Hinduism and Sikhism
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Both religions share many philosophical concepts such as Karma, Dharma, Mukti, Maya and Saṃsāra. In the days of the Mughal Empire, the Sikh community came to the defence of Hindus who were being forcibly converted to Islam.
- 1 History of similarities and differences
- 2 Differences
- 3 Similarities
- 4 Culture and intermarriage
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
History of similarities and differences
Scholars state that the origins of Sikhism were influenced by the nirgun (“without form”) and not sagun (“with form”) conception of God of the Bhakti movement in medieval India; the roots of Sikhism can be traced to the Sants of northern India, whose ideology grew to become the Bhakti movement. Furthermore, "Indic mythology permeates the Sikh Sacred canon, the Guru Granth Sahib and the secondary canon, the Dasam Granth and adds delicate nuance and substance to the sacred symbolic universe of the Sikhs of today and of their past ancestors".
Ik Onkar, iconically represented as ੴ in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (although sometimes spelt out in full as ਓਅੰਕਾਰ) is the iconographic statement in Sikhism that is 'there is one God'. The phrase is an expression of monotheistic unity of God.
The Onkar in (ੴ) of Sikhism is related to Om (ॐ) of Hinduism. Some Sikhs disagree that Ik Onkar is same as Om. Onkar is, states Wazir Singh, a "variation of Om (Aum) of the ancient Indian scriptures (with a slight change in its orthography), implying the seed-force that evolves as the universe". In Ek Onkar, explains Gulati, "Ek" means One, and Onkar is "equivalent of the Hindu "Om" (Aum)".
However, both of them are different as far as sikhs believe because Oankar refers to the total primary lord God.
Oankar ('the Primal Sound') created Brahma, Oankar fashioned the consciousness,
From Oankar came mountains and ages, Oankar produced the Vedas,
By the grace of Oankar, people were saved through the divine word,
By the grace of Oankar, they were liberated through the teachings of the Guru.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji
During the Mughal Empire period, the Sikh and Hindu traditions believe that Sikhs helped protect Hindus from Islamic persecution, and this caused martyrdom of their Guru; the Sikh historians, for example, record that the Sikh movement was rapidly growing in northwest India, and Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was openly encouraging Sikhs to, "be fearless in their pursuit of just society: he who holds none in fear, nor is afraid of anyone, is acknowledged as a man of true wisdom", a statement recorded in Adi Granth 1427. While Guru Tegh Bahadur influence was rising, Aurangzeb had imposed Islamic laws, demolished Hindu schools and temples, and enforced new taxes on non-Muslims.
According to records written by his son Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Guru had resisted persecution, adopted and promised to protect Kashmiri Hindus; the Guru was summoned to Delhi by Aurangzeb on a pretext, but when he arrived with his colleagues, he was offered, "to abandon his faith, and convert to Islam". Guru Tegh Bahadur and his colleagues refused, he and his associates were arrested, tortured for many weeks; the Guru himself was beheaded in public.
Monotheism versus pluralism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion; Sikhs believe there is only one God, who has infinite qualities and names. According to Eleanor Nesbitt, English renderings of Sikhism as a monotheistic religion "tend misleadingly to reinforce a Semitic understanding of monotheism, rather than Guru Nanak's mystical awareness of the one that is expressed through the many. However, what is not in doubt is the emphasis on 'one'".
Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, agnosticism, deism and atheism.
Hinduism splits people into 4 groups, namely Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishyas and Shudras, but the terms varna (theoretical classification based on occupation) and jāti (caste) are two distinct concepts. Jāti (community) refers to the thousands of endogamous groups prevalent across the subcontinent. A jati may be divided into exogamous groups based on the same gotras; the classical authors scarcely speak of anything other than the varnas; even Indologists sometimes confuse the two.
Sikhism treats all people equally and founds systems such as Langar and Pangat to help play this out in daily life. Once a person initiates into the Khalsa (Sikh Baptism) it is said that they no longer belong to any caste. This, however, does not imply that the practice of caste hierarchy is absent within the adherents of Sikhism. Caste hierarchy is generally a social reality within the Indian subcontinent regardless of religious affiliation.
Vedantic Philosophy for all Castes
Guru Gobind Singh founded the Nirmale school to help teach Sanskrit and classical Hindu literature, which was then was primarily only available to the higher caste Brahmins, the Guru in this way translated many Hindu works into Punjabi.
Sikhs believe in naam jap (meditation), and focus on listening to the hymns from Guru Granth Sahib, the central religious scripture of Sikh faith; the Guru is the focal point of worship in any Sikh Gurdwara, and the worshippers bow before it. Guru Granth Sahib is installed every morning and put to bed at night in many Gurdwaras.
Different schools of Hinduism have different theories about rituals and on salvation (moksha). However, they are primarily based around Puja (devotional worship to a personal deity, often using an idol or Murthi), and Yajna (ritual non-human/non-animal sacrifice).
