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Sikhs taking part in the Interfaith Forum in Spain 2004

Sikhism & Interfaith Harmony

Sikhism is one religion, which is founded on the principles of global Interfaith communities and mutual Inter-community respect and harmony. The founders of Sikhism have since 1469 defined and preached the principles of interfaith respect, dialogue and harmony. A Sikh by definition must respect and accept all other world religions. Further, the Sikh must protect, guard and allow the free-practise of the customs and rituals of other religions.

The following are remarks made by distinguished personalities about the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and its interfaith message:

Arnold Toynbee: The Adi Granth is remarkable for several reasons. Of all known religious scriptures this book is the most highly venerated.

Pearl S. Buck: They (the Sikh Scriptures) speak to persons of any religion or of none. They speak for the human heart and the searching mind.

Dr. S. Radhaknshnan: The barriers of seas and mountains will give way before the call of eternal truth which is set forth with freshness of feelings and fervour of devotion in the Adi Granth.

J.C.Archer: The religion of Guru Granth Sahib is a universal and practical religion... The world needs today its message of peace and love.

Dorothy Field: The main doctrine of the Sikhs is contained in Guru Granth Sahib and these concern God, His nature and attributes, and the means by which salvation may be attained.

The SGGS says on page 142:

Without the Lord’s Name, life is worthless.

Through doubt, the people are being destroyed.
One who recognizes that all spiritual paths lead to the One shall be emancipated.
One who speaks lies shall fall into hell and burn.
In the entire world, the most blessed and sanctified are those who remain absorbed in Truth.
One who eliminates selfishness and conceit is redeemed in the Court of the Lord. ((9))

Sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur

The ninth Guru or Prophet of the Sikhs, Guru Teg Bahadur sacrificed his own life to protect the well-being of the Kashmiri Pandits or Hindus. In 1675, the Sikh's beloved Guru was publicly beheaded in Delhi by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb for not changing his faith. Before Guru Ji's demise, Guru Ji said “Hinduism may not be my faith, and I may not believe in various Hindu traditions like idol worship, caste system, pilgrimages and other rituals, but I will fight for the right of all Hindus and all other peoples of the world to live with honour and to practice their faith according to their own beliefs.”

This has set a precedence and Sikhs are bound by the Guru's teaching to respect and protect the rights of all other faiths – The principle of Interfaith dialogue was thus established by the Ten Gurus of Sikhism. It is also important to note that the Sikh Gurus were helped and assisted throughout history by people of other faiths. These associates on the whole have kept their original religions and in some cases, the Gurus have carried out the last rites according to the original faiths of these associates. Obvoiusly, many of these associates have frequently made the decision to choose Sikhism as their new faith.

Companions of Guru Nanak Dev

As an example, Bhai Mardana, who was a Muslim and Bhai Bala, who was a Hindu were two associates and companions of Guru Nanak. Both of them observed their own faiths and continued to practise their respective religions while accompanying Guruji on his travels spanning several decades. In case of Baba Mardana, on his death, Gurus performed the last rites as per the Muslim custom. This demonstrates the complete acceptance and respect by the Sikh Gurus for other religions. To the Muslims and Christians, the Guru advises:

SGGS Page 1083 Full Shabad
Practice within your heart the teachings of the Koran and the Bible;

restrain the ten sensory organs from straying into evil.
Tie up the five demons of desire with faith, charity and contentment and you shall be acceptable. ((4))

To the people who wish to criticise the holy books of the various religions, Guru ji says:

SGGS Page 1350 Full Shabad
Do not say that the Vedas, the Bible and the Koran are false. Those who do not contemplate them are false.

Golden Temple

The foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid by Hazrat Mian Mir Ji, a Muslim and an associate of Guru Arjan Dev. The pool adjoining the Golden Temple complex is named after a Muslim devotee called Mata Kaulan, who had given assistance to Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh Guru. I believe that this is the first time in world history that a Muslim woman has been given such respect by a recognised body.

