Sikh Missionary Society
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Introduction to Sikhism
Introduction to Sikhism

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: Introduction to Sikhism: Contents

Section III: Principles

  1. What is the goal of human life?
  2. Is a Guru necessary for spiritual evolution?
  3. What are the traits of a True Guru?
  4. Did the Sikh Gurus perform miracles? If so, why?
  5. What is the relation between the Sikh and the Guru?
  6. Can prayer change things or destiny?
  7. Should we ask for worldly things in prayer?
  8. What is the Sikh prayer?
  9. Is it possible to conquer death?
  10. What is Karma?
  11. Is there Fate or Freewill, according to Sikhism?
  12. What is grace?
  13. What is Bhagti?
  14. Who is a saint?
  15. What are the five virtues, according to Sikhism?
  16. What are the five main vices?
  17. What is the place of evil, according to Sikhism?
  18. What is the value of fasting?
  19. What is the value of pilgrimage?
  20. What is the true education, according to Sikhism?
  21. What is conscience?
  22. What is Maya?
  23. What is egoism?
  24. What is the Name(Nam)?
  25. What is Sahaj Yoga?
  26. What is contentment?
  27. What is humility?
  28. What is renunciation?
  29. What is the role of service (Sewa) without thoughts of self in Sikhism?
  30. What are the stages of spiritual development, according to Sikhism?
  31. What is the mission of the Khalsa?
  32. Are The five symbols really necessary?
  33. What is The significance of The five symbols?
  34. What is The code of discipline for The Khalsa?
  35. Is holy congregation (Satsang) necessary?
  36. How should we treat the apostates (Patits)?
  37. Are there castes among the Sikhs?
  38. What is the basic creed of the Sikhs?
  39. What is the temple of Bread (Langar)?
  40. What is the scope of the comprehensive discipline in a Sikh's life?
  41. What is the routine of a Sikh?
  42. How can a man turn towards God?
  43. Is drinking permitted in Sikhism?
  44. What is the attitude of Sikh Faith towards non-vegetarian food?

Q33. What is the goal of human life?

Man's creation could not have been meaningless. It is difficult to affirm what God had in mind when He created man. But one thing is certain that human life offers a great opportunity for development.

There are three parts to man - the body, the mind, and the soul. The individual should develop all these three aspects. For bodily development, he must earn his livelihood and follow the laws of health. For the development of the mind, he must study and educate himself and cultivate his intellect, for interpreting the mysteries of life and nature. For the development of the soul, he should follow a course of strict moral discipline.

According to Sikhism, the individual soul has arrived to the human form after going through innumerable cycles of birth and death. Now at last it may try for the final spiritual evolution, so that it may be freed from further transmigration and return to its source.

The body must be sustained and maintained because it is 'the house of the soul' and so temple of God. God and the individual soul are in essence one and the same. Man regards himself as a separate entity because of egoism. When the wall of egoism is broken man realizes his identity with God.

God's destiny for man is for him to realize God's immortal aspirations through his mortal frame, by leading a pure life with and through his physical body, coupled with his own intellectual development. Unfortunately, man is totally obsessed with material things: clothes, food, ornaments, comforts and luxuries. He neglects the things of the spirit. He wastes his precious life in frivolity and makes no effort towards God-realization.

Life is like a game of cards. The cards are given to the player; it is up to the player to play the game well or badly, wisely or foolishly. God is watching us. He is keenly interested in our efforts to do our best. Human life is neither a bondage nor prison but rather a vehicle to spiritual attainment.

The goal of human life is, to try, to integrate the individual personality with God.

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Q34. Is a Guru necessary for spiritual evolution?

Many religions of the world agree on the need for a spiritual guide. On meeting a True Guru, the ignorance of superstition is removed and divine knowledge obtained. The Guru sheds light through his message. What is important is not the person but 'The Word'.

According to the Sikh religion, liberation cannot be won without a Guru. The Guru gives instruction - through the use of a mantra - this is a means of invoking a union with God. Waheguru is the mantra for Sikhs. Just as a teacher is necessary for secular studies so for spiritual advancement one requires a Guru because he has realized God. Guru Nanak says: "The perfect Guru has dispelled the darkness of delusion from my heart."

The Guru Granth Sahib was installed as the permanent Guru of the Sikhs by Guru Gobind Singh in 1708, because the stage had arrived when the living Guru had fully discharged his office. The personal Guru now became the impersonal Guru of the Granth. The Granth presides over all Sikh congregation and represents the word of God in a permanent form.

The Sikhs, therefore, do not recognize any living person as Guru. The song-message of the Guru Granth Sahib is the Sikhs' Guru for all time.

The true Guru reveals the divinity of man to the individual. He shows him the way to cross the ocean of life and to reach the Kingdom of Bliss. Guru Nanak says:

"The Guru is an ocean full of pearls,
The saint swans pick up those ambrosial pearls."
(A.G. p.685)
Just as milk should not be kept in an unclean pot, so in the same way, the Guru will not pour his nectar (Nam) into an unclean mind. By practicing goodness and the remembrance of The Name, an individual prepares his own mind for the Guru's message. After due cleansing, the Guru administers the remedy of the Name with suitable directions.

We are fortunate that we do not have to search for a Guru, because The Guru Granth Sahib is already in our midst. By following the directions of Gurbani, we can progress on the spiritual plane.

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Q35. What are the traits of a True Guru?

In view of the need of a Guru, one must be on guard against a pseudo of fake Guru. Sikhism lays down certain qualifications and qualities for a Guru.

The Guru must be a perfect man who is able to inspire confidence in his disciples. He must come to their aid in every emergency. A Guru does not live in an ivory tower. He mixes freely with all sorts of people.

The Guru is not an incarnation of God. He is a humble prophet or messenger, invested with the duty of showing the true spiritual way to ordinary people. Guru Nanak says: "He is whom the Light is fully manifest is the Guru." He must be prepared to suffer for his principles. He must not claim any status or excellence for himself. He is fearless and without hate. He may come in conflict with hostile social forces, vested interests and evil people out to oppose him, but must deal with them gently and bear ill-will to no one. Guru Nanak compares a Guru to a ladder, and sometimes to a ship. All the Sikh Gurus had the same light, Jot, the Divine Spirit in them.

Perhaps one of the greatest traits of the Sikh Gurus was their humility. Guru Nanak regarded himself as the lowest of the lowly. Other Gurus also were meek in spirit. They accepted all suffering in a spirit of resignation. Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur became martyrs to the cause they cherished and in spite of possessing supernatural powers, refused to exercise them, because the working of miracles is not in accordance with the Will of God.

The Guru occupies the highest status in the Sikh religion. Guru Nanak says:

"The divine spark is in all,
It pervades every heart.
By the Grace of the Guru,
It may be revealed, then the devotee feels blessed."
Slowly and steadily, the Guru guides the development of the Sikh to perfection and if the Sikh be very lucky, the Guru transforms him into the Guru. The Guru remembers "The Name", day and night and makes others do so. He is just like a boat, ferrying people across the tempestuous ocean of life.

Meeting a True Guru, is a sign of benediction. The disciple must prepare himself morally and spiritually for his guidance. He is a tower of strength, a beacon, lighting man's path in this dark world.

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Q36. Did the Sikh Gurus perform miracles? If so, why?

Prophets and saints have performed miracles. A miracle is an extraordinary event which reason or science cannot explain. Science has not yet advanced so far as to explain everything. According to the scientists, miracles have nothing to do with holiness or piety. Miracles are "not happening against the laws of God, but are the results of superior powers which God bestows on His servants." Men of God are able to do things which are beyond the understanding of the scientists' limited reason.

Sikhism accepts the possibility of supernatural powers, but like any worldly possession, they should not be used for selfish ends. A Sikh should not run after occultism, because the greatest gift is Nam and not supernatural power.

According to Sikhism, occult powers come naturally through concentration on "The Nam". Miracles should not be performed at the bidding of a king or a leader or to prove the greatness of one's religion or to confirm the faith of people in a spiritual guide. Guru Ramdas says: "The desire to perform miracles is a worldly attachment and is an obstacle in the way of 'The Nam' residing in our hearts."

The Sikh Gurus did perform miracles off and on, but they did so out of compassion or to set an erring person right. Guru Nanak made the bitter soap-nuts sweet near Pilibhit, to save Mardana from death by starvation.

The Guru condemned miracles performed for personal glory. Baba Atal who performed a miracle had to give up his life as atonement for it. Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur were requested to perform miracles so that their lives would be spared. They refused to do so and welcomed the penalty of death. The greatest miracle is not to perform a miracle, in spite of having the capacity to do so. As Emerson puts it: "Self-sacrifice is the real miracle out of which all the reported miracles flow."

Guru Nanak was asked by the Sikhs about his supernatural powers. He answered: "I can do nothing against the law of God. It is only He who can perform a miracle. The 'True Name' is the miracle of miracles. I know of no other miracles." Saintly people do not like to interfere with God's Will by performing miracles. The Sikh Gurus never performed miracles to convince others about their faith or to save themselves from calamities or penalties.

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Q37. What is the relation between the Sikh and the Guru?

The word Sikh means a learner, a student. He is therefore to get his instruction from a teacher who is called a Guru. The personality of the Sikh Guru, is so influential that it completely transforms the disciple and shapes his life to diviner issues. This is achieved not by personal and physical instruction but by the belief that the Sikh incorporates the Guru. The Sikh "fills himself with 'The Guru' and then feels himself linked up to an inexhaustible source of power." e.g. by accepting the aid of Guru Gobind Singh, he feels terribly strong, equal to "one lakh and a quarter" in physical and mental powers. He will fight all odds and lay down his life for a cause. He is the Guru's standard-bearer and will not lower or desert it. It is this kinship with the Guru which sustains him in a crisis. Bhai Joga Singh, when about to fail, was saved from such a moral disaster by Guru Gobind Singh.

The Sikhs filling themselves with Guru's own personality collectively becomes "The Guru" in the form of the Sikh Panth: "The Guru lives within his Sikhs and is pleased with whatever they like." The idea of religious fellowship, was given practical shape through Sewa, or service Langar or Pangat, where people dine together in the free kitchen, is another illustration of the composite character of the Guru in Sikhism. The idea of Sangat or holy fellowship, generally for the holding of congregational prayers in the form of Kirtan and Katha, led to the establishment of Gurdwaras and religious organizations. Collectively, the Sikhs are known as "The Panth", the embodiment of the Guru. Guru Gobind Singh merged his personality in the body of the community when he created the Khalsa Army.

