The Sikh Religious Tradition: Meanings of Secularism

T. N. Madan

in Modern Myths, Locked Minds

Second edition

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780198065104
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080182 | DOI:
The Sikh Religious Tradition: Meanings of Secularism

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As a modern theory, the thesis of secularization bears the imprint of the dialectic of religion and reason or, more precisely, Protestantism and the Enlightenment. In its utopian form, it was put forward as the ideology of secularism, denying any legitimacy to religion in society. Of the great religious traditions of humanity, Sikhism is one of the youngest, being barely 500 years old. This chapter examines the significance of the fact that, in the Sikh religious tradition, an original attitude of qualified world affirmation was, in the course of time, redefined to emphasize the unity of the spiritual and political functions in society, so that what might seem distinct and even contradictory in terms of the Western civilization is here sought to be reconciled. It also explores Sikhism as this-worldly ethic, the doctrine of two swords, and the secular state of Ranjit Singh.

Keywords: Sikhism as doctrine of two swords; secularization; secular state of Ranjit Singh; religious traditions; religion; world affirmation

Chapter.  10052 words. 

Subjects: Sociology of Religion

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