from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Khanda , the religious symbol of the Sikhs
The Ik Onkar , which is the central principle of the oneness of God, is another symbol of Sikhism. It comes from the Gurmukhi script .

The Sikh religion ( Punjabi : ਸਿੱਖੀ, sikhī ) is a monotheistic religion that originated in the 15th century AD and goes back to the founder Guru Nanak Dev . The religious community founded in Punjab (northern India) is known worldwide as Sikhism and today has around 25 to 27 million followers, the majority of whom live in India .

The Sikh religion emphasizes the unity of creation and worships a shapeless creator god who is neither male nor female. Further essential characteristics are the renunciation of so-called superstition and traditional religious rites, such as those prevalent in Hinduism . Although the caste system permeates the everyday life of the Sikhs because it is overpowering in everyday Indian life, it is rejected. In religious practice there are various formal requirements, for example with regard to clothing, naming and appearance.

The Sikh religion is not based on adherence to religious dogmas , but aims to make religious wisdom usable and practical for everyday life. Guru Nanak and his nine subsequent gurus (religious role models / teachers) underline in their insights, which are handed down in writing in the work Sri Guru Granth Sahib , their understanding of going beyond existing religions, and distance themselves in terms of content from the dominant religious traditions of their age, including Buddhism , Hinduism and Islam .


Spread of the Sikhs in the world

Over 80 percent of the approximately 25 to 27 million Sikhs (literally schoolchildren) live in the Indian region of origin: in the states of Punjab and Haryana as well as in the Union territories of Delhi and Chandigarh . Of these almost 19 million Indian Sikhs, 75 percent live in the state of Punjab. In India, Sikhs make up the fourth largest religious community in the country, with around two percent of the population.

In North America (around 530,000), Great Britain (around 230,000) and in Southeast Asian countries, especially Malaysia , Singapore and Thailand , there are more than a million Sikhs. Over 25,000 Sikhs live in Germany , mainly in metropolitan areas such as Frankfurt am Main , Cologne , Hamburg , Munich and Stuttgart . Almost 2,800 Sikhs live in Austria (as of 2001). No exact numbers are known in Switzerland, the number is estimated at around 1,000. There are currently three Gurdwaras in German-speaking Switzerland, and a Gurdwara is being developed in Geneva. About 10,000 Sikhs live in France , almost all of them in the greater Paris area . In Italy , their number is estimated at around 40,000 to 70,000, especially in the Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna regions , where they play an important role in the production of Parmesan . In contrast to Great Britain, Canada and the USA, where Sikhs are well known and also hold important state offices, they are rather unknown in Central Europe due to their relatively small number. In 2016 there was an explosives attack by two young people classified as Salafist on the prayer house of the Sikh community Gurdwara Nanaksar in Essen .

Religious practice


Sikh family: The father and the older son wear the traditional turban, the younger sons the "patka", which is common for boys, which is made from a piece of fabric.

Practicing Sikhs, especially male religious followers, can be recognized by an artfully tied turban ( dastar ). The headgear including uncut hair - a tradition that gradually gained in importance in the times of the gurus - expresses, in accordance with the self-image of the Sikhs, cosmopolitanism, nobility and respect for creation. The turban can be worn anytime and anywhere. Between the ages of 12 and 16, the boys receive their first turban in the dastar bandi ceremony that takes place in Gurdwara. Some Sikh women, especially in England, also wear a dastar .

Kara (bracelet), Kangha (comb) and Kirpan (dagger)

Sikhs who are initiated into the brotherhood of the Khalsa Panth are called Amritdharis and wear the five Ks.

  • Kesh (uncut, well-groomed hair): Demarcation from ascetic traditions, expression of respect for creation, ie a Sikh does not rebel against the natural laws that God created.
  • Kangha (wooden comb): It is worn for hair care and represents the importance of discipline and purity of the Sikhs.
  • Kirpan (dagger / sword): As a sign that Sikhs defend the weak and innocent.
  • Kara (iron bracelet): The ring symbolizes devotion to the instructions of the 10th Guru and reminds the Khalsa to be in eternal bond with God and not to do anything wrong with this hand, such as B. to steal.
  • Kachera (a pair of underpants that go down to the knees): These underpants are considered to be a sign of marital fidelity and control of lust (Kaam).


