Everyone in the world has a right to call themselves a Sikh but the word Sikh holds a special meaning for the followers of Sikhism. The proper definition of Sikh is to be a student and in that sense, no one can claim that someone is a Sikh or not. Anyone that makes an effort to learn anything is a Sikh; from a little child to an elderly person. The only person exempt from being labeled a Sikh is a person with disabilities that cause them hindrance in learning. So why is the term Sikh special for the followers of Sikhism? Why does only a certain group of people use that term to describe themselves? The word Sikh is part of journey for followers of Sikhism that goes from being a Sikh to a Gursikh to a Gurmukh.
In Sikhism a Sikh is someone that feels any type of connection to the teachings of the Sikh Gurus. This person can be clean shaven or keeps their hair, in other words anyone can be a Sikh. As a Sikh we open our minds to listening about Sikhism and reading about Sikhism. The period in which one is called a Sikh is when they are just absorbing knowledge about everything around them. It’s like primary education when we have to learn all subjects in school and can’t just pick one we like. There are some people in this world that never attend school and others that never finish it. Then still there are others that stop education after high school and are forever being satisfied called a Sikh. But there are still others that want to study further.
The people that crave for more still are known as Gursikhs. Becoming a Gursikh is like going to college and picking your major. You have to decide that Guru Granth Sahib Ji is your teacher and Sikhism is your major. With that decided you have to follow all teachings of Sikhism, whether you like them or not. That includes taking amrit, living in the rehat given by your panj pyare, learning Gurbani and understanding it too. Once we become Gursikhs we can’t just do things half-heartedly we really try to do live up to our Guru’s teachings. Live up to them to such an extent that someone can look and say that your face reflects that of your teacher.
When someone can say that about you that is the day one becomes a Gurmukh. Gurmukh is not an easy title to live up to as it requires you to always be true to your Guru’s word no matter word. That means you will be true even if it costs you are live and even while giving your live you will be happy that you are true to your Gurus word. A person that is able to live and die as a Gurmukh ends this vicious cycle of life and death. They can remerge with the creator and forever be at peace. To be a Gurmukh is the dream and hope of every Gursikh.
Each person faces countless births and rebirths before they are given this human body to try and go from being a Sikh to Gursikh to Gurmukh. So it is wrong for us to say that someone is not a Sikh or to say that they don’t have the right to call themselves a Sikh. We are just driving them away from Sikhi and wasting another life. We should instead encourage them to become Sikhs of the eternal Guru, Guru Granth Sahib Ji and begin the walk to becoming Gurmukhs. We should remind others and ourselves when in Gurbani Guru Ji’s talked about Sikhs, they were talking to their students, Gursikhs.
May Guru Granth Sahib Ji teach us all how to be good Gursikhs and help us to be Gurmukhs.