Wednesday, November 11

History of Sikh

Sikh means student. This was the name given to the followers of Guru Nanak, who lived and worked from 1469 to 1539 in Punjab, a five-stream country divided between Pakistan and India in 1947. After a calling experience, Nanak was restlessly on the move to proclaim his reformist message of the one unchanging, unconditionally loving God and the ability of all people to redeem regardless of class, caste, gender or action. Islam had spread in India, and from the 16th century the Mughal dynasty was to expand its rule far. Even before Nanak there were protest movements against the rigid forms of the established religions. From Islamic Sufism as well as from the Hindu Bhakti movement came criticism of traditional temple rites and sacrificial practices. Bhakti means “devotion” and refers to the loving devotion of man to God and God to man. In the concern of a direct relationship with God, yes, the union of the soul with God, which God grants by free grace, mystical traditions from Islam and the Indian religion meet. An important representative in the tradition of the popular Indian Sants (“saints”), who represented such a monotheistic relationship to God beyond Islam and Hinduism with great charisma, was Kabir (1440-1518). 

Like him, Nanak went harshly with those responsible for the prevailing social and political situation and criticized the secular way of life as well as religious ritualism and the Hindu cult of images in countless hymns. In the concern of a direct relationship with God, yes, the union of the soul with God, which God grants by free grace, mystical traditions from Islam and the Indian religion meet. An important representative in the tradition of the popular Indian Sants (“saints”), who represented such a monotheistic relationship to God beyond Islam and Hinduism with great charisma, was Kabir (1440-1518). Like him, Nanak went harshly with those responsible for the prevailing social and political situation and criticized the secular way of life as well as religious ritualism and the Hindu cult of images in countless hymns. In the concern of a direct relationship with God, yes, the union of the soul with God, which God grants by free grace, mystical traditions from Islam and the Indian religion meet. 

An important representative in the tradition of the popular Indian Sants (“saints”), who represented such a monotheistic relationship to God beyond Islam and Hinduism with great charisma, was Kabir (1440-1518). Like him, Nanak went harshly with those responsible for the prevailing social and political situation and criticized the secular way of life as well as religious ritualism and the Hindu cult of images in countless hymns. An important representative in the tradition of the popular Indian Sants (“saints”), who represented such a monotheistic relationship to God beyond Islam and Hinduism with great charisma, was Kabir (1440-1518). Like him, Nanak went harshly with those responsible for the prevailing social and political situation and criticized the secular way of life as well as religious ritualism and the Hindu cult of images in countless hymns. An important representative in the tradition of the popular Indian Sants (“saints”), who represented such a monotheistic relationship to God beyond Islam and Hinduism with great charisma, was Kabir (1440-1518). Like him, Nanak went harshly with those responsible for the prevailing social and political situation and criticized the secular way of life as well as religious ritualism and the Hindu cult of images in countless hymns.

Nanak did not profess any religion, but he was recognized as a guru and emphasized the importance of the living master for the path to God. His nine successors, who were each determined by the predecessor, consolidated the religious community, so that over time the self-confidence of their own religion developed. Thus, among the first gurus, their own festivals and places of pilgrimage were set up, the first collections of hymns were created, the free kitchen (common food for all, Guru Ka Langar) institutionalized as well as the equal treatment of men and women, poor and rich regardless of caste membership. The foundation of the later Amritsar (“nectar pool”), which became the center of the Sikhs, goes back to the fourth Guru Ram Das. His son Arjan (1581-1606) had the central shrine of the Sikhs built in the pond, today’s “Golden Temple” ( Harimandir), which is symbolic of the openness for everyone from all four directions. Guru Arjan also did the first editing of the Adi Granth (the “original book”), the sacred scriptures of the Sikhs, which are kept in the Harimandir and continuously read. After Arjan became the first martyr of the Sikhs, there was a dramatic change from the original pacifist attitude towards the militarization of the Sikhs under the sixth guru, Hargobind. 

Hargobind introduced the two-sword teaching ( Miri and Piri ). The tenth and last of the human gurus, Gobind Singh (1675-1708), who also fought against the Mughals, finally completed this development by becoming the Khalsafounded (community of the “pure”), a religious brotherhood in arms, which from then on formed the “hard core” of the Sikhs. Of paramount importance was his decision not to appoint another human successor, but to transfer his functions to Adi Granth, who was completed by further hymn works. The book was given the title Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Granth Sahib or Guru Granth (“Scripture Guru”) for short and should be the only master from now on.

The sword baptism performed by Gobind in 1699 on “Five Beloved Ones ” (from different castes!) Is the model of today’s baptismal rite ( khande di pahul ), with which one is accepted into the Khalsa and committed to certain rules of conduct ( rahit ). These include the “five Ks” as identifying marks: kesh, the unshaved body hair and the turban, kangha, the wooden comb for grooming, kara, an iron or steel bracelet, kirpan, a dagger or sword for self-defense, as well as kaccha,comfortable cotton shorts. The typical naming that all men receive the surname Singh (“lion”) and all women the surname Kaur (“princess”) – also a sign of caste membership – is said to go back to Gobind Singh.

The period that followed demanded a willingness to fight from the farmers and warriors who shape the image of the Sikhs, which is also symbolically reflected in the khanda, the weapon emblem of the Khalsa. It is known as the Sikh symbol: a double-edged dagger in front of a steel throwing ring, flanked by the two crossed swords Miri and Piri. Not all Sikhs became members of the Khalsa, roughly 15 percent. In addition, other groups were made, although the Panth (path) of the Sikhs follow, but only partially Rahit rules or instead comply with other rules: such as the Keshdhari, the Sahajdhari, the Udasi and the AkaliSikhs. External and internal factors strengthened the Khalsa as a self-confident representative of Sikhism in the long term.

At the beginning of the 19th century there was a Sikh kingdom in Punjab, which came to an end in 1849 when the British colonial power came to it. The Sikhs came to terms with the British, who above all valued their reliability and their military skills. Even today, every fifth officer in the Indian army is a Sikh (with 2 percent of the population). However, there have been repeated attempts by radical Sikh groups to enforce more autonomy or even independence for the Sikhs. A dramatic escalation occurred in June 1984 when the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by Indian government troops resulted in a bloodbath (Operation Blue Star). As a result, the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her Sikh bodyguards. Under the pressure of circumstances, many Sikhs left their homeland.