Make your own free website on


Courtesy: Dhillon, S.S. "Concept Of God” Understanding Sikhism-Research Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, pages 5-10, January 2007




Dr Sukhraj S Dhillon, PhD
Cary , NC 27511 , USA




In most of the religions, God is a theoretical concept.  For the new generation of 21st century, as well as, in Sikh concept of God, we should be able to experience. This is the essential part of being a Sikh or religious today. Meeting God, having vision, living with God 24 hours a day is what being a Sikh and religious is all about.  God (Parmatma) and Soul (atma) is explained by Guru Nanak as the 'Jot', which is scientifically 'Energy'.  The God is not in Gurdwara or temple or church or mosque only that appears every Sunday.  God is also not sitting somewhere in the sky watching our actions.  The God is in us, the God is in sangat (congregation).  “If we can’t see God in all, we can’t see God at all.  Sikh scriptures hold that all humans are capable of achieving union with God while still alive by realizing the Divine within.  That’s how man can become one with God and experience it. 



The new generation of 21st century is not looking for a solid theology and be orthodox to the core, but to experience God in their own life.  "Young people got tired of hearing that once upon a time people experienced God directly," says historian Martin E. Marty of the University of Chicago .  "They want it to happen for themselves. They don't want to hear that Joan of Arc had a vision [7].”  They are not satisfied that Christ had a vision or Prophet Mohammad had a vision or Guru Nanak had a vision. They want to have a vision.  Rather than being about a god who commands you, it's about finding a religion that empowers you spiritually.


The new generation believes in a religion that points them on the way to God, on the way where God is not just a theoretical concept, but where God can be experienced in their lives. The new generation of Sikh youth in the age of science and technology are no exception. The interpretation of Sikh scripture in the real perspective can provide them the true vision. They do not have to 'believe' in God, they can meet with God, and they can know who God is. This is the essential part of being a Sikh. Meeting God, having darshan, living with God 24 hours a day is what being a Sikh about. Why is it that so many people who look like Sikhs do not really understand this concept [6]?



The Sikh concept is fiercely opposed to any anthropomorphic conceptions of the Divine.  For Guru Nanak the Creator is “One and only” and its creation, mankind is also one.  Only in personal experience it can be truly known.  Guru Nanak has described many of the attributes of God, which human beings can comprehend and he wants people to practice these attributes in their life so that they could become God-oriented (gurmukh). Guru Nanak’s composition on creation makes it abundantly clear that gods and goddesses, karma and transmigration, hell and heaven, reincarnation and religious ceremonies and rituals are the inventions of man, not the creation of God.

mqu ko jwxY jwie AgY pwiesI ]
jyhy krm kmwie qyhw hoiesI ] 

Do not think that the benefits of deeds performed in the current life will be rewarded in the next world.   
According to the actions one has committed, so does the mortal become.

AGGS, M 1, p 730 [1].

suix mn imqR ipAwirAw imlu vylw hY eyh ] 
jb lgu jobin swsu hY qb lgu iehu qnu dyh ]  

Listen, O my mind, my friend, my darling: this is the time to meet the Lord.  
This opportunity will last as long as there is health and vitality, devote this body to Him.

AGGS, M 1, p 20.

mwns dyh bhuir nh pwvY kCU aupwau mukiq kw kru ry ]
nwnk khq gwie krunw mY Bv swgr kY pwir auqru ry ]  

You will not be born again; make the effort  to achieve liberation!  

Says Nanak:
Praise the Lord of compassion, and cross over the world-ocean of temptations.

AGGS, M 9, p 220.

Awgwhw kU qRwiG ipCw Pyir n muhfVw ]
nwnk isiJ ievyhw vwr bhuiV n hovI jnmVw ]1] 

Look ahead; don't turn back to the past.  
This is the only chance to realize God, you shall not be reincarnated again, says Nanak.

AGGS, M 5, p 1096.


