The religion of the Sikhs was founded by one called Guru Nanak (see sect of Guru Nanak) in the state of Punjab, in northern India, about five hundred years ago. He was born in 1469 to a simple Hindu family. He refuted idol-worship of Hindus and despised the tyranny of the Muslim invaders and so it is claimed that he saved many Hindus from converting to Islam by the founding the Sikh religion.
The aim of Nanak was good one. In those days anyone with even a little knowledge of Sanskrit would have been considered a learned man. Since all hymns (Satotras) were done in Sanskrit, it is possible that he was revered for it rather than preaching in his own Punjabi language which would not have brought him such popularity.
During the Guru's life time he had praise for the Vedic teachings but he also reviled it and censured it in his book the Grantha. In anticipation, he denounced the Vedas here and there, in case anyone should ask him the meaning of a Vedic mantra.
He supposedly disappeared while swimming in the river Bain, claiming he was in Holy communion with the Lord God who revealed Himself to him. He then uttered what is now enshrined in the Sikh Holy Scriptures: -
"There is but One God, His name is Truth, He is the Creator, He fears none, He is without hate, He never dies, He is beyond the cycle of births and death, He is self illuminated, He is realized by the kindness of the True Guru. He was True in the beginning, He was True when the ages commenced and has ever been True, He is also True now." Japji.Was this really the Sikh's God revelation five hundred years ago? Did this God forget to reveal this message in the beginning so that all in His Creation could have benefited from it? It is difficult to believe that the God of Truth hid this truth from millions of souls before Nanak. There is really no contradiction to the above Vedic prayer but to restrict its revelation to Nanak's time is highly erroneous.
On a visit to Kurukshetra in Haryana, Guru Nanak had a meat dish prepared for him, which offended the Hindus. He responded to their anger, saying:-
"Only fools argue whether to eat meat or not. They don't understand truth nor do they meditate on it. Who can define what is meat and what is plant? Who knows where the sin lies being a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian?" MalharSurely, if this great originator of Sikhism, who had the most esteem privilege to come face to face with God, did not know where the sin lies, who else would know? This shows very clearly that he was a fake or his followers made him to be such. What disciple of a true God would not know how to define what is meat and what is plant? In Nanak's time the state of Punjab, was altogether destitute of the Sanskrit learning and was at that time suffering under the tyranny of Muslim rule. He did prevent many from converting to Islam. But strange as it may sound, neither did he amass a large gathering of followers nor did Sikhism flourish much during his life time. But it is the norm, as it has occurred all throughout the ages in all the doctrines, that the ignorant made Saints and Martyrs of their teachers after they are dead.
The fault of establishing this new sect is not to be borne by Nanak alone. It was his followers who wanted to benefit materially and take advantage of the ignorance that prevailed then. Even his corpse disappeared over night to fool the mass that he merged with the eternal light of the Creator. It is claimed that both the Hindus and the Muslims revered Nanak and at his death Hindus wanted him cremated and the Muslims wanted him buried. It is strange that his own followers had no interest in his dead body.
After his death many sects within Sikhism began to emerge, beginning with his son who headed the Udasees, the Nirmalas with Ram Das and so on. As the successors to the Sikh dynasty grew they were all incorporated into their sacred book, the Guru Grantha. However, the many various treatises were fictitious stories invented to arrogate themselves Divine privileges and some of these falsehoods were taken from the Hindu Puranas and acting on the precept "Man versed in Divine Knowledge is himself God."
Guru Gobind Singh the tenth and last of the Sikh Gurus was indeed the bravest among all the followers of Nanak. The oppression of his people by the Muslims, which continued until his time, left him no choice but to take revenge. He had neither the men nor the weapons necessary to go to war with the Muslim tyrants who were at the zenith of their power in the Punjab.
The susceptibleness of the followers of Nanak afforded him a strategy. He told them that the Goddess had given him a sword and a blessing saying, "Go forth and fight against the Mohammedans (Muslim). You shall win." It worked and gained many supporters from amongst the people even Hindus. He appointed five articles (kakars) beginning with the letter "K" as the signs of his faith which became very useful in the battle.
Guru Gobind Singh, through his wisdom, started the practice of wearing these five articles. They were useful in battle in his time, but they are of no use at the present time. It is rather strange, that these things have now become religious symbols in the religion of the Sikhs. Although they refute idolatry, they worship the Grantha even more than idols and place considerable religious significance on the five articles.
- Kesha - long unshaven hair, this protects the head, to some extent, against blows from sticks and sword thrusts.
- Kangan - a big iron ring worn by akalees on their turbans. Kara - an iron bangle worn on the wrist which helps to protect the wrist and the head.
- Kacha - a kind of knicker use in running and jumping, very commonly used by wrestlers and acrobats for the same purpose. It protects the most vital parts of the body as well as makes the movements free.
- Karda - a double-edged knife useful in hand to hand combat with the enemy.
- Khanga - a comb for dressing the hair.
Prostrating to a book (Grantha) incurs the action as the Hindus to an idol. They both make a big show of it in their highly beautified temples to teach others to do the same and receive gifts. The followers of the Grantha do not show the same amount of respect for the Vedas as the Puranics (Hindus) do. Of course, they can justify it by saying that it was never taught to them.