What you'll learn

  • Exploration of a foundational Sikh text, the Japji, which was composed by Guru Nanak and is recited by Sikhs as part of their morning prayers
  • The place of Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture, in Sikh life
  • Interpretative skills to engage in a nuanced reading of Guru Granth Sahib
  • Gurmat Sangit, the Sikh musical tradition, as represented in the Sikh scripture and its cultural context
  • The aesthetics of Sikhi, including literature, art, and music
  • The political dimensions of Sikh scripture and its impact on the evolution of Sikhs as a Panth or community 

Course description

Sikhi, commonly known as Sikhism, is a monotheistic religious tradition that was founded by Guru Nanak in late fifteenth-century Panjab in South Asia. Today, Sikhi’s approximately twenty-five to thirty million adherents can be found all over the globe, making it one of the six major religions of the world. Sikhi encompasses a number of religious, social, economic and political institutions, most of which were established and nurtured by Guru Nanak and his nine successors, known as Sikh Gurus. 

For over five hundred years, Sikhs in the Panjab and all over the world have engaged with their scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, through the devotional practices of exegesis, singing, recitation, memorization and calligraphy. 

This course examines the Sikh scripture from a doctrinal and historical perspective by providing an overview of Sikh teachings as well as the historical context within which the scripture evolved and became canonized. It also examines the musical and aesthetic dimensions of the Sikh scripture, as well as ways in which the voluminous text has provided Sikhs with a social, ethical, spiritual and political message to help them respond to and shape the world around them.

No previous knowledge of Sikhi or religious studies is required. This course is part of the World Religions Through Their Scriptures XSeries Program.

Faculty

Associated Schools

  • Harvard Faculty of Arts & Sciences

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