Outline of Sikhism

Good for a quick review. A Christian reaction is at the bottom of this post.

Let’s get started with this religion that is pronounced either “seekism” or “sickism”–the first is better.

I. Introduction

A. Time and Geo: 16th century CE (1500s) in Punjab, NW India

B. Muslim Invasions → Strife between Hindus and Muslims

C. Sikhism: Reformist and Dialogical (Gab & Blab)

D. Today: India Minority Religion

E. Some Terms

1. Sikh = Disciple

2. Guru = leader or teacher

3. Language: Punjabi

II. Origins

A. Hinduism

B. Islam

C. Kabir (1440-1518), a holy man, is forerunner and founder

D. Nanak (1469-1538)

1. Received vision in forest to become a prophet.


He who by grace can repeat the blest Name

  will enraptured receive his reward.

Led by the Guru he gathers God’s riches,

  true wealth which forever endures.

Hear what Kabir says to God’s faithful

  followers: all other wealth must decay.

All must relinquish this worldly existence

  when God sends the call to depart.

III. Theology of Nanak

Nanak’s Theology



Islam’s Oneness of God = Monotheism, True Name Hinduism’s Polytheism
Hinduism’s Reincarnation

1) Cycle of Birth-Life-Death-Rebirth

2) God eventually frees people from cycle

3) Some Sikhs believe spirit of Nanak reincarnated in later gurus

Islam has no reincarnation
Hindu karma Islam has no karma doctrine
Islamic killing of animals Hindu ahimsa (noninjury to animals or living beings)
Simple and plain religion Hindu and Islamic rituals and ceremonies
Pacifism; but later, warfare okay Hindu and Islamic militancy
Essential Point: He Is Bridge-builder and Unifier (up to a point) of Hinduism & Islam: “There is no Muslim and there is no Hindu.”

At death his body vanishes.

Gobind Singh (tenth guru):

There is no difference between a temple and a mosque, nor between the prayers of a Hindu and of a Muslim. Though differences seem to mark and distinguish, all men are in reality the same.

Gods and demons, celestial beings, men called Muslims and others called Hindus—such differences are trivial, inconsequential, the outwards results of locality and dress.

With eyes the same, the ears and bodies, all possessing a common form—all are in fact a single creation, the elements of nature in a uniform blend.

Allah is the same as the God of the Hindus, Puran and Qur’an are the same. All are the same, none is separate, a single form, a single creation.

Nanak’s Simple Religion

Man is led astray by the reading of words;

Ritualists are very proud.

What avails it to bathe at a place of pilgrimage, if filth of pride be in the heart?

Who but the guru can explain that

the King and Emperor dwell in the heart?

All men err; it is only the great Creator

who errs not.

He who admonishes his heart under

the guru’s instruction shall love the Lord.

Nanak, he whom the incomparable Word has caused to meet God, shall not forget the True One.

Nanak’s Advice to Muslims

Make mercy your mosque and devotion your prayer mat and righteousness your Qur’an;

Meekness your circumcising, goodness your fasting, for thus the true Muslim expresses his faith.

Make good works your Ka’bah, take truth as your pit, compassion your creed and your prayer.

Let service to God be the beads which you tell and God will exalt you to glory.

IV. Ten Gurus

Name and Dates

Events and Importance

1 Nanak Founder (see above)
2 Angad (1504-52; ruled 1539) Adheres to Nanak’s teaching
3 Amardas (1479- 1574; r. 1552) Adheres to Nanak’s teaching
4 Ramdas (1534-81; r. 1574) Adheres to Nanak’s teaching; appoints his son, Arjan, thus establishing hereditary title
5 Arjan Dev

(1563-1606; r. 1581)

1) Begins compilation of Adi Granth (Sacred Scriptures) and most (but not all) are compiled

2) Militarizes Sikhs (b/c Muslims threaten Sikhs)

3) Builds Golden Temple at Amritsar

6 Hargobind (1595-1644; r. 1606) Puts on pair of Swords: (1) Religious Authority (2) Temporal Authority
7 Har Rai (1630-61; r. 1606) Missionary Sikh
8 Har Krishan


Dies of smallpox
9 Tegh Bahadur

(1621-75; r. 1664)

Executed by Muslims
10 Gobind Singh

(1666-1708; r. 1675)

1) Pacifism abandoned completely

2) Introduces Hindu Death Goddess: Durga

3) Baptism of Sword Ritual

*4) Warrior Class: Singhs and Five K’s

1) Kes: uncut hair and beard

2) Kangha: adorn hair with combs

3) Kachk: Short pants

4) Kara: Steel Bracelet worn on  right wrist

5) Kirpan: Steel dagger

5) Adi Granth (Scriptures) is final guru

Amardas (Third Guru) Exhorts the Hindu Brahmins (educated, privileged caste):

He who is truly a dutiful Brahmin will cast off his burden of human desire,

Each day performing his God-given duty, each day repeating God’s Name.

