Fundamentals of Gursikhi

Sikh Identity, Bani, Sewa and Sikh Tenets
Bhai Jaspinder Singh Jee

Gursikhi in the light of Gurmat, Guru's Wisdom, which is same as Divine Wisdom, is a vast subject. It is the faith in the revealed Word or Gurbani from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh and the present Eternal Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. All along the emphasis has been on the Word Guru and not the person of a Guru. That is how all the successor Gurus were called 'Nanak', as the same spirit permeated and worked all along. 'Ika Bani Ik Gur Iko Shabad Vichar' [P. 646].

This young religion of almost five and a quarter century was born in the land of five rivers, Punjab with Guru Nanak Dev Ji as the founder Guru (1469 - 1539). Guru Nanak appointed his own successor, Guru Angad Dev Ji to carry on his mission to spread the Divine message in those days of chaotic religious and socio-political conditions, to provide solace to the general masses. This continued up to the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who appointed Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the living spirit of the ten Gurus, as the Eternal Guru at the time of his jyoti jot in 1708.

The Gurus not only preached the revealed Bani, but also lived every word of it for almost two and half centuries. The teachings were recorded by the Gurus and handed down to the progeny as the holy scripture in its most authentic form. The religion provided a whole life system to a new sovereign nation to enjoy freedom of spirit, with its own religious centre, a political headquarters, holy scripture and the national flag. This brought about a revolution for the rebirth of man as a saint-soldier.


While the founder Guru is known as Gur-Parmesar, deriving his light and wisdom form Parbrahm-Parmesar, his followers are known as Sikhs. Jagt-Guru and Supreme God became one and the same in spirit and Guru Nanak became the mouth-piece of God to spread His Divine Word. In the light of Guru's wisdom, his followers became seekers of Truth, Scholars of divinity, charged with the goal of self-realisation or God-realisation.

It is a rebirth to become a Sikh.
Presently, for our purpose we may state, that a Sikh is one:
who believes in the teachings of the ten Gurus, embodied in the Eternal Guru Granth Sahib, to the exclusion of other religious teachings and has accepted Sikh baptism.
who adheres to the Sikh tenets and sikh rites alone to observe all ceremonies like birth, death, marriage, etc.
who does not commit the forbidden acts, that pollute a Sikh and make him an apostate.


The Sikhs have been given special identity since Baisakhi day of 1699, when they were first baptised by the Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. This is external uniform of the Five K's. Instead of finding other justifications for the kakkars, it should suffice to say, that these are the gifts of our Father Guru and give us a sense of belonging to him.

The dilution of values and distortion of the original image of a Sikh has led others to question whether there is a Sikh identity at all. This has led to court cases in Canada and Sikhs being disgraced by Canadian legions, which became a public controversy. There have been suggestions, that Sikhs may be smokers too. Let us try and arrest this downward fall in standards to check the speculation whether Sikhs will be able to retain a separate identity of their own or get swallowed in the 'main stream'.

Our pride in our identity has to be like that of a good soldier in his uniform, who would die for upholding the honour of his regimental flag. Even the Olympics derive much of the gusto and enthusiasm of the participant to win honors for their National flag. Such is value of identity in the matter of individual and national high spirits.


Bani is the revealed word of God through the Gurus. It gives the complete life system of a gursikh and serves as spiritual food. In seed form Guru Nanak's Bani gives all the basic thoughts. However the rest of the Bani in Sri Guru Granth sahib expounds it further to confirm and clear a thought. All the Bani commands same respect, including Bhagat Bani and is venerable.

Bani is expression of greatness of the Lord beyond measure as the creator and working of the Divine Will in a perfect system. He also pervades and permeates all beings and everywhere. In fact the beings are measure instruments of His Will. He watches His Own Play with delight and compassion. Thus creation is only an extension of the creator and yet He is Aloof.

Regular study of Gurbani leads one to contemplate on the virtues of God, establish a relationship with Him as the source of all life and the mission of human life, as the highest form of evolution in God's creation. Like a stream running its course to join the ocean, individual soul yearns to realize and merge in the source Spirit, God. Gurbani lays lot of emphasis on God rememberance or Nam meditation as the means to God realisation, yet Bani and Nam meditation are both complementary to each other and essential components. NAM SIMRAN

Nam or Name of God is the Guru Mantar, that a Sikh receives from the five Beloved Ones, acting on behalf of the Guru. Five banis are recited during the ceremony of preparing Amrit for baptism. These banis form part of the daily recitation. Other Banis like Sukhmani, Asa-Di-Var, Bara Maha, Shabad Hazare and others could be included, depending upon the individual zeal, for daily recitation.

