Sikhi at a Glance:
At Glance: The Sikh tradition, known in the Punjabi language as Sikhi, is a relatively young tradition that was founded over 500 years ago in the Punjab region of South Asia. There are more than 25 million Sikhs around the world, which makes Sikhism the world’s fifth largest religion. Sikhs first came to the United States in the late 1800s and there are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs living in America today.
Sikh Faith and Identity: Sikhi teaches a message based on the principles of love and oneness and calls on all followers to be spiritual warriors. Meditation, service, and justice are core aspects of the Sikh way of life. Sikhi is a distinct religious tradition that maintains its own distinctive features, including founders, scripture, worship, ceremonies and traditions.
Beliefs: The Sikh worldview centers around the idea of oneness. Sikhs believe that people of all faiths worship one Divine Being who created this world and lives within it. The notion of divine presence leads to the belief that the Divine is equally present in all people, and that, therefore, every human being is equal in the eyes of God. From the Sikh perspective, there are no theological grounds to discriminate against people on the basis of their social identities, whether gender, caste, ethnicity, or otherwise. For example, as Sikhs believe all people are equal, the Sikh community does not have clergy or priests; each person can connect with the Creator directly and all positions of leadership and authority in Sikh religious and political life are open to people of all backgrounds.
Sikhs aim to recognize the divine presence in all aspects of life, and this constant recognition contributes to the cultivation of a loving self. In Sikhi, finding love within our own lives is both the end and the means; realizing divine love is ultimate goal and practicing love with intention and spirit is the process for achieving that goal. In this sense, the complementary aspects of oneness and love are core theological precepts of the Sikh tradition.
A natural corollary of recognizing the oneness of the world and practicing love is to serve society. In the Sikh tradition, service is a way of expressing gratitude to the Divine. Service is prayerful action. The concept of love-inspired service is called seva, and it is a core part of the Sikh tradition. All Sikhs are expected to serve humanity while also cultivating their own spirituality. The idea is that every Sikh should aspire to be a sant-sipahi, a saint-soldier, one who is both internally focused while also contributing to the world around them.
The core beliefs outlined above help us understand the three daily principles of Sikhi: truthful living, service to humanity, and devotion to God.