First Online: February 05, 2000
Introduction to Sikhism
The history and suffering of Sikhs is one of the most important episodes in the history of India. Guru Nanak Dev founded Sikhism in the fifteen century and he was followed by nine Gurus (divine teachers or prophets). Guru Angad developed the Gurumukhi script. Guru Ram Das laid the foundation for the city of Amritsar. Guru Arjan Dev compiled the Adi Granth, the sacred text of Sikhs (a.k.a. Guru Granth Sahib).
But it was Guru Gobind Singh who gave Sikhism a renewed vigor and mass following in the seventeenth century. The principle of Sikhism was that there was but one God, and all men who were servants of God and Guru, and were bound together in a holy brotherhood known as the Khalsa. He declared that he was the last of the Gurus, and asked his followers to revere only the Adi Granth after his death.
Guru Gobind Singh also built the institution of Akalis. The Akalis were fiercely religious devotees --soldiers of God. Late in the twentieth century (1970s and 1980s), the Akalis were to wage a bloody fight against the Indian Government that led to massive armed offensive against them.
Today, people of Sikh religion can be found all over the world, due to years of persecution in their homeland (in 1738 by Nadir Shah, in 1748 to 1751 by Ahmed Shah Abdadi, by British in 1849, and in 1984 by Government militia in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination) as well as due to their entrepreneur spirit. The Sikhs (or Sardarjis as they are popularly known) have been great patrons of art, religion and scholarship. Along with Rajputs, they are the known as the bravest people in India, and their women, among India's most beautiful. The Sikhs have participated in India's nation building for hundreds of years, fighting the British, serving in the military (the Sikh regiment is the most decorated regiment of the Indian army) and excelling in sports, and even served as the Presidents (Gianni Zail Singh) and Prime Ministers (Manmohan Singh) of India .
The Sikhs are a light-hearted, humorous (and hence targets of Sardarji jokes?), and religious people who love music and dance.
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