Founders of Faith
For Sikhs the Ten Gurus are the foundation of Sikhi and the main sources of Sikh inspiration. The Gurus are considered by Sikhs to be spiritually perfect and morally correct.
Sikhi began with the teachings of Guru Nanak (1469-1539), who came from Talwandi, near Lahore (now Pakistan). Guru Nanak’s teachings were composed in the context of, but distinguished from, the Hinduism and Islam of his day. An example is that he names Azrael as the angel of death. This is a name found in the Book of Tobit for a personality important both in the Old Testament and the Qur’an. At the same time, he talks about Yama, a god of death mentioned in Hindu and Buddhist scriptures.
Guru Nanak emphasised meditation on the One (Naam Japna) and taught that all human beings were equal, regardless of caste or creed. As well as preaching against prejudice and unjust discrimination, he put his words into action by starting the institution of the langar, where people sit together to eat for free without any distinction.
He was followed by nine further Gurus:
– Guru Angad (1504-1552) – Guru Amar Das (1479-1574) – Guru Ram Das (1534-1581) – Guru Arjan (1563-1606) – Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) – Guru Har Rai (1630-1661) – Guru Harkrishan (1656-1664) – Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675) – The final human Guru, Guru Gobind Rai (1666-1708) formed the Khalsa and was renamed Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Sikhs today continue to follow his example in joining the Khalsa.
The final Guru in terms of teaching is the holy text of the Guru Granth Sahib itself. The Khalsa also has the status of Guru as it implements the teachings into ever-changing contexts. This status was designed and demonstrated by Guru Gobind Singh.