The Sikh Way of Life

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The word Sikh is derived from the Sanskrit word shishya meaning a disciple or a learner. Thus, those that followed Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion, came to be known as Sikhs. In the Sikh faith, reverence for the guru (preceptor) is the cardinal quality, and devotion to the teachings a sacred duty. In the Sikh way of life, great emphasis is laid upon practicing moral and spiritual values.

The Sikh way of life is based broadly on the life and teachings of Guru Nanak. He says, ‘truth is high, but higher still is truthful living... This world is the abode of God and the True One lives therein.'

Guru Nanak believed that it is possible to live pure among the impurities of life. ‘As the lotus liveth unstained in water, as the duck floateth carefree on the stream, so doth one cross the sea of existence, one's mind attuned to the Word. One liveth detached, enshrining the One Lord in the mind, shorn of hope, living in the midst of hope.'

The Sikh way of life is based on three essential teachings of Guru Nanak. The first is to remember God; the second is to earn one's livelihood through honest means; and the third is to share the fruits of one's labor with others. To ensure equality, the Sikh way of life has promoted the institutions of sangat and pangat. Sangat means that all sit in a congregation; and pangat means that all partake food from the community kitchen, sitting in one row with no distinction of high or low.

The Sikh tradition advocates worship of the Akal (Timeless God). The Sikh temple, called Gurdwara, is not only a place of worship, but also serves as a shelter for those without shelter, and a refuge for the destitute and the helpless. It is a place where all the visitors irrespective of their religious affiliation are served free food, and provided shelter and protection.

The Sikh tradition expects its followers to rise early in the morning and, after bath, meditate on the name of God so that the mind and the body become pure. Each Sikh prays to God at different times, importantly in the morning and in the night before going to bed. An important dictum of the tradition is, ‘of all the religions, the best religion is to repeat God's name and to do pious deeds'. The daily prayer of the Sikhs ends on this noble thought. ‘Thy Name, Thy Glory, be forever triumphant, Nanak, and, in Thy Will, may peace and prosperity come to one and all.'

K. R. Paramahamsa is an author of book Living in Spirit.

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