688. Are there any sects in Sikhism ?

Yes, there are a few sects in Sikhism who have some dif- ferences with one another. The differences are the result of following different personalities who happened to guide the Sikhs after the Gurus. Bandais follow Banda Singh, Nam Dharis follow Baba Ram Singh, Bhasauria Sikhs follow Babu Teja Singh. Essentially all Sikhs believe in the Gurus and the philosophy expounded by the Gurus in the Holy Granth Sahib. The differences are more of a superficial nature than theological.

689. Can you sum up Sikhism in a few words ?

Sikhism is essentially a practical religion and a way of life. It proclaims human equality, futility of caste, sex and race prejudice, fruitlessness of idol-worship and discredits claims to God-ship. It lays stress on the worship of ONE GOD and the living of a high spiritual life based on the principles laid down, and practically demonstrated, by the Gurus in their lives on this earth.

690. Can you name some of the frequently used Sikh Scriptures ?

The most commonly used scriptures is The Guru Granth Sahib which contains the hymns of 6 Gurus, 15 Bhagats (saints) of various religions and some minstrels. It was first compiled by Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Guru in 1604 and was later updated by Guru Gobind Singh in 1708 before his death. Guru Gobind Singh declared it as the final and eternal Guru of the Sikhs. In its final shape it has 1430 pages. Next in importance is the Dasam Granth. It was edited by a devoted Sikh named Bhai Mani Singh after the death of Guru Gobind Singh. It has 1429 pages and contains the writings of Guru Gobind Singh and his contemporary Sikh poets. Other books which are permitted to be used and quoted in the Sikh service are (a) var's (Balads) of Bhai Gurdas and (b) writings of Bhai Nand Lal available as "Kalam Bhai Nand Lal"

691. Which places are sacred for the Sikhs ?

The Sikhs do not accept any place as sacred in the sense that a particular place is the only abode of God. For them every Gurdwara is a sacred place. However they consider the places sanctified by their Guru's as the most sacred places. Nanakana Sahib, Panja Sahib, and Kartar Pur are associated with Guru N anak and Dera Sahib Lahore is the place of mar- tyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev. They are all in Pakistan now. Harimandir (Golden Temple) in Amritsar is perhaps the most revered place for the Sikhs all over the world. Akal Takhat (Amritsar), Kes Garh (Anand Pur), Hazur Sahib, Patna Sahib and Damdama Sahib are the five Takhats (seats of authority) of the Sikhs and are in India. These are the most prominent places. There are thousands of other places sanctified by the Sikh Gurus.