Sikhism (/ˈsɪkᵻzəm/), or Sikhi (Punjabi: ਸਿੱਖੀSikkhī, pronounced , from Sikh, meaning a “disciple”, or a “learner”), is a monotheistic religion originated in the Punjab region of the Indian Subcontinent during the 15th century.The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include faith and meditation on the name of the one creator, unity and equality of all humankind, engaging in selfless service, striving for social justice for the benefit and prosperity of all, and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder’s life. Being one of the youngest amongst the major world religions, with 25-28 million adherents worldwide, Sikhism is the ninth-largest religion in the world.
Sikhism is based on the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak, the first Guru, and the ten successive Sikh gurus. After the death of the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, became the literal embodiment of the eternal, impersonal Guru, where the scripture’s word serves as the spiritual guide for Sikhs. An Indian religion, Sikhism rejects claims that any particular religious tradition has a monopoly on Absolute Truth.
Sikhism emphasizes simran (meditation on the words of the Guru Granth Sahib), that can be expressed musically through kirtan or internally through Nam Japo (repeat God’s name) as a means to feel God’s presence, and to have control over the “Five Thieves” (lust, rage, greed, attachment and conceit). Hand in hand, secular life is considered to be intertwined with the spiritual life. Guru Nanak taught that living an “active, creative, and practical life” of “truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity” is above the metaphysical truth, and that the ideal man is one who “establishes union with God, knows His Will, and carries out that Will”. He also established the system of the langar, or communal kitchen, in order to demonstrate the need to share and have equality between all people. Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh Guru, established the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms to be mutually coexistent.
The development of Sikhism was influenced by the Bhakti movement, however, Sikhism was not simply an extension of the Bhakti movement. Sikhism developed while the region was being ruled by the Mughal Empire. Two of the Sikh gurus – Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur, after they refused to convert to Islam, were tortured and executed by the Mughal rulers. The Islamic era persecution of Sikhs triggered the founding of the Khalsa, as an order for freedom of conscience and religion. A Sikh is expected to embody the qualities of a “Sant-Sipāhī” – a saint-soldier.
(continued at : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikhism)