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Welcome to the WCSYA Glossary!
We hope this collection of definitions is helpful to you in your learning path. If you have any suggestions, comments or definitions to offer us, please e-mail the WCYSA Volunteers at info@wcsya.org

SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT "EVENTS": In Sikhi, every year, month, week, day, hour, minute and second are JUST AS IMPORTANT as the next, because we can never determine the exact time of our death or any incident in our lives. Sikhs do not believe in superstitions or ritualistic practices. Therefore, when many faiths celebrate special events, such as Diwali or Christmas, Sikhs take advantage of the community happiness, and gather to celebrate with the Guru's teachings instead. These principles show the respect and tolerance Sikhs have for other faiths, but also the sovereignty and individuality of Sikh teaching.
 

 

Click on any letter to view terms beginning with that letter

| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |


A

Adi Granth
Adi means first, Adi Granth is the first edition of the Guru Granth Sahib as was compiled by Guru Arjun in 1604.
Akal Purukh
It means Timeless One, or The Being Beyond Time and is applied as a name of God.
Akhand Path
An uniterupted continous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib. It is undertaken by a team of readers and takes approximately 48 hours.
Amrit
It means nectar. It is sugar water which is used during the Khalsa initiation ceremony.
Amrit Bani
A term applied to the Sikh Scriptures, meaning the words are as sweet as nectar (amrit).
Amrit Vaila
The early morning hours of dawn. This is considered an auspicious time for meditation and prayer as stressed by Guru Nanak.
Amritdhari
A Sikh who has undergone the Khalsa initiation ceremony.
Anand
A state of bliss which defies description. It is also the name of a composition by Guru Amar Das found on pg. 917 of the Guru Granth Sahib.
Anand Karaj
The marriage ceremony reserved for a Sikh, as defined by the Guru's teachings.
Anand Sahib
Composition by Guru Amar Das found on page 917 of the Guru Granth Sahib. Parts of it are used in a number of Sikh ceremonies.
Asa Di Var
A collection of hymns ment to be sung at dawn.
Atma
The soul which is considered immortal.

B
Baisakhi
The celebration which takes place every April 13th. Guru Amar Das Jee recognized that Baisakhi (or "Vaisakhi") was the beginning of the harvest season for many people in India. He realized that this would be an opportunity for Sikhs to come together, and initiated the annual gathering of Sikhs at Goindwal in 1567. In 1699 Guru Gobind Singh Jee created the final image of a Sikh, the Khalsa, on the day of Baisakhi.
Barhmaha
Compositions about the twelve months. By Guru Arjun in Raga Majh, by Guru Nanak in Raga Tukhari and by Guru Gobind Singh in Krishavtar.
Bani
An abbriviation of Gurbani, applied to any of the writings which appear in the Guru Granth Sahib.
Benati
An appeal for assistance made to Sikhs world wide.
Bhog
 
The ceremony marking the conclusion of a Path.

C
Chaalee Muktay (Forty Liberated Ones)
These Forty Sikh men abandoned their Guru for the comforts of their homes and their sheltered lives. They were brought back to their senses, souls and their Guru by a courageous and brave Sikh woman, Mata Bhag Kaur. The Forty Sikhs fought valiently against the huge opposing forces and died in the battle of Muktsar in 1762 and were blessed by Guru Gobind Singh when their group leader requested the Guru to make them his Sikhs again. Mata Bhag Kaur was badly wounded in this battle where she lead the men, but survived and went on to be the Guru's bodyguard and sevadaar.
Chaupai
A four line stanza form used by some of the Gurus.
Chaur
Yak hair or manmade fiber embedded in a metal placed in a wooden handle. It is cerimonially waved over the Guru Granth Sahib as a symbol of respect.
Chela
A disciple of the guru, used in the Guru Granth Sahib to refer to Sikhs.
Chola
Clothing of the Gurus. Also applied to the coverings of the nishan sahib at a gurdwara.

D
Dasam Granth
The book of writings of Guru Gobind Singh compiled after his death by Bhai Mani Singh and finished in 1734.
Daswandh
Giving of one-tenth of ones income to charity.
Dharam Yudh
War in the defence of righteousness.
Dharma
Religion or teaching or lifestyle.
Diwali

In the time of Guru Amar Das jee, it was decided that Sikhs required a national holiday around the time of the hindu festival of Diwali. Guru jee recognized that since the rest of the locals celebrated during this time, the Sikhs could take this event and celebrate it for their own means. Otherwise, if people were discouraged from celebrating on this day, they would celebrate the event anyway according to Hindu rituals. Thus the celebration of Diwali came about, as a day when Sikhs would come together from their various homelands to reflect on the Guru's teachings in the presence of the Guru. Sikhs do not celebrate Diwali for any superstitious reason.

