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Festivals Baisakhi (14 April 2011)

Discussion in 'History of Sikhism' started by spnadmin, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. spnadmin

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    Let's make this thread the best Baisakhi thread on the Internet. Post pictures, videos, personal stories, articles for the world to enjoy and learn.


    Introduction



    Baisakhi is New Year's Day in Punjab. It falls on the month of Vaisakh. This festival marks the ripening of the Rabi harvest. The day coincides with the solar equinox on the13th of April. It was on this day that the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, founded the Khalsa (the Sikh brotherhood) in 1699. For Sikhs, this is as a collective birthday. It is celebrated on April 13, though once in 36 years it occurs on 14th April.

    The tenth guru Guru Govind Singh selected the auspicious day of Baisakhi to form the order of the Khalsa. On the13th of April in 1699, at a meeting in Anandpur in Punjab, the guru called upon his people to come forward to sacrifice themselves for the good of the clan. Initially there were no response from the audience. However, after several calls from the guru five persons- Daya Ram Khatri, Dharm Das, Mokhan Chand, Sahib Chand and Himmat Rai –were ready to offer themselves. Guru took each of them to the tent nearby and every time he returned alone with his bloodied sword. Then the guru went to the tent yet again, this time for a long time. He reappeared followed by the five men, clad in saffron-colored garments. They sat on the dais while the guru prepared water to bless them. In an iron vessel, he stirred the batasha that his wife, Mata Jitoji had put into water, with a sword called Khanda Sahib.The water was now considered the sacred nectar of immortality called amrita. It was first given to the five volunteers, then drunk by the guru and later distributed to the crowd. All present, irrespective of caste or creed, became members of the Khalsa Pantha. Those five men were christened the Panch Pyare. He discontinued the tradition of gurus and asked all Sikhs to accept the Grantha Sahib as their eternal guide. The suffix Singh derived from the Sanskrit word singha meaning 'lion', was added to the name of all male Sikhs, while the women were to call themselves Kaur, assistants to the Singh.

    To pay tribute to this event, prayer meetings are organized in gurdwaras across the country. The main celebration however, takes place in the gurdwara at Anandpur Sahib, where the order was formed. The Guru Grantha Sahib is ceremonially taken out, symbolically bathed with milk and water and placed on its throne. Priests called the Panch Pyare then chant the verses that were recited by the original Panch Pyare when the order was created. While the Panch Bani are being chanted, amrita is prepared in an iron vessel and distributed. Devotees sip the amrita five times and vow to work for the Khalsa Panth.

    People visit gurdwaras and listen to kirtans (religious songs) and discourses. The holy scriptures known as the Grantha are read, and the book is then carried in a procession led by five leaders of the congregation, carrying drawn swords. After the prayer, sweetened semolinai is served to the congregation. The function ends with the community lunches. The traditional folk dances of Punjab, called the Gidda and Bhangra, are performed with great enthusiasm. Processions include mock duels and bands playing religious tunes

    On this memorable Baisakhi day (March,30 of A.D.1699) , Guru Gobind Singh Sahib called a big meeting at Kesgarh Sahib near the City of Anandpur Sahib. Between fifty to eighty thousand Sikhs attended this meeting. When all were expecting to hear words of comfort and consolation from the lips of their Guru, they were perturbed to see him with a drawn sword in his hand and cried ' Is there anyone here who would lay down his life for Dharam?' There was a big silence, but the Guru went on repeating his demand. At the third call Daya Ram, a Khatri of Lahore, rose from his seat and offered himself. The Guru took him into an adjoining enclosure(and soon after) came out with the (blood) dripping(sword in hand) and flourshing it before the gathering, asked again, 'Is there any other Sikh here who will offer himself as a sacrifice(for the cause of dharma)? At this Daram Das, a Jat of Delhi (Haryana side) came forward and was taken into the enclosure(The Guru again came out with the blood-stained sword, and made his previous demand). In the same way three other men stood up, one after another, and offered themselves for the sacrifice. One was Mohkam Chand, a washerman of Dwarka (Gujarat State); another was Himmat, a cook of Jagannath (Orissa State); and the third was Sahib Chand, a barber of Bidar (Karnataka State). The Guru, after dressing the five in handsome clothes, brought them from the assembly.

    These five were then administered 'Khande di Pahul' (the double-edged Sword Amrit). They were then knighted as Singhs, as the Five beloved ones, the first members of the Order of the Khalsa. The Guru then asked them to administer the Pahul to him in the same manner in which he had given the Pahul to them, and it was done so.

    With the creation of Khalsa, the Khalsa created history and since the birth of Khalsa, the history of Punjab has been the history of Sikhs. Baisakhi played a significant role in this regard. In 1762, Ahmed Shah Abdali, with the sole purpose to destroy the entire Sikh nation, declared 'Jehad'(holy-war) against the Sikhs and all the Muslims of the Punjab rallied under this slogan. The Sikhs were surrounded near the village Kup in Ludhiana District. Chronicles mention that about twenty thousand Sikhs were martyred in a single day. This event is known in the history of the Sikhs as "Ghallughara" (Bloody Carnage). After this, Ahmed Shah Abdali thought that he had crushed the entire Sikh nation, but was greatly disillusioned when after a few months heard that the Sikhs in large number are celebrating Baisakhi at Amritsar. In due course of time Baisakhi reminds every Sikh of his cultural and religious heritage. On Baisakhi day all the Sikhs used to assemble at Amritsar and decide their problems relating to politics and religion. This convention still goes on.

