Sikh Mission Center at Austral is a ‘Gurudwara’ or a door to the Guru that serves the local Sikh community offering a place of worship, weekly Keertan and sermons from the revered Guru Granth Sahib.

The origins of Sikhism lie in the teachings of Guru Nanak and his successors. The essence of Sikh teaching is summed up by Nanak in these words: “Realisation of Truth is higher than all else. Higher still is truthful living”. Sikh teaching emphasizes the principle of equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, and gender. Sikh principles do not attach any importance to asceticism as a means to attain salvation, but stresses on the need of leading life as a householder.

Sikhism is a monotheistic and a revealed religion. In Sikhism, God—termed Vāhiguru—is shapeless, timeless, and sightless: nirankar, akal, and alakh. The beginning of the first composition of Sikh scripture is the figure “1”—signifying the universality of God. It states that God is omnipresent and infinite, and is signified by the term ek oankar. Sikhs believe that before creation, all that existed was God and Its hukam (will or order). When God willed, the entire cosmos was created. From these beginnings, God nurtured “enticement and attachment” to maya, or the human perception of reality.

While a full understanding of God is beyond human beings, Nanak described God as not wholly unknowable. God is omnipresent (sarav viapak) in all creation and visible everywhere to the spiritually awakened. Nanak stressed that God must be seen from “the inward eye”, or the “heart”, of a human being: devotees must meditate to progress towards enlightenment. Guru Nanak Dev emphasized the revelation through meditation, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between God and human beings. God has no gender in Sikhism, (though translations may incorrectly present a male God); indeed Sikhism teaches that God is “Nirankar” [Niran meaning “without” and kar meaning “form”, hence “without form”]. In addition, Nanak wrote that there are many worlds on which God has created life.

Pursuing salvation and khalsa

Guru Nanak’s teachings are founded not on a final destination of heaven or hell, but on a spiritual union with God which results in salvation. The chief obstacles to the attainment of salvation are social conflicts and an attachment to worldly pursuits (Maya), which commit men and women to an endless cycle of birth—a concept known as reincarnation.

Maya—defined as illusion or “unreality”—is one of the core deviations from the pursuit of God and salvation: people are distracted from devotion by worldly attractions which give only illusive satisfaction. However, Nanak emphasised maya as not a reference to the unreality of the world, but of its values. In Sikhism, the influences of ego, anger, greed, attachment, and lust—known as the Five Evils—are believed to be particularly pernicious. The fate of people vulnerable to the Five Evils is separation from God, and the situation may be remedied only after intensive and relentless devotion.

Nsabad (the divine Word) to emphasise the totality of the revelation. Nanak designated the word guru (meaning teacher) as the voice of God and the source and guide for knowledge and salvation. Salvation can be reached only through rigorous and disciplined devotion to God. Nanak distinctly emphasised the irrelevance of outward observations such as rites, pilgrimages, or asceticism. He stressed that devotion must take place through the heart, with the spirit and the soul. According to Gurbani the supreme purpose of human life is to reconnect with Truth. However, our Ego is the biggest disease in the reunion with Truth / God and the solution to this disease also lies within human ego (mind and body). With Guru’s grace the seeker meditates honestly on “Word” which leads to the end of ego. Guru is indistinguishable from God and are one and same thing as God which cannot be found with thousands of wisdom. One gets connected with Guru only with accumulation of selfless search of truth. Ultimately the seeker realizes that it is the consciousness within the body which is seeker / follower and Word is true Guru. Human body is just a means to achieve the reunion with Truth. Truth is a form of matter which lies within human body but is beyond the realm of time / death. Once truth starts to shine in a person’s heart, the essence of current and past holy books of all religions is understood by the person.

A key practice to be pursued is NAAM: remembrance of the divine Name. The verbal repetition of the name of God or a sacred syllable is an established practice in religious traditions in India, but Nanak’s interpretation emphasized inward, personal observance. Nanak’s ideal is the total exposure of one’s being to the divine Name and a total conforming to Dharma or the “Divine Order”. Nanak described the result of the disciplined application of nām SIMRAN as a “growing towards and into God” through a gradual process of five stages. The last of these is Sach Khaṇḍ (The Realm of Truth)—the final union of the spirit with God.

Guru Nanak stressed now Kirat Karo: that a Sikh should balance work, worship, and charity, and should defend the rights of all creatures, and in particular, fellow human beings. They are encouraged to have a Chardi Kala, or optimistic, view of life. Sikh teachings also stress the concept of sharing—vand chakko—through the distribution of free food at Sikh gurdwaras (langar), giving charitable donations, and working for the good of the community and others (seva).Sikhism…