Practice English Speaking&Listening with: What Is Sikhism?

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This is the Hari Mandir, the worlds largest free kitchen. It serves free vegetarian food

to about 100,000 people everyday. Its also the holiest site in Sikhism. The 5th largest

and youngest of the world religions. A religion that preaches about love, peace, and the equality

of humankind, but also asks its followers to carry swords.

So who are the Sikhs, what do they believe, and why does everyone confuse them for Muslims?

Well Lets Find Out.

Sikhism originated in the Punjab area of India and Pakistan, 500 years ago. The Punjab, the

land of five rivers, is one of the most historically and culturally dense areas on Earth.

This was the home of one of the world's earliest civilsations, the Indus Valley Civilsation.

Persians, Greeks, Central Asians, Muggles, the British, and others have invaded here…..I

meant Mughals, Mughals invaded here. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Jainism, and a handful of

other faiths have all left their mark on the region. The diverse culture of the Punjab

has heavily influenced the Sikhs.

Today there are about 25 million Sikhs. They make up about 2% of India's population but

about 60% of the Punjab's. The Sikh diaspora is spread out across the world with concentrations

in the UK, Canada, The US, East Africa, Australia, and Malaysia. Sikhs interestingly enough make

up almost 1.5% of Canada's population which is second only to India.

The word Sikh simply means learner. Sikhs called their religionSikhi’, ‘Gursikhi

and 'Gurmat’.

You can't really understand the Sikhs without understanding their relationship with Gurus.

The word guru means a teacher or spiritual guide. The Guru teaches and the Sikh learns.

The Sikhs follow the teaching of 10 succeeding Gurus that shaped Sikhism.

The first and most important Guru is Guru Nanak. The founder of Sikhism. Born in 1469

CE near what is today Lahore Pakistan. Nanak was seen as special even as a child.

As a baby he was said to have had the laugh of an adult man.

As a teen he perferred to listen to Hindu Saints and Sufi Muslim preachers then follow

his parents orders.

As an adult Nanak would settle in Sultanpur where he worked for the government. The actions

of his fellow government officials and the rich and powerful disgusted him as they exploited

ordinary people and he hated the caste divisions that he saw all around him.

One day while bathing in a river near Sultanpur Nanak had a miraculous experience. He was

swept up into God's court were God spoke to him. Nanak reappeared three days later declaring:

There is no Hindu and there is no Muslim.”

There was only God.

This was a message inspired by his experience with god, one that spoke in favour of the

equality of human kind and against caste, ethinc, and religious divisions.

Nanak would later say:

Accept all humans as your equals And let them be your only sect.

Nine human gurus followed Nanak all preaching the same message of One God and the equality

of humankind. Two fundamental events that shaped Sikh history was the martyrdom of two

Gurus. The First was the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan who was roasted alive by the Mughal

Emperor Jahangir.

The next martyr would be the ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur. He was beheaded by the Mughals

while attempting to defend the religious rights of Hindus. His son Guru Gobind Rai the tenth

and final human Guru started a new Sikh community called the Khalsa and ended the line of human

Gurus by making the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Book the last living Guru. Well

look at both of these in a bit.

So with that brief history out of the way, let's look at the core beliefs of Sikhism.

One God

The Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib's opening sentence is just two words. Ik Onkar

- "The is only one God"

Nanak made sure it was clear that the focus was on "one". Ik, doesn't just mean one, it

is literary the numeral 1.

One God is by far the most important belief in Sikhism. This may not be the kind of God

you're used to though. Sikhs believe in a formless, genderless, universal god, beyond

description. This God is all of reality, it is within everything.

They believe no idol or image could ever represent this being, so they use the sacred symbol

of Ik Oankar to represent it instead. Many Sikhs refer to this one God by the name Waheguru,

Wondrous Lord.

Guru Nanak and his followers constantly emphasized that this one could be understood in many

different ways. No religion had a monopoly on the Truth. Nanak's One God could be known

as Vishnu, Allah, the Tao, Yahweh, The Algorithm or any other name or belief. There was no

need to fight over whose god was the true god, as they were all the same One.

Recognize all mankind, whether Muslim or Hindu as one.

The same God is the Creator and Nourisher of all;

Recognize no distinctions among them. The temple and mosque are the same;

So are the Hindu worship and Muslim prayer. Human beings are all one. - Guru Gobind Singh

The lack of a gender for this One God means that there is no difference between men and

women in Sikhism. Sikhism was among the first major world religions to make the radical

suggestion that maybe women are human beings too.

Women in Sikhism have fought in battles, led religious services, and even acted as some

of the longest reigning leaders of the entire community.

Sikhism isn't based on doing things to get into some heaven or hell. Hell is just life

on Earth, which your soul is constantly reborn into after you die. Which is ehhh...pretty


You see, Sikhs believe in reincarnation and karma, similar to Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains.

