Creative Expression

Sikh aesthetics have focused on music where the hymns of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji are played and sung. Guru Nanak Dev Ji wrote over 900 hymns and in order for these to be used in worship, they are arranged as ragas or musical measurements so they can be recited to music.

Many people interpret the language of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji symbolically since the Gurus have imposed layers of words on reality, demonstrating that language cannot directly approach the Real. For example, the term ‘yamas’ has been used for the gods of death which is found in Hinduism, but the name Azrael has also been used, who is the angel of death in Islam and is also, perhaps, mentioned in the Book of Tobit. A literalist might wonder what the ‘real’ name and nature of these beings that gather the dead actually is.

Sikhism rejects any form of idol worship including worship of pictures of the Gurus. Although some of the Gurus did pose for paintings, none of these historical paintings has survived. Any subsequent paintings of the Gurus are considered to be for inspirational purposes only and should not be regarded as objects of worship themselves.

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