FOUNDED: Sikhism began about 500 years ago in the Lahore area of India's Punjab region which is now in Pakistan.
FOUNDER: Guru Nanak.
MAJOR SCRIPTURE: The Adi Granth, revered as the present guru of the faith.
ADHERENTS: Estimated at nine million, mostly in India's state of Punjab.
SECTS: Besides the Khalsa, there are the Ram Raiyas in Uttar Pradesh and two groups that have living gurus -- Mandharis and Nirankaris.
To lead man to the goal of moksha, Sikhism follows a path of japa and hymns. Through chanting of the Holy Names, Sat Nam, the soul is cleansed of its impurity, the ego is conquered and the wandering mind is stilled. This leads to a superconscious stillness. From here one enters into the divine light and thus attains the state of divine bliss. Once this highest goal is attained, the devotee must devote his awareness to the good of others. The highest goal can be realized only by God's grace, and this is obtained exclusively by following the satguru (or nowadays a sant, or saint, since there are no living gurus, by the edict of Govind Singh, the tenth and last guru) and by repeating the holy names of the Lord guided by the Adi Granth, the scripture and sole repository of spiritual authority. For Sikhs there is no image worship, no symbol of Divinity.
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