Uniqueness of a Sikh

The word "Sikh" is derived from Paali language. It means "student of religion." It is different from the Sanskrit word Shishya (a general term for any student). A Sikh is essentially a student of study of religious philosophy.

A Sikh can be recognized from amongst the crowd of hundreds and thousands. He becomes conspicuous because of his turban, beards and moustaches. An Amritdhari (initiated) Sikh has an obligation to keep Punj Kakar (five articles of faith): Kes (unshorn hair) and Keski (turban), Kangha (specific Sikh comb), Kachhehra (Sikh shorts stitched in a specific style), Kara (sacred Sikh bracelet; however, it is wrong to call it bracelet) and Kirpãn (sacred Sikh sword). Besides these five, Dastar (turban) is obligatory for a Sikh. A Sikh must not part with any one of these articles of faith till his death.

Another remarkable distinction of a Sikh is the last part of his/her name. A Sikh must use "Singh" (for males) and "Kaur" (for females) as a suffix. Using family name is not an authentic Sikh practice. Singh literally means lion and Kaur means princess. For some time, the Hindus too have started spelling their name as SINGH instead of the earlier Hindu spellings of SINH. It leads to confusion.

A Sikh is essentially a monotheist. He must have faith in one God only. In Sikhism God is One, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient. God is the only Creator, Sustainer and the Destroyer. A Sikh can not have faith in any other living or non-living prophet. According to Sikhism God never appears in human form. A Sikh does not believe in life before birth or after death. Sikhism rejects the other-worldliness. Heaven and hell exist in this world only. Sikhism rejects the theory of incarnation.

Sikhism is not a religion of escapism. A Sikh can achieve liberation (self-realization) while living as a householder. It is pragmatic approach. It is a meeting ground of social and spiritual worlds. In Sikhism the concept of liberation is not "the other-worldliness" and rather liberation in this life. 'To be a Sachiaar' (a self-realized person) is the Sikh concept of liberation. (Guru Granth Sahib, p. 522). In Sikhism, pilgrimage of the so-called sacred shrines has no place. Shabad (Word) is the only sacred shrine and meditation and truthful life is the real pilgrimage.

Sikhism is not a religion of fatalism. A Sikh bows before the Will of God, but, is ever ready to struggle for a better tomorrow.

Unique Sikh concept of Miri-Piri
Oneness of Miri and Piri is a unique concept of Sikh philosophy. According to Sikhism, Miri (temporal) and Piri (transcendental) are an integral part of the being of a Sikh. The Sikh concept of Miri-Piri does not mean simple unity of temporal and transcendental or politics and religion; it is "one-ness" of Miri and Piri. A man of Miri must impart Dharma (Righteousness) as he is the defender of Dharma, and a man of Piri should not be a silent spectator to injustice and tyrrany; he has to come forward and follow the path of Guru Sahib as defender of Dharma, humanism and justice. Hence, Miri and Piri do not stand separate apart or distinct from each other or independant of each other. In fact Miri and Piri resonate each other. In Sikhism, Miri and Piri, though two different concepts of philosophy, are "one" and can not be separated from each other. Sikhism is a meeting ground of Miri with Piri. The Sikh concept of Miri-Piri is the Saviour of justice, humanity, Righteousness and spiritualism.

Dr. Harjinder Singh Dilgeer

For comprehensive information read books:
The Sikh Culture
The Sikh reference Book (Sikh Encyclopedia)

Both by this author

© Copyright Dilgeer 2002 All Rights Reserved