Understanding Sikhism

Understanding Sikhism

Understanding Sikhism

Understanding Sikhism

Synopsis

One of the world's major faiths with more than 20 million adherents, Sikhism is a religion which most people, including academics, seem to ignore. This introduction assumes no prior knowledge on the part of the reader. At the center of the religion is the scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, and it is the focus of Sikh theology and practice to the extent that no one is allowed to come between it and the believer. There is no priesthood. A particular aspect of Sikhism is its relationship with and attitude to other religions, something of particular significance in our multi-religious society. This book is written by a non-Sikh who has a PhD in Sikh studies.

Excerpt

Religions are sometimes said to have their feet on the ground and their heads in eternity. Accepting this statement as a general guiding principle, my intention in this book is to write about Sikhs, their beliefs and practices and lifestyles rather than Sikhism. I will try to describe and explain what it means to be a Sikh in such a way that should the reader meet one she or he might have some understanding of her or his Sikh humanity, appreciating, however, that although there is undoubtedly a Sikh identity, which is more uniform than that of Christians, who may differ greatly from one another depending on whether they are Quakers or Roman Catholics, African or Dutch, each Sikh is an individual.

The life of an extended Sikh family of Punjabi origin will be the human resource but it will not be followed slavishly, as may be seen, for example, in the chapter on beliefs. It is to be hoped that the reader's next step, if it has not already been made, will take him into a gurdwara, where he will find hospitality and friendship and be able to encounter members of the religion at first hand. There can be no better way of discovering and understanding Sikhs than this. Perhaps his journey will eventually be to India and the beautiful and spiritually enriching Harimandir Sahib where our story begins.

First, let me invite readers to consider a conundrum and at the end of the book to offer, should he or she wish, their solution. Neglected, forgotten, ignored, unknown, which of these epithets best applies to Sikhism? The fact of the matter is that it is a religion given little consideration by non-Sikhs. In the UK, for example, since 1968 only four non-Sikhs have graduated at Ph.D. level; it is possible to come across recent graduates who have not had any introduction to Sikhism in their first degree programme and it is rare to hear of possibilities for them to have access to a course lasting more than ten hours. No lectureship solely devoted to Sikh studies exists. Things are better in North America where a place has often been found for the teaching of Sikhism and more affluent communities have funded posts, though these tend to be less traditional. Although most books claiming to be introductions to the world's religions include Sikhism, the media and . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.