THE KHALSA

 

 

  "I have made this body and mind a sacrifice, a sacrificial offering to the Lord. Dedicating my body and mind, I have crossed over the terrifying world-ocean, and shaken off the fear of death." (Guru Arjan Dev)

 

Definition of the Khalsa

"He who keeps alight the unquenchable torch of truth, and never swerves from the thought of One God; he who has full love and confidence in God and does not put his faith, even by mistake, in fasting or the graves of Muslim saints, Hindu crematoriums, or Jogis places of sepulchre; he who recognises the One God and no pilgrimages, alms-giving, non-destruction of life, penances, or austerities; and in whose heart the light of the Perfect One shines, - he is to be recognised as a pure member of the Khalsa" (Guru Gobind Singh, 33 Swaiyyas)

The word "Khalsa" means "pure", Khalsa's are Sikhs which have undergone the sacred Amrit Ceremony initiated by the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. The Khalsa order was initially created on Vaisakhi Day March 30 1699, with Guru Gobind Singh baptising 5 Sikhs and then in turn asking the five Khalsa's to baptise him. Following this the Guru personally baptised thousands of men and women into the Khalsa order. The Khalsa baptism ceremony is undertaken as part of ones own personal spiritual evolution when the initiate is ready to fully live up to the high expectations of Guru Gobind Singh. All Sikhs are expected to be Khalsa or be working towards that objective.

The Khalsa baptism ceremony involves drinking of Amrit (sugar water stirred with a dagger) in the presence of 5 Khalsa Sikhs as well as the Guru Granth Sahib. The initiate is instructed in the following; (a) You shall never remove any hair from any part of thy body, (b) You shall not use tobacco, alcohol or any other intoxicants, (c) You shall not eat the meat of an animal slaughtered the Muslim way, (d) You shall not commit adultery. The initiate is required to wear the physical symbols of a Khalsa at all times as well as follow the Khalsa Code of Conduct.

 

Adopting the physical symbols or taking the Khalsa baptism ceremony alone does not make one a Gursikh (Sikh of the Gurus). It is a step in the right direction but a full commitment to living the Sikh lifestyle both physically and spiritually is required to be a Gursikh and true Khalsa of Guru Gobind Singh.

"Whosoever assumes a religious garb pleases not God even a bit. O ye men, understand this clearly in your minds, that God is attained not through showmanship. They who practice deceit, attain not Deliverance in the Hereafter. They do so only to accomplish the affairs of the world and even the kings worship them for their appearance! But through showmanship, God is attained not, howsoever one searches. He who subdues his mind alone recognises the Transcendent God." (Guru Gobind Singh, Chaupai 53-55, Chapter 6, Vachitra Natak, Dasam Granth)

"The disguiser puts on various garbs. Within him is desire, and he walks about proudly. His own self he understands not and loses the game. Putting on religious garbs some play clever. Love of maya and doubt have supremely misled them. Without serving the Guru, they suffer immense pain. They who are imbued with God's Name, ever remained detached." (Guru Amar Das, Gauri, pg. 230)

"Indulging in egotism, one knows not the Lord, whatever religious garb he may wear." (Guru Nanak, Gauri, pg. 226)

"He who calls himself a Sikh of the True Guru, he should get up in the early hours of the morning and remember the Name of the Lord. He should make effort to rise before the day dawns and take a bath in the pool of nectar. Under the instructions of the Guru, he should repeat the mantram of the Guru, all his troubles will end and all his sins and blemishes will be destroyed. Then when the day dawns, he should sing the bani of the Guru and remember the Name of the Lord while sitting or moving. He who remembers my Lord with every breath and loaf, that Gursikh is liked by the Guru. He on whom my Lord showers His Blessings, the Guru instructs that Gursikh. I beg for the dust of the feet of that Gursikh, who not only repeats the Name of the Lord but also makes others to repeat it." (Guru Ram Das, Var Gauri)

"In this body (lamp), put the oil of the practice of reciting the religious books and the wick of Lord's fear. Light this lamp with the fire of the knowledge of the Truth." (Guru Nanak, Sri Rag, pg.25)

"Those who are absorbed in the Name of the Lord, all their eatables, clothes and maya are pure; their houses, temples, palaces and rest-houses are all pure, in which the Gurmukhs, devotees, and the praying Sikhs live or stay; their horses, saddles and sacks are all pure on which the Gurmukh Sikhs and saints take a ride; their actions of piety are all pure, who repeat and remember the Name of the Lord; those who are destined to be virtuous, such Gurmukh Sikhs go to the Guru" (Guru Ram Das, Var Sorath)

"O Gursikhs, always remember the Name of the Lord, the True Guru and the Lord will make the life comfortable in your home, O Gursikhs, consider the bani of the Guru as True, the Lord Himself issues it through his mouth. The dear Lord Himself purifies the mouth of the Gursikhs and Himself makes the whole world proclaim loudly the Praises of the Guru. I am the servant of the Lord, who protects the honour of his servants." (Guru Ram Das, Var Gauri)

"The True Guru is the ocean of pearls, one attains it according to his Writ. The Sikhs like swans gather together according to the Will of the True Guru. The ocean is full of gems and pearls, the swan eats them, but the ocean always remains full. The Lord wills that the ocean and the swans are not separated. Only that Sikh comes to the Guru, on whose forehead this Writ is recorded from the very beginning. Such a Gursikh not only ferries across the world-ocean, himself, but also saves his family and the whole world." (Guru Arjan Dav, Var Ramkali, pg. 960)

"The True Guru is the field of Dharma, in which one reaps whatever one sows. The Gursikh sow the nectar and get the ambrosial fruit of God. They are pure in both worlds and in the Court of the Lord, they receive a robe of honour." (Guru Ram Das, Var Gauri)

 

Spiritual Evolution

Stage 1: Manmukh

A person who is self-centred and only thinks about himself and the material world around him and is totally oblivious to God.

Stage 2: Sikh

Anyone who sets out on the path of learning and meets the specific definition of a Sikh as appears in the Reht Maryada (Official Code of Conduct).

Stage 3: Khalsa

Total dedication to Sikhism. One who has has shed his ego and personality and truly honours the memory of Guru Gobind Singh through his actions and deeds.

Stage 4: Gurmukh

                 One who has achieved mukhti (salvation) and is totally God-centred.


 

The Khalsa Code of Ethical Conduct: A Brief Overview

The Sikh will worship only God. They will not set up any idols, gods, goddesses or statues for worship nor shall they worship any human being.

The Sikh will believe in no other religious book other than the Holy Guru Granth Sahib, although they can study other religious books for acquiring knowledge and for comparative study.

The Sikh will not believe in castes, untouchables, magic, omens, amulets, astrology, appeasement rituals, ceremonial hair cutting, fasts, frontal masks, sacred thread, graves and traditional death rites.

The Khalsa will remain distinct by wearing the Five K's but shall not injure the feelings of others professing different religions.

The Khalsa will pray to God before starting any work. This will be over and above his usual prayers.

Although a Sikh may learn as many languages as he likes, he must learn Punjabi and teach his children to learn to read it.

Every male should add "Singh" (lion) after his first name and every female Khalsa should add "Kaur" (princess) after her first name. They must never remove hair from any part of their bodies.

Drugs, Smoking and Alcohol are strictly forbidden for Sikhs

Khalsa men and women will not make holes in their ears or nose and shall have no connection whatsoever with those who kill their daughters. Sikh women will not wear a veil.

A Sikh must live on honest labour and give generously to the poor and the needy thinking all the time that whatever he gives is given to the Guru.

A Sikh must never steal or gamble.

Except for the kacha and the turban there is no restrictions on the dress of a Khalsa, but a Khalsa's dress should be simple and modest.

When a Khalsa meets another Khalsa he will greet him by saying, Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh (The Khalsa belong to God, Victory belongs to God).

 

Duties of the Khalsa

In one of his poems, Guru Gobind Singh Sahib defines the Khalsa :

"He who repeats night and day the name of Him,
Who has full love and confidence in God,
Who bestows not a thought on many but one God,
Whose enduring light is inextinguishable,
Who puts no faith in fasting and worshipping cemeteries and monasteries,
Who only recognises the one God and makes no fetish, Of pilgrimages,
alms, charities and austerities:

He is recognised as a true member of the Khalsa,
In whose heart the light of the Perfect One shines."