To such as submits, God imparts divine learning, and those who obey him live virtuous lives.

He who is truly a dutiful Brahmin wins

Honor when summoned to God.

Gobind Singh (Tenth Guru) Writes What Will Become National Anthem of the Singhs:

Reverently I salute the Sword with affection and devotion;

Grant, I pray, your divine assistance that this book may be brought to completion.

Thee I invoke, all-conquering Sword, Destroyer of evil, Ornament of the brave.

Powerful your arm and radiant your glory, your splendor as dazzling as the

brightness of the sun.

Joy of the devout and Scourge of the wicked, Vanquisher of sin, I seek your protection.

Hail to the World’s Creator and Sustainer, my invincible Protector of the Sword!

V. Sacred Scriptures

A. Guru Arjan Dev (Fifth Guru) nearly completes compilation in 1603-04

B. Adi Granth = Guru Granth Sahib (both are names of Sikh Scriptures)

1. Adi = First; Granth = Book; Sahib = Revered; Guru = Teacher    or Leader

C. Hymns by Kabir, Nanak, and later Gurus up to tenth

D. Gobind Singh (tenth guru) closes human guru line and declares Adi Granth as the living guru

E. 3,384 Hymns

F. Three times size of Rig Veda (Early Hindu Scriptures)

G. Reciter = Granthi

VI. Divisions or Sects Within Sikhism

Commonalities Singhs Udasis Sahajdharis
1) Nanak’s Teachings

2) Adi Granth

3) Ten Gurus

1) Warriors

See Tenth Guru (above)

1) Ascetic

2) Celibate

3) Wear coarse garments or naked

4) Shaved heads and  beards

5) Often active missionaries

1) Conservative

2) Rejects Militancy

3) Shaved beards

VII. Politics and Sociology

A. No caste (class) distinctions in rituals and ceremonies


Kingship, possessions, beauty, and

   riches—all are but transient clouds

And when the Sun’s chariot ascends, the

   true landscape comes into view.

In the hereafter name and caste count

   for nothing.


Observe the divine light in a man and

   ask not his caste,

For there is no caste in the hereafter.

B. Women have much honor and equality in Scripture (but what about in leadership?)


Of woman we are born, of woman conceived,

To woman engaged, to woman married.

Woman we befriend, by woman do civilizations continue.

When a woman dies, a woman is sought for.

It is through woman that order is maintained.

Then why call her inferior from whom all great ones are born?

Woman is born of woman;

None is born without woman.

The One, who is Eternal, alone is unborn.

C. Takht (throne) at Amritsar within Golden Temple

1. Authorities from all over the world gather to decide on matters of faith and community

2. Four others takhts in Sikh communities throughout world

VIII. Rituals

A. Initiation Ritual: Baptism

1. Bowl of sweetened water stirred with dagger

2. Initiate is sprinkled with water and instructed

B. Daily Prayers and Readings

1. Early Morning Bath

2. Recite This Mul Mantra (“root statement”) before Japji   (prayer):


There is one Supreme Being, the Eternal Reality. He is Creator, without fear and devoid of enmity. He is immortal, never incarnated, self-existent, known by grace through the Guru. The Eternal One, from the beginning, through all time, present now, the Everlasting Reality.

C. Congregational Worship in the Gurdwara (Temple)

1. A Copy of Granth in Gurdwara

2. Prayers, Hymns, Sermons, Communal Meal (very important)

3. Granthi reads-chants from Scripture

4. Ragi is professional singer

Christian Reaction and Reply

First let’s look at some things that Christians can respect, and then we’ll see some differences between Sikhism and biblical Christianity that follows New Testament theology closely.

Let’s use bullet points to keep things clear and simple.

What we can respect:

  • Sikhism teaches moral law, which benefits society.
  • Sikhism teaches monotheism.
  • It teaches equality of the classes, which is a beneficial reaction against Hinduism.
  • It honors womankind.

Now here are the differences between Sikhism and biblical Christianity.

  • Karma is impersonal. Bound by karma, no one knows if he is successfully piling up barely 50.001% of good works so that he does not have to experience bad karma.
  • In contrast, biblical Christianity is grace-based and rises above karma.
  • God is personal and loving, and all moral law flows out of his heart. We can know the Lawgiver personally. God is Love.
  • Jesus teaches (John 3:1-16) that a man is born twice only: (1) he is conceived and born through his mother’s womb. He did not live a prior life. (2) He is born again when the Spirit of the loving and living Father comes into his heart. After that he lives forever in heaven when he dies.
  • In Christ, no one has to live in an endless cycle of births, life, deaths, and rebirths. The cycle is broken through accepting him into one’s heart.

It is always right for a Sikh to convert to Jesus Christ and ask him into his heart, so he can experience the Holy Spirit and the assurance that he is going to heaven to be with God. All the Sikh has to do is repent of his sins and believe in his heart that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead.


Ten Big Differences between Christianity and Other Religions












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