Sikhism is founded on the teachings of Guru Nanak and nine successive Sikh Gurus in fifteenth century Punjab. It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world. This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as the Gurmat (the direction of the gurus) or the Sikh Dharma. Sikhism originated from the word Sikh, meaning "disciple" or "learner".
Sikhism advocates the pursuit of salvation through disciplined, personal meditation on the name and message of God. A key distinctive feature of Sikhism is that one can interpret God as the Universe itself. The followers of Sikhism are ordained to follow the teachings of the ten Sikh gurus, or enlightened leaders, as well as the holy scripture entitled the Guru Granth Sahib. This holy book of Sikhs along with the writings of six of the ten Sikh Gurus includes selected works of many devotees from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds.
The text was decreed by Gobind Singh, the tenth guru, as the final guru of the Khalsa Panth. Sikhism's traditions and teachings are distinctively associated with the history, society and culture of the Punjab. Believers of Sikhism are known as Sikhs meaning students or disciples. Most Sikhs live in the Punjab in India and, prior to the India's partition, millions of Sikhs lived in what is now Pakistani Punjab.
Philosophy and teachings
The Harimandir Sahib, known popularly as the Golden Temple, is a sacred shrine for Sikhs.The origins of Sikhism lie in the teachings of Nanak and his successors. Nanak disapproved of many religious beliefs and practices of his time.
The essence of Sikh teaching is summed up by Nanak in these words: "Realisation of Truth is higher than all else. Higher still is truthful living". Sikhism believes in equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed and gender. Sikhism also does not attach any importance to attainment of salvation, but stresses on the need of leading life as a householder.
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion. In Sikhism, God is called ‘Vaheguru’ meaning to be a formless, eternal, and unobserved. The beginning of the first composition of Sikh scripture is the figure Ek (1) signifying the universality of God. It states that God is omnipresent and infinite, and is signified by the term Ek Omkar. Sikhs believe that prior to creation, all that existed was God and his order. When God willed, the entire cosmos was created. From these beginnings, God nurtured "enticement and attachment"or the human perception of reality.
While a full understanding of God is beyond human beings, Nanak described God as not wholly unknowable. God is omnipresent in all creation and visible everywhere to the spiritually awakened. Nanak stressed that God must be seen from "the inward eye", or the "heart", of a human being: devotees must meditate to progress towards enlightenment. Guru Nanak Dev emphasized the revelation through meditation, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between God and human beings.