Probably the most defining characteristic that bonds Sikhs all over the world is that they all worship the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, and only the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, as their living Guru.
Sikhs believe the Siri Guru Granth Sahib is the compass that always points true North. It exists within everyone’s heart. Sikhs believe that the Guru is that inner wisdom which takes us from darkness to light.
Sikhs experience and accept the embodiment of the Shabad Guru, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, as their only Living Guru. They don’t bow to any living person as Guru.
The centerpiece of the Sikh community is the Gurdwara, where the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the living Guru holds court. Sikhs experience being in the Gurdwara as like being in the court of a King.
There is a protocol in Gurdwaras, Sikh places of worship. But at the same time, devotion is intimate. It only requires an attitude of reverence. (Before entering the Gurdwara, shoes are removed, and the head is covered. Those entering the Gurdwara wash their hands and bow before approaching the Guru.)
There is a direct relationship between the Guru and the Sikh. Any Sikh can go straight to the Guru for guidance, without any intercessor.
In Sikh Dharma there is never a “middle-man.” The beauty of our Shabad Guru is that it is impartial, impersonal, and always offers unbiased, uncompromising guidance and inspiration.
The gist of the Guru’s message, the essence of the teachings of Guru Nanak and his successors as embodied in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib is simply, “Chant God’s Name. Live honestly with the conscious intention to make the world a better place for your having lived and breathed here, yet realize that everything here on Earth is temporary.
Consciously connect with your own soul and with God by chanting His Name, by vibrating in the frequency of the Infinite, so it becomes your habitual state of consciousness, and prepares you to go Home fearlessly and with joy.
~MSS Guruka Singh Khalsa, “The Science of Sound,” Heroes, Saints and Yogis (2012) by Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa and Guruka Singh Khalsa.
Note: additional information about the Gurdwara, Sikh temples of worship, will be shared in the next Sikh Dharma 101 lesson.