Ik Onkar

Ik Onkar or Ek Onkar (ਇੱਕ ਓਅੰਕਾਰ is the symbol that represents the one supreme reality and is a central tenet of Sikh religious philosophy. Ik Onkar has a prominent position at the head of the Mul Mantar and the opening words of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Ik (ਇੱਕ) means one and only one, who cannot be compared or contrasted with any other, the

“unmanifest, God in power, the holy word, the primal manifestation of Godhead by which and in which all live, move and have their being and by which all find a way back to Absolute God, the Supreme Reality.”

It is a symbol of the unity of God in Sikhism, meaning God is One or One God,  It is found in the Gurmukhi script and is found in all religious scriptures and places such as gurdwaras.

Ik Onkar

Ek Onkar or Ik Onkar

In Mul Mantar

Main article: Mul Mantar

Mul Mantar written by Guru Har Rai, showing the Ik Onkar at top.

Mul Mantar written by Guru Har Rai, showing the Ik Onkar at top.

It is also the opening phrase of the Mul Mantar, present as opening phrase in the Guru Granth Sahib, and the first composition of Guru Nanak. Further, the Mul Mantar is also at the beginning of the Japji Sahib, followed by 38 hymns and a final Salok at the end of this composition.

Punjabi: ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥ ਜਪੁ।। ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਹੈ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ।। ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ।।:

Simplified transliteration: Ik Oankaar Satnaam Kartaa Purakh Nirbhau Nirvair Akaal Moorat Ajoonee Saibhan Gur Prasaad

English: One universal Creator God, Truth and eternal is the name, Creative being, Without Fear, Without Enmity, Timeless and deathless Form, Not affected by the circle of life and death – unborn, Self-Existent, He can be realized by the grace of the true and eternal Guru who has the power to enlighten us.


Main article: God in Sikhism

Ik Onkar is the statement of oneness in Sikhism, that is ‘there is one God‘.

Ik Onkār, a Sikh symbol representing "the One Supreme Reality"

Ik Onkār, a Sikh symbol representing “the One Supreme Reality”

The phrase is a compound of the numeral one (ik) and onkar, states Doniger, canonically understood in Sikhism to refer to “absolute monotheistic unity of God”. Ik Onkar has a prominent position at the head of the Mul Mantar and the opening words of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

While the Onkar of Sikhism is held by some non-Sikh scholars to be related to Om in Hinduism, Sikhs do not believe that Ik Onkar is the same as Om, “that the meaning of Oankar in the Sikh tradition is quite different in certain respects from the various interpretations of this word in the Indian philosophical traditions,” and “rather view Oankar as pointing to the distinctively Sikh theological emphasis on the ineffable quality of God, who is described as “the Person beyond time,” the Eternal One, or “the One without form.”” Onkar is, according Wazir Singh, a “variation of Om (Aum) of the ancient Indian scriptures (with a slight change in its orthography), implying the seed-force that evolves as the universe”. Guru Nanak wrote a poem entitled Oankar in which, states Doniger, he “attributed the origin and sense of speech to the Divinity, who is thus the Om-maker”.

Oankar (‘One, whose expression emerges as Primal Sound’) created BrahmaOankar fashioned the consciousness. From Oankar came mountains and ages. Oankar produced the Vedas. By the grace of Oankar, people were saved through the divine word. By the grace of Oankar, they were liberated through the teachings of the Guru.

— Ramakali Dakkhani, Adi Granth 929-930, Translated by Pashaura Singh

Pashaura Singh goes on to state,

“By beginning with ‘One,’ Guru Nanak emphasizes the singularity of the Divine. That is, the numeral ‘1’ affirms that the Supreme Being is one without a second, the source as well as the goal of all that exists. That is quite evident from the following statement: ‘My Master (Sahib) is the One. He is the One, brother, and He alone exists’ (AG 350). In a particularly striking instance, Guru Arjan employs the cognates of the Punjabi word ikk (‘One’) five time in a single line of his Asa hymn to make an emphatic statement of oneness of the Supreme Being: ‘By itself the One is just One, One and only One, and the One is the source of all creation.’

He also considers the process of reification of the concept of Ik Oankar as having begun with the writings of Guru Nanak and Guru Arjan themselves, with the numeral ੧ (one) as emphasizing the unity of Akal Purakh in monotheistic terms.

Other common terms for the one supreme reality alongside Ik Oankar, dating from the Gurus’ time include the most commonly used term, Akal Purakh, “Eternal One,” in the sense of Nirankar, “the One without form,” and Waheguru (“Wonderful Sovereign”).


In 2019, Air India launched a direct flight from London to Amritsar with Ik Onkar printed in golden colour with a red background, on the tail of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The plane was launch ahead of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

See also

Main articles: Tawhid (Unity) and His Existence and Unity
See also: Ahadiya and Wahidiya (Uniqueness or Absolute Oneness and Unity) 

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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