Sikhs shun idol worship as a part of their faith.
Hindus accept the worship facilitated with images or murtis (idols), particularly in Agamic traditions, such as Vaishnavism and Shaivism; some scholars state it is incorrect to state that all Hindus worship idols, and more correct to state that for some the idol is a means to focus their thoughts, for some idol is a manifestation of spirituality that is everywhere, and for some even a linga, a sunrise or a river or a flower serves the same purpose. Hindu temples are called Mandirs, while Sikh temples are called Gurdwaras. However, the most famous Sikh shrine is called Harmandir Sahib
The Sikh concept of salvation is similar to some schools of Hinduism, and it is called mukti (moksha) referring to spiritual liberation, it is described in Sikhism as the state that breaks the cycle of rebirths. Mukti is obtained according to Sikhism, states Singha, through "God's grace". In the teachings of the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib, the devotion to God is viewed as more important than the desire for Mukti.
I desire neither worldly power nor liberation. I desire nothing but seeing the Lord.
Brahma, Shiva, the Siddhas, the silent sages and Indra - I seek only the Blessed Vision of my Lord and Master's Darshan.
I have come, helpless, to Your Door, O Lord Master; I am exhausted - I seek the Sanctuary of the Saints.
Says Nanak, I have met my Enticing Lord God; my mind is cooled and soothed - it blossoms forth in joy.
The six major orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy offer diverse soteriological views on moksha, including whether moksha can be achieved in this life, or after this life; the Nyaya, Vaisesika and Mimamsa schools of Hinduism consider moksha as possible only after death. Samkhya and Yoga schools consider moksha as possible in this life. In Vedanta school, the Advaita sub-school concludes moksha is possible in this life; the Dvaita and Visistadvaita sub-schools of Vedanta tradition, highlighted by many poet-saints of the Bhakti movement, believe that moksha is a continuous event, one assisted by loving devotion to God, that extends from this life to post-mortem. Beyond these six orthodox schools, some heterodox schools of Hindu tradition, such as Carvaka, deny there is a soul or after life moksha.
Hinduism does not explicitly prohibit eating meat, but it does strongly recommend Ahimsa – the concept of non-violence against all life forms including animals; as a consequence, many Hindus prefer vegetarian or lacto-vegetarian lifestyle, and methods of food production that is in harmony with nature and compassionate, respectful of other life forms as well as nature.
The tenets of Sikhism do not advocate a particular stance on either vegetarianism or the consumption of meat, but rather leave the decision of diet to the individual. Sikh sects and groups that have a "Vashnavite" influence (AKJ, GNNSJ, 3HO, Namdhari's etc.) tend to be vegetarians. Other Sikhs eat meat that has been prepared by the Jhatka method (meat prepared by sudden death of the animal), and consider only that meat as expressly forbidden that is ritually slaughtered like Kosher or Halal (Kutha meat, the meat of animals prepared by slowly bleeding it to death). HS Singha explains the Jhatka meat requirement to have support in the Hindu tradition as well, as follows,
According to the ancient Aryan Hindu tradition, only such meat as is obtained from an animal which is killed with one stroke of the weapon causing instantaneous death is fit for human consumption. However, with the coming of Islam into India and the Muslim political hegemony, it became a state policy not to permit slaughter of animals for food, in any other manner, except as laid down in the Quran - the halal meat prepared by severing the main blood artery of the throat of the animal while reciting verses from the Quran. Guru Gobind Singh took a rather serious view of this aspect of the whole matter. He, therefore, while permitting flesh to be taken as food repudiated the whole theory of this expiatory sacrifice and the right of ruling Muslims to impose it on the non-Muslims. Accordingly, he made jhatka meat obligatory for those Sikhs who may be interested in taking meat as a part of their food.— HS Singha, Sikhism, A Complete Introduction
- Both Hindus and Sikh are cremated after death
- Both believe in karma
- Both Sikhs and Hindus revere the concept of a Guru.
- Hindus and Sikhs use the word Atma or atman to describe the "Self, Soul".
In the Hindu and Sikh traditions, there is a distinction between religion and culture, and ethical decisions are grounded in both religious beliefs and cultural values. Both Hindu and Sikh ethics are primarily duty based. Traditional teachings deal with the duties of individuals and families to maintain a lifestyle conducive to physical, mental and spiritual health; these traditions share a culture and world view that includes ideas of karma and rebirth, collective versus individual identity, and a strong emphasis on spiritual purity.
The notion of dharma, karma, moksha are very important for both Hindus and Sikhs. Unlike the linear view of life, death, heaven or hell taken in Abrahamic religions, for Hindus and Sikhs believe in the concept of Saṃsāra, that is life, birth and death are repeated, for each soul, in a cycle until one reaches mukti or moksha.
