Sikhism. Gurus. Founding of the Religion The word Sikh

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1 Sikhism SLMS/10 Sikhism is a religion that originated in northern India during the late 1400s in the waning years of the Delhi Sultanate. By world history standards, the religion is a young one. Sikhism is practiced by approximately million people -- making it the world s fifth largest religion. Most Sikhs are found in the northern Punjab region of India, but many have relocated because of Indian persecution, and can be found across the globe. Founding of the Religion The word Sikh means learner. Sikhism was founded in the 15th century by Guru Nanak, who was the first of the Gurus, or teachers, of Sikhism. Ten more would follow. At the time, there was significant conflict between Hindus and Muslims in India. Guru Nanak suggested There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim meaning there is a brotherhood of humanity that links all men (and women). Guru Nanak sought the pathway to God, and believed it could be found within through meditation and prayer. Gurus There are eleven Gurus in Sikhism -- ten in human form, and one written book. Sikhs believe that Guru Nanak s spirit was passed from one Guru to the next. Important Gurus include Guru Amar Das, who began to establish the community of Sikh believers, Guru Arjan Sahib, who was persecuted and martyred for the faith, and the final human Guru Gobind Singh, who decreed that Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book) would be the final and perpetual Guru (again, Guru means teacher). Beliefs Sikhs are very firmly monotheistic. Guru Nanak described God as shapeless, timeless, infinite and omnipresent, and believed that the path to God could only be pursued through prayer and meditation. Ceremony and ritual were outward displays that would not lead to a relationship with God and thus, were of little use. God is seen as genderless, and in Sikhism, there is an equality of men and women, as women are allowed full participation in all aspects of faith. Sikhs seek a spiritual union with God which results in salvation. This may take several lifetimes, as Sikhs embrace the Hindu notions of reincarnation and karma. However, they reject idol worship, caste and monastic life. The challenge of a Sikh life: to live in the world finding the way and will of God, while not allowing themselves to be corrupted by the world s evils -- ego, anger, greed, attachment and lust. Ultimately, a Sikh is anyone who believes in one God, the teachings of the Gurus and does not embrace any other religion. Most historians believe Sikhism to be a blend of Hinduism and the Sufi sect of Islam -- while many Sikhs believe their religion to be a purification of Hinduism.

2 Sikh Worship Sikhs worship in a gurdwara, or temple. The most important temple for Sikhs is located in the city of Amritsar in the Punjab province it is called the Golden Temple. The temple was constructed during the lives of the 4th and 5th Gurus, and although it is a very holy place for Sikhs, all visitors are welcome, regardless of sex. religion, or ethnicity. A lake (Sar) of Amrit (holy water) surrounds the temple. There are several Sikh holidays many of them fall on the birthdays of Gurus, or the martyrdom day of Gurus. Vaisakhi is important as a festival of thanksgiving. Persecution The Sikhs have a long and bloody history of persecution. Many Gurus were martyred (killed for their faith). The 8 and 9 year old sons of Guru Gobind Singh were walled in alive when they refused to convert to Islam. Sikhs were terribly persecuted by the Mughal Dynasty the Muslim Empire that ruled India from Sikhs refused to convert to Islam and were often tortured before being executed. The most recent mass persecution incident occurred in 1984 when Indira Gandhi, the prime minister of India, ordered an attack on the Golden Temple. Sikh militants were holed up in the Temple, and the government wanted them arrested. The attack occurred on one of the holiest holidays for Sikhs, and the temple was filled with innocent women and children who were slaughtered by the Indian forces. On some level the Sikhs got their revenge, as Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. Symbols The symbol of Sikhism is the Khanda. In the Khanda is a central, double-edged sword representing belief in God. The circle is also a traditional Sikh weapon but represents the eternal nature of God, with no beginning and no end. The curved sword on the left represents truth and the one on the right represents willingness to fight for what is right. Additionally, if a Sikh decides to undergo Amrit - a special purification ceremony then he must wear the five symbols of Sikhism. The five symbols of Sikhism are Kesh uncut hair, Kangha a comb, Kirpan a steel dagger, Kara the steel bangle, and Kachh a special undergarment. These symbols were instituted by Guru Gobind Singh in order to make Sikhs easily identifyable and to force Sikhs to stand up for their prinicples. Impact on Believers Sikhs generally maintain a very tight-knit community of believers. As a result, nearly all marriages are arranged by parents with other community members. This is true even in western nations like Britain or the United States. Sikhs who have undergone Amrit have a specific dress code which includes the five symbols and their long hair is usually wrapped in a turban. They also become vegetarians and do not drink alcohol. In general, Sikhs who do not undergo Amrit have no dietary restrictions, and may drink alcohol, but not to the point of drunkenness. However, they are not allowed to smoke.

3 AP World History Sikhism 1. When and where did Sikhism originate? Name 6. Sikhs are: monotheistic polytheistic (circle one) 7. How did Guru Nanak perceive God? 2. How many people practice it? 3. Define: Sikh - 8. How did one pursue God? Guru - 9. What are other Sikh beliefs? 4. Who founded Sikhism? What did he seek? 10. Where do Sikhs worship? 5. List 5 Gurus & their contributions. Guru Contribution What is the most important temple for Sikhs? Where is it located? What are some Sikh holidays? 4. 5.

4 13. What is the major symbol of Sikhism? 17. Why have Sikhs been persecuted? 14. What do its parts represent? 18. What is an ancient and modern example of persecution? 15. What is Amrit? 16. What are the 5 symbols of Sikhism? 19. How does Sikhism impact the lives of believers? Analysis: 20. Why might persecution be a key to the establishment of a religion? 21. In what ways is Sikhism similar to other monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), and in what ways is it different? Similarities Differences

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