Jainism and Sikhism
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Both Jainism and Sikhism are faiths native to the Indian subcontinent. Jainism, like Sikhism, rejected the authority of the Vedas and created independent textual traditions based on the words and examples of their early teachers, eventually evolving entirely new ways for interacting with the lay community.
Jainism is the oldest living sramana tradition in India. In its current form it is traced to Mahavira "The Great Hero" (ca. 599-527 BCE), the twenty-fourth and last of tirthankaras or "fordmakers" in Jain belief. Mahavira was born to a ruling family in the town of Vaishali, located in the modern state of Bihar. The first tirthankara was Rishabha, who lived long before Mahavira.
Next to the Bahá'í Faith, Sikhism is the youngest of the world's major monotheistic religions. Sikhism was established in the 15th century in the state of Punjab in North India. Although born into a Hindu household in 1469 in the Punjab region, Guru Nanak challenged existing practices and is considered the founder of the new faith. The Guru loved to travel and observe concepts and ideas regarding spiritual practices of various faiths. At the heart of his message was a philosophy of universal love, devotion to God. By the time he had left this world he had founded a new religion of "disciples" (shiksha or sikh) that followed his example.
Lineage of teachers
The 24th tirthankara of the Jain community was Mahavira, the last in a series who lived in East India. Sikhism has 10 Gurus, with the religious text called the Guru Granth Sahib according status as the final Guru by Guru Gobind Singh.
Author Khushwant Singh notes that many eminent Jains admired the Sikh gurus and came to their help in difficult times. When the ninth Sikh guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, was on his preaching mission in eastern India, he and his family were invited by Salis Rai Johri to stay in his haveli in Patna. In his hukamnamas sent from Assam, the guru referred to Patna as guru-ka-ghar, meaning "home of the guru". Salis Rai donated half of his haveli to build a gurdwara, Janam Sthaan, because Guru Gobind Singh was born there. On the other half, he built a Śvētāmbara Jain temple; both have a common wall.
Todar Mal was an Oswal Jain who rose to become the diwan in the court of Nawab Wazir Khan of Sirhind. When the Nawab had Guru Gobind Singh’s two younger sons put to death, Todar Mal conveyed the sad news to their grandmother—who died of shock. Diwan Todar Mal donated his own family gold to purchase a small piece of land to cremate the young sons of the guru. He had built Gurdwara Jyoti Sarup on the site of the cremation at Fatehgarh Sahib. A large hall of the gurdwara honours the builder by being named after him: Diwan Todar Mal Jain Yadagiri Hall.
Practices and differences
Diwali is celebrated by both. Although Sikhs celebrate the day as Bandhi Chhor Diwas, the homecoming to Amritsar of the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru HarGobind Sahib from Gwalior. The release of 52 Rajas from the fort of Gwalior is attributed to this Guru.
Ahimsa and vegetarianism
Jains are strictly vegetarian whereas, Sikhs generally are not. There are, however, some groups and sects of Sikhism (Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Guru Nanak NSJ, Handsworth, Namdharis, Damdami Taksal etc.) who encourage vegetarianism.
The majority of Sikhs believe eating meat is left up to the individual's conscience in Sikhism as it will not affect spirituality. Khushwant Singh also notes that most Sikhs are meat-eaters and decry vegetarians as daal khorey (lentil-eaters). The food served in gurudwaras is invariably vegetarian in order to accommodate all sections of society.
On the views that eating vegetation would be eating flesh, first Sikh Guru Nanak states:
ਪਾਂਡੇ ਤੂ ਜਾਣੈ ਹੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਿਥਹੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਉਪੰਨਾ ॥ ਤੋਇਅਹੁ ਅੰਨੁ ਕਮਾਦੁ ਕਪਾਹਾਂ ਤੋਇਅਹੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਭਵਣੁ ਗੰਨਾ ॥
O Pandit, you do not know where did flesh originate! It is water where life originated and it is water that sustains all life. It is water that produces grains, sugarcane, cotton and all forms of life.—First Mehl, AGGS, M 1, p 1290.
On Vegetation, the Guru described it as living and experiencing pain:
Page 143 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji
Look, and see how the sugar-cane is cut down. After cutting away its branches, its feet are bound together into bundles,
and then, it is placed between the wooden rollers and crushed.Nanak: come, people, and see how the sweet sugar-cane is treated!
What punishment is inflicted upon it! Its juice is extracted and placed in the cauldron; as it is heated, it groans and cries out.
And then, the crushed cane is collected and burnt in the fire below.
Ahimsa for the Jains is a code of practice to always be kind and compassionate and prevent hurt to oneself and others. Sikhs reject Ahimsa. There are occasional references to Jainism in the Guru Granth Sahib and other Sikh texts.
