Sikhism/Janism Overview

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University of Toronto St. George
Andre Maintenay

SIKHISM: from Sikh-disciple. Community of Sikh-panth. Arose in context of Santh tradition-2 elements: bhakti(devotion) of formless being & yoga, especially hatha yoga. Rejected caste system. Poetry in vernacular. 10 GURUS: Nanak, Angad, Amardas, Ramdas, Arjan, Hargobindh, 10 Tegh th Bahadur. GURU NANAK:1469-1539. Biography form janam sakhis. Mystical experience. Given cup of amrit (nectar of immortality) form God. Responded with mul manta(primary mantra) which is part of all Sikh morning devotions. Settled in Punjab region. Emphasis on hymn-singing( kirtan) and meditation on the divine name( nam simaran). Insisted on practical labor. 10 GURUS: succession th hereditary after 4 guru. Angard began collection of Nanaks hymns and standardized script called gurmukshi(from gurus mouth). Continued langar system. Ramdas, Amritsar(pool of nectar of immortality( found. 5 guru:Arjan: harimandir Sahib(Golden Temple, honored temple of Hari(God) built. Supervision of compiling of Adi Granth. Gobindh: designated Adi Granth as future Guru. SACRED SCRIPTURES: principal sacred scripture: Adi Granth( first book, Guru Grant Sahib). Written in gurmukhi. Consists of devotional hymns of first 5 gurus and north Indian poets. Poems organized according to different ragas (musical modes) in which they are to be sung. Each raga, the bani (hymns) of the of the furus are presented in order, beginning with Nanak. After that is Dasam Granth( book of 10 ) attributed to Gorbindh Singh. Includes Jap Sahib ( master recitation) which recited as morning prayer, and shorter Japji (honored recitation) of Nanak. Gobindhs autobiography and poems attributable to hindu deities. Next is hymns of 2 Sikh poets, Gurdas Bhalla and Nand Lal Goya. Recitation in gurdwara. Centrality of Adhi Granth similar to Islam but devotion similar of Hindu deities. Granthi reader. Sweet food- karah prasada. KHALSA pure, elite group of Sikhs. Entire community of initiated Sikhs. Initiation by Gobindh Singh (panj pyare, 5 cherished ones). Khalsa includes women too. All initiated required to wear 5 items of dress at all times: panj kakke(5 Ks): 1. kes(uncut hairbeard) 2. kangha(comb in hair) 3. kirpan(daggersword) 4. kara(steel ring in wrist) 5. Kachh(shorts)-also add Singh and Kaur. All initiated sip amrit, and are called amrit dhari. Khalsa way of life summarized in Rahit(path)-rules governing faith and practice in 4 areas: 1) doctrine regarding, deity, gurus, sacred scripture. 2)personal conduct 3)proper observance of rituals 4) procedure for discipline those who violate code . 4 NOTIONS OF GURUSHIP: GOD: formless, invisible, beyond attributes. Sikhs experience divine as personal experience. Several names given: Akal purakh(timess person, formless, niankar) Sath Guru(true teacher), Sat Kartar (true creator) vaighuru-hail to the god. Nam represents more than name, its the deitys essence and identity. TEACHER. SCRIPTURE: gift from God. Sikhs consider Granths hymns to be divinely inspired even though theyre explicitly attributed to human beings. COMMUNITY panth. PRAYER: 3 times a day-morning(nanaks japji, mul mantra and long Japji) evening(Rehtas) hymns of 5 gurus, Bedtime( sohita, hymn of joy). No set day for congregational prayers. Main activity-kirtan-singing of hymns from scriptures. LIFE CYCLE RITUALS: marriage, funeral. Initiation. REFORM MOVEMENTS: Punjab unified under Mahraja Ranjit Singh(1780-1839). Sikhs masters of own territory. Then annexed by british. Boundary between Hinduism and sikh difficult to draw.Nirankaris: Dyal Das, renew Sikhism by rejecting hindu practices, esp worship of images. Namdharis: Ram Singh. Vegetarian diet, all white dress and chanting of divine name. th gobindh did not die but is hiding and Ram singh 12 guru. Singh sabha: in 1873. To counter Sikh communitys losses to Christian missionary activity. Education emphasized. Purging Sikhism of hindu influences. 20 CENTURY: killed minister Indra Gandhi after demanding independent
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