GOD, a term used to denote any object, of worship or evocation, signifies the belief of most modern religions in the existence of a Supreme Being who is the source and support of the spatio temporal material world. Theologians remember Him by the name of God. The fundamental belief of Sikhism, too, is that God exists, not merely as an idea or concept, but as a Real Being, indescribable yet not unknowable. The Gurus, however, never theorized about proofs of the existence of God. For them He is too real and obvious to need any logical proof.

Guru Arjan, Nanak V, says, “God is beyond colour and form, yet His presence is clearly visible” (GG,74), and again, “Nanak\’s Lord transcends the world as well as the scriptures of the east and the west, and yet he is clearly manitc.st” (GG.397). In any case, knowledge of the ultimate reality is not a matter for reason; it comes by revelation of Himself through nadar or grace and by amibhava or mystical experience. Says Guru Nanak, \'”budhi pathi na palai bahu chuturdud bhai milai mani bhane (He is not accessible through intellect, or through mere scholarship or cleverness at argument; He is met, when He pleases, through devotion)” (GG, 436). Sikhism as a religion is uncompromisingly monotheistic.

The Gurus have described God in numerous ways in their hymns included in the Guru Granth Sahib, but the finicky of the deity is consistently emphasized throughout. Briefly, God for the Sikhs as described in the mul mantra, basic formula of the faith, viz. Ik oankar sat nam karta purakh nirbhau nirviar akal muruth ajuni saibhang gurparsad, is the “One Supreme Being, the Immutable and Eternal Name, the Creative Masculine Principle, Without fear and Without rancour, the Timeless Verity, Unincarnated and Self Existent, known through His grace.” Ik Oankar is a variation of the mystic monosyllable Om (also known as anahata nada, the unstruck sound) first set forth in the Upanisads as the transcendent object of profound religious meditation.

Guru Nanak prefixed the numeral one (ik) to it making it Ik Oankar or Ekankar to stress His oneness. He is named and known only through His immanent nature. Almost all of His names are attributive. The only name which can be said to truly fit his transcendent state is Sati or Satinam (Sanskrit satya), the changeless and timeless Reality. He is transcendent and all pervasive at the same time. Transcendence and immanence are two aspects of the same single Supreme Reality.

He is immanent in the entire creation, but the creation as a whole fails to contain Him fully.As says Guru Tegh Bahadur, Nanak IX, “He lias himself spread out His own maya which He Himself oversees; many different forms He assumes in many colours, yet he stays independent of all” (GG, 537). God is Karta Purakh, the Creator Person. He created the spatio temporal universe not from some preexisting physical element, but from His own Self. Universe is His own emanation.

It is not maya or illusion but is real (sati) because, as say Guru Arjan, “True is He and true is His creation because all has emanated from God Himself” (GG. 291). But God is not identical with the universe. The latter exists and is contained in Him and not vice versa. God is immanent in the created world, but is not limited by it.”Many times He expands Himself into such worlds but He ever remains the same One Ekonkar” (GG, 276). Even at one time “there are hundreds of thousands of skies and nether regions” (GG, 5).

Included in sach khand, the figurative abode of God, there are countless regions and universes” (GG, 8). Creation is “His sport which He Himself witnesses, and when He rolls up the sport, He is His sole Self again” (GG, 292). He Himself is the Creator, Sustainer and the Destroyer. What is the Creator\’s purpose in creating the universe? It is not for man to enquire or judge the purpose of His Creator. To quote Guru Arjan again, “The created cannot have a measure of the Creator; what He wills, 0 Nanak, happens” (GG, 285).

For the Sikhs, the Creation is His pleasure and play.”When the showman beat His drum, the whole creation came out to witness the show; and when He puts aside his diguise. He rejoices in His original solitude” (GG, 174, 291, 655, 736). Purakhu added to Karta in the Mul Mantra is the Punjabi form of Sanskrit purusa, which literally means, besides man, male or person, “the primeval man as the soul and original source of the universe; the personal and animating principle; the supreme Being or Soul of the universe.

” Purakh in Mul Mantra is, therefore, none other than God the Creator. The term has nothing to do with the purusa of the Sankhya school of Indian philosophy where it is the spirit as a passive spectator of prakriti or creative force.That God is nirbhau (without fear) and nirvair (without rancour) is obvious enough as He has no sank or rival. But the terms have other connotations, too. Nirbhau not only indicates fearlessness but also the absence of tearfulness.

It also implies sovereignty and unquestioned exercise of Will. Similarly, nirvair implies, besides absence of enmity, the positive attributes of compassion and impartiality. Together the two terms mean that God loves His handiwork and is the Dispenser of impartial justice, dharamnidu. Guru Ram Das, Nanak IV, says: “Why should we be afraid, with the True One being the judge. True is the True One\’s justice” (GG,84).