But. Sikhs believe that karma is modified by God. As in karma might decided what life

your born into but God makes sure that everyone can become a good person in their lifetime

if they try.

The goal of Sikh life is to break free from the cycle of rebirth by merging their soul

back into Gods soul.

One do this by releasing that you are already a part of god, you just need to let go of

your ego.

When your soul remerges back into Gods this is called mukti, which is similar to

Hinduism's moksha and means liberation. When you remerge your soul is released from the

cycle of rebirth and death and becomes infinite, timeless, and blissful. This is the closest

thing Sikhs have to heaven.


Sikhs believe that God is reality, God is the universe that we exist in. But we forget

this because humans are distracted by illusion or Maya, which is anything that takes your

mind off God. Maya keeps people trapped in the cycle of rebirth and death.

Guru Nanak thought that Maya built a wall between people and God. The wall of Maya is

built with the 5 Thieves:

Lust (Kham), Anger (Krodh),

Greed (Lobh), Attachment (Moh),

and Pride (ahankar).

It is the duty of all Sikhs to avoid these thieves.

The five thieves are caused by haumai, literally I-Myself. Haumai make people say I am this

I am that, it separates you from others. Which blocks you from realising your oneness with


This ego causes people to live only for themselves, to spew negativity, and to crave power and

wealth. Such a person is called manmukh, facing towards desires.

Guru Nanak saw the world's problems as the negative effects of ego. Hindu v Muslim, Israeli

v Palestinian, Sitting down wipers v Standing up wipers

All these conflicts are caused by Ego and Maya. The Guru Granth Sahib said it is not

religion, or race butit is wealth that divides brothers’ (GG: 417).

But Guru Nanak taught that there was another direction people could face. By being a spiritual

person practicing

Compassion (Daya), Truth (Sat),

Contentment (Santokh), Humility (Nimrata)

and Love (Pyar)

and meditating on God you could instead become gurmukh, facing towards the Guru.

How does one become gurmukh and egoless?

Well, Sikhism offers a path to follow that can help, called the Three Pillars.

Three Pillars

The Three Pillars are:

Naam Japo: Meditation on God and the reciting and chanting of Gods NameWaheguru. This

is normally done in the morning and before bed. This isn't supposed to just be some mindless

ritual either, Sikhs are supposed to genuinely reflect on the qualities of God as they do


Kirat Karni: - Working hard and making an honest living.

Guru Nanak said, “Only he who earns his living by the sweat of his brow and shares

his earnings with others has discovered the path of righteousness.”

Wand chhakna: - Sharing the fruits of your labour with others, providing free food, and

donating to the community. The Sikh tradition of a communal meal (langar) at the gurdwaras

is part of Wand Chhakna.

The langar or communal free kitchen inside a Sikh gurdwara, which is their equivalent

of a church or mosque, is open to all who visit. Regardless of caste, faith, or gender.

These serve vegetarian food to all, not because Sikhs have to be vegetarian but simply because

that means all people of all diets can partake. So if you want a taste of typical Punjabi

food just visit a gurdwara.

In Guru Nanaks time, the idea of different castes sitting together on the floor and eating

side by side was a revolutionary act. Famously the Mughal Emperor Akbar visited Guru Arjan

and the Guru would not meet him until he partook in a langar. Which the Emperor did, sitting

side by side with peasants.

Guru Nanak claimed an enlightened person arethose who view everyone equally, like the

air touching king and beggar alike’ (GG: 272).

Another vital part of Sikhism that isn't one of the Three Pillars is Seva - selfless service.

Through service to their community, Sikhs can become more humble and overcome their


Seva can include cleaning up the gurdwara, preparing food or cleaning dishes in the langar

or it can include volunteering, building things for your community or subscribing and ringing

the notification bell on educational Youtube channels.

Through remembering God's name, honest work, and sharing, along with selfless service,

and avoiding the Five Thieves a person can rid themselves of egoism and be released from

the cycle of rebirth and death.

The Khalsa

Guru Gobind Rai was the son of the ninth Guru, Tegh Bahadur, who was beheaded by the Mughals

and his body was abandoned by his Sikh entourage. They fled easily because no one could recognise

them. So Guru Gobind decided the give Sikhs a distinct look from now on so that they would

be compelled to always uphold Sikh values.

In 1699 Guru Gobind brought his Sikhs together at Anandpur. After their morning prayer he

stood in front of the huge crowd and demanded a human sacrifice. The shocked crowd was silent

for a while before one Sikh rose up and entered the Guru's tent. The Guru followed them in.

And then......The guru comes out with blood on his sword. He demands another sacrifice,

another Sikh offers themselves and enters the tent.....Again only the Guru comes back

out of the tent, bloody sword in hand....again another sacrifice....and again....until finally

after the 5th sacrifice the Guru reamerges with the 5 Sikhs all wearing saffron coloured


The Guru declares these to be the panj pyarey, the five beloved ones. They would form the

centre of a new Sikh community called the Khalsa.

