Principles and Concepts

What is the relationship between the Sikh and the Guru?

The word Sikh means a learner, a student. He is therefore to get his instruction from a teacher who is called a Guru. The personality of the Sikh Guru, is so influential that it completely transforms the disciple and shapes his life to diviner issues. This is achieved not by personal and physical instruction but by the belief that the Sikh incorporates the Guru. The Sikh “fills himself with ‘The Guru’ and then feels himself linked up to an inexhaustible source of power.” e.g. by accepting the aid of Guru Gobind Singh, he feels terribly strong, equal to “one lakh and a quarter” in physical and mental powers. He will fight all odds and lay down his life for a cause. He is the Guru’s standard-bearer and will not lower or desert it. It is this kinship with the Guru which sustains him in a crisis. Bhai Joga Singh, when about to fail, was saved from such a moral disaster by Guru Gobind Singh.

The Sikhs filling themselves with Guru’s own personality collectively becomes “The Guru” in the form of the Sikh Panth: “The Guru lives within his Sikhs and is pleased with whatever they like.” The idea of religious fellowship, was given practical shape through Sewa, or service Langar or Pangat, where people dine together in the free kitchen, is another illustration of the composite character of the Guru in Sikhi. The idea of Sangat or holy fellowship, generally for the holding of congregational prayers in the form of Kirtan and Katha, led to the establishment of Gurdwaras and religious organizations. Collectively, the Sikhs are known as “The Panth”, the embodiment of the Guru. Guru Gobind Singh merged his personality in the body of the community when he created the Khalsa Army.

The Guru stands for “The Truth” and the practice of “The Truth”. “The Truth” revealed in the Guru Granth Sahib is timeless and changeless. But the methods of implementing “The Truth” are left to the growing personality of the Panth. That is why the Guru Panth is never lagging and should be ever up-to-date to guide the Sikhs. All important questions today are decided by the community as a whole in the form of deliberated on resolutions, Gurmattas, which are given the Guru’s approval.

Guru Gobind Singh totally identified himself with The Khalsa. He affirmed:

“Through their favour, I am exalted,
otherwise there are millions of ordinary men like me.”