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Gur Panth Parkash

Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh





Sikhism – A Religion of Its own

Bhai Ashok Singh


The attack on the identity of Sikh religion had been started from the last decade of 19th century, when Arya Samaj was openly preaching against minorities. It was Hindu reform movement which was started and it came to be known as Arya Samaj. From Punjab both Hindus and Sikhs acclaimed this movement. However, after joining this movement the Sikhs came to know the derogatory remarks about the Sikh Gurus and other minorities by the founder of this movement.  W. Owen Cole mentioned in his book, The Guru in Sikhism, about it.

Swami Dayanand, the founder of Arya Samaj in his Satyarth Parkash had used a derogatory language against Guru Nanak and his verses and the sacred Sikh scripture. Hinduism as a religion too has been intolerant towards Sikhism.

D Petrie, Assistant Director, Criminal Intelligence, Govt of India had said on August 11, 1911 at Simla in A report on Developments in Sikh Politics (1900-1911) which was also reproduced in the Gurdwara Gazettee, Amritsar, April 1969, that, “Hinduism has always been hostile to Sikhism whose Gurus powerfully and successfully attacked the principle of caste which is the foundation on which the whole fabric of Brahmanism has been reared.  The activities of Hindus have, therefore, been constantly directed to the undermining of Sikhism both by preventing the children of Sikh fathers from taking pahul and by reducing professed Sikhs from their allegiance to their faith.  Hinduism has strangled Buddhism, once a formidable rival to it and it has already made serious inroads into the domain of Sikhism.” (quoted from Sachi Sakhi by Sirdar Kapur Singh)

Even though during the struggle for India’s independence the topmost Hindu/Congress leaders have been assuring the Sikhs a life of dignity and equality for the minorities, they changed their stance immediately after Independence.

In the very first Legislative Assembly meeting held on December 9, 1946 under the Chairmanship of Dr Rajinder Parsad. Mr Jawahar Lal Nehru moved the first resolution regarding minorities in this meeting. The resolution is being reproduced below:

       “Adequate safeguards would be provided for minorities... It was a declaration, a pledge and an undertaking before the World, a contract with millions of Indians and, therefore, in the nature of an oath which we must keep.”

And Mahatma Gandhi also congratulated the Sikh community through a telegram on the victory of the Keys Agitation in 1921.  He said, “First Battle of India’s Freedom Won, Congratulation.” He rejoiced in British defeat.

Mahatma Gandhi also said during a meeting held at Gurdwara Sis Ganj, Delhi, that, “I ask you to accept my word... and the resolution of the Congress that it will not betray a single individual, much less a community... our Sikh friends have no reason to fear that it would betray them. For, the moment it does so, the Congress would not only thereby seal its own doom but that of the country too.  Moreover, Sikhs are a brave people. They know how to safeguard their rights by exercise of arms if it should ever come to that.” (The Young India, March 19, 1931)

Jawahar Lal Nehru had also given assurance to the Sikhs in All India Congress Committee meeting in 1946 that, “The brave Sikhs of Punjab are entitled to special consideration. I see nothing wrong in an area and a set-up in the North wherein the Sikhs can experience the glow of freedom”. (The Statesman, Calcutta, July 7, 1946)

But these leaders ditched the Sikhs soon after British left India when the above promises made to the Sikhs had been negated by the Minority Sub Committee of the Constitution Assembly on May 11, 1949 and passed a resolution that, “no special provision should be provided for the Sikhs other than the general provisions already approved by the Assembly for certain other minorities.” The logic was given by the sub-committee that ‘Conditions have, however, vastly changed since August 1947 and the Committee are satisfied that minorities themselves feel that in their own interest, no less than the interest of the country as a whole, that the statutory reservations for religious minorities should be abolished.’ (quoted from Punjab Under Siege – A Critical Analysis by Iqbal Singh)

Despite all the opposition by the rabid Hindu ideologues and the Hindu political leadership, Sikh Gurus and numerous Sikh scholars have been putting up a continuous rebuttal to this sort of Hindu propaganda and opposition. Guru Nanak, throughout his verses, has emphasized upon the supremacy of the formless concept of God especially in his “Sodar Bani”. In another verses, he states:

        I do not keep fasts, nor do I observe the month of Ramadaan.

       Serve only the One, who will protect me in the end.

       The One Lord, the Lord of the World, is my God Allah.

       He adminsters justice to both Hindus and Muslims.

       I do not make pilgrimages to Mecca,

       nor do I worship at Hindu sacred shrines.

       I serve the One Lord, and not any other.

       I do not perform Hindu worship services,

       nor do I offer the Muslim prayers.

