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The chief end an purpose of life is unification with God

The word "Sikhism" derives from "Sikh," which means a strong and able disciple. There are about 16 million Sikhs worldwide, making Sikhism the 5th or 6th largest religion in the world, on a par with Judaism. The majority of Sikhs live in India, primarily in the state of Punjab. Large populations of Sikhs can also be found in the UK, Canada, and the United States.

Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak Dev, who was born in 1469 to a Hindu family. After a series of pilgrimages to Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bengal and Mecca, he began emphasizing that religion should become the basis for bringing people together rather than driving them apart. He was particularly concerned about the conflict between Hindus and Muslims in India. His most famous saying is, "There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim, so whose path shall I follow? I shall follow the path of God."

While retaining the Hindu belief in the transmigration of souls and reincarnation, Guru Nanak taught that one could escape the cycle of death and rebirth by living rightly. The ultimate goal of life is not to enter paradise or heaven, but rather to be united so completely with God that the chasm between the human and the divine is dissolved. In this respect, Sikh belief compares to eastern or mystical strains of Christianity in which unification with God is the chief end and purpose of life, rather than salvation. Sikhs also emphasize the love, grace and justice of God, another parallel with Christianity.

Sikhs aim to live in a way that balances work, worship and charity. Community is emphasized, and the Sikh temple (gurdwara) is the center of Sikh communal life. The most easily observable Sikh practice is the wearing of a turban.

Websites on or about Sikism

The Sikhism Home Page
Contains lots of great images and pictures, along with text on philosophy, scriptures, origin, development, way of life, and a detailed glossary.

Sikhism: History, Beliefs, Practices, Etc.
Gives basic information on Sikhs (and on other religions) in a concise manner, with a section on the fairly recent "Sikh dispute concerning furniture."

Contains discussions and articles on Sikhism. Also links to other religions for comparison. Special features: Sikh Jeopardy and Sikh crossword puzzles in the Young Khalsa homepage section, which has a link on the main page.

Intro to Sikhism
Answers many specific questions about Sikhism in a simple question-answer format.

Burning Punjab
Gives detailed reports on Operation Bluestar, Sikh martyrdom and genocide, human rights, and others. Describes itself as "Punjab's First Ever Media Site on Sikh Holocaust."

Abuse of the Human Rights of Sikhs in India
Has graphic pictures of victims of the recent conflicts, explains all of the instances that occurred in 1984.

General information on Sikhism, gurdwaras and the Reht Maryada -- the official Sikh Code of Conduct, along with information on the annual Sikh Games in Australia and a link to that site.

History of the Sikhs
Everything about Sikh history, even from before Guru Nanak's time.

BBC World Service: Sikhism
Full of clearly-presented, basic information of Sikhs, as well as a link to a dictionary of Sikh-related terms.

Fort: Panth Khalsa
A great summary of Sikh beliefs, eyewitness accounts of Operation Bluestar, history of Sikh Sovereignty and information about several Sikh leaders being held against their will.

Khalsa Networks
Contains very pro-Sikh articles about Sikh martyrdom and persecution.

Bharat Rakshak Consortium of Indiam Military website
A pro-Indian/Hindu view of the Bluestar conflict. Takes a day-by-day approach to their side of the story.

Khalistan: The New Global Reality
Articles that focus on the Khalistan and movements to further its establishment.

Council of Khalistan
Has many articles in relation to Sikhs and American politics, and also articles on Sikhism in India.

Sikh Seek: The Sikhism web guide for finding anything Sikh
Links to anything and everything related to Sikhism.

Sikhism, thy name is Love and Sacrifice
With audio and video files and many colorful pictures, this site provides basic information on Sikhism, but is also detailed enough to interest Sikhs themselves.

Gurpal Samra's Sikhism Page
Not very informative, but has a collection of great pictures of temples; also includes a link to a pictoral history of Sikhism.

Edmonton Community Network's comparative page
A good resource for links to Sikhism as well as to Jainism and Hinduism for comparison.

Aimed at Sikhs in their everyday life (less on Sikhism itself), but still very interesting and educating on Sikh life outside of the actual religion.

The Sikhnet Work
Another site geared more towards Sikhs, but with interesting and current information for non-Sikhs as well.

Sikhism as defined by widely respected reference works:

Sikhism. Indian monotheistic religion founded in the late 15th century by Guru Nanak. Most of its 18 million members, called Sikhs, live in the Punjab, the site of their holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, and the centre of Sikh authority, the Akal Takht. The Adi Granth is the canonical scripture of Sikhism. Its theology is based on a supreme God who governs with justice and grace. Human beings, irrespective of caste and gender distinctions, have the opportunity to become one with God. The basic human flaw of self-centredness can be overcome through proper reverence for God, commitment to hard work, service to humanity, and sharing the fruits of one's labour.

Sikhs consider themselves disciples of the 10 Gurus. They accept the Hindu ideas of samsara and karma, and they view themselves as the Khalsa, a chosen race of soldier-saints committed to a Spartan code of conduct and a crusade for righteousness. The emblems of the Khalsa, called the five K's, are kes (uncut hair), kangha (a comb), kachha (long shorts), kirpan (a sword), and karka (a steel bracelet).

From Wendy Doniger, ed., Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions1 (1999). Text © Merriam-Webster, Inc


Indian religion founded in the Punjab in the late 15th century. Its members are known as Sikhs. The Sikhs call their faith Gurmat (Punjabi: “the Way of the Guru”). According to Sikh tradition, Sikhism was established by Guru Nanak (1469–1539) and subsequently led by a succession of nine other Gurus. All 10 human Gurus, Sikhs believe, were inhabited by a single spirit. Upon the death of the 10th, Guru Gobind Singh (1666–1708), the spirit of the eternal Guru transferred itself to the sacred scripture of Sikhism, Guru Granth Sahib (“The Granth as the Guru”), also known as the Adi Granth (“First Volume”), which thereafter was regarded as the sole Guru. In the early 21st century there were nearly 25 million Sikhs worldwide, the great majority of them living in the Indian state of Punjab.

From Encyclopædia Britannica Online Premium Service. 2006  

Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.

For further information about Charles Henderson.