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BOTSWANA QUESTIONNAIRE
ON
SIKH RELIGION

Submitted by Dr. Jagtar Singh Dhesi


The Government of Botswana wants to introduce religious education in Primary and secondary schools.

Sikh Religion is among the few prominent world religions to be included in the school curriculum. In order to collect the required basic knowledge, they have issued a detailed questionnaire to various religious bodies, including the S.G.P.C., Amritsar.

In behalf of the latter, the Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh, has tried to supply the required information in respect of the Sikh Religion on various questions as seriation. This draft has been jointly prepared by principal Harbhajan Singh, Prof. Gurtej Singh and Dr. Kharak Singh.

1. Nature of the Religion

Questions:

a. What is the name of your religion? Please explain what it means?

b. When and how did it come to Botswana? Where else is it found in the world?

c. What part does your religion play in the political and economic life of the nation?

d. What do you understand by religion?

Answers:

a. Sikh Religion (Sikhi) is the religion of the followers of Guru Nanak. The word Sikh means `disciple.`

b. Sikh Religion came to Botswana in ...... Most Sikhs live in the state of Punjab in the north-western part of India. They are generously sprinkled all over the other states of India, and form about 2% of the population. They have a sizeable population in Europe, U.S.A. and Canada, as well as south Asian countries, notably Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Burma, Indonesia, Philippines, Central Asia (Iran, Afghanistan), and Middle East (Dubai, Oman).

c. The homeland of the Sikhs, Punjab, is a part of the Indian Federation. Prominent features of the Constitution of India derive heavily on Sikh ideals of polity. In the political affairs of the country, they have played a role far out of proportion to their numbers. Sikhs excel as farmers, soldiers, as well as industrialists. Punjab state with only 2%of the irrigated area of the country, contributes over 60% towards food grain reserves of the country.

d. Religion means a force of Love, constituting an intimate relationship with the Ultimate Reality. It is based on the Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man, irrespective of caste, color or sex. For a Sikh religion covers all aspects of life, temporal as well as spiritual.

2. Origin of Religion

Questions:

a. Where and when was your religion founded? Give at least three reasons why it was founded in the place it was founded?

b. Who founded the religion? Please give the historical, social, political and economic background of the person who founded it and the place where it was founded?

c. How does your religion spread and how do people become members?

d. Are there sects or breakaway groups? Please name them and state the reasons why they broke away.

Answers:

a. And

b. It was founded in West Punjab (now in Pakistan) at Nanakana Sahib by Guru Nanak Dev, who was born at this place in 1469 AD. It originated in Punjab, because the founder was born here. Guru Nanak was succeeded by nine other Gurus, who further explained the philosophy, and propagated his teaching through hymns and practical life. It is a prophetic, revelatory religion. Punjab lies at the confluence of two great ancient civilization, both violently pitted against each other, in need of message of tolerance and mutual understanding. This situation appears to have promoted its growth.

c. In India, it has spread mostly by conversion from other faits. Growth rate of Sikhs has been the highest as compared with other religions according to census figures. Outside India, Sikh Religion has spread by migration from India as also by conversion. The Sikh faith is open to all. Five practising Sikhs, in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, are authorized to initiate a neophyte into Sikh Religion. Their role is largely to explain the basic principles of the religion and the code of conduct. The ceremony is called `Amrití ceremonyí, meaning administration of `nectarí.

d. The principles of Sikh Religion are enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib, the scripture of the Sikhs, which was written by their prophets themselves. The original manuscript, duly authenticated by the Prophets in 1604 AD, exists. Thus, there is little scope for growth of breakaway groups.

However, there is a very small minority of Sikhs who deviate from the mainstream on one point. While the mainstream believes that line of succession to personal Guruship ended with Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, and that the reigning Guru now is the`Wordí or Guru Granth Sahib, the Namdharies believe in personal Guruship.

3. Myths and Creation:

i. Myths-about the Origin of the Universe

Questions:

a. What do you understand by the Universe in your religion? Describe what the Universe is composed of?

b. Tell the myths or stories about the creation or origin of the Universe and compare these myths with the theory of Evolution?

c. What is the importance of the Universe according to your religion?

d. Describe how living and non-living things were created.

Answers:

a. Universe is the manifestation of the Ultimate Reality (God), who is immanent in it, as well as transcendental. According to Guru Nanak the universe consists of millions of galaxies. God alone knows its extent.

b. Guru Nanak refers to origin of the universe thus, "In the beginning there was only God Himself, Who is without origin. There was no matter, no life, no time, no values, no philosophy. Then, he manifested Himself and created all that exists.". The Sikh belief is that creation appeared when God Willed it. Sikh religion believe that the Will of God is the source of creation, and universe has evolved in His loving care.

c. Universe is real and not an illusion or maya. It is the abode of the True One, and is the legitimate field for practice of virtue and spirituality, leading to God.

d. All living and non-living things were created by the Will of God, and are, in fact, His manifestation. God is immanent in His creation, and at the same time, is transcendent or apart from it.

ii. Myths about the Origin of Human Beings

Questions:

a. Relate the myths or stories about how people came into being according to your religion.

b. Please explain why people were created.

c. What is the relationship between people and the Universe and other created things.

Answers:

a. God is All Love and express His Love through creation. He created human beings as a part of the universe. Why He created it, He Alone knows. The Guruís perception is that it is His game, which is beyond human comprehension.

b. Man is the highest form of creation, and , unlike other animals, has the power to reason. He is to treat the human birth as an opportunity to develop Godís attributes.

c. Man has been created as master of all creation, and he is to express his love for God through service to the rest of His Creation, thereby earning spiritual merit. Man is the most responsible being on earth. Since God is immanent in the entire creation, this gives a kinship to man with all that exists. Since God loves His creation, man is expressed to carry out His Will and look after fellow creatures in the world.