Asceticism doesn't lie in ascetic robes, or in walking staff, nor in the ashes. Asceticism doesn't lie in the earring, nor in the shaven head, nor blowing a conch. Asceticism lies in remaining pure amidst impurities. Asceticism doesn't lie in mere words; He is an ascetic who treats everyone alike. Asceticism doesn't lie in visiting burial places, It lies not in wandering about, nor in bathing at places of pilgrimage. Asceticism is to remain pure amidst impurities. (Suhi)
Jains have an organised ascetic order of monks and nuns. The lay people are householders.
A Sikh is bound to the Truth at all times and practices god Consciousness through Nam Simran and selfless service (Sewa). Jains, too, place high regard in prayers and meditation.
Sikhs reject the caste system and promote social and gender equality, as the soul is the same for both men and women. All are equal in the eyes of God. God is accessible without priests or a middle person. Sikhs and Jains, like Hindus, are expected to be tolerant of all faiths and do not believe that any one path has a monopoly on the Truth. There are many paths to seek out the Love of God and incur Divine Grace. In fact to call another's path inferior is a sign of ignorance and intolerance. Both personal devotion and communal prayers are a part of Sikh's way of life.
Concept of God
Jains do not believe in the concept of a Godhead responsible for the manifestation of the Creation. They believe the universe is eternal, without beginning or end, and that all happens in an autonomous fashion with no necessity of a co-ordinator/God.
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, believing in the singular power of the Formless Creator God, Ik Onkaar, without a parallel. In the Guru Granth Sahib, God is called by all the Hindu names and as Allah as well.
During the 18th century, there were a number of attempts to prepare an accurate portrayal of Sikh customs. Sikh scholars and theologians started in 1931 to prepare the Reht Maryada—the Sikh code of conduct and conventions. This has successfully achieved a high level of uniformity in the religious and social practices of Sikhism throughout the world. It contains 27 articles. Article 1 defines who is a Sikh:
Any human being who faithfully believes in:
- One Immortal Being,
- Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev to Guru Gobind Singh,
- The Guru Granth Sahib,
- The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru, and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion, is a Sikh.
Fasting is an accepted practice for the Jains. A Sikh will eat to partially satisfy the hunger at all times.
Where the Guru Granth Sahib is present, that place becomes a Gurdwara. The focal point of worship in a Gurdwara (the gateway to God) is the eternal teachings of Guru Granth Sahib -the Shabad (Word) Guru.
Jains exhibit the statues of their Tirthankaras in their temples. Special shrines in residences or in public temples include images of the Tirthankaras, who are not worshiped but remembered and revered; other shrines house images of deities who are more properly invoked to intercede with worldly problems. Daily rituals may include meditation and bathing; bathing the images; offering food, flowers, and lighted lamps for the images; and reciting mantras in Ardhamagadhi, an ancient language of northeast India related to Sanskrit.
Jainism express non violence in thought, word and action. Sikhism seeks peace; when all other means have been exhausted then they find it justifiable to draw the sword against oppression and injustice. Jains believe a peaceful way can always be found, perhaps sometimes after tremendous effort. War or violence against humans or animals is never justified.
Karma and salvation
Both Jains and Sikhs believe in the Karma theory and re-incarnation of the soul. Salvation for a Sikh is attained through the Divine Grace and Will of Waheguru (God) and through good deeds in one's life and the selfless service of Sewa and charity. Jains too believe in personal effort and aims and do not depend on a heavenly being for assistance. Both believe in the conquest of the mind through control of the passions through the five senses as the path to ending the cycle of sufferance of birth and death.
- Khushwant Singh (2009-11-07). "An Ancient Brotherhood". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
- "Sikh Identity: An Exploration of Groups Among Sikhs" by Opinderjit Kaur Takhar, pg. 51, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2005, ISBN 0-7546-5202-5
- "Sri Guru Granth Sahib". Sri Granth. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- Sikh Gurus. "Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji". pp. 142 to 143. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- "Sikhism Religion of the Sikh People". Sikhs.org. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
- http://www.srigranth.org - Guru Nanak, Slok, pg. 149- They have their heads plucked, drink dirty water and repeatedly beg and eat other's leavings. They spread out ordure, with their mouths, suck its ordure and dread to look at water. With hands smeared with ashes, they have their heads plucked like sheep. The daily routine of their mothers and fathers they give up, and their kith and kin bewail loudly. For them none gives barley rolls and food on leaves, nor performs last rites, nor lights earthen lamp. After death where shall they be cast? The sixty-eight places of pilgrimage grant them no refuge, and Pandits eat not their food. They ever remain filthy day and night, and bear not sacrificial marks on their brow. They ever sit in groups, as if mourning and go not into the True Court. With begging bowls slung round their loins and a clew in their hands, they walk in single file. They are neither disciples of Gorakh nor adorers of Shiva, nor Muslim Qazis and Mullah's.
- "''Sikhism rejects asceticism and encourages full participation in family and workday life and responsibility as the framework within which to seek God''". Sikhcouncilusa.org. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
- - Sikhism rejects idolatry, the caste system, ritualism, and asceticism[dead link]
- "Sikhism Religion of the Sikh People". Sikhs.org. Retrieved 2012-04-21.