God is Akal Murat, the Eternal Being.The timelessness involved in the negative epithet akal has made it popular in Sikh tradition as one of the names of God, the Timeless One, as in Akal Purakh or in the slogan Sat Sri Akal (Satya Sri Akal). One of the most sacred shrines of the Sikhs is the Akal Takht, the Eternal Throne, at Amritsar. Murat here does not mean form, figure, image or idol. Sikhism expressly forbids idolatry or image worship in any form.

God is called Nirankar, the Formless One, although it is true that all forms are the manifestations of Nirankar.Bhai Gurdas, the earliest expounder and the copyist of the original recension of Guru Granth Sahib, says: “Nirankar dkdru hari.joli sarup anup dikhdid (The Formless One having created form manifested His wondrous refulgence” (Varan, XII. 17). Murat in the Mul Mantra, therefore, signifies verity or manifestation of the Timeless and Formless One.God is Ajum, Unincarnated, and Saibhan (Sanskrit svayambhu), Selfexistent. The Primal Creator Himself had no creator.

He simply is, has ever been and shall ever be by Himself. Ajum also affirms the Sikh rejection of the theory of divine incarnation.Guru Arjan says: “Man misdirected by false belief indulges in falsehood; God is free from birth and death… May that mouth be scorched which says that God is incarnated” (GG, 1136). The Mul Mantra ends with gurprasadi, meaning thereby that realization of God comes through Guru\’s grace. “Guru” in Sikh theology appears in three different but allied connotations, viz.

God, the ten Sikh Gurus, the enlightened ones and enlighteners, and the gurshabad or Guru\’s utterances as preserved in the Guru Granth Sahib. Of God\’s grace, Gurus instruction and guidance and the scriptural sabad (Sanskrit, sabda, lit. Word), the first is the most important, because, as nothing happens without God\’s will or pleasure.His grace is essential to making a person inclined towards a desire and search for union with Him. God in Sikhism is thus depicted in three distinct aspects, viz.

God in Himself, God in relation to creation, and God in relation to man. God by himself is the one Ultimate, Transcendent Reality, Nirguna (without attributes), Timeless, Boundless, Formless, Ever existent, Immutable, Ineffable, All by Himself and even Unknowable in His entirety. The only nomenclatures that can rightly be applied to Him in this state of sunn (Sanskrit, sunya or void) are Brahma and Parbrahma (Sanskrit, Parbrahman) or the pronouns He and Thou.During a discourse with Siddhas, Hindu recluses, Guru Nanak in reply to a question as to where the Transcendent God was before the stage of creation replies, “To think of the Transcendent Lord in that state is to enter the realm of wonder.

Even at that stage of sunn, he permeated all that Void” (GG, 940). This is the state of God\’s sunn samdahl, self absorbed trance. When it pleases God, He becomes sarguna (Sanskrit, saguna, with attributes) and manifests Himself in creation. He becomes immanent in His created universe, which is His own emanation, an aspect of Himself.As says Guru Amar Das, Nanak III, “This (so called) poison, the world, that you see is God\’s picture; it is God\’s outline that we see” (GG, 922).

Most names of God are His attributive, action related signifiers, kirtaa nam (GG, 1083) or karam nam (Dasam Granth, Japu). God in the Sikh Scripture has been referred to by several names, picked from Indian and Semitic traditions. He is called in terms of human relations as father, mother, brother, relation, friend, lover, beloved, husband. Other names, expressive of His supremacy, are thakur, prabhu, svami, sah, patsah, sahib, sain (Lord,Master). Some traditional names are ram, narayan, govind, gopal, allah, khudda.

Even the negative terms such as nirankar, niranjan et al. are as much related to attributes as are the positive terms like data, datar, karta, kartar, dayal, kripal, etc. Some terms peculiar to Sikhism are nam (lit. name), sabad (lit. word) and Vaheguru (lit. Wondrous Master). While nam and sabad are mystical terms standing for the Divine manifestation and are used as substitute terms for the Supreme Being, Vaheguru is an ejaculatory phrase expressing awe, wonder and ecstatic joy of the worshipper as he comprehends the immenseness and grandeur of the Lord and His Creation.

Immanence or All pervasiveness of God, however, does not limit or in any way affect His transcendence.He is Transcendent and Immanent at the same time. The Creation is His Hid or cosmic play. He enjoys it, pervades it, yet Himself remains unattached. Guru Arjan describes Him in several hymns as “Unattached and Unentangled in the midst of all” (GG, 102, 294, 296); and “Amidst all, yet outside of all, free from love and hate” (GG, 78485).