The Guru stands for "The Truth" and the practice of "The Truth". "The Truth" revealed in the Guru Granth Sahib is timeless and changeless. But the methods of implementing "The Truth" are left to the growing personality of the Panth. That is why the Guru Panth is never lagging and should be ever up-to-date to guide the Sikhs. All important questions today are decided by the community as a whole in the form of deliberated on resolutions, Gurmattas, which are given the Guru's approval.

Guru Gobind Singh totally identified himself with The Khalsa. He affirmed:

"Through their favor, I am exalted,
otherwise there are millions of ordinary men like me."
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Q38. Can prayer change things or destiny?

Those who offer prayers sincerely, know the efficacy and value of prayer. Other people think that prayer may give consolation and peace to man but cannot affect physical events, because the universe is governed by law. If fire burns today, it will also burn tomorrow, in spite of the prayer. Life is regular and smooth because of these unchanging laws. Though saints and mystics may possess great powers. What we regard as a miracle may really only be the "power of prayer" or the "working of a spiritual law". Sincere prayer is a supplication made to God generally without any personal motive. God knows of all the desires and sincerity of the individual. It is up to Him, to accept or reject a request made to Him.

Certain basic laws are interacted on by other laws. Airplanes fly, contrary to the laws of gravity, but in turn they are governed by the laws of aerodynamics.

Prayer may help in a psychological way, e.g. people who are made ill by fear or tension while the effect is physical the cause may be mental. In such a case prayer may also heal in the same way as medicine, but by removing the mental cause.

According to Sikhism, prayer can change man's mind. Just as dirt is washed away by soap, in the same way man's evil thoughts may be washed away by prayer and meditation. Sinners have turned into saints through the power of prayer. The example of Sajjan, the thug is well-known. Bhai Gurdas has cited the case of Queen Tara Lochan. Her lost sandals were restored to her by prayer.

Guru Arjan emphasizes the role of prayer:

"The praising of His Name is the highest of all practices.
It has uplifted many a human soul.
It slakes the desire of restless mind.
It imparts, an all-seeing vision."
(A.G., p.263)
Prayer is not mere autosuggestion. At its best, it is concentrating on God and His qualities. God is goodness, truth, patience, peace, and love. When a man offers a prayer, God enters into his life and gives His qualities to the devotee. With such qualities and power, He can mould things. Others may regard such events as just coincidences, but people who understand recognize them as the effect of prayer: "More things are wrought by prayer than this world ever dreams of."

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Q39. Should we ask for worldly things in prayer?

Real prayer is deep and inward; it is a dialogue between man and God. It is being in companionship with the Almighty.

Man's friendship with God should enable him to grow like Him. In the fleeting moments of "vision", man forgets his body and the world he lives in. He unites with his Lord and Benefactor.

Real prayer is pure adoration and dedication. It has no ulterior aim, no worldly things to gain. Prayer based on material desire, defeats its own purpose.

Man has been described as God's bride. Just as the wife makes all her needs and demands to her husband, so in the same way, man makes his request to God. As a good husband would meet the requirements of his spouse, and give her guidance and help, so God helps his servants.

According to Sikh religion, worldly things can be demanded in prayer, but on principle, they should not be asked for. Things which render service to the soul and advance man on the spiritual plane can be requested. Guru Nanak requested God to give him contentment, humility and His Name. The remembrance and praise of God, is the only thing a devotee needs.

Should we ask for worldly things and He in His grace gives them to us, we never feel contented. No man feels that he has enough. He does not know what is good for him. When God does not grant his prayer, he blames God and curses His creation. God does like to bless him but it is sin or sloth which prevents the blessing coming through. It is ego which prompts one to ask for this thing or that for oneself. This is contrary to the principle of submission to the Will of God.

Instead of asking for worldly things, the Sikh must put his trust in God and entreat Him to do what He thinks best. The Almighty never fails those who surrender themselves completely to Him.

In the Sikh supplication, the Ardas or general Prayer, a Sikh prays for the constant remembrance of the Name and the welfare of all mankind. The right prayer creates hope, confidence and courage in the individual.

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Q40. What is the Sikh prayer?

A part of the prayer called 'Ardas' was given to the Sikhs by Guru Gobind Singh. The first part invokes God and the blessings of first nine Gurus. The second part recounts the events in the life of the Tenth Guru, the subsequent Sikh history, the struggles faced and the sacrifices made, for the reform of temples and the maintenance of Sikh tradition. The third part pertains to the individual's own thoughts and any special purpose or the occasion for it. In the end, the Sikh prays for humble mind and sound intellect, the victory of the Khalsa Panth, "the Word" and betterment of the humanity.

A Sikh believes in a personal God to whom he must go every now and then because he regards Him as friend and benefactor. He recites a prayer before he starts any work or business. Even if he has no time for a full Ardas, he shall make a short prayer.

Sikh prayer can be led by any man or woman; it is congregational in the nature of its contents. It recounts the sacrifices of Sikhs but makes no mention of the enemies of the Sikhs. The basic idea is to inspire the Sikhs to similar heroic deed in any future times of need.

Prayer is a means of ridding the mind of its ills and desires and filling it with pure thoughts and noble aspirations. True prayer requires an effort of heart-searching, an effort to become more pure and noble. The mind must be emptied of all worldly thoughts so that peace may enter it.

The Sikh Ardas demands a complete surrender to Divine Will. Resignation to the Will of God will ultimately benefit the individual. Only then can God take up his problems and sort them out. The Lord will never fail him who throws himself on His Mercy. Moreover, this submission eliminates the ego, the wall which stands between man and his Creator.

The reading of the Guru Granth Sahib is itself a kind of prayer. We seek the Guru's command. He gives us wise counsel, but it is for us to obey. Merely worshiping the scripture without carrying its teaching into daily life is the very negation of prayer. True prayer is the practical living up to of the word of the Guru and a continuing effort, for spiritual development.

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Q41. Is it possible to conquer death?

Death has been interpreted in different ways. According to the general concept, death is the extinction of the body and the sense-organs. According to Sikh Gurus, death is the forgetting of God. Guru Nanak says: "If I remember Him, I live; when I forget Him, I am dead." It is this forgetfulness of God which makes man enter the cycle of birth and death.

Sikhism was reborn under the shadow of the sword. Guru Gobind Singh, at the time of the creation of the Khalsa Panth, called Sikhs who were prepared to lay down their lives. The acid test of the Khalsa is his readiness to give up his life. The Khalsa covets the best type of death, death in battle, while fighting for the poor, the needy or the oppressed or his Faith.

According to Sikhism, physical death is neither painful nor terrible. All must die because the physical frame is subject to decay. But there is something like an art of dying. There is a joy at the prospect of a coming death. Even the worst tortures causes no fear to the devotee. Look at the Sikh martyrs. It is no joke to be cut joint by joint, to have the skin peeled off, to be sawn alive, to be blown away at the cannon's mouth, or to be crushed under the wheels of a railway engine. Martyrs are the real conquerors of death.

Those who know the art of true living also know that of true dying. True living is dying to self, the ego, and living up to God. True dying is the privilege of the brave who die for an approved cause. Aimless dying, for no cause, helps nobody.

To conquer death is to merit salvation. Death has a terror for ordinary mortals. They are afraid because they have not made any progress on the spiritual plane. They feel worried for their sins and fear of punishment for their misdeeds.

A 'True' devotee, welcomes death as friend and as a benefactor because he looks forward to a union with the Supreme Being. He knows that it is through the gate of physical death that he will be able to embrace his Beloved Lord. Death is nothing but a gateway to Divinity and Eternity. This mortal coil may be shaken off an opportunity is there, to don the robe of God's bride.

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Q42. What is Karma?

The scientific concept of cause and effect, action and reaction is called the law of Karma(in religious parlance). A man reaps what he sows. Is it not typical that in spite of the law of Karma, man expects nectar after sowing poison?

Just as our present life is the result of our past Karma, the present Karma will determine our future life. Karma operates in this life and successive ones. The law of Karma does not cease to operate after death, because death is just a matter of physical disintegration, and has no effect on the soul, which survives.

God is the Creator of the first Karma, the origin of the universe, and the destroyer of Karma.

Good or evil by frequent repetition leave their impression on character. A man doing wicked deeds continuously will turn into a bad character. This produces states of mind, like anxiety, fear and guilt, all of which will cause pain and suffering to the individual.

Karma does not mean that everything is preordained and that man has no freewill. He carries his past Karma in the form of character. It is his own actions that make him what he is. Guru Nanak says, "The record of my deeds cannot be effaced because God has recorded them." Man has to sow seeds, the choice and the initiative to certain extent. He also has the ability to change the course of events even though circumscribed by heredity and environment. God as the Ruler of the Universe controls the over-all destiny of individual. Like the prodigal son, sinners turn to Him only as the last resort.

Sikhism modified the theory of Karma in two directions. Firstly, efforts of the individual are necessary for improving his own condition. Man is responsible for his lot. He must not blame God for his destiny. He must think of the present and the future. Secondly, Karma can be changed by prayer and the Grace of God.

When an individual learns to submit to His will, he ceases to make new Karma. He offers all his actions to Him; he acts as the instrument of His Will. According to Sikhism, all past Karma may then be erased through the association with saints, and meditation on "The Name".

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Q43. Is there Fate or Freewill, according to Sikhism?

Sikhism affirms the omnipotence of God and consequently modifies the concept of Karma. Man is not a helpless puppet. The course of fate may be compared to the flow of a river, while individual action may look like an eddy, or a whirlpool or a wave.

Man has a dual role: firstly, as a person in a particular community and environment, working under certain limitations, and secondly, as an individual with a free will, wanting to do this thing or that to elevate himself. He is like a merchant trading with a certain capital. He may lose it or invest it wisely, to earn profit. He is free to sow the seed, but once he has done so, he has no option other than to reap the fruit. Predestination is responsible for the present; but the present gives us an opportunity to mould our future. It is just like the rotation and revolutions of the earth. The earth revolves around the sun and is influenced by it, but it also has its own motion.

