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Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
Welcome to this holy site which enables you to freely listen to Shabad Gurbani Kirtan as and when you please. The player on your left hand side contains live audio recordings of Gurbani Kirtans. Most of them are from Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib (Ludhiana - India) and few from the Golden Temple (Amritsar - India).
Kirtan is a term meaning the singing of hymns from the Guru Grath Sahib, the Sikh holy book. When Kirtan is sung, the lyrics are normally the lines from Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The Guru has pronounced that Kirtan is the magical formula to the human soul afloat in the dark era of Kaljug provided the devotee sings the pure melodies with his or her heart closely focused on the meaning and true spirit of the Gurbani, thus:
In this Dark Age of Kali Yuga, the Kirtan of the Lord's Praises are most sublime and exalted.
Become Gurmukh, chant and focus your meditation.
About Sikh Religion
Sikhism was founded in the 16th century in the Punjab district of what is now India and Pakistan. It was founded by Guru Nanak and is based on his teachings, and those of the 9 Sikh gurus who followed him. The essence of Sikh teaching is summed up by Guru Nanak in these words:
Truth is high but higher still is truthful living.(5)
Sikhism - Few facts
- Sikhism is a monotheistic religion
- Sikhism stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals
- Sikhs believe that the way to lead a good life is to:
1. Keep God in heart and mind at all times
2. Live honestly and work hard
3. Treat everyone equally
4. Be generous to the less fortunate
5. Serve others
God & Sikhism
- There is only one God
- God is without form, or gender
- Everyone has direct access to God
- Everyone is equal before God
- A good life is lived as part of a community, by living honestly and caring for others
- Empty religious rituals and superstitions have no value
Living in God & Community
Sikhs focus their lives around their relationship with God, and being a part of the Sikh community. The Sikh ideal combines action and belief. To live a good life a person should do good deeds as well as meditating on God. Sikhs don't think it pleases God if people pay no attention to others and simply devote themselves slavishly to religion. Sikhism doesn't ask people to turn away from ordinary life to get closer to God. In fact it demands that they use ordinary life as a way to get closer to God.
A Sikh serves God by serving (seva) other people every day. By devoting their lives to service they get rid of their own ego and pride. Many Sikhs carry out chores in the Gurdwara (Sikh temple) as their service to the community. These range from working in the kitchen to cleaning the floor. The Langar, or free food kitchen, is a community act of service. Sikhs also regard caring for the poor or sick as an important duty of service.
The 3 Duties
The three duties that a Sikh must carry out can be summed up in three words: Pray, Work, Give.
Nam Japna: Keeping God in mind at all times.
Kirt Karna: Earning an honest living. Since God is truth, a Sikh seeks to live honestly. This doesn't just mean avoiding crime; Sikhs avoid gambling, begging, or working in the alcohol or tobacco industries.
Vand Chhakna: Giving to charity and caring for others. (Literally, sharing one's earnings with others)
The 5 Vices
Sikhs try to avoid the five vices that make people self-centered, and build barriers against God in their lives. They are:
- Covetousness and greed
- Attachment to things of this world
If a person can overcome these vices they are on the road to liberation.
The holy book of Sikhism - Guru Granth Sahib
The Sikh scripture is the Guru Granth Sahib, a book that Sikhs consider a living Guru. The tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, decreed that after his death the spiritual guide of the Sikhs would be the teachings contained in that book, so the Guru Granth Sahib now has the status of a 11th Guru, the living word, and Sikhs show it the respect they would give to a human Guru. For this reason, it is never allowed to touch the ground - nor is any item containing excerpts of scripture.
Sikh Temple - Gurdwara
The Sikh place of worship is called a Gurdwara. Men and women are required to cover their hair in Sikh Gurdwaras but the most religious keep their hair covered at all times. Sikh Gurdwara contain free kitchens for people of all faiths. Only vegetarian food is served but Sikhs are not bound to be meat free, though Kosher/Halal meat is forbidden because of the animals' slow manner of death.