Sikhs usually have the same surname. As an expression of brotherhood, Sikh men have the common surname Singh (lion), women with the surname Kaur (princess; grammatically correct: prince ). The naming was introduced by Guru Gobind Singh in the 17th century.

The use of the same names is intended to represent a counterpoint to the social hierarchization widespread in India (meaning the caste system ), which is shown in the surnames. However, most Sikhs use a surname, for example that of their ancestors or their place of origin; Sometimes they put their profession before their name or, as Sikhs, use the surname Khalsa .

Male Sikhs are addressed as Sardar or the more rural Bhaiji or Bhai Sahib ("brother"), female Sardarni , Bibiji ("woman") or Bhainji ("sister").


The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India

A Gurdwara ("Gate to the Guru") is a Sikh temple. Gurdwaras are always built where the number of Sikhs justifies building one. In Gurdwaras the Sikhs pray and hold prayer chants ( shabad kirtan ). Gurdwaras are open to all people regardless of their denomination. So show z. For example, in the most famous temple, the Golden Temple of Amritsar , four entrances in the four cardinal directions to show that the Sikhs are open to all people and welcome them to their temple.

Everyone who enters a Gurdwara is obliged to wear a head covering. On the other hand, bowing to the altar on which the Guru Granth Sahib is kept is not a general duty, but only expresses deference to the Gurus. Most gurdwaras have a box in front of the altar for inserting money. It is now the custom for visitors to a gurdwara to post a donation, but by no means an obligation. The money is thrown in shortly before the bow, the amount is freely selectable. Some great gurdwaras are accessible around the clock. According to Indian culture, the Gurdwara is divided into areas for men and women, with small children mostly with their mothers. Nevertheless, it is permitted to sit on the side of the opposite sex. People sit cross-legged and on the floor.

In the morning, at noon and in the evening there is a common vegetarian meal, the langar . It is financed by the donations and prepared by volunteer Sikhs themselves. The main ingredients of such a langar are usually the lentil soup dal , which is often also a food of the poor and therefore emphasizes the equality of all people, and chapati roti, sometimes rice and sabji , mixed vegetables.

The Siri Guru Granth Sahib is read from during the communal services in the places of worship . The sacred book of the Sikhs (formerly known as Adi Granth ) is now the recognized sacred document of the Sikhs, the highest authority and is revered as the eternal guru. It contains songs, hymns and poems. These scriptures are given by a "Granthi" who has studied the sacred texts extensively. In principle, any Sikh, man or woman, can act as a Granthi.

Eating habits

The question of eating meat is controversial in the Sikh religion. There are both Sikhs who eat meat and vegetarians . Eating meat of ritually slaughtered animal, that is rejected Halal -Meat and kosher meat. Baptized Sikhs who belong to the Khalsa Panth are called Amritdharis and are strict vegetarians.

In Sikh Rehat Maryada , the code of behavioral norms, tobacco (which Guru Gobind Singh referred to as “jagat jhoot”, the lie of the world), alcoholic beverages and other drugs that affect the mind are prohibited.

Material needs

In contrast to Hinduism, Sikhs accept the importance of material needs and their satisfaction. They firmly reject asceticism. Rather, honest work is seen as a way to salvation. Fraternity, even with non-believers, is one of the principles of Sikhism, which is why the result of their work should be shared with others.

"Only he, Oh Nanak, knows the way,
who works in the sweat of his brow
and then shares it with all the others." (Guru Granth, p. 1245)

Personal wealth, however, is not an obstacle to a Sikh's spiritual life. Teachers of the religion preach to their followers that they should lead a normal life, which for Sikhs can also include getting rich. In addition to the pursuit of prosperity, the Sikh religion does not stand in the way of the pursuit of prestige, it is even said:

“A Sikh must set an example to others; he is said to be a better farmer, a better businessman and a better official. ”(Gobind Singh Mansukhani: Introduction to Sikhism )

The Guru Granth Sahib

The Sikhs' way of life is deeply rooted in the written records of the founders. The collected writings of the gurus as well as the saints from North India are called Guru Granth Sahib . The work is considered an Eternal Guru by Sikhs as it represents the spiritual legacy of the ten Sikh Gurus . Granth comes from the Sanskrit word grantha , which means “book”. The word Sahib (Lord) expresses great esteem. The work, written in the script Gurmukhi developed by the gurus , consists of detailed accounts of the first five gurus, the ninth guru and the “Bhagats” - these are saints and sages of different social origins. The writings were compiled by Guru Arjan , the fifth Guru, in the Adi Granth work in 1604 . Later the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh , added the writings of the 9th Guru to the work. The work has since been known as Guru Granth Sahib . He has been accorded the authority and dignity of the Guru within the Sikh community since 1708.

