Sikh Doctrine



After Gobind Singh (1708) - Modern History

·      Aurangzeb’s efforts to impose Islam, assassinated 9th guru.

·      Formation of the Khalsa.  An external identity becomes mandatory

·      Most of the 18th century. Continuous warfare with neighboring states and with Mughal forces, then Afghani forces.

·      Heroic period.  Great fighters.

·      Punjab becomes part of British India when the Maharaja and his forces cave in to them (1839)

·      Sikhs proved to be resilient.  British favored Sikhs as marital race, recruited them for army, preserved their traditional dress, morale;

·      20s: Sikhs struggled with British authorities to keep control of their religious centers (gurdwaras).

·      Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 - division of Punjab in to Western Punjab (in Pakistan) and Eastern Punjab, where most of the Sikh population resettled, Sikh majority.  Sikhs managed to recover form the chaos of partition fairly quickly.

·      Later concerns for more state independence > extremists wanting a separate Khalistan.  Group of extremists under leadership of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, lodged themselves in the Golden Temple in June 1984.    Military action ordered by Indira Gandhi.  Assassinated by her bodyguard in October.  Gave rise to violence against Sikhs all across India


From Outsider’s Perspective: two prevailing features, how are they reconciled: mystical emphasis, worldly and martial emphasis


·      Akal Purakh - Timeless Being.  Vahiguru. Nanak’s belief and practice was essentially mystical, only mystical experience can grasp the meaning

·      Nam: “the total expression of all that God is”.  sati - truth - satinam

·      Akal Purakh looks graciously on the suffering of mankind and communicates an understanding of nam through the word (sabad) and the guru

·      Nanak as the embodiment of the eternal guru

o   Line of succession, but one guru - like a single flame that lights a series of torches

The divine order of the universe = harmony

nam simaran = the inner discipline of “remembering the name” > brings one within the divine harmony

            Repetition of a word or mantra

            Singing of devotional hymns


Earns karam that provides release


Shift toward militancy with Hargobind Singh (son of Arjan)

Doctrine of miri-piri: signals this shift


Khanda: The symbol derives its name from the double-edged sword (also called a Khanda) which appears at the center of the logo.

Three components:


Ik Onkar

"There is Only One God". The first two words in the Guru Granth Sahib & one of the cornerstones of Sikhism. They appear at the beginning of the Mul Mantra written by Guru Nanak describing the qualities of God in the Japji.


Gurdwara: “the guru’s door,” “by means of the Guru [‘s grace]

After death of the last guru, Gobind Singh, the mystical guru remains present within the Granth Sahib > Guru Granth Sahib