Who is a Sikh?

State of the Panth — Report 1

Tuesday
,
24
October
2017
stateofthepanth
As the global Sikh population expands in size and complexion, the definition of a Sikh becomes increasingly important to support and shape the community. This study sets out to establish an understanding of how to conceptualize who is a Sikh.
Who is a Sikh? – State of Panth. Report 1.

Who is a Sikh? – State of Panth. Report 1.

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Originally only two terms were used within the community: Sikh and Khalsa. From the original terms, some terms have been created for legal and social accountability while others reduce an individual’s sense of accountability or ownership. Various terminology used today has become intertwined with a sense of “hierarchy” or a scale of religiosity that was not always part of the tradition.

Overall, Gurmat (“The Guru’s Way” which forms the Sikh paradigm) paints a picture of an individual who accepts the path of the Guru with humility and a sense of passion, devotedly contemplates on and implements those teachings as well as remains in their natural state of physical appearance.

A survey of 938 individuals was conducted to summarize the 2017 Sikh population’s understanding of who a Sikh is. The survey results show significant differences between responses in comparison of age group and gender identity. The survey results mirror the concept of different groups within the Sikh community having varying understandings of how a Sikh should be defined.

This study makes recommendations on a personal and institutional level that can be implemented within the community from a holistic understanding of who a Sikh is.

The evaluation of a Sikh’s identity must come on a circular spectrum which includes criteria outlined in Gurmat — Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history) and demonstrated throughout Rahit (lifestyle) — but also includes where the individual places themselves within those criteria.

Who is a Sikh? – Report

This is the full, downloadable PDF of the the State of the Panth report "Who is a Sikh?"

As the global Sikh population expands in size and complexion, the definition of a Sikh becomes increasingly important to support and shape the community. This study sets out to establish an understanding of how to conceptualize who is a Sikh.

Originally only two terms were used within the community: Sikh and Khalsa. From the original terms, some terms have been created for legal and social accountability while others reduce an individual’s sense of accountability or ownership. Various terminology used today has become intertwined with a sense of “hierarchy” or a scale of religiosity that was not always part of the tradition.

Who is a Sikh? – Raw Data

This is a download of the raw source data that was generated for the State of the Panth report "Who is a Sikh?"

A survey of 938 individuals was conducted to summarize the 2017 Sikh population’s understanding of who a Sikh is. The survey results show significant differences between responses in comparison of age group and gender identity. The survey results mirror the concept of different groups within the Sikh community having varying understandings of how a Sikh should be defined.

This study makes recommendations on a personal and institutional level that can be implemented within the community from a holistic understanding of who a Sikh is.

Written By

Senior Fellow, Research & Policy

Harinder Singh is a widely respected educator and thinker who is deeply in love with 1Force, the Oneness that radiates in all. 

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Creative Director

Inni Kaur is Creative Director at the Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI).

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Researcher

Jasleen is a double UVA grad in Religious Studies, focusing on South Asian Religions through the lens of literature and poetry.

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