|Sikh Missionary Society:
"What is the use of studying philosophy if it does not
improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life".
Human being has been intellectually trying since ages
to understand and interpret the philosophy of ultimate Reality. Religion
and philosophy are two different approaches to determine its nature.
Philosophy intellectually analyzes the religion and its
problems that arise in all forms including the problems concerning the
nature of God, Grace, freedom, immortality, creation of universe, and ways
of life in that particular religion. The understanding of religious
philosophy may not help directly to deepen the spiritual life but it helps
in understanding the intellectual gifts of a person.
According to Encyclopedia Americana,
“in the 20th century, the philosophy of religion
has often stressed the analysis of the nature of religious language and
religious symbols, the relation between scientific knowledge, and religious
belief, the significance of mythical modes of thought, and the search for
religious understanding through the encounter of the thought of the Eastern
Asiatic traditions with the West.”
Sikhism has a distinct set of fundamentals in which religion
and philosophy are interwoven. It is not based on metaphysical speculations
but it is based on experience of practical life.
-Encyclopedia Americana, 23, p.361(1975)
According to Sher Singh,
“Religion is older than philosophy. It is the
idealisation of the finer aspects of the life that human beings at a particular
time aspire to live.....Soon after a religion is formulated, the critical
faculty begins to work and ‘reason’ wants to know the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of
the ideals of religion.”
Mortal can find answers to his questions through theoratical
philosophy and practical philosophy.
(Philosophy of Sikhism p-1)
Philosophy is derived from Greek word which means (love
of wisdom) study of the Ultimate Reality, causes, and principles underlying
being and thinking. Western philosophy, dating from 600 BC, when the Greeks
established inquiry independent of theological creeds, is traditionally
divided into five major branches.
Guru Arjan Dev says,
Metaphysics inquires into the nature and ultimate significance
of the universe, holding reality to subsist in thought (idealism),
in matter (materialism), or in both (dualism).
Logic is concerned with the laws of valid reasoning.
Epistemology investigates the nature of knowledge and the
process of knowing.
Ethics deals with the problems of right conduct.
Aesthetics attempts to determine the nature of beauty and
the criteria of artisti judgment. (From-Encyclopedia-Book shelf)
“One may perform worship and recite by heart
the wisdom of the six schools of philosophy, yet peace will not enter his
heart even for a moment without singing praise of God which can be attained
through His grace”.
Guru Amar Das says,
Ktu swsq ibcrq muiK igAwnw
"The six philosophies (Of the six Shastras) are
in vogue but the philosophy of the Guru is incomprehensible and boundless".
is a way of life
Ktu drsnu vrqY vrqwrw ]
gur kw drsnu Agm Apwrw ]
Sikh religion has its own ideology, philosophy, beliefs
and practices. Sikh philosophy is enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. It
is Divine wisdom. The Sikh religion is based on rationalised faith than
on reason but the faith is not blind and ritualistic. It deals with the
way in which life is to be lived. It has its own theory of Ultimate Reality
which is spiritual in nature. The religious philosophy of Sikhism manifests
itself through the hymns of the Gurus and saints enshrined in Sri Guru
Sikh philosophy means religion in action. It is
called Gurmat. It is thought, view, belief, doctrine and religion of
the Gurus. It is Gurmat Marg or Gurmat Rah. The religious philosophy of
Sikhism is apparent in Gurbani and is propounded through Gurbani Shabads
of love and devotion. Guru Nanak’s philosophy starts with inquiry
of Ik (One God) who is all Pervading, the Eternal, the Creator, the
Cause of causes, without enmity, without jealousy and who can be attained
with His Grace.Adi Granth which covers the span of six centuries, is concerned
primarily with the nature of Reality. Sikh religion is strictly monotheistic,
believing in One Supreme God. Absolute yet All-pervading, the Eternal,
the Creator, the Cause of Causes, without enmity, without hate, both Immanent
in His creation and beyond it. One God is no longer the God of one
country, one nation, but the GOD OF GRACE. He is Omnipotent, Omnipresent
That being so, He creates man not to punish him for his
sins, but for the realisation of his true purpose in the cosmos and to
merge in from where he emanated. So Sikh religion and philosophy revolves
around One God, His mystery and knowledge of self as narrated above.
is very essential to know thyself
Guru Amar Das says,
“O my mind, thou art the embodiment of Divine
Light, so know thy Essence. O' my soul, the Lord is ever with thee, through
the Guru's teachings enjoy His Love. Knowing thy essence thou knowest thy
Lord and knowest thou the mystery of birth and death.”
mn qUM joiq srUpu hY Awpxw
mUlu pCwxu ]
mn hir jI qyrY nwil hY gurmqI
rMgu mwxu ]
mUlu pCwxih qW shu jwxih mrx
jIvx kI soJI hoeI ]
“O' vicious mammon worshipper recognize thy origin.
This body is made from blood and semen and shall be taken to fire. According
to true mark on the brow (fate), the body is in the power of breath.”