The following article gives details about this pool (sarovar) named after a Muslim woman:

The kar seva of the first-ever sarovar named after a Muslim woman, Mata Kaulan, adjoining the Golden Temple, will start next week.

Significance of Gurdwara Mata Kaulan and Kaulsar sarovar could be adjudged from the fact that Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh guru, had directed the devotees to take dip in Kaulsar before the Golden Temple sarovar. Now the sarovar at Gurdwara Kaulsar would also get filtered water as both the gurdwaras receive water from the common source.

The second phase of the kar seva of the Golden Temple and Kaulsar “sarovar’s would be launched simultaneously. The kar seva of Kaulsar is being undertaken after a gap of three decades.

Mata Kaulan, against whom qazi had pronounced death sentence for showing devotion to Sikh gurus, was brought here discreetly by Saint Mian Mir who had laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple. Mata Kaulan, who was allotted a special place near the Golden Temple and Baba Atal, spent her entire life there before breathing her last at Kartarpur.

Excavation of Kaulsar was started in 1624 AD which was completed in 1627 AD under the supervision of Baba Budha ji, first head granthi of the Harimandir Sahib.

Baba Amrik Singh, a representative of Baba Jagtar Singh of kar sewa wale, said kar seva of Kaulsar and second phase of the Golden Temple sarvovar would be completed in less than 24 hours after start of the de-silting operation scheduled for next week.

Meanwhile, fish of the sarovar of the Golden Temple had been transferred to the sarovars of Gurdwara Bibeksar and Gurdwara Ramsar, paving the way for launching of the second phase of kar seva.

Kaulsar is one of the five holy tanks of Amritsar city including Santokhsar, Bibeksar, Ramsar and the Golden Temple.

The above articles from the Tribune / online edition: Mata Kaulan’s Sarovar on Sunday, March 28, 2004, Chandigarh, India

Bhai Kanhaiya

Further, Bhai Kanhaiya ji was a Sikh of Guru Tegh Bahadur who established the institute of ‘Sevapanthi’ (later called ‘Addanshahi’) sect of the Sikhs. He was born in Sodhara near Wazirabad in Sialkot District (now in Pakistan) of a wealthy family and left home when still young and travelled with yogis and other religious groups. When he met Guru Ji, he became a Sikh and settled down. Bhai Kanhaiya set up a religious centre at Kavha village, Attock District (now in Pakistan) from where he spread the Guru's message and preached Sikhism to the local people. His special mission was the performance of selfless service (Sewa) to humanity with no distinction of nationality, caste or creed. In 1705 CE when on a visit to Anandpur he found the area entrenched in battle with a combination of hill troops of Hindu Rajas and the Mughal imperial army soldiers ‘littering’ the countryside with wounded and dying people. After the frequent skirmishes, Bhai Kanhaiya would roam around serving water to the wounded and the dying both friend and foe.

This upset some Sikhs who complained to Guru Gobind Singh that Bhai Kanhaiya had been resuscitating the fallen enemy soldiers. Guru Gobind Singh summoned Bhai Kanhaiya and explained that he had received a complaint about his actions on the battlefield. Guru ji said, “These brave Sikhs are saying that you go and feed water to the enemy and they recover to fight them again – Is this true?” Bhai Kanhaiya Ji replied "Yes, my Guru, what they said is true. But Maharaj, I saw no Mughal or Sikh in the battlefield. I only saw human beings and they all have the same God’s Spirit – Guruji have not taught us to treat all Gods people as the same?" The Guru was very pleased with the reply. He blessed him and told the Sikhs that Bhai Kanhaiya had understood his teachings correctly. Guru also gave him medical Balm and said “From, now also put this on the wounds of all who need it”

Sadly, Bhai Kanhaiya died in 1718 CE after retiring to Sodhara. His example, as a forerunner of the present day Red Cross, is a tribute to the universal message of compassion and kindness to all.

