Is not Sikhism just another religion? Don't all religions preach the path to God?

Why did Guru Teg Bahadur sacrifice his life for the Hindus, when Sikhism does not encourage the practice of Hindu rituals?

According to the popular perception, religions may be divided into two groups on the bases of the definition of God and the mission of human life:

i) God can be realized through our faith alone. Unless you belong to our faith you will go to Hell. The only key to the Heaven is with out prophet. For entering Heaven, people must accept our faith.

ii) God is Father/ Mother of all people and loves every human being; He/She belongs to everyone, believers (whatever their faith) and nonbelievers. There is no place called "Heaven" into which people of a particular faith only would be allowed. Anyone, who loves God, by whatever Name Allah, Ram, Hari, Guru, Jesus etc. lives in Heaven (while living in this world) and realizes God.

There is also a third group, (it includes Buddhism and Jainism) who do not require belief in the existence of God. This group is not included in this discussion.

Sikhism alone belongs to group (ii). Hence, it is basically different from all faiths. Other faiths, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, belong to group (i).

While followers of other religious wish to reach Heaven, Sikhism says Heaven or Hell are not physical places where the souls are destined to go after people die. The devotees who love God and "see" Him pervading everywhere enjoy "True Heaven" while living here in this world. They have no desire for an assumed place called Heaven.

Thus, Gurbaani explains that when we love God, and sing His virtues, we are in Heaven. When we turn our back to Him and get involved in lust, ego, greed, anger, etc. we suffer Hell here in this very life.

Sikhism does not claim exclusive rights to God. It accepts that God belongs to everyone, believers and nonbelievers. Anyone, a Hindu, a Muslim, etc. who loves Him realizes Him.

Let us understand that morality and ethics (one should be truthful, sincere, humble, and helpful) are the same in all faiths. Rituals have little value. It is the definition of God and the mission of human life which determine the nature of a faith.

To explain this: in any government, be it a republic, a dictatorship, or a kingship, people doing good deeds are honored and those committing wrong actions are punished. However, the three governments have different kinds of constitutions and permit different human rights to their citizens. Similarly, morality and ethics are basically the same in all religions but they differ regarding the definition of God and the mission of human life. Other religions claim a franchise on God and His "Heaven" while Sikhism teaches He is our common Factor; we all are equal in His Court.

Sikh faith recognizes the right of every human being to love God by any name and by any method one likes. No one, not even a king, has a right to force one's own chosen Name or method to love God on people of other faiths. In Guru Granth Sahib all the names of the Almighty, whether adopted by Hindus, Muslims, or Yogis were accepted as His Names to be loved by people according to their choice. Guru Teg Bahadur protested against state oppression, which included the threat of death, to forcibly convert Hindus to Islam. He scarified his life to protect the human rights of the people to remember God by any Name, Ram or Krishan, they love. This is the basic principle a Sikh is to believe and practice, and for which the Guru offered his head. Thinking that the Guru gave his life to protect the religion of Hindus is belittling his sacrifice.

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