What are the characteristics of the Sikh religion?
Sikhism is a monotheistic faith. It recognizes God as the only One. He who is not subject to time or space. He who is the Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer of the Universe. Moreover in Sikhism, ethics and religion go together. The inculcation of moral qualities and the practice of virtue in everyday life is a vital step towards spiritual development. Qualities like honesty, compassion, generosity, patience, humility etc. can be built up only by effort and perseverance. The lives of the Gurus show how they lived their lives according to their code of ethics.
Sikhism does not believe in Avtarvada, that God takes a human form. It does not attach any value to gods and goddesses and other deities.
The Sikh religion rejects all rituals and routine practices like fasting and pilgrimage, omens and austerities. The goal of human life to merge with God is accomplished by following the teachings of the Guru, by meditation on the holy Name and performance of acts of service and charity.
Sikhism emphasizes Bhakti Marg or the path of devotion. It does, however, recognizes the limited value of Gian Marg (Path of Knowledge) and Karam Marag(Path of Action). It also lays stress on the need for earning God’s Grace in order to reach the spiritual goal.
Sikhism is a modern, logical, and practical religion. It believes that normal family-life (Gristh) is no barrier to salvation. That it is possible to live detached in the midst of worldly ills and temptations. A devotee must live in the world and yet keep his head above the usual tensions and turmoils. He must be a soldier, scholar and saint for God.
The Gurus believed that this life has a purpose and a goal. It offers an opportunity for self and God realization. Moreover man is responsible for his own actions. He cannot claim immunity from the results of his actions. He must therefore be very vigilant in what he does. Finally, the Sikh Scripture (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) is the perpetual Guru. This is the only religion which has given the Holy Book the status of a religious preceptor. There is no place for a living human Guru (Dehdhari) in Sikh religion.