    The celebrations of Baisakhi are similar to the three-day schedule of the the celebrations of other Gurpurabs. It is generally celebrated on 13th April every year.

    http://www.allaboutsikhs.com/sikh-festivals/the-sikh-festivals-baisakhi.html
     

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  3. spnadmin

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    A Special Meaning for Sikhs


    Baisakhi, also called Vaisakhi, is a harvest festival which is celebrated on the thirteenth of April according to the solar calendar. It is celebrated in North India, particularly in Punjab, when the rabi crop is ready for harvesting. This tough agricultural operation is rendered into a lighter occupation by merry community festivities such as the Bhangra dance by men, who pound the ground with vigorous steps accompanied with singing. Women too, break into a revelry of dances principally the Gidda dance, executed with fervour and rhythmic exactitude. On these occasions, men and women adorn themselves with gay coloured clothes and traditional jewellery. Generally, the sites of these festivities are on the banks of the rivers which have their sacred import with myths and legends woven around their origin and names.

    Baisakhi has a special meaning for the Sikhs.
    On this day in 1699, their tenth Guru Gobind Singh organized the order of the Khalsa. On this day also, Guru Arjan Das was martyred by the Muslim rulers who, in barbaric cruelty, threw him alive into a cauldron of boiling oil.

    On this memorable Baisakhi day (March,30 of A.D.1699) , Guru Gobind Singh Sahib called a big meeting at Kesgarh Sahib near the City of Anandpur Sahib. Between fifty to eighty thousand Sikhs attended this meeting. When all were expecting to hear words of comfort and consolation from the lips of their Guru, they were perturbed to see him with a drawn sword in his hand and cried ' Is there anyone here who would lay down his life for Dharam?' There was a big silence, but the Guru went on repeating his demand. At the third call Daya Ram, a Khatri of Lahore, rose from his seat and offered himself. The Guru took him into an adjoining enclosure....(and soon after) came out with the (blood) dripping....(sword in hand) and flourshing it before the gathering, asked again, 'Is there any other Sikh here who will offer himself as a sacrifice(for the cause of dharma)? At this Daram Das, a Jat of Delhi (Haryana side) came forward and was taken into the enclosure....(The Guru again came out with the blood-stained sword, and made his previous demand). In the same way three other men stood up, one after another, and offered themselves for the sacrifice. One was Mohkam Chand, a washerman of Dwarka (Gujarat State); another was Himmat, a cook of Jagannath (Orissa State); and the third was Sahib Chand, a barber of Bidar (Karnataka State). The Guru, after dressing the five in handsome clothes, brought them from the assembly.

    Khande di Pahul (the double-edged Sword Amrit)
    These five were then administered 'Khande di Pahul' (the double-edged Sword Amrit). They were then knighted as Singhs, as the Five beloved ones, the first members of the Order of the Khalsa. The Guru then asked them to administer the Pahul to him in the same manner in which he had given the Pahul to them, and it was done so.

    Panj Piyare (Five beloved ones)
    1.Bhai Daya Singh Ji (Daya Ram, a Khatri of Lahore)
    2.Bhai Daram Singh Ji (Daram Das, a Jat of Delhi)
    3.Bhai Mohkam Singh Ji (Mohkam Chand, a washerman of Dwarka, Gujarat)
    4.Bhai Himmat Singh Ji (Himmat, a cook of Jagannath, Orissa)
    5.Bhai Sahib Singh Ji (Sahib Chand, a barber of Bidar, Karnataka)

    Ghallughara (Bloody Carnage)
    With the creation of Khalsa, the Khalsa created history and since the birth of Khalsa, the history of Punjab has been the history of Sikhs. Baisakhi played a significant role in this regard. In 1762, Ahmed Shah Abdali, with the sole purpose to destroy the entire Sikh nation, declared 'Jehad'(holy-war) against the Sikhs and all the Muslims of the Punjab rallied under this slogan. The Sikhs were surrounded near the village Kup in Ludhiana District. Chronicles mention that about twenty thousand Sikhs were martyred in a single day. This event is known in the history of the Sikhs as "Ghallughara" (Bloody Carnage). After this, Ahmed Shah Abdali thought that he had crushed the entire Sikh nation, but was greatly disillusioned when after a few months heard that the Sikhs in large number are celebrating Baisakhi at Amritsar. In due course of time Baisakhi reminds every Sikh of his cultural and religious heritage. On Baisakhi day all the Sikhs used to assemble at Amritsar and decide their problems relating to politics and religion. This convention still goes on.
    The celebrations of Baisakhi are similar to the three-day schedule of the the celebrations of other Gurpurabs. It is generally celebrated on 13th April every year.

    http://www.bharatvashi.com/guru/index.asp?b1=18
     

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  5. spnadmin

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  6. Archived_Member16

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    April 2011

    BAISAKHI GRETINGS TO ALL SPN MEMBERS !

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    A few points of interest.....
    Look at the Locations of the Origins of the Original Panj..Lahore.. Delhi....Gujraat.. Karnatak..ORissa...........Practically the whole of INDIA is covered...
    These were the places that GURU NANAK JI and then GURU REG BAHADUR JI had visited.
    First Guru Nanak ji planted the seeds...then Guru Teg Bahadur Ji looked after and then the FRUITS came when Guru Gobind Singh ji called in 1699. Its a Continous process..and NOT a Fluke Shot..one off circumstantial happening at all.
    Also consider that the travelling conditions of the time....just HOW MUCH Advance notice a person travelling form Orissa..Karnatak..Gujraat..Delhi..and even Lahore must have, the immense preparations made to travel to Ananadpur to answer the Gurus Call.
    The entire thing had been a long time cooking...ever since Guru nanak jis UDASEES !!
     
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  8. spnadmin

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    Gyani ji

    You may not realize the beauty in your words. But they are beautiful. They bring home the continuity of a vision -- and the humanity of our Gurus. Their's was not a story of bravado and derring-do. There is no soul who has more hope in the power of the Almighty than the soul who plants a seed and hovers over the small plant and sees the tree bloom and the fruit mature. Guru Nanak in his fields of wheat began that progression, and one jyoti, one soul, saw the job from start to finish. Thank you.
     
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  9. Ambarsaria

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    Happy Visakhi from Canada


    (see how we can also enjoy specials from Mainstream traditional English stores)

    [​IMG]

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
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  10. spnadmin

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    Yummmmmmm. I have 6 kilograms of besam ready for service.
     
  11. spnadmin

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    from Sikh Spectrum Quarterly



    Vaisakhi of 1699: A re-look

    Jarnail Singh

    Vaisakhi of 1699 is probably the most misunderstood event in Sikh history, both in its historical as well as philosophical perspective. The revolutionary ideas intended to protect and safeguard Sikhism for ages to come have been distorted to misrepresent Sikhism. It has been projected as if Guru Gobind Singh ‘started’ a new religion on that day. It is argued that he transformed the peace loving Sikhs of Guru Nanak into a sect every ready to go to war and kill others. Some opine that all this was done to protect Hindus from the Muslim rulers and others suggest that the Guru did this to avenge the killing of his father. In this paper an attempt has been to understand the whole issue in the correct perspective.

    What actually happened?

    The distortion of purpose and meaning of the events of Vaisakhi of 1699 has been achieved by circulating false stories about what happened on that day. The enemies of the protagonist in Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina supported and pushed his proposals to such an extent that they started looking ridiculous. This is what has happened with Sikhs especially the militant aspect of their philosophy. Sikhism has always taken militant stand against evil since the times of Guru Nanak. However, the events of Vaisakhi of 1699 have been twisted and used to push the militant aspect of Sikhism in order to paint them as trigger-happy and those who start a fight at the drop of a hat.

    Some of the ‘popular’ stories connected with Vaisakhi of 1699 include:

    . Guru Gobind Singh invoked the blessings of Devi for creation of his Khalsa by performing a hom

    . The five beloved ones offered their lives to the Devi on the Guru’s call

    . Guru Gobind Singh decapitated some goats in the tent to give a false impression to the Sikhs outside that he had beheaded the Sikh inside the tent

    . Guru Gobind Singh actually beheaded and then resurrected the five beloved ones

    All these stories are unauthenticated, contradict teachings of Gurbani and appear to figments of the author’s imagination. Some of them seem designed to distort the basics of Sikhism and to serve specific interests.

    Take for example the story of worship of a Devi to seek its blessing for creation of Khalsa. This is totally opposed to fundamental teachings of Sikhism which preaches oneness of God and denies existence of any other angels or Devi or Devtas. Guru Nanak has made it crystal clear when added digit one to Onkar. All the Devis or Devas are product of the imagination of those who have written Simratis or Shastras of Hindu religion. Guru Amar Das makes this clear when he says:

    dayvee dayvaa mool hai maa-i-aa.
    simrit saasat jinn upaa-i-aa.[1] (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p 129, M3)

    It has been repeatedly reiterated in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that God is the only one to whom we should pray. No one else has the power to give us anything. Guru Nanak says in Raag Sorath that these Devis and Devas are incapable giving anything to mankind:

    dayvee dayvaa poojee-ai bhaa-ee ki-aa maaga-o ki-aa deh. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p 637, M3)

    There is an interesting story about a complaint made by Raja Tara Chand before Guru Hargobind about a Sikh by the name of Bhairo. This has been reported by a contemporary in his book Dabistan-i-Mazahib. Bhairo went into the temple of the Devi and broke the nose of the idol. Guru asked Bhairo to explain his action. Bhairo asked Tara Chand whether his Devi can speak and tell who has broken her nose. Tara Chand laughed at this and said that Devis never speak. Bhairo replied, what is the point in worshipping a Devi who can not protect itself and cannot speak .Raja Tara Chand had no answer to this.[2]

    One can cite numerous examples from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji wherein our Gurus have rejected Devis and Devtas including Brahma, Vishunu and Mahesh or Shiv as object of worship (Refer pages 227, 257, 394, 559, 637, 735, 852, 855, 894, 992, 1034, 1035, 1053 and 1162). Guru Gobind Singh has rejected them in his Akal Ustat in verse no 28 and 38. So it should be abundantly clear that this story of worship of Devi is totally unauthentic and designed to wean the Sikhs away from worship of one God which is a fundamental principal of their religion.

    Such stories were invented to further the agendas of the authors. An example would suffice to explain the point. Kesar Singh Chibber’s Bansavalinama provides the most detailed account of the Devi episode and tries to establish an essential link between the Khalsa and the goddess. In this case the author’s lineage throws considerable light on his agenda. Chibber was himself a Brahmin and the Devi episode underscores the importance of Brahmins- only the Brahmins can perform the hom to make the goddess appear without whose blessings the enemy cannot be destroyed! Thus Chibber had no compunctions about compromising the Sikh tradition as long as his story furthered the Brahmin’s interests.[3]

    It is noteworthy to read what Ghulam Mohyiuddin, the newswriter for the Emperor of Delhi, wrote about this event. “He [Guru Gobind Singh] has abolished caste and custom, old rituals, beliefs, and superstitions of the Hindus and banded then in one single brotherhood. No one will be superior or inferior to another. Men of all castes have been made to eat out of the same bowl. Though orthodox men have opposed him, about twenty thousand men and women have taken baptism of steel at his hand on the very first day.”[4]

    It is pertinent to note that prominent among those who refused to be administered with Khande Di Pahul[5] were the Hindu Hill Chiefs, who were specifically invited on the occasion, as they were not willing give up their castes and existing religious practices like worship of idols and gods and goddesses and other rituals. If any Devi was worshipped, the Hill Chiefs would have been the first to ask for it.

    As regards whether Guru Gobind Singh actually beheaded the five beloved ones or goats were decapitated, Bhatt Vahi- Pargana Thanesar tells us that neither Guru Gobind Singh nor the five beloved ones ever disclosed as to what happened inside the tent. What happened in the tent is a mystery and it is best to let it be a mystery. Any conjecture will lead us away from its meaning. It is not important to know how a rose plant grows into a rose flower. What is important is the rose in full bloom. A scientist might be able to give an account of minute details of what happens in the plant that makes it to grow buds and bloom into flowers. But this information will in no way enhance or blur the beauty or the effect of the rose in this world. This information is totally irrelevant. So what happened in the tent is not important. What is important and noteworthy is that Guru asked his Sikhs to come forward to die if they consider their faith more important than their physical existence and the Sikhs queued up to die on the call of their Guru. Some Popular Theories

    Many theories have been advanced to explain as to why Guru Gobind Singh made administration of Khande Di Pahul and keeping the 5 Ks a condition for being a Sikh. One view is that he did so in order to instil bravery in his Sikhs to fight the tyrant rulers of Delhi. Another view is that he intended to create a militia to defend the Hindus from the tyrant Mugals. Yet another view is that Sikhs went into hiding at the time of martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur in Delhi and Guru Gobind Singh wanted to ensure that his Sikhs should have such a look, which makes it impossible for them to hide in a crowd. All the above views are mistaken and not in conformity with the Sikh philosophy as they suggest that Guru Gobind Singh established or started a new militant sect of Sikhs, which has nothing to do with the philosophy of peace loving Guru Nanak. The events in history and the philosophical framework of Guru Nanak do not corroborate these views. Consider the following facts.

    1. Since the time of Guru Hargobind, the Sikhs had continually been engaged in battles with the Mughal authorities. They had displayed rare courage, bravery and military skills in all these battles. Even Guru Gobind Singh had fought most of his battles before 1699. So it is absurd to say that Khande Di Pahul was intended to instil bravery in Sikhs.

    2. Martyrdom of Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dyala is the proof that Sikhs faced the tyranny of the Aurangzeb with exemplary courage unmatched in human history. And the way the body and head of Guru Teg Bahadur was taken into possession by Sikhs (Bhai Nannu, Bhai Udho, Bhai Agya, Bhai Jaita, Bhai Lakhi Dass, Bhai Nigahia, Bhai Hema, Bahi Harhi, Bhai Naik Dhooma) is unassailable evidence that the Sikhs had not gone into hiding to save themselves from the wrath of the Aurangzeb.

    3. Most of the battles fought by Guru Gobind Singh were thrust upon him by the Hindu Hill Chiefs of the Shivalak area. Not only this, these Hill Chiefs instigated and supported the Delhi Empire to liquidate Guru Gobind Singh. In fact these Hill Chiefs were opposing the creation of Khalsa brotherhood as it was directly opposed to their beliefs based on Varnashramdharama (caste system) and rituals. So the argument that Khande Di Pahul was intended to create soldiers to protect these Hindu Hill Chiefs is preposterous.

