* Presented at the International Symposium on Khalsa - The Existence of Purity, held in Phoenix AZ. USA and again at San Jose University, San Jose, CA. USA.
The Spiritual Basis of Khalsa Panth*
Jaswant Singh Neki@
@ 52 Hemkunt Colony, New Delhi 110 048.
The Khalsa Panth is an evolute from Guru Nanak’s Nirmal Panth - both terms meaning the way of the pure or the holy. It is the way of pure spirituality, unadulterated with ritualism and free from the clutches of priests. The term Khalsa has another connotation also. In the revenue records in India during the Muslim rule, this term signified crown lands, administered by the king himself without the mediation of Jagirdars, etc. Metaphorically employed in the Sikh parlance, the term Guru ka Khalsa means the guru’s very own, unmediated by masands.
The term acquired a more specific connotation after Guru Gobind Singh introduced Khande-di-pahul (initiation with a double-edged sword) in 1699. Since then, all those thus initiated have been collectively designated as the Khalsa Panth.
After the line of corporeal gurus was brought to an end by Guru Gobind Singh, the Khalsa Panth was installed its own leader under the abiding guidance of Guru Granth Sahib. Since then, the Khalsa have evolved into a kind of spiritual commonwealth - a spiritually welded collectivity which awakens in each individual spontaneous discipline as well as disciplined spontaneity (Rehat).
Setting ideals for life: There have been some contrasting ways of setting ideals of life. One is the way of hedonism, or pursuit of sensual pleasure advocated by those consider this life as a sole opportunity for enjoyment. This outlook is epitomized in the famous lines of Babur.
Enjoy life’s pleasures to the full, for this world is never going to be again for you.
or, by the apparently hedonistic meaning of Omar Khayyam’s verse which has been translated by Fitzgerald as:
"Dreaming, when dawn’s left-hand was in the sky,
I heard a voice within the tavern cry, awake my little ones, and fill the cup, before life’s liquor in it’s cup be dry."
This is the materialist way, looking for material gain, amassing wealth and power, lavishly indulging in sensuality. It is the way of pravirti or involvement in the world.
Contrasted with this has been the way which considers the world an illusion and its materiality a mirage. Hence, it advocated withdrawal from the outside and seeking the joy of self-realization within.
Even when one chooses to withdraw from the world and concentrates within, the world may still interfere with one’s spiritual pursuit. In that case, one has two choices. One may run away from the world, i.e. renounce the world. It is the way of nivirti or renunciation. Alternatively, one may choose to become so strong that no one dare interfere with his spiritual pursuits.
The Khalsa outlook of spirituality considers both involvement (pravirti) and renunciation( nivirti) as extremes and advocates the middle path. The Guru’s word affirms.
Involvement as well as renunciation are stubborn obstinacies.
Dharma, somewhere in the middle, stands as the real guide.
The middle path is: continuing to be in the world but staying there dis-attached, just like the lotus flower which grows out of mud unblemished by it.
- Malhar Var: M.1.p.1280.
The Khalsa point of view, since it does not approve of renunciation, prescribes valour as a safeguard against interference from others. However, this has to be disciplined valour, compassionate valour and an altruist valour; not one which is self-willed and tyrannical. In this context, the Guru ordains:
You shall not terrorize anyone nor shall allow anyone to terrorize you.
Such, then is the "valour" prescribed for the Khalsa.
-Slok. M.9 p.1427
Two Pillars of the Khalsa Spirituality: The twin pillars of the Khalsa spirituality are (a) Naam, the vehicle of inner spirituality and (b) Kirpan, the symbol of outer spirituality or valour. It would be useful to consider these two in some detail.
Naam: Naam is the foundation stone of Sikh spirituality. Naam has usually been translated as "Name", implying God’s Name. However, "Name" does not fully convey what Naam comprehensively means as a metaphysical term in Sikh theology. It is very much more than God’s Name, though it is God’s Name as well.
PL. see see Part _2