What is unusual about this work is the inclusion of different languages ​​- including Panjabi , Hindi and Braj  - as well as verses from various Bhagats, including Kabir and Ravidas . The use of different languages ​​and verses by saints of various origins are intended to emphasize the cross-religious character of the Sikh religion. The original script, which has survived to this day, which comprises 1430 pages in today's standard edition, is based on a carefully worked out system: a sophisticated grammatical system specially developed for the script. The contents are arranged according to author, topic and melody sequence. The hymns of Guru Granth Sahib are divided into 31 chapters, each of which is assigned an item for the musical performance . This rag is a modal sequence of tones that is based on a raga of classical Indian music . The musical instruments with which the hymns belonging to the genre kirtan are accompanied come in part from Indian folk music. These include the small hourglass drum dhadd and the stringed lute sarangi used by Dhadis , otherwise the barrel drum dholak and the pincer-shaped percussion instrument chimta .

Religious Beliefs

The religious insights of the Sikh religion are recorded in metaphorical poetry in Guru Granth Sahib . Continuous trust in God as well as the internalization and living of spiritual wisdom in everyday life, the practice of the three basic principles Guru Nanak Dev: Naam Japo / Naam Simran (recitation / chanting and meditation on Naam, the divine substance and name of God Wahegurus), Kirat Karo: Work hard and sincere, Wand Chakko: sharing with others (the less fortunate of society) is the focus.


The Sikhs believe in the one supreme God who is neither male nor female. The Guru Granth Sahib , the Holy Book, begins with the “ Mul Mantar ”, i.e. H. "Root Mantra." It is the creed:

A God!
ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ His name is the truth (He is true)
ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ He is the creator
ਨਿਰਭਉ Without fear
ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ Without hate
ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ He is immortal
ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ Without birth and death
ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ॥ Revealed by the true guru
॥ ਜਪੁ॥ Singing and meditating, praying
ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ॥ True in the beginning. True through all times.
ਹੈ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ॥੧॥ True here and now. Guru Nanak says it will be true forever.

Understanding of creation

According to the Sikh religion, the essence of creation is unfathomable. The universe, which is constantly evolving according to the evolutionary principle, is considered to be immeasurable. According to this understanding, the will of creation manifests itself in the fundamental laws of nature. The Creator is described as unconditionally loving, infinite, incomprehensible, hostile, nameless, genderless - hence the use of “mother” for the “creator” - and formless. It unites three essential natures: transcendence , immanence and omnipresence . Since the divine is inherent in creation, it is viewed as continuously animated and equally holy. The repeated use of apparently irreconcilable statements is intended to clarify the nature of creation, which is difficult to understand: "You have a thousand eyes and yet you have not one, you have a thousand shapes and yet not a single one".

life after death

Sikhs believe that humans and animals have a soul that can be reborn into different forms of life over and over again. The soul can have passed through some forms of life until it has reached that of humans (the highest level of consciousness perception).

The rebirth ( reincarnation ) is a painful cycle, because the soul many times the loss z. B. the parents, the own family and the own body had to endure.

Man's destiny is to escape from the cycle of rebirth and to let the soul become one with God by following the path of the gurus and attaining perfect enlightenment.

However, according to Guru Nanak, there is no point in dealing with things that have happened. Only the here and now counts. Nanak is also addressing the yogis of that time, who spent days and nights thinking about what they would or were.

Attitude to life

Sikhism assumes that every act and every thought will have a consequence and postulates a natural law of cause and effect (see also karma ). A central theme is overcoming egoism . According to the founders of the religion, the main obstacle to inner and social peace is clinging to oneself and to worldly things ( Maya ).

