Intro

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.

History  and Development

Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) inaugurated the Khalsa in 1699 on Baisakhi (the first day of the year in North India, March 30th). The Khalsa order was initially created on Baisakhi Day March 30 1699, with Guru Gobind Singh baptizing 5 Sikhs and then in turn asking the five Khalsa's to baptize him. These five became the first members of the Khalsa (Arabic/Persian for 'pure, elect') who were renamed Singhs (Lions). Following this the Guru personally baptized 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.

Doctrines  

Taking the initiation ceremony (amrit sanskar) to become part of the Khalsa Singh order of Guru Gobind Singh, led to the belief that the Guru and the Khalsa disciple (or baptised Sikh) are one, made equal in sharing the status of Guru and disciple. This was further developed into the idea that the Khalsa together as a Panth (community of followers) attained the status of Guru in important decisions for the community (as sangat/congregation was equated with the sabad/word and Akal Purakh in the early Sikh tradition). Therefore the congregation is known as the Guru Panth.

At his death Gobind Singh appointed the Adi Granth as Guru, making it the Guru Granth; Gobind's spirit, as well all the previous Gurus', is believed to be infused therein. This idea of the presence of the spirit of the Gurus in the scripture is also extended to and associated with human beings; that when five pure Sikhs get together it is believed that Guru Gobind Singh is also spiritually present.

The Khalsa Singh also believes in a code of conduct (rahit), that demands a daily ritual/routine of washing, reciting prayers, and remembering Akal Purakh as well as maintaining the five K's (see below). The Khalsa Sikhs also believe in Gobind's Saint-Soldier (Sant-Sipahi) ideal, which represents a further development of the nonduality of the formed and formless (sargun-nirgun of Nanak), and the temporal and spiritual (miri-piri of Hargobind), all of which highlight that for Sikhs reality is doubled-edged, that both interpretations of reality are merely ways of pointing to and discerning an incomprehensible whole.

 


The Five K’s

The new code of conduct consisted of the "five K's", or "Panj Kakke": Kesh (uncut hair), Kangha (comb), Kara (iron or steel bangle), Kirpan (sword, dagger), Kach (shorts). The uniform evidently kept the persecuted Sikhs united, and distinct. This is the traditional account, however. Not all the five K's are mentioned in the relevant literature only three: Kesh, Kirpan and Kach, and when five are mentioned it adds Bani (i.e. the Word of the Gurus written as scripture) and Sadhsangat (the company of saints). It is only in the 19th century that the five traditional K's are mentioned. Either way this highly visible identity had a symbolic gesture: to show all, especially the Mughals, that this is who Sikhs were, Warrior Singhs, and that they were immanently prepared to die fighting for their faith.

The uncut hair signified traditional ascetic renunciation but it was tamed by the comb which did not allow it to become matted thus symbolising continued participation in the world; the sword symbolises political and religious justice. Yet it too is balanced by the iron bangle or bani, which symbolises the unity of humankind with Akal Purakh. The shorts were pragmatic for a warrior who needs ease of movement, but also symbolised chastity, another aspect reminiscent of ascetic celibacy. However, again, this is balanced with the Sikh ideal of a family life (grihasti). Altogether they symbolise the Sant-Sipahi ideal of a human being who is neither too worldly nor too other-worldly, but moerate. The Khalsa's warrior clothing was always of a blue colour.
 
Khalsa Today

In the 1891 census 78,952 Hindus and 859,138 Sikhs returned themselves as 'Guru Gobind Singhi'; and 129 Hindus and 3,621 Sikhs returned as 'Khalsa'. (Census of India, 1891, Vol.XX, and vol.XXI. The Punjab and its Feudatories, by E.D. Maclagan, Part II and III, Calcutta, 1892, pp.826-9 and pp.572-3.)

Anandpur Sahib has become an important centre for Khalsa Singhs because of its historical significance.

 

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