ਪਰਿਓ ਕਾਲੁ ਸਭੈ ਗ ਊਪਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਲਿਖੇ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ

ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਜਨ ਭਏ ਖਾਲਸੇ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਭਗਤਿ ਜਿਹ ਜਾਨੀ

Guru Gobind Singh invited his followers from all over India to a special congregation at Anandpur on Vaisakhi Day, 30 March 1699. He asked, with a naked sword in his hand, "Is there any one among you who is prepared to die for the Sikh Faith?" When people heard his call, they were taken aback. Some of the wavering followers left the congregation, while other began to look at one another in amazement. After a few minutes, a Sikh from Lahore named Daya Ram stood up and offered his head to the Guru. The Guru took him to a tent pitched close by, and after some time, came out with a blood dripping sword. The Sikhs thought Daya Ram had been slain. The Guru repeated his demand calling for another Sikh who was prepared to die at his command. The second Sikh who offered himself was Dharam Das. Thereafter, three more, Mohkam Chand, Sahib Chand and Himmat Rai, offered their lives to the Guru.

Later, these five Sikhs were given new robes and presented to the congregation. They constituted the Panj Pyare: the Five Beloved Ones, who were baptized as the Khalsa or the Pure Ones with the administration of Amrit. The Guru declared:

Since Guru Nanak, it is the Charan amrit (water used for washing the Guru's feet) which has been administered to the devotees. But from now on, I shall baptize them with water stirred with a double-edged sword - Khanda.

Upon administering amrit to the Five Beloved Ones, the Guru asked them to baptize him in the same manner, thus emphasizing equality between the Guru and his disciples.

Guru Gobind Singh named the new ceremony, Khanday-da-Amrit, namely the baptism of the double-edged sword. He stirred water in an iron bowl with the sword, reciting five major compositions, Japji, Jaap, Anand Sahib, Ten Sawaiyas and Chaupi, while the five Sikhs stood facing him. The Guru's wife put some sugar-puffs into the water. The nectar thus obtained was called Khanday-da-Amrit. This implied that the new Khalsa brother-hood would not only be full of courage and heroism, but also filled with humility.

Briefly, the Khalsa concept has been captured by G.C. Narang in Transformation of Sikhism:

Abolition of prejudice, equality of privilege amongst one another and with the Guru, common worship, common place of pilgrimage, common baptism for all classes and lastly, common external appearance - these were the means besides common leadership and the community of aspiration which Gobind Singh employed to bring unity among his followers and by which he bound them together into a compact mass.

The creation of Khalsa marked the culmination of about 240 years of training given by the ten Gurus to their Sikhs. The Guru wanted to create ideal people who should be perfect in all respects, that is a combination of devotion (Bhakti) and strength (Shakti). He combined charity (Deg) with the sword (Tegh) in the image of his Sikh.

ਤੀਰਥ ਦਾਨ ਦਇਆ ਤਪ ਸੰਜਮ ਏਕ ਬਿਨਾ ਨਹ ਏਕ ਪਛਾਨੈ ॥ ਪੂਰਨ ਜੋਤ ਜਗੈ ਘਟ ਮੈ ਤਬ ਖਾਲਸ ਤਾਹਿ ਨਖਾਲਸ ਜਾਨੈ ॥੧

The Khalsa was to be a saint, a soldier and a scholar, with high moral and excellent character. He or she would be strong, courageous, learned and wise. In order to mould his personality the Guru inculcated in him the five virtues - sacrifice, cleanliness, honesty, charity and courage, and prescribed a Rehat - the Sikh code of discipline. His character would be strengthened by the spirit of God revealed in the Guru's hymns. For this purpose he was asked to recite the five sacred composition or Banis daily.

The combination of virtue and courage is the strength of the Khalsa. This is an assurance against the ruthless exploitation of masses by their masters, and a device for overcoming hurdles that lied in the practice of holiness and spiritualism in daily life. Guru Gobind Singh commanded the Khalsa to use the sword only in times of emergency, that is, when peaceful methods failed and only for self-defense and the protection of the oppressed. His spirit will continue to inspire them for the preservation of peace, order and dignity of mankind for all time to come.