4.Supreme Being:

QUESTIONS:

a. What are the name(s)of supreme being(s) in your religion?

b. Identify at least three attributes of these supreme beings and state the reasons why they have these attributes?

c. How do spiritual beings relate to these supreme beings?

ANSWERS:

a. According to Sikh Religion. There is only One God. He is known by myriads of names, all based on His attributes, which have been used in the verses of Guru Granth Sahib. One name in particular by which Sikhs remember Him is Waheguru. This word is expressive of not any particular attribute, but is an expression of the great wonder and ecstasy inspired by the Creator and His creation.

b. Guru Granth Sahib begins with brief compendium of selected attributes of God as follows:

He is the Sole Supreme Being; of eternal manifestation; Creator, Immanent Reality; Without Fear; Without Rancour; Timeless Form; Un-incarnate; Self-Existent; Realized by grace of the holy Preceptor.

c. Relationship of God and spiritual beings is that the Creator and creation, and is based on love. While God is ever True, the creation is ephemeral, but is the essence of His Being. Spiritual beings are expected to be completely in tune with His Will, and execute it.

5. Characteristic of the Religion:

Questions:

a. Describe the beliefs, teachings, practices, myths, ethical codes, and ways of worship in your religion.

b. What other particular characteristics has your religion got?

c. Try to compare there characteristics of your religion with those of other religions?

Answers:

a. &

b. The Gurus stressed that human progress is not only possible, but that it is manís destiny to achieve it. Human birth is an unique opportunity for limitless spiritual progress. According to the Sikh theory of evolution, man is born ego-centric, obsessed with the feeling of "I-am-ness" (haumain), and considers himself distinct from and opposed to everybody else. This is the chronic malady which separates man from God as well as others. The path of Sikh Religion is, in fact, progress from this stage (manmukh) to that of gurmukh (God-oriented) through a realisation of immanence of God (doctrine of Naam). While a Sikh makes conscious efforts in this direction, eventually the gurmukh stage is attained through His Grace (doctrine of nadar or mehar). The efforts consist in recognising the Altruistic Will of God and carrying it out (doctrine of hukum). One cannot claim His Grace as a matter of right, since such a feeling would add to egoism, rather than curb it. Myths and superstitions have a no place in Sikh Religion. (For practices, teachings andethical codes , see Questions 7, 10 and 11 respectively).

c. The Sikh world view is based on the mythical or spiritual experience of the Gurus with the Ultimate Reality. They repeatedly emphasize that God is Love, and the He, as a loving Father, looks after His creation benevolently. This belief determines the Sikh worldview, major features of which are briefly mentioned here:

1. Sikh Religion is a life-affirming system, unlike some other Indian traditions, which are life-negating, and regard the world as a bondage or evil, and withdrawal from life as essential for spiritual attainment. Sikh regard the world as a blessing, and human life as an opportunity to be gurmukh.

2. Life is real and not an illusion. As such, a Sikh takes life seriously and participates in worldly activities. That explains his rejection of asceticism, and adoption of a householderís life

3. Sikh Religion is a whole-life system. There is no dichotomy of spiritual and temporal life.

4. Life is "A Game of Love" which involves service and sacrifice Guru Nank says, "If the game of love excites you, enter my lane with your head on your palm."" Martyrdom in Sikh Religion is an expression of this spirit.

5. Sikh Religion emphasizes the need for production and the importance of work. Parasitism is decried, even in the "holy" grab of ascetics and monks.

6. A Sikh regards nobody as high or low because of his caste, colour or gender and considers all as equals.

7. Love of justice is ingrained in the Sikh character. He confronts injustice, exploitation and suppression. He is enjoined to wage a struggle, even armed, if all other means have failed, to protect the weak and downtrodden. The traditional values like non-violence or vegetarianism are not sanctified in Sikh Religion.

8. The altruistic Will of God is the guiding principle in the conduct of a Sikh. He considers himself an agent in carrying out His Will. In altruistic deeds, he sees His Will being done.

9. A sikh does not believe that he has come to this world as a punishment for sin, or that man is condemned to doom as inheritor of the original sin. He believes that man nor only can raise to the higher level of gurmukh, but that it is the destiny of every man to do so. God helps everybody to achieve this goal. A Sikh, therefore, always lives in an ever-ascending spirit of optimism. Undaunted by heavy odds, he moves ahead in the world, confident of his success, with faith in Him. This is reflected in the greeting of the Sikhs, Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa; Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh, which means:"The Khalsa belongs to God: the victory belongs to God."

10. Other particular characteristics:

i. Absolute monotheism.

ii. It is an oecumenical religion; sectarianism in any form is decried.

iii. It is a religion of a householder; shunning asceticism and monasticism.

iv. Emphasis on the triad of: honest labour, constant remembrance of God, and sharing fruit of labour with others as an expression of love.

v. The message of Sikh Religion, contained in Guru Granth Sahib, is the spiritual treasure for the whole of mankind. The central Sikh shrine, Harimander Sahib ( Golden Temple), is envisaged as the common spiritual capital of all mankind. It has four doors in the cardinal directions to emphasize accessibility to all alike.

c. Monotheism and universalism are unique features of Sikh Religion. It believes in pluralism on the spiritual domain signifying co-existence, emotional integration and equality of all mankind. Sikh Guru do not believe in exclusivity and welcome the co-operation of other God-conscious beings to ferry man across the sea of life.

