Birth Of the Khalsa : Guru Gobind Singh Ji

The next day was the day of Baisakhi, the first of Baisakh 1756 Bk.,corresponding to March 30, 1699 A.D. The sangat assembled again at thesame spot. The hearts of all were throbbing with inquisitive anxiety about therole which the Guru would choose to play that day. Dressed all in white, theGuru came, sat on the throne, and thus addressed the gathering, ‘The mannerof initiation in the past has been for the disciple to drink water which theGuru had touched with his toe. It developed humility. But times have changed.

Fearless bravery and skill in arms are now needed for the defence of the Faithand for the maintenance of the nation which from today will be called theKhalsa Panth. So, for Charam Pahul I shall substitute Khande ka Amrit, thesystem of baptism by water which has been stirred with the two-edged sword.

This Amrit, with steel, Divine Word, and my spirit dissolved in it, shall worka miraculous change in those who partake of it They shall shed all weaknessof body, mind, and heart, and become brave as lions. They shall call themselvesnot mere Sikhs or disciples, but also Singhs or lions. They will be as braveras, nay, braver than, the Rajputs whose names alone end in ‘Singh’ so far. Ishall change jackals into lions. All castes are equally welcome; for I mean tomake all castes actually lose themselves in a single Brotherhood where thelowest is equal with the highest. 1

Thereafter, the Beloved Five were made to stand up and, fixingtheir gaze on the Guru, to concentrate their thoughts on God. The Guru1. ‘The object of Nanak was to abolish the distinction of caste among the Hindus,and to bring them to the adoration of that Supreme Being before whom all men,he contended, were equal. Guru Govind, who adopted the principles of his celebratedpredecessor, as far as religious usages were concerned, is reported to have said, onthis subject, that the four tribes of the Hindus, the Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya,and Sudra, would, like Pan (beetle leaf). Chuna (lime), Supari (beetle-nut), andKatha (terra aponica or Catechu), become all of one colour, when well chewed.’

Sir Jone Malcolm, Sketch of the Sikhs, f. n., p. 45.

took pure water in an iron vessel kneeling beside it, he kept stirringthe water with a Khatida or two- edged sword, and repeating the sacredverses which he had prescribed for the ceremony. When the Nectar, inwhich the Divine Song and the steel of the Master had been dissolved,the Immortal Draught, was ready, the mother of the Khalsa came withsugar crytstals called patashas, and stood waiting before the Master.

Soon, he raised his eyes and said.’Sweet lady, thou hast come in at avery opportune moment when thy gift is needed the most. Power andcourage, which a draught of the Nectar can infuse, are a dangerousgift without the sweetness of soul which thou wilt bestow. Pour thysweets into it, so that our disciples may be blessed not only with powerand courage, but also with the grace of womanly sweetness. 1

The Master then stood up with the steel vessel of sacred Nectarin his both hands. The disciples knelt on their left knees in thesoldierly fashion, and looked into the Guru’s eyes as he was aboutto give them ‘himself dissolved in that Immortal Draught’. The Gurugazed into the eyes of each disciple, turn by turn, and threw showersof Amrit on his face, calling him, at each shower, to speak aloud,’Wah-i-Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Sri Wah-i-Guru Ji Ki Fateh’: the Khalsa,God’s Own people, the Body of Pure and Selfless Servants, belongsto the Wonderful Lord; may all triumph and victory be the Lord’s !’

The knot of hair on the top of the head of each disciple was thenanointed by the Guru with the Amrit ‘Thenceforward every hair of thedisciple’s head was filled with his Nectar; every hair was a tonguewhich was to sing the song of the Master. Every hair of the disciple1 . ‘The Guru, in order to show his Sikhs the potency of the baptismal Nectar whichhe had prepared, put some of it aside for birds to drink. Upon this two sparrowscame and filled beaks with it. Then flying away they began to fight, the chroniclerstates, like two Rajas struggling for supremacy and died by mutual slaughter. Theinference was that all animals which drank the Guru’s baptismal water shouldbecome powerful and warlike.’ Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, Vol. V,p.94.