       I have taken the One Formless Lord into my heart;

       I humbly worship Him there.

       I am not a Hindu, nor am I a Muslim.

       My body and breath of life belong to Allah, to Raam, the God of both.1

Similarly, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha begins his book Hum Hindu Nahin in  1898 with a verse/ kabit from Bhai Gurdas:

       We do not accept the authority of the Vedas

       Neither that of Simritis and Puran

       We worship neither Bhairva, nor Ganesha.

       We recognize neither Tithis nor omens, nor days

       Neither Rahu, Ketu, Shani, Shukar, Sun nor moon,

       We do not believe a bit in Sandhya, Sutak, Caste,

       Varna, Jantar, Mantar, Fasting, Homa or Shradh.    

       Disciples of the Tenth Master, Khalsa Panth is distinct.2

Really ignorant is he who calls Khalsa as Hindu.

The factor of the matter is that Sikhism is a distinct religion with its own scripture (Ahl-e-Kitab), place of worship (Ahl-e-Mukam), distinct standard (Alh-e-Nishan), distinct identity and dress code, and distinct code of conduct, traditions and practices. formed by Guru Nanak in fifteenth century. It has grown steadily and become the fifth largest religion of the world today.

The first sermon of Guru Nanak (the founder of Sikhism) after his mystical audience with Parbrahm Parmeshar – God was that there is no Hindu and no Musalman.  His concept of God is enshrined in Mool Mantra of Japuji Sahib as:

       One Universal Creator God, The name is Truth, Creative being personified. No fear. No hatred, Image of the undying, Beyond birth, Self-existent, By Guru’s Grace.3

This line of sermon is further elaborated in Guru Granth Sahib over and again as:

       I have no quarrel with anyone.

       I have abandoned both the Pandits,

       The Hindu religious scholars,

       And the Mullahs, the Muslim priests.4

Independent identity of Sikh faith is reiterated over and again in the scripture to drive the point home. Sikhism cannot be properly understood or evaluated with Hindu prejudice.

To go into detailed study of Sikhism one has to go back into its history to appreciate its uniqueness. All the major religions of the world are from two cultural backgrounds.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are from Jewish stock. These are also referred to as Semitic religions or Semitic thought.

The other three, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism are products of Ganga Jamuna culture or oriental religious.

But the place where Guru Nanak the founder of Sikhism was born belonged to neither of these two cultures.

Guru Nanak established Sikhism at the close of 15th Century.  We can conveniently construe that Sikhism belonged to neither of the two cultures. Its doctrines were new, quite different from the established two thoughts.

No doubt Nanak was born in a Hindu Family. But he left Hinduism or Hindu Dharam at the age of 12 when he refused to wear Janju and Tilak.

Janju and Tilak as referred to as ‘theirs’ (Hindus) by Guru Gobind Singh, who writes, izi{ fsbe okyk gqG{ skek When the Guru wrote about ninth Nanak, sacrifices.

The salient features of Guru Nanak’s doctrine are:

          –              Oneness of God,

          –              no Avtaarvad (re-incarnation)

          –              no Idol worship

          –              no Caste System or no Social Barrier

The Sikh scripture says the following about the above:

Oneness of God:

          My Lord and Master is One;

          He is the One and Only;

          O Siblings of Destiny, He is the One alone.5

No Avtaarvad (re-incarnation):

          Let that tongue be burnt, which says that our Lord

          And Master is subject to birth.

          He is not born, and He does not die;

          He does not come and go in reincarnation.6


          He never perishes;

          He does not come or go in reincarnation.

          So serve Him, forever and ever;

          He is contained in all.

          Why serve another who is born, and then dies?7

No Idol worship:

       I am not torn by duality, because I do not worship any other than the Lord;

       I do not visit tombs or crematoriums.8

       Why worship gods and goddesses, O Siblings of Destiny?

       What can we ask of them? What can they give us?

       The stone gods are washed with water,

       O Siblings of Destiny, but they just sink in the water.9


       The ignorant fools pick up stones and worship them.

       But when those stones themselves sink, how will they carry you across?10

No Caste System:

I am not a Hindu, nor am I a Muslim.

       My body and breath of life belong to Allah – to Raam – the God of both.11


       The four castes . the Khshaatriyas, Brahmins, Soodras and Vaishyas are equal in respect to the teachings.12


       The Guru, the True Guru, is my social status and honour;

       I have sold my head to the Guru.13

Guru Nanak and his successor Gurus practised what they preached. For instance, all the Gurus condemned Caste system. They not only condemned it but also practised it. Guru Nanak’s long time companion Bhai Mardana belonged to another religion and socially low caste. Similarly, the institution of Langar, where there is no discrimination on the basis of religion or caste and all eat together. Any one coming to meet Guru Sahib, even Emperor Akbar partook langar before meeting Guru Sahib.

