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Doris R. Jakobsh

Publication Year: 2012

This volume offers a comprehensive overview of Sikhism, which originated in India's Punjab region five hundred years ago. As the numbers of Sikhs settling outside of India continues to grow, it is necessary to examine this religion both in its Indian context and as an increasingly global tradition. While acknowledging the centrality of history and text in understanding the main tenets of Sikhism, Doris Jakobsh highlights the religion's origins and development as a living spiritual tradition in communities around the world. She pays careful attention to particular events, movements, and individuals that have contributed to important changes within the tradition and challenges stereotypical notions of Sikh homogeneity and stasis, addressing the plurality of identities within the Sikh tradition, both historically and within the contemporary milieu.

Extensive attention is paid to the role of women as well as the dominant social and kinship structures undergirding Punjabi Sikh society, many of which have been widely transplanted through Sikh migration. The migration patterns are themselves examined, with particular focus on Sikh communities in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Finally, the volume concludes with a brief exploration of Sikhs and the Internet and the future of Sikhism.

10 illus.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Series: Dimensions of Asian Spirituality


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pp. v

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Editor’s Preface

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pp. vii-xi

The University of Hawai‘i Press has long been noted for its scholarly publications in, and commitment to, the field of Asian studies. This series, Dimensions of Asian Spirituality, is in keeping with that commitment. It is a most appropriate time for such a series. ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

Let me begin by thanking Henry Rosemont for his kind invitation to contribute to the Dimensions of Asian Spirituality series, an invitation that came with clearly defined boundaries, equally clear expectations of the series as a whole, alongside concise guidelines accompanying each volume in the series. ...


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pp. xv

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pp. xvii-xxi

The idea for this book came while I was listening to a concert in Delhi highlighting some of the ancient musical instruments of India, in particular the rabaab, a stringed instrument of exquisite sound and beauty. Its haunting notes transported me back five hundred years to the very beginnings of the religion ...

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Chapter 1 The Sources of the Sikh Tradition

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pp. 1-7

Scholars of Sikhism generally turn to the Sikh scripture known as the Adi Granth (Original Volume). Sikhs refer to this scripture as the Guru Granth Sahib or Sri Guru Granth Sahib. They view their scripture as much more than a mere book; it is the abode of the gurus, the repository of the words of Akal Purakh ...

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Chapter 2 Sikh History

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pp. 8-47

The writing of history is a difficult, complex activity. Different assessments of what is historically accurate tend to offer varied accounts of what actually took place in a particular community or religion. For historians, the factuality of an incident or event is obviously central. Attempts are made to analyze ...

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Chapter 3 Sikh Beliefs, Institutions, and Rituals

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pp. 48-71

Central to Sikh teachings is the belief in the oneness of God. Yet the Sikh gurus used a variety of names for the divine from both the Hindu and Muslim traditions. Common names for the Ultimate used by the gurus included Formless One, Nirgun, and Akal Purakh, Eternal Being. According to their teachings, ...

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Chapter 4 Sikh Society

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pp. 72-83

Visitors to Punjab are often amazed at the warmth and openness of its people. My family and I have been welcomed into strangers’ homes and enjoyed hearty meals cooked on the spot for us on countless occasions. The work ethic that Punjabis take great pride in is apparent as one drives through the thriving farmlands ...

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Chapter 5 The Sikh Diaspora

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pp. 84-104

This chapter examines the three countries with the largest Sikh communities outside Punjab, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, with emphasis on key landmarks of Sikh migration to each of these host countries. I begin with a brief overview of a number of dominant characteristics of Sikh diasporic ...

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Chapter 6 Sikh Diversity

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pp. 105-111

There have been differences in Sikh identity and Sikh loyalties since the time of the living gurus. Although the Khalsa Sikh identity has often been presented as normative and the only authentic expression of what constitutes Sikh identity, there is no such consensus in this regard among Sikhs. The term “sect” is often applied ...

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Chapter 7 Conclusion: Sikhs in the Twenty-first Century

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pp. 112-118

Sikhism in the twenty-first century is entering a new era that promises to be both challenging and rewarding. In terms of numbers, Sikhism has now replaced Judaism as the fifth largest religion worldwide. The regional character of Sikhism is being altered by characteristic migration patterns of Sikhs worldwide. ...

Sources Cited and Recommended Readings

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pp. 119-124


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pp. 125-134

E-ISBN-13: 9780824860349
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824835330

Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Dimensions of Asian Spirituality