His Teachings

Equality in Sikhism

The Sikh Holy Book and Guru Nanak’s Belief in Equality

The Sikh Holy Book

In the Sikh holy book, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Nanak says: 

“Accept all humans as your equals, and let them be your only sect.”  

Throughout his life, Guru Nanak emphasized that no person can be “above” any other person; all are a part of creation, and all are equally close to God. He rejected the caste system and the various ways humans divide themselves into categories on Earth, noting that the corporeal form is temporary, and that only the soul itself is eternal.

Rejecting the Caste System

When he was nine years old, Guru Nanak was expected to participate in a traditional Hindu ceremony called Upanayanam, during which he is given a thread called a janeu. However, just before the sacred thread was to be placed on him, Guru Nanak questioned the priest, asking him what the thread would accomplish. 

The priest replied that without the thread, Guru Nanak would be seen as a Sudar, someone of a lower caste. By accepting the thread, he would distinguish himself as a higher caste. Without it, he would not be able to receive an education, or find a bride. 

Guru Nanak rejected the thread, explaining that acting with honor would be the true sacred thread that would earn him admittance to a relationship with God. 

Today, followers of the Sikh holy book honor Guru Nanak’s teachings by rejecting ritual and superstition, instead positing that all people and places are equally close to God.

“There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim

Although Guru Nanak often challenged the status quo and objected to artificial divisions among people as he was growing up, it was not until he was around 18 years old that he had the experience that would transform him into the religious leader he became.

He was washing in the river when he went missing. For three days, no one knew where he had gone. When he returned, he was a changed man. His first words became legendary: “There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim,” he said, pronouncing his certainty that all people are one with each other and with God. 

Throughout his life, he continued to insist on the equality of all people, pointing out that the labels, status and divisions given to us in our lifetimes are temporary, whereas our souls are eternal. 

On Equality in Sikhism

Equality in Sikhism

Customs of Equality

Equality in Sikhism

Customs of Equality

Equality in Sikhism

Equality in Sikhism

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