The ‘Sidh Gost’ which Guru Nanak Dev had with the Yogis,
is a long philosophical discussion. Sidh Gost is a great philosophical
dialogue on Nam Yoga or Sahaj Yoga which stresses the value of Holy Name
in preference to the performance of miracles and occult powers. According
to S.S.Kohli, “The Sikh philosophy recognizes three means of knowledge.
swkq inrguixAwirAw Awpxw mUlu
rkqu ibMdu kw iehu qno AgnI
pwis iprwxu ]
pvxY kY vis dyhurI msqik scu
(a) Firstly, the perception includes the perception
of ordinary persons i.e. the contact of the soul with sense organs and
objects through mind, the perception of the ‘liberated souls’ e.g. the
Guru and the True Sikh and the perception of God Himself.
Inference (Intellect - vichar) and
Scriptural testimony (Intuition- Anubhav).
(b) Secondly, inference is based on perceptual knowledge.
It includes comparison and presumption as well.
(c) The third source of knowledge is Shabad or verbal
testimony. The testimony may either be sacred or secular.” Sikhism
believes in unity of these three sources of Gian. It is a continuous process
which starts with perception and culminates in intuitively realizing
mystic unity in Ik
The metaphysical knowledge (Tat Gian) has no degrees.
From the above sources of knowledge, the Sikh philosophy
as contained in Adi Granth will bring us the thoughts about Brahma, Jiva
1. God and His realization
God is One (non-dualism) and second to none. He is
called by different names by people of different religions. He is Nirgun
(unmanifest- impersonal) and Sargun (Manifest-personal). Manifest
world according to Sikhism is real. Reality is unity.
The unity concept may either be personal or impersonal.
God has metaphysical, ethical, aesthetical, logical, epistemology
and indescribable attributes as appear in Mul Mantar and Sri Guru Granth
Sahib. God is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent. He is Karta Purkh.
He is the parent of all. His Creation is limitless. There are countless
universes. God created countless species (84 Lakhs) of diverse forms.
God enjoys His sport after creation of universe. God is devoid of fear
and enmity. He is eternal. He is Adi Guru (Beginning)and Jugadi Guru
(Primal age) . He does not take birth and never He dies. He can be attained
with His Grace.
Jiva is immortal. It is part of Supreme Soul but
it is not Brahma in itself. However it carries the attributes of
Supreme Soul. Because of Jiva's actions involving with Maya, It goes through
cycle of births and deaths in human form till it merges with the
Supreme Soul. Body dies but not soul. Soul is immortal like Brahma. It
continues for ever but it works under the Will of Brahma.
theory in Sikhism
As the rays (Kiran) absorb into the Sun and the
drops of water absorb into the ocean, similarly, the micro-unity (Joti)
of the realized self is absorbed into the macro-unity of the spiritual
God is macrocosm (Brahmand) as well microcosm
(Chhota Brahmand; Body is microcosm / Pind ). It means
that same power is in action , both in body and vast cosmos.
Suraj kiran mile jal ka jal hau ram
Sikhism accepts that the universe is macrocosm and the human
body is the microcosm or the body is a miniature of the universe.
joti joti rali sanpuran thia ram--
(Bilawal M. 5 ,P. 846 )
According to Gurbani,
“this entire world, which you see is the manifestation
of the Lord. He not only creates the universe from within Himself, but
He also reflects through it and sustains it”.
eyhu ivsu sMswru qum dyKdy
eyhu hir kw rUpu hY hir rUpu ndrI AwieAw ]
(922 M-3 )
After creating the creation, the Creator is beholding
kir kir vyKY isrjxhwru ]
The world seems to be of two kinds; one is the creation
of God and other is the snare. If man perceives that all that is created
is the revelation of God and it is his sole motive to attain the Creator,
then the mortal can head towards union with God. If the mortal, on the
other hand perceives that materialism or Moh-Maya is end of every thing,
then he gets into the web of Haumai and would remain in the cycle of births
and deaths. So it depends on, how the response is made by the mortal.
Sikhism and Maya
Sikhism believes that the world is not mere hallucination
or illusion, it is rather reality seen in a distorted fashion. God is its
Creator. What God created is real in the obvious sense. So it cannot be
illusory. It is a stage for the practice of righteousness.
Guru Angad Dev says,
“This world is abode of True Lord. The Lord Himself
resides in it.”
According to Sikhism this world is not illusion or a world
of suffering but it is reality. World is product of God’s creation.
He is the Creator. He Himself manifests in the created units. It is abode
of True Lord. Universe is His wonderful play. This new thought of Guru
Nanak caused a revolution in the attitude of people.
Ih jag Sachei ki hai kothari sachei ka vich vaas
iehu jgu scY kI hY koTVI scy
kw ivic vwsu ]
Guru Nanak Dev says,
“True are Thy regions and true Thy universes:
True Thy worlds and true Thy creation.”
God Himself is real and what ever He created is also
real and true. God is manifest in His Cosmic order. Life is real as God
lives in it. God Himself has assumed all of His creations and the creations
are real. The entire manifest phenomena is intrinsically one with Reality
and is realized as relative reality unlike the Vedantic conception of this
world as Maya. Sikhism believes in transcendent (Impersonal-Nirankar-Nirgun)
and immanent (personal-Sargun ) aspects of Reality. There is no duality
between these two.
