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Lecture 14

Lecture 14 - jainism and sikhism

Course Code
Andre Maintenay

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RLG 100/280 - LECTURE 14
from sikh (“disciple”)
• community of SikhsPanth
• arose in context of Sant tradition (N. India)
Guru Nanak (1469-1539) – first Sikh Guru
-biography drawn from janam-sakhis
-had mystical experience – given cup of amrit (“nectar of immortality”) from God
-responded with mul mantra (“primary” mantra)
• Nanak ad followers settled in Punjab region (N.E. India)
• emphasis on meditation, hymn-singing, recollection of God’s name (influence of bhakti and
• 9 successors (Gurus) to Nanak – succession hereditary after 4th Guru (Ramdas)
• under Ramdas, Amrtisar (“pool of the nectar of immortality”) founded
• under 5th Guru (Arjan), Harimandir Sahib (Golden Temple) built
Adi Granth compiled under Arjan (formal readers of Adi Granth – granthis)
• sacred textAdi Granth (“first book,” composed of works by Nanak and later saints)
-granthi: official reader of Adi Granth
• 10th guru, Gobind Singh (1666-1708), formed the Khalsa – elite group of Sikhs
-designated the Adi Granth as future Guru – Guru Granth Sahib
-gave male Khalsa members name Singh (“lion”), female Kaur (“princess)
• 5 distinct marks of male members of Khalsa (panj kakke, or 5 Ks)
• growth of Sikh self-identity, independence in particular in 18th-19th c.
• independent consolidated state of Punjab under Ranjit Singh (1780-1839)
• 19th & 20th c. – reform movements (particular emphasis on distinction from Hinduism)
calls by some for independent Sikh state (in some extreme cases led to violence – e.g.,
occupation of and attack upon Golden Temple in 1984)
gurdwara – place of gathering/worship (with special room where Adi Granth is housed)
langar – communal meal after every service
• important Indian festivals celebrated with Sikh interpretation
-particularly Baisakhi (orVaisakhi), April 13th
• central conceptahimsa (“non-harmfulness)
• Jain/Jaina from jina (“victor”) – those who have achieved liberation and become great teachers
-also called tirthankaras (“ford-builders)
• 24 tirthankaras in a life-cycle – most recent Nataputta Vardhamana, or Mahavira (“great
hero”), trad. 599-527 BCE
• no creator God – tirthankaras revered over gods
• karma physically real – accumulates on soul, keeps it bound to samsara
-strict ahimsa to avoid bad karma (including vegetarianism, in some cases veganism)
sallekhana – ritual fasting unto death (not considered suicide)
• universe made up of two realitiesjiva (“soul or “spirit) & ajiva (“non-soul,” i.e., matter)
Five Principles (mahavrata): ahimsa; truthfulness; non-stealing; sexual purity; non-
• two main sects (split c. 4th c. BCE) – Digambara (“sky-clad”) and Svetambara (“white-clad”)