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Home > History of religion > Sikhism > Concept of God in Sikh religion
Concept of God in Sikh religion
Sikhism has arisen from the devout hearts of Ten Gurus. They were not philosophers. They have set down what they could experience about the Supreme Reality. The Saint poets and mystics of the medieval times have shaped their language.

Sikhism teaches strict monotheism. There is only One God. But he can be conceived both as unattributed and attributed. In the unattributed form He is called Ek-Omkara, and, in the attributed form. He is called Ornkara. It is useless to seek any philosophical concept to explain the two aspects of God.

guruNirguna our saguna ek ,
Saguna nirguna thapai nao,
Duha mili ekai tino thao

In reality nirguna and saguna (attributed) Brahma are one and the same. In order to escape from idolatry, Guru Nanak talks of God as niranjana, wrakshara, beyond human understanding. The famous lines from the mula mantra with which the Granth Sahib begins:
There is one God, Eternal Truth in his Name;
Maker of all things, Fearing nothing and enmity with none.
Timeless is His Image, Not begotten, Being of His own Being
By the grace of the Guru made to me
This nirguna Brahma can be attained only through.

Samadhi. In the famous three jewels of advaitism Shravana, manana and nididhyasana, Guru Nanak enjoins upon his followers suniyai (listening to the holy words), mannai (pondering over the truths heard) and dhyana (meditation over the truth).

But the Supreme Reality has also been called the maker or creator. Hence, He is endowed with will and intellect. Therefore, Parabrahma is also Ornkara, Sagupa Brahma or Ishvara. Thus, the same supreme reality is both formless and with form. As Ishvara, He becomes an object of worship and devotion. In this aspect He is known as kind, benevolent (Dayalu and Kripalu), and as formless He is called Sattnama, nirakshara, akala (eternal).

Lord as an object of devotion is invested with maya, which is the manifesting and creative power of God. This is exactly what Kabir takes maya to be. But this maya for Guru Nanak conceals the real nature of God, and, man under the influence of maya becomes a victim of the five evils known in Indian thought as Kama (lust), Krodha (anger, violence), lobha (greed), moha (infatuation or attachment to worldly objects) and ahamkara (egoity, pride and self-seeking). This is really the enslavement of man and his bondage from which he is to be freed. Otherwise he will be in the endless chain of miserable rebirths. As will be detailed later, man can free himself only with the grace of God and for this he has to engage himself in prayer, meditation and selfless service to mankind.
Along with this doctrine of God there is also a negative side. Though God is creator, kind and benevolent, yet He does not incarnate Himself in what is known as avatara. This is a doctrine which Was held by Kabir in a very special way. In the same way, Sikhism does not maintain that there are special or exclusive prophets of God.

Guru Nanak calls Sagupa Brahma, the object of worship and devotion by various names of Kartar (creator), Akal (eternal) Satt-numa (holy name). Wahe guru also was used in post-Nanak literature.golden temple Guru Nanak has also used the name of Allah, Khuda, paravardigar (the cherisher) and Sahib (Lord). He has also used the various names of God, used in Pauranic bhakti like Rama, Gopala, Murari, Narayana, Madhava etc. Sikhism seeks to spread its message to all adherents of different faiths, with a view to reconciling them and also with a view to deepening their faiths in the interest of strict moral rectitude and service to all mankind. Kesliava-Karim, Allah-lshvara, Rama-Rahim are but different names of the same entity which is both formless and with form.

The Guru of Gurus is but one, though He has various forms. Hence, `The Guru is Shiv, the Guru is Vishnu and Brahma, the Guru is Parvati, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Thus difference is superficial and underlying reality in all religions is deeper and far more fundamental.

By pointing out the underlying reality which undergirds all names and forms of religions, Guru Nanak makes a point against ritualism and external observances that divide one man from another. Guru Nanak appeals to the inner depth in the real seeker after God, and, here Rama and Rahim are one and the same reality.

Again, Guru Nanak does not favour samyasa. He commends himself to the life of a householder who works hard for his honest living and makes sacrifices for the needy. Thus, a Sikh householder is expected to observe Kirt Karna, wand chakna, naam japna (hard honest work, sharing the wealth with others and reciting the name of God).

langarThe charitable distribution of food called langar was introduced by Guru Nanak, and, every Sikh is expected now to contribute towards it. Lastly, as personal God, He is the Saviour of His seekers. If we sincerely seek Him, then by bestowing His Grace the Lord frees his devotees from the shackles of Maya. The highest end of man is God-realization, whether through Samadhi or through bhakti.
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