Sikh Glossary & Terms
Adi means first. Adi Granth is the first edition of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Sikh Holy Scripture, as was compiled by Guru Arjun Dev Ji in the seventeenth century. The Adi Granth is kept in the Golden Temple at Amritsar, an important Sikh Holy Site.
Akal Purkh means the Timeless One, or the One beyond time. This term is applied to name and describe God.
An uninterrupted continuous reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. This is accomplished in shifts and takes about two days to complete.
Amrit means nectar. Amrit is prepared from ground sugar and water. In Sikhism, Amrit, also known as Khande Ki Pohul, means taking the sublime essence of God to purify yourself and live a moral and just lifestyle. Receiving or drinking Amrit means getting baptized in Sikh religion.
A Sikh who has received Amrit and gone through the Khalsa initiation ceremony. Also known as the baptized Sikh.
Anand Karaj is the Sikh Marriage Ceremony. Anad Karaj is held in the present of the Sikh Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib Ji by reciting four verses. Sikh Marriage is a spiritual bond between a man and a woman in the presence of God.
A formal Sikh prayer recited at the conclusion of a service or ceremony.
An abbreviation of Gurbani. Works of the Gurus and devotees of God written in the sacred text of Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
A devotee of God.
The scripture written by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Teachings of Guru. Gur means Guru and bani means speech. Therefore, Gurbani means the speech of the Guru. The Sikh Gurus wrote their teachings in the Sikh scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. This compilation of writing is called Gurbani. Gurbani must be treated with great respect.
Sikh place of worship or Sikh Church. Gurdwara Sahib is a compound word created by combining Gur, meaning Guru and Dwara, meaning door or house. Thus the word Gurdwara means the door or house of the Guru. Sri Guru Granth Sahib is always present at the Gurdwara Sahib.
A person who follows the path shown by Guru Ji. Qualities exhibited by the Gurmukh include selflessness, desire for spiritual learning and longing to meet God. Conversley, one who is egotistic, ego-centered, and impulsive is known as manmukh, self-centered.
A Sikh who follows Guru’s teachings and lifestyle.
A spiritual leader sent by God. Gu means Darkness and Ru means Light. Literally translated, Guru means ‘The Light that dispels darkness’. Guru is a highly spiritual teacher who has been sent to Earth by God and is in direct communion with God. There has been a total of 10 living Sikh Gurus, who brought knowledge of God. The eternal Guruship (spiritual and temporal authority) lye in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji (the Sikh Holy Scripture compiled by Sikh Gurus and other devotees who themselves have attained salvation).
Guru Amar Das Ji
Third Guru of Sikhs. Guru Amar Das Ji, spoke against the Sati system and allowed widows to remarry. He gave equal rights to women, spoke aginst caste systems, and started Guru Ka Langar to promote equality among all humans.
Guru Angad Dev Ji
Second Guru of Sikhs. Guru Angad Dev Ji compiled Gurmukhi script which became the medium of writing the Punjabi language.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji
Fifth Guru of Sikhs. Guru Arjan Dev Ji compiled the first version of Guru Granth Sahib Ji called the Adi Granth by collecting writing of previous Sikh Gurus and devotees of God. He also started the construction of the Golden Temple at Amritsar Sahib. He contributed the most amount og hymns in Guru Granth Sahib Ji. He was executed by Muslim emperor Jahangir for constructing the Golden Temple, promoting equality, freedom, and meditation of God.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Tenth Guru of Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh Ji fought against Muslim extremist to protect the people of India. He stated that one need to be spiritual and in order to protect his or her spiritual beliefs, one should be a warrior too. He was the last living Guru of Sikhs, compiled the teaching of all Gurus and Sikh devotees into a Holy Scripture known as Guru Granth Sahib. He then gave the Holy Scripture the status of the eleventh Guru. He said, ‘He who wants to meet God, find the way in the Shabad’.
Guru Granth Sahib Ji
The Holy Scripture of Sikhs compiled by Sikh Gurus and devotees of God who themselves have attained salvation. Guru Granth Sahib Ji shows the path to attain salvation and to be One with God.
Guru Har Gobind Ji
Sixth Guru of Sikhs. Guru Har Gobind Ji fought against the Muslim emperor Jahangir to end his oppressions. He constructed Akal Takht (God’s throne) in front of the Golden Temple representing the warrior side of Sikhs. He was executed while fighting for freedom and equality.
