What are the distinctive features of Sikhi?
Each prophet gives some light and message to the world. Guru Nanak Sahib Ji, the Founder of the Sikh faith, and his nine successors made a distinct contribution to religion and religious thought. Sikhi may be distinguished from other religions from three stand-points: philosophy, community or institution and physical appearance.
From the philosophical stand-point, the contribution of Sikhi may be called Naam Marg. Guru Nanak Sahib Ji emphasized the need for man’s devotion to the Timeless Almighty. He illustrates the attributes of God in the revealed “Mool-Mantar”. He asks man to dedicate himself, day and night to the remembrance of God and His Name.
The Guru also gave to his followers the form of a community with certain institutions such as Deg, Teg, and Fateh. By Deg is meant the system of community kitchen (Langar) maintained by contributions of the Sikhs. Everyone is to donate one-tenth (Daswand) of his income. Teg, is the sword or Bhagwati represents power, which was necessary to preserve freedom of religious worship and to end tryranny. For this reason, Guru Gobind Singh gave to God among other names, the name of Sarabloh (pure iron). The Sikh believes in God’s victory (fateh). His salutaion is “Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh”: the victory is God’s and the Khalsa is God’s. The Sikh always believes in Chardi Kala, (progress and optimism) in the reform and improvement of society, as a continous process.
Sikhi also believes in discipline and an ethical code. Guru Gobind Singh gave the Sikh a new apearance and administered him the initiation of the double-edged sword. He infused in him a spirit of fearlessness and a belief in his own invincibility and told him to maintian the five articles of faith*, each beginned with the letter K. (*Articles of faith are: Turban (Keski, a small turban to cover the ‘Kesh’, i.e. unshorn hair), Strapped Sword (Kirpan), Special Underwear (Kachha), Wooden Comb (Kangha), Iron Bangle (Kara).)
Another tenet of Sikhi is humility (Gareebi). The Gurus asked their followers to regard themselves servants of the Congregation (Sangat). The tenth Guru, after administering his new initiation to the five chosen ones, asked them on bent knees and with folded hands, to administer initiation (Amrit) to him. In the entire human history, there is no other case of a Guru kneeling before his followers.