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Comparison of Sikhism and Shinto

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    Sikhism and Shinto are two religions from completely different cultures and beginnings but have belief in supernatural existence and spiritual nourishment like many of the world’s major religions. This is a presentation discussing the two and elaborating on their similarities and their differences.


    Shinto is a religion that was founded in primitive Japan in the late fourth century. It has no record of its founder or the leader who oriented it but it has been passed on as tradition down through families. (Alan B & Andrew L 2001)

    It was the religion that existed in Japan before Buddhism was introduced from Korea and china and accommodating a strong following of believers.

    It is a religion that mainly insists on a person being one with nature and the spirit of Kami which is the insisting that their God is a spiritual being. The followers of this religion believe in worshiping Kami. The Kami in this case is native deities who are former heroes, emperors, mythical objects and spirits of nature. (Alan B & Andrew L 2001)

    The Shinto is divided into four main groups:

    Koshitsu meaning Shinto of the imperial house generally meaning rites that the emperor performs, Shuha, which is slightly deviated from, mainstream Shinto’s. Folk done by commoners and is almost exact to Jinja Shinto and lastly Jinja Shinto which means shrine and alters. (Alan B & Andrew L 2001)

    It is a unique religion since it has one commandment that is respecting and being loyal to your ancestors. Initially Shinto religion was primitively naturalistic and people practiced such aspects as spiritism, tatenism and worship of nature but it later evolved intellectually and ethically. Though it has a major god who is the sun god Amaterasu as known in Japanese folk, this religion is known to have an excess of gods which historians’ number to over 800,000.

    The Shinto religion was and is a collection of many faiths, which do not have any known written creed or list of commandments since the religion was relayed through expression by actions rituals or behaviors. This is because the believers in Shinto strongly suggest that God cannot be explained by words, thus they avoid writing about their gods like many major religions despise idolatry. (Alan B & Andrew L 2001)

    Shinto therefore believes purification to being back to the pure state they were before being born comes through the worshipping of spirits. They do this by conducting silent prayers and simple rituals at shrines and alter in their homes.

    This religion originated in the northern end of India. It is said to have started around the 15th century by a man known as Nanak and this teachings and also that of nine successive gurus. Nanak had interest in religion and was said to have started it after he was lost for three days and come back saying Muslim and Buddhism was not true. (Alan B & Andrew L 2001)

    This religion has since then grown and has actually become the fifth largest religion in the world with over twenty three million followers most of whom are now living in the Punjab province of Pakistan formally the Punjab province of India.

    Sikhism is a religious philosophy and form of expression, which was initially or traditionally known as Gurmate, which basically stands for and means counsel of Gurus. It is also known as Sikh Dhama. (Alan B & Andrew L 2001)

    The name of this religion that is Sikhism came from the world Sikh. Sikh in Indian language is a word in the sankrit root Sikya, which interpreted means disciple, learners or followers.

    The name Sikhism was also derived from the word Sikh that meant instruction in Indian language.

    The main belief in Sikhism is their unbound faith in Vahiguru who is their God who actually is their universal god, this is because they have an aspect in their religion so distinct, which is that they can interpret god as the universe in general.

    Their teachings believe salvation comes through personal disciplined meditation on their God and his message to us on earth. (Alan B & Andrew L 2001)

    Followers of this religion of Sikhism are known as Sikhs. The Sikhs abide and follow thoroughly the teachings of the ten Gurus of the Sikh and also follow their scriptures from the holy book of guru Granth sahib. It is a book that comprises of works from many devoted Sikhs about the many ways of the Sikhs and how they should follow through with them. The book was decreed by the tenth Guru of Khalsa parth who was also the last guru of Khalsa parth known as Gabind Singh. (Alan B & Andrew L 2001)

    The second guru was the most influential since he emphasized on salvation of people and during his time the religion for grew tremendously and acquired its now strong following. The Sikhs much like Christians or even Muslims believe that God is infinate and is also an omnipresent God.

    They believe that he was the only thing that existed until he himself made a decision to create life on its planet and also creating life in many other planets. Contrary to most recordings of this religion which convey God as a man the Sikhs believed God had no gender that he was neither a man nor a woman but was just Supreme Being who had the ultimate power over the universe as a whole and was the one who brought about life.


    Through the two religions were from totally different peoples cultures and social background, they had some similarities as well as differences.

    First both Shinto and Sikhism had a main God in which they believed in the difference comes in when we see the Shinto believed their god was the ancestor of the royal family and that she was a daughter to holy couple whereas the Sikhs believed their God had no gender and is the universe itself and infinate. (Alan B & Andrew L 2001)

    Second Shinto believed their Gods were spirits same as the Sikhs the only difference is the Shinto had hundreds of thousands of goods whereas the Sikhs had only one god.

    Third both religions believed in purification and salvation of humans to be holy and pure only that in Sikhs it was by meditating in gods name and his message while in the Shinto it’s through actions like silent prayers and certain rituals in their shrines. (Alan B & Andrew L 2001)


    Religion is a form of expression the Japanese formed Shinto to express their beliefs while Nanak formed Sikhism to express his believes especially spiritual. But one thing is true religion all depends on a person, if one accepts it then they believe it works therefore there should not be any religions segregation but need for understanding thus ending the discussion on the major aspects, characteristics and functions of these religions so different but so alike in other ways.


    Alan Brown, Andrew Langley (2001): What I Believe: A Young Person’s Guide to the     Religions of the World: Millbrook Press

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