In Tankhanama it is written ‘ਨਿਰਧੰਨ ਦੇਖ ਨਾ ਪਾਸ ਬਹਾਵੈ ਸੋ ਤਨਖਾਇਆ ਮੂਲ ਕਹਾਵੇ

Fifth Guru, while compiling and editing Guru Granth Sahib included the bani of Bhagats belonging to different castes creeds and religion and gave their bani an equal status as that of Guru Nanak. So much so that foundation stone of Sri Harimandir Sahib was laid by a Muslim Saint, Sian Mian Mir.  Even the first Granthi of Sri Harimandir Sahib, Baba Budha ji, came from an ordinary peasant background.

It reached the final culminating stage when Guru Gobind Singh, after administering Amrit for the first time, made five pyaras belonging to different castes and made them to partake amrit from the same bowl – Batta.

Sikhism in the Eyes of Non-Sikhs

When Dr Radha Krishnan met great Russian leader Stalin he asked the Dr. “how would you backfill the wide trench between the rich and poor of India?” Dr Radha Krishnan promptly replied, “In the same way as Guru Gobind Singh abolished the caste barriers and engulfed the wide split between Hindus and Muslims of India.”

“The Sikh Khalsa was an astonishingly original and novel creation, a democratic institution.” (Aurobindo Ghosh, an eminent Indian scholar) The Governor of Lahore, once explained to Nadar Shah about the Sikhs said:

       “It (Khalsa Panth) is distinct from Hindus and Moslems. Distinct and marvellous is their sect.

       They perform marriage ceremony neither like Hindus nor like Moslems.

       Their marriage is “Anand” ceremony.

       When a Singh (man) or Singhni (woman) dies, they prepare sacred pudding and distribute it.

       They do not perform the Hindu rites and they do not throw the bones (of the dead) in the Ganges.

       On the tenth day they complete the reading of the Granth and distribute offering to the poor.

       They do not wear the sacred thread, nor put the mark on their forehead.

       They neither worship idols. They worship the One Almighty and do not make obeisance to anyone else. Vedas, Puranas and other (semitic) books, they do not accept the authority of any.

       Whatever Guru Nanak said, they keep faith on that.

       From the same vessel they administer Amrit (baptismal water) to everyone.  They all eat together and live like true brothers.

       They leave behind all caste, Varna, family names, Karma and Dharma of the ancestors.

       On the contrary, if any Sikh comes to our religion (Islam) on getting the opportunity he goes back and baptizing him they absorb him in their religion.”

Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha – Hum Hindu Nahin

The Sikh faith is a universal religion for the present space age.  The Sikh religion is truly the answer to the problems of modern age.  The older faiths were good in their day but that day is now past and we are living in the dispensation of Guru Nanak.  The other religions contain Truth but Sikhism contains the fullness of Truth. It is the faith of new age.  It is the summum bonum for the modern man.  It completely supplants and fulfills all the former dispensations of older religions. (H L Bradshaw, a Christian Priest and Scholar of world religions of USA, Sikhism, Sikh Review, Calcutta)

“In the coming religious debates, the Sikh religion and its scripture Adi Granth will have something of special value to say to the rest of the world.” (Prof Arnold Toynbee, the eminent American scholar of world History, UNESCO selections from Sacred Writings of Sikhs, Foreword, p. 10)

“Guru Nanak saved Sikhs from those blunders in which Indian society had been indulging for centuries and he instructed the Sikhs for the remembrance of God and truthful character and in this manner he founded the religion simple, clear-cut, independent and beyond the false rituals and rites. It was on these basic principles that Guru Gobind Singh formed such a nation which elevated everyone politically and religiously after doing away with class system.” (J D Cunnihgham, an eminent British historian author of History of Sikhs, London 1849)

“Sikhism indeed itself revealed something of what in the last analysis Religion is. It is an independent and conspicuous order of its own. The world today needs its message of peace and Love.” (John Clark Archer, Eminent Scholar of Religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, London, p. 267)

“Sikhism is a wholly new, original and genuinely monotheistic religion. It is an independent religion. It is the only living faith that gives the healing outlook of life.” (Edward Britten Court, the eminent scholar of religions, Foreword, The Sikh Way of Life by Ranbir Singh, p. 10)