The Five Ks:

Kesh – uncut hair to represent the natural appearance of sainthood. It is argued by some that the requirement is Keski instead, a small turban to be worn underneath a bigger turban. However the latter idea is not contradictory to the former, since the purpose of the Keski is to preserve the kesh.

Kanga – a small comb.

Kaccha – warrior short trousers, also denotes chastity.

Kara – steel bangle as a sign of restraint and bondage, and a symbol of dedication to the Guru. Guru Gobind Singh proclaimed that by wearing Kara all fears will be removed.

Kirpan – a sword for defence. The Kirpan is a symbol of dignity, power and courage. Kirpan is from Kirpa (act of kindness, Sanskrit) + Aan (self respect, Persian language).



The Brahmins of Kashmir approached Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675), the ninth in the line of Sikh Gurus, who was on the throne of the Sikh religion. They asked him for guidance on combatting the atrocities committed by the Mughal Emperor.

At the time of their meeting, Guru Tegh Bahadur's nine year old son, Gobind Rai, was sitting beside him. As Guru Tegh Bahadur went into a deep state of contemplation, his young son asked the reason of his repose. Guru Tegh Bahadur said that the matter was of vital importance; the world is aggrieved by oppression; and no brave man had yet come forward who was willing to sacrifice his life to free the earth from the burden of' Aurangzeb's persecution of Hindus. Young Gobind Rai replied: "For that purpose who is more worthy than thou who art at once generous and brave." So after entrusting the Guruship to Gobind Rai, Guru Tegh Bahadur proceeded towards Delhi, the seat of the Mughal Empire.
Upon reaching Delhi, the Guru and his loyal attendants were immediately imprisoned by Aurangzeb. While in prison, Guru Tegh Bahadur foresaw the beginning of his ecclesiastic journey. To test his son's courage and capability to carry on the Guru's mission, he wrote him saying, "My strength is exhausted, I am in chains and I can make not any efforts. Says Nanak, God alone is now my refuge. He will help me as He did his Saints." In reply young Guru Gobind Rai wrote: "I have regained my Power, my bonds are broken and all options are open unto me. Nanak, everything is in Thine hands. It is only Thou who can assist Thyself."

Guru Teg Bahadur offered his life for the freedom of conscience and conviction of anyone belonging to a faith other than his own. His spirit of sacrifice and courage was kindled into the heart of Gobind Rai.

Hundreds of people gathered around the place where Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred in Delhi. The executioner abandoned the Guru's body in the open. No one came forward openly to claim the body to perform religious rites. Even ardent disciples withdrew unrecognized. Taking advantage of the stormy weather that followed the execution, two persons covertly took the body of Guru Tegh Bahadur for cremation. This cowardice fomented in Gobind Rai an urge to endow his Sikhs with a distinct identity. With the criteria of courage and strength to sacrifice, Gobind Rai became the tenth Sikh Guru. He wanted to instill these principles in his downtrodden followers. He wanted to uplift their morale to combat the evil forces of injustice, tyranny, and oppression.
He was 33 years old when he had Divine inspiration to actuate his designs. Every year at the time of Baisakhi (springtime), thousands of devotees would come to Anandpur to pay their obeisance and seek the Guru's blessings. In early 1699, months before Baisakhi Day, Guru Gobind Rai sent special edicts to congregants far and wide that that year the Baisakhi was going to be a unique affair. He asked them not to cut any of their hair -- to come with unshorn hair under their turbans and chunis, and for the men to come with full beards.

On Baisakhi Day, March 30, 1699, hundreds of thousands of people gathered around his divine temporal seat at Anandpur Sahib. The Guru addressed the congregants with a most stirring oration on his divine mission of restoring their faith and preserving the Sikh religion. After his inspirational discourse, he flashed his unsheathed sword and said that every great deed was preceded by equally great sacrifice. He demanded one head for oblation. After some trepidation: He demanded one head for oblation. After some trepidation one person offered himself. The Guru took him inside a tent. A little later he reappeared with his sword dripping with blood, and asked for another head. One by one four more earnest devotees offered their heads. Every time the Guru took a person inside the tent, he came out with a bloodied sword in his hand.

