CREDOS: Sikhism — I

The Sikh community is referred to as the Guru Panth and spiritual guidance is provided by the holy scriptures of the Guru Granth Sahib.

The founder of Sikhism and its first Guru was Nanak who was born in CE 1469 to a Hindu family in Punjab, which was then under Muslim rule. Nanak’s early years were therefore influenced by a background of both Hindu and Muslim teachings; however he soon became disillusioned with the intolerance shown by the leaders of both these major faiths. When he was about 30 years old, Nanak preached his first sermon in which he proclaimed ‘ there is neither Hindu nor Muslim’; that is to say, God is not interested in our religious labels, but in the way in which we conduct ourselves. All religions, he taught, were ways to the same one God, and all should be respected.

The Guru travelled widely to places as far apart as Tibet in the north, Sri Lanka in the south and Baghdad in the west, spreading his message of tolerance, equality and compassion for the disadvantaged. He emphasised the complete equality of women in both worship and secular life. Angad, whom Nanak had nominated as the second Guru, collected Nanak’s poems and hymns, thus establishing what were to become the principal Sikh scriptures. The first authoritative version of the scriptures, the Adi Granth, was completed by the fifth Guru, Arjun, who led the community from CE 1581. It was Arjun who built the original Harimandir, the Golden Temple at Amritsar.