According to Sikhism, man is an action being, a Karma Yogi, who has to overcome his difficulties with understanding and wisdom. The effort of the individual should take the form of detached action and not, feeding his ego. He must work altruistically, for mankind, and not for the self.

Spiritual effort has to be blessed by Divine favor in order to be successful. This effort requires self-surrender, to His Will. If man works selfishly, in Maya, he suffers; if he works selflessly according to the Will of God he is saved. This self-surrender is a conscious effort to win divine grace. The self-effort is to bring the Divine Will and individual free will into harmony. That is how the two wills become reconciled. Man's salvation lies in his own effort to drown his Ego in the Divine Will.

Guru Nanak explains the point through a metaphor:

"The mind is the paper on which are recorded in the sum of our deeds, good and bad, the impressions, of the habits of our cumulative past. Against this, and limitless are the virtues of our Lord, for He turneth dross into gold and the fires(passions) of the body extinguish."
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Q44. What is grace?

If the theory of Karma were carried to its logical extreme, no man would deserve redemption. In Sikhism, the doctrine of Karma is modified by the "Principle of Grace". Man's sincere efforts and noble deeds achieve precious little. What is required is a constant solicitation of His aid in effort of spiritual endeavor. Recitation of Gurbani, meditation, acts of love and charity are merely a means to win His Grace.

An humble devotee, like the true bride, surrenders everything to the pleasure of her lord. Surrender to God does not mean slavery but freedom and the extension of one's horizons. Exemplary conduct, good actions and sweet words are necessary, but without Grace, they produce no result. According to Guru Nanak, Karma can be undone only by His Grace. Just as it is the privilege of the Head of the State to pardon a felon who has been duly convicted by a court of law, in the same way, it is God's prerogative alone to redeem evildoers and enable them to enter His Kingdom. It is His privilege to grant Grace to those whom He likes. According to J.C. Archer, the Sovereignty and Omnipotence of God is manifold in his dispensation of His Grace.

The doctrine of Grace, does not mean that there are certain chosen prophets and chosen people, God does not have any favorites nor does He make any arbitrary choice. A devotee only prepares himself for being the recipient of His favor He must empty his mind of evil and fill it with "The Name". This alone creates an awareness of the presence of God within one's self.

The Grace of God may come to the scholar or the unlettered, the high or the low, the rich or the poor. It does not depend on birth, knowledge wisdom or penance. Those who seek His Grace through service and humility understand the purpose of life. Fire lies dormant in wood; one has to kindle it by effort. To realize the Truth is to get in tune with the Infinite.

The Almighty is so Grace abounding (Kirpanidh) that the receiver shouts to Him: "Enough, no more" His bounties know no limit or hindrance.

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Q45. What is Bhagti?

According to Sikhism, Bhagti(also spelt Bhakti) is a way of life, a dynamic manifestation of faith, a kindling of the mind and awakening of the heart.

Bhagti is absolute devotion to God. Bhagti does not mean living in an ivory tower, isolated from one's fellowmen. It is neither asceticism nor renunciation. It is the leading of a dedicated life in the midst of the world. Rivalry among different Bhagti sects is the very negation of spirituality. Real Bhagti is service to God's creation, Benevolence and kindness to all types of men, without distinction. It is both humanism and humanitarianism.

Bhagti may take either an outward or an inner form. The Sikh Gurus rejected outer forms like devotional dancing. They emphasized inner devotion, through love. Bhagti, rightly interpreted, is giving oneself away. Even if one is poor, one can share one's love and sympathy with others. This gift of affection, this pouring out of the heart, this outflow of sympathy and understanding, is the true worship of God.

Bhagti enjoins self-analysis and self-control. Both the body and the mind have to be trained according to the Guru's word. Guru Nanak says:

"The body is the field, the mind the ploughman,
modesty the irrigating channel, contentment the leveler.
Pulverize the crust of pride into true humility,
sow the seed of love - the seed of Bhagti- and it will flourish."
(A.G. p595)
The Sikh Gurus developed the concept of Bhagti in two ways. While the Hindu saints and mystics discussed the academic aspects of Bhagti, the Gurus practically demonstrated it through creative literature, through hymns of adoration to the Almighty. That concept of Bhagti which was directed to idols and living persons was then modified to cover only an all embracing devotion to the Timeless and the Formless God. Dedication to Nirgun (God) is the highest form of Bhagti.

A Bhagt is a practical example of a man God, a sort of superman, who by leading a life of ethical discipline, faces the problems of life and lives nobly and worthily.

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Q46. Who is a saint?

A saint need not follow any recognizable form. He will be known by his qualities. A saint unattached to the five deadly sins. He must be pure in thought, word and deed. He is unaffected by the three qualities, of darkness, activity and goodness- Tamas, Rajas and Satav respectively.

A saint should regard himself only as an humble servant of God. He voluntarily surrenders himself wholly to His Will. He accepts God as his only prop and support.

A saint is not chained by the fetters of rituals, social regulations or public opinion. He is dedicated to the mission of Bhagti, spreading "The Name" among the masses.

A saint sees God in everything and therefore loves all. He lives in the world and yet remains unattached to its objects. Guru Arjan has summed up the characteristics of a saint in these words:

"The saint realizes the presence of God at all hours,
He regards the will of God as sweet,
His only support is 'The Name'.
He is humble to seek the dust of all...
He finds comfort in melodious Kirtan.
He regards friends and foes alike.
He knows none as well as he knows God."
(A.G. p392)
A man of God should not keep himself aloof from his fellowmen. He mixes freely with them volunteering to serve them and satisfy their wants. For him, no one is high or low. His love radiates equally to all. A saint is in the image of God. Meeting him illumines the mind and confirms the devotee in "the remembrance of The Name."

A man of God should follow both personal and social ethics. He is just, tolerant, patient, modest, generous and merciful. He leads an ideal life and is pure and clean. He sets an example for others to follow, not through pride but through humility. He loves to save a lost soul like a shepherd going in search of a strayed lamb. He proceeds slowly and steadily to redeem the wicked ones and bring them to righteous path.

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Q47. What are the five virtues, according to Sikhism?

The Virtue, of having the ability to do good, is a great aid to the achievement of peace and happiness. Self control itself is a great virtue, because the mind usually turns to brooding on evil. Control over the organs of action (Karm Indries) is really necessary. The mischief of the tongue and the eye must be assessed or controlled. Bhai Gurdas insisted on the cultivation of sweet speech, toleration and charity.

Truth occupies the first place in the virtues recommended by the Sikh Gurus. According to Guru Nanak, "Truth is the remedy for all ills, it washes away all sins." Truth includes righteousness, honesty, justice, impartiality and fair play. A 'Truthful living' is actually a life lived according to the pattern set by the Sikh Gurus.

Contentment is another virtue. A contented mind is free from ambition, envy, greed and jealousy. Without contentment, it is impossible to acquire peace of mind.

Patience is another quality which a Sikh ought to cultivate. Patience gives courage to put up bravely with all the slings and arrows of outraged a fortune. Forbearance, particularly when one is in a position to punish one's opponent, is a great asset.

Perfect faith in the Guru is the fourth virtue which the Sikh has to cultivate and develop. Faith implies considering the Guru's teaching as infallible and following it in daily life. The Guru often tests the devotee. A True Sikh will never lose faith or follow any one except his Guru. Those whose faith is diluted or deficient cannot serve the Guru truly or gain the goal of their heart's desire.

Another virtue is compassion (Daya). This implies considering anothers difficulty or sorrow as one's own and helping to relieve it as far as possible. Compassion also includes the overlooking of imperfections and mistakes of others, for to err is human. The Gurus admired those Sikhs who observed others' faults, but did not expose them to their disadvantage.

The Sikh regards the practice of virtue as a means to an end. His goal is the integration of the human personality with spiritual realization.

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Q48. What are the five main vices?

Each religion has its own set of vices which its followers are enjoined to avoid. In Christianity, there are seven deadly sins. Sikhism, regards as sin any willful disobedience of God's law or principle of natural morality. Sin is a defiance of the Moral Law.

In order to avoid vice, we must be able to recognize vice itself than develop the will to overcome it. In Sikhism, there are five cardinal vices: Kam(Lust), Krodh(Anger), Lobh(Greed), Moh(Worldly attachment), Ahankar(Pride). These are the great enemies of man and cause much suffering. While they reside in the human body, how can the Name of God find a place in it.

Lust is sinful and produces nothing but shame and misery. Sikhism allows the householder normal, marital sex but any other indulgence is forbidden. Both promiscuity and sex perversion are absolutely forbidden.

Anger is an excitement of the mind which leads to quarrels and violence. Anger is overcome by patience and forgiveness. God dwells in every human heart, so one should not hurt the God in another man.

Greed is the desire for wealth or the love of gain. Money rightly used and earned by honest labour, is permitted. What is objected to, is an excessive love of money - especially money obtained by fraud or other unfair means. Avarice can be overcome by contentment. All too often excessive wealth creates an ongoing desire for luxury and the admission to vice.

Attachment is the excessive love of a wife, children or material goods. Regard your near and dear ones as objects of trust and service. They cannot remain yours for long. Any earthly love can only ever be transient.

Pride is the worst of the five vices. It implies conceit, vanity, jealousy or arrogance. It is the Ego, thinking aloud. The remedy for pride is humility. Humility, forgiveness and compassion go together. The true Sikh regards himself as being the dust of the feet of other people.

With the Guru's grace, these five vices may be turned into the humble servants of a devotee. Instead of their controlling the individual, they may do him service at his bidding.

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Q49. What is the place of evil, according to Sikhism?

Everything is created by God, even evil. But what we regard as evil has a special purpose to serve. Evil is neither Satan nor any demon. This Dark Age, Kalyuga, (the age of sin) is the period when evil is likely to thrive.

The purpose of evil is to test the character of man. According to Guru Nanak: "Suffering is the remedy and comfort the disease." Man is inherently liable to succumb to temptation. The greater his faith, the greater the evil that challenges it. Great men have faced evil and tyranny- whether in the form of a persecutor, a traitor or one's own kith and kin- in order to prove the triumph of the spirit over matter.

