This article explores the philosophical parallels between quantum physics and Sikh doctrines, highlighting their shared perspectives on the nature of reality, interconnectedness, and the role of human consciousness. Both fields challenge classical notions of a deterministic and objective universe, emphasizing instead the fluidity and interconnectedness of existence. Quantum concepts like superposition and entanglement resonate with Sikh teachings on Maya and Ik Onkar. Moreover, both disciplines acknowledge the limitations of human understanding and advocate for a unified perception of reality. This intersection of scientific inquiry and spiritual wisdom reveals profound insights, illuminating new paths of understanding and knowledge. 


Quantum physics and Sikh doctrines, each with their unique origins and applications, offer intriguing philosophical parallels. These parallels, far from being coincidental, provide profound insights into the nature of reality, the interconnectedness of all things, and the limitations of human understanding. By delving into these connections, we can grasp that both quantum physics [1-2] and Sikhism [3-4], in their distinct ways, present complementary perspectives on the universe and our place within it. This realization can instill a sense of being part of a larger, interconnected narrative, enriching our understanding of the world around us.

The Nature of Reality

One of the most striking parallels between quantum physics and Sikh doctrines is their view on the nature of reality. In quantum physics, reality is not as straightforward as classical physics suggests. Quantum mechanics introduces the concept of superposition, where particles can exist in multiple states simultaneously until measured. This fundamentally challenges the classical notion of a deterministic and objective reality [1-2].

Similarly, Sikh philosophy, as expounded in the Guru Granth Sahib [3-4], emphasizes the idea of Maya, or illusion. According to Sikh teachings, the material world is transient and deceptive, masking the true, underlying reality, which is divine and eternal. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture of the Sikhs, states:

ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿਮਾਨ ਹੈ ਸਗਲ ਮਿਥੇਨਾ ॥
All that is seen is an illusion. (M. 5, p. 1083)
ਜਗ ਰਚਨਾ ਸਭ ਝੂਠ ਹੈ ਜਾਨਿ ਲੇਹੁ ਰੇ ਮੀਤ ॥ਕਹਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਥਿਰੁ ਨਾ ਰਹੈ ਜਿਉ ਬਾਲੂ ਕੀ ਭੀਤਿ ॥

The entire creation of the world is false; understand this, O friend. Says Nanak; it does not last; it is like a wall of sand (which shall crumble eventually). (M. 9, p. 1429)

Sikh Gurus articulate that everything we see is an illusion; all we possess shall perish [5]. This notion resonates with the quantum idea that what we perceive as solid and certain is, at a fundamental level, indeterminate and probabilistic.


Another significant parallel is the concept of interconnectedness. Quantum physics reveals that particles can be entangled, meaning the state of one particle is instantaneously connected with the state of another, regardless of distance. This phenomenon, known as quantum entanglement, suggests a profound level of connectivity within the universe [6-12].

Sikhism also emphasizes interconnectedness [13-14], particularly through the concept of Ik Onkar, which means "One Creator." This doctrine asserts that there is a singular divine force that permeates all of existence, binding everything in a unified whole. The Sikh scripture proclaims, 

ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਵਸੈ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਏਕੋ ਸੋਇ ॥
He is the One God, abiding within all. (M. 3, p. 663)

This holistic view aligns with the quantum perspective of a deeply interconnected universe, where all entities are part of a greater, unified reality.

The Observer Effect

In quantum physics, the observer effect refers to the impact that observing a particle has on its state. Essentially, the act of measurement alters the system being observed. This principle challenges the notion of an objective, detached observer and suggests that consciousness plays a role in shaping reality [1-2, 8-12].

Sikhism similarly acknowledges the role of human perception and consciousness in understanding the divine [15-16]. The concept of Naam Simran, or meditation on the divine name, underscores the idea that through focused contemplation and spiritual practice, one can perceive the true nature of reality. The Guru Granth Sahib advises, 

ਇਕ ਮਨਿ ਏਕੁ ਧਿਆਈਐ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਲਾਹਿ ਭਰਾਂਤਿ ॥
Meditate single-mindedly on the One God and remove the delusions of your mind. (M. 5, p. 47)  

Sikhism strongly emphasizes meditation as a means of connecting with the divine. Individuals can transcend the illusions and distractions of the material world by focusing the mind single-mindedly on God. This suggests that the observer's consciousness is crucial in realizing the deeper truths of existence, paralleling the quantum notion that observation influences reality.

