Beliefs about God

A day in the life of Prem, a young Sikh and physiotherapy student

Sikhs have many words to describe God. The name most widely used for God by Sikhs is Waheguru, which means ‘wondrous enlightener’. Sikhs believe that there is only one God, who created everything. They believe that Waheguru must remain in the mind at all times. Sikhism is a way of life, and so Sikhs’ beliefs reflect their actions on a daily basis and bring them closer to Waheguru.

Sikhs describe God in various ways, including:

  • Sat Nam - True Name
  • Ik Onkar - There Is Only One God
  • Akal Purkh - Eternal Being

Sikhs believe that Waheguru is:

  • The creator - The act of creating everything was God’s will (Hukam).
  • Ineffable - Waheguru’s essence cannot be adequately described in words.
  • Genderless - Waheguru is neither male nor female.
  • Self-revealing and necessary (does not need a creator) - Waheguru is Sargun, which means having shape or form, being immanent or within the world, and therefore able to have a personal relationship with creation. At the same time, Waheguru is Nirgun, which means without form, and transcendent or beyond creation, and therefore unaffected by the world.
  • Eternal - Waheguru is outside time and space and beyond the cycle of birth and death.
  • Present in all creation in the form of thedivine spark - This is the part of Waheguru that is within all beings. It is the soul of a being.
  • Revealed by the grace of the Guru - This is the belief that Waheguru can be known through understanding and learning what each of the Ten Gurus contributed to Sikhism.
  • Knowable to all - Waheguru is knowable to anyone who dedicates his or her life to learning and understanding God.
God is beyond colour and form, yet His presence is clearly visible.Guru Granth Sahib 74

Sikhs believe that only Waheguru must be worshipped. Therefore, there are no images of Waheguru. There are, however, images of the Ten Gurus found in the gurdwara. The gurus are honoured and respected but never worshipped or treated like gods.