Sikhism is a relatively new religion compared to other belief systems of the world. It began about five hundred years ago in the Punjab region of India . There are about twelve million Sikhs in the world today; ten million live in the Punjab region and the other two million are spread throughout the whole world. This religious sect has a rich history with a variety of different leaders and significant events since its inception. In comparison to Christianity and Judaism, Sikhism is unique in its beliefs. This monotheistic belief system, fairly new to other religions, is still growing and having problems of its own.
The history of the Sikhs for example is very long. The Sikhs have had many leaders over its short period of existence. Also, the Sikhs have many beliefs and customs different from mainstream religions. Sikhism, which was created by Guru Nanak, was passed down to nine more Gurus after Nanak died, all who helped develop Sikhism in some manner. The beliefs set by Guru Nanak are still the basis of the whole religion today.
Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru, created Sikhism in the fifteenth century AD in the Punjab region of India. Nanak often meditated about God and what is God’s way. The words of Guru Nanak are kept within the main Sikh scripture the Adi Granth. The Adi Granth, as W.H. Mcleod puts it, "tells us little about his (Guru Nanak’s) life but much about his doctrine and belief" (The Sikhs, pg. 2). Nanak created Sikhism after having a vision. One day he went to bathe in River Bein, he did not return for three days. In the river Nanak experienced the Ultimate Reality as without form and transcendent in any concrete form. After having this vision he emerged out of the river and said, "There is no Hindu; there is no Muslim." (Sikhism: World Religions, pg 21) This phrase summed up Sikhism, yet Nanak did incorporate some Hindu and Muslim beliefs.
The Guru was opposed to many of the tenets of these religions. For example, having to go to church or temple, going on a pilgrimage, or reading Holy Scriptures, such practices are, according to Nanak, futile. (The Sikhs, pg. 2) During his travels, he taught the people at these sites the flaws of their beliefs.
He went to their (Hindu and Muslim) important shrines and explained to them the true way of spiritual life and converted many people to his new religion. (Introduction to Sikhism, Gobind Singh Mansukhani, Internet) Also, when he traveled to a new town the Guru set up a Dharamsalas, a place of devotion, for those who chose to worship. After years of establishing the religion, Guru felt that his death was near and tested his disciples to find the most worthy of them. In 1539, Nanak pasted on Gurudom to his most worthy disciple, Guru Angad.
After Guru Nanak passed leadership on to Guru Angad there were nine more Gurus. Guru Angad set up centers of learning where the beliefs of Sikhism were taught to people and where people could read religious texts of the Sikhs.
In 1552 he passes on his title to his relative Amar Das. Guru Amar Das became Guru at the age of seventy-three. He paid close attention to the spreading of Sikhism; he assigned a devout Sikh to each one of the twenty-two regions.
Guru Amar Das created three festivals, Diwali, Baisakhi and Maghi, which brought all Sikhs together for a religious meeting. He, as Guru Nanak, tested his disciples carefully and chose his son-in-law, Bhai Jetha as his successor and instated him as Guru Ramdas in 1574.
At age forty Guru Ramdas continued to send missionaries to different parts of India. He wanted to create a suitable center for worship; he bought land from many landowners in the Punjab area and made a new city called Ramdaspur, otherwise know as Amritsar. Many Sikhs moved to this new town because of the many trade routes that when through it.
Guru Arjan was made successor while in his teens. He made Amritsar a center of industry and culture for all Sikhs. He began the construction of the Golden Temple, which is in the middle of a lake, in Amritsar which is today one of the Sikhs holiest places. He also established new trades in Amritsar such as banking and carpentry.
Guru Har Gobind was the first Guru to raise an army. He did this by the advice of his father who was killed by the Mughals. Guru Har Gobind created a very well trained army of eight hundred horses, three hundred horsemen, and sixty artillerymen. The Mughals attacked the Guru three times. The first battle being at Amritsar in 1634, then Lehra in 1637, and finally at Kartapur in 1638. In all three battles the Guru was victorious.
Guru Har Rai was 14 when he became Guru. He urged his followers to meditate on the hymns of the Granth and to lead a life of self-discipline. He was a peace loving man and avoided conflicts with the Mughals. In 1661, he instated his five-year old son Harkrishan as Guru.
Guru Harkrishan was very talented and smart for his age. Many other holy men tested him and they all were amazed at what this "Child Guru" could do. When he was seven-years old he was called to Delhi
Guru Tegh Bahadur spent his life in three different periods, the first 23 years of his life he lived in Amritsar with his father; the next 19 years he spent meditating in Bakala; and the last 11 years he traveled in Eastern India and then into the Punjab area. The Mughals put him in prison however and then executed him.
Guru Gobind Singh was installed as Guru at age nine after the death of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur. He prepared for a great struggle that would be between the Sikhs and the Mughals. During his life he had four major impacts on Sikhi
The Sikhs have only been around for 500 years yet they have had a very long history. The Sikhs have had 10 great leaders whom spread Sikhism through out the world and gave hope to millions of people. The Sikhs are different than many mainstream religions and have different beliefs, but they also include some beliefs in common as well. There are now Sikhs in almost every country in the world and the population of Sikhs is growing. Sikhism is a very interesting religion.