A Sikh is advised to get up early morning, take full bath to clean the body and then take a dip in the inner spiritual tank for bathing of the spirit with Nam-meditation. Daily joining the holy congregation for singing and hearing Divine Praises and reading or hearing of Sri Guru Granth Sahib are recommended practices for spiritual progress.

There are only two ways in major classification to lead a human life. One is God-love or 'LIV' through Nam Simran and Bani and the other is pursuit of worldliness with insatiable desires or 'Dhaat'. While the first one is the Sikh way of life towards God-realisation, the second one is pathway of all misery and sufferings towards cycles of transmigration of repeated births and deaths in lower varieties of life.


Guru Nanak's basic teaching comprised of Nam, Dan and Ishnan i.e. Nam meditation, willingness to share with a spirit of compassion and sacrifice and purity of body and mind. He demonstrated this in his life as earning through honest, hard labour, running free kitchen for all without distinction and daily practice of prayers in the morning, evening and at night before retiring.

The sewa, instinct to be of service, extends to the use of Deg and Teg. Institution of running free kitchens has been perpetuated in Sikh Gurdwaras and even homes. Use of arms and force has also the religious sanctions to uphold personal safety and in protection of the weak and poor. Sikhism does not compromise with discrimination, injustice and tyranny. The two salient examples if this are Babar Vani of Guru Nanak and Zaffar Nama of Guru Gobind Singh. The daily Sikh prayer pays homages to the nation's countless martyrs. Here again the example has been set by the Fifth and Nineth Gurus followed by the Tenth Guru, who sacrificed his all.


A Sikh living according to Gurmat observes the following tenets of Sikh faith:
(a) Believes in One God alone to the exclusion of other gods or goddesses.
(b) Believes in teachings of the ten Gurus and the present Eternal Guru Granth Sahib.
(c) Believes in continuation of the same spirit, working in all the ten Gurus for a common mission.
(d) Does not believe in the caste system, untouchability, or the rites of other faiths, or appease evil spirits for personal gain or harm one's enemies, paying homage to places of worship other than Sikh shrines, putting faith in scriptures of other faiths.
(e) Keeps a separate, distinct identity of Sikh faith without hurting the feelings of person of other faiths.
(f) Invokes Divine help for a new venture.
(g) Must learn Gurmukhi script in addition to other learnings.
(h) It is parental duty to teach Gurmukhi to children.
(j ) Should keep unshorn hair of the children and name them according to the Sikh naming ceremony.
(k) Does not use alcohol, drugs or any intoxicants.
(l ) Sikh men or ladies are prohibited from piercing nose or ear for wearing ornaments.
(m)Does not believe in female infanticide and refuses to have any social contacts with persons, who believe in this.
(n) Should live on honest labour.
(o) Believes in feeding the poor as ordained by the Guru and his pleasure.
(p) Does not believe in a auspicious day for ceremonies like Aanand Karaj.
(q) Does not believe in vulgar showmanship during a marriage ceremony, but in its simplest form according to the Sikh practice of Aanand Karaj.
(r) A person of any other faith cannot be married by the ceremony of Aanand Karaj.
(s) Does not believe in dowry.
(t) Widow/widower remarriage is allowed.
(u) Second marriage is generally not permissible, while the first spouse is still alive.
(v) Does not indulge in stealing, gambling or adultery.
(w) Sikh men and women are bound to be faithful to each other in marriage.
(x) Should live all his life according to Sikh tenets.
(y) A sikh should greet another sikh with Sikh Salutation.
(z) Veil system is prohibited for Sikh ladies.


A Gursikh takes rebirth during baptism, when he accepts a sikh faith. Living the life of God-love under Guru's wisdom, enunciated in Gurbani and practising the tenets, he acquires the godly virtues of righteousness, compassion, contentment, humility and high moral character. He is constantly immersed in God-rememberance and keeps in touch with Gurbani.

A life of perseverance in pursuing the goal of God-realisation or Divine Knowledge may win the Divine Grace to bestow this rare gift. The effort is always worth it, because even during this toil one enjoys inner satisfaction and bliss.

Finally we close with an extract of Bhagat Ravidas Ji's shabad:

B>roU bANI rivdAs jIoU cI Gr 2 ..
fl cArn f igaAn> cArn crm aiBaAsU .. igaAn BieaA V crmh nAsU ..3..

All the vegetation flowers forth for the acquisition of the fruit. When the fruit appears, the preceding flower fades away. Likewise the daily pursuit was for the sake of Divine Knowledge and when the desired objective of Divine Knowledge is acquired through Divine Grace, one gets merged in God and is liberated of all bondage.

This site and organization has allegiance to Sri Akal Takht Sahib.