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Religion Library: Sikhism

Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence

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The looming moment of death is a constant theme in Guru Nanak's compositions. According to Guru Nanak, death provides an opportunity to reap the good that one has sown in life. The "call" of death (sadd) will come suddenly, so individuals must be ever vigilant for it. This provides each person with his or her own personal day of reckoning, from which no one is exempt. Guru Nanak taught that accounts (lekh) of good and bad (bura bhalla) are kept, and that they must be faced in Kartar's everlasting court after death (GG 1110).

In sum, Sikhs believe that human existence is good and a gift from Kartar. Human life ought to be dedicated to realizing Kartar's grace and attaining liberation. Though this endeavor can be thwarted by the pitfalls of the human's own mind, these obstacles can be circumvented by walking the path of the pious and seeking the Guru's shelter. The Guru provides the knowledge and wisdom, via the Shabad (the divine word), that one needs to walk the straight path of ethical living. This kind of life inspires the mind to speak sweetly and act rightly, ensuring a favorable result in the hereafter.

Study Questions:
1.     What does Guru Nanak think will help people to find the truth?
2.     What is the ideal for human life in Sikh belief?
3.     What does Guru Nanak write about death?
4.     What should humans strive for in this life?