“Guru Nanak had brought a practical religion. Guru Nanak had understood the basic knowledge which had not been understood by other reformers. Only that religion can survive which teaches practical way of life (as Sikhism) and not that how to flee from the worldly affairs.” (C.H. Payne, the eminent scholar of religions,  in A Short History of the Sikhs)

I have studied the scriptures of the other great religions, but I do not find elsewhere the same power of appeal to the heart and mind as I find in Guru Granth Sahib. They are compact in spite of their length and are a revelation of the vast reach of human heart varying from the noble concept of God to the recognition and indeed the insistence upon the practical needs of the human body.  There is something modern about these scriptures.” (Pearl S. Buck, the American scholar and Nobel Prize winner)

It was reserved for Guru Nanak to perceive the true principles of reform and to lay those broad foundations, which enabled his successor, Guru Gobind Singh to fire the minds of his countrymen with a new nationality to give practical effect to the doctrine that the lowest is equal to the highest in race as in creed, in political rights as in religious hopes. (J D Cunningham, Eminent British Historian)

“Sikhism is no disguised Hindu sect but an independent revelation of the one truth of all sects; it is no variant of Muslim teachings save in that it too proclaims the love of God and need for men to hold Him always in their heart.  It too is a distinct religion like the other great religions of the world. It seems certain that those views (as contained in Guru Granth Sahib) welled up from the depths of inspiration in their own heart (Sikh Gurus) and owed little or nothing to what they received from others, either through books and through their words.” (Duncan Green, Gospel of Guru Granth Sahib, p xxxvii)

“Sikhism is a new separate religion and not the reformed sect of Hinduism.” (Dorothy Field, British Scholar, The religion of the Sikhs, London 1914, p. 34)

It is totally to be rejected that Sikhism is a mixture of Hinduism and Islam” (Edward Geoffrey Parrinder, an eminent scholar of Religion)

When Iqbal came to know about Habib’s intention (translation of Japuji), he sent a telegram to Habib saying, “Habib, while doing translation of Japuji of Guru Nanak into Urdu Language, do pray to Almighty to give you strength so that you can do justice to this superb spiritual hymn. Please try not to be biased with Japuji Sahib under any circumstance because the pious person, who has composed this Bani, has done more service to Islam than the greatest Muslim devout.”

Famous Historian Robert Rust was obliged to write that, “In the whole history of the world, only Guru Nanak has been the person whose last rites were performed respectfully by two religious traditions, (Hindu and Muslims).”

Maulvi Ghulam Ali Muhyat Ahzam was the scribe of king Farukhsiyar, a grandson of Aurangzeb.  He writes about Guru Nanak and the Sikh faith as under: “Guru Nanak’s faith loves praying to God.  This religion is very simple.  There is no discrimination for anybody.  Guru Nanak was a contemporary of Mughal Emperor Babar.  His sermons can melt even the stone-hearted.  His pious hymns had sanctified considerable sections of humanity.  Sayyed Pir Hussain who was considered at that time the light house of Islam, used to respect and praise Guru Nanak very much.  All the best tenets which can elevate the human soul up to prophetic level are possessed in Guru Nanak and Almighty God did not give them to anybody else.”

Cunningham writes in History of the Sikhs, 1848 A.D. page 71: “Thus Guru Gobind Singh transformed his followers into brave fighters, who possessed so much strength and courage that they could dare the lions in their own dens and challenge dreadful Aurangzeb in his own court.  The lowest of the lowly became equal to the highest of the higher caste. All became one and the four castes started sitting and eating together in one plate, in one room.”

The haze clouding the identity of the Sikh faith due to ignorance, lack of study and negative thoughts have made it necessary to project Sikhism in its right perspective. 



Note : At the end of this document, I would like to thank the authors whose writings I have quoted from ‘Religion and History of the Sikhs by Sardar Mewa Singh (retd Judge), ‘Excellence of Sikhism’ by Dr Sarup Singh Alag.

          I have been able to write above few pages guided by the spirit and guidance conveyed in the writings of our revered Sikh philosopher Late Bhai Sahib Bhai Kahn Singh of Nabha. 

