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Analysis of Sansad TV Discussion: ”Philosophy of Sikhism”

Relevance

”GS 1: Communalism, Diversity of India”
”GS 4: Contribution of Moral Thinkers”

Introduction

  • Sikhism has developed a philosophy, though indebted to Hindu philosophy, with creative interpretation and new ideas.
  • Sikh philosophy subscribes to an idealistic monism with the characteristics of dynamism, non-dualism, and social commitment. Sikhism is idealistic in its nature because it starts with the enquiry of the nature of the ultimate reality i.e., Ik, and this inquiry is spiritual in nature.
  • Sikhism is indebted to Islam and Hinduism in its development of the concept of metaphysical monism.
  • Guru Nanak played a decisive role in interfacing the salient features of these two religious traditions and at the same time judiciously avoided the unhealthy elements in them.
  • Sikhism considers the atman and body as the inseparable aspects of one single spiritual reality. The ultimate spiritual reality is immanent in the cosmos and at the same time, it is transcendent.
  • Ik, in association with the created world, becomes personal (saguna) and in its unmanifest form becomes impersonal (nirguna).

The Concept of God in Sikhism

  • In the Moolmantra, Guru Nanak describes God as “By the Grace of the Sole One, Self-existent and Immanent, the Creator Person, without Fear or Unconditioned, Without enmity or Un-contradicted, the Timeless One, Un-incarnated, Self-created and Enlightener.”
  • Sikh Gurus repeatedly assert the monotheistic character of God by saying, ‘God is the one, the only one, the one without a second’.
  • Though the understanding of God in Sikhism is strictly monotheistic, it accepts two aspects of God i.e., the nirguna and the saguana.
  • God (Parameshur) in his nirguna aspect is beyond all attributes including sat (truth), akal (beyond time), and ajuni (not becoming). In the saguna aspect, God is attributed qualities like Sabd (word), Nam (personality), and Guru (enlightener).
  • God is the creator of the universe, and the origin, existence and survival of the universe depend on the all-powerful will (hukam) of God.
  • The human person, because of ignorance, considers him/herself as the lord of creation and self-reliant. Because of these wrong identifications, humans get attached to the material world and the attachment leads to endless cycles of births and deaths.
  • Liberation (mukti) from the cycle of births and deaths is possible only by becoming aware of the constant presence of God within (gurmukh) and by the grace of God. Any number of rituals or pilgrimages is not capable of bringing in liberation for the seeker because God is present within each one; what is required is right conduct.
  • The awareness of the presence of God within a person is expressed through selfless service (sewa) and this is main characteristic of a liberated person while alive.

What is Non-Dualism(ek) in Sikhism?

  • Sikhism does not accept the plurality of independent units, but at the same time in order to explain the systematic whole there has to be unity.
  • The Ik as absolute unity is all-inclusive and transcends all relational categories. Other unities and elements at the manifest level consist of relations and units.
  • Unlike the Advaita Vedanta, Sikhism accepts the reality of the empirical world, but for a person with partial knowledge, the empirical world is real.
  • In Sikhism, the manifest (saguna) and the unmanifested (nirguna) are the two aspects of the one non-dual dynamic reality
    which also represent the personal and the impersonal dimensions.

What is the concept of Ikomkar?

  • The aspect of the unity of the Ultimate Reality is represented by the Sikh concept ikomkar which is a combination of three terms i.e., ik meaning one, om that stands for the primary cause of the empirical world, and kar which represents the creative aspect
  • On the one hand, the concept ikomkar represents the non-dual, personal unity of the Ultimate Principle; on the other hand it represents the unity of the entire cosmos with its multitude of beings, time, and space.
  • On the whole, the concept ikomkar represents the non-dual systematic unity in Sikh philosophy.

What is the phenomena of relatively real(Sat) in Sikhism?

  • Sikhism considers the universe as relatively real (sat) with various degrees of reality. Both the personal and the impersonal aspects of the dynamic principle Ik is manifested in the universe.
  • Guru Nanak arrived at the idea of Maya through an intuitive experience that made him aware of the transitory nature of the phenomenal world.
  •  Many of the hymns in the Adi Granth has used terms like mithya (illusion), kur (false), supna (dream), and chaia (shadow) to refer to the transitory nature of the manifested world.
  • Guru Nanak understood maya as an epistemological category on the basis of truth realization.
  • Maya is the inherent and inseparable power of Ik which is manifested in different forms at creation. Nanak accepts creation in historical time whereas the essence of the Real is Akal (eternal).
  • The world, according to Sikhism, is created as the moral stage where one has to struggle for perfection. In this struggle, the finite self(haumai) is understood as a passing phenomenon.
  • When the ego consciousness is dissolved, the union with Ik takes place from within.

Moral Principle of Sikhism

  • Guru Nanak Ji as a spiritual preceptor followed the principle of non-violence even in slavery and violence by Babur’s army.
  • The social realities in the later times forced the subsequent Gurus to take to
    arms to protect the poor and helpless people from the exploiters.
  • The tenth guru, Gobind Singh, accepted the idea of just war: “When all efforts to restore peace prove useless and no words avail, lawful is the flash of steel, it is right to draw the sword”. But he reminded his followers that a Sikh should never be the first one to draw the sword.
  • Vegetarianism is commonly practised in the Sikh langars but there are different opinions regarding the strict adherence to vegetarianism. Respect for women was part of Sikh social life, widow remarriage was encouraged.
  • Care of the needy and service to the poor is practised in the Sikh community. Sangat is a democratic gathering and langar allows people to eat together, irrespective of their caste and social status, and ensures social equality.

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