Understanding World Religions #27
Our quote for today is from Guru Granth Sahib. He said, "I didn’t ask for it to be over. But then again I didn’t ask for it to begin. For that’s the way it is with life, as some of the most beautiful days come completely by chance. But even the most beautiful days eventually have their sunset."
In this podcast, we are making our way through Garry R. Morgan's book, "Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day."
Our Understanding World Religions topic for today is, "Sikhism"
Traditional Sikh men are recognizable by their starched, symmetrical turbans and full beards. Because Sikhs are not to cut their hair, older men’s beards and hair are piled on top of the head, under the turban. A few Hindus and some types of Muslims also wear turbans, though of a different style. This led to a tragic case of mistaken identity in the first reprisal killing after September 11, 2001, when an enraged American murdered a Sikh store owner in Phoenix, assuming anyone wearing a turban was Muslim.
The Sikh religion is unique in attempting to synthesize one religion out of two very different ones. Nanak, its founder, was born into a Hindu family during the late fifteenth century in the Punjab region of northwest India. This was during the period of the Moghul Empire, when a Muslim minority ruled over the Hindu majority.
Besides his Hindu upbringing, Nanak was highly influenced by a Muslim teacher. He apparently had a contemplative personality and spent much time reflecting on religion. At about age thirty, he claimed to receive a revelation from God while meditating. He was called to be a prophet of the true religion and preach the message of the essential unity of Islam and Hinduism.
For the next several decades, Nanak wandered India, teaching his concepts and organizing communities wherever people accepted his message. These followers were called Sikhs, a Punjabi word meaning “disciple.” Nanak taught that there is only one God, called The True Name. Hindu polytheism, he said, just sees many different facets of this one God. Also similar to Islam, he believed in the duality of the universe, the reality of both the material and spiritual worlds. The earth was created by God; humans are the pinnacle of that creation. From Hinduism, Nanak retained the concepts of karma and reincarnation and taught that The True Name would eventually free humans from the cycle of rebirths. He also taught very simple forms of worship, rejecting most of the rituals of both religions.