Beyond Classical Logic

Quantum physics often defies classical logic and intuitive understanding. Concepts such as wave-particle duality, where particles exhibit both wave-like and particle-like properties, challenge our conventional ways of thinking [1-2]. This duality is an example of complementarity, where two seemingly contradictory properties are both necessary to describe quantum phenomena fully. Sikh philosophy similarly transcends conventional dualities. The idea of God in Sikhism embodies both immanence and transcendence. God is described as both Nirgun (without attributes) and Sargun (with attributes), indicating that the divine encompasses all qualities and yet is beyond all qualities [17-18]. Guru Arjan Dev states: 

ਤੂੰ ਨਿਰਗੁਨ ਤੂੰ ਸਰਗੁਨੀ ॥
You are without attributes and also have the most sublime attributes. (M. 5, p. 211)  

This verse describes that God is not confined to any single state of being. The Divine is both the formless, ultimate reality (Nirgun) and the manifest, perceivable reality (Sargun). This unity of dual aspects underscores the completeness and omnipresence of God in Sikh theology. Guru Arjan Dev further enunciates: 

 ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਆਕਾਰ ਆਪਿ ਨਿਰਗੁਨ ਸਰਗੁਨ ਏਕ ॥

He Himself is formless and also formed; the One Lord is without attributes and also with attributes. (M. 5, p. 250)

This concept of God as both without and with attributes or having both formless and formed aspects can be paralleled with the wave-particle duality in quantum physics [7-8].  Just as particles exhibit both wave-like and particle-like properties, the Divine encompasses both the formless (transcendent) and the formed (immanent) aspects. This duality highlights the complexity and depth of understanding the fundamental nature of reality. This paradoxical nature of the divine reflects the quantum principle of complementarity, where seemingly opposing aspects coexist harmoniously. 

The Limitations of Human Understanding

Both quantum physics and Sikh doctrines highlight the limitations of human understanding. Quantum mechanics suggests that there are fundamental limits to what we can know about the properties of particles, as encapsulated in Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. This principle asserts that certain pairs of properties, like position and momentum, cannot both be precisely known simultaneously.

Sikh teachings also recognize the inherent limitations of human cognition. The Guru Granth Sahib states, 

ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਪੈ ਕੀਤਾ ਆਕਾਰੁ ॥

The limits of the created universe cannot be perceived. (M. 1, p. 5)

This verse highlights the incomprehensibility and infinite nature of God's creation [19]. It speaks to the vastness and complexity of the universe, suggesting that human understanding is inherently limited when it comes to grasping the entirety of the divine creation. It teaches that despite advances in knowledge and science, there remains a vast expanse of mystery beyond human reach. This concept can be paralleled with the ideas in quantum physics and cosmology, where the universe is understood to be incredibly vast and complex, with aspects that remain beyond current scientific understanding. 

Just as quantum mechanics reveals layers of reality that challenge conventional thinking, the Sikh teaching acknowledges the profound mysteries inherent in the divine creation. Moreover, the above verse encourages humility in the face of the divine and the natural world. This humility before the vastness of the divine and the cosmos echoes the recognition in quantum physics that our knowledge is inherently constrained by the nature of reality itself.

The Quest for Unity

Ultimately, both quantum physics and Sikh doctrines emphasize a quest for unity and understanding. Quantum physics seeks a unified theory that can reconcile the fundamental forces of nature, striving for a deeper coherence in our understanding of the universe [1-2]. Sikhism, through its spiritual practices and teachings, seeks to unite the individual soul with the universal divine, fostering a sense of oneness with the Creator [14, 20]. Guru Nanak states: 

ਆਤਮਾ ਪਰਾਤਮਾ ਏਕੋ ਕਰੈ ॥

When the soul merges with the Supreme Soul, they become one. (M. 1, p. 661)

This verse conveys a profound spiritual concept central to Sikh theology and mysticism, emphasizing the union of the individual soul (Atma) with the Supreme Soul (Paramatma). The concept of oneness in Sikhism can be paralleled with the quest for unity in quantum physics, particularly the idea of a unified theory for reconciling the fundamental forces of nature. Just as fundamental forces of nature are expected to be connected in the unified field theory, Sikhism teaches that all souls are inherently connected to the Supreme Soul, reflecting a universal interconnectedness.

The pursuit of unity in both fields highlights a shared aspiration to transcend fragmentation and perceive the interconnected, holistic nature of existence. This philosophical parallel underscores the profound insights that can emerge when scientific inquiry and spiritual wisdom converge.


In conclusion, the philosophical parallels between quantum physics and Sikh doctrines offer a rich variety of ideas that challenge our perceptions of reality, interconnectedness, and the limits of human understanding. Both realms encourage a deeper contemplation of the universe and our place within it, inviting us to explore the profound mysteries that lie beyond the surface of our everyday experiences.


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Dr. Devinder Pal Singh

Dr. Devinder Pal Singh

Dr Devinder Pal Singh, Center for Understanding Sikhism, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, has published about 100 articles on various aspects of Sikhism in several newspapers and magazines of English, Punjabi and Hindi.

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