6. Religious Feasts and Festivals:

Questions:

a. Are there any special feasts and/or festivals in your religion? Please name them and state the reasons why they are observed?

b. Please specify the time and place when they are observed and describe how they are observed.

c. What is the importance of these festivals and feasts to adherents and to the community in general?

Answers:

a. Sikh festivals (gurpurbs) are: the birthdays of the ten Gurus, succession day of Guru Granth Sahib, and succession of the Guru Panth. Besides, the martyrdom days of the Fifth and Ninth Gurus are also observed.

b. The festivals are observed by Sikhs all over the world in gurdwaras by recitation of hymns from Guru Granth Sahib, recall of historical events collective prayer, distribution of karah prasad (holy pudding) and participation in a common meal open to all. In addition to these , cold drinks are offered to travelers on the road during the hot months of June to commemorate the martyrdom day of the fifth Guru Sahib. A day before the Gurpurb, processions (jallos). Led by Guru Granth Sahib in attendance of panj piaras ( the five-beloved of the Guru), are taken out, in which people sing hymns in praise of the gurus. Some gurpurabs are also preceded by Prabhat pheries for many days, in which people receive procession s at their residence during the very early hours of the day (amrit vela).

c. These festivals provide an opportunity for reflection on the teachings of the gurus, major landmarks in the history of Sikh Religions, etc. The celebration helps them to emphasize their collectivity and the mission they exist to further. These are also occasions to make assessment of the work done, and to plan for the future.

6. Religious Feasts and Festivals:

Questions:

a. Are there any special feasts and/or festivals in your religion? Please name them and state the reasons why they are observed?

b. Please specify the time and place when they are observed and describe how they are observed.

c. What is the importance of these festivals and feasts to adherents and to the community in general?

 

Answers:

a. Sikh festivals (gurpurbs) are: the birthdays of the ten Gurus, succession day of Guru Granth Sahib, and succession of the Guru Panth. Besides, the martyrdom days of the Fifth and Ninth Gurus are also observed.

b. The festivals are observed by Sikhs all over the world in gurdwaras by recitation of hymns from Guru Granth Sahib, recall of historical events collective prayer, distribution of karah prasad (holy pudding) and participation in a common meal open to all. In addition to these , cold drinks are offered to travelers on the road during the hot months of June to commemorate the martyrdom day of the fifth Guru Sahib. A day before the Gurpurb, processions (jallos). Led by Guru Granth Sahib in attendance of panj piaras ( the five-beloved of the Guru), are taken out, in which people sing hymns in praise of the gurus. Some gurpurabs are also preceded by Prabhat pheries for many days, in which people receive procession s at their residence during the very early hours of the day (amrit vela).

c. These festivals provide an opportunity for reflection on the teachings of the gurus, major landmarks in the history of Sikh Religions, etc. The celebration helps them to emphasize their collectivity and the mission they exist to further. These are also occasions to make assessment of the work done, and to plan for the future.

7. Rituals and Practices:

Questions:

a. What are the recognisable stages of human development in your religion? Please describe them.

b. Do you have the rites of passage at each stage of human development?

c. What is the importance of each ritual practice in the life of an individual?

Answers:

a. Mankind consists of human beings most of whom are ego-centered and perceive reality in a distorted manner. Such human beings are characterized by the guru as manmukh. A Sikh is expected to transform his personality, transcend human vices with the help of the Guruís doctrines, and have a clear conception of reality, i.e. develop to the stage of gurmukh (God-oriented). Once this stage is attained, he continues to execute the Will of God.

b. Rites de Passage: The spiritual development from manmukh to gurmukh starts formally with the initiation ceremony comprising of the administration of amrit (nectar of life) by the panj piaras representing the Guru. Such a person is considered to born again unto God and religion.

c. Formal commitment, by way of amrit, is necessary for the attainment of the stage of gurmukh, which is the aim of a Sikh.

8. Rituals at Birth, Puberty and marriage:

Questions:

a. What rituals are performed before and after the birth of a child? What rituals are performed at puberty and marriage?

b. How is marriage perceived in your religion? How important is marriage in your religion?

c. What are the procedures followed if people want to be married in your religion?

Answers:

a. There is no rituals before the birth of a child. After birth, parents go to the gurdwara with the child for thanksgiving. On this occasion, the child is also given a name, based on the hymn of the day from Guru Granth Sahib. There is no ritual at puberty. The marriage ceremony is called Anand karaj, and is performed with guru Granth Sahib as the focal point. Prescribed hymns (lavan) are sung, and circumambulation of Guru Grant sahib is done by the couple four times. Thereafter, a congregational prayer is held, which ends the ceremony.

b. In Sikh Religion. Marriage is a union of two souls. It attaches great importance to a house holderís life. It believes that active participation in social responsibilities is necessary for the achievement of spiritual goals.

c. Marriage among Sikhs is a whole family affair. Marriage partners are select4ed normally in common consultation wit elders. Child marriage is not permitted.

9. Rituals at Death:

Questions:

a. What rituals are performed at death and burial of an individual in your religion?

b. What procedures are followed when death occurs to an individual in your religion?

c. What beliefs about life after death are there in your religion?

Answers:

a. Body of the dead is cremated, attended by recitation of sacred hymns from Guru Granth Sahib, and congregational prayer.

b. Dead body is given a wash and dressed in new clothes. Thereafter, the procedure mentioned in (a) above is followed.

c. The soul, being a part of the Ultimate Reality, is indestructible, its most perfect manifestation is man. By conscious moral choice, man graduates into an instrument of Godís Will. This is the Release in Sikh Religion. Elevated souls, which lead truthful life, find honorable places in Godís court. Others carry with them the burden of their wrong actions. God, being gracious and all merciful, gives them another opportunity to qualify for the release.

