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The definition of Sikh


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The definition of Sikh

In the ‘Sikh reht maryada’, there has been written a definition of a Sikh. The ‘Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee’ has published its English Translation too.

According to the translation, this is the definition of Sikh: -

“Any human being, who faithfully believes in

(1) One immortal Being,

(2) Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev to Guru Gobind Singh,

(3) The Guru Granth Sahib,

(4) The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus and

(5) The baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru,

And who does not owe allegiance to any other religion, is a Sikh.”

Often, we ignore the deep meanings of a simple definition. In the definition of Sikh, ‘Sikh reht maryada’ has made every point clear. Even then, some people are trying to create confusion about the definition of a Sikh.

The points given in the ‘Sikh reht maryada’ have been discussed in this article.

In original script of ‘Sikh reht maryada’, which is in Punjabi language, words ‘istree jaan purash’ (woman or man) have been used. So, it is clear, according to ‘Sikh reht maryada’, that word ‘Sikh’ is used both for a male and a female.

Word ‘Sikhni’ also has been used for a Sikh woman, as word ‘Singhni’ is used for an Amritdhari woman. Even in this ‘Sikh reht maryada’, the word ‘Sikhni’ has been used (see the second point of the portion describing ‘Sadharan Path’ and the first point of the portion ‘Anand sanskar’). Although grammatically word ‘Sikh’ is a masculine word and ‘Sikhni’ is feminine, in practical this word is used for both genders.

First condition for a Sikh is he/she believes in the God. He/she cannot be an atheist. Word ‘Sikh’ has also been used in ancient Buddhist scriptures for the Buddhists. The Buddhists are believed to be atheists. But according to ‘Sikh reht maryada’, a Sikh in ‘Sikhism’ believes in the God. This is his first characteristic. It is impossible to think about a nonbeliever Sikh. If we go deep into this point, we can get conclusion that a Sikh cannot join any such a political/social/cultural organization, which promotes atheism. A Sikh has been ordered to preach theism: -

“Aap japo avrah Naam japaavoh.” (Chant the Naam yourself, and inspire others to chant it as well).

(Sri Sukhmani Sahib, in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, page 289).

Grammatically, word ‘Sikh’ means disciple. It is also translated as ‘student’. Actually word ‘Sikh’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Shishya’ (disciple). This word has been used in this meaning sometimes in Guru Granth Sahib too. For example, “Kabeer Sikh saakha bahutey keeye, Kesho keeyo naa meet.” (Kabeer! you have made many students and disciples, but you have not made God your friend). (Guru Granth Sahib, page 1369). So, we see that the word ‘Sikh’ has generally been used for any disciple of any Guru in old scriptures. To differentiate from others, there has been told another characteristic of a ‘Sikh’ in Sikhism.

A Sikh is a person who believes in ten Gurus, (from Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Guru Gobind Singh) and Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Now word ‘Sikh’ is a proper noun. For us, word ‘Sikh’ means ‘a Sikh of Guru Nanak-Guru Gobind Singh-Guru Granth Sahib’. Now for the entire world, the word ‘Sikh’ means ‘a Sikh of Guru Nanak-Guru Gobind Singh-Guru Granth Sahib’. ‘A Sikh of Gautam Buddha’ is a ‘Buddhist’. ‘A Sikh of Kabeer’ is ‘Kabeer Panthee’. But ‘a Sikh of Guru Nanak-Gobind Singh-Guru Granth Sahib’ is ‘the Sikh’. No need to know what old dictionaries say about word ‘Sikh’.

Many people tried to preach their own opinions under the name of Sikhism. They tried to use word ‘Sikh’ for their followers, but in vain. Some of them are now known as ‘Nirankaris’. Some of them are now known as ‘Naamdharis’. They can call themselves ‘Nirankari-sikh’ and ‘Naamdhari-sikh’, not just a ‘Sikh’ because a ‘Sikh’ means a ‘Sikh of Guru Nanak-Gobind Singh-Guru Granth’. This is the point we must understand.

‘Sikh reht maryada’ made another point very clear. A Sikh is a person, who believes in ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib’. Word ‘Guru’ is very important. It is ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib’, not just ‘Granth Sahib’. It means that a Sikh is a person who believes that this ‘Granth’ (book) is his ‘Guru’. There is not any other Guru for him/her. He/she does not accept any other living human being as his/her Guru. If someone does so, he/she has right to, but one thing is certain that he/she is not a ‘Sikh’, according to ‘Sikh reht maryada’. So, ‘Sikh reht maryada’ indicates that a ‘Sikh’ does not accept any living human being as his/her Guru. Only Sri Guru Granth Sahib is his/her Guru.

A Sikh obeys the sacred hymns of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. But there are holy hymns of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, which are not included in Guru Granth Sahib Ji. So, ‘Sikh reht maryada’ says that a Sikh obeys the sacred hymns of ten Gurus. Thus, a Sikh is a person who believes in Gurbani (holy hymns of ten Gurus), whether it is written in Guru Granth Sahib, or not.

A Sikh also believes in the ‘Amrit by the tenth Guru’. (‘Sikh reht maryada’ also describes how this ‘Amrit’ can be prepared.) Only ‘the five beloved ones’ have right to baptize (to give Amrit) anyone.

Last characteristic of a Sikh is that he/she does not believe in any other religion.

Thus, according to ‘Sikh reht maryada’, any male or female, who believes in One Immortal Being, ten Gurus (from Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Sri Guru Gobind Singh Sahib), Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the sacred hymns and teaching of the ten Gurus, and tenth Guru’s Amrit; and who does not believe in any other religion, is a Sikh.

-Amrit Pal Singh 'Amrit'


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