Concept of Atma (Soul) Parmatma (Supreme Soul, God)

We can have scientific explanation for the 21st century new generation about concept of atma-parmatma (individual soul as part of universal soul or God) from Gurbani [4].  God and Soul is explained by Guru Nanak as the 'Jot', which is scientifically 'Energy'.  As explained in detail by Dhillon [4], scientifically everything in this universe came from this one 'Energy' and will go back to this 'Energy'. 'Everything' means all matter including human beings and all other beings.  According to law of thermodynamics, this energy can neither be created nor be destroyed.  [(vfw n hovY Gwit n jwie] - The Creator neither increases nor decreases in totality. AGGS, M 1, p 9.)]  


I realize these concepts make many of us feel uncomfortable but Nanakian philosophy is not at odd with the scientific explanation.   

sB mih joiq joiq hY soie]  iqs kY cwnix sB mih cwnxu hoie] 
AGGS, M 1, p 663-8.

The Divine Light is within everyone; You are that Light.  Yours is that Light which shines within everyone.

 Guru Nanak still goes further that this 'Energy' came from 'Sunn' [2]. The 'Sunn' means 'Nothingness' and 'Nothingness' means 'Everything'.   

Agin pwxI jIau joiq qumwrI suMny klw rhwiedw]2]
suMnhu bRhmw ibsnu mhysu aupwey]  suMny vrqy jug sbwey]    

AGGS, M 1, p 1037-12.

Your Light pervades fire, water and soul; Your Power rests in the Primal Void.  From this Primal Void, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva issued forth. This Primal Void is pervasive throughout all the ages.

 Here’s what Guru Nanak says about atma and parmatma:  

Awqmw prwqmw eyko krY] AMqr kI duibDw AMqir mrY]
AGGS, M 1, p 661-11.

Whose soul and the Supreme Soul (God) become one; the duality of the inner mind disappears.

ijnI Awqmu cIinAw prmwqmu soeI]

AGGS, M 1, p421-16

Those who understand their own Soul, are themselves the Supreme Soul.


Alike God, the Self (or Soul) is also formless. Form is possible to the limited entity only. In order for something to possess a form, it must be conditioned by something else. Self being beyond the body-mind-intellect apparatus is deconditioned from everything, and therefore this Unconditioned Self can only be formless. Thus, in his essential nature, as the Divine Consciousness, man is said to be the True Image of God.  But we have to recognize it.


mn qUM joiq srUpu hY Apxw mUlu pCwxu]
AGGS, M 3, p 441-3.

O my mind, you are That — the true image of the Divine Light — know your Reality.


Thus, the life-giving Supreme Truth is only One, and everything is filled with His Glory. Therefore, there is no such thing as a separate Sikh Soul, a separate Christian Soul, a separate Muslim Soul, a separate Hindu Soul, a young Soul, an old Soul, a rich Soul, a poor Soul, a higher Soul or a lower Soul, religious Soul or an atheist Soul, and so on. The All-permeating Supreme Soul (Parmatma) is One without-a-second. One Supreme Light is hidden in all beings and things just as the butter is hidden in the milk, and the fire is hidden in the wood.


sgl bnspiq mih bYsMqru sgl dUD mih GIAw]

aUc nIc mih joiq smwxI Git Git mwDau jIAw]
AGGS, M 5, p 617-2.

Just as the fire is contained in all firewood and butter is contained in all milk; so too is God’s Light contained in the high and the low; God is in the hearts of all beings.

Irrespective of one's faith, today's modern world expects religion to provide freedom at both spiritual and secular level.  Although we preach as God of love; in fact the God of faith/blind faith without logic is the cause of religious wars.  It is the God of logic, which is the God of love and spirituality.  That, in my humble opinion, was the God (in terms of concept) of Guru Nanak.  Guru Nanak preached religion of logic.


The Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS) – Sikh Holy-Scripture points towards self-realization to attain spiritual state of mind.  In the AGGS, the Commencing Verse, which is commonly called Mool-Mantra (Manglacharan), describes attributes of God, who is addressed as the one and only one infinite, ultimate truth, the creator/creation (Ik 'Oh' beant, Satnam, Karta Purakh). If we accept God as a spirit that exists in each and every person, then it describes attributes of spiritual state of mind/soul/self. That state of mind is without fear (Nirbhau), without enmity (Nirvair), immortal without the fear of death or birth (Ajooni), complete within itself (Saebhang)-- timeless, ageless, and formless (Akal Murat)".  A few blessed ones realize that state of mind (Nirbhau, Nirvair, Akal Murat, Ajuni Saebhang, Gur Parsad! Mool-Mantra or Basic Principle in Jap, (AGGS, p 1).  Nanakian philosophy expects human beings to comprehend and practice these attributes of God in their life so that they could become God-oriented (gurmukh).  We know that only physical body ages, spirit is not affected by time or age or birth or death.  Sikh scriptures hold that all humans are capable of achieving union with God while still alive by realizing the Divine within.  That’s how man can become one with God.


Linking with God: Man to God


God is in me or else is not at all.

--Wallace Stevens


To know God (Soul, Self, God, Sat Guru, Divine Love, Unconditioned Consciousness, etc.) is none other than always being in bliss. If one can keep himself up in tune with the infinite soul-consciousness, he will have an intuitively balanced mind.  In other words, linking with God is simply to be uninterruptedly identifying with Atma or resting on the highest consciousness or the self within.


“Man is the goal of creation. He has come into this world to display those Attributes of God that are reflected within himself.” 

Sufi Giyani Jallaluddin Rumi [from Singh # 8]


Therefore, God is not "there yonder", or at "some other time", or after death phenomena, or sitting somewhere in the sky outside this world watching our actions.  In truth, God is ever present in us, waiting to receive us, "here" and "now". Therefore, in reality we all are God-realized "now", but we do not know it! The process of transition of Jeeva (individual being) from its deluded or materialistic consciousness (egoism) to the spiritual consciousness is truly the religion. Therefore, to enjoy the Divine Bliss, Eternal Freedom and Boundless Love by becoming one with the homogenous oneness is the ultimate goal of religion.  So long the realization of this ultimate goal remains incomplete within ourselves, we are liable to create havoc in the God's creation.


The spiritual wisdom in religious texts reveals to us very important concepts. The first is that God has made man in true image (Joti Swaroop), hence, the man's real nature is essentially divine. Second, the main aim of human life is to realize the essence of this divinity which is ever present within. Third, the soul (individual self/atma) is immortal, and the experience of the oneness of the soul with the Universal/Supreme Soul (parmatma) is to Realize God or to become one with God.


bwhir FUMiF ivgucIAY Gr mih vsqu suQwie]

mnmuiK haumY kir musI gurmuiK plY pwie]
AGGS, M 1, p 63..

Searching outside of themselves, people are ruined; the object of their search is in that sacred place Within the Self. The Manmukhs (ego-beings), in their ego, miss it; the spiritual beings receive it in their laps.


The above philosophy of Guru Nanak has been confirmed by the other Sikh Gurus:


sB ikCu Gr mih bwhir nwhI]

bwhir tolY so Brim BulwhI]

 AGGS, M 5, p 102.

Everything is Within the Self; there is nothing outside of It. One who searches outside is deluded by doubts.  

 puhp miD ijau bwsu bsqu hY mukr mwih jYsy CweI ]
 qYsy hI hir bsy inrMqir Gt hI Kojhu BweI ]

AGGS, M 9, p 684.

Like the fragrance which remains in the flower, and like the reflection in the mirror, the Lord dwells deep within; search for it within your own heart, O Siblings of Destiny.


On the other hand Kabir rejects the concept of Hindus and Muslims that God dwells in South and West:


dKn dyis hrI kw bwsw piCim Alh mukwmw]

idl mih Koij idlY idil Kojhu eyhI Taur mukwmw]
AGGS, Kabir , p 1349-13.

Hindus say their God is in the south direction, and the Muslims say their God is in the west. Search in your heart — look deep into your Heart of hearts Within; this is the Home and the place where God lives.


