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Essays on Sikh Values
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
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
first five to come forward for taking Amrit were -
Daya Ram - a Khatri from Lahore.
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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Dharam Das - a Jat from Delhi.
Himmat a cook from Jagan Nath (Gujrat).
Mohkam Chand - a chheemba (washerman, cloth dyer-printer)
Sahib Chand - a naa-ee (barber) from Bidar (Andhra Pradesh).
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'
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.
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 -
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.
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
Kangha - a small comb for keeping the hair tidy.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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Preserve the body-hair
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.
Do not use tobacco in its any form
Also, alcohol and other addictives i.e. intoxicating drugs are not
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.
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
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.
Unity and Harmony
The following steps are to maintain the unity of the Amritdhari and other
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To the male name is added �Singh� - a lion, and �Kaur� - princess, to the
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.
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 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.
To worship only One God and no gods, goddesses, any other things, or elements.
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).
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.
Routine of a Sikh
The following marks the daily routine of a Sikh, Amritdhari or non-Amritdhari,
Sehjdhari or any other.
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To get up early in the morning, take bath, take full care of the body.
Keep neat, clean, and tidy.
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.�
To daily recite the Scriptures, This is called Nit-Nem - an everyday routine.
Also, to read Guru Granth Sahib.
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.
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.
To do Nishkam-Sewa - selfless service, with love and dedication. Attend
a Gurdwara and do Sewa there, and as well in the public.
To love everyone equally and without selfish motives. Consider everyone
to be one and the same - equal. Be compassionate and sympathetic.
To practice virtues and to eradicate vices. Help the weak and needy.
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