The company of the evil-minded is to be shunned at all costs. It is the gateway only to the continuing cycle of birth and death. It is compared to an evil which defiles whoever comes in contact with it. Guru Arjan in the Sukhmani warns us against associating with Godless people.

The mind of man is more prone to evil than to good. Man is slow to take to virtue but swift to succumb to vice. Nonetheless, it is necessary to purge the mind of evil thoughts by constant effort, before good can enter it. Evil actions arise from evil thinking, motivated by lust, anger, greed, attachment, or pride. Other evil actions take the form of lying, drinking, gambling, begging and backbiting. Sikhism does not believe in the concept of original sin, that a man has to suffer for the sins of his forefathers.

Perhaps the strongest shield against evil is to join the society of the good and pious people. The company of holy men has a positive role to play in spiritual attainment. In their company, one is influenced by their words and deeds and therefore becomes ennobled and pious. Guru Nanak suggests a remedy against evil: "Make Truth the knife. Let it be sharpened on the whetstone of 'The Name'. Keep it protected in a sheath of virtue."

Egoism is the greatest evil, because it creates a wall between man and the Creator. This wall can be only removed by submission to His will and the seeking of Divine aid. In his daily prayer, the Sikh invokes God's grace to keep him away from evil thoughts, words and deeds.

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Q50. What is the value of fasting?

Fasting is good for health but has no religious merit. Some sects of the Hindus hold very strong views on fasting. For them, fasting has some real value and has to be strictly followed.

Sikhism does not regard fasting as meritorious. God has given us the human body - the temple of the soul - which has to be nourished and cared for. Fasting as an austerity, as a ritual, as a mortification of the body by means of willful hunger is forbidden in Sikhism. Guru Nanak says: "Penance, fasting, austerity and alms-giving are inferior to 'The Truth'; right action is superior to all."

There are sects which do not eat this or that. Some people will not eat cereals, but will take other types of food. Such people may be treated as hypocrites. They give up the use of certain type of food, not because they want to, but because they wish to impress others. It feeds their Ego and does not earn merit. According to Guru Nanak, true fasting is the renunciation of the fruit of one's actions.

Fasting for reasons of health is understandable when done on medical advice. Some people fast regularly on a particular day in the week, so resting their digestive organs. It may also serve as a means to save food, or a method of balancing the domestic budget.

Sikhism encourages temperance and moderation in matters of food. Neither starve nor over-eat: this is the golden mean. Men who want to engage in meditation should only eat simple and nourishing food. Healthy food but in small quantities(Alap Ahar), just to keep body and soul together and to prevent sleep and sloth, this is recommended for the devotee. On the other hand, gluttony is not only socially bad, but also morally reprehensible.

The golden rule about fasting is: Fast only when you must, in the interest of your health.

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Q51. What is the value of pilgrimage?

Hindu tradition emphasizes the role of undertaking pilgrimages as an aid for one's spiritual development. Sikhism does not consider pilgrimage as an act of spiritual merit. Guru Nanak went to places of pilgrimage to reclaim the fallen people, who had turned ritualists. He told them of the need to visit that temple of God, deep in the inner being of themselves. According to him: "He performs a pilgrimage who controls the five vices."

People go to centres of pilgrimage for a variety of reasons: some for religious formality, some for show, some for fun and some for holiday. Some people delight in visiting holy shrines, in the belief that their sins will be forgiven. But bathing or other rituals cannot wash away sin. Real dirt pertains to the mind; it is inward. The growth of desire of Maya, cannot be removed by physical action. Nevertheless, visits to historical places connected with activities of holy men have a marginal utility. They remind people of goodness and tradition. Who knows when one may find some truly holy person at a religious centre.

The futility of wandering to the so-called sacred places is amply illustrated by the life of Guru Amardas. Before he became Guru, he went on pilgrimages twenty times, without benefit. He saw the light only when he finally met Guru Angad. The Gurus tried to remove the notion of the efficacy of pilgrimage. Guru Nanak says: "I would like to go to pilgrimage only if it pleases God." Elsewhere, he says: "My places of pilgrimage are to study 'The Word', and contemplating its divine knowledge within me."

Guru Gobind Singh was very emphatic about the futility of pilgrimage. According to him, without God's Name, such visits have not the slightest significance. Kabir sought God in the temple of his mind. He therefore, migrated from Benaras, a well-known sacred city, to Magahar, a traditionally cursed town.

Real pilgrimage is any visit to the Guru which gives enlightenment. Guru Nanak says:

"No pilgrim-spot is equal to the Guru...
The Guru is the river in whose water(Name),
the filth of sin and evil thoughts, are washed off."
(A.G. 1329)
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Q52. What is the true education, according to Sikhism?

The aim of education is to develop and integrate the human personality. The present system is lopsided and needs modification. Guru Nanak based the uplift of man on the cultivation of character. It is character which helps us to make the right choice or to take the right step in a moral crisis. Temptations come so suddenly that man has to make quick decisions. Unless one has virtue and guts both acquired by steady practice over a number of years, one may easily fall prey to evil.

The function of education is to prepare man's intellectual, aesthetic and emotional background in such a way that the individual's development is harmonious. They should follow Dharma, in its broad aspect. This includes reverence for teachers and elders, a solicitude for the welfare of neighbors and fellow-citizens and a respect for all types of life: birds, animals, plants with the emphasis on duty rather than rights.

Guru Nanak taught us of three Hs in place of three RS; The knowledge of the Hand, knowledge of the Head and Knowledge of the Heart. The education of the Hand implies the dignity of labour, self-reliance and of service to humanity. The education of the Head implies an appreciation of the wonders of nature, an understanding of the masteries of the universe and a search for "truth". The education of the Heart includes the awakening of the higher self and the seeking of true inspiration from within.

Guru Nanak explained the spiritual significance of some letters of the alphabet to the Pandit and the Mullah. Alif stands for Allah, Sassa stands for an awareness of God - the Creator of the universe. He laid emphasis on character-building, citizenship and service: "The essence of wisdom lies in the service of humanity." Guru Nanak trained his disciple Angad through a creative and purposeful discipline. Just as a student needs a teacher, so a disciple needs a Guru. Men find it difficult to resist evil and do good, if left on their own, but if they are assisted by a great personality who possesses dynamic power, than their progress will be steady and significant.

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Q53. What is conscience?

Within each individual is a source of inner judgment, which tells them what is right and what is wrong. Our conscience, is popularly called the voice of God. Even people who follow no particular religion have moral sense. They know what ought to be done and what ought not to be done. Even atheists who have done a wrong thing express remorse because they have later felt dejected and unclean, possibly due to the weight of public opinion or perhaps the moral sense that was ingrained in them during childhood.

Sikhs believe in the moral order of the universe and know that God is both just and generous. He resides in the individual. The God within guides the human being through an inner voice. This is generally termed as conscience. Within the individual, there is a perpetual struggle between good and evil. The conscience denounces evil and supports the good. We feel happy when we follow its command and unhappy, if we disobey it.

The effects of conscience - Bibek - differs with each individual, it depends on their stage of spiritual evolution. It is necessary to educate the moral sense. This is best done by associating with Holy men and meditation on "The Word". The conscience may waver at times in its firmness and power to control over human actions. Whenever we are in doubt, we must heed the voice of the conscience. We should respect its advice and follow it. In persons whose conscience is constantly overridden, this evil blunts and suppresses it.

A basic doctrine of Sikhism is to obey the Will of God. Where can we find the Will of God? According to Guru Nanak, it is embedded in the core of the human conscience. To follow one's conscience is, therefore, to live up to the Will of God.

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Q54. What is Maya?

Sikhism does not accept the conventional meaning of Maya-as illusion. The world is not Maya; it is a creation of God and as such, an abode of the Truthful One, or rather a Temple of Divinity. According to Sikhism Maya epitomizes the principle duality. It is this duality which makes one forget the Lord and attracts the man to wealth, beauty, power, or scholarship.

The root of Maya is egoism, the assertion of the self. It is this which separates a man from his divine self. By such fetters, man binds himself to his family and to worldly possessions. Maya is a trap for the soul.

Maya may also take on a more subtle form as self-importance or self-complacency. It may form different patterns like intellectual pride, family attachment, pleasure-seeking and money-grabbing. It plays an important part in daily life.

The Guru by his grace gives the antidote for Maya. It is "The Name" of God, which works the spell. With it Maya is brought under control and so no longer harasses the disciple.

The residue of Maya accumulates through many births. It sticks to the individual like glue. It produces an inbuilt sense of isolation which causes man to forget his own divine essence. The individual's soul will realize, sooner or later, that a Supreme soul lives within. This becomes a spiritual awakening which will secure liberation from passion and desire. This liberation comes through self-control and the practice of virtuous living. It is the association with the Guru and the company of holy men that facilitates this realization of man's divine origin.

The evil effects of 'Maya' take longer to eradicate. Along with self-effort, the Guru grace is necessary. Guru Nanak says: "The true Guru has revealed the One to me. I have destroyed duality and can now recognize Him, through the Guru's word". Between man and God is a wall of ignorance, once this is removed, man may realize his kinship with Divinity.

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Q55. What is egoism?

Man possesses a divine essence. He is not separate from God, but on account of his self-assertion, he thinks he is. He builds round himself, wall of egoism which makes him forget "God in himself" and in all things. This is called Agyan or ignorance. Guru Nanak says, "Ignorance has its roots in the image of the self." Some feel that Maya or the materialistic world, creates the sense of separateness of duality, but whether Maya or ego, the separation of the individual soul from the Universal Soul is the cause of much misery and subsequent transmigration. Man' concern to build up a separate identity is the root of his suffering.

According to Sikhism, man is responsible for his own actions. Human self will - the ego - encourages man to bad deeds.

The egoism takes the form of a pride and vanity. These result from learning, power or money. They lead to arrogance and a sense of superiority which makes one disregard and ignore other men. This not only alienates them from their fellow-men, but also from God who views with disfavor, any person who stands like a Colossus, in complete oblivion of the Source of All Power. Egoistic actions are like chains draped round a person's neck.