Inner peace, also called mukti ("redemption"), can be achieved through an awakened and enlightened consciousness, which sees through the feeling of separation from everything that exists as an illusion. Salvation refers to the experience of creative unity during a person's lifetime. In order to develop an awakened consciousness, according to Guru Granth Sahib , it is essential to use primal wisdoms that are potentially inherent in humans. A life that is based on this wisdom is characterized by a holistic way of life, which is characterized by continuous connection with creation, inner satisfaction and striving for human progress. This attitude is also expressed with the word " meditation ".


Great importance is therefore attached to a virtuous lifestyle. The cornerstones of being a Sikh are socially oriented family life, honest earnings for a living, and lifelong spiritual development. Service to fellow human beings and the endeavor to eliminate social injustices are seen as important forms of devotion to God. Women and men are given an equal role with equal rights and obligations.

On the other hand, rituals , pilgrimages , superstition , occultism , asceticism , religious specialization - which also includes priests - monasticism and nunnery as well as mediators between man and the Creator are rejected, because every person is given the potential, the divine directly in himself and to experience it in everyday life with others.



The history of the Sikhs can be easily reconstructed. In the series "History of the Sikhs and their Religion" by Kirpal Singh and Kharak Singh, edited by the Dharam Parchar Committee, a discourse in five volumes from its origins to the 20th century is given in detail. The sources on the Sikh gurus can be read in the various biographies of Janam Sakhi Guru Nanak Dev, a part is based on oral tradition, another part is based on written sources from the Sikh gurus themselves and the Gursikhs who were close to the Sikh gurus. Further sources are the Gurbilias Patshahi Chhevin, Gurbilas Patshahi Daswin, Mehma Parkash, Gur Prakash, Gurpartap Suraj Granth, Panth Prakash, Puratan Janamsakhi, Vilayatwli Janamsakhi, Suraj Prakash, Giani Gian Singh, historians Karam-i-Singh, Char-Baghab Bhai Vir Singh.

Other historical sources were written by English, Muslim and Hindu writers. There are also sources from British and German orientalists and Christian missionaries who, in the course of the colonization of India, produced the first foreign-language works with an obviously ethnocentric approach via the Sikhs. The main features of the historical development of the Sikhs can be reconstructed by comparing sources between various historical documents and the original writings of the gurus and prominent contemporaries such as Bhai Gurdas (15th century) as follows:

The time of the gurus

A rare tanjore- style painting from the late 19th century; the ten gurus as well as Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana are shown

The founder, Guru Nanak, was born in 1469 in Talwandi , in what is now Nankana Sahib in Pakistan . The young Nanak dealt with the basic questions of life at an early age. Already during his school days, in which he stood out with excellent achievements, he publicly distanced himself from the existing religious traditions, such as B. the brahmanic initiation ritual of the " sacred cord ". Above all, he questioned the meaningfulness of widespread religious practices, dogmas, the authority of existing religious scriptures (including Simrats and Vedas ) and the hierarchization of society in castes. Guru Nanak, father of two children, went on extensive journeys after holding various positions in the local city administration when he was not quite forty. The hagiographies tell of visits to Mecca , what is now Iraq, Afghanistan and Europe. The founder of the religion was able to win over numerous people for his message of universal brotherhood. Towards the end of his life, Guru Nanak founded the city of Kartarpur with numerous students in what is now the Pakistani part of Punjab and lived there until the end of his life. Before his death, he asked one of his successors, Guru Angad Dev, to continue his vision and teaching. Guru Nanak are followed by nine Sikh Gurus.

An overview of the ten gurus' effective period :

guru Life
Guru Nanak Dev 1469-1539
Guru Angad Dev 1504-1552
Guru Amar Das 1479-1574
Guru Ram Das 1534-1581
Guru Arjan Dev 1563-1606
Guru Har Gobind 1595-1644
Guru Har Rai 1630-1661
Guru Har Krishan 1656-1664
Guru Tegh Bahadur 1621-1675
Guru Gobind Singh 1666-1708

Under the leadership of the ten gurus, the Sikhs increasingly developed into a religious and later also a political power in northern India. The movement of the Sikhs was noticeable, among other things, for the fact that it critically questioned existing religious traditions and rites, rejected the Brahmin caste system, gave women an equal position in society, offered cross-religious instruction and free kitchens, carried out land reforms and minted its own coins. The emphasis on religious and political sovereignty was increasingly viewed critically.

