Sikh Theology

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Sikh’s creed


• There is only One God.


• The universe is created, sustained and moved according to God’s Hukum (Divine Will).


• God has always existed and always will exist even though His creation undergoes change.


• God has no form (shape) and no gender.


• God has never taken and will never take a human form.


•The essence of God is eternal Truth (Sat, Sach) that never changes.


• The knowledge of God or ultimate reality (Truth) is not a matter of reason. God reveals Himself through mystical experience if it pleases Him.


• Mukti (realization) can be achieved by the grace of God, by observing the moral code, by winning over the unhealthy desires, by Sewa (charitable deeds) and by meditating upon the Name of God.


• Realization of God does not require renunciation of the world or celibacy. It requires that a Sikh should live the life of a householder, earn an honest living and avoid worldly temptations and sins.


• Guru gives a follower knowledge, discrimination and awareness and shows the way to God.


• For all things worthwhile, God’s Will and Grace (Hukum, Bhaana, Raza and kindness) are needed.


• Personal discipline and the extinction of the ego or selfishness (Haume or Ahankar) are the first steps in the journey of God realisation and enlightenment.


• God manifests itself to the humanity through Sound (Word) and the Word is conveyed by the Guru through his utterances (Bani, Gurbani, Shabads, Hymns and psalms).


• Sikhs believe in the theory of reincarnation and Karma.


• Karma means ‘what you sow, so shall you reap’.


• Sikhism condemns blind rituals such as fasting, visiting places of pilgrimage, superstitions, worship of the dead, idol worship etc.


• Sikhism preaches that people of different races, religions, or sex are all equal in the eyes of God.


• It teaches the full equality of men and women. Women can participate in any religious function or perform any Sikh ceremony or lead the congregation in prayer.


• The Sikh philosophy as embodied in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (The Holy Book) is chiefly a philosophy of Action, Deed and Consequence.



The concept of God


God by himself is the One Ultimate Being, Eternal, Infinite, Almighty and Transcendent Reality.


God exists and can only be felt, experienced or realised. This is the truth. So this Truth is His Name (Nam).


In Sikhism God is both with and without attributes.


God, before He created the universe, was Nirgun God (without attributes). He was like a void, a limitless emptiness, nothingness, beyond Time and Space. This Nothingness was God in Sunn-Samadhi (self-absorbed trance). Then He and only He existed as a limitless Spirit.


Nirgun God is explained in negative terms: nirankaar (formless), niranjan (self-existent), Anhadnad (soundless), Boundless, Timeless, Intangible, Immutable, Unknowable and Indescribable without motion.


When it pleases God, He becomes Sargun God (with attributes). He creates everything existent and manifests Himself in His creation. With creation come Time and Space. God and His creation are one.


Again when it pleases Him he sucks the whole creation into Nothingness and becomes Nirgun again. All depends upon His Will (Hukum).


No name (word - noun or adjective) can explain or describe God but people call Him by many names. Most of the names of God are attributive or action-related signifiers.


Graceful, Providential, Benign, Loving Caretaker, All-good, All-compassionate God is called in terms of human relations such as father, mother, brother, friend, lover, beloved, Pritam, bridegroom and husband.


As an image of Authority, Supremacy and Provider (data) He is called Lord, king (parmeshvar, kartar, patsah, thakur, prabu, svami, shah, sahib, saiin and malik, dataar, kirpal, qadir, karim, meharbaan.)


There are traditional Indian names like paramatma, parbrahm, hari, har, ram, narayan, govind, gopal, allah, khuda and rab.


Some peculiar terms in Sikhism are Nam (name of God), Satt or Sach (Truth) Shabad (Word, hymn, psalm) Guru, and Waheguru (Wondrous Master).


Mool Mantra, prologue to Granth sahib is a hymn that describes the Nirgun God


• There is but one God (ik onkaar)

• Truth (Satt) is His name (Nam)

• Primary Creator of all

• Without fear (without any rival)

• Without enmity (a God of love)

• Eternal (everlasting, beyond beginning and an end)

• Self-existent

• God can only be realized through God’s grace.




Sikh Cosmology - Theory of Creation


Before the creation of this universe the God existed all alone in His abstract form.


Guru Nanak says:


“There was darkness for countless ages (yug). There was neither earth nor sky, it was His Will. There was neither day nor night, neither sun nor moon. God was in deep meditation. There was nothing except Him”. Guru Granth page 1035


“The universe came into existence by God’s Will (Hukum) Nanak, Japji.


When God created the universe, He became manifest. God and His creation are one. He is in His creation and creation is in Him


When was the universe created?