10. General Teachings of The Religion

Questions:

a. What are the main teachings of your religion ? Please describe them in detail.

b. How are these teachings of your religion manifested in the members?

c. What impact do they have on the community in general?

Answers:

a. The main teachings of the Sikh faith, listed here, are based upon the Guruís revealed concept of God; the nature of the world and the universe; the purpose of human life or goal of man; and of the methodology prescribed in the Guruís hymns enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib.

Concept of God: Sikh Religion is uncompromisingly monotheistic. According to the creedal statement with which its Guru Granth Sahib begins, God is the ĎSole Oneí ĎWho created the myriad universe. He himself does not incarnate. He is immanent in His creation. Yet, He is apart from it. His relationship with the universe and man is that of Creator and creation. He is benevolent and looks after His Creation lovingly. In fact, He is all love, apart from whatever else He is, which is ineffable. He has a Will. Which is altruistic. Everybody is subject to His Will, nobody being beyond its scope. A Sikh must, therefore, see his immanence in all his fellow beings, and love should govern the mutual relatiionship of all men. "He is the One Father; we are all His children," says the Guru. Among His cpountless other attributes, He is self-existent, beyond time, without fear and hate, and the ocean of virtues.

Doctrines: A basic doctrine of the Sikh faith is that of unity of Guruship, i.e., all the ten Gurus were one in spirit. InGuru Granth Sahib, words to the effect that all the Gurus were "animated by the samr spirití" "one light" and "bodies changed, but the illumination remained the sameí" occur again and again. Another doctrine is that Word is the real Guru, and not the physical body. That explains the conferment of Guruship on Guru Granth Sahib, in which, Godís Word, revealed through the Gurus, is enshrined. Following from this, any decision taken by a congrgation (sangat) in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib in accordance with the preachings of the Gurus, is taken as the Guruís decision (gurmatta). The doctrine of miri-piri is based on the basic postulate of Sikh Religion that the spiritual and temporal aspects of life cannot be separated. Sikh Religion being a whole-life religion stresses simultaeous development of both for a balanced growth. No responsibility isd to be shunned. The Nash doctrine proclaims freedom from caste bondage, shadow of past birth, superstitions, false notions of lineage, and stigma of so called low occupations.

Nature of the World: Unlike some other religious systems of the East, which regard the world as mithya or illusory, Sikh religion beliebes it to be real: Guru Nanak says,"Real are Thy continents and universes. Real are the worlds and the forms created by Thee." Guru Arjun Dev says,"He is real or true; so is His creation." Sikh Relogion rejects the belief held by some ascetic systems that the world is a place of suffering or that man is born in this world as a punishment for his sins. Guru Nanak syas,"This world is the chamber of God. Irt is His abode."

Cosmology and Cosmogony: Guru Nanak says that there are hundreds of thousands of nether worlds and innumerable worlds above, and that it is a futile exercise trying to guess their number.

Goal of Life: Earlier religious traditions laid emphasis on different goals for spiritual puirsuit. Some of these were"isolation of the spiritual monad from the material element; realisation of the self; merger with God; attainment of nirvana, or freedom from the cycle of birth, life and death, etc." The Sikh Religion does not accept any of these as a goal for the spiritual seeker, as these are individual or personal, and, therefore, selfish. These demand withdrawal from life and imply a complete lack of concern for soceity. The Sikh ideal is to be a gurmukh, who wants salvation of the entire humanity along with his own in this lifetime, discharges all social and political responsibilities wholeheartedly. A gurmukh is completely attuned to Godís Will. His love for God is expressed in the form of altruistoic deeds or service of mankind.

The Path: The practice of Sikh Religion does not involve asceticism, monasticism or withdrawl from life, which iwere considered essential in earlier indian traditions. These are, in faxt, condemned as parasitism and escapism. The Sikh ideal is to be achieved through a householderís life. The Gurus preached that worldly activities are no hindrance to spiritual progress. Rather, these are complementary and essential to each other.

Truth: Truth and its knowledge are stressed in all religious faiths. In Sikh Religion, mere knowledge of truth is not considered enough. The Guru says,"Truth is higher tahn everything. Higher still is truthful living or the practice of truth in life."

Emphasis on Deeds: Love of God has to be translated into love of humanity, since He is immanent in all mankind. Love cannot be practiced in a vacuum. It can be expressed only through altruistic deeds in the service of humanity. Hence, the importance of deeds in Sikh Religion. Guru Nanak says." Approval or rejection in the court of God is determined only on the basis of one"s actions."

Equality and Justice: The concept of equality of all human beings in Sikh Religion can never be surpassed. It does not sanction/recognize any discrimination based on caste, colour or sex. The entire humankind is one brotherhood. God is the Father and all human beings are His children. Sikh Religion concedes to women perfect equality with men in all spheres: social, political or religious. Guru Nanak decries discrimination against and lower status to women in society. He asks,"How can you call her inferior, who gives birth to kings?" Justice is a corollary of this equality. A Sikh should be just in his dealings with others, dispense full justice when in authority, and fight for justice to the oppressed, the downtrodden and the week. For this, he should be spiritually inspired, physically for and strained in martial arts. A Sikh has to be a saint-soldier.

b. The first visible manifestation of Sikh Religion among its adherence is the adoption of certain symbols prescribed by the Gurus which impart a distinct personality to a Sikh. These symbols are: i) Unshorn hair (kes) and turban, ii) steel bangle (kara), iii) sword (kirpan).

