Who is a Sikh ?

Once, someone asked me a question: "what are the merits of a Sikh ?" A short answer to this question was not an easy task. It needed several pages to explain it because a Sikh (a genuine Sikh) is an image of the sketch of a superman. Sikh is also defined as 'saint soldier'. Again a question arises, "what is a saint and what is a soldier?" This, too, again, needed a lot of explanation. Finally, it was decided that I should mention 20 virtues of a genuine Sikh.

1. A Sikh believes in one and the only God who is Omnipresent, Omnipotent, All-pervading, Eternal, Infinite; who is the Creator, Sustainer, Destroyer; who existed in the beginning, exists now and shall remain existent forever; who is not born (hence does not die); who has no chosen subjects; who loves everyone alike; who can not be defined in words.

2. A Sikh is not afraid of any power on this earth. A Sikh neither fears nor frightens anyone. But, a Sikh always lives in the noble fear of the Almighty.

3. A Sikh has no enemy. He does not have disdain for anyone. A Sikh does not hate anybody. But, a Sikh does not forgive cruelty and inhumanism. It is a Sikh's duty to fight for Righteousness. Otherwise, a Sikh is not supposed to have hatred, jealousy, partiality or revengeful attitude for any one on this earth. A Sikh is ever ready to forgive wrongdoing of an innocent person. Pity and forgiveness are must for a Sikh. If someone comes to a Sikh with a pure heart and with a desire for repentance, a Sikh must forgive him. However, inhuman killers, terrorists and those who have perpetrated atrocities on people must be punished and should not be forgiven.

4. A Sikh does not have negative thinking. A Sikh is always positive in his approach. A Sikh has constructive approach and does not have destructive thinking. To strengthen truth and justice and to bring an end to injustice is obligatory for a Sikh.

5. A Sikh is always in blissful feeling. He always bows before the Will of the Almighty. A Sikh always sings hymns in the praise of the Almighty; it may be an occasion of birth, marriage or death, it may be joy or sorrow. Keertan (singing hymns) is a part of a Sikh's spiritual, personal as well as social life.

6. A Sikh's spiritualism and physical personality go side by side. Lethargy and laziness are evil for a Sikh and activity and endeavour are virtue for him. Early rising, regular shower, meditation is an essential routine of a Sikh. Light diet should be the liking of a Sikh. A Sikh likes to eat such a food, which does not lead him to vices. Meaning thereby, there is a special relation between a Sikh's spiritualism and his health.

7. A Sikh loves the concept of equality. Langar (sacred community kitchen), Sangat (holy congregation), Pangat (joining Langar as equals. In other words equally in community activities) are an essential part of the Sikh cultural ethics. To join congregation like equals and brotherhood is first and foremost thing for a Sikh's religious culture. Joining Sangat in Langar hall, sitting in a Pangat and sharing sacred community food with all and sundry brings an end to ego. the Sikh Langar (sacred community kitchen) brings an end to inferiority complex of the poor and the lowly as well as the superiority complex of the so-called rich and feudal. Strictly speaking, the concept of low and high, senior and junior is alien to Sikhism. In Sikhism colour, caste, age, status, gender are of no consideration. A Sikh has to adopt this culture not only in the Langar-hall but he has to keep it with him throughout his life and in all situations.

8. A Sikh always lives in Charhdi Kala (the Sikh euphoria). A Sikh can never live in decadence nor can he ever get demoralised. He always has the feeling that 'tomorrow will be better'. Everything that has happened is the Sweet Will of the Almighty. On February 5, 1762, about half of the Sikh population was killed in a carnage but the Sikhs still announced that "our alloy has melted away and we have become pure metal, i.e. gold." Baba Bota Singh and Baba Garja Singh, only two Sikhs, could declare national sovereignty. Forty Sikhs at Chamkaur and Khidrane Di Dhab (now Muktsar) could fight mammoth armies. An eight months long siege of Gurdas Nangal did not dishearten the Sikhs. A Sikh never bows down his head, nor does he make compromises when he is in pain or suffering. Pain, suffering, problems, crisis make a Sikh stronger still. The feeling of Charhdi Kala is, in fact, life for a Sikh. To thank the Almighty for each and every phenomenon is the duty of a Sikh. A Sikh always considers His Blessing as bountiful. A Sikh attributes everything of his being to the Almighty

9. A Sikh is a positive part of the society. A Sikh earns his livelihood by honest means. Unlike Brahmins, a Sikh does not live on alms or charity. A Sikh can never be a beggar. A Sikh always tries to give something to others and does not like to live on others' assistance. A Sikh's prosperity is a result of his endeavour and his enterprising nature.

10. Sikhism is a culture of fraternity. Sharing one's earnings as well as wealth is basic to Sikh culture. A Sikh has an obligation to earn honestly. Besides, he must share his prosperity with others. To help the needy and the poor is the foremost duty of a Sikh. To avoid helping needy persons is alien to Sikh culture. A Sikh can not be selfish. A Sikh does not live for himself only. Sikhism is essentially a social spiritualism.

