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Sikh Center, Flushing, NY, 2003, LP

      Sikhism originated in the Punjab region of what is now Pakistan. There are more than 20 million Sikhs in the world, most residing in the Punjab region of India. The religion traces to Guru Nanak (lived 1469-1538 CE) who sought to harmonize teachings of Hinduism and Islam. Guru Nanak traveled widely to spread his insights considered to come from direct experience of God's truth. He taught people to transcend divisions and hostility based on religions, elitism, and differences of customs such as vegetarianism or meat eating. He often taught through hymns accompanied by his Muslim friend and musician in order to connect well with ordinary people. His poetry was strongly influenced by the Indian mystic Kabir, who perceived God as the Supreme Being within yet transcending all-the human soul's true beloved.
      Sikhs recognize ten historical Gurus, or spiritual teachers who are sources of divine guidance, starting with Guru Nanak and concluding with Guru Gobind Singh (1798). The Sikh scriptures (Guru Granth Sahib) are considered to be the 11th Guru.
Sikh concern for social welfare can be illustrated by a story from Guru Nanak's life. Once while staying at the home of a low caste host, he was invited to a rich man's banquet for holy men. Guru Nanak refused to attend, but rather ate the simple food at his host's home. The rich man complained, so Guru Nanak accepted food from him. The Guru took the rich man's food and the poor man's food in different hands and squeezed. Blood dripped from the rich man's food while milk dripped from the poor man's food. This revealed that the rich man's food came from exploiting the poor, while his host's food came from honest work. The Sikh emblem Khanda represents these ideals. A ring signifies the oneness of God; a two edged sword represents God's truth and justice; and two curved crossed swords indicate God's spiritual power.