Creation is His manifestation, but, being conditioned by space and time, it provides only a partial and imperfect glimpse of the Timeless and Boundless Supreme Being. That God is both Transcendent and Immanent does not mean that these are two phases of God one following the other. God is One, and He is both nirguna and sarguna. “Nirguna sargunu hari hari mera, (God, my God is both with and without attributes),” sang Guru Arjan (GG, 98).Guru Amar Das also had said, “Nirguna sarguna ape soi (He Himself is with as well as without attributes)” (GG, 128).

Transcendence and Immanence are two aspects of the same Supreme Reality. The Creator also sustains His Creation compassionately and benevolently. “My Lord is ever Fresh and ever Bountiful” (GG, 660);”He is the eradicator of the pain and sorrow of the humble” (GG, 26364). The universe is created, sustained and moved according to His hukam or Divine Will, and Divine purpose. “The inscrutable hukam is the source of all forms, all creatures…. All are within the ambit of hukam; there is nothing outside of it.” (GO p. l).

Another principle that regulates the created beings is karma (actions, deeds). Simply stated, it is the law of cause and effect. The popular dictum “As one sows so shall one reap” is stressed again and again in the Guru Granth Sahib (GG, 131, 176, 309, 316, 366, 706, 730). The created world though real is not eternal. Whenever God desires, it merges back into His Timeless and Formless Self. Guru Gobind Singh calls this process of creation and dissolution udkarkh (Sanskrit, utkarsana) and dkarkh (Sanskrit, dkarsana), respectively: “Whenever you, 0 Creator, cause udkarkh (increase, expansion), the creation assumes the boundless body; whenever you effect dkarkh (attraction, contraction), all corporeal existence merges in you” {Renali Chaupai).

This process of creation and dissolution has been repeated God alone knows for how many times. A passage in the Sukhmam by Guru Arjan visualizes the infinite field of creation thus: Millions are the mines of life; millions the spheres; Millions are the regions above; millions the regions below; Millions are the species taking birth. By diverse means does He spread Himself. Again and again did He expand Himself thus,But He ever remains the One Ekankar. Countless creatures of various kinds Come out of Him and are absorbed back.

None can know the limit of His Being; He, the Lord, 0 Nanak! is all in all Himself.(GG, 27576) Man, although an infinitesimal part of God\’s creation, yet stands apart from it in so far as it is the only species blessed with reflection, moral sense and potentiality for understanding matters metaphysical. In Sikhism, human birth is both a special privilege for the soul and a rare chance for the realization of union with God. Man is lord of earth, as Guru Arjan says, “Of all the eight million and four hundred thousand species, God conferred superiority on man” (GG, 1075), and “All other species are your (man\’s) waterbearers; you have hegemony over this earth” (GG, 374). But Guru also reminds that “now that you (the soul) have got a human body, this is your turn to unite with God” (GG, 12, 378).

Guru Nanak had warned, “Listen, listen to my advice, 0 my mind! only good deed shall endure, and there may not be another chance” (GG, 154). So, realization of God and a reunion of atma (soul) with paramatma (Supreme Soul, God) are the ultimate goals of human life. The achievement ultimately rests on nadar (God\’s grace), but man has to strive in order to deserve His grace. As a first step, he should have faith in and craving for the Lord. He should believe that God is near him, rather within his self, and not far away. He is to seek Him in his self. Guru Nanak says: “Your beloved is close to you, 0 foolish bride! What are you searching outside?” (GG, 722), and Guru Amar Das reassures: “Recognize yourself, 0 mind! You are the light manifest.

Rejoice in Guru\’s instruction that God is always with (in) you. If you recognize your Self, you shall know the Lord and shall get the knowledge of life and death” (GG, 441). The knowledge of the infinitesimal nature of his self when compared to the immenseness of God and His creation would instil humility in man and would rid him of his ego (a sense of I, my and mine) which is “the greatest malady man suffers from” (GG, 466, 589, 1258) and the archenemy of nam or path to God Realization (GG, 560). Having surrendered his ego and having an intense desire to reach his goal (the realization of Reality), the seeker under Guru\’s instruction {gurmati) becomes a gurmukh or person looking guruward.

He meditates upon nam or sabda, the Divine Word, while yet leading life as a householder, earning through honest labour, sharing his virtuals with the needy, and performing self abnegating deeds of service. Sikhism condemns ritualism. Worship of God in the Sikh way of life consists in reciting gurbni or holy texts and meditation on nam, solitary or in sangat or congregation, kirtan or singing of scriptural hymns in praise of God, and ardas or praycr in supplication.

References :

1. Sabaddarth Sri Guru Cranth Sahib. Amritsar, 1959
2. Jodh Singh, Bhai, Gurmafi Nimayn. Amritsar -.s.u, 1932
3. Pritam Singh, ed., Sikh Phalsaphe di Rup Re.khd. Amritsar, 1975
4. Sher Singh, The Philosophy of Sikhism. Lahore, 1944
5. Kapur Singh, Parasaraprasna. Amritsar, 1989