In reality, as the Self is always present within, Jeeva (individual being) is never apart from it. In other words, it is not the matter of realizing the Self, but of realizing that we never were not the Self! Thus, if we stand completely in spirit's world, where time has no meaning, the whole process of spiritual union never even occurred!  Jeeva was the part of Soul and God all along, only without knowing it! It was the false ego sense that had temporarily intervened. Once the false ego is eliminated, it takes only split second for the spiritual linking to take place — one split second completely divorced from the past, and entirely free from mental slavery of the future is all that is needed to peep over the veil of ignorance and realize for ourselves eternally thereafter the True Nature of the Self, the Timeless Godhood (Akaal Purakh, parmatma).


Awpu pCwxY bUJY soie]
AGGS, M 1, p 25-4.

He who realizes his Self comprehends God.


“If you know your Soul you know your God.” Sufi Giyani Jallaluddin Rumi [from Singh # 8]


Upon realizing our essential nature as Self, we also discover this is the Self of all, meaning that we are one with others. There is only one Self, one common Self which appears as many and different because of the different names and forms superimposed on it. There is one common being who is mistakenly supposed to be many — a mistake which has cost man dearly in the sense that it is responsible for his dualistic behavior (Doojaa Bhaav): Love and hatred, mercy and bloodshed, union and separation, pleasure and pain, death and rebirth, and so on. Self-realization is none other than knowing that we are one in spirit. When this truth dawns upon one, notions such as "I, mine, me, your" arising out of ego-ignorance, fade away like glowworms in the sun. The wise and true person, thus, sees One God in himself and in all creation. If you love this One God, you cannot hate others. It is this sense of Oneness that is the only possible basis for individual and collective harmony and peace.


Awpu pCwnY q eykY jwnY] 
AGGS, Kabir, p 855-16.

When one realizes his Self, then he knows One God.


The State of God-Realization

The sense of One God is a state of mind with awakened (realized) spirit. Many spiritual masters have called this enlightened state of mind by different names [3].  Buddha called "the enlightened one;" Christ and Messiah also meant the same.  St. Paul called this state "the peace of God that passeth understanding" and Richard Maurice Bucke named it "cosmic consciousness." Guru Nanak described as “realization of ultimate truth.”  In Zen it is satori, in Yoga it is samadhi or moksha, in Sufism it is fana, in Taoism it is wu or the Ultimate Tao.  Gurdjieff labeled it "objective consciousness," Sri Aurobindo refers to it as "illumination," "liberation," and "self-realization." Dante said, "trans-humanization into a God."  Likewise, enlightenment has been symbolized by many images: the thousand-petaled lotus of Hinduism, the Holy Grail of Christianity, the clear mirror of Buddhism, Judaism's Star of David, the yin-yang circle of Taoism, the mountaintop, the swan, the still lake, the mystic rose, and the eternal flame are all different imagings of the same phenomenon.


How does an individual describes the spiritual state of God-realization may seem quite different and even opposed?  As one and the same pain may be described either as a hot pang or as a cold sting, so the descriptions of the enlightened experience may take forms that seem so different.  One person may say that he has found the answer to the whole mystery of life, but somehow cannot put it into words.  Another will feel that he has experienced, not a transcendent God, but his own inmost nature.  One will get the sense that his ego or self has expanded to become the entire universe, whereas another will feel that he has lost himself altogether and that what he called his ego was never anything but an abstraction.  One will describe himself as infinitely enriched, while another will say he has not a care in the world.  A theist may call it a glimpse of the presence of God.  Rajnish called it “orgasmic”, saints may call “peaceful”, psychiatrists may call “tranquil”, and drug addicts may call “getting high” [3].


Regardless of the experience, we can call this state of mind with awakened (realized) spirit "the spiritual state of mind." In everyday living, some of the characteristics of a spiritual person include:

1.   An absence of need to dominate others, kindness, forgiving, mercy, compassion, peace, joy, acceptance, non-judgment, joining, and intimacy.


2.   He feels a sense of responsibility and belonging to the universe.


3. He chooses a path that leads to the discovery of the Truth, and start to pursue the path for salvation. 


4. He meditates on God's name with every breath and every morsel of food.  By true living in Spirituality, he earns his livelihood and eats the fruit of his labor sharing the same with others. He engages in the service of God's creation. Mother Teresa, who dedicated her life in the service of needy and helpless humanity, is the example of Spirituality. So was Bhagat Puran Singh of Pingalwara in Amritsar , India who took care of the poor and sick. Those who are able to achieve their spiritual goals, can make this earth a worthwhile place to live, make this society a worthwhile society to belong to and exist in, make the world full of true love for each other and end hatred and crime.


