History

Who: Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539), first of the ten gurus. In Sikhism, a guru is the descent of divine guidance to mankind provided through ten Enlightened Masters. After the death of the tenth guru, Guru Gobund Singh, in 1708, the Sikh scriptures, Granth Sahib Ji, took on the status of living guru for the Sikhs (Guru Granth Sahib Ji). The divine spirit is thought to have gone from one guru to the next, and now resides in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

What: Sikhism is a strictly monotheistic religion. The goal of Sikhism is to end the cycle of transmigration (samsara) by merging with God. One merges with God by following the teachings of the Guru, meditating on God’s Holy Name and performance of acts of service and charity. A Sikh is a disciple, one who follows the teachings of the ten gurus, and who believes in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Book of Light, a compilation of the hymns of the gurus).

When: Sikhism began in the late 15th century, during the life of Guru Nanak Dev, who lived from 1469 until 1539. The spirit of God moved from Guru Nanak through his nine successors, and now rests in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

Where: Guru Nanak Dev lived in the Punjab region of India. Much of Sikh history centers around this region. During the early 1800s, Ranjit Singh ruled over Punjab and Kashmir in what is known as the Sikh state. The vast majority of Sikhs still live in the Punjab region, though there is a Sikh presence in North America because of immigration.