The Sikhs are the most interesting people in the whole of India. They appear on the stage of life everywhere and in every walk of life as men and women of action. The hidden spirit and potential energy of a Sikh give them a peculiar dignity. A Sikh believes that GOD is always present with him, to help and guide him. This feeling has made them not only adventurous but also bold and fearless. They can dare anything and endure everything under the sun in the name of GOD, Guru and Granth.
The story of the rise and development of Sikhism is one of the most stirring and striking chapters in world history. It is a people’s movement based on democracy, secularism and socialism, without any barriers of caste, colour or country.
The appearance of a great man is not an isolated event or a mere accident. A great man is invariably the product of his age. Guru Nanak (1469 - 1539), the founder of the Sikh religion, was not an exception to this rule.
In Europe it was an age of Renaissance, Reformation and geographical discoveries. In Italy there was an outburst of activity in fine arts. The renowned masters. Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519), Michelangelo (1475 - 1564), and Raphael (1483 - 1520), made a lasting contribution. Colet founded the first Grammar School of St. Paul's in London in 1510. Erasmus opened the Corpus Christi College at Oxford in 1516. Martin Luther, a German professor, began Reformation in 1517. Colvin (1509 - 1564) took up this work in Switzerland. Columbus, an Italian, discovered the sea route to America in 1492. Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese, found the sea route to India in 1498. In 1519 another Portuguese, Ferdinand Magellan, made the first voyage round the world. The establishment of Tidor rule in Britain in 1485 heralded political awakening and ushered in the modern age.
India, with its great ancient civilisation and culture, could not remain unaffected. Hinduism, though ground to dust by the country’s foreign rulers, began to assert itself in the most inoffensive form. It was the Bhakti movement of which Guru Nanak was a prominent exponent. Its main object was to give hope to the suppressed Hindu community and to check forcible conversion of lower classes to Islam.
The Gurus laid emphasis on the worship of one GOD only through simran and bhakti. This has made the Sikhs the most vital community. The Sikh faith in the sword is a faith in sacrifice. The story of martyrdom of Guru Arjan, Guru Tegh Bahader, Guru Gobind Singh and his four sons together with thousands of other heroes, is one of the richest treasures in the world history.
The ancient sages divided the life of a Hindu into four equal parts:
Brahmcharya ashram or student life,
Grihastha ashram or householder
Vanprastha ashram or householder-retirement or sadhu or life of preparation for renunciation and
Sanyas ashram or life of complete renunciation or yogi.
The Sikh Gurus gave only one stage to human life, living with parents, brothers, sisters and other relatives and then raising one’s own family, viz. Griha stha ashram. The first five Gurus were the builders and the last five were defenders of the faith. Guru Nanak was a teacher and master. Guru Gobind Singh was a comrade and leader.
The sacred book of the Sikhs was called Pothi Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh while ending physical guruship called it Granth. It is a combination of two words, Gur and Ant. Meaning the Eternal Guru. The Sikhs named it Adi Granth or the original holy book. Guru Gobind Singh’s compositions were collectively called the Dasam Granth. Adi Granth signifies Bhakti or religious devotion, while the Dasam Granth represents Shakti or living force of the Sikhs.
As a matter of fact the Sikh Character is a combination of bhakti and Shakti. Shakti can be displayed not only in martial activities, but also in agriculture, business, and industry and in other professions, as well as in mutual wrangles, dacoity and murders