5 Beliefs Essential to Sikhism

Definition of a Sikh

Who is a Sikh? Five basic beliefs are essential to Sikhism as outlined by the code of conduction that determine the definition of a Sikh.

Guru Nanak, the first Guru, taught that one God is manifest in all of creation. Nanak and the nine other gurus who succeeded him made vital contributions to Sikhism. Their collective teachings are the basis of the Sikh the gurmat code of conduct. Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, established the method of Sikh Baptism. He bequeathed the title of Guru to the Sikh scripture.

A Sikh is defined by the Sikh Rehit Maryada (SRM) code of conduct and conventions as a person who has faith in:

  • One God
  • The ten gurus
  • The scripture of the Guru Granth
  • Gurmat guidelines of the ten gurus teachings
  • Sikh baptism and initiation

These are the five beliefs essential to Sikhism.

01
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Ik Onkar - One God
Ik Onkar - One God. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Ik Onkar is the Sikh symbol that represents the concept of One God, a fundamental belief essential to Sikhism. Sikh scriptures are written in the gurmukhi script. Ik represents the numeral one. The symbol Onkar symbolizes the creative principle manifest in all of creation.

02
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Golden Temple Engraving of Guru Nanak, Mardana, and Bala
Golden Temple Engraving of Guru Nanak, Mardana, and Bala. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

The founders of Sikhism are the ten gurus:

  1. Nanak Dev - Born 1469
    Enthroned as Guru from 1507 - 1539
  2. Angad Dev - Born 1504
    Enthroned as Guru from 1539 - 1552
  3. Amar Das - Born 1479
    Enthroned as Guru from 1552 - 1574
  4. Ram Das - Born 1534
    Enthroned as Guru from 1574 - 1581
  5. Arjun Dev - Born 1563
    Enthroned as Guru from 1581 - 1606
  6. Har Gobind - Born 1595
    Enthroned as Guru from 1606 - 1644
  7. Har Rai - Born 1630
    Enthroned as Guru from 1644 - 1661
  8. Har Krishan - Born 1656
    Enthroned as Guru from 1661 - 1664
  9. Tegh Bahudur - Born 1621
    Enthroned as Guru from 1665 - 1675
  10. Gobind Singh - Born 1666
    Enthroned as Guru from 1675 - 1708

Each made unique contributions essential to Sikhism.

03
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Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

Guru Granth, a single volume of 1430 pages, is the sacred scripture of Sikhs. The inspirational verses of Guru Granth are written in the Gurmukhi script. Arjun Dev, began compiling the volume with the poetry of Nanak Dev. Gobind Singh completed the Guru Granth. At the time of his death, he bequeathed the title of Guru to the Granth. The scripture of the Granth is now, and forever, Guru of the Sikhs. Sikhs believe the scripture is the guide to the path of enlightenment.

04
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Sikh Code of Conduct
Sikh Code of Conduct. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Sikh principles are based on the teachings of the ten gurus and scripture of Guru Granth. The gurus taught that enlightenment is possible for ordinary people who choose to meditate on God, and live according to a code of moral ethics. These guidelines for conduct are known to Sikhs as gurmat. They include both the personal, and communal, aspects of living required for every Sikh. Gurmat classes and camps are held at most gurdwaras.
 

05
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Amritsanchar
Amritsanchar. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

Amrit is the name of the Sikh baptism ceremony. The word Amrit means immortalizing nectar. During the ceremony, a sweet drink is prepared while reciting sacred prayers. It is given to initiates to drink. Initiates agree to live according to a code of conduct. In a symbolic gesture of giving their head to their guru, they signify a willingness to adopt humility as a way of life, in order to overcome ego, and achieve salvation. Guru Gobind Singh arranged the first Amrit ceremony in 1699.