1. Sikhs pray in congregations (sangat) and for that purpose, wherever they are, they establish gurdwaras.

2. In the gurdwaras, they invariably run a langar or common kitchen which is open to all, with a rest house, library, school and dispensary attached, whenever possible.

3. Equality of man and women is a basic teaching of Sikh Religion which is apparent from the fact that women play an important role in all religious and social functions. All ecclesiastical functions are also open to women.

4. Caste system racial, gender or colour prejudices are completely absent. This is the manifestation of the values of equality, justice and universal brotherhood of man, preached by Sikh Religion.

5. The universal outlook of Sikh religion has taken Sikhs tp all corners of the world. They freely socialise with all diverse co. Societies, racial, national or linguistic groups on terms of equality.

c. Because of the features mentioned above, they form a very cohesive group, which is ever ready to take up moral and social causes to the extent of heavily sacrificing. Their influence is, therefore, felt in every society even when in small numbers.

11. Ethical or Moral teachings:

Questions:

a. What are the ethical or moral teachings of your religion? Please give at least 5 of them.

b. Distinguish these moral teachings from the general ethics.

c. What is your religionís social concern in relation to its moral teachings?

d. What is the importance of ethical or moral teachings in a religion?

Answers:

a. i. Truthful Living: Entire edifice of Sikh Religion is built on truthful living, which envisages truthful conduct and purity of thought, word and actions. Guru Nanak says" Truth is high, but higher still is truthful living."

ii. Honest Economic Pursuits: A Sikh is expected to earn his livelihood by honest work, and share the fruits of his labor with others.

iii. Moral Restraint: Adultery is prohibited, and tantamounts to a fall and automatic expulsion from the Sikh community.

iv. Do not smoke or indulge in drugs.

v. Do not indulge in calumny.

b. The above morals teachings are a part of the code of general ethics.

c. Complete social ea quality and justice to individual are the primary concern.

d. Sikh Religion is a whole-life religion and believes that teachings of religion have to be practiced in daily life.

12. Intermediaries:

Questions:

a. Are there intermediaries in your religion? Please identify them and describe their different roles.

b. Are there spirit mediums and/or human intermediaries? Please describe their characteristics?

c. How do intermediaries influence the everyday lives of individual members?

Answers:

a. There is no intermediaries in Sikh Religion. Communion with Lord is direct. The Guru, however, shows the way and provides instruction in following the path. It is moral striving and spiritual living which qualifies one for redemption, and no recommendation of any intermediary is of any avail.

b. Not applicable.

c. Not applicable.

11. Ethical or Moral teachings:

Questions:

a. What are the ethical or moral teachings of your religion? Please give at least 5 of them.

b. Distinguish these moral teachings from the general ethics.

c. What is your religionís social concern in relation to its moral teachings?

d. What is the importance of ethical or moral teachings in a religion?

Answers:

a. i. Truthful Living: Entire edifice of Sikh Religion is built on truthful living, which envisages truthful conduct and purity of thought, word and actions. Guru Nanak says" Truth is high, but higher still is truthful living."

ii. Honest Economic Pursuits: A Sikh is expected to earn his livelihood by honest work, and share the fruits of his labor with others.

iii. Moral Restraint: Adultery is prohibited, and tantamounts to a fall and automatic expulsion from the Sikh community.

iv. Do not smoke or indulge in drugs.

v. Do not indulge in calumny.

b. The above morals teachings are a part of the code of general ethics.

c. Complete social ea quality and justice to individual are the primary concern.

d. Sikh Religion is a whole-life religion and believes that teachings of religion have to be practiced in daily life.

12. Intermediaries:

Questions:

a. Are there intermediaries in your religion? Please identify them and describe their different roles.

b. Are there spirit mediums and/or human intermediaries? Please describe their characteristics?

c. How do intermediaries influence the everyday lives of individual members?

Answers:

a. There is no intermediaries in Sikh Religion. Communion with Lord is direct. The Guru, however, shows the way and provides instruction in following the path. It is moral striving and spiritual living which qualifies one for redemption, and no recommendation of any intermediary is of any avail.

b. Not applicable.

c. Not applicable.

13. Sacred Literature:

Questions:

a. Does your religion have sacred writings? Please identify them and explain how they are used.

b. What other sacred objects are there in your religion? Please describe them.

c. What is the importance of sacred writings and objects in your religion?

Answers:

a. Yes, it has. Guru Granth Sahib is the sole scripture and enjoys the status of Eternal Guru. It consists of hymns composed in ragas (musical modes). It was compiled and authenticated by the Guru. Apart from the Gurusí. He also selected hymns of saints from other faiths for inclusion. The hymns are recited daily, forming the central activity of every Sikh Gurdwara, and provide guidance. The hymns also provide the touchstone of social, ethical, moral and political behavior enjoined upon Sikhs. Besides the Scripture, writings of Bhai Gurdas (a 17th century Sikh) and Bhai Nand Lal ( a contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh) are highly revered. They are regarded as authentic commentaries on the hymns of Guru Granth Sahib.

b. There are no sacred objects in Sikh Religion as such. However, relics of the Gurus such as their weapons, clothes, etc., and the places connected with their lives are highly respected.

c. The practice of Sikh Religion is totally dependent on Guru Granth Sahib. In fact, the "Word" is the real Guru and represents God.

14. Origin of Life:

Questions:

a. What does your religion say about the origin of life and the creation of living and non-living things?

b. Please classify living and non-living things.

c. What is the importance of living and non-living things? Please state the ways of how to conserve the creation.