In the time of the Guru, as well as for long afterwards, this warlike temper ofthe Sikhs was sweetened by a deep sentiment of love and regard for all in general,and for their brothers-in-faith in particular. At the time when the Sikhs were on theway to power and sway, and were making themselves masters of the Panjab, asimple declaration of a prior right by a Sikh or by someone else on his behalf, wasenough for another to waive his claim over whole villages without the least feelingof jealousy. In our own times, however, our people seem to have imbibed the spiritof the two sparrows mentioned above. Deplorable consequences of this spirit ofmutual slaughter are already visible everywhere. Will this war be pushed to thebitter extreme ? Or will better sense prevail soon enough to undo the evil alreadywrought, and restore the Khalsa to its pristine glory ?

is thus sacred for all time.’ The Beloved Five were thus baptized bythe Guru. He then asked them to take deep draughts of the Nectar fromthe same steel vessel so that they might be totally transformed into theGuru’s lions and be knit together in unbreakable bonds of brotherlylove. Then the Master spoke as follows : “From today you belong toa new race of Kashatriyas — the Khalsa nation. From today you areborn in the Guru’s house, my house, AH your previous castes arecompletely erased from this day. You all belong to one family; for youare my sons, in flesh as well as in spirit. All of you are Khalsas, God’sown people, a nation of Saint-warriors and Warrior-saints. Khalsa isyour caste, Khalsa is your brotherhood. It is by an intimate union orall castes that the Khalsa has been formed. Like true saints, you haveto be pure and true in thought, word, and deed; you are to be kind andcompassionate, lovers of God and man. But, at the same time, youhave to be brave, fearless, strong, and firm like ideal soldiers. To helpand serve the needy and the weak, the helpless and the downtrodden,shall be your sacred, bounded duty. To feed the famished in body andspirit shall be your vocation. You must not betray, nor fail to help, himwho comes to you for shelter. You are not to oppress or strike fear inany; at the same time you shall not cow down before any in fear; youare not to tolerate oppression — be it on yourselves or on your neighbours,be it from aliens or from those who are said to be yours. Keep true tothe ideals preached and upheld by your Gurus and your predecessorsin Faith. In moments of trial, remember what Guru Arjan Dev andGuru Tegh Bahadur bore for the sake of their Faith — which is yourFaith and mine. Practice in trie use of arms and other soldierly exercisesshall be your concern. As I have said before, you are to be Saint-Soldiers,worshipping God and Steel. You are to be servants of Man and theTyrant’s foes. You shall live by the sweat of your brows and avoid alloccupation. Pursuits, and practices likely to soil the soul or pollute theheart. The essence of your religious life shall be, as heretofore, to eamyour living with honest endeavour, to share your earnings with theneedy, to meditate on God, and to lovingly persuade others to do thesame. To set apart daswanah (one tenth of his income) for the Guru’scause, which is the cause of god and humanity, shall be incumbent onevery Sikh. You shall worship none but God. You shall bow your headto your Master and God alone. Ye shall not worship stones, idols,1 . Puran Singh, The Book of Ten Masters.

tombs, gods, or goddesses. Ye shall refuse to be slaves and shall notbeg alms or charity. Ye shall preserve your god-given form intact andshall always wear the uniform that I, from today, prescribe for myKhalsa. Kesha or long, uncut, unshaven hair; a kangha or comb to keepthe hair tidy and clean; a kachh or breeches reaching up to the knees;a kara or steel bracelet on the wrist, and kirpan or sword hanging fromthe waist — these shall constitute the uniform of my Khalsa, myWarrior-saints. Ye shall keep these ever with you. The sword shall beyour rosary with which to worship and salute God. It shall strike terrorinto the hearts of tyrants and oppressors, and infuse courage andconfidence in the downfallen, the victims of tyranny and oppression.

Ye shall wield it for the defence of the true Dharma, but neveraggressively in forcing your faith on others. Each of you shall love hiswedded wife with ever-increasing love, but shall not approach any otherwoman’s bed even in dream. Ye must not smoke or take any otherintoxicants, nor shall ye take the flesh of an animal killed in theMuhammadan fashion. Ye shall have no dealings with those who killtheir infant daughters or advocate the practice of Sati.’ 1

1. ‘The carrying of arms was commanded as a daily duty : and the spirit ofbrotherhood was still further emphasized by the institution of a distinctive dressand the wearing of five k’s. Female infanticide, a custom prevalent then and formany years after in the Panjab. was strongly forbidden, as also the practice of Sati.’