Sikh New Year and birth of Khalsa
Baisakhi, also spelled Vaisakhi, is the festival which celebrates Sikh New Year and the founding of the Sikh community, known as the Khalsa, in 1699. It is celebrated on April 13 or 14. The community of men and women who have been initiated into the Sikh faith is the Khalsa. The 5 Ks are 5 physical symbols worn by Sikhs who have been initiated into the Khalsa. The five Ks are:
- Kesh (uncut hair)
- Kara (a steel bracelet)
- Kanga (a wooden comb)
- Kaccha - also spelt, Kachh, Kachera (cotton underwear)
- Kirpan (steel sword)
References: Sikhism. Religions. BBC. Retrieved from: www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/sikhism (Retrieved 25 Dec 2012).
About Guru Nanak
Guru Nanak (15 April 1469 – 22 September 1539) was the founder of the religion of Sikhism and the first of the eleven Sikh Gurus.
Nanak was born on 15 April 1469, now celebrated as Prakash Divas of Guru Nanak Dev, in a town near Lahore, Pakistan. His parents were Kalyan Chand Das Bedi, popularly shortened to Kalu Mehta and Mata Tripta. His father was a patwari (accountant) for crop revenue in the village of Talwandi, employed by a Muslim landlord of that area. He had one sister, Bibi Nanaki, who was five years older than him and became a spiritual figure in her own right.
Commentaries on his life give details of his blossoming awareness from a young age. The earliest biographical source, Janamsakhis (life accounts), state that at his birth an astrologer, who came to write his horoscope, insisted on seeing the child. On seeing the infant, he is said to have worshipped him with clasped hands and remarked that, "I regret that I shall never live to see young Nanak as an adult." At the age of five, Nanak is said to have voiced interest in divine subjects. At age seven, his father enrolled him at the village school as was the custom. Notable lore recounts that as a child Nanak astonished his teacher by describing the implicit symbolism of the first letter of the alphabet, which is an almost straight stroke in Persian or Arabic, resembling the mathematical version of one, as denoting the unity or oneness of God. Other childhood accounts refer to strange and miraculous events about Nanak, such as one witnessed by Rai Bular, in which the sleeping child's head was shaded from the harsh sunlight, in one account, by the stationary shadow of a tree or, in another, by a poisonous cobra.
On 24 September 1487, Nanak married Mata Sulakkhani, in the town of Batala. The couple had two sons, Sri Chand (8 September 1494 – 13 January 1629) and Lakhmi Chand (12 February 1497 – 9 April 1555).
Rai Bular, the local landlord and Nanak's sister Bibi Nanaki were the first people who recognised divine qualities in the boy. They encouraged and supported him to study and travel. Sikh tradition states that at around 1499, at the age of 30, he had a vision. After he failed to return from his ablutions (bathing), his clothes were found on the bank of a local stream called the Kali Bein. The townspeople assumed he had drowned in the river; Daulat Khan had the river dragged, but no body was found. Three days after disappearing, Nanak reappeared, staying silent. The next day, he spoke to pronounce:
"There is neither Hindu nor Mussulman (Muslim) so whose path shall I follow? I shall follow God's path.
God is neither Hindu nor Mussulman and the path which I follow is God's."
Nanak said that he had been taken to God's court. There, he was offered a cup filled with amrita (nectar) and given the command:
"This is the cup of the adoration of God's name. Drink it. I am with you. I bless you and raise you up.
Whoever remembers you will enjoy my favour. Go, rejoice of my name and teach others to do so.
I have bestowed the gift of my name upon you. Let this be your calling."
From this point onwards, Nanak is described in accounts as a Guru, and Sikhism was born.
Nanak saw the world suffering out of hatred, fanaticism, falsehood and hypocrisy. The world had sunk in wickedness and sin. Nanak was moved by the plight of the people of world and wanted to tell them about the "real message of God". The people of the world were confused by the conflicting message given by priests, pundits, qazis, mullahs, etc. He was determined to bring his message to the masses and so he decided that he had to travel and educate and press home the message of Almighty Lord.
In 1499, he set out on his sacred mission to spread the holy message of peace and compassion to all of mankind. Most of his journeys were made on foot with his Muslim companion named Bhai Mardana, a minstrel. He travelled in all four directions - North, East, West and South; and is believed to have travelled more than 28,000 km in five major tours of the world during the period from 1500 to 1524. He started from Sultanpur in 1500 and went to his village Talwandi to meet and inform his parents about his long journey. His parents wanted their young son to provide comfort and protection for them in their old age and so they told him they would prefer it if he did not go. But he told them that the world was burning in the fire of Kalyug and that thousands and thousands were waiting for the Divine message of the Almighty for comfort, love and salvation. The Guru, therefore, told his parents:
"There is a call from Heaven, I must go whither He directs me to go."
Upon hearing these words, his parents agreed and gave their blessings. So Nanak started his mission and the roots of Sikhism were laid down first towards the east of India. He visited various centers of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jainis, Sufis, Yogis and Sidhas and met people of different religions, tribes, cultures and races. His travels are called Udasis. In his first Udasi (travel), Nanak covered east of India and returned home after spending about 6 years.
According to the Puratan Janamsakhi, which is one of the oldest accounts of the life history of Guru Nanak, the Guru undertook five missionary journeys (udasiya) to the faraway places of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Mecca, Baghdad, Kamroop (Assam), Tashkand and many more. Guru ji travelled far and wide to spread the word of Gurbani and covered most of India, present day Bangladesh, Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, South West China, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Nanak appointed Bhai Lehna as the successor Guru, renaming him as Guru Angad, meaning "one’s very own" or "part of you". Shortly after proclaiming Bhai Lehna as his successor, Guru Nanak died on 22 September 1539 in Kartarpur, at the age of 70.
Nanak’s teachings can be found in the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib, as a vast collection of revelatory verses recorded in Gurmukhi. Through popular tradition, Nanak’s teaching is understood to be practised in three ways:
- Vand Chakko: Sharing with others, helping those with less who are in need
- Kirat Karo: Earning/making a living honestly, without exploitation or fraud
- Naam Japna: Chanting the Holy Name and thus remembering God at all times (ceaseless devotion to God). Nanak put the greatest emphasis on Naam Japna
- Gurnek Singh. Encyclopaedia of Sikhism. Punjabi University Patiala. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- Singh, Kartar (1984). Life Story Of Guru Nanak. New Delhi: Hemkunt Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-8170101628.
- Macauliffe, Max Arthur (2004) . The Sikh Religion — Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors. India: Low Price Publications. ISBN 81-86142-31-2.
- Cunningham, Joseph Davey (1853). A History Of The Sikhs. London: John Murray. pp. 37–38.
- Cole, W. Owen; Sambhi, Piara Singh (1978). The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 9-10. ISBN 0-7100-8842-6.
- "The Sikhism Home Page". Sikhs.org. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
The Ten Gurus
The "Guru" in Sikhism is an enlightener and messenger. Sikhism was established by ten Gurus, human spiritual teachers or masters, over the period from 1469 to 1708 - that is over a period of 239 years. Each of the ten masters added to and reinforced the message taught by the previous, resulting eventually to the creation of the religion that is now called Sikhism. The ten Gurus have been listed below:
1. Guru Nanak - Guru from 1469 to 1539
The first of the Gurus and the founder of the Sikh religion was Guru Nanak. More details of the first Guru could be found in the "About Guru Nanak" section.
2. Guru Angad - Guru from 1539 to 1552
He was born in 1504. Guru Angad invented and introduced the Gurmukhi (written form of Punjabi) script and made it known to all Sikhs. The scripture of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji is written in Gurmukhi. This scripture is also the basis of the Punjabi language. It became the script of the masses very soon. Guru Angad was a model of self-less service to his Sikhs and showed them the way to devotional prayers. He took great interest in the education of the children by opening many schools for their instruction and thus greatly increased literacy. He collected the facts about Guru Nanak Sahib's life from Bhai Bala ji and wrote the first biography of Guru Nanak Sahib. He also wrote 63 Saloks (stanzas), these were included in Guru Granth Sahib. He popularized and expanded the institution of 'Guru ka Langar' started by Guru Nanak Sahib earlier.
3. Guru Amar Das - Guru from 1552 to 1574
He was born in 1479. Guru Amardas took up cudgels of spirituality to fight against caste restrictions, caste prejudices and the curse of untouchability. He strengthened the tradition of the free kitchen, Guru Ka Langar (started by Guru Nanak), and made his disciples, whether rich or poor, whether high born or low born (according to the Hindu caste system), have their meals together sitting in one place. He thus established social equality amongst the people. Guru Amardas introduced the Anand Karaj marriage ceremony for the Sikhs, replacing the Hindu form. He also completely abolished amongst the Sikhs, the custom of Sati, in which a married woman was forced to burn herself to death in the funeral pyre of her husband. The custom of Paradah (Purda), in which a woman was required to cover her face with a veil, was also done away with.
4. Guru Ram Das - Guru from 1574 to 1581
He was born in 1534. Guru ji founded the city of Amritsar and started the construction of the famous Golden Temple at Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs. He requested the, Muslim Sufi, Mian Mir to lay the cornerstone of the Harmandir Sahib. The temple remains open on all sides and at all times to everyone. This indicates that the Sikhs believe in One God who has no partiality for any particular place, direction or time. The standard Sikh marriage ceremony known as the Anand Karaj is centered on the Lawan, a four stanza hymn composed by Guru Ram Das ji. The marriage couple circumscribes the Guru Granth Sahib ji as each stanza is read. The first round is the Divine consent for commencing the householder’s life through marriage. The second round states that the union of the couple has been brought about by God. In the third round the couple is described as the most fortunate as they have sung the praises of the Lord in the company of saints. In the fourth round the feeling of the couple that they have obtained their hearts desire and are being congratulated is described.
5. Guru Arjan Dev - Guru from 1581 to 1606
He was born in 1563. He was the third son of Guru Ram Das ji. Guru Arjan was a saint and scholar of the highest quality and repute. He compiled the Adi Granth, the scriptures of the Sikhs, and wrote the Sukhmani Sahib. To make it a universal teaching, Guru ji included in it hymns of Muslim saints as well those of low-caste pariah saints who were never permitted to enter various temples. Guru Arjan Dev completed construction of Sri Darbar Sahib also known as Golden Temple in Amritsar. Sri Darbar Sahib welcomes all without discrimination, which is symbolized by the four doors that are open in four directions. Guru ji became the first great martyr in Sikh history when Emperor Jahangir ordered his execution.
6. Guru Har Gobind - Guru from 1606 to 1644
He was born in 1595. He was the son of Guru Arjan Dev and was known as a "soldier saint," Guru Hargobind ji organized a small army, explaining that extreme non-violence and pacifism would only encourage evil and so the principles of Miri-Piri were established. Guru ji taught that it was necessary to take up the sword in order to protect the weak and the oppressed. Guru ji was first of the Gurus to take up arms to defend the faith. At that time it was only emperors who were allowed to sit on a raised platform, called a takhat or throne. At the age of 13, Guru Hargobind erected Sri Akal Takhat Sahib, ten feet above the ground and adorned two swords, Miri and Piri, representing temporal and spiritual power.
7. Guru Har Rai - Guru from 1644 to 1661
He was born in 1630, spent most of his life in devotional meditation and preaching the teachings of Guru Nanak. Although, Guru Har Rai Ji was a man of peace, he never disbanded the armed Sikh Warriors (Saint Soldiers), who earlier were maintained by his grandfather, Guru Hargobind. He always boosted the military spirit of the Sikhs, but he never himself indulged in any direct political and armed controversy with the Mughal Empire. Guru ji cautiously avoided conflict with Emperor Aurangzeb and devoted his efforts to missionary work. He also continued the grand task of nation building initiated by Guru Hargobind.
8. Guru Har Krishan - Guru from 1661 to 1664
He was born in 1656. Guru Har Krishan was the youngest of the Gurus. Installed as Guru at the age of five, Guru ji astonished the Brahmin Pundits with his knowledge and spiritual powers. To the Sikhs he proved to be the very symbol of service, purity and truth. The Guru gave his life while serving and healing the epidemic-stricken people in Delhi. The young Guru began to attend the sufferers irrespective of cast and creed. Particularly, the local Muslim population was much impressed with the purely humanitarian deeds of the Guru Sahib and nicknamed him Bala Pir (child prophet). Even Aurangzeb did not try to disturb Guru Harkrishan Sahib sensing the sensitivity of the situation, but on the other hand never dismissed the claim of Ram Rai also. Anyone who invokes Guru Har Krishan with a pure heart has no difficulties whatsoever in their life.