11. A Sikh can not live in stagnation. He always makes efforts to go further and further. Progress and prosperity of the Sikhs throughout different parts of the world is an example of the Sikhs' enterprising nature. Sikhs have achieved prosperity not by toddling others or by snatching from others or by usurping the rights of others. Nor is cheating, robbing or dishonesty the basis of the Sikhs' progress. All Sikh prosperity has in its background, their enterprising nature, hard labour, intelligence etc. Sikhs have achieved heights because they have always worked sincerely and honestly. Their wealth is always hard earned. It is a part of the nature of a Sikh that he always looks forward, never stops on his way towards achievement of his goal, continues struggling. It is the nature of positive thinking in a Sikh, which has made him full of desire for progress and reform. But, a Sikh's thinking is not that of a Malik Bhago (the symbol of a usurper). A Sikh may be rich but he can't be a usurper. A Sikh's prosperity is not achieved through encroachment upon others' wealth or rights. Moreover, his prosperity is for the betterment of his family and his brotherhood. It is for the welfare of the Sikh nation and a Sikh is ever ready to contribute for such a cause.

12. A Sikh does not fear death. A simple thought of death frightens the whole of the world but, for a Sikh, it is the Will of the Almighty. A Sikh always bows before His Will. For a Sikh, the physical body is nothing but a structure of five elements and exit of spirit from body is the end to the being of a person. It is like finale to the role of a human on this earth. Death, for a Sikh, is the step for proceeding towards the next stage/destination. It completes a person's journey in this world as this world is just an inn for every human being that is just a passenger on this earth.

13. A Sikh always keeps his word. If a Sikh promises help or defence of anyone, he/she will stand by his/her commitment even at the cost of his/her life. The Sikh history is replete with several events narrating 'Sikhs sacrificing their lives in order to save Hindu girls from terrorist foreign invaders'.

14. A Sikh is never biased, partisan or partial. For a Sikh all the human beings are the children of the Almighty and they should be treated alike. The history of the Sikh-Red Cross, established by Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, under the command of Bhai Ghanaiya Singh, explains this concept. Bhai Ghanaiya Singh is known in the history as one who would treat even the wounded soldiers of the army of the enemies of the Sikhs in a manner as he would treat the Sikh soldiers. For him a wounded person is not a Sikh or an enemy but he was a human being, hence deserves alike treatment. A Sikh shall never be biased or partial in favour of or against any one. If one wishes to learn the lesson of humanism, generosity, mercy, sympathy, love, justice one should go through the pages of the Sikh history or the Sikh culture.

15. A Sikh is the greatest "host" on this earth. A Sikh loves to feed others before eating anything himself. This writer still remembers the words of his mother: "the day when no one shares food with us seemed to be an incomplete day. The food of that day becomes tasteless." It is well known to the whole of the world that the greatest free food camps have always been arranged by the Sikh nation. The Sikhs are known as feeding hands. Feeding others is the greatest pleasure for a Sikh.

16. A Sikh must always contribute his Daswandh (title). It is obligatory for a Sikh to contribute a part (usually one-tenth) of his income and wealth for the welfare of the Sikh nation in particular and humanity in general. If a Sikh does not contribute his Daswandh, he is a debtor. A Sikh must repay his debt as soon as possible. Daswandh, for a Sikh, is not only monetary contribution. An unemployed person or a poor man, too, can contribute the Daswandh of his time, energy, skill and knowledge for some national cause. This too is as good as monetary contribution. Paying Daswandh is "understanding one's responsibility for the nation." It is a feeling of considering oneself as an important and useful member of society.

17. Sewa (selfless, voluntary service), too, is an important aspect of the personality of a Sikh. Doing Sewa pleases a Sikh a lot. Having got a chance to do Sewa is a matter of honour for a Sikh. If a Sikh can not perform any type of Sewa for a long period, he feels something missing from his 'self'. While doing Sewa, a Sikh feels himself in spiritual heights. A Sikh is always in a wait for getting an opportunity to do some Sewa. He waits for Sewa as if some treasure is likely to be found by him.

18. For a Sikh, temporal (Miri) and transcendental (Piri) are one unit. A spiritual leader cannot ignore political and social role and a man with political power must act like a spiritual person. A saint and soldiers are one unit in a Sikh. A king must be a saint in his heart. For a Sikh, politics must be practised in accordance with spiritual ethics. For a Sikh Miri (temporal) and Piri (transcendental) are one and this concept is not "unity" of both but it is "oneness". It is "Miri-Piri" and not "Miri and Piri".
19. A Sikh always makes prayers for the welfare of the whole of the humanity. A Sikh must not make prayers for himself or for his family. A Sikh's prayer is always national and rather universal and not personal or individual. If a Sikh makes a prayer for his own health, economic prosperity, personal peace of mind, progress of self or family, he is performing an act against Sikh fundamentals. A Sikh does not pray even for his own people. It must always for the whole of humanity.

20. A Sikh is essentially a "saint". The word "saint" (Sant), as it is being used for cult leaders or so-called missionaries, is a misnomer. They are using it to fool the Sikhs in particular and common people in general. In Sikhism, a saint is the one who meditates in the Name of the Almighty daily before beginning one's job/routine. One who does not meditate is better a dead person. Remembering the Almighty is not the mere recitation of hymns. To recite, to understand and try to live one's life according to hymns is real meditation. To live a Truthful Life, in accordance with spiritual ethics, is also meditation. A Sikh must always remember God in his heart of hearts twenty-four hours a day.

A Sikh's life, the Sikh ethics, the Sikh culture, the Sikh way of life is based on these points. A Sikh need not renounce this world to achieve liberation (self-realisation). A Sikh can achieve liberation in this life while performing his regular routine. Sikhism is a religion of practical life (pragmatism). Sikhism is not a theoretical concept, which can not be put into practice. Sikhism is no ritual-ism. It has, in its embrace, the welfare of the brotherhood, community, nation and whole of the world. Superman may be a fictitious character but if it is possible to have an superman on this earth, a Sikh can surely be called such a superman.

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