Thinking their Guru to have gone berserk, the congregants started to disperse. Then the Guru emerged with all five men dressed piously in white. He baptized the five in a new and unique ceremony called pahul, what Sikhs today know as the baptism ceremony called Amrit. Then the Guru asked those five baptized Sikhs to baptize him as well. He then proclaimed that the Panj Pyare -- the Five Beloved Ones -- would be the embodiment of the Guru himself: "Where there are Panj Pyare, there am I. When the Five meet, they are the holiest of the holy."

He said whenever and wherever five baptized (Amritdhari) Sikhs come together, the Guru would be present. All those who receive Amrit from five baptized Sikhs will be infused with the spirit of courage and strength to sacrifice. Thus with these principles he established Panth Khalsa, the Order of the Pure Ones.

ਜਾਗਤਿ ਜੋਤ ਜਪੈ ਨਿਸ ਬਾਸੁਰ ਏਕ ਬਿਨਾ ਮਨ ਨੈਕ ਨ ਆਨੈ ॥ ਪੂਰਨ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਪ੍ਰਤੀਤ ਸਜੈ ਬ੍ਰਤ ਗੋਰ ਮੜੀ ਮਟ ਭੂਲ ਨ ਮਾਨੈ ॥
At the same time the Guru gave his new Khalsa a unique, indisputable, and distinct identity. The Guru gave the gift of bana, the distinctive Sikh clothing and headwear. He also offered five emblems of purity and courage. These symbols, worn by all baptized Sikhs of both sexes, are popularly known today as Five Ks: Kesh, unshorn hair; Kangha, the wooden comb; Karra, the iron (or steel) bracelet; Kirpan, the sword; and Kachera, the underwear. By being identifiable, no Sikh could never hide behind cowardice again.

Political tyranny was not the only circumstance that was lowering peoples' morale. Discriminatory class distinctions (--the Indian "caste" system--) promoted by Brahmins and Mullahs were also responsible for the peoples' sense of degradation. The Guru wanted to eliminate the anomalies caused by the caste system. The constitution of the Panj Pyare was the living example of his dream: both the high and low castes were amalgamated into one. Among the original Panj Pyare, there was one Khatri, shopkeeper; one Jat, farmer; one Chhimba, calico printer/tailor; one Ghumar, water-carrier; and one Nai, a barber. The Guru gave the surname of Singh (Lion) to every Sikh and also took the name for himself. From Guru Gobind Rai he became Guru Gobind Singh. He also pronounced that all Sikh women embody royalty, and gave them the surname Kaur (Princess). With the distinct Khalsa identity and consciousness of purity Guru Gobind Singh gave all Sikhs the opporunity to live lives of courage, sacrifice, and equality.

The birth of the Khalsa is celebrated by Sikhs every Baisakhi Day on April 13. Baisakhi 1999 marks the 300th anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh's gift of Panth Khalsa to all Sikhs everywhere.

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Khalsa mero roop hai khaas.
The Khalsa is my complete image

Khalse maih hau karo nivaas.
I dwell in the khalsa

Khalsa mero mukh hai ang-aa.
Khalsa is my chief organ

Khalse ke hau sadh sadh sang-aa.
I am always with the khalsa

Khalsa mero mitr sakhaa-ee
Khalsa is my closest friend

Khalsa maat pitaa sukhdaa-ee
Khalsa is my mother, father & source of all comforts.

Khalsa meri jaat ar pat.
Khalsa is my caste & creed.

Khalsa sau maa kau utapat.
My creation is through the khalsa

Khalsa mero bhavan bhand-aa-raa.
I dwell in the khalsa who is a storehouse of all my requirements.

Khalse kar mero satk-aa-raa.
I am honoured because of the khalsa.

