Sikhism is the most simple and straightforward religion, but it is a tragedy that various vested interests have tried to misinterpret the philosophy of Sikhism. The Hindu elite have, since long, been trying to define Sikhism as an offshoot of Hinduism because, according to them, most of the Sikhs have/had their roots in Hindu families. The Indian regime too is bent upon labelling the Sikhs as a branch of Hinduism. Sikhs have not been granted independent identity in the Indian constitution.. Due to this the Sikh representatives had rejected and refused to give their assent to it.
The theological principles, the articles of faith, the way of life, rites and rituals etc of the Sikhs are altogether different from those of the Hindus but the Indian government has, still, denied the Sikhs their right to have a separate law of their own. The Hind law has been forced upon them against their will.
Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak Sahib. Guru Nanak Sahib was born in a Hindu family but he never adopted Hindu religion. On the other hand he rejected Hinduism and its rituals. He refused to wear Janeo (a thread which is sacred to the Hindus). For a Hindu Janeo is obligatory (though most of the Hindus have forsaken it now). Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was born in a Quraishi family. He founded Islam and rejected the religion of the Quraishi Arabians. It will be wrong to call Islam as a branch of old Arabian religious belief. Moses, the founder of Judaism, was born in a family which worshipped idols. Moses rejected idol worship. Christ was born to Jewish parents. No one will define Christianity as an offshoot of Judaism. Similarly, Guru Nanak Sahib, though born to Hindu parents, founded a distinct religion. It is ignorance (or conspiracy) to call Sikhism as an offshoot of Hinduism. Guru Nanak Sahib had proclaimed in unequivocal words that the Sikhs are “neither Hindus nor Muslims” (na ham Hindu na Musalman). Before his death Guru Nanak Sahib appointed Guru Angad Sahib as his successor and merged his light in the light of Guru Angad Sahib. Guru Sahib fulfilled his mission in ten lives (Guru Nanak sahib to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib). Guru Gobind Singh Sahib installed Guru Granth Sahib as Guru-Eternal of the Sikhs on October 6, 1708, thus granting the status of Guru to the Word.
Sikhism is an independent religion. It does not have roots in any other religion or ideology. Like Hinduism, it is not mere ritualistic way of life. It has no superiority of any special caste, class, country colour or gender. Sikhism does not consider this world as unreal; of course it is Maya (illusion). It advocates oneness of spiritual and temporal domains. In Sikhism the king is a spiritual humanitarian ruler. Sikhism teaches non-attachment for the worldly things. On the other hand, Hinduism is a conglomeration of paradoxical concepts and teachings.
Sikhism does have it origin in the Indian subcontinent but the Sikhs are not Hindus. Guru Nanak Sahib and his successors had clarified it in unequivocal words:
We are neither Hindus nor Muslims (p. 1136)
Muslims and Hindus have different paths (Bhai Gurdas)
At Mecca, when some Muslims asked Guru Nanak Sahib: “who, according to your book (ideology), are superior, the Hindus or the Muslims?”. Guru Sahib replied, “Both of them (Hindus and the Muslims) are suffering because they do not live a Truthful life.” (Bhai Gurdas)
One has Tasbih (the Muslim rosary); the others have Mala (the Hindu rosary)
One reads Purans (the Hindu holy book) the others read Quran (the Muslim holy book)
(Guru Granth Sahib)
Guru Gobind Singh Sahib gave strict command to the Sikhs:
Only one’s (God’s) spirit is all-prevalent, never bow before any one else. Love only the Almighty; never worship tombs, Samadhs or mausoleums. Pilgrimage, charity, mercy, penance, abstinence are meaningless. Only God should be worshipped.When the spirit of the Almighty reveals itself in one’s heart, only then a Khalsa becomes God’s own. (Dasam Granth)
So, it is crystal clear from the above hymns that Guru Sahib had declared that Sikhism is altogether different from Hinduism as well as Islam. He initiated the Sikhs, gave them their uniform and a national name (Singh/Kaur). Guru Sahib made five Kakars (articles of faith) obligatory for every Sikhs. Thus, he gave the Sikhs a complete separate identity and entity, altogether different from the rest of the world. Guru Sahib has given, not only distinct form but also an independent religious culture which is unknown to Hinduism or Islam:
Mantra: The Hindus have their Gayatri mantra, the Muslims have their Kalma and the Sikhs have Waheguru.
Manglacharan: The Hindus have “om shri ganesh namah“, the Muslims have “Bismillah” the Sikhs have “Ik onkar satgur parsad“.
Mode of greeting: the Hindus use “Ram Ram Namaste”, the Muslims say “Aslaamlekum” the Sikhs have Waheguruji da Khalsa, Waheguruji Di Fateh.”
Religious scriptures: The Hindus have faith in Vedas, the Muslims worship Quran, the Sikhs have their Guru Granth Sahib.
5. Holy places of pilgrimage: The Hindus go to Ganga, the Muslims visit Mecca and Median, and the Sikhs (though they visit Nanakana Sahib, Amritsar, Anandpur Sahib etc.) have an obligation to have the pilgrimage of Word. (Tirath nahavan jao tirath naam hai).