9. Guru Tegh Bahadur - Guru from 1665 to 1675
He was born in 1621 in Amritsar. He established the town of Anandpur. The Guru laid down his life for the protection of the Hindu religion, their Tilak (devotional forehead markings) and their sacred (janeau) thread. He was a firm believer in the right of people to the freedom of worship. It was for this cause that he faced martyrdom for the defense of the down-trodden Hindus. So pathetic was the torture of Guru Tegh Bahadur that his body had to be cremated clandestinely (a follower burned down his own home to cremate the Guru's body) at Delhi while his severed head was secretly taken four hundred kilometers away to Anandpur Sahib for cremation. Because of his refusal to convert to Islam a threatened forced conversion of the Hindus of Kashmir was thwarted.
10. Guru Gobind Singh - Guru from 1675 to 1708
He was born in 1666 and became Guru after the martyrdom of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur. He created the Khalsa (The Pure Ones) in 1699, changing the Sikhs into a saint-soldier order with special symbols and sacraments for protecting themselves. After the Guru had administered Amrit to his Five Beloved Ones, he stood up in supplication and with folded hands, begged them to baptize him in the same way as he had baptized them. He himself became their disciple (Wonderful is Guru Gobind Singh, himself the Master and himself the disciple). The Five Beloved Ones were astonished at such a proposal, and represented their own unworthiness, and the greatness of the Guru, whom they deemed God's representative upon earth. He gave the Sikhs the name Singh (lion) or Kaur (princess). He fought many battles against the armies of Aurangzeb and his allies. After he had lost his father, his mother and four sons to Mughal tyranny, he wrote his famous letter (the zafarnama) to Aurangzeb, in which he indicted the Grand mughal with his treachery and godliness, after which the attacks against the Guru and his Sikhs were called off. Aurangzeb died soon after reading the letter. Soon, the rightful heir to the Mughal throne sought the Guru's assistance in winning his kingdom. It was the envie and fear of the growing friendship between the new Emperor and the Guru which lead to the sneak attack of the Pathan assasins of Wasir Khan who inflicted the wound which later caused the Guru's death. Thus the tree whose seed was planted by Guru Nanak, came to fruition when Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa, and on 3 October 1708, appointed Guru Granth Sahib as the Guru. He commanded:
"Let all bow before my successor, Guru Granth. The Word is the Guru now."
11. Guru Granth Sahib - Guru from 1708 to eternity
Guru Granth Sahib (also known as the Adi Granth) is the scripture of the Sikhs. No Sikh ceremony is regarded as complete unless it is performed in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. The Granth was written in Gurmukhi script and it contains the actual words and verses as uttered by the Sikh Gurus. It is considered the Supreme Spiritual Authority and Head of the Sikh religion, rather than any living person. It is also the only scripture of its kind which not only contains the works of its own religious founders but also the writings of people of other faiths. The living Guru of the Sikhs, the book is held in great reverence by Sikhs and treated with the utmost respect. Guru Granth Sahib is a book of Revelation. It conveys the Word of the Master through His messengers on earth. It is universal in its scope. The greatness of the Guru Granth Sahib lies not only in its being the Holy Scripture of the Sikhs but also in it being a general scripture available to mankind, intended for everybody, everywhere.
This section contains photos capturing the different colors of Sikhism from around the world.
A Sikh Warrior or Nihang rides horses
Sikh warriors (Nihangs) performing stunts with wooden sticks
A Nihang performing with Fire
Langar preparation for the Community Kitchen service
Langar preparations for the Community Kitchen service
Sevadars prepare prasadas for Langar (Community Kitchen
Vegetables being cut for Langar preparation at Golden Temple, Amritsar, India
Diwali Celebrations - Golden Temple, Amritsar, India
Snow at Gurudwara Hemkunt Sahib, Uttarakhand, India
Nagar Keertan in New York City, USA
Nagar Keertan in Vancouver, Canada
Nagar Keertan in Vancouver, Canada
Nagar Keertan in Surrey, Canada
Nagar Keertan in Toronto, Canada
Nagar Keertan procession in UK
Nagar Keertan in Sydney, Australia