About Sikhism

Sikhism - Living Guru image

A short history of Sikhism

Sikhism was founded in 15th Century in Northern India to protect the weak, oppressed and defenseless, and is currently the 5th largest religion in the world. The teachings of ten Sikh Gurus, as well as many other learned and religious scholars, are now provided through the ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib’ (Holy Scripture), also known as the ‘Living Guru’.

Although considered a religion, Sikhism is also a way of life based on equality and a belief in Karma. The unifying aspect for Sikh’s is the philosophy of ‘Ek Onkar’ (One God) for ALL beings – the Creator, Sustainer, and Destroyer – who’s word is given through the ‘Living Guru’.

The teachings and fundamental principles require follower to do good deeds, be available to help those in need without discrimination, give back to the community and those around us regardless of caste, creed or gender, look after your own body by not consuming illicit drugs, alcohol or tobacco, not to be greedy and to earn a living by honest means. “Truth is high but higher still is truthful living” Guru Nanak (First Guru).

The main traditional languages spoken by Sikhs are Punjabi and Hindi, and their written text is known as Gurmukhi.

Sikhs are required to keep five key articles of faith

commonly known as the ‘Five K’s’

Sikhism is the only religion in the world that requires its practicing followers to wear a turban and keep a beard. This article of faith ensures that a Sikh can be easily identified and distinguished to ensure people in need can find assistance quickly. Furthermore, when one stands out, they are less likely to do wrongful acts as they are under the watchful guise of all around them. No other religion mandates this requirement.

Sikhism Five K’s


Uncut hair resembles courage, loyalty and commitment and it is seen as a gift from God. Men are also not to cut or trim their moustache and beard. A Turban is worn by men (and women by choice) to maintain their ‘Kesh’ neatly and as a sign of honor


A small wooden comb to represent cleanliness


Small ceremonial sword which represents compassion, freedom, protection, victory, dignity. Worn to remind the wearer they must fight injustice and oppression


Steel bangle worn on main arm to remind the wearer to do righteous deeds. Also signifies unity as there is no start or end


Symbol of fidelity and self respect

Sikhism Guru’s

The 1st Guru – Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Guru Nanak Dev Ji was the first of the Guru’s, and is known as the founder of Sikhism. He was born on October 20, 1469 in Talwandi (now known as Nankana Sahib in Pakistan). Guru Ji mastered the Punjabi, Sanskrit and Persian languages at a young age and stood against ritualism, caste, prejudice, hypocrisy and idolatry (the worship of idols). He regarded people of other religions as equals and referred to himself as a brother to all those who believed in God and the Truth. Guru Ji never asked people to follow him, rather for them to be true to their own religions, which all believe in oneness with others.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji was Guru from 1469 to 1539.

The 2nd Guru – Guru Angad Dev Ji

Guru Angad Dev Ji was born in 1504 and introduced the Gurmukhi Script – written form of Punjabi, and the scripture of the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Ji also showed people how to be self-less and showed others the way to devotional prayers. He took great interest in the education of children to increase literacy, and as such opened many schools for their benefit. Guru Ji also expanded the institution of ‘Guru ka Langar’ which was started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. 

Guru Angad Dev Ji was Guru from 1539 to 1552.

The 3rd Guru – Guru Amar Das Ji

Born in 1479, Guru Amar Das Ji strongly opposed the notions of caste restrictions, prejudice and the curse of ‘untouchability’. Guru Ji further strengthened the tradition of Langar by making his disciples sit together in one place for their meals – regardless of whether they were rich or poor – which established a social equality among people. He also established the Sikh marriage ceremony known as Anand Karaj. Guru Amar Das Ji was Guru from 1552 to 1574.

The 4th Guru – Guru Ram Das Ji

Born in 1534, Guru Ram Das Ji founded the city of Amritsar and commenced the construction of Harmandir Sahib (also known as the Golden Temple). The temple is open from all four sides, indicating that Sikhs believe in One God who has no partiality for any particular place, direction or time, and that people from all walks of life can enter. The Sikh marriage ceremony (Anand Karaj) is centred around four specific verses known as the ‘Lawan’ which was composed by Guru Ram Das Ji. 

Guru Ram Das Ji was Guru from 1574 to 1581

The 5th Guru – Guru Arjan Dev Ji

Guru Arjan Dev Ji was born in 1563, and was the third son of Guru Ram Das Ji. Guru Ji was regarded as a Saint and Scholar of the highest quality and repute, and compiled the scriptures of the Sikhs (known as the Adi Granth), and also wrote the Sukhmani Sahib prayer. Guru Arjan Dev Ji completed the construction of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar, which welcomes all without discrimination. Guru Ji was the first of the Sikh Guru’s to be martyred when Emperor Jahangir ordered his execution. 

Guru Arjan Dev Ji was Guru from 1581 to 1606.

