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Essays on Sikh Values
Essays on Sikh Values

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Baisakhi 99

Baisakhi 99

Baisakhi, the summer harvest festival of India, always falls on 13 April.

Guru Gobind Singh celebrated Baisakhi in 1699 - the Birth of Khalsa.

On 13 April 1999, Sunday, 300th Anniversary of the Birth of Khalsa was celebrated worldwide by the public and the Governments.

Read also, `Man of the Era,' and `Amrit.` Repetitions in these articles have been left intact to keep them independent of each other.

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Baisakhi -1999, witnessed a unique celebration that continued for about a year. This day marked 300 years of founding of the Khalsa in 1699 AD, by the Tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh, at Gurdwara Kaes Garh in Anandpur Sahib, District Ropar (now, Rup Nagar), Punjab, India.

It had not been possible for a long time to celebrate such a historical event this way - on completion of the first and second hundred years. It was due to one factor or the other. The Sikhs were under the British Government, a sort of slaves at least in the body if not in the mind, and were engrossed with struggling for freedom with its typical reactions of suppression. In 1999, the country enjoyed freedom to mark the occasion, the governments were shoulder to shoulder with the Sikhs in the celebrations, almost all the countries shared the significance of the day, and celebration was the worldwide phenomenon of jubilation.

Every year Baisakhi falls on the 13th day of April, and it is deeply anchored to the memory of the Tenth Guru Gobind Singh. On this auspicious day, he created the Khalsa by giving �Amrit� - the Holy Drink, to the willing people. He did it so that his verdict, �Recognize the mankind as one and the same,� could be properly served by the dedicated and devoted people reborn by partaking the Holy Drink.This day, marks a vow to end tyranny on the downtrodden perpetrated by the cruel persons, realization of the human rights, responsibilities of the individuals, the values of liberty, carefree practice of the faith, oneness of the humanity, ethical living and to struggle for the reign of God.

Reaction to the inhuman forces came with the birth of Guru Nanak Dev, and it kept on evolving by the efforts and sacrifices of the next 9 Gurus after him (total 10). The Tenth Master lived for about 42 years, and by his age of 32-33, he had successfully stood many battles by the intolerant, cruel rulers who constantly put in their best efforts to keep their subjects slaves worst than animals.

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Sant Sipahi - Saint Soldiers

The predecessors of the Tenth Guru Gobind Singh, handed down to him well prepared material for awakening the masses. He kept hammering, honing, tempering, and refining his heritage to execute his responsibilities. When he concluded that the people were fully awakened for the realization of God (practice of their faith), perfected to protect themselves and the needy, to achieve and defend liberty, with a bang he transplanted on them the heads of Sant-Sipaahee (Saint-Soldiers): called the Khalsa, by giving them his Holy Drink - Amrit. These Sant-Sipahi could protect their faith, the weak and needy, and the self, without putting hopes on, and waiting for others. It was the miraculous achievement for the essential basic need.

Amrit - the Birth of Khalsa

AmritAlthough anyone who believes in God only, has faith in the Ten Sikh Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib (The Sikh Holy Book), and follows them truthfully is a Sikh, yet on this auspicious day (Baisakhi day in 1699 AD), birth of the Khalsa was marked by inducting the eager followers of the Guru by giving them the Holy Drink named Amrit (Giver of the life everlasting - immortality). It made them responsible for a highly ethical life with faith in God, dedication to the personal evolution and devotion to the humanity i.e. loving selfless service to the mankind.

On the Baisakhi day of 1699 AD, the great Guru gave a reverberating call to the gathering of about one hundred thousand Sikhs (his followers), at Kaes Garh Sahib (Anandpur Sahib), to come forward to get them transformed in totality. The five hesitating but courageous Sikhs stood up and offered them to the benevolent Guru. They represented different high and low castes, and whole of India. The Guru gave them Amrit, and designated them `Panj-Piarae,' the five representing the Guru.

