Q: Why was Sikh religion needed?
A: The advent of Guru Nanak Dev Ji in 1469 came at a time of spiritual, social, and political necessity. India had fallen in a situation of crisis where there was no security of life and property. India was a victim of the following:
1. No one knew who the true God was and how to meet Him.
2. Bathing at holy pilgrimages was believed to wash away one’s sins.
3. Ritualism and animal sacrifice was considered a way to please gods, goddesses and deities.
4. Women were treated inferior to men.
5. Low caste people (untouchables) were treated very badly.
6. There was a huge gap between rich and poor.
7. People had a great amount of selfish desires.
8. People in India were continuous victims of invasions by Islamic extremist from Afghanistan.
God sent Guru Nanak Dev Ji to this world in order to deliver His message. Guru Nanak Dev Ji rang the alarm-bell and saved masses from unnecessary ritual and hypocrisies. Guru Nanak Dev Ji challenged the division of men into classes and castes. He raised his voice against the ill treatment of women and gave them equal rights as men. He instructed that all men and women were created equal and hence equally worthy of respect.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji stressed the uniqueness of each individual and wanted everyone to progress through a process of self-discipline. The discipline was three-fold: physical, moral and spiritual. The physical discipline included acts of service and charity, while leading a family life; the moral discipline included righteous and honest living and rising above selfish desires; the spiritual discipline included the belief in only the One Supreme Being (the Almighty God) and the exclusion of demigods, gods and goddesses, in whom they had formerly believed.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji instructed that sins cannot be washed away by just going to pilgrimages or taking a holy bath. Only God can forgive humans of their sins and meditation on God is the only way to receive God’s grace. In addition, God is pleased with love and devotion, not animal sacrifice.
Furthermore, Guru Nanak Dev Ji opposed political tyranny and subjugation. He raised his voice against Islamic King Babar's invasion and the tyrannical deeds perpetrated by his army in India.
After Islamic extremists executed the ninth Guru, the tenth Guru of Sikhs Guru Gobind Singh Ji raised his voice against injustice and brought the concept of spiritualism and warrior in Sikhism. He instructed that a Sikh is spiritual first and then to protect his faith and the faith of other, a Sikh is a warrior. The concept is not to force or oppress anyone and not to bear anyone else’s injustice or oppression either. Guru Gobind Singh Ji fought many battles and ended the tyranny of Islamic invasions in 1707.
God sent the Sikh Gurus and delivered His message through Gurus for a period of nearly 230 years. Sikhs Gurus created a lifestyle which gave rise to Khalsa (a pure Sikh), the ideal man of God. In order to be one with God, we have to purify ourselves and become like Him, Sikhs lifestyle helps one to be like and be one with God.