The 6th Guru – Guru Har Gobind Ji

Born in 1595, Guru Har Gobind Ji was the son of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, and was known as a “Soldier Saint”. Guru Ji taught that it was necessary to take up the sword to protect the weak and oppressed, and as such established the principles of ‘Miri-Piri’ – two swords that represent temporal and spiritual power.

Guru Har Gobind Ji was Guru from 1606 to 1644.

The 7th Guru – Guru Har Rai Ji

Born in 1630, Guru Har Rai Ji was the grandson of Guru Har Gobind Ji, and was known as a man of peace – spending most of his life to devotional meditation and preaching the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. 

Guru Har Rai Ji was Guru from 1644 to 1661.

The 8th Guru – Guru Har Krishan Ji

Guru Har Krishan Ji, the son of Guru Har Rai Ji, was born in 1656 and was the youngest of the Guru’s – taking his place at the young age of 5. Guru Ji astonished the Pundits and others around him with his knowledge and spiritual powers given his age. To the Sikhs he became a symbol of service, purity and truth. The Guru gave his life serving and healing the sick, irrespective of the sufferer’s caste or creed. 

Guru Har Krishan Ji was Guru from 1661 to 1664.

The 9th Guru – Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji

Born in 1621, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was the son of Guru Har Gobind Ji. Guru Ji was martyred by the Mughals for his efforts to protect the Hindu religion – their ‘Tilak’ (devotional head markings) and ‘Janeau’ (sacred thread). Guru Ji fought and died for the right of people to the freedom of worship.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was Guru from 1665 to 1675.

The 10th Guru – Guru Gobind Singh Ji

Born in 1666, Guru Gobind Singh Ji was the son of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. In 1699, Guru Ji created the ‘Khalsa’ (The Pure Ones), and changed the Sikh order into that of a “Saint-Soldier”. He gave the Sikhs males the name Singh (‘sing’; meaning Lion) and the females Kaur (‘core’; meaning Princess). Guru Ji fought many battles against the Mughal empires, and even lost his four sons and mother to their tyranny. On 3 October 1708, Guru Ji appointed the Guru Granth Sahib as the Guru, and commanded “Let all bow before my successor, Guru Granth. The Word in the Guru now”. 

Guru Gobind Singh Ji was Guru from 1675 to 1708.

The 11th Guru – Guru Granth Sahib Ji

The Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the Holy scripture for Sikhs, and is also referred to as the ‘Living Guru’. It is considered the Supreme Spiritual Authority for Sikhs, higher than any living person. It is also the only scripture of its kinds that contains works from not only its own religious founders, but also those from other faiths. Being the ‘Living Guru’, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji must be held in utmost respect, and is considered a book of Revelation as it conveys the Word of God through messengers on Earth. The Guru Granth Sahib Ji is Universal in its scope as its scriptures are not only intended for Sikhs, rather they are for everyone, everywhere – regardless of caste or creed.

Sikhism is the only religion in the world that requires its practicing followers to wear a turban and keep a beard. This article of faith ensures that a Sikh can be easily identified and distinguished to ensure people in need can find assistance quickly. Furthermore, when one stands out, they are less likely to do wrongful acts as they are under the watchful guise of all around them. No other religion mandates this requirement.

Sikhism symbol

Community Aspect

Sikhs believe in the ‘wider community’ and that we all must live in harmony together regardless of gender, caste or creed. It is also essential to give back to the community by way of donations or personal service to ensure an equilibrium is maintained for all.

A fundamental for Sikhs is to be ready to assist anyone in need, who may be weak, oppressed or defenceless. This doctrine of humility saw many Sikhs enlist in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in WWI, and they still continue to proudly serve the Australian Defence Force today.

Overseas, approximately 1.2 million Indians volunteered to fight for the British Indian Army in WWI, making them the largest volunteer army in the Great War. While Sikhs only made up 2% of India’s population, 22% of the British Indian Army were Sikhs. In World War I and II, 83,005 Sikhs were killed and 109,045 wounded fighting for the allied forces.

Community Kitchen

Vegetarian snacks and meals (Guru ka Langar) are available at a Sikh Temple (Gurdwara) to any person that is in attendance (provided they are not intoxicated, under the influence of any narcotics, and are willing to cover their head and remove their shoes).

The institution of ‘Guru ka Langar’ has served the community in many ways. It ensures the participation of men, women and children in a task of service and humility. Langar (which means ‘free Community Kitchen’) also teaches the etiquette of sitting and eating in a community situation with others from all backgrounds. This approach has played a great part in upholding the virtue of sameness of all human beings, and provides a welcome, secure and protected sanctuary for all.

The Sikh ideal of charity is essentially social in conception. A Sikh is under a religious obligation to contribute one-tenth of his earnings (‘daswand’) for the welfare of the community. They must also contribute the service of their hands whenever they can; with service rendered in a langar being the most meritorious.

The Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in Amrtisar, India, serves Langar to over 100,000 attendees of various beliefs per day.

Sikhism food

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