A watercolour painting of the Harimandir or ‘Temple of God’, situated in Amritsar in the Indian Panjab, executed by an anonymous artist in the Panjab style in the 1860’s.

Sikhism introduction

An overview of articles and British Library resources relating to Sikhism.


Sikhism originated in the Panjāb region of South Asia, in the early 16th century and flourished under a lineage of ten spiritual masters, beginning with Gurū Nānak (1469–1539) and ending with Gurū Gobind Singh (1666–1708).

Gurū Nānak’s theology of salvation emphasises devotion to One God, who is without form and made manifest to human consciousness by divine grace. Meditative worship accompanied by truthful living in the world are the prerequisites to attaining this.

The Gurūs’ teachings were passed down through hymns enshrined in the two key scriptures of the Sikh faith, the Ādi Granth and the Dasam Granth.

Before his passing, Gurū Gobind Singh bestowed joint guruship upon the Ādi Granth (Gurū Granth) and the Gurūs’ disciples (Gurū Panth). The centrality of the Ādi Granth in Sikh worship and the profound reverence accorded to it as the embodiment of the eternal Gurū is reflected in its honorific title of Gurū Granth Sāhib.



Origins and development of Sikh faith: The Gurus

Gurus are central to the Sikh faith. Eleanor Nesbitt looks at the founder of the Sikh faith – Guru Nanak, the concept of Guru in Sikhism, the central principles of the Gurus’ teachings and the sacred scripture – the Guru Granth Sahib.

Sikh prayer and worship

The Guru Granth Sahib plays an integral part in the lives Sikhs. Eleanor Nesbitt describes the rituals that surround it and its role in the daily lives and life cycle rites of Sikhs, also exploring Sikh daily prayer, devotional songs and festivals. 

Sikh sacred places

Eleanor Nesbitt explores Sikh gurdwaras, touching on the most notable ones, such as the Golden Temple, their common features and the principles of worship within them. 

Other BL resources

BL blogs: https://blogs.bl.uk/asian-and-african/sikhism/