Sikhism > Sikhism Principles

Sikhism does not regard tasting as an act of religious merit. Fasting, in order to overcome disease or abnor-mality, is perfectly Icghnitaic. But fasting a^aii austerity and ritual is hateful. Guru Nanak Sahib says, "Penance, fasting, austerity, alms-giving are mferior to truth; right action is superior to them all " To affirm that spirituality depends on the quality or quantity of food is absurd. One must take normal food. If a man cannot take it, there is something wrong with him. But to fast for the sake of fasting is futile.

Maya has been defined in various ways. According to some, this world is Maya an illusion. According to Sikhisrn, the universe being the creation of the Supreme Being, is the temple of Divinity. It is as embodiment of His Eternal Truth. The world is subject to the Divine Will ; it has no independent existence of its own. In that sense, it is unreal or illusory; it is subject to decay : ''The universe is insubs-tantial as a shadow, fleeting like a dream, short-lived as a bubble," as compared wkh the Creator, the Eternal Truth, The Guru writes :

In a thousand water'pots
There is one sky reflected,
When the water-pots burst,
The sky remains as before.

Man is caught with the infatuation of desire. This lure of worldliness makes him regard worldly things as [he goat of human life.

The concept of education in Siklhism:
Sikhism includes a comprehensive system of self-education. The function of education is to prepare the aesthetic and emotional back-ground in which the individual may pet an opportunity for self-growth. Besides this, Dharma must inspire all the instruction and atmosphere in educational institutions.

It is the knowledge of the Hand. the knowledge of the Head and the knowledge of the Heart. The education of the Hand means the realization of the dignity of labour and the readiness of the individual to earn his living with manual work. It also includes the service of humanity with the hand. Guru Nanak Sahib says :

Those who earn their living
By the sweat of their brows,
And give it to the needy
Are the people who know,
The path of Truth and Virtue.

Education does not imply the acquisition of powers to rule over others or to exploit their simplicity or backwardness for selfish ends.

Make knowledge your merchandise,
Truth the horses you take to sell,
Tie up virtues as your travelling expenses,
Think not in your heart of the morrow,
When you reach the land of your love,
You shall obtain endless joy.

Guru Nanak Sahib gave a practical demonstration of this system of education by training his successor Sri Guru Angad Sahib. It was the training of the disciple through discipline. Man is to merge with the higher self, with Beauty. Truth and Goodness. This makes education both creative and purposeful.

Union with God:
The feeling of unity of the individual with the Universal on the psychic plane is called liv. The man of God does not renounce the world. He lives in it and performs all his duties as a householder. But he does not feel attached to worldly desire. The apparent attachment of the mind with the world is lost; the mind remains in constant communion with Divinity. Such a man meditates or does good naturally and automatically. In tune with the infinite, the individual soul feels no pain or sorrw.

Union of Soul With God:
Guru Arjan Sahib has mentioned five aspects of the actual experience of the union of the individual soul with the Universal Soul. Firstly, the darkness of ignorance disappears and the indi-vidual realises the wonder of God's universe. Secondly, there is an inner illumination, a kind of revelation - an enlightenment, not of the intellect but of mystic exaltation. Thirdly, the individual gains equipoise, a state of indefinable peace and confidence, coming from the loss of the ego. This sense of tranquillity-shanti-is due to the identification of the self with Divinity. Fourthly, the individual begins to love the entire humanity and is filled with a great longing for the service of his fellow-men. Fifthly, the individual realises everything as emanating from God. His soul which had emanated from God is united with the Ultimate Source.

The True Yogi:
A true yogi is not one who leaves his family and home, and wanders all over the country. A true yogi finds renunciation in the house itself. -He does not regard llie house as his own but of the Lord, He renounces egoism. The true yogi is a friend of all : he is a servant of servants. He fixes his mind on Goit and remains desireless in the world.'" He remains indifferent to sorrow and happiness. He is free from cares, because he loves the only one God.

Guru Nanak Sahib rebuked the yogis for going to the houses of laity for begging. He denounced parasitism and recommended renunciation of desire and attachment in the midst of temporal life through the discipline of the Name.

The Concept of Woman:
The Gurus held woman in high esteem. So with the rise of Sikhism, woman gained in dignity and social position. Some ancient scriptures denounced woman as unworthy of teaching or religious exercises. Woman was regarded as evil and unclean. Guru Nanak Sahib challenged this view: Why should we treat woman with contempt and cruelty? A woman is not to be condemned on the ground of her sex. Guru Granth Sahib says:

Of a woman we are conceived,
Of a woman we are born,
To a woman we are betrothed and married,
It is a woman who is a friend and partner of life,
It is a woman who keeps the race going,
Why should we consider women cursed and condemned,
When from woman are born leaders and rulers.
(Rag Asa, I)

Religious gatherings and Kirtan were thrown open to women; they could participate on equal terms with men in temporal and secular observances. Bhai Gurdas ji, the veteran Sikh theologian affirmed: " Woman is man's other half, and as such, helps him in attaining to salvation." Guru Hargobind Sahib called woman " the conscience of man." Khande di Pahul(Amrit) is obligatory both for man and woman. The rules of conduct and the sphere of religious duties are identical both for man and woman. In religious meetings, men and women sing and lecture like equals. Guru Amardas Sahib condemned the practice of widow-burning (Sati): He said, "They are not satis who burn themselves with the dead bodies of their husbands. Those are real Satis who die of the mere shock of separation from their husbands." Thus the equality of sexes is emphasised in Sikhism.