The until then largely undisturbed development of the young religion came to an end with the death of the liberal Mughal emperor Akbar I in 1605. His successor Jahangir (1569–1627) ushered in an era of violence against people of different faiths. The Sikhs were also affected. In 1606 the fifth guru, Guru Arjan, was tortured to death on the orders of Jahangir; one reason was the assessment of the Aad Granth as blasphemous. The subsequent guru Har Gobind then emphasized the need to defend oneself against religious and political intolerance. The Sikhs continued to expand their armed forces under his leadership. In 1675 the ninth guru was executed by the rulers in Delhi . Guru Gobind Rai, who called himself Gobind Singh after the founding of the Khalsa Brotherhood, was the last human guru to assume the guru dignity. Like some gurus before, he was involved in numerous defensive battles against local rulers and mountain lords. Numerous important original writings were lost during his gurusship.

Guru Gobind Singh founded the Brotherhood of Khalsa around 1699 , which, according to tradition, set itself the task of combating tyranny and religious intolerance. As an expression of their willingness to work at all times , the members undertook to wear five kakars . The establishment of the representation model of the "Panj Piare" had another noticeable influence to this day. In order to prevent individual members from going it alone, important institutions should henceforth be headed by five Sikh men or Sikh women who are characterized by particular virtue. Historically, it remained unclear what exactly happened on the day it was founded. The available sources consistently report on the founding of the Khalsa, the initiation of thousands of Sikhs and the associated new naming (Singh and Kaur). However, the descriptions of the exact circumstances contradict each other in the details.

The time after the gurus

After the tenth guru died in 1708 as a result of an assassination attempt, the unrest in northern India intensified. The Sikhs' community was losing momentum. The reforms introduced by the gurus were only carried out sporadically and the way of life they had established lost in importance due to the ongoing chaos of war. Ahmad Shah Durrani invaded northern India several times. Tens of thousands of Sikhs died because they were persecuted as a religious minority. Some of them were forced to live underground. The Sikhs recovered slowly from the chaos of war in the decades that followed.

Ranjit Singh , who came from a Sikh family , took advantage of the disagreement between the rulers of Lahore , stormed the city and became ruler of the Punjab in 1799. After his death in 1839, the empire quickly fell apart. After the First and Second Sikh Wars , the Punjab was annexed by the British colonial powers in 1849.

In 1873 the Sikhs formed the civil society Singh Sabha Movement . The aim of this was to familiarize the Sikh community with the teachings of the gurus again. The Singh Sabha movement also strove to regain sovereignty over the historical Gurdwaras, most of whom had been under the control of Brahmin priests ( mahants ) since the power-political turmoil . In some cases they worked closely with the British colonial power. The members of the Singh Sabha, who came mainly from an educated class, published numerous publications on the teachings of the gurus and the history of the Sikhs. The first religious and political groups formed, including the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in Amritsar, founded around 1920 and still influential today, and the Akali Dal party . Singh Sabha members were instrumental in developing a code of conduct for the Sikh community. The code, which was passed in a compromise version after lengthy negotiations with representatives of different Sikh groups, represents a milestone in the institutionalization of the Sikh religion.

The Sikhs after India's independence

Great Britain granted India independence on August 15, 1947. The former colony was divided and the state of Pakistan was founded. A Pakistani and an Indian Punjab were created. Millions of people, including many Sikhs, had to relocate from the resulting Pakistani part to the Indian part. During the struggle for independence, there were riots in which many people died. After independence, political tensions arose between the Hindu-influenced central government and religious minorities, including the Sikhs. Under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi , the Sikhs were granted the Punjabi-Suba , their own language province , in 1966 after numerous political protests . The areas dominated by Hindus were separated and amalgamated in the newly established state of Haryana . In 1973 Sikh leaders passed the Anandpur Sahib Resolution . In it they called for the establishment of Chandigarh as the sole capital of the Punjab, greater political autonomy and a revision of Article 25 of the Indian constitution, which, contrary to their self- image, assigns the Sikhs and other religious minorities to the Hindu category .