Due to ignorance, the egoist human being does not feel
illumination of the Creator in His creation. Jiva gets into the bondage
of Maya (wealth) which creates five Vikars ( vices).
The mortal gets confused and forgets God. When the snare
of false Maya vanishes, Jiva mingles with the Supreme Soul.
Guru Tegh Bahadur says,
“What ever we see (Materialism) is subject to
vanish like the shadow of cloud. O’ slave Nanak, he who knows the world
to be unreal, lives under God's protection.”
Guru Tegh Bahadur further says,
jo dIsY so sgl ibnwsY ijau
bwdr kI CweI ]
jn nwnk jgu jwinE imiQAw rihE
rwm srnweI ]
“This world is false like a mirage to the deer.
Even after beholding the delusion, the mortal runs after it.”
Attitude of Man
imRg iqRsnw ijau JUTo iehu
jg dyiK qwis auiT DwvY ]
Nature is portrayed as beauty and wonder created by God.
This colourful earth is a garden of flowers. It has kith and kin relationship
with humanity in Sikhism.
Guru Nanak Dev says,
“The air is the Guru, water is our father and
great earth is our mother. Days and nights are our male and female nurses
in whose lap the entire world plays.”
The reality is that the world is like a garden of flowers
where life is always in bloom. It is duty of a human being to keep its
fragrance evergreen and fight the five evils lust, anger, greed, attachment
and pride from within and without. This would dispel false Maya and awake
him to Reality.
Whatever we see, is creation of God. Materialistic attractions
take the mortal away from God and lead him towards transmigration. Maya
is the bondage of the Jiva. It stands in its way to unite with the Supreme
Soul. It creates ego and human being continues in the cycle of births and
Universe is creation of God. It reminds us of the Creator.
Maya takes the mortal away from God and leads him towards transmigration.
Maya is the bondage of the Jiva. It stands in its way to unite with the
Supreme Soul. It creates ego and human being continues in the cycle of
births and deaths.
4. Creation theory
According to Sikhism, God created every thing. His creation
is real and limitless like Him. He created numerous nethers and earths.
He created countless species of different forms and colors.
God is Creator of the universe. No body knows the exact
time when the universe was created. It is God only who knows all this,
not the human being.
Human body is microcosm.
(b) Macrocosm: Universe
5. Karma theory
Other philosophical concepts -
6. God and His Grace
Concept of God
7. Thought on Virtue and Vices
8. Thought on Ego / Haumai
9. Concept of Mind and intellect
10. Concept of death. Death comes to all. It is
13. Bhakti, Simran-Nam Japna
14. Kirt Karna, Wand Chhakna and Nam Japna.
15. Holy Congregation / Sangat
18. Concept of Bhana
19. No renunciation of the world but life of a
house holder is recommended
20. No belief in blind rites, rituals, fasting, pilgrimage,
austerities or superstitions
21. Liberty, Equality and fraternity. svwDInqw,
smwnqw, BrwqrI Bwvkqw All are equal before God and every body
has the right to get equal opportunities.
According to Sikhism, God is One. He is second is none.
He is Creator, Sustainer, Destroyer and Recreator. He dwells in His Creation
and in every humanbeing. He is gracious. He preserves every body. He
is Pursha. He is Creator of this Universe and three Gunas. He is Ad-Purakh,
Karta-Purakh, Sat-Purakh, Akal-Purakh (Immortal person) and Niranjan-Purakh
(Without influence of Maya). He is devoid of fear and enmity. He is Omnipotent,
Omniscient and Omnipresent. Everything is born of Him and ultimately is
absorbed in Him.
ijs qy aupjY iqs qy
ibnsY Git Git scu BrpUir ]
He is not bonded by birth or death. He is unborn and
self existent. He is beyond death and transmigration. Death cannot assail
Him. He is Nirgun and Sargun. The Formless Supreme Being
abides in the Realm of Eternity. He is qualityless as well treasure house
of qualities. He is Bliss, Love, Benevolent, Righteous, Just and Graceful.
He is Din Dyal, Dukh Bhanjan, Bakhshind,
Sukhdata, Garib Nawaj, Dani, Rahim,
Patit-Punit. He is Sundar and Mithbolra (Handsome
and sweet tempered). He is protector and savior of his creation. He is
Kirpanidhi (God of Grace).
God as Truth
Truth is fundamental concept in Sikhism. It has different
meanings. Literally, Truth means Sach, Sat, Reality, veracity,
honesty, justice and righteousness. Importantly, in Sikhism, Truth (Sach)
stands for God who is Ultimate Reality. God is Sat. God is Truth and Truth
is God. Truth is bliss. Truth is always fresh and fragrant.
Guru Nanak Dev says,
"Truth is the highest of all, but higher still
is the truthful living."
Sachon oarai sab ko ooper sach achar.
schu ErY sBu ko aupir scu Awcwru
He alone is an enlightened soul, says Nanak
Who frightens none, and fears none.