Khalsa mero pind par-aan.
Khalsa is my body & breath.

Khalsa meri jaan ki jaan.
Khalsa is my life & soul

Khalsa mera satgur poor-aa
Khalsa is my full-fledged Guru.

Khalsa mera sajan soor-aa.
Khalsa is my brave friend.

Khalsa mero budh ar giaan.
Khalsa is my wisdom & knowledge.

Khalse ka hau dhar-au dhiaan.
I always contemplate the khalsa prayerfully

Upmaa khalsae jaath na kahi
Eulogy of the khalsa is beyond me.

Jihv-aa ek paar nah lahi.
I cannot fathom full praise of the khalsa with one tongue.

Ya mai ranch na mithe-aa bhaakh-ee.
I certify that I have not mis-stated anything in the foregoing.

Paarbrahm gur Nanak saak-ee.
God & Guru Nanak are my witnesses to endorse the foregoing truth.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Sarb Loh Granth, (MS), 519-526.

Listen to More Gurbani Shabads:

Sadho eh tan mithyaa jaano

Har ji mata har ji pita

Salok baba sheikh farid

Preetam jaan leho man maahi

Hey govind hey gopal


Nihang Singhs belong to a martial tradition begun by the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh. Their way of life, style of dress, and weaponry has remained little changed since the Guru's lifetime, three hundred years ago. Today, some Punjabis see them as a relic of a time long past, but others recognize Nihangs as a colourful and important part of Punjabi heritage.

Nihangs are a semi-nomadic people. They are organized into "armies" and live in camps known as "cantonments". Men and women both train in horsemanship, swordsmanship, and in the Punjabi martial art known as gatka. During times of persecution in the past, the Nihangs defended Sikh shrines and the Sikh way of life and become known for their bravery against all odds. In times of peace they travel to festivals and fairs throughout India, staging displays of horsemanship and martial skills. The annual Hola Mohalla fair held in Anandpur Sahib on the festival of Vaisakhi is especially notable for the Nihangs' colourful displays of pageantry.

Nihang is a Persian word meaning crocodile. Nihangs were suicide squads of the Mughal army and wore blue uniforms. The Sikhs took the name and the uniform from theMughals. Nihangs constitute an order of Sikhs who, abandoning the fear of death, are ever ready for martyrdom and remain unsullied by worldly possessions. A Nihang is one who has nothing and is free from anxiety. The order is said to have been founded by Guru Gobind Singh himself as a fighting body of the Khalsa. The Nihangs were also called Akalis (servitors of the Timeless God) which term has now become synonymous with the members of a political party in Punjab. (Most of them wear blue turbans).

Today, Nihangs foregather in their hundreds at Anandpur, on the occasion of the festival of Hola Mohalla and display their martial skills. This tradition has been in place since the time of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.


Gurpurbs are festivals that are associated with the lives of the Gurus. They are happy occasions which are celebrated most enthusiastically by Sikhs.

The most important Gurpurbs are:

  • The birthday of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism (April or November)
  • The birthday of Guru Gobind Singh, founder of the Khalsa (January)
  • The martyrdom of Guru Arjan (June)
  • The martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur (November/December)

Sikhs celebrate Gurpurbs with an akhand path. This is a complete and continuous reading of Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, that takes 48 hours and finishes on the day of the festival. This is also performed in times of ceremony such as birth, death, marriage and moving into a new home.

The reading is done by a team of readers, who may be professionals or family members (in the case of family rites). Each reads for two to three hours.

The Akhand Path originated in India in the mid 18th century, when there were few copies of the Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs were at war and hid in the jungles. They gathered round to hear readings from the sacred text before the text was moved on to be read to other groups of Sikhs.

Gurdwaras are decorated with flowers, flags and lights, and Sikhs dress up in new or smart clothes and join together for special services. Hymns are sung from the Guru Granth Sahib, poems are recited in praise of the Gurus and there are lectures on Sikhism.

Panj Piaras, representing the first initiated Sikhs, in a procession.

