The Concept of Soul in Sikh Philosophy: Origins, Significance, and Definition

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In Sikh philosophy, the concept of the soul holds great importance. It is believed that the soul, referred to as “Atma,” or “Jivatma,” is an eternal entity that exists within every living being. The introduction of the concept of the soul in Sikhism can be attributed to Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, and subsequent Sikh Gurus who developed and expanded upon his teachings.

Sikh Philosophy of Soul

1. Soul defined in Sikhism

One of the primary reasons for including the soul in Sikh philosophy is the need to understand the nature of human existence and the purpose of life. Guru Nanak emphasized the oneness of God and the inherent connection of every individual soul to the divine. Sikhism teaches that all beings, including animals and humans, have a soul, known as the “Atma,” and are part of the cycle of reincarnation. Sikhism emphasizes the idea that the ultimate goal of human life is to attain spiritual enlightenment and merge with the divine. The concept of the soul helps individuals recognize their inner spiritual essence and guides them toward this realization.

On the departure of this entity from the body, the body becomes lifeless – No amount of manipulation to the body can make the person make any physical actions. The soul is the ‘driver’ in the body. It is the ‘roohu’ or spirit or atma, the presence of which makes the physical body alive.

2. Guru Nanak

Guru Nanak (born April 15, 1469, Rai Bhoi di Talvandi [now Nankana Sahib, Pakistan], near Lahore, India—died 1539, Kartarpur, Punjab) Indian spiritual teacher who was the first Guru of Sikhism, a monotheistic religion that combines Hindu and Muslim influences.

3. Soul A Divine Spark

In Sikh philosophy, the soul is considered a divine spark, a part of the divine essence (Waheguru) temporarily residing in the physical body. The goal is to experience a profound connection with Waheguru and attain spiritual liberation (Mukti) by living a life by Sikh principles, including selfless service, devotion, and ethical conduct. The soul, according to Sikhism, transcends individual identity and merges with the universal divine consciousness.

4. Soul for Purposeful Life

The introduction of the soul in Sikh philosophy also addresses the fundamental questions of human existence. It helps individuals understand their connection with the divine and their relationship with the world around them. Sikhism teaches that the soul is a divine spark, inherently connected to the Supreme Being and that recognizing this connection is crucial for leading a fulfilled and purposeful life.

5. Soul is Eternal

In Sikh philosophy, the soul is an immortal entity transcending the physical body. It is considered to be pure and divine, representing the essence of God within each individual. The soul is believed to be eternal, continuously evolving through the cycle of birth and death until it achieves union with the divine.

6. Self-realization

Sikhism emphasizes the importance of self-realization and the cultivation of a deep spiritual connection with the soul. Through meditation, selfless service, and adherence to the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy scripture), individuals can attain a higher level of consciousness and realize their true spiritual potential.

The introduction of the concept of the soul in Sikh philosophy, as articulated by Guru Nanak and subsequent Sikh Gurus, serves the purpose of guiding individuals toward recognizing their divine essence, fostering a sense of unity with God, and facilitating spiritual liberation.

7. Conclusion

In conclusion, the concept of the soul in Sikh philosophy serves as a guiding principle for understanding human existence, purpose, and the path toward spiritual enlightenment. It is through recognizing and nurturing this divine essence within oneself that individuals can lead a meaningful and fulfilling life according to Sikh teachings.

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