Panj Piarae - Five Beloved of the Guru

The Guru takes Amrit from his DisciplesThese first five to come forward for taking Amrit were -
Daya Ram - a Khatri from Lahore.
Dharam Das - a Jat from Delhi.
Himmat a cook from Jagan Nath (Gujrat).
Mohkam Chand - a chheemba (washerman, cloth dyer-printer) from Dwarka
Sahib Chand - a naa-ee (barber) from Bidar (Andhra Pradesh).
This eradicated discrimination of caste, class, sex, color, avocation, and of the geographical regions. Women got naturally included with men, when at the time of preparation of Amrit, Mata Sahib Kaur wife of Guru Gobind Singh, added patasae - sugar cakes, to the water. It was participation by the women. The men and as well women partook Amrit at that time. To bring in equality of the preceptor and disciple, and to eradicate the institution of priesthood, the Tenth Master took Amrit from these panj-piarae (five beloved of the Guru). By the Guru's grace, these five together, had the authority (status) to give Amrit to their Guru.
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A properly Inducted Sikh

A Guru's Sikh (disciple), gets elevated to the level of a Khalsa (Guru's own) by taking Amrit - the Holy Drink.

An Amritdhari Sikh i.e. Singh or the Khalsa, is the one who has taken Amrit. He or she symbolizes an ideal person who awakens in himself and the others, self-respect, dignity, realization of the individual rights and duties. He or she uplifts the downtrodden, weak, women, and the human kind in general. Such a person stands for discipline, humility, hard and honest work, sharing with the needy, education, high character, and brings awareness of the ill effects of drugs: intoxicants. He or she believes in equality of the men and women, and does not inculcate discrimination of any sort. All this has to be recognized by deeds: the life one lives.

A Sikh stands for mercy (compassion), selfless service, and universal (selfless) love. He or she does not hesitate to get sacrificed to protect and practice the faith, the others - needy and weak, and freedom.

The Sikh faith is a practical religion, advocates householder's (family) life, and Gurmukh - ethical i.e. God-oriented conduct. It does not believe in renunciation. The Sikhs must stand against injustice, cruelty, discriminations, slavery, insincerity, hypocrisy, untruth, deceit, treachery, superstitions, and all other negative traits.

In conclusion, dictates of the Sikh faith include many aspects of the Constitution of the America and Charter of the Human Rights. This is what the Sikh Gurus thought of, practiced and started preaching more than 500 years ago, when the independent America was yet to be born.

�Characteristics of a Sikh� is what the young fellows and others in India, UK, USA, and all over the world - developed or undeveloped countries, have to be made aware of. They should carry the light of the Gurus to the coming millennium and to the time thereafter.IIOn the Baisakhi day, the Amritdharis - those who took vow of the Sikh faith by drinking Amrit - became the Khalsa, and they had to strictly follow the edict of Amrit to honor their promise to the Guru. This discipline is applicable for all the times to come, and it is -

Discipline of the Five Kakkaars

So called `Five Ks'
The Five Kakkaars
5 Ks, are the five things named with K - kaes, kangha, kirpan, karra, and kachhaa. An Amritdhari has to keep these on his body: person.
  1. Kaes - hair. To keep in a natural way by not cutting the body hair. It is to keep the Sikhs distinct - to do or die and not to run away or hide from facing the opponent, for a right cause. This develops courage and bravery. Also, it may protect the head like a helmet. An Amritdhari Sikh is not allowed to cut, trim, shave, or remove the hair by any means from any part of body.

  2. The head has to be kept covered with kaeskee (Dastar): a short turban, or a full turban, or a full turban tied on a short turban. The head has to be kept covered, may be with a piece of cloth. The use of cap or hat of any type or style is not permitted to an Amritdhari Sikh. This inculcates laziness.
  3. Kangha - a small comb for keeping the hair tidy.
  4. Kirpan - A short length sword-shaped dagger like weapon, is handy for protection of the self. An Amritdhari Sikh must always keep it on his body. It should be made of steel.

  5. Now, mostly its small replica is kept. Especially when going out, the Sikhs may carry a full-length sword - about 3 feet long, or a short Kirpan (A sort of dagger) of about 9 to 15 inches.
    Where not permitted, some keep the small iron replica on body and pack the bigger (longer) version in `check in baggage.' Others, resent the interference with their faith, do not bend, and fight out their rights without caring for the consequences.
  6. Karra - an iron bangle on the right wrist. To be the symbol, it should be made of steel. Many use a Karra made of gold. It is not approved as a symbol. A Karra is a reminder to do good and to follow (keep bound by) the rules advocated by the Guru for evolving to attain an ethical life - honest avocation, sharing of the boons with the needy, and remembering God, etc. As well, it is a handy blunt weapon. A good many wear its heavy variety with sharp or serrated edges.

