A Sikh is defined as “any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being; ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib; the Guru Granth Sahib; the utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru; and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion”.
The core philosophy of the Sikh religion can be understood in the beginning hymn of the holy Guru Granth Sahib.
“ There is one supreme eternal reality; the truth; immanent in all things; creator of all things; immanent in creation. Without fear and without hatred; not subject to time; beyond birth and death; self-revealing. Known by the Guru’s grace. ”
Guru Nanak, the founder of the faith, summed up the basis of Sikh lifestyle in three requirements: Naam Japo, Kirat Karni and Wand kay Shako, which means meditate on the holy name (Waheguru), work diligently and honestly and share one’s fruits.
The Sikhs revere Guru Granth Sahib as their supreme teacher, as it is a literal transcript of the teachings of the Sikh Gurus. The tenth Guru appointed Guru Granth Sahib as his successor. Compiled by the Sikh Gurus, and maintained in its original form, Sikhs revere Guru Granth Sahib as their supreme guide. Non-Sikhs can partake fully in Sikh prayer meetings and social functions. Their daily prayers include the well being of all of mankind.
The concept of saint-soldier is a unique feature of Sikhism. Every Sikh is required to aspire to sainthood by his devotion to God and service to mankind, but also, according to the situation, to adopt the role of the soldier. The Sikhs look at the martyrdom of the 9th Guru for trying to protect Hindus from religious persecution & conversion by the muslim rulers, in Delhi, on 11 November 1675 AD, as an example to be followed.
Sikhs are required not to renounce the world and aspire to live a modest life. Seva (service) is an integral part of Sikh worship, very easily observed in the Gurdwara. Visitors of any religious or socio-economic background are welcomed, where Langar (food for all) is always served.
The Sikhs also revere Bhaktas or Saints belonging to different social backgrounds. The work of these Bhagats is collected in Guru Granth Sahib, and is known as Bhagat-Bani (sacred word of bhagat) as against work of Sikh Gurus being known as Gur-Bani (sacred word of guru).