The Sikh Faith and Academic Life

At many universities, the wave to achieve academic merit can often sweep students away. In many instances, advancement in today's modern world becomes a domineering focus in many aspects of life. Religion and faith seem to have little place in the academic struggle, as religious principles may seemingly hinder the attainment of one's goals. However, the creation of a medium between faith and academic pursuits may be more fulfilling in the long run.

Born and raised as a Sikh, my views on life have always been unique. Sikhism emerged out of the Bhakti movement in the fifteenth century by the first of the Sikh Gurus, Guru Nanak. In an Indian subcontinent with established religions such as Hinduism and Islam, Sikhism gained a unique practical view towards life. Sikhism wanted to distinguish itself from the other ritualistic religions of Guru Nanak's time. The Sikh religion advocates the oneness of God and God-realization in a householder's life. With a constant remembrance of the Creator, one should live a life of humility, contentment, service, and right conduct. The ultimate goal of Sikhism consists of overcoming a self-reliant, worldly approach, which results in an attachment to temporal values.

Many of the principles of Sikhism are difficult to uphold in today's world, as my own striving to uphold the Sikh values has frustrated me many a time. With the pursuit of academic goals, we often forget the tenets of our respective religions. However, religious faith can serve as an aid to achieve satisfying interactions in society. Sikhism believes in truthful living as one of the highest virtues. Truthfulness and kindness are two qualities that can be greatly applied in an academic environment. A more comprehensive approach to learning can help one perform better academically and at the same time leave them more satisfied with the results of their academic endeavours. 

One's outlook towards academics often spills into other spheres of life. To face the daily academic hurdles, reflecting on one's religious faith may be a comforting tool. For instance, many Sikhs find relaxation with the repetition of the phrase "Wahiguru Satnam" - Wonderful Truth. The nature of God is identified with Ultimate Reality. As well, visiting the simplistic Sikh Gurdwara, the House of Worship, can help a Sikh refocus on the purpose of his/her existence. The Sikh Gurdwaras are primarily congregational worship institutions where the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Scripture) is of primal importance. The Granth was given eternal Guruship be the 10th Sikh Guru and it is acknowledged as the source of spirituality for the Sikhs. In every religion, reflection on faith can be used to help achieve a better outlook towards academics, and ultimately, life.


Radix article, originally published in April 2004 by Gurinder Samrai

For more information about Sikhism at McGill, contact Dr. Juss Kaur, the Sikh faith liaison/volunteer at MORSL, by jussrani [at] (email).

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