The cure for egoism lies within. If a man, subjects his will to God's Will and regards himself only as an instrument of God, he rises above action and its chain of consequences. Self-assertion is the disease, self-surrender is the cure. Submission to His Will removes the barrier between man and God. Guru Ramdas says, "The bride and the bridegroom live together, with a partition of ego between them. Once this partition is removed, the bride enjoys her union with the Creator." (A.G. p.1263). Only when man understands that all things are subject to God's Will - including himself will he be able to live and move in tune with God. If, by the assertion of self, they cut themselves off from this Reality, they wander in the wilderness. But it is possible like the Prodigal Son, to come back to the bosom of the Father.

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Q56. What is the Name(Nam)?

The word 'Nam' is derived from the Sanskrit Naman which means the practice of remembrance. It is a word used to describe the spiritual manifestations of God i.e. His Holy spirit. So the remembrance of God - Nam Marg is the essence of Sikhism. The repetition of the Sikh mantra "Waheguru" is an invocation of this Holy Spirit. Life without "The Name" or "The Word", or Nam Simran(The remembrance of "The Name", invoking the Holy Spirit) is barren and meaningless. "The Name" alone brings true peace of mind. The obstacles to "The Name" are worldly thoughts, sleep and occult powers.

"The Name" is inside every individual. The Guru reveals it to the devotee. The devotee does his normal duties with hands and feet, but he keeps his conscious mind in tune with His Lord. Some men practice"The Name" with the regulation of breath; they utter 'Wah' with inhalation and 'Guru' with exhalation. But this reflects individual convenience.

"The Name" performs three functions - it is purgative for the removal of evil; it is illuminative, because it gives us knowledge of "The Truth", Beauty and Goodness; it is unitive since it may bring one in tune with God. The remembrance is three-fold: with words, with the mind and with action. The repetition of Gurbani helps the mind to concentrate on God. It is food for the soul.

The technique of "The Name" follows certain phases - first the repetition of "The Nam": Wahguru by mouth; secondly, the percolation of "The Name" into the mind, (mental remembrance); thirdly, the longing for God like a lover waiting for his beloved; fourthly the awareness of God every-where; then finally, the ultimate union with Him.

Sikhism recommends the following plan as the easiest way to practice "Nam marg". Get up early morning and meditate during the ambrosial hours of the dawn. Avoid idleness and the five great vices. Seek the company of holy men, this is a great help to meditation. Try to maintain strict moral conduct, this too, helps you to a spiritual plan. Even then Divine Grace is necessary for the practice in humility of Nam Simran.

"The Name", apart from meditative aspect also means the "All pervading Spirit". The entire world depends on "The Name" - God's own Holy Spirit. Therefore, to meditate on 'Nam', is to practice the presence of God by keeping Him ever in one's mind as also by singing His praises or dwelling on His excellencies. From this may come the feelings of wonder and bliss.

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Q57. What is Sahaj Yoga?

"Yoga" means union, and therefore, means of merger with Divinity. Guru Nanak's way is called - Nam Yoga or Sahaj Yoga. The word Sahaj means the natural or gradual process. Just as vegetables cooked over a slow fire retain their favor, so in the same way, the Sahaj discipline of mind and body, will bring out the essential goodness of a human being. Sahaj Yoga differs radically from Hath Yoga.

Sahaj Yoga is peculiar to Sikhism. It is the best form of three traditional Yogas - Karam Yoga, Gian Yoga, and Bhagti Yoga. Here the three types merge to form an ideal one. Actions which are noble and righteous, along with meditation on "The Name" and the elimination of the ego, pave the way to God realization. In the Guru Granth Sahib it is called the Fourth stage, Chautha Pad, which means that it is beyond the three Gunas of Rajas(activity), Tamas(darkness), and Satav(peace), and the three states - Awakening, Dream and Dreamless sleep. It is a state of equipoise, called Turiya.

The maladies of the soul must be cured in this life, otherwise they are carried over to the next life. For this a dedicated life of self- discipline is essential;

"I have placed the five senses under the control of my conscience,
By making my five organs of perception and my five organs of action also obedient to it,
I became a perfect yogi."
(A.G. p 208)
Just as the lotus remains in water and is not made wet by it, so the devotee may remain undefiled by Maya or worldly things. Sahaj also creates contentment and desirelessness. Man is, in essence Divine. No sooner does he realize this than he wishes to merge into the Universal Source. The wall of egoism may only be destroyed with the Guru's guidance and God's grace.

The union of man with God is like the consummation of marriage or like the confluence of two streams - Sangam. Such a union is possible, while living in the midst of worldly things and performing daily duties.

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Q58. What is contentment?

Contentment lies in feeling satisfied with what one has. Some people question the value of contentment, because they consider ambition as the ladder to progress. The more one has, the more one seems to want. There is no end to ambition and greed. According to Guru Nanak, greed burns like an unquenchable fire; the more it is fed, the stronger its flames rise. A greedy man is never satisfied, even when he gets all that he wants. Avarice leads to many vices like fraud, lying and gluttony. An Avaricious man blunts his conscience and even bleeds his nearest and dearest ones.

Contentment implies frugality. Our wants are many, and our real needs few. Things, we can do without, cannot be regarded as necessities. Peace of mind comes from elimination of wanting.

Contentment implies that life is greater than its wealth or riches. Regard money as a trust, real joy comes from giving and not in receiving. Moreover, excessive wealth often leads to luxury and vice.

Contentment is felt when one compares his lot with those who are less fortunate. Adversity is not a punishment but rather an opportunity for development. Moreover in poverty, there are few temptations and fewer flatterers.

A contented man remains content in adverse circumstances, be it poverty, distress or sickness. These are accepted as normal events of life, while discontented man increases his own misery by comparing his lot with that of more fortunate people.

Contentment results from submission to the Divine Will which a true Sikh accepts with gratitude and joy. Guru Arjan says: "Without contentment, it is impossible to acquire peace of mind." Peace and happiness come naturally to a stable mind.

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Q59. What is humility?

As God is the Father of all human being, any slight or insult to anyone is to injure God in every soul. Guru Arjan says:
"Know that God dwells in all souls,
And so become as the dust of the feet of all."
The antidote for the poison of pride, is humility.

The five organs of senses - eyes, mouth, ears, nose and hands - are located in the upper portion of the body and easily confused by sin. The feet, which are located in the lower part are seldom used in wickedness. In India the feet are respected and touched at the time of salutation.

The vain and the arrogant challenge their peers and leaders. They seldom realize that there are other people who are better or more able than they are. They lack feeling of brotherliness. It is the awareness of human fellowship, which should make one treat all, with decency and consideration.

The Sikh Gurus set many examples of meekness and humility. When the old Guru, Guru Amardas was kicked by Datu, he never showed resentment but humbly suggested that his hard bones must have caused hurt to Datu's feet. Similarly Sri Chand, Guru Nanak's son asked Guru Ramdas in a humorous way why he had kept such a long and flowing beard. The Guru replied: "To wipe the dust off your holy feet." Sri Chand was much impressed by the Guru's humility. Humility requires the elimination of the ego. It is the ego which is the barrier to self-knowledge and salvation. Pride is eliminated by understanding Guru's word. Guru Arjan says:

"Consider yourself the humblest of the humble."
It is the humble who are great and are exalted in God's court. True humility leads to a surrender to God's Will and the ultimate merger of the individual soul into Divinity.

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Q60. What is renunciation?

Renunciation of the world - Tyaga - is regarded by Hinduism as one of the ways to spiritual attainment. Many devotees leave their homes and go into the jungles to practice austerity. This approach is disregarded in Sikhism, because this way or renunciation is not practical in Kalyuga(This age of sin) age. The mind does not find peace in physical solitude; rather, it wanders away to the missing worldly possessions and interests. As Guru Nanak explained to the monks of the Himalayas, "How will the world be served, if the pious people retire to mountain fastness and lend no helping hand in any attempt to solve the problems of the day?"

The Gurus recommended renunciation in the midst of life - Grist mahe udasi. The renunciation of evil desire and not the cessation of work or retirement, is the true way. Guru Arjan say: "Renunciation of lust, anger and attachment is praise worthy." The true Sikh is the real Sanyasi(an ascetic, a recluse). He lives desireless in the midst of worldly possessions and associations. He does his daily chores and yet keeps himself free from attachment to the world. He is neither depressed by worldly affliction nor elated by gain or attainment. Like the lotus flower, he is not affected by the level of worldly things.

True renunciation results in finding mental "detachment". Kabir says,

"Do your daily duties with hands and feet,
But concentrate on the Lord."
(A.G. p 1376)
Just as a mother who is busy in her household work thinks of her child lying in a cradle, so a true devotee, apparently busy in his office may still be repeating the Name. Guru Gobind Singh explains the point in these words:
"O, my soul practice renunciation in this way,
Consider your house as a forest and yourself as an ascetic,
Let continence be your matted hair,
And communion with God your ablution."
True renunciation results from the practical application of the Sikh way of life - a life of meditation and service to mankind.

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Q61. What is the role of service (Sewa) without thoughts of self in Sikhism?

The Gurus mentioned the performance of selfless service on the part of a disciple as the first step in Sikhism. By doing service of various kinds without payment or any expectation of reward, one acts as a Sewak, or Sewadar. From this may spring humility and the consequent elimination of one's ego in this way, God's "Name" can best enter an humbled mind.

What are the requirements of a true Sewak? He should have an absolute faith in the Guru; he must surrender himself to follow the code of self-discipline as laid down by the Gurus. Voluntary service can be of different kinds - with body, mind and money. First comes the physical service - shoe-care at the temple, the cleaning of the premises, cooking and serving in the Free Kitchen. Apart from serving Sangat(Congregation) one is also expected to serve one's family members, relations and the community. One may help in cash or kind, to deserving persons and charitable organizations. Then comes service with the mind, such as is required for reflection on Gurbani and the remembrance of God's Name - All these forms of service are recommended by the Gurus.

They also warn us that service must be done gladly and without any motive for compensation. It has not be done with a secret or hidden ideas to win approbation, honor or position. These defeat the main object of "service" which is to eliminate the ego. Unfortunately, most Sikhs do little Sewa, but expect a big return for what they do such considerations are unbecoming for True Disciples.

The Gurus have enumerated various benefits from doing selfless service. One may obtain inner happiness and real honor. As one learns to be humble and associates with holy person, and progresses on the spiritual path, so one may come to worldly success. Sikhism, requires a Sadhana - an effort towards the spiritualising of the self.

