By Swami Shivapadananda
Guru Nanak gave to Sikkhism its basic theological concepts and three of its most important institutions i.e. the Sangat (congregational meetings), the Pangat (community kitchens - Langar), and the institution of Guruship. To him true spiritual life meant the performance of duties in the world, and facing and solving the moral and spiritual problems of mankind. All the Sikh Gurus regarded the householder’s life as the highest of all.
Guru Nanak’s mission was twofold – to rid Hindu practices of their superstition and empty formalism and to bring about understanding between Muslims and Hindus.
The main points in the teachings of Guru Nanak are:
1. God is the formless Absolute, it does not matter which name is used.
2. Repetition of God’s name (Sumarin) is the best way to realize God.
3. The doctrine of Sabad. By repetition of the Lord’s name, one gets connected with the Sabad (creative sound) and attains the highest inner illumination.
4. The necessity of surrendering to a Satguru (true Guru) for guidance and instruction in order to attain God-realization.
5. The body is the temple of God. It should neither be looked down upon nor mortified nor used for sense gratification. We should regulate and control it and make it a suitable instrument for divine realization.
6. Proper ethical conduct and purity of heart are absolutely necessary for God-realization. Every one should shun vice and become virtuous. The way to become virtuous is to repeat God’s name with faith and devotion.
7. Formalities and rituals only have value when we are alive to their inner meanings.
Guru Govind Singh was the tenth and last Guru. At his instruction the holy book of the Sikhs ‘The Granth Sahab’ is now regarded as the Guru.
There are two main sects of Sikhs: the Nanakpanthis or Sahajdharis, who did not follow the new martial order of Guru Govind Singh, and the Khalsa or Keshadhari which was started by Guru Govind Singh in reaction to the cruelty of the Moghul rulers. He wished to revive the old heroic tradition to defend the faith. He opened it to all, regardless of caste. However, it was not to be merely a military group but a group controlled by religious morals and devotion to God.
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