11 Virtues and 11 Hindrances for Sikhs

Woman reading Sikh holy book

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For those new to the Sikh faith, this handy guide provides 11 virtues to strive for and 11 behaviors to avoid, offering a map for Sikh living at a glance. Of course, Sikhism is much more than the sum of its do's and don’ts; however, understanding the process entailed in Sikh living is important to attaining and maintaining proper Sikh standards of conduct.

11 Virtues to Strive For 

The Sikh way of life involves conquering the self-oriented ego as a means of achieving grace and enlightenment. These eleven Sikhism "do's" include basic principles or pillars of Sikh ideals, essentials of Sikh living and the foundation of Sikhism’s code of conduct necessary to Sikh living according to the ​gurus' teachings.

  1. Respect the equal rights of all other people, regardless of their rank, gender, caste, class, color, or creed. 
  2. Share your worldly belongings and your knowledge with others, especially those in need.
  3. Perform altruistic service for benefit of all humanity.
  4. Earn income by honest employment and determined, hard effort. You are allowed to benefit from your work and take pride in your success 
  5. Come to the aid of the defenseless. Sikhs are expected to champion the downtrodden.
  6. Keep all hair intact and unaltered. Sikhs do not trim their hair or shave. 
  7. Meditate and read or recite daily prayers. Regular meditation and prayer are essential to the Sikh lifestyle. 
  8. Worship and recognize the one divine light that is manifest in all things. Sikhs see the divine in all things. 
  9. Regard any other person who is not your spouse as your brothers or sisters. Treat all people as beloved members of your family. 
  10. Become initiated as Khalsa through baptism and wear the five articles of faith as a symbol of your dedication and faith. 
  11. Follow the ideals of the ten gurus, accepting the perpetual guidance of Sikhism's scripture, the Guru Granth.

11 Hindrances to Avoid

The goal of Sikhism is to subdue and overcome the effects of ego, which foster duality and keep us from realizing enlightenment and union with the divine. These 11 things to avoid help Sikh's keep from falling into the trap of egocentric living.  

  1. Don't worship idols. Sikhs celebrate the one divine light, not false representations. 
  2. Avoid deifying any human being. To do so is to court the problems of ego. 
  3. Never pray to demigods or deities.
  4. Do not observe caste or practice gender inequality. All people are to be regarded as equal in value. 
  5. Don't give credence to auspicious dates, horoscopes, or astrology.
  6. Avoid being involved in illegal activities or dishonorable associates.
  7. Do not cut or otherwise alter the hair of the head, face, or body.
  8. Don't engage in premarital or extramarital intimacies.
  9. Never eat the meat of sacrificial animals.
  10. Avoid the practice of superstitious rituals.
  11. Do not smoke or use intoxicants.
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Your Citation
Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "11 Virtues and 11 Hindrances for Sikhs." Learn Religions, Apr. 5, 2023, learnreligions.com/sikhism-dos-and-donts-2993495. Khalsa, Sukhmandir. (2023, April 5). 11 Virtues and 11 Hindrances for Sikhs. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/sikhism-dos-and-donts-2993495 Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "11 Virtues and 11 Hindrances for Sikhs." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/sikhism-dos-and-donts-2993495 (accessed May 29, 2023).