Guru Nanak built a new township and named it “abode of the Creator.” He also erected a special building for worship which became the model of the gurdwara, the Sikh place of worship (gurdwara literally means “doorway of the Guru”). After leading the Sikh community for 20 years, Guru Nanak died at the age of 70. Because Hindus and Muslims disagreed about the disposal of Nanak’s body, before he died he told both groups to lay flowers at his side—Hindus at his right side and Muslim’s at his left side—and whichever flowers were still fresh in the morning were to do as they wished with his body. After he died, the sheet that was placed over his body was removed and his body was gone. Guru Nanak is the most prominent and revered of the ten Gurus.
The ten historical Gurus were revealers of truth. They are linked to one another through a sharing of the divine essence, but they were not divine incarnations of God and therefore they should not be worshiped. Even Guru Nanak stressed his human limitations. Arjan, the fifth Guru, compiled Sikhism’s sacred scripture called the Adi Granth (literally means “first book”). He also constructed the the Golden Temple. The Golden Temple was designed with four doors to symbolize Sikhism’s openness to people of all four classes of the Hindu caste system. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and final historical Guru, is revered as the greatest Guru after Nanak. Guru Gobind Singh instituted the Khalsa and he installed the Adi Granth as Guru, thus ending the succession of human Gurus.
The Khalsa is an order within Sikhism based on the principle of loyalty to the Guru. All the men in the order are given the name Singh, meaning “lion” and the women are given the name Kaur meaning “princess.” Requirements for initiation into the Khalsa are the following: at least 14 years old and possess the five Ks: 1.) uncut hair (men often keep their hair wrapped in a turban), 2.) a comb, 3.) an iron bracelet, 4.) a sword or knife, 5.) a pair of shorts. Approximately, 70 percent of Sikhs are considered to be members of the Khalsa.
Sikhs are monotheists. They believe in one God who is Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer. He is eternal and formless. God is both immanent (= indwelling creation) and transcendent (= beyond creation). Sikhs believe humans often neglect to center their lives on God and therefore they are proud and ignorant. In ignorance, humans seek God’s creation rather than God who is the Creator. Humans who remain in this state are destined to remain in samsara. Instead of remaining proud and ignorant we should meditate on God’s nature by meditating on the nam (the divine Name). Spiritual perfection involves a state of complete union with God. Salvation is eternal, blissful, and beyond samsara.
Memory Tool: Mon.Gur.Khal.Adi (Monotheism, Gurus (10), Khalsa, Adi Granth)