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"Sikh holy book helps people find 'their place in this world"

Indianapolis, June 24, 2006
Courtesy of , Indianapolis

Question: Sikhism is one of the world's newer religions, with its origins in Pakistan. Can you tell me how it was founded?
Answer: The founder of Sikhism was Guru Nanak Dev Ji. He was born in 1469 in Nankana Sahib in Pakistan. The Sikh religion was founded 500 years ago. It has 20 million followers worldwide and is ranked as the world's fifth-largest religion. It preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times. It is open to all through the teachings of 10 Gurus in the Sikh holy book, Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Q. Tell me about the Guru Granth Sahib and some of its central tenets.
A. Guru Granth Sahib is a religious scripture just like the Bible. In this, you can read details about God and learn what is God and how to meet God. People who have already seen the light can learn what is their place in this world. And people who have not yet found God can learn what is their place in this world.
The Guru Granth Sahib is known as truly unique among the world's great scriptures. It is also the only kind of scripture that has the sayings of its own Gurus as well as people from other faiths. Sikhs do not worship idols.
Guru Granth Sahib is regarded as the body of the Guru and is kept on a raised platform under a canopy, covered in clean clothes. It is a collection of devotional hymns that proclaim God. It puts emphasis on meditation. It is a guide to social reformation. It has 5,894 hymns.
The Granth contains Gurbani, or the Guru's teaching.

Q: I understand that the Guru Granth Sahib is treated with great care and respect, both during your worship services and in Sikh homes. Can you tell me about some of the practices pertaining to the handling and placement of the book itself?
A: We bow our head in front of Guru Granth Sahib. At night, priests put it on a nice bed with nice clothes. In the morning, priests put it on a stage called a palaki, covered with nice clothes.
If we take the sacred book anywhere outside gurdwara (a building where the book is kept), at least five Sikhs are supposed to be there with the sacred Granth. We take our sacred book as our living God.
The Guru Granth Sahib is ceremonially opened in the gurdwara every morning. The holy book should not be opened through the night. The holy book should not be opened until the Granthi or the attendant is there. The place where it is kept should be clean at all times.

Q: Sikhism is sometimes characterized as a blending of Hinduism and Islam. Do you think that is true? If so, how? If not, how does it differ from those two faiths?
A: Sikhism is different from both faiths. The Sikh saint, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, wanted to level the barriers so that common spiritual ground can be found between Hinduism and Islam. God established Sikhism through Guru Nanak, and it is completely wrong to consider Sikhism as a part or combination of either Hinduism or Islam. A Sikh does not worship demi-Gods or worship idols. A Sikh does not believe in a caste system. A Sikh believes in monogamy and should not marry his or her cousins. They don't believe in animal sacrifices. Sikhs give equal status to their women. They don't believe in fasting. They don't believe in going to pilgrimages and finding God over there. Sikhism does not take any ritual or beliefs from either Islam or Hinduism.

Q: How do Sikhs view God?
A: Sikhs view God as a power and light. Sikhs are strictly monotheistic. They believe in one true God. According to Guru Nanak's prayer Mul Mantra, there is one God. Eternal truth is his name. Maker of all things, fearing nothing and at enmity with nothing. Timeless is his image, not begotten, being of his own being. . . . Sikhs believe that humans relate to God through meditation.......... More



Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis, USA

Religious leader: Pritam Singh is head priest of the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis. He said Sikhism stresses devotion and remembrance of God at all times. - GARY MOORE / The Star