Direction of worship: The Hindus make pilgrimage towards east, the Muslims towards west but the Sikhs believe that God is present everywhere and in all directions.
7. Time of bath: The Hindus take bath after sunrise, the Muslims have Wuzoo (washing hands and mouth) before Namaz, the Sikhs have shower every day early in the morning but they do no believe that bathing leads to liberation.
8. Rituals: The Hindus have the rituals of wearing Janeo and Mundan (shaving head at the time of the death of one’s father) the Muslims have Sunnat (circumcision). The Sikhs have Khandey Di Pahul.
9. Charity: The Hindus give charity to Pandits, the Muslims have Zakat, and the Sikhs have the system of Daswandh. For a Sikh feeding a poor man is like making offering to Guru Sahib. (Gharib da munh Guru di golak).
10. Articles of faith: Hindus have Tilak, Mala and Janeo, the Muslims have their Tasbih, and the Sikhs have five Kakars (Kes, Kangha, Kara, Kachhehara, and Kirpaan).
To conclude, one can say that the Hindus, the Muslims and the Sikhs have their separate faiths; none of them have any thing in common with each other. As far as the Sikhs and the Hindus are concerned, both have an altogether different religious culture. The Hindus worship millions of mythological gods and goddesses but for a Sikhs it is strictly forbidden to have faith in any one except the Almighty:
Do not believe in any one except one and the only one God, the Almighty, who was ever existent, who never comes in human form, who is never born nor dies.
(Guru Granth Sahib)
2. Those who worship a servant (god/goddess) instead of master (God) are blind, ignorant and are going astray. (Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1238-39)
3. Only fools are under the influence of gods and goddesses.
4. I do not worship Ganesha, nor I mediate upon the name of Krishna or Vishnu. (Guru Gobind Singh Sahib)
5. Worship only the Almighty. Praise Him only. (Sukhmani Sahib)
6. I shall worship none but God. One achieves every thing with His Blessing.
(Guru Gobind Singh Sahib)
Hindus believe in caste system. For them a Brahmin is to be worshipped (even if he is a debauched) because he was (according to Brahmins) born from the mouth of Brahma (a funny theory of origin ). According to Hinduism, only Brahmin has a right to charity from Khatris, Vaish, Rajput etc. It is only Brahmin who has a right to be respected and honoured. As the Sudras were born (according to the Hindus) from the feet of Brahma, they are the lowliest and have no right even to perform worship. They do not have a right even to come face to face with a Brahmin. But, Guru Sahib declared that in Sikhism every one has equal right to worship. There can be no distinction of caste or creed, gender or colour.
We are all children of One Father (Guru Granth Sahib p. 611)
All the people have one base. (Guru Granth Sahib p.83)
O Pandit when did you become Brahmin ?
Do not waste your life by calling yourself a Brahmin
If you are a Brahmin born out of the womb of a Brahmin woman, why were you not born in a different manner (not from womb of a woman). (Kabir, Guru Granth Sahib p. 324)
All are born with the same spirit (of the Almighty) in them (Guru Granth Sahib p. 324)
Guru Sahib brought an end to the concept of high and low caste. Those who live their lives in accordance with His Command are real Gyani (the enlightened ones). Guru Sahib banished the Hindu rituals and taboos of fasting, Sutak (ablution) etc.
In Hinduism, the worship of idols of the mythological gods and goddesses has great importance, but Sikhism rejects it altogether and prohibits it:
Those who worship stones are ignorant and foolish (Guru Granth Sahib p. 556)
Those who consider stones as the Almighty
Their worship is meaningless (fruitless).
Those who bow before idols
Their whole spiritual effort is fruitless.
Our God is ever in communication with us,
He speaks to us (through Word).
He blesses everyone with bountiful gifts.
The Hindus cut their hair but all the Guru Sahib had unshorn hair. Keeping unshorn hair is one of the major obligations for a Sikh. In Sikh faith even God is believed to be one with long unshorn hair. (Guru Granth Sahib p. 567)
If we go through the pages of history, we learn that though Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib laid down his life for the Hindus but the Hindus always proved ungrateful. The hill rulers who attacked Guru Sahib at Anandpur Sahib and at other places were Hindus. The Hindus have committed several acts of sacrilege of the Sikh shrines. The Hindus have perpetrated atrocities on the Sikhs numerous times. In fact the Hindus have jealousy for Sikhism because Guru Sahib created the Sikh as a supreme human being.
A Sikh is free from the Hindu taboos of rituals, auspiciousness of day/time/moment, good and bad omens, fasts, Sharadhs (rituals for the deceased), charity etc. For a Sikh real worship and ritual is recitation of five Banis (hymns). A Sikh must not bow before any living or non-living human being. There is no so-called saint, living Guru, god/goddess in Sikhism. Only the Name of the Almighty is to be worshipped.
