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ARC Home > Faiths and Ecology > Sikhism > Sikh beliefs :

What do Sikhs believe?

What do you think?

how might the famous Sikh hospitality try to be greener?

what would happen on a Sikh Environment Day?

How many trees can a Sikh plant in one hour?

What does an EcoSikh do?

Sikhism - the vital statistics

  • Sikhism was started about 600 years ago in the Indian state of Punjab by Guru Nanak, the first of the religion's gurus (teachers). The word Sikh means disciple or student.
  • Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth human guru, decided that he should be succeeded by Guru Grant Sahib, the sacred text of Sikhism. This happened in 1708.
  • It is the fifth largest religion in the world with about 30 million adherents, of whom three quarters live in the Punjab.
  • Sikhism is noted for the distinctive turbans worn by Sikh men to contain their long, uncut hair, now a familiar sight worldwide.
  • The religion has a strong belief in seva or service, requiring Sikhs to contribute to the community life around them. When this is done in an organised way by whole communities it is called kar seva.
  • Sikh temples, known as gurdwaras, traditionally provide a vegetarian meal for anyone who wants it from a community kitchen called a langar.



What do Sikhs believe?

Sikhs believe in one God, Waheguru, with whom each person can be reunited through karma - doing good works and not doing bad things. They believe in reincarnation, that the soul can pass through many life forms, but that it is only as a human being can they knowingly choose to be good and thus achieve mukti to be reunited with God.

One God

Sikh basic beliefs are summed up in the words of the Mool Mantra, the first hymn written by Guru Nanak:
There is only one God. Truth is his name. he is the Creator. He is without Fear. He is without hate. He is timeless and without form. He is beyond death, the Enlightened One. He can be known by the grace of the Guru.
When Sikhs speak of the Guru they are referring to God, the Great Teacher. God, the unknowable, becomes the teacher who reveals God to those who follow. God created everything, so all life is good, but attachment to material things leads to reincarnation and the sufferings of birth and death. The goal of Sikhism is to end the cycle of rebirth and be united with God.

Service and devotion

Sikhs emphasise two primary aspects of daily life: service and devotion to God. Service means honest work and service to the community, in which all are equal regardless of caste, creed, race or gender. Sikhism stretches that we must look to the full equality of all human beings and that we we need to look to the well-being of the wider society. Devotion is cultivated by singing devotional hymns and by meditation on the holy name of God.

The Gurdwara

At the heart of the Gurdwara is the sacred book Guru Granth Sahib
Sikhs gather for worship in the Gurdwara, home of the Guru Granth Sahib, where they listen to the scripture and sing hymns. An important aspect of community life is the tradition of the langar – the free community kitchen which is found every Gurdwara. Here Sikhs feed anyone who comes, regardless of their faith.

Sikhism and Nature

Sikh scriptures say that God is reflected in nature. The words of Tennyson: "I see him in the showering of the stars, I see him in the flowering of the fields," reflects a Sikh attitude to nature. At one time Sikhs had to flee to the forest because they were persecuted, and they found God there. For more on this, link to Sikh Gardens: a BBC radio programme produced by Mary Colwell on location in Khalsa Wood.

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Related information

Sikh eco-news
News from Sikh environment projects around the world
May 26, 2010:
Two exciting job opportunities to help create EcoSikh
The Sikh Council on Religion and Education announces two exciting vacancies for enthusiastic individuals who have both an affinity with Sikhism, and a passion for the environment. Deadline June 6.
March 12, 2010:
Sikhs celebrate March 14th as Sikh Environment Day
Sikhs around the world are being invited to celebrate Gurgaddi Diwas of the 7th Guru, Guru Har Rai ji,as a Sikh Environment Day