All the Gurus performed various kinds of voluntary service, both inside and outside Sikh institutions. The Sikhs then followed in their footsteps; we have examples of the services of Bhai Manjh, Bhai Hindal and Bhai Kanhaiya, to name but a few. Even today, we find various kinds of service organizations run by the Sikhs in India, like orphanages, widows' homes, institutes for the destitute and the handicapped, like the Blind school.

The important question to ask oneself is: "What service can I do?" The answer depends on one's own abilities and inclination. One may serve in any field in which one is interested. Any service, is a step on the path of Sikhism, provided it is done in sincerity and without thoughts of the self.

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Q62. What are the stages of spiritual development, according to Sikhism?

Spiritual attainment is directly allied to personal development. Much depends on the amount of effort - Sadhana - the devotee puts in. Meditation on "The Name", joining the company of the saints, performing good or noble deeds all help one to progress on a spiritual plane.

Guru Nanak has mentioned five stages of spiritual growth in the Japji. The first stage is in the region of duty - Dharam Khand - here, man does act and reaps the consequences. Those who carry out their duties sincerely and honestly, enter the second region - the region of knowledge - Gian Khand. Here a devotee may obtain a knowledge of God and the Universe. He learns of his own human limitations, the omnipotence of God and the vastness of His creation. He may then realize that there is some further purpose behind God's creation. He then enters the third stage - the region of effort - Saram Khand - here his mind and understanding are purified. He endeavors to act according to the instructions of the Guru. Such efforts may lead him to the next region - the region of grace - Karam Khand; here the selfless devotee may find divine grace and develop spiritual power. Finally, only with God's grace he may enter the next stage - the region of truth - Sach Khand - where he may unite with God. Such is the progress of man from the worldly to the spiritual plane. Undoubtedly, being moral is a great help to spiritual progress.

In Sikhism, the grace of the Guru or of God is necessary to help a pilgrim on to the spiritual path. It may be possible for an ordinary person to walk steadily on his own, but if he is primed by another personality, possessing dynamic power, he can further gather momentum, to go forward. The care and the tutelage of the Guru protects him from many untoward calamities and encourages him through the many crises in life.

Guru Nanak laid down a way of spiritual discipline in the penultimate verse of the Japji. The devotee should exercise control over their mind and body, strive sincerely to walk on the spiritual path, use their reason when confronted with problems, fear no one and ceaselessly repeat the Divine 'Name'. Such persons will radiate joy and peace to all people who come near them.

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Q63. What is the mission of the Khalsa?

The Khalsa was the creation of the last living Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh. The ten Gurus had given more than 200 years of training to the Sikhs and wanted to demonstrate the type of a true man of God who would be perfect in all respects. He would be a model of Sikh principles. Guru Gobind Singh gave the Khalsa "Amrit" - the baptism of the sword. He knelt before the Panj Piyaras and begged for Amrit(The baptismal water prepared by the Panj Piyaras). He said that the Khalsa was his physical form and the embodiment of all that is best in the Sikh religion. He game them the uniform of the five symbols and the five Banis. They were to be saint-soliders, devoted to the service of mankind.

The baptism of the sword was meant to create fearlessness in the Sikhs. They were enjoined to carry the Kirpan, for purposes of the defense of others and for the uprooting of evil. This mission of the defense of the weak and the downtrodden gave an impetus to a spirit of service and sacrifice. The Khalsa Panth had to meet The need of The times - to protect The weak against The oppression of Moghul rulers. History shows how The Sikhs bore The brunt of Moghul tyranny and indignation. The two holocausts - Chotta Ghallughara of June 1746, when more than ten thousand Sikhs were butchered, and Vada Ghallughara of Feb. 1762, when more than thirty thousand Sikhs were killed - clearly demonstrated that The Khalsa was always ready to meet The challenge of bigoted Muslim rulers. In The freedom struggle (1931-1947), The Khalsa Panth, gave a good account of itself. During The Chinese invasion of 1962 and Indo-Pak wars of September 1965 and December 1971, The Sikhs won many official awards for their heroism.

Some people suggest that The Khalsa was created only to meet The needs of The time. This is not correct. The Khalsa was intended to perpetuate The ideal of The godly warrior - The saint-soldier - which Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh had in mind. Here was a harmonious development of physical and spiritual personality within The Grihst Ashram(The state of a family man; The married life of a householder). Here The best characteristics of past and present were fused together to create a man for The future - A Khalsa - dedicated to The glory of God and The freedom and dignity of man. Undoubtedly, Khalsas will come to The forefront in meeting any future crisis in any part of The world.

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Q64. Are The five symbols really necessary?

It has been found that The maintenance of a similarity of appearance is essential, not only for The sake of uniformity but also for sustaining The enthusiasm of an organization. Such uniformity should be a living demonstration of The inspiration of The personality that created them. They symbolise The ideal and make it more real and meaningful to The followers.

The Sikh symbols were not intended to create a spirit of exclusiveness or of "chosen people". They were meant to serve as aids to The corporate life of The community. It may be possible for a man to devote himself to God without adopting any forms or symbols, but if he wants to join an organization, he must keep up The disciplinary forms of The group. One may be a good soldier without military drill and uniform, but that does not minimize The need for such in a regular army, in The same way, The Sikhs of Guru Gobind Singh stick to his uniform and The symbols ordained by him and find them a great aid in Panthic organization.

It has been recorded in history that whenever Guru Gobind Singh was pleased with anyone, he welcomed him to The fold of The Khalsa. Lachhman Bairagi became Banda Singh. It is said that more than eighty thousand Sikhs received "Baptism by The sword", within a few months of The creation of The Khalsa.

The symbols have kept The Sikhs united. They have also helped to maintain their ideals in great crises. Many Sikhs faced death but refused to shave off their hair(Kesh) which is The most important of The five symbols. The maintenance of unshorn hair is in keeping with The idea of living according to The Will of God. The Kesh symbolise The spiritual link with The Guru-power.

Along with The maintenance of five symbols, The leading of an exemplary life - Rahit - is essential. Abstinence from tobacco, Halal(halal meat is a ritual meat prepared by members of certain faiths; The animal's blood is drained off to produce white meat) meat, wines, narcotics and adultery is part of The discipline of a Khalsa. The code of conduct is a difficult one. Guru Gobind Singh valued The form of The Khalsa, and state that so long as Khalsa maintains The symbols, he will march to glory; when he indifference to them, his lustre will tarnish and fade away.

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Q65. What is The significance of The five symbols?

When Guru Gobind Singh created The Khalsa Panth in 1699, he ordered them to maintain The five symbols - Panj Kakar. These symbols were not only necessary for The strength and uniformity of The organization, but also for The value they each had in their own right. Let us examine The significance of each symbol.

Hair(kesh) was regarded as a symbol of saintliness and Dharma in ancient times. The Biblical story of Samson Agonizes shows that hair was his source of strength and vitality. Guru Nanak started The practice of keeping unshorn hair. His son Sri Chand, The founder of The Udasi sect, also ordered his followers to maintain long hair. The keeping of hair is regarded as an indication of living in harmony with The Will of God. The shaving of hair may be construed as interference in nature's way and considering oneself wiser than God. Keeping hair is The most important symbol. A Khalsa become apostate (Patit) if he shaves or trims his hair.

The comb(Kanga) is necessary for keeping The hair clean and tidy.

Underwear(Kachh) is regarded as a symbol of chastity. Moreover, it allows unembarrassed movement in times of action. It is also easy and comfortable to wear when at rest. It serves as a mark of readiness and agility.

Sword (Kirpan) is an emblem of courage and adventure. In order to have self-respect, The Khalsa should maintain The means to vindicate his honor The sword is to be used for The defense of others and not for offense. From The possession of a sword comes The Khalsa Panth to be a brotherhood of arms.

The steel bracelet(Kara) is a symbol of restraint and gentility, it also reminds The Sikh that he is bonded to The Guru. When a Sikh looks at it, he will think twice before doing an evil deed. These symbols are kept to preserve corporate unity and to foster The sentiment of brotherhood. They assist a Khalsa look exactly like Guru Gobind Singh(formwise) and thus hopefully prompt him to behave like a Guru.

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Q66. What is The code of discipline for The Khalsa?

At The first initiation of The Khalsa Brotherhood, Guru Gobind Singh gave The instructions to The Panj Pyaras during The ceremony of Amrit. These instructions may be summarized as under:
  1. Believe in only The One Absolute God, The Ten Sikh Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib.
  2. The Mulmantra contains The basic tenet of Sikh belief and The Sikh's Gur-mantra is Waheguru.
  3. Daily recite The five Banis namely, Japji, Jaap, Swayyas, Rahiras Chaupai and Kirtan-Sohila.
  4. Maintenance of The Five Ks: Kes, Kirpan, Kachh, Kara and Kanga.
  5. No stealing, plundering, gambling or exploitation of The poor.
  6. No coveting of anothers wealth or wife.
  7. No use of intoxicants like wine, hemp, opium, toddy etc.
  8. Do not commit any religious offense (Kurahit) like The removal of hair, The use of tobacco, eating Halal meat or adultery. If a Khalsa does any of these, he has to take Amrit again, after due penance.
  9. Do not perform any Hindu or other ritualistic ceremonies on occasions of birth, marriage or death in The family. Only Sikh ceremonies are to be performed.
  10. Follow no rituals such as Havans, Pitries (ancestor-feeding), worship of idols or of graves, tombs, monasteries or maths.
  11. Have no relationships with Minas, Dhir-malias, Ramrais and Massands.
In addition to The above instructions, Guru Gobind Singh also gave oral instructions to well-known Khalsa leaders like Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Desa Singh, Bhai Chaupa Singh. These were later written down and were called Rahat-Names(codes of conduct). He also gave some instructions to Bhai Nand Lal, The poet-laureate of his court, which is called Tankhah-Nama. The main points of these instructions are given below:
i) A Khalsa should not follow any ascetic practices of Yogis, Sanyasis etc. and should not follow any Tantra, Mantra or Jantra.
ii) He should not give his daughter in marriage to a Patit Sikh or accept any money for The marriage of his daughter from The boy's family.
iii) He should give one-tenth of his income to charitable or religious purposes.
iv) He should not wear a cap, hat or helmet.
v) He should not use any money from temple offerings or charity funds. If he happens to be a priest, a granthi or The caretaker of a Gurdwara, he should accept only what is necessary for his needs.
vi) He should marry within The Sikh Panth.
vii) He should not break his vows or any other promise he makes nor commit perjury or treachery.
viii) He should not listen to vulgar, profane or sexy songs.
ix) He should have his head covered whenever going out.
x) He should teach his children how to read The Guru Granth Sahib and understand its contents.
xi) He should use The Sikh greetings when greeting another Sikh, namely Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.
The above instructions form The main part of The Code of Discipline. They may be categorized under two headings: religious and social. The religious directives are in keeping with The Sikh tradition. The social directives are intended to make The Khalsa a good citizen and a responsible member of The community. The prohibition of theft, plunder, perjury, treachery, cheating, gambling and exploitation of The poor and weak sections of The community contribute to The smoothening of The course of normal social life and benefit The community as a whole. The bans on The use of alcohol and tobacco are intended to safeguard The health of The Khalsa. The Directives against The four misdemeanors, association with patits, Dhirmalias etc., The misuse of religious offerings and charities are meant to wean The Khalsa from religious misdeeds. All in all, The code is intended to make a Khalsa an ideal person.

