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Sikhism is the faith of the modern age. How How ????????????


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Sikhism is the faith of the modern age. How long would it take

to be that from what it is now? If our religion is so great, then why do

people ask me, “What is your religion?” and say, “ I have never heard of

that religion before.”

(i) The Sikh religion has already been recognized to be a faith for the modern age. If

some persons ask you about your religion it is because of their simple ignorance. There is so

much in this world to keep the minds of the people occupied that they do not even know where

London is or who Budha was. We should do whatever we can to remove their ignorance of the

people (we may be equally ignorant about others); rather, we should do whatever we can to

remove their ignorance.

The World Conference of Religions for Peace, in 1979, was actually endorsing the basic

principles of the Sikh faith when they, in their meeting at New Jersey, concluded.

Too often the names and practices of our religions have been associated with warfare

and strife.

Now we must reverse this by:

(a) Breaking down barriers of prejudice and hostility between religious communities and

institutions.

(B) Confronting the powers of the world with the teachings of our religions rather than conforming

to them when they act contrary to the well-being of humanity.

© Building inter-religious understanding in our local communities particularly where prejudices

run strong.

The above statements are the basic principles of the Sikh faith reworded in modern

language. The Gurus preached these principles of religious tolerance and brotherhood of

humanity five hundred years ago when they said:

The whole humanity is one brotherhood and God is the only Father for us all. (Page 611 Guru Granth Sahib)

The Gurus remembered God by many names, e.g., Ram, Gobind, Hari, Allah, Rahim,

Karim, etc., then used by the followers of different religions. The Guru Granth Sahib is the only

Holy Scripture which mentions with respect all such names and which includes the writings of

holy people born in different religions. Kabir is a so-called low caste weaver, Farid is a Muslim,

Ravidas is a shoe-maker and considered an untouchable by Hindus, Nam Dev is a calico printer,

a low caste, and Dhanna is a simple farmer. The hymns of more than 2 dozen such holy men are

included in the Adi Guru Granth Sahib in addition to the hymns of the Gurus.

Guru Nanak preached that there is one God, one humanity and one faith. His founding of

the institution of Sangat (praying together as equals) and Pangat (eating together as equals

without any discrimination or favor to anyone, whatever one’s faith, caste, color, etc.) to educate

people regarding the brotherhood of man, makes the Sikh faith the religion for the modern age.

Five hundred years earlier the followers of different religions were quarreling (some are doing so

even today) to prove their religion to be better than that of the others. Guru Nanak preached that

not hollow rituals but sincere actions benefit a person here and after his death. He declared that

it is futile to argue which religion or which name of god is better than the other. All names,

whether God, Ram, or Allah, are equally good. What matters is one’s love for Him and His

children. In the same way, a child can address his father as dad, papa, or daddy, but it is the

love and respect for the father which matters and not the name the child uses to address him.

The opinion of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, quoted above, shows a

U-turn from the old stand of the religious leaders. Earlier the leaders believed (some even

believe now) that their religion is the only true religion and unless a person accepts that religion,

he will not be saved. Now, they have come to realize that their old beliefs do not fit with the

modern thinking and will not be accepted in the future. Human equality and non-insistence on a

particular way of worshiping God were preached by Guru Nanak to release the masses from the clutches of pseudo-religious people. These Sikh principles have now been accepted by religious leaders and scholars as a faith for the modern age and a hope for peace.

(ii) Here are some of the comments of modern scholars regarding the Sikh philosophy.

The opinions of Professor Toynbee, Pearl S. Buck, a Nobel Laureate, and H.L. Bradshaw have

already been given. (see introduction)

According to another scholar, John C. Archer,

“ The religion of the Adi Granth is a universal and practical

religion.......Due to ancient prejudices of the Sikhs it could

not spread in the world. The world needs today its message of peace and love.”

Dorothy Field in her book, The religion of the Sikhs, writes:

Pure Sikhism is far above dependence on Hindu rituals

and is capable of a distinct position as a world religion so

long as the Sikhs maintain their distinctiveness. The relig-

ion is also one which should appeal to the occidental mind.

It is essentially a practical religion. If judged from the pra-

gmatic stand point which is a favorite point of view in some

quarters, it would rank almost first in the world.

