guru Nanak. However with the advent of a militant Islam and all around persecution the 10th Guru galvanized the Hindus and Sikhs and created the Khalsa. This was the creation of a militant Sikhism and ultimately led to the formation of the Sikh empire. The present day Sikhism is given its form and sustenance by Guru Gobind Singh

India is home to many religions. Most of them have flourished in this country. We have Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism emanating from the sub-continent. In addition a large number of followers of Islam also reside here. In the 15th century however the religious society led by Hinduism had become moribund. Practices like sati, child marriage which were mot sanctioned earlier crept into society. In addition there was all pervading Islamic rule with its added ills of Jizzia tax on non-Muslims and general persecution all around.

In such a scenario Guru Nanak was born in 1469. His philosophy centered on the adage ‘There is no Hindu, no Musalman'. Guru Nanak lived in the Punjab and obviously his greater influence was in this region. He also made 4 extensive travels from 1498-510. He travelled to Mecca, Assam, Si Lanka and also to Tibet. After all his travels Guru Nanak settled down at Nankana Sahib, now in Pakistan. Here he preached his message. In this he advocated eschewing all rituals and idol worship. He also preached against the other ills of Hindu society like Sati and the caste system.

Guru Nanak was born a Hindu, but he traveled with a Muslim companion named Mardana. Guru Nanak died at the age of 70 and appointed Guru Angad to succeed him. Angad was a follower of the Guru and he collected all the hymns of the guru in a book called the "The Adi Granth". During this time the basic teachings of Guru Nanak began to catch the imagination of the people.

Sensing a rival to Islam the Muslim rulers began a persecution campaign against men who followed Guru Nanak’s ideas.  Guru Angad was followed by 8 Gurus who all laid the foundation of a separate Sikh religion. However till the beheading of the 9th Guru Teg Bahadur by the despot Aurangzeb, the Sikhs were content to live a simple life, though  the 4th Guru Hargobind had advocated 'Miri' and ‘Piri’ i.e. a soldier saint concept to defend the Sikhs.

After the murder of Guru Teg Bahadur the state of Punjab went into despondency. Hindus were persecuted and Hindu girls abducted at will into Muslim harems. In such a period appeared the 10th Guru Gobind Singh. Indian history recognizes Guru Gobind as a great leader and messiah. He hit on an excellent idea to galvanize the despondent Sikhs and Hindus. In 1699 at a congregation in Anandpur sahib he created a militant form of   Sikhism which he referred to as the 'Khalsa'.   He gave the Sikhs a form and introduced the 5 K's. These are a Kanga( comb), Kesh( long hair), Kacha( under garments), Kada( Iron Bangle) and Kirpan( sword).

The creation of the Khalsa spread a wave of hope in the Punjab and under the Guru's leadership the battle was launched against the persecutors i.e. Muslims. This ultimately led to the creation of the Sikh empire in late seventeenth century. The Guru also laid down that there would no more any Guru after him and hence forth the Adi Granth or the ‘Granth Sahib’ would be recognized as the Guru.  The Guru died at the age of 42 leaving behind a new religion. The founder of Sikhism is Guru Nanak, but it was Guru Gobind Singh who really launched Sikhism as we know it today.

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Comments (2)

Very interesting and informative piece...and nicely written too.  Thanks

I always learn something awesome when I read your articles. Thank you for that! (-: