DEFINING A SIKH IN THE
SPIRIT OF UNIVERSAL NATURE OF SIKH RELIGION
Dr Sukhraj S Dhillon, PhD
There is an excellent dialogue among sikhs all over the world to define a
sikh. The recent focus is the 1925
definition of a sikh and its endorsement among various groups.
The discussion is about the definition of a Sikh as a "person
who believe in the Guru Granth Sahib, believe in the Ten Gurus, and have no
definition of a sikh in the spirit of universal nature of Sikh religion is an
excellent effort, and I admire the endorsees of 1925 definition. However, we
cannot ignore the Amrit and Khalsa aspect of Sikhism without clarification.
The greatest contribution of the last living 10th Guru Nanak--Guru Gobind
Singh--is the creation of Khalsa, the
family of pure ones, to which a Sikh may belong through receiving baptism (Amrit).
Therefore, every khalsa is a Sikh but every
Sikh is not a khalsa unless he/she receives baptism.
Although Guru Gobind Singh offered the highest honor to Khalsa, he did
not expect every Sikh to become khalsa. One of his most favorite poets
Bhai Nand Lal and more than half of his other poets, for example, did not become
khalsa. Therefore, Dashmesh Pita 10th Guru Nanak should have no objection to the
definition of a sikh we are endorsing. This is a good lesson to avoid making it
a controversial issue. (Going back to rahitnamas etc doesn't help.
As many of us know that rahitnamas written by Chaupa Singh, Bhai Nand
Lal, Desa Singh..... are not in agreement with each other.)
In the Universal Spirit of Sikhism, let us endorse the definition of a Sikh as a "person who believe in the Guru Granth Sahib, believe in the Ten Gurus, and have no other religion."
Let the Sikhs
all over the world (in the West and East including SGPC) consider it for
Moreover, I would like to share just 2 lines of gurbani and the universal
nature of our religion which is awaiting to be accepted by the entire humanity
as our founder Guru-- Guru Nanak Dev Ji intended. It was not a coincidence
that he was accepted the guru and pir by hindu and muslims.
When we look at Guru Nanak's philosophy--Sikhism belongs to every human
being and it carries a universal message in the true sense (sarbat
da bhala). However, most of the Sikh Gurdwara's are ignoring the
spiritual nature of our founding Guru's message in Gurbani. In most of the
places, we Sikhs are spending time fighting, for example, over physical
appearance--either forcing our views on others and cursing them or defending
ourselves from those who are forcing their views. I meet Amritdhari Sikhs and
those who are Non-Amritdhari. Most of us will agree that there will always be
Amritdhari and Non-Amritdhari Sikhs and both can either sit together in
Gurdwaras or divide our community into separate Gurdwaras. It's only the
understanding of Gurbani and message that can practically improve our everyday
living, and can keep us together within our own community and with the rest of
Just two lines of Gurbani can change our attitude:
dharam daya (compassion) ka putu;
Santokh (being content or satisfied) thap rakhiya jin suti."
(Stanza 16, Japuji)
This universal message contain two words: compassion (daya)
and contentment (santokh). The righteousness
is born out of compassion and contentment upholds the order of nature (Dhaul
dharam daya ka poot; santokh thap rakhiya jin soot). The implication is:
compassionate to others;
Be satisfied within yourself!"
The two words, compassion (daya) and
contentment (santokh) combines the
philosophy of whole world: Christianity in the west and all the eastern
The message "Be compassionate to others!" is a basic tenet in
Christianity. A Christmas Message says:
best part of a person's life is not fame, wealth or ability. The best part of a
good person's life is the little acts of kindness and love given to others. You
are remembered and respected for the good you do for others."
It is due to this philosophy that we see Christians doing great deeds of
compassion-- whether it's adopting a child or feeding the hungry of the world.
Mother Teresa was a good example of someone who is compassionate to
others-- taking care of the poor of the poorest in Calcutta.
Bhagat Puran Singh of Pingalwara in Amritsar was another example who took
care of the poor and sick. That
is compassion Guru Nanak is asking us to have in our lives.
The second part of the message "Be content within yourself" is
the basic philosophy of eastern religions, suggesting that happiness comes from
within. Buddhism believes in it,
Jainism believes in it, and other eastern religions believe in it.
The purpose of every personís life is to realize triple nature of the
self, called sat-chit-ananda (existence or being conscious, and bliss).
It means finding happiness within yourself. When we are content within, we are on our way to bliss or
ultimate happiness. When we blame
others for our happiness, we are actually misdiagnosing the cause of it.
The cause lies within. When
we feel upset or unhappy because someone got a raise, made more money or got a
big house or an expensive car or a private jet, we overlook the real cause of
unhappiness. The cause is: not
attending to our inner self, not trying to know the spiritual self that
we are, not communicating or communing with our soul.
compassionate (daya) to others;
Be satisfied (santokh) within yourself!"
Just these two lines, as we mentioned above, combine the philosophy of
whole world: Christianity in the west and all the eastern religions. That is why
we can call Sikhism a UNIVERSAL RELIGION. It is unfortunate that we Sikhs have
gone away from the teachings of Gurbani and can't even practice as a religion of
one community. All our life is wasted on dividing our community by concentrating
on differences such as outward appearance and ignoring the universal nature of
Nanak's message which our founder Guru preached to every Hindu, Muslim and
If we could practice this universal message, imagine the satisfaction and
happiness it would bring. But we should never do the opposite -- "be
compassionate to yourself and expect other to be satisfied with what they
P.S. Parts of
the text are taken from a recent Book Manuscript "SCIENCE, RELIGION &
SPIRITUALITY: In Search of God" by Dr. S.S. Dhillon
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