    The Purpose

    The question then remains what was the purpose of all this? The best way to understand it is to enumerate the effects of what happened and then construct an opinion through the logical analysis of these effects. After the ceremony the Guru explained to the audience that the person who chooses to be a Sikh:

    . Will, if and when required, readily sacrifice his/her life;

    . Will daily read Gubani carefully and practice the teachings enshrined in Gurbani as a routine in his/her life;

    . Will remain Sabat Soorat (unshorn) and adorn 5 Ks;

    . Will use “Singh” and “Kaur” as suffixes after the names of males and females;

    . Will be a member of the Khalsa brotherhood where all are equal and liberated from anything and everything associated with his/her family origin, caste, creed and occupation;

    . Will not perform any kind of rituals, have no duality in his mind and believe in one God.

    . Will not believe in any superstitions whatsoever.

    . Will not shave or cut hair from any part of his/her body.

    . Will not indulge in adulterous sex.

    . Will not use drugs, tobacco and alcohol.

    . Will not consume Halal meat

    The list above contains both Dos and Don’ts. It may still not be complete but it is comprehensive enough for our analysis. Another thing to be kept in mind is the timing of this event. It happened in 1699 i.e. only about nine years before the death of Guru Gobind Singh. We will discuss the importance of the timing later in the article. Coming back to what happened on Vaisakhi of 1699, what sticks out most conspicuously is the call to sacrifice one’s life and the instructions for the five Ks. It is generally believed that all the nine Gurus preceding Guru Gobind Singh have preached and practised all other instructions except these two. So it will be pertinent here to discuss these two in the light of teachings of Gurbani to find out if they are in consonance with the Sikh philosophy.

    The Five Ks

    Guru Gobind Singh instructed his Sikhs that they will always adorn five Ks. The most conspicuous of the five Ks is uncut hair. There is good reason to believe that all the Gurus and many of their followers had abstained from cutting their hair since the times of Guru Nanak[7]. While selecting the “five beloved ones” Guru Gobind Singh did not pick only those who were having unshorn hair, but all the five who came forward to die were having long uncut hair. This shows that all Sikhs at that time were already keeping their hair unshorn. In fact the injunction did not surprise the Sikhs, since it was not really an ‘innovation’.[8] Similarly Sikhs had started to regularly keep a sword with them since the time of Guru Hargobind.

    The wrist bracelet (Kara) has an interesting story behind it.[9] Guru Gobind Singh with a view to check as to how far his Sikhs had rid themselves of the rituals conducted by the Brahmins, invited one Brahmin on a Saturday morning and gave him some oil, beans and iron. The Sikhs were surprised at this and they accosted the Brahmin on his way and asked him what the matter was. He told them that Guru has donated this to him to get rid of some evil spell and only he can accept and consume these goods.

    The Sikhs who were conversant with the teachings of their Gurus regarding these superstitions took no time to realize that this was a test for them. They took all the material from the Brahmin, made some snacks from oil and beans and melted the iron to make wrist bracelets for themselves. They told the Brahmin that they would consume these things as neither their Guru nor they themselves believed in any rituals or superstitions. Guru Gobind Singh was very happy at what his Sikhs had done and honoured them in public and asked them to bear the wrist bracelet at all times to indicate that the Sikhs do not believe in any rituals or superstitions. This happened many years before the Vaisakhi of 1699. So the Sikhs had already started bearing iron wrist bracelet. The other two Ks (Kanga or Comb and Kachh or underwear) are part of normal gear of a person and symbolize cleanliness and chastity. Thus it is apparent that all the five Ks were already a part and parcel of Sikh way of life.

    Before we go any further it would be pertinent to clarify that the Five Ks are not a dress code or Bana (apparel). The dress is something that evolves out of climatic and cultural requirements of a society. Many a time the five Ks are mistaken as instructions for dress code.[10] Five Ks will fit in any cultural or climatic requirements of the dress of people living in any part of this world. Punjabi dress is not the official dress of Sikhs. The first five persons to be blessed with Khande Di Pahul were from different parts of India.

    Another thing to be noted here is that the uncut hair is an article of faith for Sikhs. But no Guru has ever preached that merely keeping uncut hair will help a person in his/her spiritual advancement. This has been stated by no one other than Guru Gobind Singh who said in Akaal Ustat that you don’t realize God just by keeping uncut hair. (Kes dhare na mile har pyare- Swayaa no 10). Uncut hair or Saabat Soorat is like the logo of a company. It does not make the products of the company good or bad, but does tell us which company they belong to.

    Some people say that since there are many Saabat Soorat Sikhs in this world who are doing abominable things, so it is better if Sikhs disassociate themselves from the Saabat Soorat. Their logic is basically flawed. No company in this world has ever withdrawn its products for the reason that there are spurious products in the market with identical logo. They take legal action against those who produce spurious goods. Similarly we should take action against a person who looks like a Sikh what does not act like a Sikh.