In the 1980s there were first political and then violent clashes between the Indian government and Sikh groups, which demanded far-reaching autonomy for the Punjab as well as respect for human rights and more religious freedom . A group formed around Bhindranwale among the Sikhs ; it campaigned vehemently for greater autonomy and legitimized the use of armed force for defense purposes. In the wake of the smoldering conflict, the group relocated its headquarters to the Darbar Sahib complex within the Harimandir Sahib , the "Golden Temple". The central government then took control of the Punjab and imposed a news blackout.

After unsuccessful negotiations, today's religious center of the Sikhs, the Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar , was stormed by Indian troops on June 3, 1984 - a major holiday ( Operation Blue Star ). According to the Indian Army, several hundred Sikhs and 83 Indian soldiers died during the operation. However, the number of victims is controversial, and in some cases much higher numbers are given.

On October 31, 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by two Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh . As a result, pogroms took place in Delhi and Punjab, killing thousands of Sikhs. The autonomy movement was crushed in the following years with military force by the central government. Human rights organizations complained about regular human rights violations, torture and arbitrary police force. The processing of the unrest by Human Right Wing, for example, brought to light finds of systematic persecution of Sikhs: tens of thousands of bodies of killed Sikhs were found in mass graves. Many Sikhs left their homeland during this time and settled in the west.

Sikhs celebrate their traditional New Year in Toronto , 2005

The situation in Punjab only calmed down in the early 1990s. Since then, the government in Punjab has changed regularly, with the Akali Dal dominating. In the first election in the new millennium, the Congress Party will replace Akali Dal in Punjab. In 2007, Akali Dal won the state elections. The renowned economist Manmohan Singh , who decisively shaped India's economic reform process, was the first Sikh to be appointed Prime Minister of India in 2004.

Perceptions and misunderstandings

Confusion with other religions

Sikhism is often viewed as a variant of Hinduism. Sikhs are sometimes mistaken for Muslims because of their headgear.


The public presentation of the Sikh religion is sometimes found to be misleading by its followers. The secondary literature is partly based on historically dubious sources. In addition, the reproduction of already solidified misrepresentations and translations continues to lead to misrepresentations. Only a few books and websites are based on a source-critical approach and the original written records of the gurus. This is not least due to the language barrier. The linguistic subtleties and metaphors of Guru Granth Sahib cannot be adequately understood without background knowledge. Analyzes of encyclopedia articles and Internet texts, publications and translations show that falsifying interpretations by Guru Granth Sahib that go back to ethnocentric interpretations by Western scholars and Brahmin scholars since the 19th century are still circulating.

To the origins of Sikhism

Some encyclopedias and publications see the origins of Sikhism in the Bhakti movement, Sufism , Sant Mat or Vishnuism . Others assume that Guru Nanak and his successors established a syncretism of Hindu and Islamic traditions. This view was mainly established by western orientalists and brahmin scholars in the 19th and 20th centuries.

However, the gurus and their followers themselves did not see themselves as belonging to any of the religious movements of the time. The gurus as well as contemporaries who lived in the community of the gurus and wrote about them, e.g. B. Bhai Gurdas, emphasize this explicitly in their writings. Even today's Sikhs see themselves as followers of an independent, religiously oriented way of life.

To the Sikhs as "warrior caste"

Sikh regiment in France during World War I

In other representations, Sikhs are seen as followers or members of a "warrior caste". This categorization was also coined by orientalists and later adopted by Hindu nationalists in the 1990s.

An analysis of the historical documents shows that the gurus and their followers explicitly speak out against the use of violence for aggressive motives. Nonetheless, Sikhs have taken part in numerous armed conflicts throughout history and viewed the right to self-defense as a fundamental human right. At the end of the 19th century there was a reinterpretation. Certain elites of the broader Sikh current began to develop a self-image and to distance themselves from Islam and Hinduism.

During the British colonial era, especially during the heyday of European imperialism in the 19th century, the British colonial rulers divided the peoples of British India into “warlike” and “non-warlike” peoples. The former, the martial races, included mainly ethnic groups from northern India, such as the mountain peoples of the Himalayas (Nepalese Gurkhas ) but also the Sikhs, while ethnic groups living further south, such as the Bengal and Tamils, viewed from a racist perspective as soft and largely for military service considered unsuitable. Accordingly, the army of British India was largely recruited from the first-mentioned peoples. Sikhs made up a disproportionately large proportion of the soldiers and officers of the Army of British India (18% in 1894, even 30% in 1914). Even today, Sikhs made up around 10-15% of the personnel of the Indian armed forces and 20% of the officer corps.

