“Essentials of Sikhism” by Daljeet Singh comprises of a series of essays separated into three sections based on methodology, ideology and general concepts. This work was originally published in 1994 and this third revised edition was published in 2004. Singh’s background comes from the Government of Punjab, where he retired from his position as Secretary and Commissioner Education in 1969. Singh has conducted a wide range of research and published many essays and articles within the Sikh studies framework. This work was also supported by Professor Jagjit Singh and Dr Kharak Singh.
The opening methodology looks at issues of religious studies within the modern academic world and field of Sikh studies. This touches on elements of the Hindu, Christian and Islamic faiths as well as Sikhi. The following essays cover a vast scope of ideas such as the institution and succession of the Gurus and the political role of Sikhi during and post Guru period as well as in the west. In this context, Singh looks specifically at western culture and the role of secularism.
"Some outsiders feel that the first five Gurus were pacifist. But, facts do not support this contention. Guru Nanak himself directed Guru Angad that he had to lead a Panth. The Third Guru (Guru Amar Das), in order to expand the organisation of the Sikh society created 22 districts of socio-religious administration, with a head at each centre, covering almost the entire expanse of India from Dacca to Kabul. He created new institutions to develop an independent sense of Sikh consciousness and identity." - Sikh Theory of Evolution, Sikhism and its Socio-Political Role, page 133
This work covers a variety of topics including:
Issues of Sikh Studies
Idea of God in Sikhism
Naam in Sikhism
Sikhism, Vaisnavism, Vedanta and Nathism
The Sikh World-View
Sikh Theory of Evolution: Haumain, and Problems of Hermeneutics
The Concept of Maya in Sikhism
Essentials of Sikh Bhakti and Hindu Bhakti
Guru Nanak - The Prophet of a Unique Ideology
Sikh Religion and Politics
A Critique and A Clarification of Sikhism
The Idea of Freedom and Responsibility in Sikhism
The Sikh Identity
Sikhism and Inter-Religious Dialogue
The structure allows one to pick and choose which essay they wish to read, rather than having to read the essays in order. These essays focus on both spiritual and temporal elements of Sikhi which relates back to Singh’s appreciation and emphasis of miri piri in the first section. This gives an overall understanding of Sikhi’s place in the modern day world, both politically and spiritually. Daljeet Singh’s work is certainly thought provoking and is recommended for those who have an interest in the field of Sikh Studies.