    There is another aspect to the concept of Saabat Soorat, which needs to be discussed before we close the discussion. A few days ago, a survey published in the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia showed that 80% of women are unhappy with their bodies. The number of men is slightly less. Look around you and you will find that those who have black hair want blonde hair, those who are tall wish to be short, those who have green eyes want black eyes. This is the effect of Maya or illusion. Human beings are never satisfied with what they have. And they think that they are better artists than God so they start messing with their appearance. The concept of Saabat Soorat is designed to harness this weakness and resign to the will of God.

    The “Unusual” Call to Die

    It was the most unusual call from a Guru ever made in the history of mankind. There have been calls to jump into a war (holy or otherwise) and attain martyrdom, but no one has made such a call in a gathering meant for religious discourse. What was the reason? To find an answer to this we will have to scan through the teachings of Sikh Gurus recorded in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji: What does Sikhism teach us about Death? Is death something to be afraid of or a one time opportunity? Is life a time to revel in pleasures or a one time opportunity to make the most of it? What is more important- a life full of shame and disgrace or a death in dignity? Let us go to the shelter of the Guru and find an answer to these questions.

    Death is an inevitable end of life. However under the influence of Maya or Illusion we do not remember this fact. Only those who realize the truth remember this ultimate truth.

    maran likhaa-ay mandal meh aa-ay jeevan saajeh maa-ee. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 876, M 1) (Every one will die for certain)[11]

    amal gal olaa koorh kaa ditaa dayvanhaar
    matee maran visaari-aa khusee keetee din chaar
    sach mili-aa tin sofee-aa raakhan ka-o darvaar (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 15, M 1)

    (Intoxicated with the attachment with this world, we forget death. Only those who know the ultimate truth remember this)

    As a result of this human weakness birth is regarded as a time for celebration and death as a time for mourning. However, Sikhism teaches us that both birth and death are two sides of the same coin. They are the beginning and end of the same thing. Therefore, Sikhism teaches us to treat them alike.

    janmay ka-o vaajeh vaaDhaa-ay.sohilrhay agi-aanee gaa-ay.
    jo janmai tis sarpar marnaa kirat pa-i-aa sir saahaa hay. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 1032, M 1)

    (Ignorant celebrate birth not realising that whosoever is born will die for sure.)

    man kee parteet man tay paa-ee
    pooray gur tay sabad bujhaa-ee.
    jeevan maran ko samsar vaykhai.
    bahurh na marai naa jam paykhai. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 798, M 3)

    (The true Guru teaches to control your mind and behave at the time of birth in the same way you behave at the time of death.)

    gurmukh hovai so sukh kamaa-ay.
    maran jeevan kee sojhee paa-ay.
    maran jeevan jo sam kar jaanai so mayray parabh bhaa-idaa. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 1059, M 3)

    (The one who understands the real meaning of life and death and treats them alike wins the love of God.)

    Death is not something opposite to life but an end of a life. So it is as important to die gracefully as it is to live with grace and dignity. That is the reason it has been said;

    gurmukh maran jeevan parabh naal. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 932, M 1)

    (The Gurmukh or the one who follows his Guru, remembers God both in his life and death.) Guru Amar Dass Ji explains how a Gurmukh adds grace to his death.

    jeevat marai mar maran savaarai
    gur kai sabad saach ur Dhaarai. ||1|| rahaa-o. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 1174, M 3)

    (He imbibes the truth of Shabad from the Guru and decorates his death by being dead while alive)

    And he further clarifies this concept of being dead while alive.

    ki-o kar ih man maaree-ai ki-o kar mirtak ho-ay.
    kahi-aa sabad na maan-ee ha-umai chhadai na ko-ay.
    gur parsaadee ha-umai chhutai jeevan mukat so ho-ay.
    naanak jis no bakhsay tis milai tis bighan na laagai ko-ay.||2||(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 948, M 3)

    (How can one harness the mind and be dead when we do not follow the Guru and are engrossed in ego? But those who earn the blessings of the Guru succeed in getting rid of their ego and get salvation.)

    ki-aa jaanaa kiv marhagay kaisaa marnaa ho-ay.
    jay kar saahib manhu na veesrai taa sahilaa marnaa ho-ay.
    marnai tay jagat darai jeevi-aa lorhai sabh ko-ay.
    gur parsaadee jeevat marai hukmai boojhai so-ay.
    naanak aisee marnee jo marai taa sad jeevan ho-ay. ||2|| (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 555, M 3)

    (How can one die? If one remembers God it is easy to die. Every one is afraid of death and wants to live, but those who learn to be dead while alive, live for ever.)

    In other words to be dead while alive is the way to gain glory in death and this comes with the help of Guru’s grace earned by a total surrender to his teachings. It means living beyond the limitations and temptations of your body and your family. Only these limitations and temptations are the cause of fear of death in our minds. Guru helps us to conquer this fear and meet death gracefully. satgur milai so maran dikhaa-ay.
    maran rahan ras antar bhaa-ay. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 153, M 1)

    (The Guru teaches us how to die in grace and enjoy death.)