Religion or nation

Nation can define itself through language, ethnicity, culture, government and other things. Religion can help to overcome barriers within a plural nation or also transnationally (e.g. language, education, culture).

With the Sikhs, religion and nation are inextricably linked. However, this connection is in permanent tension. The example of Sikhism in India shows that the perception of the Indians and the self-perception of the Sikhs are drifting apart. While the Sikhs have been promoting a national identity for themselves since the 19th century, they are viewed as a religion in today's India, but not as a nation of their own. What contributes to this discrepancy and the difficult integration of the Sikhs with their own consciousness is, among other things, the incompatibility between the all-Indian unity (as a nation) and the self-image of the Sikhs, which connects religion and nation.

Sikhs in research

As far as research on the Sikhs is concerned, various fields and participants in the discourse on the Sikhs can be identified. One problem with discourse is that there is no strict separation between certain spheres. Both in the sphere of those involved and in the places where discussions are held, there is not always a consistent distinction between religious and secular positions. Often “orthodox” Sikh positions are mixed with academic research; sometimes even politics plays a role in the discourse. This intermingling, which sometimes takes place, is not publicly communicated or admitted by those involved in the discussion. Arvind-Pal Mandair can be mentioned here as an example. The author, who writes about Sikhism, Sikh understanding and similar topics, tries on the one hand to highlight which historical circumstances have contributed to today's understanding and self-image of the Sikhs. In doing so, he also communicates the formation processes and the historicization that led to the development of the Sikh identity, especially in the colonial era. On the other hand, he repeatedly draws an arc to the postulated contingency of the “history” of the Sikhs, which goes back to the first Guru Nanak. The intermingling that takes place at Mandair is based on academic interest and research on the one hand, and the fact that Mandair is a Sikh himself on the other. This example allows a comparative reference to the question of identity, in which there is no clear separation between religion and nation. This problem is not specific to the Sikh, however, but is found in all concepts of nationalism and religion.

Naam or Shabd

In Sikhism Naam or Shabd means the self-working power, the all-creating and all-pervading God-power. In the Christian faith, such a creative power is called “the holy word” (“In the beginning was the word / and the word was with God, / and the word was God” ( Jn 1,1  EU )). In Hinduism this power is equivalent to Nad or Akash Bani (a voice that comes down from heaven). Among the Muslim Sufis she is known as Sultan-ul-azkar ("King of Prayer").

See also


  • Pashaura Singh, Louis E. Fenech (Eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies , Oxford University Press, Oxford 2014.
  • Tilak Raj Chopra, Heinz Werner Wessler: From the Guru Granth Sahib and other sacred writings of the Sikhs. World Religions Publishing House, Berlin 2011.
  • JS Grewal: The Sikhs of the Punjab. Cambridge University Press, New Delhi 1994.
  • Bhai Gurdas: Varaan Bhai Gurdas Ji. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee, Amritsar 1998. (15th century)
  • Lothar Handrich: Healing in Sikhism. In: V. Futterknecht, M. Noseck-Licul, M. Kremser (eds.): Healing in the religions. Religious, spiritual and bodily dimensions. (= Series of publications of the Austrian Society for Religious Studies. Volume 5). LIT-Verlag, Vienna 2013.
  • Lothar Handrich: Preparation for the divine wedding. Aging in Sikhism. In: K. Baier, F. Winter (Ed.): Aging in the religions. (= Series of publications of the Austrian Society for Religious Studies. Volume 6). LIT-Verlag, Vienna 2013.
  • Karam Singh Historian (Ed.): A probe into Sikh History. Singh Brothers, Amritsar 1935.
  • Nikky-Guninder Kaur: The Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993.
  • Nikky-Guninder Kaur: Sikhism. An Introduction IBTauris, London 2011.
  • Max Arthur Macauliffe: The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors. Volume 6, University Press, Oxford 1909.
  • Gobinda Mukhoti, Rabji Kothari: Who are the culprits? Report of a joint investigation into the causes and effects of the unrest in Delhi from October 31 to November 10, 1984. PUDR & PUCL, Delhi 1984.
  • Kahn Singh Nabha: Encyclopaedia of Sikh Literature. Bhasha Vibhag, Mahan Kosh 1930.
  • Christopher Shackle, Arvind-pal Singh Mandair (Ed.): Teachings of the Sikh Gurus. Selections from the Sikh Scriptures. Routledge, New York 2005.
  • Christopher Shackle: An Introduction to the Sacred Language of the Sikhs , London, New Delhi 1983/1995.
  • Giani Gurdit Singh: Mudavni. Sahit Parkashan, Chandigarh 2003.
  • Inder Singh: Misrepresentations of Religion. Fateh Publications, Patiala 2006.
  • JPS Uberoi: Religion, Civil Society and the State. A Study of Sikhism. Oxford University Press, Delhi 1996.
  • Sahib Singh: About Compilation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Lok Sahit Parkashan, Amritsar 1996.
  • Sahib Singh: Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan 1-10. Raj Publisher, Jalandar 1961.
  • Marla Stukenberg: The Sikhs. Religion, politics, history. Beck, Munich 1995.
  • Arvind-Pal Mandir: Religion and the Specter of the West. Columbia University Press, New York 2009.
  • WH McLeod: History and Tradition in the Study of the Sikh Faith. In: WH McLeod (Ed.): Essays in Sikh History, Tradition and Society. Oxford University Press, New Delhi 2007.
  • Arvind-Pal Mandir: Sikhism. A guide for the perplexed. London 2013.