It will not be out of place to mention the comments of a Hindu mystic. Swami Nitya Nand (expired at the age of 135 years) writes in his book, Gur Gian:

I, in the company of my guru, Brahma Nand Ji went to

Mathra while on a pilgrimage tour..., we reached Punjab

and there we met Swami Stya Nand Udasi. He explained

the philosophy and religious practices of Nanak in such

a way that Swami Brahma Nand Hi enjoyed a mystic lore.

During the visit to the Golden Temple, Amritsar his soul

was affected so much that he became a devotee of the

Guru. After spending some time in Punjab he went to

Hardwar. Though he was hale and hearty, one day I saw

sifted sand for the whole of my life. The truth was in the

House of Nanak. I will have to take one more birth in

that House, only then will I attain Kalyan.” After saying

that the soul left his body.

I also constantly meditate on Waheguru revealed

by Nanak. First, I practiced Yoga Asnas under the guid-

ance of Yogis and did that for many years. The bliss and

peace which I enjoy now, were never obtained earlier.

When the world religions are named today, Sikhism is named among the top six; they

are Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. Sikhs do not form even 2%

of the population of the country of their origin - India. The basic principles of the Sikh philosophy

and contributions of the Sikhs to society have raised the status of their faith to that of a unique

universal world religion. Unparalleled sacrifices were made by them to fight against state

terrorism for protecting human rights and religious freedom of common people.

Having mentioned the opinions of some world scholars and mystics, the reader is left to

decide himself/herself regarding the ranking of Sikhism among the world faiths. He/she also has

to decide what his/her part is in educating society about these basic principles of the faith and

the history of the Sikhs.

(iii) If a person asks you “ What is your religion?” it reveals his ignorance about the Sikh

faith while it shows indifference on the part of the Sikhs themselves towards their faith. Many

Sikhs themselves are not clear about the basic principles of their faith, its philosophy and its

contributions to human rights. If the Sikhs themselves know this and explain it to their friends by

living according to the Sikh principles, (not just knowing and talking about them) the world will

know within a short period of time about Sikhism and its greatness.

All humans are born illiterate and ignorant. We have schools to teach people languages,

art, science, etc. Parents also spend a lot of time at home to educate their children. Even then,

(there should be no surprise) many American youth don't know where the headquarters of the

United Nations are. People do not know about Sikhs because there is too much to be known and

they are too busy in other pursuits of life. It is we who have to tell them about Sikhism, they are

going to learn about it themselves, but very slowly. A few have already found it as mentioned

above. Their writings are going to influence many more to know about the Sikh faith and guide

their lives accordingly.

Think of the Christians who are all around us. Not just millions or billions, but trillions of

dollars are being spend to preach Christianity. Christians are the rulers holding political power in

their hands. They were once virtual rulers of the whole world. National holidays and social

events are chosen according to Christian holy days. BUT STILL many youth are not accepting

and are not attracted towards it. In his recently published book, For Christ’s Sake, Tom Harper of the Toronto Star has the following to say.

Christianity may well be thriving in parts of Africa and Asia

today, but in the West Christian faith is eroding at an

alarming rate. Secular humanism is fast becoming the

prevailing “religion” of the Western world. For instance, it

is no longer true to describe either Canada or England as a

Christian country, since the vast majority of their respective

populations have no traditional ties with any religious body

(the Church of England has closed nine hundred churches

since 1974). Added to this the fact that only a small fraction

of children and young people now receive any religious inst-

ruction whatever, and the prognosis for the year 2000 looks

very bleak indeed. The so-called mainline churches have

much to learn about the use of mass media in communicating

their message, but no amount of technical sophistication

will avail unless the message itself is one that makes sense.

The last sentence is very significant. The above reference has been given here to tell

the readers that the correct message is very important for the new generation. Along with this,

the method of education is also very important. Sikhs have the correct message but they have not developed the correct educational system. This is the responsibility which falls on the shoulders of the Sikh youth. It is they who have to learn the basic principles of Sikhism, practice them in their life, and be a model for the rest of the youth. They have to adopt the modern methods to explain Sikhism to the youth of the modern age.

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