Tribute by Miss Pearl S Buck

Miss Pearl S. Buck, a Nobel laureate, gives the following comment on receiving the First English translation of the Guru Granth Sahib (The Sikh Holy Book):

.... I have studied the scriptures of the great religions, but I do not find elsewhere the same power of appeal to the heart and mind as I find here in these volumes. They are compact in spite of their length, and are a revelation of the vast reach of the human heart, varying from the most noble concept of God, to the recognition and indeed the insistence upon the practical needs of the human body. There is something strangely modern about these scriptures and this puzzles me until I learned that they are in fact comparatively modern, compiled as late as the 16th century, when explorers were beginning to discover the globe, upon which we all live is a single entity divided only by arbitrary lives of our own making. Perhaps this sense of unity is the source of power I find in these volumes. They speak to a person of any religion or of none*. They speak for the human heart and the searching mind. ...

(From the foreword to the English translation of the Guru Granth Sahib by Gopal Singh M.A. Ph.D. 1960) (* Bold by editor)

External Links

Audio Links

Network of International Interfaith Organisations

The following modern organisations are playing an important part in uniting the thought-processes in the Interfaith movement so that the ideals of this movement can be advanced.

Council for a Parliament of World Religions (CPWR) 70 East Lake, #205, Chicago 60601, USA. Tel: 001 312 6292 990. Fax: + 991. E-mail: Web: Are holding a very important Forum 2004 in Barcelona, Spain during the period 7 July to 13 July 2004 to debate various issues relevant to Interfaith dialogue.

World Congress of Faiths,London Inter Faith Centre, 125 Salusbury Rd, London, NW6 6RG, UK. Telephone +44 (0) 20 895 93129 +44 (0) 1403 257 801 Fax +44 (0) 208 959 3129 E mail: General Enquiries: Membership Enquires: Interreligious Insight Editor: WCF Chair: Web:

International Interfaith Centre 2 Market Street, Oxford, OX1 3EF, UK Tel: +44(0)1865 202745; Fax: +44(0)1865 202746 E-mail:

The Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom 8A Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EN Phone: 020 7931 7766 Fax:: 020 7931 7722 Email address: Web address:

International Association for Religious Freedom 2 Market Street, Oxford OX1 3EF UK. Tel: 0044 1865 202744 Fax: + 46 E-mail: Web:

World Conference Of Religions For Peace 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA. Tel: 001 212 687-2163 Fax: + 983-0566. E-mail: Web:

World Faiths Development Dialogue Elmfield House, University of Birmingham, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6LQ UK. Tel. +44 121 415 8357; Fax + 8358. E-mail: Web:

Interfaith Youth Core 1111 N Wells, Suite 501, Chicago, IL 60610, USA. Tel 001 312-573-8825 E-mail: Web:

Millennium World Peace Summit 301 East 57th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10022, USA. Tel: 001 212-593-6438. Fax: + 6345 Email: Web:

Minorities of Europe 40 Stoke Row, Coventry CV2 4JP, UK.. Tel/fax: 0044 24 7644 3475. E-mail: Web:

United Religions Initiative P.O. Box 29242, San Francisco, California 94129, USA. Tel: 1-415-561-2300 Fax: + 2313 E-mail: Web:

World Fellowship of Inter-Religious Councils Fr. Albert Nambiaparambil, Upasana, Thodupuzla, Kerala 685584, India. Tel: 0091 4862 223286 Fax: + 225473 mobile 9847387073 E-mail:

Peace Council 2702 International Lane #108, Madison, 53704 WI, USA. Tel: 001 608 241 2200 Fax: + 2209 E-mail: Web:

Spiritual Forum for World Peace at the United Nation Dr Gerardo Gonzalez, Project Director, Via Verde 9440, (Lo Curro) Vitacura, Santiago, Chile. Tel/fax: 0056 2 2185578. E-mail:

Temple of Understanding 720 Fifth Avenue, 16th floor, New York 10019, USA Tel: 001 212 246 2746, fax 2340 E-mail: Web:

Global Peace Works the interfaith charitable service organization

North London Interfaith Email: Web:

This page uses content from the English Sikhi Wiki. The original article was at Interfaith. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the Religion-wiki, the text of Sikhi Wiki is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.