The Sikh Movement

  • In the northern India, Nanak was another religious teacher who was as important as Kabir. Nanak had founded the Sikh religion and became popular as Guru Nanak.
  • Probably, Nanak was the son of a village accountant and born and lived in Punjab region.
  • Nanak left his job and travelled across the country. Finally, he returned and settled down at Kartarpur now called Dera Baba Nanak.
  • Guru Nanak’s teachings (which available in the form of verses) are included in a scripture, named as the Adi Granth. Adi Granth was compiled by his fourth successor in the early 17th century.
  • Guru Nanak insisted that his followers must be willing to eat in a common kitchen i.e. langar. Likewise, he promoted unity irrespective of the caste.
  • Guru Nanak grouped his followers together and before his death, he appointed a guru to be their leader.
  • The followers of the tenth guru came to be known as the ‘Khalsa,’ which means “the pure”.
  • In the seventeenth century, the Khalsa had become a strong military group. It was the time when the Sikhs distinguished themselves from other people by the means of five characteristics (popular as ‘5Ks’), namely −
    • Kesha (hair),
    • Kangha (comb),
    • Kara (iron bracelet),
    • Kripan (dagger), and
    • Kachchha (under-wear).
  • The bhakti movement was not only a religious movement, but rather it also influenced social ideas. The earlier bhakti teachers such as those of the Tamil devotional cult and saints such as Chaitanya were largely concerned with religion.
  • Kabir and Nanak, in particular, also had ideas on how society should be organized. They both objected to the division of society on the caste basis. They also refuted the low status given to women. They encouraged women to join their menfolk in various activities.
  • When the followers of Kabir and Nanak gathered together, women were included in the gathering.
  • Mirabai, who was a princess, from Rajasthan, had given up her life of luxury and became a devotee of Krishna.
  • Mirabai composed some of the finest hymns dedicated (largely) to Krishna.