basic concepts & philosophy   


1. Who are Sikhs and what is the Sikh Way of Life?


Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded by the 1st Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the Punjab region of India. It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with approximately 30 million Sikhs worldwide.


Sikhs are disciples of Sikhism. A Sikh simply means “Learner” or "seeker of truth". A Guru is the “Teacher” or “Dispeller of darkness” and one who possesses the Jyot (divine light) passed down a line of 10 gurus, and finally to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the living guru. (1709-present)


The Sikh Way of Life is a prescribed spiritual path for everyone, regardless of religious affiliation. The Aim of a Sikh Way of Life is to train the mind and all the senses to recognize the Divine Light within oneself and within all of creation and to be of service to others.


Some of the key Sikh Beliefs are:

  • The Belief in One God

  • The Belief in the Guru

  • The Belief in the Guru Granth Sahib

  • The Belief in Freedom

  • The Belief in Democracy


Life ... according to the Sikh Way of Life

  • Life of Honesty

  • Life of Trust

  • Life of Restraint

  • Life of Householder

  • Life of Piety


Don'ts for a Sikh

✘ Shaving or cutting of hair

✘ Consuming Ritualistic/Sacrificial Meat

✘ Adultery

✘ Use of tobacco or any other intoxicant


Control the 5 vices

  • Kaam (Lust, fornication)

  • Krodh (Anger, wrath)

  • Lobh (Greed, hoarding)

  • Moh (Worldy attachment)

  • Ahankar (Conceit, egoism, pride)

“The 5 vices have corrupted my mind. Moment by Moment they lead me further away from the Lord.” SGGS 710


Virtuous counterparts of these five vices:

  • Self control

  • Forgiveness

  • Contentment

  • Love

  • Humility


2. The Khalsa


The Khalsa was created by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji (our 10th guru) in March, 1699 in conjunction with the celebration of Vesakhi. The Guru and the Panj Pyaare, Five Beloved, were the first to be initiated through the Amrit Sanchar and the Panj Kakar, Five K’s, were gifted to the Khalsa.


Panj Pyaare, the Five Beloved

• Daya Singh

• Dharam Singh

• Himmat Singh

• Mohkem Singh

• Saheb Singh


The Panj Pyaare belonged to different parts of the Indian Sub-continent and had different occupations, castes and backgrounds, signifying the all-encompassing nature of the Khalsa.


Panj Kakar, The 5 K’s

• Kesh - Hair/Beard

• Kanga - Wooden Comb

• Kara - Iron Bangle

• Kirpan - Dagger

• Kacha - A pair of “shorts”


The Panj Kakar, beyond their physical practical use has a deeper spiritual symbolism.


Khalsa were given the names Singh (Lion) and Kaur (Princess) signifying unity, equality and the establishment of a new brotherhood.


Khalsa originates from the word “Khalis” (pure). The person who knows the Ultimate Reality or in whom the ‘puran jyot’ (divine light) shines is the Khalsa.

From any religion, “Men of God” who are above worldly distinctions


Khalsa, as defined by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji

Khalsa is the one that fights against injustice

Khalsa is he who renounces desire for another’s woman

Khalsa is the one who is blessed with the love of Naam

Khalsa is one who loves the guru

Khalsa is one who fights bravely in battle

Khalsa is one who helps the needy

Khalsa is one who overpowers the enemy

Khalsa is one who becomes the crusader

Khalsa is one who faces the battle head on

Khalsa is known as the one who excels

Within his heart there is no doubt


3. Some Sikh Concepts & Philosophy


  • To be a Jivan Mukht (liberated while alive)

    • To be a lotus, part of the pond yet above everything

    • To be like a waterfowl, swimming yet not getting wet.

    • Attached and yet detached.


  • To be a Saint-Soldier

    • The Sikh way of life calls for a balance between ‘Miri’ and ‘Piri’, a balance between the ‘temporal/material’ and ‘spiritual’

    • To be proficient in matters pertaining to religion, meditation and yet be a ‘soldier’ to stand up for one’s and others’ rights, self defense, protector of the oppressed and weak and to fight tyranny


  • Chardi kala

    • Eternal optimism; Always to keep one’s spirits high


  • Sarbat Da Bhalla

    • Welfare Onto All; Sikhism lays emphasis on man’s social obligation and has to work its uplift


  • Equality of women and men

    • Any woman or man can conduct services

    • Abolishment of sati and parda systems


  • Equality of all regardless of class, race or religion

    • Displayed in the concept of Langar (pangat), Equality of Man


  • No great virtue in rituals 


4. What are the basic tenets of Sikhism?


  1. Naam Japna- Meditate on the lord (Be aware of the Divine in our hearts and the whole creation with every breath we take.)

  2. Kirt Karni- Live Life Honestly and Truthful Living (Earn our living honestly and share whatever we have with others.)

  3. Wande ke Chakhna- Share one’s earnings (Be constantly awake for opportunities to serve and elevate others.)


  1. What is the Sadhsangat?


The Sahsangat is a Holy Congregation or the Congregation of the Divine.


The five thieves run away, when one joins the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy. SGGS 810

Join the Saadh Sangat, vibrate and meditate on the Jewel of the Naam. SGGS 12

Joining the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, and practicing the Shabads of the Guru, you shall be saved. SGGS 65


  1. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji


The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, to a Sikh, is the living, breathing, talking spiritual guide or Guru. It is a compilation of divine wisdom which was compiled by the Gurus themselves. The First version was known as th Adi Granth and was compiled by Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji in 1504 AD. This was later completed in 1708 AD by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib JI is scripted in Gurmukhi but contains verses in many languages such as Persian, Urdu, Punjabi etc. signifying that Language is not a barrier to seeking salvation and understanding.


Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Consists of Gurbani from 6 Sikh Gurus, 15 Bhagats,11 Bhats and 3 others (Some of the Bhagats we also of Mulim and Hindu origin such as Bhagat Fareed Ji, Bhagat Namdev Ji and Bhagat Kabir Ji)

The scriptures are set to different Raags or Musical notes and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji utilizes a total of 31 Raags. The Raags are to be set at different times of the day and aim to connect us to the underlying celestial music, through meditation.


  1. What is an Akandhpath?


Akandhpath is a single continuous reading of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, typically lasting 48 hours. This reading of Gurbani is done without interruption with reciters, and listeners alike, taking turns reading and internalizing the Guru’s message.


  1. Whats is a Gurpurab?


The term Gurpurab first appeared in the time of the gurus. It is a compound of the word purb (or parva in Sanskrit), meaning a festival or celebration, with the word guru. It occurs in at least five places in the writings of Bhai Gurdas (1551–1636), written in the time of Guru Arjan.

A Gurpurab in Sikh tradition is a celebration of an anniversary related to the lives of the Sikh gurus or key events in Sikh History. Observance of these anniversaries is an important feature of the Sikh way of life as it serves as a reminder of the sacrifices, achievements and message of the Guru’s.

A Gurpurab is often celebrated with an Akandhpath or simply a programme for the singing of hymns and learning from the lives of the Gurus.


  1.  The concept of Langar


Langar is the Sikh concept of a Free Kitchen, initiated by Guru Nanak, and is present in every Gurdwara aross the world. Food is prepared by Sewadars, or volunteers. Langar is consumed in ‘Pangat’ with all sitting on the floor together. This signifies the Equality of Man, regardless of race, religion, creed, social status, sex.


  1.  The concept of Sewa


Sewa or ‘Selfless Service’ is a very fundamental concept of Sikhism. Sewa is to be done without any expectation of any form of return or reward. Sewa can be performed anywhere and at any time. True Sewa induces humility and helps one shed ego. It is viewed as a duty of every Sikh to


“Vich Dunia sev kamaiye, ta dargaeh basen paiyei” SGGS


“Where there is I, there is no You.

Where there is you, there is no I”  SGGS


The mind, like a soiled vessel, first needs to be cleansed with Humility if one is to prepare it for things spiritual. Otherwise, all effort goes to waste. And this cleansing of the mind, the preparation, is done with the "soap" of humility.



Types of Sewa: Body, Mind and Money – Tan, Mun & Dhan

  • Body (Physical – Tan)– Cleaning and maintaining temple, preparation and cooking of langgar, washing utensils, cleaning the footwear of congregation

  • Mind (Mental - Mun) -  Lies in contributing ones talents—creative, communicative, managerial, etc.—to the welfare of the community and mankind in general. It also lies in sharing the pain of others.

  • Material (Money – Dhan) – Philanthropy, sharing material possession, “donation”


Guidelines for doing Sewa:

  1. Without desire (nishkam)

  2. Guileless (nishkapat)

  3. In humility (nimarta)

  4. With purity of intention (hirda suddh)

  5. With sincerity (chit lae)

  6. And in utter selflessness (vichon ap gavae)


  1.  What is a Hukamnama?


'Guru Granth Ji Maneo, Pargat Guraa Ki Deh.'
'Guru Granth Sahib is the spiritual embodiment of the Gurus.'
'Jo Prabh Ko Milbo Chahe, Khoj Shabad Meh Leh.'

'Those who seek union with God should search through the divine wisdom contained in Guru Granth Sahib.'


The word Hukumnama literally means, 'royal decree'. The Hukamnama is said to be a Sikh’s conversation with the Guru.

The usual method of taking is a Hukumnama is by performing an Ardas in front of Guru Granth Sahib Ji and subsequently reading a random verse from the Guru Granth Sahib. 


Sikhs have been taking spiritual guidance and advice from the Guru Granth Sahibs Ji's through the Hukamnama and find the answers to their doubts and problems in the process.


The Hukamnama is taken in every Gurdwara and household a minimum of 2 times daily – during the morning opening of the Guru Granth Sahib known as Prakash and the second time during Sukhasan in the evening during the closing of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.


  1.  What is the concept of Ek Onkar?


Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji starts with Ek Onkar. It is a numeral, which is not open to interpretation. Guru Nanak Dev Ji spread a simple yet divine message of "Ek Onkar": We are all one with the One Creator of all Creation. This was a very revolutionary concept especially at that time when India was being torn apart by castes, sectarianism, religious factions, and fanaticism. He respected all religions and expressed the reality that there is one God and many paths, and that our true identity is infinite: "Sat Nam".


  1. What is a Gurdwara?


Gurdwara or ‘Gateway to God’ is commonly referred to as a Sikh Place of Worship or a Sikh Temple. Traditionally a Gurdwara was the first community building or the primary installation in a new Sikh township and this served as a place of temporary refuge of shelter and more importantly as a place for the gathering of the Sadhsangat, ‘the holy ones’.  Many traditional Gurdwaras also had large reservoirs of water known as Sarovars, which served as a source of water in times of need.


All Gurdwaras are distinguishable by the Sikh Saffron coloured Flag, known as the Nishan Sahib. Gurdwaras are all also equipped with a Langar Hall and a Darbar Hall (A dedicated area with the Prakash of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib). Gurdwaras also serve as a Social Safety Net, place for peer counseling and assist in the spiritual development of Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike.


Gurdwaras take an active role in the community and the society around the Gurdwara with many activities such as Language Classes, Blood Donation drives, Celebration of Festivals and Free Medical Check Ups.