Sikhism represents a tradition that every Indian is proud of. The Sikh Gurus have inspired us in an era that was perhaps the most challenging phase of our history. One cannot forget the contributions of Sikh Gurus and their selfless sacrifices to consolidate the society, provide them direction and overthrow the rule of invaders. That is why the Sikh Gurus are revered not only by Sikhs but all nationalists in general as role models.
The medieval era represents the darkest phase of our society. Internally we were being eroded by termites of casteism, gender discrimination and overt ritualism dissociated from Vedas. And externally, we were being butchered by a tribe of most uncivilized society of west Asia – read the Ghaznis, Khiljis, Mughals, Slaves, Tughlaqs etc.
The Sikh gurus, in these turbulent times, lit the lamp of Vedic wisdom and steered the society towards the fundamental tenets of our culture – rationalism, actions and compassion.
Often their is dispute over whether Sikhism is part of Hinduism or a separate religion. In our view, this is a meaningless debate. Because the word Hinduism has different connotations. From a western mindset, Hinduism represents a mix of very specific rituals associated with casteism, gender discrimination and idol worship. If this be Hinduism, then Sikhs are definitely not Hindus.
However, if Hinduism is considered to mean the culture that is inspired from the philosophy of Vedas, then perhaps not many sects are more Hindu than Sikhs. Sikhism represents the message of Vedas in simple language of layman.
Let us see what makes Sikhism an extremely pure representation of Vedic wisdom (We shall ignore later day aberrations and focus on the key message of the noble Gurus):
- Sikhism rejects birth-based casteism and believes in equality of all
- Sikhism believes in gender equality
- Sikhism believes in protection of cows because it is one of the most useful gifts of God to humans
- Sikhism believes in actions as means to achieve God. Thus they reject withdrawal from life.
- Sikhism believes in one single timeless shapeless omnipresent God whose best name is Onkaar (Om + Kaar). This is almost verbatim translation of Yajurveda 40.8.
- Sikhism believes in theory of Karma and rebirth
- Sikhism refuses the concept of Heaven/ Hell and believe in salvation as ultimate goal
- Sikhism believes in Nama Smaran or understanding the names and properties of God as way to achieve Him
- Sikhism considers Maya or ignorance as obstacle to salvation and urges to eradicate it through devotion, noble actions and knowledge
- Sikhism takes it as our utmost duty to fight against injustice of any kind. The lives of Sikh gurus exemplify this.
- Sikhism considers entire humanity as one family and refuses to have different treatments for people of different beliefs and religions.
The list can continue further. Note that if you replace Sikhism in above lines with ‘Vedic Dharma’ you would realize that the points still hold valid.
Further, the Guru Granth Sahib very clearly elucidates on the glory of Vedas:
1. God created Vedas (Onkaar ved nirmaye- Rag Ramkali Mahla 1 Onkar Shabd 1)
2. With order of God Vedas were created so that humans can decide what is virtue and sin (Hari aagya hoye Ved paap punya vichaariya- Maru Dakhne Mahla 5 Shabd 17)
3. No one can value the importance of Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharvaveda (Sam Ved, Rig, Yajur, Atharvan brahme mukh maaiya hai traigun, taakee keemat kah na sakai ko….- Marusolahe Mahla 1 Shabd 17)
4. God created day, night, forests, greenery, water and 4 Vedas that are like 4 treasures (Chaar Ved chaare khaani- Rag Maru Mahla 5 Shabd 17)
5. How can glory of Vedas be stated whose knowledge is without end (Ved vakhaan kahahi ik kahiye, oh ve ant ant kin lahiye- Vasant Ashtapadiyan Mahla 1.3)
6. Of the infinite texts, Vedas are the best (Asankh granth mukhi Ved paath- Japuji 17)
7. All the Shastras, Vedas and ancient texts describe the Supreme Lord (Smriti sastra Ved puraan paar brahm ka karahi vakhiyaan- Gaund Mahla 5 Shabd 17)
8. Noble persons elucidate the glory of Vedas but unfortunate people do not understand (Ved bakhiyaan karat saadhujan bhaagheen samjhat nahi khalu- Todi Mahla 5 Shabd 26)
9. Study of Vedas enhances knowledge by blessings of God (Kahant Veda gunant guniya…- Sahaskriti Mahla 5.14)
10. Analysis of Vedas, Shastras and ancient texts enriches the entire family and makes them lucky (Ved puran saasatr vichaaram…. badbhaagi Naanak ko taaram- Gatha Mahla 5.20)
11. Vedas describe the glory of one God (Kal mein ek naam kripaanidhi … ih vidhi Ved bataavai- Rag Sortha Mahla 9 Shabd 5)
12. Do not say that Vedas are false. False are those people who do not analyze (Ved katev kahahu mat jhoothe jhootha jo na vichaare- Rag Prabhati Kabirji Shabd 3)
