State of the Panth

The State of the Panth series is a report on Sikh matters presented by the Sikh Research Institute to the global Sikh community. The series reports on matters affecting either a large section of the Sikh Nation or a perspective on critical issues facing the human race at large.

Surveying the Global Sangat

Our State of the Panth reports survey self-identified Sikhs on their stances in regards to critical issues and questions. The reports outline a Sikh perspective based on Gurmat (the Guru’s Way) traditions of Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle).

Recommendations for the Future

Each report further outlines recommendation for individual Sikhs and Sikh institutions — an opportunity for reflection and inspiring change. Recommendations are provided as a best practices approach to strengthening the bonds within the community.

View the Reports

Each article below contains a summary of the report, along with supporting video and audio content. We also provide links to download full versions of each report, as well as raw survey data.

Wednesday
,
9
September
2020

Sikhi & Sexuality

Sexuality is a confusing and often avoided topic. It is generally relegated to being a "private" matter, and therefore not openly discussed or engaged with, even within close circles and small communities. Due to the taboo of discussing sexuality, many people struggle individually, often turning to religion for guidance or, more concretely, moral pronouncements.

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Thursday
,
7
November
2019

Sikhi & Abortion

Abortion as defined by the the Oxford dictionary is a “deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.” Abortions have long been performed and long been the subject of considerable debate. Of the many social issues of our time, the issue of abortion is one that is consistently divisive and consistently nuanced. It is also an issue that is seldom talked about, due to its sensitive nature and the taboo that often comes with having undergone the procedure.

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Friday
,
1
March
2019

Akal Takht Sahib: Timeless Sovereign Throne

Akal Takht Sahib (Timeless Throne Sovereign) commands the worldly moral authority of the Sikhs, functioning as the institutional manifestation of the Miri-Piri (Political-Spiritual) doctrine as envisioned by the Gurus. However, over time Akal Takht Sahib has become occupied by third-party influences, not just in its institutional manifestation but also in the psyche of the Sikhs. A lack of faith in the institution leads to a feeling of disconnect within the Panth (Sikh collective), where Akal Takht Sahib exists more as a symbolic structure instead of functioning as a governance one.

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Thursday
,
20
September
2018

Gurduara: A Sikh Place of Learning

The Gurduara is considered to be the heart of the Sikh community. Throughout all components of the Gurduara, the teachings of the Gurus must be visible in both abstract heights and concrete realities. The goal of each Gurduara must be to impart the Guru’s worldview, articulated in the Miri-Piri (Political-Spiritual) doctrine, through the appropriate mediums for the local Sikh communities they serve. In recent times, there has become a disconnect between the Gurduara governance teams and the local sangat of the Gurduaras.

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Monday
,
5
February
2018

Anand Karaj: The Sikh Marriage

The Anand Karaj (Sikh marriage ceremony) is one of the life stages outlined with specific sentiments and ceremonies for Sikhs. Its procedures have received increased attention in recent years as a major community issue. These discussions revolve mainly around the right to participate, where inter-caste, inter-race, and sexuality fit into the ceremony.

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Tuesday
,
24
October
2017

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.

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Download the Full Reports & Data

Links and file downloads to the curriculum, reports raw data and collections of resources assembled for your needs.

Sikhi & Sexuality – Report

This is the full, downloadable PDF of the the State of the Panth report "Sikhi & Sexuality".

The focus of this report is to understand sexuality in the context of a Sikh worldview, from a Gurmat (Guru’s Way) perspective, as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle).

This report presents recommendations based on the Gurmat components on both the individual and institutional levels. Bani, Tavarikh, and Rahit offer guidance to individuals on their journeys in understanding their sexuality, encouraging them to seek guidance from the Guru Granth Sahib, support from their peers, and to develop a personal relationship with IkOankar.

Sikhi & Sexuality – Raw Data

This is a download of the raw source data that was generated for the State of the Panth report "Sikhi & Sexuality".

A global survey, included in the report, was presented to 1,212 self- identified Sikhs from 31 countries. The purpose of this survey was to gain insight into Sikh thoughts and feelings surrounding sexuality today.

Overall, responses outlined a clear understanding that lust and sex are not synonymous — importantly, neither are sex and sexuality. There was also a clear consensus that Sikh institutions must play some role in providing nonjudgmental support and resources to Sikhs of all gender identities and sexual orientations.

Sikhi & Abortion – Report

This is the full, downloadable PDF of the the State of the Panth report "Sikhi & Abortion".

The focus of this report is to gain insight into Sikh thoughts and feelings surrounding the issue of abortion today, and understand abortion in the context of a Sikh worldview, from a Gurmat (Guru’s Way) perspective, as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle). In situating the topic of abortion within a Gurmat framework, individuals can be reassured that making the choice to undergo the procedure does not condemn them to punishment and judgment. Institutions can work to come together for a more nuanced understanding, an empathetic response, and the ultimate goal of working towards a judgment-free Panth.