Guru Gobind Singh Sahib got several books of Hindu mythology (Chandi Charitra, Krishanawtar, Ramawtar, Chaubisawtar) translated into Punjabi not with a purpose of worshipping these so-called gods and goddesses but in order to expose them. These so-called gods and goddesses are figures of fiction. They seem to be, in fact, strange persons e.g. jealous of each other, political, diplomatic, conspiracy making feudal. They do not seem to be godly in any manner. Besides, Guru Sahib, in unequivocal words, asked the Sikhs to reject them. In these mythological works there are some ballads of chivalry, bravery, which Guru sahib wanted to narrate in order to invoke spirit of fearlessness and Righteousness among the Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib said;
I do not worship Ganesha
I do not ever worship Krishan or Vishnu
I do not consider them even as such (gods)
I concentrate only on the feet of the Almighty
Since I have found a place in Your feet (O Almighty),
I don’t even look at any one else
Ram, Rahim, Puran, Quaran tell a lot but I don’t even bother for them
Simritis, Shastras, Vedas, explain different things but I do not consider them of any worth
O Almighty! by Your Grace I have learnt it all from Your Word
The Sikhs do not have any linguistic boundaries. Gurbani of Guru Sahib, though in Gurmukhi script, has been written in different languages. A Sikh may use and adopt any language for communication, he is free to do so.
Guru Sahib revealed Khalsa in order to bring an end to injustice. He brought an end to caste hierarchy and gave initiation of Khanda to each and every one alike. He raised a nation almost from nothingness and made them a great chivalrous and generous people. Later, this nation brought an end to atrocities of the terrorist invaders from Afghanistan. These Sikhs saved the people of the land. They (the Sikhs) got released thousands of the daughters of the Hindus, unlike the Rajputs who offered their daughters to the Moghuls to win their favour. Had there not been Guru Gobind Singh Sahib there would not have been a single Hindu in this zone. To quote a Muslim poet like Sayyad Bulleh Shah:
I don’t talk of here and there, I will say the truth only;
Had there not been Guru Gobind Singh all the Hinds would have got circumcision.
Guru Sahib told the Sikhs to remain distinct. A Sikh must not have social or personal relations with the one who has shaved his head after having once adopted the Sikh faith. A Sikh must not marry a non-Sikh. Practice of female infanticide is strictly forbidden in Sikhism. Getting a daughter married to a clean-shaven (Hindu or any other person) is a sin for a Sikh. Such a person does not remain a member of the Sikh brotherhood. Cutting hair from any part of his/her body makes a Sikh a Patit (an apostate). To quote Guru Gobind Singh Sahib:
So long Khalsa preserves its identity
I Shall bless it with all my power
But, when it adopts Brahminic (Hindu) ways
I shall not protect them.
Guru Sahib did give the message of unity and mutual harmony and we must not forget it but we can not be one with the Hindus as far as religious philosophy is concerned. Hence, even a clean-shaven person is not acceptable in the court of Guru Sahib. Some Patits (apostate) have tried to assert that one should be a Sikh in one’s heart only and the articles of faith are of no importance. It is all their illusion. A Sikh is a Sikh and he has to live as a Sikh if he/she needs salvation. A Sikh has an obligation to abide by the command of Guru Sahib.
Hindu religion wants to engulf Sikhism in its fold as it has already done the same to Buddhism and Jainism. India’s communal government, which comprises mainly of the Arya Samajists, is bent upon annihilation of the minorities. Its major target is the Sikhs. The following points are a proof of the intentions of the Hindus regarding the Sikh nation:
The Hindu regime issued a circular within less than two months of India’s independence calling the Sikhs as a lawless people and ordered the police should take special measures against them.
It refused to carve out a Punjabi-speaking province. Almost all the Punjabi speaking Hindus declared Hindi as their mother tongue during the census of India in 1951 and 1961.
3. The Hindus burnt the Sikh religious literature several times and committed the acts of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib.
4. The Hindus committed several acts of sacrilege of the Gurdwaras. The government did never take any action against these criminals. Even if some criminals were arrested while throwing cigarettes in the Darbar Sahib Sarovar, they were not given any punishment.
Sikhs wearing Kirpaans are insulted at the Indian airports.
During the Asian Games (1982), the Sikhs were banned from entering Delhi.
The Indian government gives financial aid, patronises and felicitates in every manner all those cults and organisations which harm the Sikh religion. Not only the government but also the Hindu leaders in general are ardent supporters of anti-Sikh cults like Nirankaris, Namdharis and Radhasoamis.
8. Initiated Sikhs have, several times, become targets of persecution, arrests, and torture at the hands of the police and the Hindu mobs. Killing a Sikh youth in fake encounter has been a common phenomenon in the whole of India.
9. The Sikhs are discriminated against in appointments and promotions in public as well as private sector.
The Sikhs are accepted as a nation and a race by the international authorities. Even Britain and Canada amended some of their laws because these laws clashed with the religious rights of the Sikh nation. India too should amend its constitution and those laws, which are the cause of discrimination. The Sikhs must have their own Personal/Family Law like the Christians, Muslims, Parsis and the Jews.
Indian rulers should understand one thing that the Sikhs will never become Hindus even if they are refused their rights. Even persecution can not annihilate the Sikhs. So, to create a cordial atmosphere the Indian regime should grant the Sikhs their legitimate rights and stop calling them an offshoot of the Hindus. The Sikhs are the Sikhs and Sikhs only.