Sikhi worldview traditions
We are using the term ‘Sikhi’ within this text and in other resources on the website, as a more accurate name for the beliefs and life of Sikh people. The word ‘Sikhism’ was coined by the British Raj, it was not a term Sikhs used themselves. Author Arvind-Pal Singh Mandair describes the term as a ‘colonial construct’ (A Singh Mandair, 2013: p. 5). The word ‘Sikh’ comes from the Punjabi verb ‘Sikhana’, meaning ‘to learn’. Thus a ‘Sikh’ is one who learns. The term ‘Sikhi’ as opposed to ‘Sikhism’ implies a continuous state of learning and engagement, rather than a box into which people can be placed. Sikhi is not an ‘ism’, it is a way of life.
For now the terms ‘Sikhism’ and ‘Sikhi’ will be used interchangeably in Religious Education and in wider culture. However in time ‘Sikhi’ may become the preferred term.
Ref: Singh Mandair, A (2013) Sikhism: a Guide for the Perplexed, Bloomsbury, London.
Written in 2020 by Dr Ranvir Singh. Find out about Ranvir in the section ‘About the Author’ below.
Our series of subject knowledge essays are written for the teacher to expand and deepen understanding of religion and worldviews. You might like to share extracts with students but these are aimed at teachers and other professionals.
Each essay is authored by an expert or experts in the field. They might take a particular position or stance with regards to the worldview in question.
We hope you find these essays helpful as you learn more about this fascinating subject.