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The Sikhs, the world over, number around 22 million. They are spread over a hundred countries. As a consequence, everywhere they are in an infinitesimal minority except in Punjab where they have only razor-thin majority. Yet they are distinctly visible as a race apart because they carry their hair unshorn and sport colorful turbans around their heads.

They believe in one, non -sectarian, universal God who is not only transcendent, but also immanent in his creation ; who is not only 'impersonal' Absolute but also has personal  attributes and  relationship with His creatures. Him they worship by mediating on His name (Naam-japna), i.e. acknowledging His presence. They are required to earn their living by honest labour (kirt karni), and share their earnings with fellow human beings (vand chakna). They reject discrimination between man and man on the basis of caste, creed and color and 'reckon all mankind as one'. They are expected to uphold social justice and seek welfare of all (sarbat da bhala). For them voluntary social service (seva). is a compulsory prescription and an essential requirement for spiritual progress. Seva has two aspects: service of god, and Service of mankind . In Brahmanical Hinduism , the Brahmins have reserved the service of gods for themselves , and service of man they relegated to shudras, the dignity of labour and held that serving humans , as much keep his spirits aloft (charhldi kala) under call circumstances and consider 'even adversity as the gift of God '[Jap (u):25]

It was Guru Nanak (1469-1539) who founded the Sikh religion in AD 1507 after a profound mystic experience wherein God Almighty commissioned him to go forth as guru charged with the task of awakening people and making them realize His presence. He traveled far and wide for many years, discharging the task for which he had been commissioned. Shortly before his demise , he passed on the task to a successor . A lineage of nine successors followed him. The nine successors of Guru Nanak were Gurus Angad Dev (1563-1606), Hargobind (155-1645), Har Rai (1631-1661), Har Krishan (1656-1664), Tegh Bahadur (1622-1675) and Gobind Singh (1666-1708) Guru Arjan Dev , the fifth guru , gave the Sikhs their holy book, Sri Guru Granth  Sahib, also called Sri Adi Granth (the Primal Book) .


This holy book contains not only pluralist scripture of mankind .He also gave them their spiritual capital, Hari mandir Sahib popularly known as ' The golden Temple' at Amritsar , A Muslim Sufi dervish , Mian Mir , Was invited to lay the foundation stone of this prime shrine of the Sikhs . The tenth guru created the Order of the Khalsa by giving them ' Baptism of the sword' (khande ki pahul).  The term khalsa denotes 'God's own knightsat-arms'. Members of this order observe a life of stern discipline and take a vow never to flinch from protecting  the meek and fighting against oppression and injustice even at the risk of their lives. A sizeable section of Sikh community belongs to this order.

 

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