“None but the creator who created the universe knows when he created it”. Nanak, Japji


The creation of God is both with and without self or soul. The ensouled forms are called Jivas (beings – those who take birth, grow old and die). In all Jivas exists a conscious luminous spirit, a spark of the Divine Flame. Jivas have been divided into four categories (Khaanis): egg-born, womb-born, earth-born and moisture-born.


In the chain of beings, the Gurus regard man as the crown of creation. A human body (mind, conscious) is the temple and abode of God.


“Hari mandaru ehu sariru hai” This body is the temple of God. GG 1346


”Mann tu jyot saroop hain, apna mool pehchaan”. Be aware of the fact that God resides in your mind or O my mind you are the embodiment of the Divine Light. Guru Amar Das


It is in this temple (mind) that an individual worshipper can see the God or realise Him.


Sikhism believes in the reality of the created universe. God created the universe and He infused Himself into His creation. The universe is not evil and one should never renounce it. God is eternal but His creation is Transitory. Creation sustains creation under God’s Will.



Existential Problems


According to Sikhism, ignorance or lack of awareness is the major problem of human existence. We are born in a material world (Maya) and get attached to it for our existence. A human being is born ignorant, self-centred and a slave of endless desires. A man engulfed in ignorance and endless desires suffers and becomes the prey of vices and ego complexes like Kaam (lust), Krodh (aggression), Lobh (greed or selfishness), Moh (attachment or possessiveness) and Ahankaar (Haume i.e pride). Because of the ignorance we forget that the material world is a means and not an end by itself.



The goals of life


For material happiness and spiritually blessedness, one should accomplish four main goals in the life:


1. Dharma – (ethics, justice, morality, education, theological faith, development of awareness and consciousness)


2. Artha – (work hard for material wellbeing and share it with the needy)


3. Kama – (to enjoy life through sensory pleasures within a moral frame)


4. Mukti – (realization or the mystical experience of God, merging in God, to be free from ignorance and the circle of death and birth).


One has to maintain a balance between the temporal obligations and spiritual obligations.



The purpose of religion


Every religion is a blend of history, philosophy, metaphysics, mysticism, ritualism, ethics, sociology, faith, ideology and cosmology.


Apart from happiness, the purpose of religion is to create an ideal society by freeing human beings from ignorance. Religion inspires human beings to cultivate God like attributes of being all-perfect, all-ideal and all-good.


Spiritual evolution or realization of God is the main purpose of the life of a Sikh.


Having gained a body this time, a rare opportunity you have got;

this is your chance to meet God. Guru Arjan Dev.


Guru Nanak says, “Realization of Truth (God) is higher than all else. Higher still is Truthful (enlightened) living.”



God realisation, direct intuition or experience of God in Sikhism


Moral discipline is considered a vehicle for attaining nearness to God. “It is by our deeds that we become closer to God or drift away from Him”. GG page 6


“Without morality worship is not practicable”. GG page 4


The Sikhs worship collectively or individually.


The spiritual journey begins as under:


• Mann-na - Believe in God and have supreme faith in Him.

• Follow the Guru, Guru’s Word i.e. Shabad, Gurbani.

• Sacrifice your ego (Haumai) at the altar of Guru and God.

• Submit yourself to God’s Will (Hukum, Raza).

• Sat-sangat – keep Company of the saints; the faithful devotees; the enlightened ones.

• Mann Marna – Be content. Control your mind from unhealthy desires and ego complexes like – Kaam (lust), Krodh (aggression), Lobh (greed), Moh (attachments) and Ahankar (pride).

• Bhao or Prem – Love God. Consider Him as a Master, Lover, Husband, Friend and think only of Him and serve Him.

• Sarvan – Hearing or listening of God’s Nam or Word (Gurbani) or praise brings deep perception and liberation from ignorance.

• Kirtan – Singing of His glories (Gurbani, shabad).

• Simarna or Japna – Recite or repeat God’s Nam for concentration.

• Sewa – Serve or help the needy (by money, body and pure mind)

• Daan – Be charitable

After doing this one has to wait for God’s grace. If the God is kind, one can have a mystical experience of Him.



An enlightened man


After the mystical experience of God Illusion and Ignorance (avidya and agyan) turn into Vidya and Gyan (knowledge, awareness and discrimination); Kaam (lust) turns into pure Love; Krodh (aggression) turns into tolerance); Lobh (greed) turns into Daan (charity); Moh (attachment) turns into detachment or Sewa (service); Ahankar (pride) turns into humbleness


-Written & compiled by Dalbir Singh