   1.    ਵਰਤ ਰਹਉ ਮਹ ਰਮਦਾਨਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਸੇਵੀ ਜੋ ਰਖੈ ਨਿਦਾਨਾ 1 ਏਕੁ ਗੁਸਾਈ ਅਲਹੁ ਮੇਰਾ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਤੁਰਕ ਦੁਹਾਂ ਨੇਬੇਰਾ 1 ਰਹਾਉ   ਹਜ ਕਾਬੈ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥ ਪੂਜਾ ਏਕੋ ਸੇਵੀ ਅਵਰੁ ਦੂਜਾ 2   ਪੂਜਾ ਕਰਉ ਨਿਵਾਜ ਗੁਜਾਰਉ ਏਕ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਲੇ ਰਿਦੈ ਨਮਸਕਾਰਉ 3 ਨਾ ਹਮ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ਅਲਹ ਰਾਮ ਕੇ ਪਿੰਡੁ ਪਰਾਨ 4 Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1136

2.       ਮਾਨੈ ਨਾਹਿ ਵੇਦ ਭੇਦ ਸਿਮ੍ਰਤਿ ਕੇ ਪੂਜਤ ਭੈਰੋਂ ਭੂਤ ਗਿਿਰਜਾ ਗਣਿੰਦੂ ਹੈ ? ਤਿਿਥ, ਵਾਰ, ਸ਼ਕੁਨ, ਮੁਹੂਰਤ ਜਾਨੈ ਕਛੁ, ਰਾਹੂ, ਕੇਤੂ ਸ਼ਨੀ, ਸ਼ੁਕ੍ਰ, ਚੰਦ੍ਰਮਾ, ਦਿਿਨੰਦੁ ਹੈ? ਜਾਤਿ, ਪਾਤਿ, ਮੰਤ੍ਰ, ਜੰਦ੍ਰ, ਤੰਤ੍ਰ, ਵ੍ਰਤ, ਸ਼੍ਰਾਧ, ਹੋਮ, ਸੰਧਯਾ ਸੂਤਕਾਦਿ ਕੋ ਵਿਸ਼੍ਵਸੀ ਨਹਿ ਬਿੰਦੂ ਹੈ ? ਦਸਮੇਸ਼ ਕੋ ਸੁਪੂਤ ਖ਼ਾਲਿਸਾ ਹੈ ਭਿੰਨ ਪੰਥ, ਮਹਾਂ ਹੈ ਅਗਯਾਨੀ, ਜੋਊ ਯਾਂਕੋ ਕਹੈ –- “ਹਿੰਦੂ ਹੈ?

3.       ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ

   4.    ਹਮਰਾ ਝਗਰਾ ਰਹਾ ਕੋਊ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਛਾਡੇ ਦੋਊ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਜੋ ਲਿਿਖ ਦੀਆ ਛਾਡਿ ਚਲੇ ਹਮ ਕਛੂ ਲੀਆ – Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1158-59

   5.    swihbu myrw eyko hY ] eyko hY BweI eyko hY ] – Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 350

   6.    ਸੋ ਮੁਖੁ ਜਲਉ ਜਿਤੁ ਕਹਹਿ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਜੋਨੀ 3        ਜਨਮਿ ਮਰੈ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ਨਾਨਕ ਕਾ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਰਹਿਓ ਸਮਾਇ – Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1136

   7.    ਓਹੁ ਅਉਹਾਣੀ ਕਦੇ ਨਾਹਿ ਨਾ ਆਵੈ ਨਾ ਜਾਇ ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਸੋ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਜੋ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਰਹੈ ਸਮਾਇ ਅਵਰੁ ਦੂਜਾ ਕਿਉ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਜੰਮੈ ਤੈ ਮਰਿ ਜਾਇ – Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 509

   8.    ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਪੜਉ ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਹੋਰੁ ਪੂਜਉ ਮੜੈ ਮਸਾਣਿ ਜਾਈ – Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 634

   9.    ਦੇਵੀ ਦੇਵਾ ਪੂਜੀਐ ਭਾਈ ਕਿਆ ਮਾਗਉ ਕਿਆ ਦੇਹਿ ਪਾਹਣੁ ਨੀਰਿ ਪਖਾਲੀਐ ਭਾਈ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਬੁਡਹਿ ਤੇਹਿ – Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 637

10.    ਪਾਥਰੁ ਲੇ ਪੂਜਹਿ ਮੁਗਧ ਗਵਾਰ ਓਹਿ ਜਾ ਆਪਿ ਡੁਬੇ ਤੁਮ ਕਹਾ ਤਰਣਹਾਰੁ – Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 556

11.    ਨਾ ਹਮ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ਅਲਹ ਰਾਮ ਕੇ ਪਿੰਡੁ ਪਰਾਨ Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1136

12.    ਖਤ੍ਰੀ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣ ਸੂਦ ਵੈਸ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਚਹੁ ਵਰਨਾ ਕਉ ਸਾਝਾ – Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 748

13.   ਹਮਰੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਪਾਤਿ ਗੁਰੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਹਮ ਵੇਚਿਓ ਸਿਰੁ ਗੁਰ ਕੇ – Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 731









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