Guru Nanak founded Sikhism in 1469 AD. Sikhism is open to all disciples through the teachings of the Ten Gurus, enshrined in the Sikh Scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, installed by Guru Gobind Singh as the permanent Living Guru in 1708.
The word Sikh means a disciple, a learner. A Sikh is a person who believes in One God. In addition, he or she must take amrit, the Sikh Baptism and be a Khalsa.
The contents of the Granth Sahib, compiled by the Sikh Gurus themselves are mainly in musical-verse comprising the compositions of the Sikh Gurus and the Muslim and Hindu and other holy men of the day.
The Sikh philosophy is enshrined in the basic creed or mool mantar. The Supreme Being is revealed to Guru Nanak as the Indwelling Spirit that continually creates and sustains the universe by that Divine Will.
Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstition and blind rituals. It encourages people to strive for continual improvement and is a simple way of attaining salvation through performance of duty to family and society. Thus, in Sikhism there is a religious basis for tolerance, freedom of conscience and social equality including that of women.
The Sikh daily prayer or ardas, apart from directing Sikhs to be tolerant and respectful of other religions, asks them to work for the welfare of mankind and seek the goodwill of all, sarbat da bhalla.
The Sikh place of worship or the gurdwara is built with four doors, meaning that it is open to every one without any discrimination. Here, only vegetarian food is prepared and served respecting the dietary needs of all.
The living areas of a Sikh temple include a prayer hall called the Darbar Sahib where all devotees worship together sitting on the floor.
The architectural design of low domes on the Golden Temple is that of an inverted lotus flower which stands for grace and humility. In the free-kitchen or langgar all eat in a queue or pangat signifying that everyone including women have equal status. Sikhs regard selfless service to humanity a meritorious act. Baba Amar Das served his Master Guru Angad Dev ii for twelve years before he was made Guru Amar Das.
He whose livelihood is earned through work and
part of it given away in charity – Such a one,
Nanak, truly knows the way to God.
Var Sarang 1111, 1245
Central Sikh Gurdwara Board