Sikhs learn about God through the teachings of Guru Nanak and the nine Sikh Gurus who came after him.
The tenth Guru was Guru Gobind Singh. He said that, from his time onwards, the sacred text would be the ‘Living Guru’ for Sikhs, guiding them on what to believe and how to live. This book is called the Guru Granth Sahib. The opening words of the book explain what God is like.
Sikhs observe the practice of adding Ji to Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh to denote respect.
The opening section of the Guru Granth Sahib is called the Mool Mantra. This means ‘essential teaching’. The fact that it is the opening of the sacred text shows that it is very important to Sikhs.
The Mool Mantra was written by Guru Nanak and gives a short description of what God is like (also known as God’s nature). It is written in the Punjabi language, using a script (written characters) called Gurmukhi. The whole of the Guru Granth Sahib is written in this script.
The lines of the Mool Mantra are as follows:
|Ik Onkar||There is only one God||God is One, though there are different paths to experiencing the one God.|
|Sat Naam||Truth is his name||God’s name is Truth. God is True. Naam can be compared to a jewel or treasure.|
|Karta Purkh||He is the Creator||God caused the universe and everything in it to exist. God keeps the universe going, sustaining it.|
|Nir Bhau||He is without fear||God has no rivals. God is sovereign. Nothing can harm or threaten God.|
|Nir Vair||He is without hate||God loves creation and judges fairly.|
|Akaal Moorat||He is immortal, without form||God is not tied down by time. God is beyond time. Time is God’s servant, not God’s master. God is neither male nor female.|
|Ajooni||He is beyond birth and death||God was not born (unborn) and will not die.|
|Saibhang||He is self-illuminated (self-existent)||God is not dependent upon anything. God just is.|
|Gur Parsaad||He is realised (made known) by the kindness of the true Guru||A person cannot get to God by their own efforts. God has to open their eyes first. God offers this knowledge freely, by grace, so that someone who dedicates their life to learning and understanding God through the teachings of the Gurus can come to know God.|
Some Sikhs believe Mool Mantra does not end at Gur Parsaad and instead favour an extended version.
The first line of the Mool Mantra is Ik Onkar. This is written in Gurmukhi as shown in this image:
The Ik Onkar is an important symbol for Sikhs, reminding them of the oneness of God and the oneness of humanity (the belief that everyone is equal). It helps Sikhs to focus on Waheguru when praying and meditating.
Sikhs frequently recite the Mool Mantra in public and private worship, including their morning prayers. This makes it easier for them to keep the name of God (Sat Naam) in mind, to help them to live in a way that is pleasing to God.
Sikhs believe that Waheguru is without gender or form. The language of the Mool Mantra reflects this by not saying ‘he’ or ‘his’. However, traditional English translations often refer to Waheguru as ‘he’, even if the Punjabi version does not.
Where do Sikhs find the most important beliefs about God?
Sikhs find the most important beliefs about God in the Mool Mantra, which is the first chapter of the Guru Granth Sahib.