    On the other hand a person who follows the dictates of his mind is wasting away this opportunity of death and committing suicide.

    manmukh mareh mar maran vigaarheh.
    doojai bhaa-ay aatam sanghaareh. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 362, M 3)

    (Those who do not follow the Guru spoil their death and waste this opportunity)

    In other words death in itself is not bad. The way one dies is what matters. The Guru explains this in more detail.

    maran na mandaa lokaa aakhee-ai jay mar jaanai aisaa ko-ay
    sayvihu saahib samrath aapnaa panth suhaylaa aagai ho-ay. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 579, M 1) (Do not consider death as something bad. Serve the Almighty God and enjoy the fruit of your service in death)

    In fact the Gurmukh, who surrenders himself completely to the teachings of his Guru, earns his right to die in glory.

    maran munsaa soori-aa hak hai jo ho-ay maran parvaano
    sooray say-ee aagai aakhee-ahi dargeh paavahi saachee maano.
    ………………
    maran munsaa soori-aa hak hai jo ho-ay mareh parvaano. ||3|| (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 579-80, M 1)

    (Death is a right of those brave persons who know how to die and be accepted in the court of God.)

    Gurmukh enters the field of his life like a warrior and dies in glory. Kabeer has explained it beautifully.

    gagan damaamaa baaji-o pari-o neesaanai ghaa-o.
    khayt jo maaNdi-o soormaa ab joojhan ko daa-o. ||1|| (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 1105, Kabeer)

    (It is war time for the warriors and they enter the field of life with great fervour and zeal)

    And the Gurmukh warrior gets the best possible price for his head from the Guru. Guru Ram Das makes it clearer.

    mayray man bhaj raam naam at pirghaa
    mai man tan arap Dhari-o gur aagai sir vaych lee-o mul mahghaa. ||1|| rahaa-o. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 731, M 4)

    So the five “beloved ones” who offered to die on the call of the Guru were fully conversant with this philosophy of life and death and they came forward to decorate their death with glory. This call was not made for the first time on the Vaisakhi of 1699. This has been the prerequisite of becoming a Sikh since the time Guru Nanak gave his first sermon. To live and die in dignity is basic postulate of Sikhism. To revel in worldly pleasures but live in disgrace has been rejected by Guru Nanak.

    jay jeevai pat lathee jaa-ay. sabh haraam jaytaa kichh khaa-ay. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 142, M 1)

    (Your riches are of no use if you live a life of disgrace.)

    So Guru Nanak gave a call to the humanity to live and die in dignity. It was on this call that Bhai Mardana left his family behind to accompany Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak made it clear to all those who followed him.

    ja-o ta-o paraym khaylan kaa chaa-o. sir Dhar talee galee mayree aa-o.
    it maarag pair Dhareejai. sir deejai kaan na keejai. ||20|| (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 1412, M 1)

    (Come to me with a will to die. Burn your bridges before stepping on this path.)

    Guru Arjan Dev has made it even clearer when he told all those who follow Sikhism.

    pahilaa maran kabool jeevan kee chhad aas
    hohu sabhnaa kee raynukaa ta-o aa-o hamaarai paas. ||1|| (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 1102, M 5)

    (Accept death and abdicate all hopes of life, be humble and then come to the Guru.)

    The five beloved ones had accepted these conditions in total submission to the will of the Guru and they had no fear of death in their minds. They knew that they are doing the right thing. They loved their death as this was the right way to die. It was like a home coming for them.

    fareedaa gor nimaanee sad karay nighri-aa ghar aa-o.
    sarpar maithai aavnaa marnahu na dari-aahu. ||93|| (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p. 1382, Farid)

    (Death is like home coming. Do not be afraid of death as it is inevitable.)

    The above discussion clearly shows that from day one Sikhism was a call to die. When Guru Nanak put his foot on to the path of Sikhism he left everything behind. So did Bhai Mardana who followed him. They sacrificed the interests of their families for the sake of mankind. It must be clarified here that this does not imply that they ignored their families. They shouldered their responsibilities and worked hard for their families. However, they rose above this and served the mankind. And this is what Sikhism is based on. One must rise above one’s own interests to serve the mankind. This precisely is the call to die. Die to live for others. And this call has been resonating in Sikhism since day one.

    The Significance

    We have seen above that none of the instructions given by Guru Gobind Singh on the Vaisakhi of 1699 were new or different from those preached by his predecessors. They were already in place since the time of Guru Nanak. Then what was the significance of reiteration of these instructions on that day? Significance lies in the institutionalisation of these instructions. Guru Gobind Singh institutionalized these instructions which were already a part and parcel of Sikh way of life.

    It will be easy to understand the significance of this step by comparing it with the concept of Shabad Guru in Sikhism. All Sikh Gurus preached and practiced the concept of Shabad Guru. But Guru Gobind Singh institutionalized this by according Guruship to Guru Granth Sahib before his death. Similarly all Sikh Gurus followed and preached the concept of the Five Ks; Guru Gobind Singh institutionalized it with his masterly stroke on the Vaisakhi of 1699. It was a necessary step for the survival of Sikhism as Guru Gobind Singh knew that there will be no human Guru for the Sikhs after his death. That is why, as mentioned earlier, the timing of the event is the key to understanding the significance of Vaisakhi of 1699. It happened in the year 1699 only nine years before his death.