  7. For the modern machinery workers, the author once suggested a reasonably thin bangle made of soft iron (malleable steel) with a fine cut, so that it should easily open up if caught in a gear and not shear off the arm. Some workers, when on a machine, remove their Karras from their arms and put them into their pockets, and others may wear these on their left arms. Some may keep a small Karra as a necklace, and still others may do the same with the replicas of Kirpans and Kanghas, also.
    A Kirpan may be set on to a Kangha, besides keeping the full size Kakkaars. The value lies in the symbol itself. It has become common to wear a golden necklace with the symbol Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan > or of Ik-Oankar <> as a pendant. This is an ornament.
    An iron Karra is also used by non-Amritdhari Sikhs (the Sikhs not yet properly inducted into the faith). Many parents put them on the arms of infants or children with the belief that these ward off the evil eye, and save them from the influences of the unholy spirits.
    An iron is popular even with the people from the other communities. Karra, like Kirpan and other weapons, is a sign of valor. It is a declaration,�I fear none.� Wearing this, one invites the protection of the Guru and God - the Guru gave it and God directed him to do so. It is a sign of courage, high morale, and affirms that the wearer knows his duties, responsibilities, rights, and stands firm for them. Wearing this, one does not feel alone, believes that the Guru and God are with him or her. Karra is a sign that he or she has totally surrendered to the Guru and God - is totally under His will! Kakkars claim that the person wearing them is ever ready to protect the needy, and he or she can be fully and depended on without any hesitation or fear.
  8. Kachhaa - underwear: pant, to provide cover to the men and women alike, under all circumstances. Wearing it is a reminder to have check on lust. This means respect for the opposite sex. It was an easy dress for the horse riding to ever keep combat-ready. It is baggy, and specially designed to stay closely fitted above the knees.

  9. An Amritdhari Sikh must take care that it is always on the body and is never ignored even for a moment. When changing, this is done on each leg in turn, and the previous one (wet) is not cast off from both the legs at the same time - first change it on one leg, and then change on the other.
    Prescribed Kachhaa is a must for the Amritdharis, but now, many take some liberties with its design. In its one form or the other, and in its many shapes and designs, this panty is one of the most common wear in the world.Besides observing the discipline of five Kakkaars, a Sikh in general and an Amritdhari in particular, has to protect himself or herself from the four serious transgressions called Kurehtan.
Kurehtan - Transgressions Char Kurehtan - Four transgressionsIt is a special strict discipline for the Amritdhari. The following are the four to be strictly taken care of -
  1. Preserve the body-hair

  2. Preserve the hair. Keep the head covered with a Dastar or Kaeskee: the cloth of a short length, or with a turban. An Amritdharis should not wear a cap or hat of any sort. It develops laziness and is not the right thing to properly cover a head with long hair. A turban has to be undone and tied again once it is removed, and is not to be used as a cap.
  3. Do not use tobacco in its any form

  4. Also, alcohol and other addictives i.e. intoxicating drugs are not permitted.
  5. Control Sex

  6. Honor the Woman. Respect the opposite sex
    The Guru's edict was not to molest a woman. She was to be fully protected,. In the days gone by, the Sikh and fanatic Muslim skirmishes were not uncommon, and there was a possibility of the Muslim women falling into the Sikh hands. A Muslim woman if captured, was to be respected like a mother, sister, or daughter, and sent to her home with honor. A Sikh was prohibited to harm her in any way. It helped to develop their high character and respect for women. In fact, a Sikh has to respect the opposite sex. A high moral character is a must, and lust in any form is a taboo for him or her.
  7. Eat Jhatka-Meat

