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The Sikhs Essay, Research Paper

In the year 1469 a man named

Guru Nanak was born into a Punjabi-Hindu family. His

name means "He who was born at the home of his mother’s

parents", which was in Talwandi, near Labone ("Sikhs"

647). We know little about Nanak’s life but a lot about his

beliefs from a book called " Adi Granth" or " Granth Sahib",

which means holy book. Some of his beliefs were the reality

of "karma" and "reincarnation".These are beliefs that our

actions in this life determine how high or low we’ll be in our

next life. The Hindus and Muslims believe it is best to

worship, missionize, study and write the sacred scriptures,

and other religious public actions and behaviors. Nanak

believed that this is wrong. He felt that the people should be

involved in inward meditation to the God, Akal Purakh

(Nanak was a monotheist, believing in one god). Nanak

believed that Akal Purakh is the almighty creator and

sustainer of the universe and he has no form. If one is truly

devoted to Akal then Akal may reveal himself to you in

"nam" or the divine name. Since Akal created the world and

everything in it then, the world can be considered an

expression of "nam",(McLeod 5). Akal, to reveal himself

through "nam", speaks the "sabad" or divine word, through a

loyal believer. This believer acts as the eternal guru, or

teacher, speaking in the mystical voice of Akal through the

"sabad". A guru can achieve this divine harmony with Akal

by the practice of "nam simaran". This can be accomplished

in many ways. One way is by the repeating of a "mantra", a

word that expresses the divine reality. Another way is to sing

devotional songs or even to have deep mystical

concentration. Guru Nanak attracted many disciples, or

"sikha" (this is where the name Sikh comes from). These

"sikhas" were the original Sikhs. Before Guru Nanak died he

appointed a successor from among his disciples to be the

second guru. This started the chain of the ten Sikh gurus

which lasted 439 years from the birth of Nanak to the death

of Gobind Singh, the tenth guru, in the year 1708, ("Hindus

and Sikhs" 11). Nanak appointed as his successor Lehna or

Lahina, who later changed his name to Angad (Angada was

a lesser legendary hero of that time). Guru Angad is the

person responsible for the thinking up the idea of a "Granth

Sahib", the holy book. Angad appointed as his successor

Amar Das, who did two things that differed from Nanak’s

beliefs. He made his own village, Goindual, a city for

pilgrims, though Nanak said that missionizing was not good.

In addition, Amar Das collected materials for the forming of

"Granth Sahib", though Nanak said you shouldn’t make

sacred writings. Guru Amar Das appointed, as his

successor, his son-in-law Jetha or Ram Das. Guru Ram Das

built the golden temple in Amritsar on the land given to him

by emperor Akbor. Before then the Guru- ship was given to

someone who deserved it, but from that point on it was

given to a family member. So, Ram Das gave it to his third

son Arjan Dev, a legendary hero of his time. Guru Arjan

Dev put together the "Granth Sahib", supposedly taking it

from the works of Amar Das. Before he died, Guru Arjan

told his son Hargobind to wear, when he became Guru, not

one but two swords because one stood for "piri", the

continuing authority of the Guru and the other stood for

"miri" the newly assumed secular authority (McLeod 4). It

was from his secular authority that the Panth or Sikh

community developed, always arming themselves out of fear

of the Mughal forces. The death of Arjan is not clear but it

probably did occur while he was in Mughal custody. Guru

Hargobind was forced to change the Panth from

Nanak-Panth, the Panth similar to the days of Nanak, to a

military Panth. After Guru Hargobind, Hari Rai took over. In

his days, and in the short days of the next guru, Guru Hari

Krishan, the Mughal authorities didn’t disturb the Sikhs.

After these two gurus, Tegh Bahadun became the next guru.

Guru Tegh Bahadun was beheaded by Aurangzeb in 1675

for not accepting Islam ("Sikhs" 647). After him came the

last guru, Guru Gobind Singh. Gobind Singh had to do

"pahul", the Sikh initiation. The Sikh initiation involves stirring

together sugar with water with a two-sided dagger. This

mixture must be drunk by the person about to be inititated.

After this ritual water, water and sugar, drinking, the person

purifies himself five times. After this, he then yells the Sikh

war cry and forever wears the five k’s. They are "kes" which

is uncut hair, "kachh", pants reaching only to the knee,

"kara", an iron bangle, "kirpan", a sword (or "khanda", a

small dagger), and "khanga", a hair comb. The first four of

five k’s have soldierly uses and Guru Gobind Singh was an

excellent warrior. He also instituted the "kara parshad",

when flour is mixed with butter and sugar and all castes eat it

together. This was done in order to destroy the caste system

so that no one could feel superior to their neighbor. In 1708

Guru Gobind Singh was assassinated at Nander in the

Deccan. Nowadays, the Sikhs are fighting with the Indian

government for a separate homeland for themselves in

Punjab. In 1984, after the Sikhs assassinated the Prime

Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, Hindus rioted and killed

hundreds of Sikhs. Since that time, the amount of violent

crimes and murders by Sikhs and to Sikhs has been growing

rapidly. Sikh terrorists, or rather militants, freedom-fighters

or "majheddin", as they like to be called, killed over one

thousand people in 1987 and almost twice that amount in

1988, ("Hindus and Sikhs" 11). In 1990, the Sikhs killed

almost four thousand five hundred people in their attempt to

gain independence, the highest amount for any year,

("Throwing Punches" 30). Newspapers and magazines in the

United States have written about many of the horrible acts of

terror occuring right now in India. One article told of Sikh

militants fighting Indian police in Bombay, seven

hundred-eighty miles southwest of Punjab ("Sikhs Attack

Bombay" A12). The Indian police seem to be very afraid of

the violence of the Sikhs. It has been reported that the police

are willing to pay children thirty rupees, the equivalent of

$1.70 a day, to fight Sikhs. Unfortunately, many of these

children either run away with the guns given to them by the

police or join the Sikh militants, ("Throwing Punches" 30) It

is very dangerous for journalists to write about the Sikhs. In

the past few years. seventeen journalists have been killed by

the Sikhs because they have written unfavorable articles

about the Sikhs and their terrorist activities, ("Throwing

Punches" 30). A recent Sikh terrorist act involved Sikh

"freedom-fighters" stopping a train in Punjab. They boarded

the train and killed forty-seven innocent people,

("Forty-seven Killed" A1). Sikhism has changed from the

time of Guru Nanak, where it was a peaceful, inward religion

to the present where there is much violence by the Sikhs and

pride in their violent ways. Bibliography "Forty-seven Killed

by Sikh Militants". Wall Street Journal 27 Dec. 1991: A1

"Hindus and Sikhs". Scholastic Update 10 Mar. 1989: 11

McLeod, W. H. The Sikhs. N.Y.: Columbia University

Press, 1986. "Sikhs". Encyclopedia Brittanica. 1963 edition.

"Sikhs Attack Bombay" New York Times 6 Mar. 1992:

A12 "Throwing Punches in Punjab" The Economist 5 Jan.

1991: 30

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