    Some one might come up with a question here saying that does this mean that Guru Gobind Singh introduced rituals in Sikhism? This question is not valid here. All actions are not rituals. And we can’t have a life without actions. Imagine a situation if there were no such instructions issued by Guru Gobind Singh. There would have been multiple ways of initiation of followers into Sikhism. Just as in the absence of compilation and installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as the Guru, the concept of Shabad Guru would have been killed by those who are affected by it, similarly in the absence of these instructions Sikhism would have been reduced to an insignificant sect of Hinduism. Just as installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as Shabad Guru is vital for the survival of Sikhism as a philosophy of life, the institutionalization of 5 Ks is also vital for the survival of Sikhism as a religion.

    Any thing if distanced from its context becomes irrelevant. This is what is happening with the Vaisakhi of 1699. What happened on that day has been distorted to such an extent that it has gone miles away from its context both in terms of philosophy and history. However, when we look upon it in its right context, Vaisakhi of 1699 is all the more relevant today.


    NOTES & REFERENCES

    1 All English transliterations of Gurbani used in this article are from www.{url not allowed}

    2 Mobad Ardastani wrote his chapter on Sikhism and Sikhs in his Dabistan-i-Mazahib, in 1645/46 Translated by Irfan Habib in Sikh history from Persian sources edited by J.S.Grewal and Irfan Habib on page 69, first edition 2001. Episode also narrated by Bhai Kahn Singh in his book Hum Hindu Naheen at page 80 of 2002 edition.

    3 Stated by J.S.Grewal in his book The Khalsa: Sikh and non-Sikh Perspectives, 2004 edition. Page 84.

    4 Quoted by Dr Sangat Singh in his Sikhs in History, 2001 edition. Page 72.

    5 Guru Gobind Singh poured water in a bowl and stirred it with Khanda, the double edged sword, while reciting Gurbani. He called it Khande Di Pahu. Some people wrongly call it Khande Da Amrit.

    6 It is unfortunate that even some books published by Dharam Parchar Committee of SGPC propound or support this view. See History of the Sikhs and their Religion, Volume 1, Page 282.

    7 Stated by Khushwant Singh in his book A History of the Sikhs, 2002 edition. Page 86.

    8 Ibid.

    9 As mentioned by Dr Sahib Singh in his book Jeevan-Birtant Guru Gobind Singh Ji, 2002 edition. Page 96.

    10 The latest example is the views expressed in the editorial of Sikh Bulletin of Feb 2005

    11 The translations of Gurbani given here are not literal translations. An effort has been made to convey the inner meaning in order to make the discussion clearer and to the point

    12 How to experience death while still alive is in itself an interesting and illuminating concept propounded in Gurbani. Here it has not been discussed in detail due to limitations of the subject.

    13 This does not mean that Bhai Mardana relinquished his family for good. Only the priority was changed from the first to the second.

    14 The argument that the introduction of Khande Di Pahul and 5 Ks is akin to introduction of rituals and similar to Janeo or sacred thread of Hindus is a full fledged subject in itself. For limitations of space it has not been discussed in detail here. Suffice it to say here that ritualism is observance of set pattern of behaviour in order to achieve a set goal. By this standard the only ritual in Sikhism is to follow the teachings of Gurbani. Beside rituals are designed to benefit a third person and exploit the person performing rituals. There is no such thing in the case of Khande Di Pahul and five Ks.

    http://sikhspectrum.com/v2005/jarnail_s.htm
     
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  12. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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  13. a.mother

    a.mother Canada
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    Gyani ji, We are just speechless !!! You have put all internal beauty of possible words here for us. I am just wondering how much blessed you are with HIS MEHER and how much we are with you at our BELOVED SPN.
     
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  14. spnadmin

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    <iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/1A5_j54fJrQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Waho Waho Gobind Singh Aape Gur Chela
     
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  15. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria Canada
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  16. findingmyway

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    This is an interesting lecture looking beyond the events and trying to understand what it all means.

    Liv - Panjabi Festival to Sikh Ideals on Vimeo

    Click on the title of the video and the link opens in a new window so you can watch the video there.
     
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  17. RamanS

    RamanS
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    spnadmin ji,

    I have been reading through the Sikh spectrum quarterly articles in the link you posted. They are really well explained articles of the significance of the 5 K's and the turban. I am learning a lot about Sikhi and I am slowly making changes to my life. I plan on growing my kesh too as I've never kept uncut hair before and I have had some interesting conversations with friends and family on the significance of kesh and turban. Even though I already agreed with 5 K's being very important it is a hard thing to explain and make people understand just how important it is.. even to people born into a Sikh family. The confused blank stare of an unconvinced person is a common response when I try to tell people and it is a bit frustrating but these articles will definitely help!
     
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  18. spnadmin

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    Raman S ji

    Thanks so much for your feedback. I was also very impressed by those articles.
     

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