(File pix) Sikhs praying at a gurdwara on Vaisakhi. Pix by Ghazali Kori

“WAHEGURUJI ka khalsa wahegu rujiki fateh.” These sacred words were uttered in the Sikh baptism ceremony in 1699 in Anandapur. Behind this glorious and historical words exists the deep philosophy and spiritual teachings of the great Sikh gurus, as contained in the Guru Granth Sahib.

The foundation of the Sikh faith is based on equality. The first guru, Guru Nanak Ji, taught that everyone is equal in the eyes of God and, regardless of wealth, age, sex, position or penance, everyone can receive God’s grace and blessings.

During the time of Guru Nanak Ji, Hinduism had declined due to foreign invasions. Due to misinterpretations by so-called scholars during that time, the actual teachings of the Vedas that taught about the formless Brahman and its sacred teachings, along with its profound philosophy, were replaced by ritualism and sacrifices. Society was deeply divided. There was oppression, exploitation, murder, slavery, rape and intolerance.

People had lost all hope in the merciless reign of emperors.

The emergence of the Sikh gurus was most crucial during this time in history. To promote equality and reduce the sufferings of people, the Guru established three practices:

SANGAT: This was a request to the people of different castes, positions, rich or poor, to gather and meditate together;

PANGAT: Here, the people who gather for meditation will sit and eat together to instil equality; and,

LANGAR: This is the distribution of free food to everyone, including the rich, for according to the Guru, the poor man’s heart and the rich man’s heart are the same.

Sikhism’s ultimate goal is enlightenment because, according to Sikh scriptures, enlightenment will lead to spirituality and spiritual progression.

Although Sikhs are not required to renounce the world, they must not be attached to material things. It promotes the principle of the primacy of spirit over material matters. For Sikhs to further their spiritual progression, the Guru emphasised on spiritual discipline, meditation and prayer. All this is meant to make the human being the ma ster of their huamai (ego or selfcentredness).

The destruction of lust, greed, pride, anger and attachment to material things must be achieved. This is possible through compassion, humility, contemplation, contentment and service without expecting the fruits of the action materially or spiritually.

Similar to other dharmic faiths, the doctrine of karma and reincarnation exists in Sikhism. The soul is believed to be repeatedly reborn in the world as it seeks spiritual enlightenment.

Bad karma , according to Sikhism, compels a particular soul to take endless rebirths. For the Sikhs, the teachings of all the gurus and other saints like Kabir, Ravidas, Namdev and Kirat as contained in the Sikh holy scriptures form the supreme guidelines for the spiritual union with the Ik Oankar and the ultimate release from the cycle of karma.

I wish all our Sikh brothers and sisters a Happy Vaisakhi!

ARIFF SHAH R. K.

Penang

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