Guru Har Krishan Ji
Eight Guru of Sikhs. Guru Har Krishan Ji sent a message of living in humbleness and peace.
Guru Har Rai Ji
Seventh Guru of Sikhs. Guru Har Rai Ji is known for his community service, helping the poor, and the less fortunate.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji
The first Guru of Sikhs. The founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak was born on April 15, 1469 in the Western Punjab village of Talwandi.
Guru Ram Das Ji
Fourth Guru of Sikhs. Guru Ram Das Ji established the city of Amritsar. His whole life was embodiment of love, devotion, dedication, and service.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji
Ninth Guru of Sikhs. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji is known as the shield of India because he gave up his life to protected the Hindus and other religions and their right to free worship.
Harmonium is a musical instrument similar to a Piano. Harmonium is used in reciting Kirtan.
A devotee of God who lived in the 14th century. Kabeer Ji was born in Muslim religion but did not consider himself either Muslim or Hindu. He was a true devotee of God and attained salvation by meditating on God.
Special undergarment, drawers or briefs resembling boxer shorts. Kachhehra is worn by Sikhs as a reminder to practice marital fidelity. It is a symbol of self control. Kachhehra is one of the Five K.
Wooden comb carried by Amritdhari Sikh as a reminder to practice cleanliness. It is a symbol of hygiene and discipline. Kanga is one of the Five K.
A steel bracelet worn by Sikh as a symbol of committment to truthfulness, strength, and unity. It is also considered as a visible deterrant to wrongdoing by attaching a symbol of God to the hand. Kara is one of the Five K.
A sacramental food served at religious ceremonies in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. It is a symbol of equality of all members of the congregation. Karah Prasad is made of flour, sugar and ghee (clarified butter).
A belief that if you do harm to someone, you will suffer because of your actions.
Princess. All female members of the Sikh community adopted Kaur as their last name to abolish the caste system and establish human equality.
Unshorn hair usually covered by a turban. Kesh symbolizes spirituality, living in a way God made us and the prohibition of harm to the body. Kesh is one of the Five K.
The pure ones. The term is also used as a collective description of the Sikh community.
The Khanda is the emblem of the Sikh faith. It consists of four symbolic weapons. The Khanda represents knowledge of divinity and the creative power of God.
A short sword or knife carried by Amritdhari Sikhs as a reminder to fight for justice and against oppression. Kirpan is one of the Five K.
Singing the praises of God. Kirtan is usually conducting with the aid of musical instruments such as Harmonium and Tabla.
Free food service provided in every Gurdwara Sahib. People sit together on ground and enjoy the food served in the Langar. This act of sitting together on the floor symbolizes humble behavior and human equality. Langar also servers the purpose of feeding the hungry so that no one is left without a meal.
A self-willed person, who does not follow the teachings of Guru Ji. Manmukh is the one who is either self-centered, egotistic, ego-centered, or impulsive. Conversley, the one who follows the path shown by Guru Ji and has a desire toward spiritual teaching is called Gurmukh.
Materialistic things. For example money, gold, real estate and other worldly possesions.
The Name of God. Naam is recitated while meditating on God. Sikhs remember God by reciting Waheguru in meditation.
A devotee of God who lived in the 14th century. Naamdev Ji was born in Hindu religion but did not consider himself either Hindu or Muslim. He was a true devotee of God and attained salvation by meditating on God.
The language spoken by the Punjabi people. Most Sikhs speak Punjabi language.
Company of the holy and wise people who are very close to God.
A saint in Sikhism means a person who is a true devotee of God and spends most of his time in meditation of God. A saint’s only motive is to attain salvation and become one with God.
Company of the people who are close to God and will help you get close to God.
The word of God. Shabad is any single hymn from Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Shabads are sung in the Gurdwara Sahib and in holy congregations to praise God.
A follower of Sikhism. Sikh is a word derived from Sanskrit. Literally translated, the word means disciple or student. In the Sikh faith, the word Sikh means someone who strives to learn about God, is a seeker of God and truth, and someone who follows Guru Granth Sahib Ji to achieve such goals.
Lion. All male members of the Sikh community adopted Singh as their last name to abolish the caste system and establish human equality.
Tabla is a musical instrument similar to Drums. Tabla is used in reciting Kirtan.
Waheguru is a name for God. It means ‘Wonderful Lord’.
Information provided by RealSikhism.com
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