CREDOS: Sikhism — III

The Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism, contains hymns written by the Gurus as well as hymns by Hindu and Muslim writers, and provides the teaching and guidance no longer available from a human Guru. It is also called the Adi Granth (first book) and is regarded as the final Sikh Guru. The Guru Granth Sahib is written in the Gurmukhi language, and is treated with as much reverence as if it were indeed a human Guru. In a temple or a private house, it is kept in a special room of its own. It rests on a quilt and cushions on a small table called the Manji Sahib, and is protected by a canopy called a chanani, and by special cloths wrapped round it called rumala.

The Sikh teaching of monotheism is based on the concept of God not belonging to any one particular faith. Belief in the existance of one single God transcends the barriers between religions. Images of Gods are considered meaningless since God cannot be represented in human or physical form, and can only be experienced by way of meditation, worship and selfless service to other beings.

One distinctive feature is the importance of the concept of the Guru. This can be God himself, as the ultimate teacher, whose words and thoughts were communicated to mankind through the ten living Gurus of this faith. Belief in the equality of all men and women is manifested in the langar, the communal meal served after a service, in which all beings are welcomed. The origins of this lie in the reaction to, and rejection of, the caste system.