He offered them amrit, a bowl of sweetened holy water.

All five, who belong to different caste groups, drank the amrit from the same bowl, which

would have been a huge deal back then. This signified that they had joined a new, casteless

family, the Khalsa.

Each of the volunteers had to leave behind their old surnames or caste names and adopt

the same surname, Singh. Which comes from the Sanskrit word simbha, meaning lion...I

KNOW RIGHT! It has no relation to the Bantu word simba which also means lion, its just

a weird coincidence.

The Guru then begged the Five Beloved ones to let him join their Khalsa. They offered

him the amrit and the Guru became Guru Gobind Singh.

Women were admitted to the Khalsa, the same way as men. After drinking the amrit they

received the surname Kaur, which means princess.

The Khalsa gave the Sikhs a new unified identity. Tied together as one family, with one name,

without caste with the goal of defending the weak and promoting justice. Today many Sikhs

still undergo the Amrit ceremony and take the surnames Singh and Kaur.

The Khalsa were also given new rules to follow which includes the wearing of the panj kakaar

or the Five K's.

kes - Uncut hair to represent discipline

kargha - A small comb in the hair

kirpan - A sword to uphold justice and protect the weak, nowadays it's usually a small sword.

It is not an offensive weapon and the Sikh Code of Conduct claims it can only be used

to "destroy tyrants and oppressors. It must not be used for anything else"

kachhahira - A kind of loose fitting boxer shorts, to represent sexual restraint

and kara - A steel bracelet, it's circular shape represents the infinity of God

Interestingly the turban is not one of the Five K's. Instead it's worn to cover the Sikh's

long uncut hair, the kes. Turbans have become essential to Sikh identity and hold very special

significance to them. If you see someone wearing a turban that vast majority of the time it

will be a Sikh not a Muslim. Guru Granth Sahib

The Guru Granth Sahib is the Holy Book of the Sikhs. It contains the teachings of the

Gurus and acts as a spiritual guide for Sikhs around the world.

It is probably one of the only Holy Books that contains not only the writing of the

religions founders, written by themselves, rather than after their death. But also the

writing of people from other faiths. The writings of Muslims and Hindus can be found throughout

along with references to Judaism, Buddhism, and Christianity.

Before his death in 1708, the tenth Guru Gobind Singh ended the line of human gurus by bestowing

guruship on the Adi Granth, turning it into the Guru Granth Sahib, making it similar to

both the Bible or Koran and a living Prophet at the same time. Guru means Guru, Granth

means book and Sahib means lord.

Since that moment, the Guru Granth Sahib has been revered as the current living guru. It

is treated with extreme care and respect.

The Granth is not only read but sung, it's made up of thousands of hymns. Sikhs don't

have mass or service but a kirtan, meaning communal singing. Normally these are set to

classical Indian music. Gurdwara

Sikhs gather at gurdwaras, a word meaningdoorway to the Guru’. A gurdwara is only

a gurdwara because it has a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib in it.

Men and women of all castes and social standing gather there to join in prayer, singing, and


This is where you will find the langar. Anyone can visit a Gurdwara and partake in the service

and meal. You only need to follow basic etiquette. Cover your head, remove your shoes, wash your

hands as you enter, and don't bring any tobacco or drugs inside.

The most important Gurdwara in the world is the Hari Mandir or Golden Temple located in

Amritsar, India.

In 1604 Guru Arjan completed work on the Golden Temple and had the Guru Granth Sahib installed

in it.

As a gesture of religious tolerance Guru Arjan invited a Muslim, Mian Mir, to lay the foundation

stone of the Golden Temple.

The Temple has four doors opening on all four sides, to show an openness to all cultures

and peoples. But on the inside only one door leads to the inner sanctum, indicating that

all paths and beliefs eventually lead to the One God.

The Golden Temple is the most visited place in the world with around 6 million visitors

each year. The Langar at the Golden Temple serves a free meal to about 100,000 people

each day, making it the worlds largest free serving kitchen. All run and staffed

by volunteers.

The waiting list to volunteer in the Golden Temple has hundreds of thousands of names

on it.

The people on that list will be waiting for a long time, a good way for them to pass the

time productively would be to listen to audiobooks on Audible. While researching this video I

listened to Sikhism A Very Short Introduction by Eleanor Nesbit which is an excellent bite

sized introduction to Sikhism stated in very clear language for people that are completely

new to the topic.

If you want to go right to the source audible has The Complete 90+ hour Guru Granth Sahib

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to support the channel.

So those are the basics of Sikhism. It isn't even close to covering everything. I probably

only covered about 1%. One video simply can't cover everything. Religions are too diverse,

too deep, and mean too many different things to different people. But learning even the

basics of anything that millions of people deeply care about gives us an insight into

our fellow humans worldview and I hope you enjoyed it :D

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Thanks a lot for watching

The Description of What Is Sikhism?