Sikhi & Abortion – Raw Data

This is a download of the raw source data that was generated for the State of the Panth report "Sikhi & Abortion".

A global survey, included in the report, was presented to 1,277 self-identified Sikhs from 28 different countries, asking them to consider the issue of abortion and common questions related to the topic. The purpose of this survey was to understand what informs individual opinions, thoughts, and feelings related to abortion.

Overall, the responses outlined that members of the global Sikh Panth take into account Sikhi, science, and personal life experience when forming opinions about the issue of abortion. The responses also outlined how closely related sex-selection and abortion are in the Panjabi and South Asian contexts. Although Gurmat considers the act of consensual conception to be a Divine act, the majority of respondents believe life begins at some time after conception, and that health issues are the number one reason that women seek abortions. The survey responses highlighted a clear belief that Sikh institutions should play some role in providing support and resources for those considering abortion, but that ultimately the decision is the individual’s alone.

Akal Takht Sahib: Timeless Sovereign Throne – Report

This is the full, downloadable PDF of the the State of the Panth report "Akal Takht Sahib: Timeless Sovereign Throne".

The focus of this report is to understand the role and function of Akal Takht Sahib from the Gurmat (Guru’s Way) perspective, as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle). In understanding the Gurmat explanation of the function and role of Akal Takht Sahib, individuals and institutions can come together to push for a more transparent, independent, representative, and active institution.

This report makes recommendations based on Gurmat (the Guru’s Way) as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit(lifestyle) that can be used by individuals and institutions to move towards Akal Takht Sahib remaining a central institution to the SikhPanth (Sikh collective).

Akal Takht Sahib: Timeless Sovereign Throne – Raw Data

This is a download of the raw source data that was generated for the State of the Panth report "Akal Takht Sahib: Timeless Sovereign Throne".

Sikh Research Institute has conducted a survey of 1,237 self-identified Sikhs from 27 different countries. The purpose of the survey was to gain insight into how Sikhs perceive the role of the Akal Takht Sahib in their own lives and in the lives of other Sikhs around the world. Responses outlined a clear engagement with the institution of Akal Takht Sahib, showing clear ideals of what the role and function of Akal Takht Sahib should be. The responses communicated a loss of faith in the governance of Akal Takht Sahib and a call for efforts towards a transparent, independent, representative, and active institution.

Gurduara: A Sikh Place of Learning – Report

This is the full, downloadable PDF of the the State of the Panth report "Gurduara: A Sikh Place of Learning".

What’s the relationship between the Gurduara governance and the local sangat worldwide? We traced Gurduara’s history throughout the ages and surveyed the opinions of 1,172 self-identified Sikhs from 22 countries.

The focus of this report is to understand the role of the local Gurduara within Sikh communities from the Gurmat (Guru’s Way) perspective, as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle). In understanding the Gurmat explanation of the function of the Gurduara, local governance teams and Sikh sangat (community) can come together to create a Gurduara that is a cohesive community-focused place of learning.

Gurduara: A Sikh Place of Learning – Raw Data

This is a download of the raw source data that was generated for the State of the Panth report "Gurduara: A Sikh Place of Learning".

A survey of 1,172 self-identified Sikhs from 22 different countries was conducted by the Sikh Research Institute. It captures the views and aspirations of Sikhs about the role of Gurduaras within their local communities. The results included emphasis on investment in education based on Sikh principles, funding for community outreach projects, and empowerment of the Sikh youth. The Miri-Piri doctrine was not evident in the responses to how the Gurduara is defined, highlighting the changing role of the Gurduara in the lives of the Sikh community in the 21st century.

Anand Karaj: The Sikh Marriage – Report

This is the full, downloadable PDF of the the State of the Panth report "Anand Karaj: The Sikh Marriage".

Anand Karaj: The Sikh Marriage, the second report in the State of the Panth series. In exploring the division that exists in our community, we surveyed 1,000 self-identifying Sikhs across the globe. And the results might surprise you.

The focus of this report is to understand the Gurmat (the Guru’s Way) components of the Anand Karaj, as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle). The principles expressed throughout the lava (interlinks) has a multidimensional meaning. There is a worldly literal description of the union between a husband and wife but also a metaphorical, genderless understanding of the human condition which would transcend across all sexual orientations and/or genders.

Anand Karaj: The Sikh Marriage – Raw Data

This is a download of the raw source data that was generated for the State of the Panth report "Anand Karaj: The Sikh Marriage".

The survey highlights the discrepancies apparent within the Sikh population as of 2017. It suggests that organizations cannot remain passive to such community issues.

A survey of 948 self-identified Sikhs from 20 different countries was conducted to summarize the 2017 Sikh population’s understanding of the rights to participate in the Anand Karaj ceremony. The survey showed distinct divides in terms of who may be able to participatespecifically in the Sikh context of marriage. The survey also highlights the discrepancies apparent within the community as well as identifies where institutional educational efforts can be focused.

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.

Contact us with any questions or comments about the State of the Panth Report series.

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