13. Those who studied Vedas were called Vedis. They initiated noble virtuous acts. Listening to Rigveda, Samveda, Yajurveda and Atharveda destroyed all sins. (Jinai Ved padhyo suvedi kahaaye… Padhe Sam Vedam Yajur Ved Kattham Rigam Ved paathayam kare bhaav hattham… Atharav Ved pathayam suniyo paap nathiyam…- Dasham Guru Granth Sahib Vichitra Natak Adhyaya 4)
To check more examples of glory of Vedas in Guru Granth Sahib refer the following:
14. Chauth upaaye chaare Veda- Rag Bilawal Mahla 1 Thiti
15. Chache chaar Ved jin saaje chaare khani chaar juga- Rag Asa Mahla 1 Pati Likhi Shabd 9
16. Oordh mool jis saakh talaaha chaar Ved jit laage- Gujri Ashtapadiyan Mahla 1.1
17. Chare Ved hoye sachiyaar- Asadi Var Mahla 1 Var 13
18. Chaturved mukh vachni uchre- Rag Gaudi Mahla 5 Shabd 164
19. Chaturved pooran hari naai Ramkali Mahla 5 Shabd 17
20. Chaar pukaarahi na tu maane Ramkali Mahla 5 Shabd 12
21. Chaar Ved jihwa bhane- Rag Sarang Mahla 5 Shabd 131
22. Brahme ditte Ved Rag Malar Var Mahla 2 Var 3
23. Chaare Ved Brahme kau diye padh padh kare vichari- Rag Asa Mahla 3 Shabd 22
24. Chaare Ved Brahme np furmaayia- Maaru Solahe 3.22
25. Chaare deeve chahu hath diye eka eki vaari- Vasant Hindol 1.1
26. Vedu pukaare vaachiye vaani brahm biaas- Shreeraag Ashtpadiyan 1.7
27. Vedan ganh bole sach koi- Maajh Vaar Mahla 1 Vaar 12
28. Deeva jale andhera jaai Ved paath mati paapan khaai- Raag Suhi
29. Ved pukaarai punn paap surag narak ka veeu- Raag Saarang Vaar 1.16
30. Gurumukhi parche Ved vichari- Raag Ramkali Sidh Gosht Shabd 28
31. Puchhahu Ved pandatiyaan muthi vin maane- Rag Maaru Ashtpadiyan 1.6
32. Man hath kine na paaiyo puchhahu Vedaam jaai- Shri Raag Vaar 3.10
33. Smriti saasat Ved vakhaanai bharmai bhoola tat na jaanai- Rag Maajh Ashtpadiyan 3.18
34. Veda mahi naam uttam so- Rag Ramkali Mahla 3 Aanand 19
35. Hari jeeu ahankaar n bhaavai Ved kook sunaavahi- Rag Maaru 3.9
36. Jugi jugi aapo aapna dharm hai sodh dekhahu Ved puraan- Rag Vilaaval 3.4
37. Saasat Ved puraan pukaarahi dharam karahu shat karam dradaiya- Vilaaval Mahla 4.2
38. Naanak vichaarahi sant jan chaar Ved kahande- Rag Gaudi Vaar 4.12
39. Vaani brahm Ved dharam dradahu paap tajaaiya bal raam jeeu- Suhi Chhant 4.2
40. Das ath chaar Ved sabh poochhahu jan naanak naam chhudaai jeeu- Maaru 4.8
41. Smrat saasat Ved vakhaane jog gyaansidh sukh jaane- Rag Gaudi 5.111
42. Ved puraan smrat bhane- Gaudi 5.144
43. Saasat smrat Ved vichaare mahaapurushan iu kahiya- Rag Gaudi 5.162
44. Ved saasat jan pukaarahi sunai nahi dora- Rag Aasa 5.152
45. Saasat Ved smriti sabhi….- Gujri 5.2
46. Chaar pukaarahi na tu maanahi- Ramkali 5.12
47. Kahant Veda gunant guniya- Salok sahaskriti Mahla 5.14
48. Ved puraan saasatr vichaaram- Gatha Mahla 5.20
49. Ved puraan saadh sang- Rag Gaudi 9.6
50. Ved puraan padhai ko ih gun simre hari ko naama- Rag Gaudi 9.7
51. Ved puraan jaas gun gaavat taako naam hiye mein dhar re- Gaudi 9.9
52. Ved puraan smriti ke mat sun nimash na hiye vasaavai- Rag Sorath 9.7
Now Guru Granth Sahib also consists of several verses that appear to be condemnation of Vedas. These are often cited to prove that Sikhism is a separate cult.
However, this is a very childish argument. How can Guru Granth Sahib condemn Vedas when it also praises it to an extent that it calls Vedas divine and that those who do not appreciate Vedas as foolish?
In reality, the condemnation of Vedas relate to those people who only mug up Vedas but do not live their lives accordingly. Or those people who distort the message of Vedas by claiming to have expertise. The likes of western indologists and communist historians who see beef and wine in Vedas perfectly exemplify the target of this condemnation.
And why Guru Granth Sahib, Vedas themselves condemn such hypocrites. Rigveda 1.164.39 very clearly announces – “What can the Richas of Vedas do for a person who does not possess intellect”.
Upanishads and Geeta also condemn a person who claims expertise in Vedas but do not preach.
If one reviews the Guru Granth Sahib dictionary by renowned Sikh scholar Tara Singhji, you would find a striking similarity between what he wrote on Vedas and what was written by Swami Dayanand.
Thus we see that Sikhism represents the essence of Vedic wisdom in simple language of common man and rejects all those external features that are wrongly associated with Hinduism.
Our humble reverence to the great Sikh Gurus who saved the society by lighting the lamp of Vedic wisdom when there was utter darkness. Lets now work to carry forward their noble legacy by living by this wisdom and bringing transformation in self, society and world through service, devotion and actions.
(For a thorough treatment of this subject, we strongly recommend the book “Arya Siddhant aur Sikh Guru” by Swami Swatantranand, a legendary freedom fighter, leader of Hyderabad Satyagrah movement and established Vedic scholar. You can avail this book from www.vedicbooks.com. Please also review the preface and introduction by Prof Rajendra Jigyasu that covers important historical aspects of the subject.)