Web links

Commons : Sikhism  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Information on distribution: Brockhaus Religionen. Mannheim 2007.
  2. Michael McDowell; Nathan Robert Brown: World Religions at Your Fingertips. Alpha Books, 2009, ISBN 978-1-59257-846-7 , p. 232.
  3. Police protection for Sikh temples - worldwide echo after attack. Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung , April 18, 2016, accessed on April 18, 2016 .
  4. 2001 population by religion and nationality. Statistics Austria , December 14, 2015, accessed on December 25, 2015 .
  5. Sikh are not recorded separately. In the census they appear under "Other religions"
  8. Numbers on distribution, unless otherwise stated, were taken from Brockhaus Religionen (Mannheim 2007).
  11. See Uberoi, 1996.
  12. Arvind-Pal Mandair: Sikhism. A Guide for the Perplexed. London, 2013.
  16. Rehat Maryada
  17. page 12
  18. See Singh 1996. Some quotes from Guru Granth Sahib , which give an insight into the nature of the Sikh religion, can be found in the article Adi Granth .
  19. Guru Granth Sahib. P. 4, 1136, 1349.
  20. Nikky-Guninder Kaur, 1993.
  21. Guru Granth Sahib. P. 1, 103.
  22. Guru Granth Sahib. P. 1427.
  23. Guru Granth Sahib. P. 13.
  24. Guru Granth Sahib. Pp. 39, 94, 466.
  25. Guru Granth Sahib. Pp. 6, 51, 106.
  26. Guru Granth Sahib. P. 16.
  27. Guru Granth Sahib. P. 4.
  28. Guru Granth Sahib. Pp. 9, 12, 491.
  30. Shackle & Mandair., 2005
  31. ^ Grewal, 1999.
  32. Guru Granth Sahib. P. 471.
  33. a b Uberoi 1996.
  34. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (accessed January 8, 2017)
  35. Grewal 1994, Historian 1935, Nabha 1930.
  36. Mukhoti & Kothari, 1984.
  37. Singh 2006; Shackle & Mandair 2005; Nabha 1930.
  38. Singh, 1961.
  39. Singh 2006; Shackle & Mandair 2005; Macauliffe 1909.
  40. Gurdas 15th century.
  41. Navdeep S. Mandair: Colonal Formations of Sikhism . In: Pashaura Singh, Louis E. Fenech (Eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies . 2014, ISBN 0-19-969930-5 , pp. 71-72 (English).
  42. ^ Ayan Ghosh: The shadow of the 'Martial Race' theory in the Indian Army - Does it still exist? The Morning Media Project, May 20, 2012, accessed April 14, 2017 .
  43. Arvind-Pal Mandair