  8. Eat meat prepared by your own method
    The Sikh way of killing an animal is Jhatka - with a single stroke of a sharp weapon like a sword. It is very quick and presumed to be painless. In killing the animal by Halal, the main throat-vessels of it are cut with the motions of a sharp knife. The Halal eaters also, claim a painless death to the animal. The Muslims eat Halal meat, and they shun pork. Hindus do not eat beef. There is nothing a taboo for the Sikhs, although most of them do not eat beef. But they must eat only Jhatka, or a game hunted in any way.The Sikhs kill an animal in their own way, to express their dignity, individuality, and liberty. It protects their minds from the psychological influence of food (meat) prepared by any other method. In India, at the time of the Mogul reign, to put the minds of the other people under the influence of the authority and faith, no one was permitted to kill any living thing by a method other than Halal. Doing Jhatkaa - killing with one stroke, was a protest to such a ban to assert one's own self - his or her liberty. It was a declaration of the Sikhs that they were not slaves to anyone.
    For the Sikhs, an animal may be killed by a gunshot, a sharp weapon, or blunt weapon etc. Sant Hardev Singh of Patiala, visiting Batala said that a Sikh may not hesitate to eat a dish after �purifying it� by passing Kirpan through it and reciting, �Gurparsaad.e bharam kaa naasu� 5-294-5 - blessing of the Guru destroys all doubts.The code of conduct is applicable to every Sikh, and he or she is not to maintain any relationship with those who kill the female children or use tobacco. They should also adopt other sub-disciplines for leading an honorable, ethical life.
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Unity and Harmony

The following steps are to maintain the unity of the Amritdhari and other Sikhs -
  1. To the male name is added �Singh� - a lion, and �Kaur� - princess, to the female name.
  2. The spiritual father of the Khalsa is Guru Gobind Singh, the spiritual mother is Mata Sahib Devan (Mata - mother), and the spiritual residence is Anandpur Sahib. This is the town in the Punjab where the Tenth Master (Guru Gobind Singh) prepared and gave Amrit to thousands on the Baisakhi day of 1699.
  3. No sex based or any other discrimination. Women are equal to men in every aspect. Whole of the mankind is one and the same. God dwells in all and in everything.

  4. In the faith, any shortcoming in the discipline of equality is due to the negligence both of the Sikh men and women, but now these are trying to address it. Equality is for all the women in general, and not only for the Sikh woman. For the Sikhs, every woman in the world is equal to man.
  5. To worship only One God and no gods, goddesses, any other things, or elements.
  6. Since after Guru Gobind Singh, for every Sikh, his or her Guru has been Guru Granth Sahib, and anything said by any author in Guru Granth Sahib, has been said by the Guru - All Hymns in the Holy Granth, and authored by anyone, have one and the same spirit that of the Guru. All Hymns are equally honored, without discrimination of the faith of an author (anyone other than the Guru).
  7. All the Gurus have one Jyoti - light i.e. spirit, and so, all the Gurus are one and the same. This way, whatever one Guru said, has been said by all the Gurus. Therefore, though actually the Guru-authors in the Guru Granth Sahib are six, all the ten are considered present therein.
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Routine of a Sikh

The following marks the daily routine of a Sikh, Amritdhari or non-Amritdhari, Sehjdhari or any other.
  1. To get up early in the morning, take bath, take full care of the body. Keep neat, clean, and tidy.
  2. Do Naam-Jaap every morning. This is the recitation of the Name of God, and for the Sikhs it is the recitation of the word. �Waheguru.�
  3. To daily recite the Scriptures, This is called Nit-Nem - an everyday routine. Also, to read Guru Granth Sahib.
  4. To attend Gurdwara - go to Sangat (congregation) in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, listen to Kirtan (devotional singing), and take Parshad (holy pudding). Take Langar (food) there.
  5. To have an honest avocation, and to set aside 10 % of income for charities etc. To share boons with the needy and to extend selfless help to them.
  6. To do Nishkam-Sewa - selfless service, with love and dedication. Attend a Gurdwara and do Sewa there, and as well in the public.
  7. To love everyone equally and without selfish motives. Consider everyone to be one and the same - equal. Be compassionate and sympathetic.
  8. To practice virtues and to eradicate vices. Help the weak and needy.
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Next Chapter - Man of the Era
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