Answers:

a. Theory of origin of life has been referred to by Guru Nanak. "In the beginning, there was only God Himself, Who is without origin. There was no matter, no life, no time, no values, no philosophy. Then He manifested Himself and created all that exists.". The Sikh belief is that different species of animals and plants appeared in time with the Will of God. Life is real and not an illusion or maya. It is an opportunity for practice of virtue and spirituality leading to God. All living and non-living things were created by the Will of God, and are in fact his manifestation. God is immanent in His creation, and at the same time, is transcendent or apart from it.

b. God pervades His entire creation. In living beings, Godís will is visible in an active form. Other distinction commonly mentioned by biologists are recognised and need not be reproduced here.

c. Living and non-living things are indispensable for existence of living beings. Sikh Religion enjoins upon its f followers to see immanence of God in nature and live in tune with it. According to Sikh Religion, Godís bounties belong to all, and it lays stress on sharing. Such a life style will go a long way in conservation of natural resources.

15 Human Life:

Questions:

a. What are the forms of life as understood in your religion? Identify and describe any three of these forms of life?

b. Distinguish human life from other forms of life.

c. In what ways in human life regarded as the most important of other forms of life?

d. What are the limitations of human life?

Answers :

a. Life is classified into four broad categories:

1. Andej Born of eggs

2. Jeraj Born of placenta

3. Setaj Lower form of life

4. Utbhuj Vegetable kingdom

This classification is based on origin.

b. The Guru makes a clear statement that man has, apart from other potentialities, a superior sense of discrimination. "God created you out of a drop of water, and breathed life into you. He endowed you with the light of reason, sense of discrimination and wisdom." " This emphasises that man alone has the sense of making judgement and choice, i.e., a moral sense to distinguish right from wrong.

c. Manís superiority lies in his two attributes which the other animals do not posses. First is his sense of discrimination, i.e., his awareness of his own thinking processes and his capacity ti deliberate over his thinking, Second is his capacity to develop a link with God. The guru says," You have obtained the privilege of human birth; now is your opportunity to meet God." "Oman, you are superior in Godís creation; now is your opportunity ; you may fulfil or not fulfil your destiny."

d. Human life is subject to the laws of nature and the will of God. It has other limitations imposed on it by non-comprehension of the nature of reality, and by egocentric propensities.

16. Animal Life:

Questions:

a. please distinguish animal from other forms of life.

b. What is the importance of animal life from the point of view of your religion?

c. Explain the intrinsic importance of human life in organising the other forms of life.

d. In what ways can animal life be destroyed? State the ways in which animal life can be protected.

Answers:

a. Life is divided into two broad categories, viz., animal life and plant life. The main difference between the two is in the level of consciousness. Both forms of life are inner-dependent.

b. And

c. Animal life is as much a part of the creation as other forms. Sikh Religion believes that the world is created according to His Will, therefore, all forms of life, including animal life, have a purpose., which is to be respected. Man is the highest form of life, entrusted with the responsibility of looking after other species, which eventually contribute to the welfare of man himself.

d. Egocentrism in man is destructive to all forms of life, and violates the purpose of the creator. Animal life can be protested by a genuine sympathy and respect for all forms of life.

17. Plant Life:

Questions:

a. Distinguish plant life from other forms of life.

b. What is the importance of plant life?

c. In what ways can plant life be destroyed?

d. Please suggest ways of how plant life ca be protected.

Answers:

a. Life is divided into two broad categories, viz., animal life and plant life. The main difference between the two is in the level of consciousness. Both forms of life are inter-dependent. Plants lack power of locomotion.

b. Plant life is as much a part pf creation as other forms. Since we believe that the world is created according to His Will, there is no doubt that all forms of life, including plant life, have a purpose, which is to be respected. Also, animal life cannot exist without plant life. Plants provide food, shelter, clothing to man, influence climate and conserve and enrich soil. Plants provide comfort to animals, and add beauty to the planet.

c. Plant life can be destroyed by manís indifference to environment and indiscriminate deforestation.

d. Steps required to protect plant life include curbs on deforestation, conservation of soil and water resources, l arge scale tree planting programms, etc.

18. Abortion

Questions:

a. In what ways can abortion contribute to the destruction of human life?

b. What are the causes and dangers of abortions?

c. What is the view of your religion on abortion?

d. According to your religion, what other factors can destroy human life? Please explain how they can destroy life.

Answers:

a. Ordinarily, abortion is regarded as destruction of life. However in certain situations under medical advice, it could be done.

b. And

c. Disrespect for family life and laxity of morals lead to situations necessitating abortion. Abortion per se is destruction of life. Its adoption as a legal practice encourages licentious conduct and moral laxity leading to disintegration of society. This is contrary to the values prescribed in Sikh Religion. In societies, placing higher value on male offspring, it would encourage abortion. And the abominable practice of female infanticide/foeticide. This would inevitably lead to a lower female to male ratio, causing serious problems. The Gurus says unequivocally that those who practice female infanticide should be ex-communicated.

d. Excessive greed, egocentrism (haumain), and violation of the laws of nature. These are all factors against the Will of God, and therefore destructive to human life. To preserve life, man must develop Godís attributes.

19. Murder and Suicide:

Questions:

a. What do you understand by murder and suicide? Please describe the different kinds and causes of murder and suicide.

b. What is the difference between murder and euthanasia?

c. What are the ethical teachings of your religion on murder and suicide?

d. What are the effects of murder and suicide on society?

Answers:

a. Murder is taking another personís life, except in defence of self. Suicide relates to oneís own person.

b. The difference between murder and euthanasia is the motive of the doer. While in the first case the motive is egocentric, in the other it is considered humanitarian.

c. Murder is condemned, but taking to arms for a righteous cause, after all other means have failed, is justified. A Sikh is not to attack an unarmed, defeated or fleeing enemy. Nor is he to rob his enemies or or manhandle their women following victory. Suicide is condemned.

d. The effect on society is determined by the motive of the act.

