The Origins And Development Of Sikhism
Sikhism is rooted in a particular religious experience, piety, and culture and informed by a unique inner revelation of its founder, Guru Nanak (1469–1539). It evolved in response to three main elements. The first of these was the ideology based on religious and cultural innovations of Guru Nanak and his nine successors. The second was the rural base of the Punjabi society. The third significant element was the period of Punjab history. All three elements combined to produce the mutual interaction between ideology and environment in the historical development of Sikhism.
During the period of the ten Gurus (Preceptors), three key events took place in the evolution of Sikhism. The first was the establishment of the first Sikh community at Kartarpur in west Punjab during the last two decades of Guru Nanak's life. To ensure its survival, Guru Nanak formally appointed a successor before he passed away in 1539. Thus, a lineage was established, and a legitimate succession was maintained intact from the appointment of the second Guru, Angad (1504–1552), to the death of Guru Gobind Singh (1666–1708), the tenth and the last Guru of the Sikhs. The second event was the compilation of the canonical scripture, the Adi Granth (AG) in 1604 by the fifth Guru, Arjan (1563–1606). It provided a framework for the shaping of the Sikh community. The third was the founding of the institution of the Khalsa (pure) by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699, an order of loyal Sikhs bound by common identity and discipline.
The inauguration of the Khalsa was the culmination of the canonical period of the development of Sikhism. The most visible symbols of Sikhism known as the Five Ks—namely uncut hair, a wrist ring, a short sword, a comb for the topknot, and breeches—are mandatory to the Khalsa. Guru Gobind Singh terminated the line of personal Gurus before he passed away in 1708, and installed the Adi Granth as Guru Eternal for the Sikhs. Thereafter, the authority of the Guru was to vest in the scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, and the corporate community itself.