Diwan
Congregational worship where Guru Granth Sahib is present.

F

G
Gur Gadhi
The seat or throne of guruship.
Giani
A person of spiritual knowledge.
Granthi
One who performs the reading of the Guru Granth Sahib at religious occassions, it may be a man or women.
Gurbani
The writings of the Gurus.
Gurudwara
Name given to a Sikh temple. It means 'Gateway to the Guru'.
Gurmat
A general term for Sikhi, including the teachings of the Gurus, as well as the Rahit Maryada.
Gurmukh
Someone who has become God oriented and God filled instead of self centred (manmukh).
Gurmukhi
The written form of Punjabi used in the Sikh scriptures, propogated by Guru Nanak and Guru Angad.
Gurpurb

The anniversary of the beginning or completion of the physical existence of any Sikh Guru. This event is also named for the anniversary of the Gur Gadhee ceremony, or the day upon when the seat and title of the Guru was passed on.

Gutka
Book containing the daily prayers of the Sikhs.

H
Hankar
Pride, one of the five weaknesses.
Haumai
Pride 
Hola Mohalla
Annual spring gathering of Sikhs at Anandpur Sahib for sports contests, music and poetry compositions. The annual celebration was initiated by Guru Gobind Singh in 1680. Similar to other occasions, this event was created for Sikhs so that they could celebrate their faith during the time of the Hindu festival of Holi.
Hukam
The ordered will of God.
Hukamnama
Instructions issued by the Gurus, or other people in Sikh authority.

I
Ik Onkar
It is found at the beginning of the Mul Mantra meaning Their is Only One God.

J
Jap
Devout repetition of the divine name of God, or a scripture.
Jap Sahib
A composition of Guru Gobind Singh read by Sikhs as part of their daily prayers.
Jathedar
The appointed head of one of the five Sikh Takhts.

K
Kachha
Drawers or briefs. One of the five physical symbols that a Khalsa Sikh must wear. It is a symbol of self control.
Kalyug
An age in which righteousness and godliness is forgetten.
Kam
Lust, one of the five weaknesses.
Kanga
Comb, one of the five physical symbols that a Khalsa Sikh must wear. It is a symbol of hygiene and discipline.
Kara
Steel bracelet, one of the five physical symbols that a Khalsa Sikh must wear. It is a symbol of restraint and rememberance of God.
Karah Parshad
A standard dish served at religious ceremonies in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib and sanctified by prayers. It is a symbol of equality of all members of the congregation.
Kaur
The surname given to all Sikh women in the Khalsa initiation ceremony. Kaur means Prince and represents the fact that women are equal to sons of the Lion King Guru Gobind Singh. Being sovereign Khalsa women they shall not keep the surname of their husbands.
Katha
A religious lecture on Sikhi.
Kes
Uncut hair, one of the five physical symbols that a Khalsa Sikh must have. It is a symbol of spirituality.
Kesdhari
A Sikh who does not cut their hair, they may or may not be amritdhari.
Keski
Head covering worn between the turban and hair by some Sikhs. Also worn by some boys before they begin wearing turbans.
Kirpan
Sword, one of the five physical symbols that a Khalsa Sikh must wear. It is a symbol of the Sikh fight against injustice and religious oppression.
Kirtan
Musical rendering of Sikh gurbani.
Kirtan Sohila
Collection of 3 hymns by Guru Nanak, 1 by Guru Ram Das and 1 by Guru Arjun. It is recited as part of Nitnem at bed time and also forms part of the funeral rites.
Krodh
Anger, one of the five weaknesses.
Kurahts
The vows of abstinece that one takes on becomming a Khalsa. Not to cut your hair, not to eat muslim halal meat, adultury, intoxicants.

L
Langar
Free community kitchen found in all Sikh Gurdwaras. A cornersone of the Sikh religion and a symbol of equality, it was instituted by Guru Nanak.
Lawan
Circumventing the Guru Granth Sahib during the Sikh marriage ceremony. Also the name of the four stanza composition by Guru Ram Das found on page 773 of the Guru Granth Sahib.
Lobh
Greed, one of the five weaknesses.