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Q67. Is holy congregation (Satsang) necessary?

In Sikhism, great emphasis is laid on Satsang. By joining congregational prayers and making contact with saints The devotee comes to divine knowledge. The inspiration given by good people leads to The development of The spiritual personality. Holy people preach purity through personal example and kindle The heart with universal love. They warn The individual of The five great vices. Psychologically, The association with holy men helps as a deterrent against evil thoughts and deeds. Just as a tree which grows near a sandalwood tree acquires The fragrance of sandal, just as a metal when touched with The philospher's stone is transmuted into gold so in The same way, an ordinary man becomes ennoble and heroic in The company of holy men. In The company of The Truthful, a devotee learns The value of "The Truth".

Joining The company of saints, is also conductive to The discipline of The mind. One learns how to serve The community and work for The good of humanity. One acquires The technique of "The Name" and so comes to enjoy inner tranquility. According to Guru Nanak, " The company of saints is also The school of The Guru, where one learns Godly attributes." There evil is purged and destroyed, as if by a divine spark. Guru Arjan says, "The society of saints removes sin; The society of saints brings comforts in this world and The next."

Again and again, in The Guru Granth Sahib, a Sikh is required to seek The company of noble souls. A man is known by The company he keeps. In good company, he becomes good and sheds his evil tendencies. He will learn to be ashamed of doing anything which may bring him reproach.

Man's actions are so often motivated by The herd instinct. He does certain things as a matter of social convention, if his society becomes an instrument of his progress, he can rise to greater heights. For this reason, The Sikh in his general prayer - The Ardas - seeks The company of The holy and to contact virtuous men - Sadh Ka sang, Gurmukh da mel.

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Q68. How should we treat the apostates (Patits)?

The weak followers of any religion are likely to renounce their faith in fear or temptation, so it is, necessary to accept only those adherents who have a firm and sincere belief in the basic tenets of their religion.

It has been observed that some Sikhs become apostate - Patits - on account of mixing with bad company, when they go to foreign countries. Some people have told me that they shaved because otherwise they could not get employment. This is not always true, because some Keshdhair Sikhs are able to get decent jobs. It all depends on the qualifications of the individual Sikh. Some Sikhs may have shaved because they mixed with foreign girls and wanted to appear more acceptable to them, like so many things, a reflection of their human weakness.

Much depends on the strength and vitality of the individual's faith. Recently, a Sikh bus-conductor in England won the right to wear a turban on duty. Another Sikh who was not admitted to a recreation club received an apology from the management. If the Sikhs in the West maintain their form and symbols, the turban and the beard will become respected. Recently the Sikhs in Britain won the right of riding motorcycles with turbans instead of helmets. Similarly Sikhs with turbans have been allowed to join the U.S. Navy.

The reclamation of apostates should be given the greatest encouragement in any program of spiritual uplift. The apostates have to be persuaded to realize their shortcomings and weaknesses and convinced of the value of repentance and the turning over of a new leaf.

According to the Rahtnama, the Khalsa must maintain his tradition and individuality:

"As long as the Khalsa remains distinct,
His glory and lustre will grow,
Once he adopts Brahmanical ways
It will not be possible to trust him."
Many apostates, in their heart of hearts, realize that they have wronged themselves and their community, but do not have the moral courage to admit to their weakness. The only approach to Patits is to re-educate them and offer assistance in their return to the Sikh fold. Give understanding and sympathy, they may well react favourably to an approach by responsible Sikhs.

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Q69. Are there castes among the Sikhs?

Five hundred years ago, Guru Nanak introduced the concept of a casteless society. The Hindus rigidly adhered to the caste system which divided the community into water-tight compartments. This not only prevents social intercourse but also encourages fatalism.

According to Guru Nanak, no man is born high or low. Taking the image of the potter's wheel, Guru Arjan compared the different kinds of people to vessels of many types and patterns, but all made of clay. In spite of religious and social distinctions, all mankind is of one basic material common to all.

Many Indian saints and Bhagats(saints or seers) belonged to low castes, but this did not stand in the way of their spiritual attainment. They are still revered and worshipped on account of their saintliness. God's Name burns away all impurities and ennobles the individual.

According to Guru Nanak, caste is humbug. He writes: "From one Light the whole world came into being; so, who is good and who is bad?" Caste is man made division for selfish ends. According to Hinduism, one belonging to the lowest caste was not even regarded as worthy of religious instruction. Moreover, birth determines status and this could not be changed. This was against the Guru's basic belief in the right of every individual, to the opportunity for both social and spiritual uplift.

A man becomes high or low according to his actions. Only they are really depressed who forget the Lord. When Guru Nanak was asked about his own caste, he replied, "I belong to the lowest among the low castes." Kabir challenged the Brahmins and inquired if they were not born in the same way as men of the so-called low castes. Moreover, caste is of no consequence in the next world, or in the court of God.

Any consideration of caste in matters of matrimony should be discouraged. Caste distinctions were abolished by Guru Gobind Singh. When a disciple becomes a Khalsa, he renounces his previous caste and becomes a memeber of a casteless society:

"The caste of all mankind is one and the same."
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Q70. What is the basic creed of the Sikhs?

The basic creed of the Sikhs - the Mul Mantra - gives the idea of Reality in a few telling words. The creed is:
Ekoankar Satnam, Karta Purkh, Nirbhao, Nirvair, Akal Murat, Ajuni, Saibhang, Gur Parsad.
In these words, Guru Nanak praises God and mentions some of His great attributes: He is Truth, self-created, beyond the limits of time, He can be realized through the grace of the Guru. Let us study the meaning of each word of the Mul Mantra.

(a) Ekoankar :
The only One Absolute God who is forever unfolding. He is the Absolute - the Transcendental. As such, He is Unknowable, Unfathomable. He is beyond description and beyond human comprehension.

(b) Satnam :
His name is true. He really exists. He is not an idea or a hypothesis or an illusion. As one who exists, He is ever changing. He is never the same, evolving and growing. Everything exists in Him and is caused by Him. His name is Truth. He is formless - He is "The Holy spirit" - NAM.

(c) Karta Purkh :
He is the creator of the cosmos. He is responsible for the coming into existence of the whole universe.

(d) Nirbhao :
He is fearless. He is afraid of no one because He is the Lord of the universe.

(e) Nirvair :
He is without any enmity. His love and protection extend to all. This cuts at the root of the theory of the chosen prophets and the chosen people. Like God, a true Sikh must be fearless and impartial. This will help to establish equality and justice.

(f) Akal Murat :
He is Timeless. He is not subject to death.

(g) Ajuni :
He is unborn. God does not take birth in any manner. This is the very antithesis of the theory of incarnation.

(h) Saibhang :
He is self-existent. He is unique in His own right.

(i) Gur Prasad :
By the grace of the Guru, the Sikh can acquire knowledge of God

The short form of the creed is Ekonkar Satgur Prasad as used in the Guru Granth Sahib.

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Q71. What is the temple of Bread (Langar)?

The institution of "free kitchen" or the "temple of bread", as Puran Singh called it, was started by Guru Nanak. He desired that every Sikh should share his food with others - Wand Chhakna - and that his kitchen should be open to all. Subsequently the Langar took on an institution form and became a part of the Sikh temple. This community kitchen is meant to provide food to all devotees and pilgrims. Every Sikh is expected to contribute to it either by donating food stuff or by participating in the cooking and distribution of the food.

Guru Nanak set up a temple of bread at Kartar Pur where people brought corn and fuel, and worked together to prepare a common meal for the whole community. Guru Angad extended the Langar and personally served in it. Guru Amardas turned it into an institution and ordered that all who came to see him must first eat in Langar: food first, congregation next - pahley pangat, peechay sangat. Even the Emperor Akbar and the Raja of Haripur had to sit on the floor with the common people and take a meal with them. Apart from promoting social equality, the Langar eliminated taboos about chauka - the preparation of food in a special enclosures etc. The scope of "Langar" was widened by Guru Ramdas who ordered that water and meals be also served to travellers and squatters. Guru Arjan and his wife personally served water to the Sangat. They even massaged the weary travellers and fanned them to sleep.

Many of the Sikhs started their own Langars at Anadpur. One day, Guru Gobind Singh went out incognito on an inspection of Langars. He found out that Bhai Nand Lal maintained the Langar well, while others were indifferent to the needs of poor Sikhs. He warned them and remarked, "The mouths of the poor are Guru's receptacles of gifts."

According to Prof. Puran Singh, "What is a home but a hospitable feasting of children with bread, love and faith?" What is spiritual life in a temple of flesh without a full meal first? The very first temple made by Guru Nanak therefore, was the Temple of Bread or Guru's Langar.

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Q72. What is the scope of the comprehensive discipline in a Sikh's life?

In his personal life, a true Sikh has to follow a three-fold discipline: the discipline of the Word, the discipline of the Sacrament and the discipline of Service.

The discipline of The Word implies that the Sikhs must rise early in the morning, say about 4 a.m., take a bath and then meditate on The Name. He has to read daily five Banis: Japji, Jap Sahib, ten Swayyas, Rahras and Kirtan Sohila. He should visit the Gurdwara daily. If possible, he must sing hymns and read from the Guru Granth Sahib.

The discipline of the sacrament implies that the Sikh must follow the Sikh ceremonies at the time of birth, marriage and death. On all such occasions, he must conduct himself with dignity and equipoise and offer prayers suitable to the occasion.

The discipline of "Service" requires that the Sikh must serve his fellow-men to demonstrate his love of God. In the sphere of service, barriers of caste or creed or race must be ignored. Gurdwaras are places for service to the Sangat. A Sikh may sweep the floor, cleanse the utensils, polish the shoes or serve water. Langer provides an extensive field of service. A Sikh may contribute food-stuff and provisions, pay for fuel or untensils, fetch water or lend a helping hand in the cooking and distribution of food.

In corporate life, a Sikh is expected to do his duty to the community. He should take Amrit(Baptism) and encourage others to do the same. He should join the congregation - Sangat, and assist any Panthic meeting to arrive at decisions - Gurmata. He should also readily submit to disciplinary action in case of misdeeds or acts of indicipline. In short, he should take an active part in the corporate life of the Panth. Such a Sikh earns the Guru's grace.

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Q73. What is the routine of a Sikh?

Practical Sikhism is based on three pragmatic concepts Nam Japna, Kirt Karna and Wand Chhakna. This three-fold path signifies the remembrance of "The Name" performing honest labour for a living and sharing one's earnings with others. All is to be practised in daily life.

Guru Amardas advised Bhai Budda regarding an ideal Sikh's life. Some of the points are mentioned below:

A Sikh should serve the people and not touch money or property belonging to others. Let him share his joys and sorrows with his neighbours. He should eat only when he feels hungry and sleep only when he feels sleepy.

Let him resign himself to the Will of God and never find fault with any doings of his Creator. He should keep away from lust, anger and greed, not boast of his goodness or kindness. He shall practise charity and personal cleanlines. He should not tolerate any irreverance towards the Gurus. In short, let him mould his life and conduct according to the Guru's teachings.

Guru Ramdas laid down the following routine for a true Sikh. Let the Sikh get up at dawn and after bathing, meditate on the Divine Name and continue his meditation till sunrise. Then go out to earn his daily bread by honest means. Let his calling or work be such that it keeps him away from unfair and untruthful means. Let him repeat "The Name" or Gurbani while working or walking. After his day's work, let him again offer prayers before retiring for the night. The Guru seeks the dust of the feet of those who remember God's Name and who also encourage others to repeat "The Name".

The recommended pattern of life is that of a householder: Grahastimai-udas. The devotee should learn to remain contented and desireless while leading his life as a citizen. Let him raise himself above worldly temptation and become a model for others. With the Guru's Grace, he will lead a pious and clean life. It is a great advantage to maintain a diary of one's daily actions. Such a practice will deter one from bad deeds. Moreover, whenever convenient one should join the Sadh Sangat for Kirtan and Katha. Man amasses the dust of sin through numerous lives, his cleaning process will also be a long and arduous one.

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Q74. How can a man turn towards God?

Though it is not possible for man to become God, he may try to become God-like. According to Guru Arjan, there is no difference between the God-conscious soul and God.

A man of God may lead the life of a householder or an ascetic. He has to observe strict physical, moral and spiritual discipline. He is not affected by the five deadly sins of lust, anger, greed, attachment or pride. He speaks the truth and leads a pure life. He is indifferent to pain or pleasure, praise or blame. He is humble and weak in spirit. He loves to serve all human beings, birds, beasts. He sees God in all sentient and non-sentient objects.

The true devotee, to progress God-ward, must have complete faith in God. He should minimize his attachment to worldly desire. He should associate with holy people. He should always be ready to sacrifice everything and submit himself to the Will of God. He is not afraid of pain or suffering, when it comes from God. Suffering purifies the soul and makes it worthy to merit union with the Almighty.

The devotee must aspire to true knowledge. Acquiring a knowledge of the truth and practical true living are very important. He should engage whenever it is possible in meditation on "The Name": and think of God all the time.

A man of God does not remain idle or indifferent to another's suffering. He engages himself in act of love and charity. He feels happy in doing good to others. This helps in the elimination of selfishness and egoism.

An anchorite must keep clear of any temptations of pitfalls. For this, control over the mind is necessary.

Man in his period of human life should practise holiness so that he may ultimately unite with God and be free from the cycle of birth and death, Guru Arjan says:

"Fix your attention upon the Almighty and you may obtain honour at His court."
Such persons enjoy the companionship of God at all times.

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Q75. Is drinking permitted in Sikhism?

The Sikh Gurus banned the use of intoxicants including alcohal on account of its harmful effects. It is physically harmful and mentally disturbing. Man, under the influence of drink, loses the power to reason and normal action. Guru Amardas wrote in the Guru Granth Sahib(p. 554) against the use of wine by the Sikhs:
"One man offers wine and another pours it himself;
It makes him crazy and senseless and devoid of all reason.
Then one cannot distinguish between one's own and another's and is cursed by God.
Drinking it, one forsakes one's Master and is punished at the Lord's Court.
Yes, drink not this vicious wine, under any circumstances."
At another place the Guru wrote that the wages of drinking are sin and vice(p.553):
"The body is the pitcher, selfhood the wine;
And society is of craving and outgoing of the mind.
Yes, Desire is drinking bowl brimming over with falsehood;
And Yama is the bar-man.
Drinking such a wine, who can earn anything but vice and sin?"
Guru Gobind Singh in his Rahitnama addressed to Bhai Chaupa Singh banned the use of any intoxicating drink. A Sikh of the Guru should never drink wine. (Guru Ka Sikh Sharab Kadi Na Peevay).

Apart from religious injuction, scientists have proved that the frequent use of alcohol makes people addicts and they become aggressive and unruly. the custom of offering drinks to friends and guests is socially dangerous. And when taken in excess can have terrible effects on one's general health.

Drinking damages the liver, the heart and the brain. In the United States of Americal "alcoholism" is regarded as a disease to be controlled by society and government.

In Persian language, wine is called Sharaab which literally means 'the water of mischief.'

Let all Sikhs clearly understand that drinking is under no circumstances permitted in Sikh religion. The clear command in Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Rahet Maryada bans the use of any intoxicants by any Sikh.

Kabir says in Adi Granth:

"Whoever uses bhang, fish and wine;
Whatever pilgrimages, fasting and daily rites they may perform,
They all go to hell."
(A.G. p. 1377)
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Q76. What is the attitude of Sikh Faith towards non-vegetarian food?

The general directive of Guru Nanak with regard to food is: "Do not take that food which effects health, causes pain or suffering to the body or produces evil thoughts in the mind." (p. 16). There is a close connection between body and the mind so that the food that we eat affects both of them. Guru Ramdas has mentioned the three qualities created by God. These are Rajas(Activity or motion), Tamas (Resistance or darkness), Satav(Harmony or goodness). He says:

"God Himself created the three qualities and increased our love for worldly valuables" (p.1237). Food can also be categorized under these three qualities. For example, fresh and natural food is an example of Satav, fried and spicy food is of Rajas, while fermented, decomposed, preserve or frozen food is a kind of Tamas. If one eats heavy or spicy food, one's stomach easily gets upset. Overeating and heavy food should be avoided. Simple and natural food is best for healthy living.

There are references to matter of food in the Adi Granth. If one believes that all creation is a manifestation of God, the destruction of any living being or microorganism is an infringement of the natural right to live, Kabir says:

"If you say that God resides in all, why do you kill a hen?"
(A.G., p.1375)
He says:
"It is foolish to kill animals by cruelty and call it sanctified food."
(A.G. p. 1375)
"You kill life and call it an act of religion. Then what is irreligion?"
(A.G. p. 1103)
Though unnecessary killing or causing suffering to animals and birds for the sake of providing human food is to be avoided, vegetarianism should not be turned into a phobia or dogma.

Undoubtedly, animal food is largely used for satisfying the human palate. To eat meat only for the satisfaction of one's taste or appetite is not good. Kabir says, "You keep fasts in order to become acceptable to God, but kill a living animal for your relish." (A.G. p.483). This refers to the eating of meat by Muslims after breaking the religious fast.

The Gurus did not like the taboo on meat when more important things like control over desires or passion were ignored. It is far more important to kill the evil that pollutes the mind rather than abstain from meat. Impurities of the mind should be removed first, before labeling some food as pure and the other impure.

There is a passage in the Guru Granth Sahib which indicates the futility of the controversy regarding vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. It is said that when the Brahmins of Kurukshetra advocated the need and benefit of vegetarian food, Guru Nanak replied to them as under:

"Only the foolish quarrel over the desirability of eating flesh.
They are oblivious of true knowledge and meditation.
What is really flesh?
What is really vegetable-food?
Which one of is sin-infested?
They do not differentiate between good food and that which leads to sin....
Men are born of a mother's and father's blood yet they do not eat fish or meat ...
Meat is mentioned in the Puranas and the Katebas:
It has been used in Yajnas on marriages and festive occasions".
Equally fruitless is the debate on the question whether fish or eggs are included in non-vegetarian diet or not.

The Gurus neither advocated meat nor banned its use. They left it to the choice of the individual. There are passages against meat, in the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh however prohibited for the Khalsa the use of Halal or Kutha meat prepared in the Muslim ritualistic way. It may be noted that by tradition, meat is never served in the Guru Ka Langar (Free Kitchen).

Vegetarianism by itself cannot confer spiritual merit or lead to the door of salvation. Spiritual achievement depends on Sadhana or religious discipline. However, it has been observed by many saints that a vegetarian dies does help in Sadhana. Guru Amardas says:

"Those who take dirty food increase their filth;
such filth causes sorrow to the egocentric person."
The position with regard to the meat of the cow or beef, is that the Sikhs do not venerate the cow like the Hindus. The latter view the cow as a mother, because she supplies the milk to the child when the mother's milk fails. However, beef is not a taboo for the Sikhs as Halal is. A non-vegetarian Sikh can take beef or pork as readily as any other meat. For those who want to advance on the spiritual path, vegetarian food is generally recommended by holy men as it avoids the killing of animals and birds.
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