20. Substance Abuse:

Questions:

a. Please list some substances which cab ne abused, and state the effect of substance abuse on the individual and the society.

b. What does your religion say about alcohol and cigarette smoking?

c. Please describe the role played by your religion to discourage or encourage substance abuse.

Answers:

a. Substance abuse is disastrous for both individual and society. The guiding principle on all substances in Sikh Religion is: "Whatever inflicts pain to the body and promotes evil propensities in mind is forbidden."

b. Use of tobacco in any form is prohibited. Alcohol is subject to the guiding principle mentioned above, and is discouraged.

c. The taboo on tobacco is religious by nature, and is universally followed.

21. Human Development:

Questions:

a. What do you understand about family in your religion?

b. Describe the different types of families recognized by your religion.

c. What are the responsibilities of parents to their children and children to their parents?

d. What are the responsibilities or roles of men and women complement each other in the family?

e. Are there any changes in the roles of men and women in the family? Are these changes acceptable or not?

Answers:

a. According to Sikh religion, family is the basic unit of society. It is sacred to the extent that a householderís life is essential for spiritual living. Its sanctity is inviolable.

b. Traditionally. Only conjugal and extended families are recognized.

c. Parents are responsible for the upbringing of children; their physical as well as moral development; their education and religious instructions. Children are expected to respect their parents and look after them kin times of need and old age.

d. Men and women are equal partners kin family life. By and large, women look after children and other indoor activities and men are expected to provide for the family.

e. All events are open to women to exercise their creativity. There is no ban on following any occupation on grounds of sex. As a result, women are taking to outdoor activities more and more. Such changes are acceptable.

22. Family Life:

Questions:

a. What is the role of religion in family life? Please explain the influence of religion on formation of the family.

b. What are the advantages of belonging to a family?

c. What is the role of the family kin society?

d. In what ways does your religion help those who do not have a family? (e.g., street children).

Answers

a.. Family life is the practical base of religious life in Sikh Religion. Only a householderís life fits the Sikh way of life.

b. &

c. Family contributes towards stability of society, and provides opportunities for spiritual living.

d. Those who do not have a family, are looked after by society. Besides adoption, there are several Sikh institutions to look after them. Examples are langar or community kitchen, orphanages and educational institutions.

23.Role of Members of the Family:

Questions:

a. What does your religion teach about then roles of men, women, girls and boys in society?

b. In what ways are these roles similar or different from the traditional roles of men, women, girls and boys in Botswana?

c. have there been any changes in the roles of men, women, boys and girls in your religion?

d. Please state the changes which have occurred and explain the reasons why they have occurred.

e. Are these changes acceptable to your religion or not? Please explain your answer.

Answers:

a. The Gurus stressed gender equality and laid as much emphasis on the education of women, as that of men. As such, Sikh religion does not insist on any specific role for men, women, girls or boys. They live together harmoniously, each performing duties most suited to them. Traditionally, man is provider, looking after outdoor functions While women do the housekeeping. I urban areas, women are increasingly taking to professional jobs. In rural areas, women work at the farms side by side With men, and look after cattle at home. Boys and girls assist their parents in outdoor as well indoor chores.

b. Can be answered in Botswana.

c. d. and

e. From the very beginning , Sikh religion provided equality between women and men. This is the original contribution of Sikh Religion towards religion thought. Social changes have taken place with emphasis on the role of women who have adopted professions in recent times. Since equality of sexes is recognized in Sikh religion, no doctrinal conflict is involved.

24. HIV, AIDS, STDs and the Family

Questions:

a. What role is your religion playing in counseling victims of HIV, AIDS and STDs?

b. In what ways is your religion assisting in making HIV/AIDS victims feel accepted?

c. How does your religion help in controlling the spread of HIV, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases?

d. Identify and comment on some practices which encourage the spread of HIV, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.

Answers:

a. and

b. Sikh religion institution are tackling the situation with a view to alleviating the suffering of victims, as any afflicted person is entitled to sympathy and service.

c. Sikh religion lays emphasis on prevention of these diseases through moral restraint. One of the four taboos is adultery. It connotes a fall requiring re-initiation.

d. There are no social customs or religion practices in Sikh religion that encourage HIV or STD. Rather, certain practices such as shaving, piercing, tattooing etc., which are known to spread AIDs, Hepatitis B, etc., are banned.

25. Contraception

Questions:

a. What is the view of your religion on contraception?

b. Give examples of contraception which are used for contraception. Please comments on each one of them.

c. Please suggest the best ways of family planning according to your religion.

Answers:

a. It does not prohibit the use of contraceptives, although it holds personal restraint as a better alternative.

b. Modern methods of contraception are not prohibited.

c. Best way is personal restraint, and accepting responsibility for maintaining ecological balance.

26. Justice

Questions:

a. Explain what you understand by "justice" and "injustice."

b. What is the importance of justice in society?

c. What are the disadvantages or advantages of justice to your religion?

d. How can justice be ensured in society? Please identify institutions which can endure justice in society.

Answers:

a. Justice according to Sikh Religion is based on the Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. It consists of:

i) equality regardless of race, colour or gender, and absolute freedom to pursue spiritual and Temporal goals.

ii). All democratic rights relevant to a pluralistic society.

Injustice is the violation of i) and ii).

b. Justice is the basic ingredient of social and political administration. Sikh religion believes that violation of justice entitles individual and society to resistance, violent or otherwise. Justice is regarded as an attribute of God.

c Justice entails no disadvantage its observance is universal good according to Sikh thought.

d. Justice can be ensured in a society through a just political and administrative set-up, and willingness of an informed and vigilant public to resist injustice by all means.