M
Maghi
Sikh festival held annualy on January 14 to celebrate the memory of the marytordom of the Forty Immortals in battle at Muktsar.
Mahala
Used in the Guru Granth Sahib to indicate the author of a composition by the Gurus. Each Guru used the name Nanak, for example Mahala 5 is Guru Arjun, Mahala 3 is Guru Amardas.
Mala
A wool cord with knots used as an aid to prayer or meditation.
Manmukh
A person who is self-centered and has forgotten God and Guru; the opposite of a Gurmukh.
Matta tekna
  Bowing down and touching the floor with your forehead in front of the Guru Granth Sahib as a sign of respect to the Living Guru.
Maya
The dillusion of being wrapped up in the material world and attached to it.
Miri & Piri
The concept of spiritual and worldly matters. Sikhs are expected to maintain the balance between the two, this idea was introduced by Guru Hargobind and represented by two swords.

 

Misl

A fighting unit of the Sikh armies of the eighteenth century.

Mukhvaak

A shabd or message uttered through the mouth of the Guru. Guru Gobind Singh told his Sikhs that whenever they wanted to see him, they could see him through the Guru's mukhvaak, which was written as Gurbani.

Mukti
Spiritual liberation from the cycles of birth and death.
Mul Mantra
It is the opening lines of the Japji by Guru Nanak and the beginning of the Guru Granth Sahib. It is considered the cornerstone of Sikhi. "God is one. His name is True. He is the Creator. His is without fear. He is inimical to none. His existance is unlimited by time. He is beyond the cycles of birth and death, self existent and can be realized through the grace of the Guru."
Mundavani
The word means seal and refers to the concluding poem by Guru Arjun in the Guru Granth Sahib which describes the spiritual qualites of reading and following the Guru Granth Sahib.

N
Nagara
A kettledrum found in some gurdwaras and introduced by Guru Hargobind to be beaten when langer was ready. It is also a symbol of royal authority.
Nam
Name, name of God. Sikhi places emphasis on the rememberance of God through meditation on Gods name.
Nam Japna, Kirt Karna, Vand Chakna
Meditation on Gods name, honest work and giving to charity. Three fundamental requirements for Sikhs.
Nam Simran
The rememberance of God through meditation.
Nihang
An order of Sikhs who follow the soldier lifestyle of the time of Guru Gobind Singh. They wear blue robes and reject household comforts.
Nirguna
Applied to God meaning one without form or material attributes. God is considered beyond human knowledge and comprehension.
Nitnem
The daily prayers that Sikhs are expected to read. Nitnem consists of reading Japji of Guru Nanak, Jap and Ten Swayyas of Guru Gobind Singh in the morning; Rahiras, a collection of nine hymns by Guru Nanak, Guru Amar Das and Guru Arjun at sunset and Kirtan Sohila, five hymns by the same three Gurus at bedtime.

O
Ongkar
A divinely inspired term to reference to the Almighty, which can't be directly translated, but can be interpreted as The Distant & Nearby, Formed & Formless Infinite Creator & Creation.

P
Pada
Division of a hymn in the Guru Granth Sahib, it varies in length from one to four verses.
Palki
The wooden, golden or marble palaquin in which the Guru Granth Sahib is ceremonially installed.
Panj Kakaar
The five physical symbols which must be worn at all times by Khalsa Sikhs; kachha (briefs), kangha (comb), kara (steel bracelet), kes (unshorn hair) and kirpan (ceremonial sword).
Panj Piaras
The five beloved ones, referring to the first five Sikhs initiated into the Khalsa order by Guru Gobind Singh. Five Khalsa Sikhs are required for initiation of a new member.
Panth
The entire Sikh community.
Parkarma
The walkway around the sarovar (pool) found at many gurdwaras.
Patit
A Khalsa Sikh who has failed to live upto the vows of the Khalsa order.
Prakash Karna
The early morning ceremony when the Guru Granth Sahib is formally opened and the days worship begins.
Path
A reading of the Guru Granth Sahib.
Paudi
A stanza of the Guru Granth Sahib.
Pauri
Verses in the Guru Granth Sahib, their length and metre are both variable.
Phera
Circling of the Guru Granth Sahib during the wedding ceremony.
Pothi
A book or volume of religious hymns.

