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The Development of Sikhism with the Prospective of the Ten Gurus

Essay by   •  January 27, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  1,555 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,609 Views

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Each of the ten Gurus had significant individual contributions, which were fundamental to the development of Sikhism from 1499-1708. Guru Nanak was the first guru and he is viewed as the preacher of a new gospel, the founder of a new faith, and the most prominent of all his successors (Cole 1998). Guru Nanak was aware of the confusion among people of his time and he was focused on determining solutions for the issues, they face. After returning from his disappearance from the river, Guru Nanak was spreading the word that "God's path, God has no religion" and he established that religion was man made. With that in mind, Guru Nanak had a holistic approach; hence he didn't treat life independently from religious, spiritual, economical, and political affluence. His three basic principles were: remembering the creator (someone higher than us), earning a living through honesty, and sharing with the less fortunate. From 1499, at the age 30, Guru Nanak traveled and tried to convey the message to the population. Until the age of 52, he continued spreading the message while maintaining an honest living. Throughout his lifetime, Guru Nanak challenged and questioned existing religious practices and set the foundations of Sikhism. The foundation of Sikhism was set through the two division of thematic and actual practice; Guru Nanak introduced the nature of reality and proper means of attaining self-liberation; through Gurumukh, Manmukh, and Simran. Guru Nanak also set the principles of theoretical and spiritual guide which founded Sikhism and led to seeing the ultimate truth; Dharam Khand, Gian Khand, Saram Khand, Karam Khand, and Sach Khand, which can be defined as rightness, knowledge, effort, grace, and the sphere of truth.

The second Guru, Guru Angad took to the daily activities of Guru Nanak after this death in 1539, however, he was otherwise socially involved. Guru Angad focused on education, meditation, and abstinence. Even though Guru Angad only composed 63 hymns, he was more of a consolidator; he improved or refined the written language. The invention of the Gurmukh scripture created a path for the Sikh scripture and introduced Punjabi literature. Guru Angad also focused on creating a collection of hymns, which facilitated passing down and expanding the community, which was previously based on the memories of Guru Nanak. However, Guru Angad individual contributions helped create a statement of orthodoxy that was key in addressing the aspects of religious rivalry.

Even though third Guru, Guru Amas Das was appointed at the age of 72, his attempts held the community together and brought in growth and organization. Guru Amas Das built a baoli at Goindwal, which be a place of pilgrimage for Sikhs. Even though Guru Nanak was against the rituals, Guru Amas Das believed that change needed to be adapted for the affiliation of the Guru's Path. Guru Amas Das further setup 22 dioceses around the country and appointed women to take part in preaching work. This maintained Guru Nanak's tradition of social and political action (Cole 1998). By appointing women in preaching work, it worked on the animation of women in society and faced the matters of gender equality. Guru Amas Das also further developed Guru Nanak's concept of langar, by articulating the theoretical notion of equality in realistic way, without solely referring to caste distinctions.

The fourth guru, Guru Ram Das was the son in law of the third Guru. He was the founder of the city of Amritsar, which was key in the development of Sikhism due to the attained prosperity. Guru Ram Das focused on shaping self-conscious into the Sikhs by using social reforms. He also allowed widows to remarry and the idea of veiling and sati was prohibited. Guru Ram Das further composed wedding hymns, which are the major parts of the Sikh marriage service. However, the fourth Guru was also known to have introduced birth and death ceremonies. During the fourth Guru presence, there was an increasing sense of distinctiveness and self-awareness developing among the people; this was promoted by the actions of the Guru, the hymns in worship, and the use of Hindu festivals as a gathering of Sikhs.

From 1581-1606, it was the period of the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan, he was the third son of Guru Ram Das and the first Sikh born Guru. Guru Arjan was a scholar with the highest qualities and his reign was the developing pinnacle of Sikhism. Using the 1/10th rule of earning contribution, Guru Arjan built large reservoirs to counter water shortage and buildings. The Harmandir (known as the Golden Temple)

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