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Appreciating Sikhism - Book By Dr. Paramjit Singh Sachdeva

Preface To Book 'Appreciating Sikhism' By Dr. Paramjit Singh Sachdeva
 

For  understanding Sikhism, one needs to know not only what Sikhs believe in and practice, but also what they do not believe in or practice. Siikhism is a distinct religion with a unique set of beliefs which are very progressive in outlook--for example, the emphasis on One God, keeping Him in mind at all times, and living a life based on such values as personal responsibility, morality, equality, humility, charity, compassion, tolerance, service, justice, and human rights for all. These values are essential to Sikh philosophy---and are worth following and respecting, not only by Sikhs but by all others as well.

Sikhs believe in One God and one mankind. Sikhism is based on the belief that the One Transcendent God loves all mankind as one, making no distinction between one human being and another---irrespective of gender, race, caste, creed, nationality, or religion. This foundational belief and other aspects of Sikhism covered in this brief essay make the religion unique.

To help improve the lay person's understanding of religion, this four-part essay is a believer's appreciation of Sikhism. It covers key Sikh beliefs, practices, philosophy, and history, drawing on some of the latest published material. The spotlight is on Sikhism, from a comparative perspective---in relation to Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, and Judaism.

Such a perspective is adopted solely to highlight Sikhism's key features and not to show any religion better or worse than the other, in any way whatsoever. The beliefs of every religion are accepted fully---as completely valid from its own point of view. The hope is that this broader perspective will provide a deeper appreciation of Sikhism than would otherwise be possible. Throughout, even when other religions are discussed, the focus remains on Sikhism.

 

Introduction To Book  'Appreciating Sikhism' By Dr. Paramjit Singh Sachdeva
 

All religions connect man with God and this life with the after-life. In this important sense, all religions are the same. But when christians pray in churches, Muslims in mosques, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and Jains in temples, and Sikhs in gurdwaras, whose voices are heard? Christians believe that the Lord hears only those who have faith in Prohphet Muhammad; and Jews believe that their God(s) hear only those who follow, respectively, Hindu Gods, Gautama Buddha, and Mahavira Jain. Sikhs believe that the One God (the Creator) hears all mankind, irrespective of religion.

Clearly, for all religions, their distinctive beliefs matter; so do their unique religious practices and rituals. Among Christians, even though they are all united in Christ, the Orthodox Christians, Catholics, and Protestants use somewhat different practices, and it matters to them. The same is true for Shia and Sunni Muslims; Orthodox and Non-Orthodox Jews; Buddhists who believe in the Theravada and Mahayana traditions; and Hindus who worship different Gods, or even when the same believers worship different Hindu Gods.

Religious beliefs have remained largely unchanged over many centuries but practices have evolved slowly but surely. This has happened in all great religions that have survived for a thousand or more years--Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. It has also happened in Sikhism, even though it is a relatively young religion. In Sikhism too, its distinctive beliefs matter, as do religious practices; and these beliefs have remained unchanged for centuries, while practices have evolved.

Beliefs and pactises form an integral whole, in all religions, including Sikhism. Sikhism's unique beliefs and practises define it and distinguish it from other religions. However, because Sikhism is relatively new, it is little known around the world. To some extent, this ignorance is understandable, and can be overcome through education and enlightened self-interest, as the Sikhs get better known in the world and start calling various countries their home.

However, some misunderstandings are not so easily rectified. Some people, both in India and abroad, believe that Sikhism is just an offshoot (or sect) of Hinduism, or is a syncretic blend of Hinduism and Islam. Both these views are incorrect. They are the result of genuine misunderstanding as well as deliberate mis-information about Sikh beliefs and practices, and how these differ from Hinduism and Islam.Unless such misunderstandings are corrected, it will be impossible for Sikhism to fully emerge from the shadow of Hinduism, to take its rightful place in the world.

In order to help improve the lay person's understanding of present-day Sikhism, this four-part essay presents a succinct appreciation of the religion. It covers key Sikh beliefs, practices, philosophy, and history, drawing on some of the latest published material. It begins and ends with the Sikh belief that all religions lead to God, even though they are different in many ways. Solely to counter misperceptions about Sikhism being a sect of Hinduism, and to highlight its own key features, the essay begins with a close look at Sikh identity, in relation to Hinduism. In addressing the question---"Are Sikhs Hindus?" it also helps answer the above question put differently---"Are Hindus Sikhs?" (Part I). The essay then considers Sikhism's core beliefs and philosophy that, as in all religions, truely define what the religion stands for (Part II).

The next section (Part III) broadens the discussion to some other major religions with which Sikhism has had contact. It covers Sikhism from a comparative perspective---in relation to Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, and Judaism.

The final section (Part IV) connects the present with the past and future, so as to recognize the vital role the Ten Gurus and their followers have played in shaping the religion as it is today; and to draw a key lesson of experience for helping to shape the continued sustainability and vitality of the Sikh religion in the years to come.

The essay is deliberately selective, preferring clarity and ease of understanding over complexity and comprehensiveness. It eases gradually into discussion of philosophy. To make it easier to read and understand, the writing style selected is non-academic, with a limited use of cross-references, especially in the inherently more difficult sections dealing with Sikh philosophy.

The purpose is to better understand and appreciate Sikhism as a religion and what it means to be a Sikh. The reader is invited to build on this general introduction to Sikhism and to help others do so as well----so that we can all benefit from a better appreciation of this unique religion.

 

From The Backcover Of Book  'Appreciating Sikhism' By Dr. Paramjit Singh Sachdeva
 

Who is a Sikh? Are Sikhs Hindus? Is Sikhism a blend of Hinduism and Islam? How does Sikhism differ from other religions?

In clear and simple language, this brief essay,"Appreciating Sikhism" provides answers. Sikhism's beliefs and practices are outlined in relation to Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism and Judaism. Their common features and differences are noted, but no religion is shown to be better than any other. They are just different; and the differences are significant.

In four relatively self-contained parts, each with a clear focus, this book covers key Sikh beliefs, practices, philosophy and history, drawing on the latest publications. Succinct Tables and Annexes provide supplementary information. The writing style is non-academic; and original colour photographs bring the subject to life. The reader is invited to build on this insightful introduction to Sikhism, and to help others do so as well.

 

Table Of Contents For 'Appreciating Sikhism' Book By Dr. Paramjit Singh Sachdeva

 

Contents

Page No
Acknowledgements v
Preface vii
Introduction ix
1. Beliefs and Practices 1
2. Sikh Philosophy 43
3. Other Religions and Sikhism 93
4. The Making of Sikhism 131
Annex - I 171
(Quotations from the Guru Granth Sahib   
For Part - II)  
Annex - II 181
(Founders and Scriptures of  
Selected Religions)  
Annex - III 185
(Selected Beliefs of Some Religions)  
Annex - IV 203
(Provisions of the Sikh Rehat Maryada  
Relating to Daily Living)  
Annex - V 207
(Provisions of the Sikh Rehat Maryada  
Relating to Life Cycle Events)  
Annex - VI 215
(Sikhism's New Beliefs, Practices, and  
Institutions in the First 500 Years)  
   
Glossary 219
Select Bibliography 227
Index 233
 

 

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