Sikhism in India- Origins, Philosophies, Books, and Sects in India

The roots of the famous Sikh religion go to the Indian land of the 15th century. When there were two major religions Hinduism & Islam were having their own affairs, Sikhism was born as an alternative to both. A path that described God as one and promoted secularity. Currently, there are over 30 Million people following the religion of valour and love. Most of them live in India, majorly in Punjab state. Although Punjabi people are not the only Sikhs we have. There are many sects of Sikhism that you will hear for the first time in this article. 

The Sikh community is a vast part of the Indian army, proudly serving the nation with truth and valour. The community has a very strong hold on war tactics and has a rich history of glorious leaders. In this article, we are trying to explain the Sikh community, their belief, philosophies, and contribution to India. 

Sikhism- Origins:

The very first Guru of the Sikh community was Guru Nanak Dev. He lived from 1469-1539. From the very early years of his life, he started showing spiritual growth in him. Questions related to spirituality & life were common to him. He had a sister who people believed was his first student. In 1500 he established a new path or way of life or religion called the Sikh religion. Sikh literally means Learner in Punjabi. The Sikh community hence represents a community of learners of spiritual guidance. 

The Sikh community has always separated itself from the Hindu as well as Islamic philosophies. It was the Bhakti Era when this path emerged from the western states of the then-Indian territory.

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Bhakti Movement was a time of revolution in Indian philosophies when a number of Sufi saints, great poets, and mystic gurus emerged who directed the path of religion into a new path filled with love & faith. Kabir Das (1440-1518) was a great poet of that time.

After Guru Nanak Dev, ten gurus continued the teachings and philosophies of Guru Nanak for 200 years. The last human of the Sikh community was Guru Gobind Singh Ji, known for his military campaigning among the community. The ten Gurus of the Sikh community are as below. 

– Guru Nanak Dev

– Guru Angad

– Guru Amar Das

– Guru Ram Das

– Guru Arjan

– Guru Hargobind

– Guru Har Rai

– Guru Hari Krishen

– Guru Tegh Bahadur

– Guru Gobind Singh 

Sikhism- Growth:

The first Guru Nanak Dev’s journey has miracles in it. Although there are two different versions of the book Janam Sakhis, one is found in London as a gift to the East India Company, another one was written and attributed to the lifelong partner of Guru Nanak, Bhai Bala. During the 19th century, the Bala version created many controversies as it was full of miracles but soon the London version of Janam Sakhis came into light and showed a more rationalised & trustworthy life of Guru Nanak Dev. 

Guru Nanak Dev used to question Hindu traditions like Janeu. Later in his young years, he meditated for three days and came out as enlightened. He then said,” No one is Hindu, no one is Muslim”. This ideology gave him a secular philosophy. He travelled in all four directions and preached about his philosophies. He did it through many hymns that he composed. 

After his death in 1539, Guru Angad became his successor. He preached the teachings as they were and didn’t make any changes. 

Guru Ram Das founded the city of Amritsar (“Pool of Nectar”). Guru Arjan compiled the first book of authentic hymns from Guru Nanak Dev named Adi Granth. Guru Hargobind brought a transition in the community. He started including human leadership alongside spiritual leadership. Later in the time of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Sikh community became completely war-trained. The war was against the Mughals at that time. Guru Gobind Singh also added the hymns from Guru Tegh Bahadur to the Adi Granth. 

Political History of Sikhism in India:

Sikhs were always at war against the Mughals. The problem was with faith & politics both. Earlier it was only a spiritual awakening guided by spiritual leaders like Guru Nanak and Guru Angad. But in later years, under the guidance of Guru Hargobind, the Sikhs started fighting the oppressors to save their faith. 

Sikhs were in harmony with the local rulers until their fifth Guru Arjan was executed. The sixth Guru Hargobind Ji militarised the community and fought against all the oppressors. The peace continued until the time of Aurangzeb who executed the ninth Guru ‘Tegh Bahadur in 1675. After that Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa Panth in 1699 with the motive of eternal protection of the Sikh faith from any kind of threat. 

A very famous story about Guru Gobind Singh Ji goes like this. ‘A fair was held at Anandpur where all the Sikhs were instructed to come. Later when Guru Gobind Singh came into the tent with a naked sword, he asked his followers to come and sacrifice themselves for him. Five followers came forward and Guru Gobind Singh took all of them behind the screen and cut their heads. But surprisingly, no one was dead and five heads of sheep were on the ground. The last guru chose all five of them as his loyal followers and founding members of ‘Panj Pyare’

Followed by Gurus, the military leader Banda Bahadur & then Raja Ranjit Singh continued their wars against the Mughals. Raja Ranjit Singh was the first modern king of the community, equipping them with modern military statistics. He used to take part in Hindu as well as Muslim religious acts. He died in 1839. The British took advantage of this and defeated the Sikhs in 1846 & 1849. Later they developed good relationships till the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh in 1919. 

Present Sikh Sects in India:

Though Sikhs have a Punjabi majority that’s not all of it. We see the Sikh community in several parts of India embracing several cultures. Below are some of them. 

  1. Afghan Sikhs: Immigrants & Merchants who speak the Punjabi language. 
  2. Bengali Sikhs: Dates back to 1504, Bengali Sikhs are numbered 1 Lakh.  
  3. Assamese Sikhs: They are the converts during Raja Ranjit Singh’s visit to Assam. They speak the Assamese language and embrace cultural Assamese dress. 
  4. Argahari Sikh: Commonly found in Bihar, Jharkhand. 
  5. Dakhni Sikh: Sikh community living in Deccan Plateau who speaks the Telugu language. 
  6. Kashmiri Sikh: Local Kashmiri Sikh people settled there during the reign of Raja Ranjit Singh in 1819. 
  7. Punjabi Sikh: Oldest Sikh community people and the only Sikh majority administration in the world. They speak Punjabi and Punjab’s cultural clothing. 
  8. South Indian Sikh: They live in south Indian states such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra. 


The Sikh community holds an important place in Indian culture & history. Though they are in minority, they are the fourth largest religion in India. Also, we see a considerable effect of Punjabi culture in the traditions & politics of Canada. The history of the Sikh community is full of spiritual teachings and war. After the 10th Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Sikh community stopped making Gurus as they believe that the spirit who was within all the Gurus is now in Adi Granth. 

This article has shed light on some important historical parts of the Sikh community. We will discuss this further in detail. Wait for our next article and don’t forget to read more from us. 

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