Sikhism- Religion? Way of life?
Contrary to popular belief Sikhism is not a religion. The definition of Sikhism is not big enough to cover what Sikhism is. The official definition of religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. The purpose of this paper is to take apart the definition of religion and look at piece by piece in the context of Sikhism.
‘A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies’, Sikhism does not explain any of the above. Sikhism doesn’t explain who god is or define what god is or the purpose of God. Sikhism does explain who we are, what we are doing on earth and what are purpose is. Sikhism does not explain the unexplainable; it gives us a better understanding of the things we already know. The purpose as explained by Sikhism is to become the best humans we can be and to remerge with the creator. Sikhism teaches how to live life. That is why the creators of Sikhism were called Gurus or teachers and the followers Sikhs or students.
The Guru’s didn’t teach devotional practices or ritual observances to help their Sikhs find a path to earn gods favor. They taught how to be good human, to work hard, to share, to give and to remember the world does not revolve around you. In fact those are the pillars of Sikhism; “Kirat karni” ( to earn a honest living),” Vand shakana” (to share what you have with others, that aren’t as well off) and “naam japna” (to always remember there is a higher power and it’s not all about you). As time went on the Gurus added more teachings as the times called for them. They taught not to take substances which harm your body or mind. If you take a minute to think about all the damage drugs and alcohol have caused to this earth, you realize the importance of banning drugs and alcohol for everyone. They taught sticking up for the weak; first with your words, actions and then with weapons, if necessary as a last resort. Many of the teachings of the Gurus seem simple, practical and covered by many of the religions that came before Sikhism. That is why Sikhism is not a religion; it doesn’t just teach those things, it makes the Sikhs implement it to become true Sikhs. As the Western Sikhs would say “It teaches one to live happy, health and holy lives….3HO”.
Morals are a huge part of Sikhism and that is the part of the definition of religion that fits Sikhism. You have to have strong morals to become a Sikh. Sikhism asks you to work on ridding your life of all your bad habits, which takes a lot of patience and strength.
Sikhism does not convert people to this life style, not even the people born into. Each person has to follow this difficult path of Sikhism at their own pace and when it’s right for them.