A non-spiritual person, on the other hand, lives in a state of fear and experiences anger, abuse, pain, greed, addiction, selfishness, obsession, corruption, and violence.  He/she may hold grudges and seek revenge for perceived wrongdoing.  He is only motivated for acquisitions' sake.  He often experiences loneliness and separation from all others.


Do all religions lead to God?

Each religion has suggestions, which are to be followed, in order to grow spiritually and to realize god [3].  Most religions, generally, claim their way is the way to God.  For example, ask a  Christian...his answer will be The One and Only through Jesus...If you believe in any others.. no way you will be saved.  Same for Muslims and the Koran... Prophet Mohammed is the One and Last Prophet...If you don’t believe in the way to be saved.


In the sikh concept of God the Creator is “One and Only” and Its creation, mankind is also one. The thoughts of many sages of diverse background that are compatible with Nanakian philosophy are incorporated in the AGGS, however, there are no quotes from the texts of Semitic and Hindu religions, as these religions are based on the concept of an “exclusive God”. In addition to the millions of gods, Hindus also believe in a God who communicates only through the priestly class of brahmans and then there is a God for the chosen people, the Jews. Christian God is approachable only through his only son Jesus Christ. For the Muslim, Mohammed is the last and final in a long line of Prophets of Allah (God) and they claim that theirs is the only true prophetic religion. The God described in AGGS is easily understandable to all seekers of “Truth” irrespective of their creed, caste, gender, color, ethnicity and geographical considerations. Guru Nanak did not assign any specific name or gender to God. He used the prevalent names of God in usage by both the Hindus and the Muslims without any distinction along with addressing new names of his own. Most often in the AGGS, God is described by Its attributes like Creator, Formless, Transcendent, Omnipotent, Infinite and Ineffable or simply as True One.


swihbu myrw eyko hY ] eyko hY BweI eyko hY ]
AGGS, M 1, p 350.

My Master is One, hey brother, It is One and Only.


Gurbani in the AGGS (which is extension of Guru Nanak’s Japuji) directs us towards ultimate reality, towards ultimate truth [5].  There is no duality about the realization of God or the way to God.  Duality is there to live in this world at each step.  The AGGS is a collection of Gurbani, and Bani from Muslims, Hindus and many others who were not Sikhs. This is a first in World History...No holy texts of any religion contain even one line from authors of other religion.  Yet the concept is unique revelation.


Sikhism regards all as brothers...all as Creations of the Same Gurbani Allah, Ram, Krishan, Gobind, Hare, Ram, all refer to the same spiritual force, the same supreme power, the same God.


In Sikhism there is no heaven/no hell per se. All those are on this earth; and not separate places such as patal (nether worlds) and agas (sky) which has been misinterpreted by many theologians.


The other major difference between the concept of God… called by different names…  Allah, Ram, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva...  The God concept of the Bible is full of Anger, fire and Brimstone, punishing and destroying whole cities, wiping out entire continents… even drowning the entire earth… to punish the sinners...same for Allah of the Koran… He Thunders and Roars...


But God concept of Sikhism is forever smiling, peaceful, and never angry for even an Instant...Never Punishing/Vengeful... speaking ever so softly [imT bolVw jI hir sjxu suAwmI morw]  Meaning: My dear lord and master, my friend, speaks so sweetly.  AGGS, M5, p 784-12].  In Sikhism God is loving, kind, compassionate, caring, and omnipresent.


Sikh religion does not support the concept of God who punishes his creation for perceived sins and punishes for bad karma.  Therefore, the Sikh Gurus did not accept the doctrine of karma in any fatalistic or deterministic sense. Their idea is of a Creative God with Will and Purpose, who is greatly concerned with the improvement and evolution of His creation and the imperfect beings. The Gurbani clearly rejects the theory of transmigration based on karma by asking its proponents who believe purely in this theory, “when there was no Karma then for which karma he came to serve punishment, “jb Akwru iehu kCu n idRstyqw] pwp puMn qb kh qy hoqw]  - When there was no creation, how did the first being inherit karma, or who created karma initially?” (AGGS, M 5 , p 290-17). The law of Karma or fatalism is repugnant to Sikh Religion as it does not reconcile with the merciful trait of the Almighty Lord.


