Who is a Sikh?

The word ‘Sikh’ is based on the Sanskrit term ‘Sishya’ meaning ‘disciple’ or ‘learner’. They are considered disciples of God and are ordained to follow the writings and teachings of the Eleven Sikh Gurus and the 11th being the Holy Scripture , Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Speaking of universality of Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev, in the Guru Granth Sahib notes :

“I observe neither Hindu fasting nor the ritual of the Muslim Ramadan month; Him I serve who at the last shall save. The Lord of universe of the Hindus, Gosain and Allah to me are one; From Hindus and Muslims have I broken free. I perform neither Kaaba pilgrimage nor at bathing spots worship; One sole Lord I serve, and no other. I perform neither the Hindu worship nor the Muslim prayer; To the Sole Formless Lord in my heart I bow. We neither are Hindus nor Muslims; Our body and life belong to the One Supreme Being who alone is both Ram and Allah for us.”

It is believed that in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, called his followers and flashed a naked sword and demanded a head to which 5 of them volunteered after multiple calls. The 5 were subsequently followed by many. It was on this day that Guru Gobind Singh bestowed a new discipline and gave the Sikhs a new identity which includes the 5 articles of faith or popularly known as the 5 Ks:

The ‘Rehat Maryada’, the official document on Sikh Code of Conduct, describes a Sikh as :

  1. Kesh : unshorn hair and beard
  2. Kara – a steel bracelet
  3. Kanga – a wooden comb
  4. Kaccha or Kachera – a cotton underwear
  5. Kirpan – steel sword

“Any human being who faithfully believes in: (i) One Immortal Being, (ii) Ten Gurus, (iii) The Guru Granth Sahib, (iv) Teachings of the ten Gurus and, (v) the baptism conferred by the tenth Guru, and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion is a Sikh.”