Culture and intermarriage
There is an organic relation of Sikhs to Hindus, states Zaehner, both in religious thought and their communities, and virtually all Sikhs' ancestors were Hindus; some Hindu groups, like the BJP and related nationalist organizations, view Sikhism as a tradition within Hinduism along with other Dharmic faiths (such as some Hindus referring to Sikhs as Keshdhari Hindus), even though the Sikh faith is a distinct religion. Historically, Sikhs were seen as the protectors of Hindus, among others, and were even considered by some right-wing Hindu political organizations like the RSS as the "sword arm" of Hinduism; this status as protectors of Hindus was strong enough that Punjabi Hindus would often raise their eldest son as a Sikh. Most Sikhs are ethnically Punjabis, whereas Hindus belong to a variety of ethnic groups worldwide (including Punjabis).
Marriages between Sikhs and Hindus, particularly among Khatris, are frequent. Dogra states that there has always been inter-marriage between the Hindu and the Sikh communities. Charing and Cole state that "Sikhism originated and developed within Hinduism. Hindus and Sikhs, in initial years of Sikhism, used to have what is termed as Roti Beti di Sanjh; that is they eat together and intermarry". William Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi state that for some Sikhs, intermarriage between Hindus and Sikhs of same community was preferable than other communities.
Sikh scriptures are venerated by certain Hindu communities, often by syncretic sects.
- McLeod, William H. (2014). "Sikhism: History and Doctrine". britannica.com. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
Sikhs claim that their tradition has always been separate from Hinduism. Nevertheless, many Western scholars argue that in its earliest stage Sikhism was a movement within the Hindu tradition; Nanak, they point out, was raised a Hindu and eventually belonged to the Sant tradition of northern India, a movement associated with the great poet and mystic Kabir (1440–1518); the Sants, most of whom were poor, dispossessed, and illiterate, composed hymns of great beauty expressing their experience of the divine, which they saw in all things. Their tradition drew heavily on the Vaishnava bhakti (the devotional movement within the Hindu tradition that worships the god Vishnu), though there were important differences between the two. Like the followers of bhakti, the Sants believed that devotion to God is essential to liberation from the cycle of rebirth in which all human beings are trapped; unlike the followers of bhakti, however, the Sants maintained that God is nirgun (“without form”) and not sagun (“with form”). For the Sants, God can be neither incarnated nor represented in concrete terms.
- "Sikh world history". BBC. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
Sikhism was born in the Punjab area of South Asia, which now falls into the present day states of India and Pakistan. The main religions of the area at the time were Hinduism and Islam; the Sikh faith began around 1500 CE, when Guru Nanak began teaching a faith that was quite distinct from Hinduism and Islam. Nine Gurus followed Nanak and developed the Sikh faith and community over the next centuries.
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Pashaura Singh and Louis Fenech (2014). The Oxford handbook of Sikh studies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 236–245, 444–446. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8.
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- David Lorenzen (1995), Bhakti Religion in North India: Community Identity and Political Action, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791420256, pp. 1-2, Quote: "Historically, Sikh religion derives from this nirguni current of Bhakti religion".
- Louis Fenech (2014), in The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies (Editors: Pashaura Singh, Louis E. Fenech), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199699308, page 35, Quote: "Technically this would place the Sikh community's origins at a much further remove than 1469, perhaps to the dawning of the Sant movement, which possesses clear affinities to Guru Nanak's thought sometime in the tenth century. The predominant ideology of the Sant parampara in turn corresponds in many respects to the much wider devotional Bhakti tradition in northern India."
- Louis Fenech (2014), in The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies (Editors: Pashaura Singh, Louis E. Fenech), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199699308, page 36, Quote: "Few Sikhs would mention these Indic texts and ideologies in the same breadth as the Sikh tradition, let alone trace elements of their tradition to this chronological and ideological point, despite the fact that the Indic mythology permeates the Sikh sacred canon, the Guru Granth Sahib and the secondary canon, the Dasam Granth (Rinehart 2011), and adds delicate nuance and substance to the sacred symbolic universe of the Sikhs of today and of their past ancestors."
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the 'a,' 'u,' and 'm' of aum have also been explained as signifying the three principles of creation, sustenance and annihilation. ... aumkār in relation to existence implies plurality, ... but its substitute Ekonkar definitely implies singularity in spite of the seeming multiplicity of existence. ...
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- Note: Each school has a different meaning for Moksha. For example, Mimamsa school considers moksha as release into svarga (heaven), it does not recognize samsara; while Nyaya school considers moksha as linked to samsara and a release from it; See: The Purva-Mimamsa Sutra of Jaimini, Transl: M.L. Sandal (1923), Chapter II, Pada I and Chapter VI, Pada I through VIII; Also see Klaus Klostermaier, A Survey of Hinduism, 3rd Edition, ISBN 978-0-7914-7082-4, Chapter 26
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