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The Religion of Sikhism

Sikhism or commonly known as Sikhi, is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak and continued to progress through the ten successive Sikh gurus (the last guru being the holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib). It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with approximately 30 million adherents. This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as the Gurmat (literally ‘wisdom of the Gurū’). Punjab, India is the only region in the world with a majority Sikh population.

Sikhs are expected to embody the qualities of a “Sant-Sipāhī”—a saint-soldier. Which means to love God, meditate on God, keep God in the heart, feel God’s nearness and also be strong, courageous and ready to fight to protect weak people from cruel injustice attackers. One must have control over one’s internal vices and be able to be constantly immersed in virtues clarified in the Guru Granth Sahib.

The principal beliefs of Sikhi are faith in Waheguru—represented by the phrase ik ōaṅkār, meaning one God, who prevails in everything, along with a praxis in which the Sikh is enjoined to engage in social reform through the pursuit of justice for all human beings. Sikhi teaches that God is Akal Purakh (eternal) and advocates the pursuit of salvation in a social context through the congregational practice of meditation on the name and message of God. The followers of Sikhi are ordained to follow the teachings of the ten Sikh gurus, or enlightened leaders, as well as the holy scripture entitled the Gurū Granth Sāhib, which, along with the writings of six of the ten Sikh Gurus, includes selected works of many devotees from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru, conferred the leadership of the Sikh community to the Gurū Granth Sāhib and the corporate body of the Khālsā Panth (the Granth and the Panth). Sikhi’s traditions and teachings are associated with the history, society and culture of Punjab. Adherents of Sikhī are known as Sikhs (students or disciples) and number over 30 million across the world.

Most Sikhs live in Punjab, India, although there is a significant Sikh diaspora. Until the Partition of India with the division of Punjab and the subsequent independence of Pakistan and later India, millions of Sikhs lived in what is now Pakistani Punjab.

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