There is no such thing in Sikhism as eternal damnation or an everlasting pit of fire created by the revengeful God. Guru's grace erases the blot of thousands of evil deeds of the past and the present. It is also the savior of the future.  Meditation on Naam burns countless sins. Singing the glory of the God through the Divine Word, can redeem a repentant sinner and, thus, doctrine of Karma ceases to operate.  Such is the splendor of Guru Nanak's doctrine of God's Grace and Compassion.


The realization of God of spirituality means to be a good person while living in the real world with all its pressures and temptations of desires, evil inclinations with the limitations and complexities of human nature called humanity. You can't be spiritual when you are unkind to others. To develop this kind of human nature, one has to practice restraint, self-control or subjugation of the lower instincts.


It is easy to dwell on the past, instead of focusing what is important now. It is better to wear out rather than rust out. Sikhism is a religion of action and not just philosophical reflection.


What is the purpose of a life of a religious person? It is to be righteous and walk the way of life with God. Otherwise we can drown in a sea of material abundance. We primarily have to place our emphasis on the spiritual rather than the material side of the life. Sikhism should prize perspective, balance, and responsibility. At the same time we do not have to give up complete benefits and blessings of life in order to enjoy a powerful spiritual life. God does allow some legitimate pleasures with limits.


 nwnk siqguir ByitAY pUrI hovY jugiq ] 
 hsMidAw KylµidAw pYnµidAw KwvMidAw ivcy hovY mukiq ]2]
AGGS, M 5, p 522-10.

O Nanak, meeting the Sat Guru (realizing God), one comes to know the Perfect Way . While laughing, playing, dressing and eating, he is liberated.

So there is only one "Peak" of One God...and many Paths up to that peak... Sikhism’s Path is straight and easy almost like riding an Elevator all the way up.



§Creator is His Creation.  The Creator is “One and only” and its creation, mankind is also one according to Nanakian philosophy.  God does not belong to one religion. God is for all.  It’s lack of God-vision that leads us to believe in polytheism, idolatry, superstitions and blind rituals.


§As believed in Sikhism, with God’s grace, all human beings are capable of God-realization without any intermediaries.  This human life is our only opportunity to realize the spark within us.  God-realization, will remove our ignorance about life after death.  


§An integral congress of all minds and souls operate on the same spiritual vibration. Our aim is to realize the glory of the One Reality.



1.     AGGS = Aad Guru Granth Sahib. 1983 (reprint). Publishers: Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar . (M = Mahala, i.e., succession number of Sikh Gurus to the House of Guru Nanak, P = page-line number of the AGGS. M is replaced with the name of Bhagat or Bhatt).

2.     Chahal, D.S. 2006. “Origin of Universe in Sikhism.”  Understanding Sikhism-Research Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, pages 46-52, January 2006.

3.     Dhillon, S.S. 2007. “Science, religion, and spirituality.”  Publish America , Baltimore , MD.

4.     Dhillon, S.S. 2005 "Gurbani, Science, and Soul” Understanding Sikhism-Research Journal, Volume 7, Number 1, pages 59-63, January 2005.

5.     Dhillon, S.S. 2004. "Universality of the Sikh Philosophy: An Analysis" The Sikh Review, Volume 52:5, Number 605, pages 15-20, May 2004.

6.     Khalsa, Harjinder Singh.2005.  “What makes you a sikh?” Sikh Bulletin, Volume 7, Number 6&7, page 9,  June-July 2005.

7.     Newsweek, September 5, 2005, “Spirituality in America .”

8.     Singh, T. 2006.  “Religious Fanaticism”-Part 5 and 7.  Reflections on Gurbani.


Please send your Suggestions and Information to be added to the site
dr. sukhraj  dhillon <>

Back to Main Page