Who is a Sikh? Here are four definitions!

Who is a Sikh?

There are four prevalent definitions on the issue of “Who is a Sikh?” Here is my article from The Indian Express.


Definition 1

Sikh Code of Conduct (or Sikh Rehat Maryada) published by the apex body managing Sikh religious places. Article 1 says:

“Any human being who faithfully believes in
i. One Immortal Being,
ii. Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib,
iii. The Guru Granth Sahib,
iv. The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus and
v. the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru, and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion, is a Sikh.”

Definition 2

The Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925 (Act 8 of 1925) (Page 27)

“Sikh” means a person who professes the Sikh religion or, Sikh.
in the case of a deceased person, who professed the Sikh
religion or was known to be a Sikh during his lifetime.

Further, “If any question arises as to whether any living person is or is
not a Sikh, he shall be deemed respectively to be or not to be
a Sikh according as he makes or refuses to make in such
manner as the ‘[State] Government may prescribe the
following declaration:-
I solemnly affirm that I am a Sikh, that I believe in the Guru
Granth Sahib, that I believe in the Ten Gurus, and thai I have
no other religion.”

Definition 3

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1971

“Sikh” means a person who professes the Sikh religion, believes and follows the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the ten Gurus only and keeps unshorn hair.”

Definition 4

SGPC educational institutions have provided for additional conditions. However, this is an admission requirement, rather than an Act passed by the state legislature or the Union Parliament. SGPC itself is a creation of the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925.

This is an extension of Definition 1 where the SGPC postulates that for admission in SGPC-run institutions, Sikh students should have affixed Singh or Kaur to their name, and wearing a turban is a must for boys.

Note: These are legal definitions, and though largely derived from Sikh texts, the theological interpretation may vary.