In India and parts of Britain, there are processions where the Sikh Scripture is paraded around. Five people representing the first five members of the Khalsa (the Panj Piaras or Five Beloved Ones) head the procession carrying the Sikh flag. Musicians, singers and martial artists follow. Outside some Gudwaras, free sweets are offered to the general public, regardless of their faith.

Food is important in this festival. Sikhs come together to eat special food such as Karah Parasaad, a sweet-tasting food which has been blessed and is served warm. Free meals (langars) are served at the Gudwaras.

Sikhism, A View of the Sikh Religion

At the northwestern tip of India is located The Golden Temple, or Harimandir Sahib, the most significant historical center on earth to the 20 million Sikhs worldwide. Here people from all walks of life are invited to join in listening to the hymns and teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib

and to join in unity for a communal meal (Langar). This sacred gurdwara (temple) has entrances on all four sides, a symbol that this faith "is for people of all castes and all creeds from whichever direction they come and to whichever direction they bow." (Guru Arjun Dev)

Over five hundred years ago in Punjab, India, a son was born to a Hindi couple. The child, who was named Nanak, was expected to follow in his merchant father's footsteps. But this child was different in many ways. He was contemplative and thoughtful. He would frequently get lost in meditation. He seemed disinterested with the things of this world. He discussed religion with his Muslim and Hindi associates.

Finally, one morning he went to the river to bathe. According to legend, he entered the stream but did not surface. For three days and nights his friends searched for him, but he was not to be found. Then came the miraculous event-Nanak emerged from the river. During the time he'd been missing, Nanak had an incredible spiritual experience. He'd been in communion with God, and had been enlightened and given a calling to tell the world of his True Name. The first thing Nanak said upon his return was "There is no Hindu, no Muslim." Nanak's message was that only through true devotion to the one True Name could humans break the cycle of birth and deaths and merge with God. Nanak became the first Guru, and Sikhism came into being.

At that point, Guru Nanak left his home on the first of four major journeys to spread his message. Between the years 1499 and 1521 he traveled to such places as Sri Lanka, Tibet, Baghdad, Mecca, and Medina. Miraculous events accompanied him wherever he went, and he gained a large following. Finally at the close of his life he settled in Kartapur with his wife and two sons. His many disciples came here to listen to his teachings. Before he died, he appointed one to continue his work. Since Nanak, there have been nine other living gurus. The tenth, Guru Gobind Singh taught that there was no longer a need for a living guru. Instead, he found a spiritual successor in the Guru Granth Sahib (sacred texts), and a physical successor in the Khalsa.

Literally translated, khalsa means "the pure," and it is the goal of all Sikhs to become Khalsa. Officially, one becomes Khalsa when he or she has undergone Sikh baptism, and have agreed to follow the Sikh Code of Conduct and Conventions, along with wearing the prescribed physical articles of the faith. This ceremony takes place when a mature individual presents him or herself in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib and five other Khalsa Sikhs. The candidate is taught what will be expected of him or her, and then drinks Amrit (sugar water stirred with a dagger).

Khalsa members can easily be distinguished by certain articles of clothing which they wear as symbols of their faith. These are referred to as the Five K's.

· Kesh, or long, unshorn hair, is a symbol of spirituality. It reminds the individual to behave like gurus. (Male members wear a turban over the hair.)

· Kirpan, or the ceremonial sword, is a symbol of dignity. This is not regarded as a weapon, much as the cross is worn by Christians as a symbol of faith, and not an instrument of torture.

· Kangha, or comb, is a symbol of hygiene and discipline.

· Kara, or a steel bracelet, is a symbol of restraint in actions and a constant reminder of one's devotion to God.

· Kachha, or drawers, which symbolize self-control and chastity.

Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world. It began as a progressive religion which rejected all distinctions of caste, creed, race, or sex. It recognized the full equality of women at a time when women were regarded as property or entertainment of men, when female infanticide and widow burning was common and even encouraged. The legacy of Sikhism is its emphasis on one's devotion to God and truthful living.

Written By:-Emma Snow

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