Origins: the Khalsa

  • Ray Colledge
Part of the Macmillan Master Series book series (MMS)


  • The word ‘Sikh’ is a Hindi word deriving from Sanskrit and means ‘disciple’.

  • Sikhism was founded in the Punjab region of India in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries CE by Nanak.

  • Nanak was born in a Kshatriya (warrior class) family.

  • He was brought up as an orthodox Hindu in the village of Talwandi where he was born.

  • From an early age, he was interested in religion and devoted himself to the service of God.

  • As a young man, he became a spiritual teacher or guru.

  • He bathed in the river before dawn and then meditated. Then he and his followers would sing hymns before returning for breakfast and the day’s work.

  • One day he went to bathe but fell into a trance, remaining in the water for three days.

  • He did not speak for a day, and then said: ‘there is no Hindu nor Muslim’.

  • He felt that both religions contained some of the truth about God, but that their rituals were clouding the truth that they were both trying to teach.

  • Nanak believed that the only way to find God was to look into one’s heart and meditate.

  • He went on a number of journeys, his followers being made up of both Hindus and Muslims, visiting the main religious centres of India, Sri Lanka and Tibet, and later visiting Makkah.

  • Before he died he appointed one of his followers to become guru of the Sikh community. This was Bhai Lehna whom he renamed Angad which comes from ang, meaning ‘limb’. It was a pun meaning ‘part of me’.

  • This is import ant because each succession was a continuation of the Guru Nanak; the succession was spiritual not physical. That was why he did not name one of his sons as his successor, but the person most suited.


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© Ray Colledge 1999

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