Guru Gobind Singh Sahib laid down the following duties for the Khalsa :

I. The Khalsa is to worship one God and read Nitname (Five Banis) and daily meditate on the Name.

II. He is to keep the symbols (Panj Kakar) and to lead his life according to the Guru's teaching. Gurmantra is Wahe-guru and the Basic creed is Mool-manlra.

III. He has no caste after joining the brother-hood ; he has to repudiate non-Sikh rites and ceremonies, and follow only Sikh practices.

IV. He is not to commit 'any of the four misdeeds (Kurahat) namely, the shaving or cutting of hair, eating Halal meat, adultery and the use of tobacco or any other intoxicant.

V. He is not to commit any of the social offences (Tankhah), such as giving dowry, using liquors and intoxicants, raising monuments over graves and associating with apostates.

VI He must contribute one-tenth {daswand) of his income for religious purposes.

VII He is to serve the sangat in all ways

VIII He must practice arms and be ready defend the weak.

The Khalsa was a saint-soldier wedded to the two-fold ideal of Bhagti and Shakti. He was to combine self-respect with humility. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib though a creator of the Khalsa regarded himself as their servant . He says, " To serve them pleases me the most; no other service is so dear to my soul." Like a loving father, he was prepared to forgive the sudden lapses of the Khalsa as in the case of the "Forty Immortals", whom he claimed as his own in the nick of time. The Khalsa was given a position equal to that of the Guru. The Guru consists of two parts : the body and the Name. The Guru nominated the Khalsa, as his body and Guru Granth Sahib as the embodiment the Name. That is why we use the title of Guru-Khalsa. The Guru acknowledged his debt to the Khalsa in one of his verses.

"It is through them that I have gained experience ; with their help I have subdued my enemies. Through their favour, I am exalted, otherwise there are millions of ordinary humble men like me."

Meaning of Symbols: Symbols or outward signs are a mode of discipline. A person who enters the Panth (Khalsa Community) will gladly embrace all its tenets and symbols. Symbols test the disciple's firmness and strength of faith. They indicate the type of character the wearer should have. He must be proud of being a Sikh, even though it may cost him his life. Secondly this common appearance and uniform ensures easy recognition One can easily spot a Khalsa in a crowd. Each symbol has its own use and psychological significance.
 

Khalsa Sikhs keep five emblems of their faith intact on their bodies at all times. These collectively form a uniform for members of the community of "Pure Ones."


1.
Kesh - Uncut hair. Historically, unshorn hair was a sign of spirituality and sainthood; this is consistent with the concept of saint-soldier in Sikhism. Also, keeping one's hair intact indicates resignation to the Will of God.
2.
Kangha - A small wooden comb used to keep the hair tidy at all times. Typically worn underneath a turban, this represents cleanliness; and as such, is a practical way to look neat and pure at all times.
3.
Kachhera - Long under shorts typically worn by soldiers to ensure freedom of movement.
4.
Kara - A steel bracelet worn around the wrist as a reminder of one's faith.
5.
Kirpan - A saber to be used as a last measure of protection in case the need to defend oneself, or another, arises.

Sikhs who have taken Amrit vow never to take intoxicants, cut their hair, commit adultery, or eat meat prepared in the Muslim fashion. Sikh men take as one of their names, Singh (lion); women take the name, Kaur (princess). Sikh men are also required to wear a turban over their uncut hair. Once considered a sign of royalty, the turban is an article of distinction which should be worn with pride, as it was given to Sikhs by their Guru.

The uniformity among initiated Sikhs serves as a source of strength and solidarity. It also consolidated the Sikh identity into a viable religious, social, and political entity. The tenth Guru; however, warned the Khalsa about losing its distinct identity. Such an occurrence, cautioned the Guru, would strip the Khalsa of all its power.

Bhai Nand Lal, a contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh, wrote the following description of the Khalsa:

Khalsa is one who fights in the front ranks.
Khalsa is one who conquers the five evils [lust, anger, pride, greed, ego];
Khalsa is one who destroys doubt.
Khalsa is one who gives up ego;
Khalsa is one who does not stray from his spouse;
Khalsa is one who looks upon all as his own;
Khalsa is one who attunes himself with God.

The spirit of Guru Gobind Singh, creator of the Khalsa, which resides in the collective spirit of the Pure Ones, and the devotion to God which binds these faithful saint-soldiers, are the common denominators of the Khalsa tradition.