Ethics and Community
In the face of the rigid Indian system of caste and class, Sikhs offer adherents a casteless and egalitarian social structure. Sikhs believe that any two Sikhs make up a congregation, and where as many as five gather, the divine is present. The immersion of the congregation in the Guru's teachings checks individual self-centeredness.
In the Sikh community, authority rests only in the Guru (who is a manifestation of the Divine will), the scripture, and the collectivity of the congregation. Thus there is no room for a formal priesthood. Typically custodians of the holy book, preachers, and musicians are afforded respect for their interaction with, and impartation of, divine revelation.
Principles of Moral Thought and Action
Sikhs strive to attain consciousness of the Guru's teachings (gurmat) through reflection on sacred hymns and recitation of the divine name. Ethical actions trump dogma in Sikh tradition, and the most important principles are benevolence, honesty, charity, and striving for justice.
Vision for Society
The core Sikh social vision is that of equality of all people. Part of the community's reason for existence is to help morally redeem the world in working for social equality and justice.
Gender and Sexuality
In Sikh belief, women and men are equal. Guru Nanak spoke out against the denigration of women in his society. This doctrinal equality provides an ideal to temper the cultural inequalities that Sikh women face around the globe.