Due to the tragedy in Oak Creek, I have been curious to learn more about Sikhism. So, I did some on-line research.
A Sikh website stated that there are over 20 million Sikhs in the wold while Wikipedia said that there are over 30 million believers which makes it the fifth largest world religion. The word "Sikh" means "student" or "disciple" in the Punjabi language.
The Sikh website listed five beliefs:
1. "There is only one God. He is the same God for all people of all religions." Harmeet Singh stated in a Youtube video that there are many words for the same God.
2. "The soul goes through cycles of births and deaths before it reaches the human form. The goal of our life is to lead an exemplary existence so that one may merge with God. Sikhs should remember God at all times and practice living a virtuous and truthful life while maintaining a balance between their spiritual obligations and temporal obligations." According to the Sikh site, the founder of the religion was married and had children. So, he felt that one could be a holy man but still commit to having a wife and family.
3. "The true path to achieving salvation and merging with God does not require renunciation of the world or celibacy, but living the life of a householder, earning a honest living and avoiding worldly temptations and sins." Wikipedia defined salvation as unity with God and listed five evils which are ego, anger, greed, attachment and lust. It further stated that these five evils can distract and separate one from God.
4. "Sikhism condemns blind rituals such as fasting, visiting places of pilgrimage, superstitions, worship of the dead, idol worship etc." Wikipedia stated that salvation is gained through devotions rather than religious ceremonies.
5. "Sikhism preaches that people of different races, religions or sex are all equal in the eyes of God. It teaches the full equality of men and women. Women can participate in any religious function or perform any Sikh ceremony or lead the congregation in prayer." Sikhism was founded and developed in the midst of Islam and Hinduism. So, Sikhs opposed the inequality of the caste system of Hinduism. I think this is why equality is such a foundational belief for them.
The founder of this faith was Guru Nanak (1469-1539). The word Guru is a Sanskrit word meaning "teacher, honoured person, religious person or saint" according to the Sikh website. There were nine Gurus who succeeded Guru Nanak until 1708. Then the last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, named the holy scripture as the last Guru. The holy scripture is named Guru Granth Sahib. The Sikh site stated that their holy scriptures even has some writings from "saints of other faiths."