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Sikh Gurus, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Institutions - Research Paper Example

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Sikh Gurus, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Institutions

All Sikhs are deeply connected to the Guru Granth, and it is considered to be the Guru, and thus to be the immediate revelation and manifestation of God (Mann 41). How scripture became the Guru and how each Guru participated in scripture, and the institutions that resulted from this process, is a very interesting story. The way God spoke to the Sikhs was through their Gurus. The Gurus wrote songs and recitations of devotion and supplication, in poetic form, and these were passed on to subsequent Gurus of the lineage. The Guru Granth is comprised of the collection of poetry and songs, dating all the way back to the respected Guru Nanak, the first Guru of the Sikhs (Mann). The scripture is an active part of daily living, for the Sikhs, and is the center for rites of passage in Sikh family celebrations (Mann 42) Guru Nanak taught an emancipator path of liberation from the cycle of rebirth, based upon the humble and joyous adoration of God. God was macrocosm and microcosm, and could not be fully known nor manipulated, but might freely bestow his grace. Guru Nanak, glimpsing the transcendent, sang poetry to God: I would still not be able to measure your greatness, nor signify the glory of your name. Another example is: To you belong my breath, to you my flesh. You the True One are my Beloved (Singh 34). Guru Nanak’s 500 devotional songs (Mann 44) address the problem of Indian society’s brokenness and fragmentation into the many pieces of caste, class, religion, language, social structure and cultural paradigms (Muthumohan 8). In the 1500’s, the Punjab was ruled by Muslims, using the Q’uran, and society also under the influence of Brahman priests who excluded women and all lower castes from much of the religious worship experience, and who kept an oral tradition of scripture, so that accessibility was controlled (Mann 43). The Jains responded to India’s fragmentation by honoring multiplicity. Vedanta reduced everything into OM, outside of which everything else is illusion. Buddhism constructed relationality. Sikh musical devotion mediates between the dilemma of one and many through “musical cementing and construction of consent” (Muthumohan 8). Music is a fluid signifier, to Guru Nanak’s way of thinking, and very unlike the rigid deity signifiers of other religious approaches, which created division, not unity (Muthumohan 8). Guru Nanak’s God is nameless, formless and eternal, cannot be precisely known, so this God does not divide into inflexible social and philosophical segments, but unites what is broken. The universality of God was reflected in the teachings and practice of caste and gender equality (Grewel 15). This view of equality is reflected now in the way every Sikh, irrespective of caste, class, gender, age, or status is equally welcome to handle the Guru Granth, to read it and listen to it and sing it and respond to it (Mann 44). There is no priest in charge but each person can access the scripture, and therefore God, directly. This view of equality is reflected in Guru Nanak’s institution of congregational worship. He sat with his followers, who were not distinguished from each other in practice, and sang praises to God together, at the same time, in the same place, with the same status, all having in common their loyalty to the Guru. This became known as “ ...Show more

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Name Instructor Course November 30, 2011 Sikh Gurus, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Institutions Nothing is more sacred to the Sikh than the Guru Granth, their holy scriptures, which contain the poems and songs of Guru Nanak and Gurus in his line of succession. In Sikh places of worship, the Guru Granth is kept on a throne, wrapped in robes, beneath a canopy, with someone to fan the air around it at all times, with a yak tail…
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