27. Freedom

Questions:

a. Explain the term "freedom" according to your understanding.

b. How do members of your religion exercise freedom?

c. How should freedom be exercised in your country and in the world.

Answers:

a. Freedom is observance of justice as defined above. Sikh religion also talks of spiritual freedom which involves freedom from the burden of rituals, superstition, prejudices of social distinction, etc.

b. All members of the Sikh society exercise freedom by claiming equality in all spheres of life. All social decisions in the society are taken collectively with the participation of all members. Sikh institutions. Including gurdwaras, are administrated by bodies elected on universal franchise.

c. Freedom can be exercised through full play of democratic process, based on equality, justice and morality.

28. Human Rights?

Questions:

a. What do you understand by Human Rights?

b. Please give examples of the Human rights. What needs to be observed and protected?

c. What is the importance of human Rights? Please explain how Human Rights help to safeguard world peace.

d. Give examples of human Rights from the UNO charter which are violated. State how Human Rights can be observed and protected.

e. Explain how Women and Children Rights can be observed and protected in order to enhance human development.

Answers:

a. Rights to justice, equality and freedom, as defined earlier, constitute human rights according to Sikh Religion.

b. Some of the more important elements of Human Rights according to Sikh Religion are:

i. Freedom - social, economic, political and spiritual.

ii. Right to life, liberty and happiness.

iii. Right to education and human dignity. Human dignity needs to be protected and preserved in all circumstances.

c. Human Rights are the basis of civilized social behavior. Violation of Human Rights is essential for peace and stability everywhere. The Guru says:" Justice with compassion tinged with human Rights is the basis of stability of the world."

d. And

e. Examples of Human Rights violation are arbitrary arrest, torture under police custody, illegal incarceration and killing, curb on freedom of speech and expression, etc. Human rights for all can be observed and protected by alert public opinion, enlightened media, wide-awake judiciary, vigorous human rights group, and practice of the essence of religion.

29. Capital Punishment:

Questions:

a. What do you understand by Capital Punishment?

b. What is the view of your religion on Capital punishment?

c. How can Capital Punishment be used to deter deviant behavior?

d. Suggest other forms of punishment which can be used for grave crimes.

Answers:

a. Capital Punishment means death sentence.

b. It does not favor capital punishment. In the Sikh State, Ranjit Singh never resorted to it during the 50 years of his rule. Sikh Religion believes in redeeming the criminal by proper education and demolishing of barriers to proper comprehension of social need.

c. Capital Punishment is no deterrent to deviant behavior. It totally eliminates the possibility of moral rectification of an individual.

d. Incarceration oriented toward reforming the criminal can be successfully used for grave crimes.

30. Loyalty or Friendship

Questions:

a. What do you consider to be real friendship?

b. what are the ethical teachings on friendship in your religion?

c. What are the difference types of friends and friendships?

d. State the qualities of a good friend and good friendship.

e. How is the concept of friendship exercised in your religion?

f. What are obstacles to friendship?

g. Explain the meaning of loyalty as understood in your religion. Please describe how loyalty should be exercised.

Answers:

a. and b. Real friendship is the one based on sharing of cherished values and higher spiritual pursuits. It can last only among equals and like-minded people in pursuit of justice and noble goals.

c. friendship, as defined above, is mutual respect and there are no categories.

d. Good friendship implies: love, spirit of service and sacrifice, mutual help. Good friends are those imbued with these qualities.

e. Sikhs of the Guru regard themselves as each otherís friends to the extent of brotherhood. The common form of address among them is bhai/bhen, which is means brother/sister.

f. The obstacle to friendship are betrayal, indulgence in immortal conduct, blasphemy, female infanticide, etc.

g. Loyalty is faithfulness, and should be expressed in thought, word and deed.

31. Authority and Leadership

Questions:

a. Define authority from the point of view of your religion.

b. What is the importance of authority in your religion and in society?

c. Give some examples of abuse of authority. How does your religion fight against abuse of authority?

d. Identify different types of leadership from the point of view of your religion.

e. List the function of a leader, and state the qualities of a good leader.

Answers:

a. The ultimate authority in Sikh Religion is God, Who is expressed through His Word. The Word is embodied in Gurbani, as revealed to the Gurus. Temporal authority in Sikh Religion vests in the community known as the panth under the guidance of Guru Granth Sahib.

b. The decision or verdicts of this authority are binding on all Sikhs wherever they are, collectively and individually. It keeps the Sikh society in cogent coherent from.

c. Sometimes. This authority is misappropriated by pseudo saints, charlatans and preachers, who falsely appropriate authority of Gurbani for selfish ends. Sikh religion combats abuse of authority by exposing deviant behaviour and by properly exegetising the guruís message. In extreme cases, however, the offenders are excommunicated as long as deviant behaviour persists. Repentants are allowed back into the Sikh fold.

d. Sikh Religion is a whole-life religion and no watertight compartments exist to give rise to different types of leadership. However, there are leaders in the social, political and intellectual spheres. Since they have to operate on the basis of consensus, the leadership is devoid of sharp edges and categorical divisions.

e. Major functions of a leader:

- to uphold the Guruís teachings at all cost, to the point of martyrdom, if necessary;

- to perform selfless service;

- to provide justice;

- to protect and preserve the communityís values and culture.

Some important qualities of a leader:

- to be of sound moral character;

- to be compassionate, sensitive to the needs of others;

- to be knowledgeable, both in spiritual and mundane spheres.

 


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