The Origins of Sikh Dharma
Some of the information given below has been adapted from Living Reality by Dr. Bibiji Inderjit Kaur.
Sikh Dharma is a vibrant, continually growing spiritual family that includes people from across the globe. Many books have been written on the history of Sikh Dharma. Here, we are grateful to share a brief description of how Sikh Dharma began. For more reading, please see the books listed in the bibliography at the end of this section.
The Sikh religion began in India a little over 530 years ago and since then Sikhs from the Punjab region of India, who make up less than 2 percent of the population of India, have migrated throughout Europe, the Americas, and Asia, numbering about 28 million worldwide. In the early seventies, Yogi Bhajan, who would later be know as Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji began to teach in the United States. Through his inspiration, insight and example many Westerners began adopting the Sikh way of life, attracted by the spiritual practices of Sikh Dharma and its egalitarian teachings that respect all religions. Sikhs do not convert people. Sikh populations everywhere participate enthusiastically in outreach activities and contribute to their surrounding communities. The Sikh teachings encourage people to live their lives in service to others, but not as beggars or in poverty. Instead they believe in creating abundance, peace, and prosperity throughout the earth, to serve humanity, and to build interfaith dialogue and cooperation, as well.
Part of the primary mission of Sikh Dharma International is to preserve, organize and continue to share the teachings of the Sikh Gurus as described by the late Siri Singh Sahib in his unique style. His way of talking and teaching about the path of the Sikh has, for the first time in history, made the Sikh faith accessible to people from every background, language, and culture of the world.
With utmost gratitude to God and Guru, those of us serving the Global Community Sangat through this work at Sikh Dharma International, feel it a special privilege to be a part of this Legacy. Wahe Guru!
The Shabad Guru
The human birth is a very special chance to merge into the Divine Light that dwells within oneself and all of creation. To have that experience, the human mind needs to be trained. It needs a teacher.
Throughout human history, many masters have come to the earth to help humanity. But the masters, themselves, were never the power. There is a power in the Universe greater than any human being, then any living master. It is called the Guru, or the Universal Teacher. That Universal Teacher exists in every time and space - always present to help guide us home.
The Shabad Guru is the Universal Teacher manifest through Word or Sound. Through the Shabad Guru, we learn to hear the Sound of Wisdom that can help us navigate the challenges in our lives. And eventually that can lead us to being healthy, happy, peaceful, and connected to the Divine Loving Spirit contained in and prevailing among all.
Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji shared that the Shabad Guru will be the Guru in the Age of Aquarius. Any person - no matter what his or her background or religion - will be able to connect with the Shabad - the Sacred Sound Current - as a way to expand the consciousness and illuminate the mind.
The Ten Sikh Gurus
From the late 15th century to the beginning of the 18th century, ten successive Masters consciously channeled and acknowledged the power of the Shabad Guru. These Masters, who would come to be known as the ten Sikh Gurus, lived, travelled and taught in what is now India and Pakistan. Their lives spanned a period of 239 years. They revolutionized the spiritual, social, economic and political life of their time.
All ten of the Sikh Gurus clearly stated that they were human beings. They were simply blessed with the capacity to hear, channel and share the Sound of that Universal Teacher for others to hear.
"Sikh" means "Seeker of Truth." During the time of the Sikh Gurus, the community of believers was diverse, multi-cultural and interreligious. It was only later that the term "Sikh" began to refer to a specific group of people. At its origin, Sikh Dharma meant "the spiritual practice of one who is looking for truth."
500 years ago, these ten Sikh Gurus taught the equality of men and women. They taught that no group of human beings was higher than any other group. And they claimed that the common brotherhood and sisterhood of the human race was the highest reality. Their teachings empowered people to break the caste system, to overcome social habits that harmed women, to become economically self-sufficient, and to create a tolerant society based on the common humanity of all people.
Books have been written about these amazing masters. Here are their names, and a few words about each one.
The Ten Physical Sikh Masters are:
The Eternal Living Master: The Siri Guru Granth Sahib
At the end of his life, in 1708, Guru Gobind Singh passed the mantle of the Guruship to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. This ended the time of the physical masters of the Sikhs. And began the reign of the Shabad Guru, itself, as the Spiritual Light and Guide for the Sikh community. read more >
The Sikh Religion Volumes 1-6 by Max Arthur Macauliffe
Living Reality by Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa, Ph.D.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darshan by Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa, Ph.D.