Glossary of Sikhism




Adi Granth
("the primal book") The Sikh sacred text, also known as the Guru Granth Sahib.
Adiguru
("original teacher") God.
amrit
("immortal" or "undying") Holy, sweetened water used for initiation into the Khalsa.
Amritsar
("Lake of Immortality") Pool of water surrounding the Golden Temple.
Ardhangi
("the better half") Women.
chauri
Ceremonial whisk waved above the scriptures as a sign of respect.
Five Ks
Five items always worn by devout Sikhs: Kesh (uncut hair), Kangha (comb), Kirpan (steel dagger), Kara (steel bracelet), Kachh (undergarment).
gatka
Sikh martial art.
granthi
Sikh official who reads from the Guru Granth Sahib at the gurdwara and also looks after the gurdwara.




gurdwara
Sikh temple.
gurmukh
One who is devoted to God.
gurpurbs
Festivals marking the birth or martyrdom of a Guru.
guru
("weighty one") In Indian religion, a spiritual guide. In Sikhism, only God, one of the ten Gurus, or the sacred book (Guru Granth Sahib) may be called Guru.
Gutka
Small manual for home use, containing passages of the Adi Granth used in daily prayer. It is used instead of the Adi Granth itself because of the many rituals that must accompany the use of the Adi Granth.
hukam
God's will.
haumai
Egoism.
Ik Onkar
Affirmation that "There is one God."
Janamsakhis
Reverent accounts of Guru Nanak's life.
kachh
Undergarment (cotton shorts) that is suitable for battle, symbolizing moral strength and chastity. One of the Five Ks of the Khalsa.
karha parshad
Sacred pudding eaten on special occasions.
karma
As in Hinduism, the moral law of cause and effect.
katha
Sikh sermon.
Khalsa
("pure"). Dedicated Sikh community founded by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 in response to continual persecution by Mughal authorities. The Khalsa underwent an initiation ritual of baptism and wore the Five Ks.
khanda
Symbol of the Khalsa.
kirpan
Ceremonial steel dagger symbolizing determination to defend the truth. One of the Five Ks of the Khalsa.
kirtan
The singing of hymns.
langar
(Also called Guru-ka-Langar). Communal vegetarian meal in which all participants sit on the floor to symbolize equality.
mala
Prayer beads.
manmukh
A wrong-doer; one who indulges in the five deadly evils and is lost in maya.
maya
The error of placing value on material things over the spiritual.
melas
Sikh fairs.
mukat
Crown-shaped hat worn by Guru Nanak in artistic depictions.
Mul Mantra
("Root Belief"). Morning prayer composed by Guru Nanak.
nam kiran
Ritual of naming a child.
nam simaran
("remembrance of the name") Sikh meditation.
patit
("renegade"). A Khalsa who cuts off his hair.
prasad
Divine help; grace.
sahajdhari
("slow-adopter"). Someone preparing himself gradually for initation into the Khalsa.
sahib
Title of respect used for people, places and things (e.g. Guru Granth Sahib).
sachkand
Utter bliss; liberation from rebirth.
seli
Beaded necklace traditionally worn by ascetics. Guru Nanak nearly always wears a seli in artistic depictions.
sikh
Disciple or learner.
seva
Community service, a central value in Sikhism.
vak
Practice of opening the Adi Granth at random and reading from the left-hand page to obtain guidance.

Sources

  1. John Bowker, ed., The Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Religions (Oxford, 2000).
  2. John Bowker, ed., World Religions (DK Publishing, 1997).
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