R
Rag
A tune or the series of five or more notes upon which it is based.
Rag Mala
The last composition in the Guru Granth Sahib. It is a listing of 84 rags used in Indian music in the early seventeenth century.
Ragi
A musician who sings the hymns of the Guru Granth Sahib in gurdwaras.
Rehras
A collection of 9 hymns, 4 by Guru Nanak, 3 by Guru Ram Das and 2 by Guru Arjun which are read at sunset as part of Nitnem.
Reht Nama and Reht Maryada
Reht Nama is a manual of conduct for Khalsa Sikhs. There are a number of them by various Sikhs dating back to the eighteenth century. In order to provide one consistent message, Panthic leaders came together and drafted the Sikh Reht Maryada which is published by the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in Amritsar.
Raj Karega Khalsa
The battle cry of the Sikhs, it is the concluding line of the daily prayer Ardas. Essentially it means that the divinity and purity within the Khalsa Nation shall outlive any opposition, and in the end the Khalsa shall rule.
 

Rakhree or Rakhee

Indian festival that Sikhs do NOT celebrate, because it demeans women and is superstitious.
Rumala
The cloth which is used ceremonially to cover the Guru Granth Sahib.

S
Sach Khand
The realm of truth, the final stage of spiritual ascent where the believer becomes one with God.
Sadh Sangat
The Sikh congregation or community.
Sahibzadas
The four sons of Guru Gobind Singh who all died as marytrs to the Sikh faith. Ajit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Zorawar Singh, Fateh Singh.
Sahaj Path
A non continuous reading of the entire Guru Granth Sahib over any period of time.
Sahib
Term of respect used for the Sikh Holy Book as well as applied to historical gurdwaras.
Sakhi
Story about a Guru.
Sangat
Congregation, surrounding of companions. Sat Sangat is the company of True Devotees of the Guru.
Sangrand
The first day of the month according to the Indian Bikramee calander. Sangraand should be no longer followed by Sikhs and is no longer relevant to Sikhs. Sikhs follow the Nanakshahi calendar, which is consistent with the Western Calandar.
Sant
A very pious being, completely devoted to God. Sikhs do not worship Sants, or follow in groups lead by Sants. True Sikhs do not profess themselves to be sants, and for a Sikh the only real Sant is the Guru Granth.
Sarbat Khalsa
A representative meeting of all the Sikhs to consider important matters related to the panth.
Saropa
A gift of honour presented by the Sikh community. Usually a length of cloth for tying a turban or a scarf worn over the shoulders.
Sarovar
The pool for bathing found at many gurdwaras.
Sat Guru
The True Enlightener.
Sat Sri Akal
The Sikh victory slogan meaning "Truth is the Supreme Immortal God".
Satyug
An era in which Truth prevails, the opposite of Kalyug.
Seva
Service to ones fellow beings, a cornerstone of Sikhi.
Seva Panthi
A Sikh whose life is devoted to the service of the Sikh community.
Shabad
The religious hymns contained in Sikh scriptures.
Shaheed
Title used before the name of someone who has died for the Sikh faith as a martyr.
Shlok
Couplet found in the Guru Granth Sahib.
Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (S.G.P.C.)
Committee which is supposed to oversee the administration of many Gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana & Himachal Pradesh. SGPC is also involved in publication and education related to Sikhi.
SIKH - WHAT IS A SIKH?
A Sikh is one who believes in the teachings of the 10 Gurus Nanak through Gobind Singh; who accepts Granth as the spiritual Guru and Panth (Punj Pyare - Five Beloveds) as the physical Guru; who follows the teachings of the Guru; who accepts and participates in the Khalsa initiation ceremony as given by the 10th Guru, Gobind Singh; and who claims allegiance to no other faith.
Sikhi (or Sikhee)
Sikh teachings. Sikhi.
Singh
The surname given to Sikh males in the Khalsa initiation ceremony. Singh means Lion, representing the fact that sons of the Lion King Guru Gobind Singh shall be graceful and sovereign just like their women counterparts.
Sukh Asan
The ceremony that takes place at the end of the day when the Guru Granth Sahib is formally closed for the night.
Sukhmani Sahib
A major composition of Guru Arjun found on page 262 of the Guru Granth Sahib.
Swayya
A group of hymns composed by Guru Gobind Singh and found in the Dasam Granth.

T
Takht
A seat of Sikh authority, there are five gurdwaras which are designated as takhts.
Tankhaiya
A person who has committed a religious offence meriting punishment.

V
Vaisakhi
See "Baisakhi"
Z
Zafarnama
The Letter of Victory written by Guru Gobind Singh J i.

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