Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak in 1469 AD. The word Sikh means a disciple, a learner. A Sikh is a person who believes in One God and the teachings of the Ten Gurus, enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Book. In addition, he or she must take Amrit , the Sikh Baptism and be a Khalsa.
The contents of the Sikh Holy Book, compiled by the Sikh Gurus themselves are mainly in musical verses. The Guru Granth Sahib includes the compositions of the Sikh Gurus and the Muslim and Hindu holy men of the day. It was Installed as the Permanent Guru in 1708.
The Sikh place of worship is known as the gurdwara or the Lord's abode. A Sikh temple is traditionally designed with four doors, meaning that it is open to all people without any form of discrimination.
The architectural design of low domes on the Golden Temple is that of an the inverted lotus flower which stands for grace and humility.
The living areas of the temple include a prayer hall called the Darbar Sahib and the free-kitchen or the langgar. In the temple all devotees worship together sitting on the floor and eat in a pangat or queue signifying that everyone including women have equal status. Here, only vegetarian food is prepared and served to respect the dietary needs of all faiths.
The Sikh philosophy is enshrined in the mool mantar or the basic creed. The Supreme Being revealed to Guru Nanak is the Indwelling Spirit that continually creates and sustains the universe by Divine Will.
The essence of a Sikh's spiritual life is to seek union with God who transcends the universe but is present in every part of it. From this understanding, Sikhs believe that since God is present in every person, each individual stands as an equal before Him regardless of race, colour, nationality or sex. Thus, there is in Sikhism a religious basis for tolerance, freedom of conscience and social equality including women.
The Sikh way of life is a code of discipline laid down for the Sikhs by their Gurus or teachers. It encourages people to strive for continual improvement and it is a simple way of attaining salvation through performance of duty to family and society.
Guru Nanak himself set up a routine that combined work with serving the society at large and God. His message stated in the three principles means that one should remember God, earn one's livelihood and lead an ethical life and share one's earnings with others.
The daily prayer or Sikh Ardas, apart from directing them to be tolerant and respectful of other religions, asks them to work for the welfare of mankind and seek the good of all.
He whose livelihood is earned through work, And part of it given away in charity - Such a one, Nanak, truly knows the way to God.
Var Sarang M1, 1245
Contribution of Sikh Guru in Shaping Society
If We briefly go through the history of Sikh Gurus we come to know that First Guru, Guru Nanak Dev besides other moral and spiritual values, preached to humanity, meditation with a sense of humility; earn one’s bread by honest and sincere labour and share one’s earnings with those in need; Second Guru, Guru Angad Dev , practised the sermon of obedience; Third Guru, Guru Amar Das, stressed on equality; Fourth Guru, Guru Ram Dass, emphasised the concept of selfless service; Fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev was empodiment of supreme sacrifices; Sixth Guru Hargobind Sahib reminded us of Justice, Seventh Guru, Guru Har Rai complimented mercy; Eighth Guru, Guru Har Krishan valued purity; Ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur symbolized calmness and strengthened the spirit of righteousness; Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh demonstrated dynamic power and royal courage to uphold human dignity. Ultimately the Eternal Guru of Human race, Guru Granth Sahib blessed us all with all virtues and nobilities.