Who is a Sikh?

Deifnition, Basic Tenets, Initiation, Sikh Code and Sikh Character
Bhai Jaspinder Singh Jee


The dictionary meaning of 'Sikh' is disciple or student. This naturally implies that just as a student has a teacher to learn from, a Sikh has his GURU for spiritual learning. Thus the definition of a Sikh is: 'A person who has faith in the teachings of the ten Sikh Gurus from Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the present Eternal Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, to the exclusion of all religions or faiths.' A Sikh prayer starts with the invocation of God, the ten Gurus and the Eternal Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the embodiment of the Spirit of the ten Gurus as articles of Sikh Faith.


Sikhism is a revealed religion among the world religions. The divine Word as received by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the subsequent Gurus has been preserved by the Gurus personally in the authentic form and enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, for the benefit of mankind, along with similar TRUTH, which came through other Saints. All the ten Gurus were in fact one in spirit and worked to fulfil the same Divine Mission through stages. Thus the writings are all under the same pen name, 'Nanak', as Mahala 1, 2, 3 and so on, implying that it was only a new body with the same spirit. Remarkable is the role of Guru in Sikh parlance. The Sikh Gurus themselves emphasized the fact that the True Guru is only the Divine Word. The individual ten Gurus were the self -effacement and were fully tuned to receive His Word. Thus Guru is a medium for God to reach mankind. Similarly a person has to go through the medium of Guru to realize God. What a Sikh seeks from the Guru is to acquire his Divine Wisdom to shape his own life.

Basic Tenets

Truth is always simple and straight forward as the most natural thing. The basic tenets of Sikhism can be summed up as (a) holy congregation, and (b) common kitchen. The corresponding qualities are (a) to meditate on God, and (b) to share individual's own earnings with others . The life ordained by the Guru is that of honest earnings with the sweat of brow and give freely for social needs. The service to mankind is dedicated to God in all humility, while always remembering Him in one's own mind.


How to remember God at all times is the all important lesson learnt through the Grace of Guru by a Sikh during the Baptising ceremony. It is like the admission to a new school of learning. Nam Simran (God meditation) now becomes part of a Sikh's intellectual process as well as uttering, hearing and seeing. In fact all his being is fully imbued with Nam, when he drinks the Nectar of Nam, which is also poured at the top of head and sprinkled in the eyes. He is clearly told, that God realization is not an easy process nor is it marketable for a price, how so ever high it may be. Thus ritualism and fakeness are both condemned. A Sikh is expected to be the same within and without and remain sincere even to the peril of his life.

Divine Help

In the highly competitive world of harsh realities, where it becomes easy to fall prey to temptation and difficult to live according to the Divine Wisdom, a righteous life, a Sikh is given code of life to assist in his efforts. This is a discipline of both external appearance and internal cleaning. In making of this code, the Guru has abided by the Divine Will, to serve the best interests of the faithful Sikh. A single sincere step by a Sikh invites Divine help to carry him along for many more steps to advance towards the objective of human life.

Sikh Code

The Nectar of double edged sword is prepared by stirring the sweetened water with the sword while reciting the five Gurbanis of (1) Jap Ji (2) Jaap Sahib (3) Tav Prasad Swaiye (4) Kabio Bach Benati Chaupayee and (5) Anand Sahib, in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib by the five selected Sikhs, on behalf of the Guru. Acceptance of the Divine Nectar signifies that the Sikh has dedicated his all, body, mind and wealth to the Guru. Hence forth he lives as a devotee of the Guru, abiding by the teachings of the Gurbani.

He is told about the external code:

  • To keep unshorn hair in the natural form with a small turban (Keski) on the head at all times.
  • To keep a wooden comb (Kangha) to clean the hair twice daily.
  • To wear an iron bangle (Kara) on a hand as a reminder to perform only righteous actions.
  • To wear long breeches , reaching upto the knee, (Kachhera) as a reminder for need to observe celibacy.
  • To wear a sword (Kirpan) across the chest on left side to remind about the Sikh attributes of being a friend to a victim and protect honour.

The daily routine is:

  • To get up early morning and after ablution, engage in meditation on Nam.
  • To recite at least the five Gurbanis of Baptism ceremony in the morning.
  • To hear or read the Divine Word from Sri Guru Granth Sahib and attend holy congregation.
  • To recite Sodar Rehras Gurbani after sunset at the end of the day's work.
  • To recite Sohila before retiring.

Strictly Prohibited:

  • Not to remove hair from any part of the body.
  • Not to use tobacco, wine or drugs - intoxicants.
  • No sexual relationship except with a wedded wife or husband.
  • Not to eat meat or eggs.

Note: Indulgence in any of the above strictly prohibited practices renders a Sikh as an outcast. Such a person can only be readmitted after re-baptism and undergoing prescribed penance.

  • Not to steal, plunder, gamble or exploit weak and the poor.
  • Not to commit perjury or treachery or violate a promise or vow.
  • All Sikhs are generally prohibited from social interaction with those who are not duly baptised Sikhs.


  • A Sikh must be baptised to believe in One God, the ten Sikh Gurus and Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
  • A Sikh must keep the five Kakkars of his external appearance.
  • A Sikh must earn his livelihood with honest labour.
  • A Sikh is discouraged from using or hearing or seeing what may take away his mind from remembrance of God.
  • A Sikh should associate with like-minded persons for a positive effect on his mind.
  • Only Sikh ceremonies are performed during birth, marriage or a death, avoiding any kind of ritualism, good or bad omens etc.
  • Sikh way of God Realization is Nam Simran without paying heed to yogic practices or any kind of tantra, mantra or jantra, worship of idols, graves, tombs, monasteries or maths.
  • A Sikh should set aside at least one-tenth of this income for religious proposes in the name of the Guru.

Sikh Character

Thus living in the light of Divine Wisdom, derived from daily recitation of Gurbani, Nitnem and Nam Simran, a Sikh acquires the attributes which not only help in God Realization, but also make him a very useful person in society. His broad vision enables him to see the world as a global village, inhabited by mankind, as part of God's Creation. He is always full of love and willing to serve all with his universal outlook, which is Fatherhood of one God and all mankind as one brotherhood. He sees God in all. Service comes only through a feeling of humility. It also imposes self discipline to limit one's own needs with a sense of contentment and fairness. A Sikh always stands for rule of justice and fair play. He does not covet what does not rightfully belong to him. In his case the five evils of lust, anger, covetousness or greed, attachment and ego are replaced by selfless love, humility, contentment, aloofness of spirit with the illusionary nature of things and self-effacement knowing that it is only the Hand of God everywhere.

A Sikh is a world citizen, following a universal faith. He is capable of the supreme sacrifice in the Name of his Creator. His life of righteousness makes no compromises in following the Divine Will. Even if his understanding fails him, he knows that the code ordained by the Guru is flawless and abiding by that he can attain the objective of his human life of God Realization. Human life is a sojourn and this world is a workshop for attaining merit of a good, worthwhile life. He not only bows to the One God and has complete faith in the ten Sikh Gurus and Sri Guru Granth Sahib, but is also highly respectful to his fellow Sikhs.

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