C.H. Payne, up cit, p. 35.

The Persian historian, Ghulam Muhai-ud-Din, has given the text of the reportwhich the official news — writer sent to Aurangzeb on that occasion. Its text andtranslation are given by Bhagat Lakshman Singh and the translation alone is givenby Macauliffe. Because of its historical importance Macauliffe’s translation isreproduced here in full : The Guru said, “Let all embrace one creed and obliteratedifferences of religion. Let the four Hindu castes who have different rules for theirguidance abandon them all, adopt the one form of adoration, and become brothers.

Let no one deem himself superior to another. Let none pay heed to the Ganges,and other places of pilgrimage which are spoken of with reverence in the Shastars,or adore incarnations such as Ram, Krishan. Brahma, and Durga, but believe inGuru Nanak and the other Sikh Gurus. Let men of the four castes receive my’baptism 1 , eat out of one dish, and feel no disgust or contempt for one another.”

‘When the Guru had thus addressed the crowd, several Brahmins and Khatrisstood up, and said that they accepted the religion of Guru Nanak and of the otherGurus. Others, on the contrary, said that they would never accept any religion whichwas opposed to the teaching of the Vedas and the Shastars, and that they wouldnot renounce at the bidding of a boy the ancient faith which had descended to themfrom their ancestors. Thus, though several refused to accept the Guru’s religion,about twenty thousand men stood up and promised to obey him, as they had thefullest faith in his divine mission.’

After that the Guru asked his Beloved Five to prepare the Amritas he had done, and administer it to others in a like manner. The Gurustood near them and assisted them with his concentration. When theyhad prepared the Nactar, the Guru stood before them with claspedhands, and begged for the Immortalizing Draught from his BelovedFive. They hesitated, but the Guru said.’Why do you hesitate ? I havegiven you my form, my glory, and my appearance. I name you theKhalsa, the Pure, the King’s Own. The Khalsa is the Guru, and theGuru is the Khalsa. Ye and I are one for ever. I am now your chelaor disciple. Therefore administer the baptism to me without any hesitation.’

The Guru then received Amrit from the Five in the same manner

as they had received it from him. Like the names of his Beloved Five,his name, too, was made to end in ‘Singh’ or lion. It was changed fromGobind Rai to Gobind Singh. The Guru then invited others to receivebaptism. The first five who responded to the call were : Ram Singh,Deva Singh, Tahil Singh, Ishar Singh, and Fateh Singh. These werenamed the Panj Mukte: the Five Saved Ones. After them many thousandsmore were baptized. The sky resounded with loud and joyous shoutsof Sat Sri Akal: Glory to the True and Immortal Lord. From meek andhumble disciples the Nectar changed them into lion-hearted Khalsa,with the naked sword as the symbol of their devotion to God and oftheir love for man, brothers for all, defenders of the weak, and upliftersof the downfallen. Their souls were to be as fervent in God’s sitnrinas their arms were to be ready and strong in wielding the sword in arighteous cause.

For days and days the city of Eternal Bliss presented a uniqueappearance. A new nation of Saint-Soldiers, servants of man and thetyrant’s foes, had arisen, and was growing apace. Inaction, sloth, andslavish disposition were flung away. All weakness of heart, mind, andspirit had vanished. In every heart now throbbed a passionate longingto be free and make others free. The Saint-Soldiers of Guru GobindSingh were to lust neither for the beauty of women nor for the lustreof gold. They were not called upon to spread their religion with thesword. On the contrary, they were forbidden to use their sword in thator any other oppressive way. They were promised not nymphs andother means of enjoying the pleasures of the senses in the life to come,but an eternal union with God. Their sword was to be lifted neither inself-aggrandizement nor for the spread of their faith, but for the defenceof their own and other’s freedom, faith, honour, and life. They wereto die for their faith and principles, and in defence of the weak andthe down-trodden, with God on their lips and swords in their hands,and with their faces turned to the enemies of Truth and Liberty.

A draught of Amrit completely transmuted the disciples, whetherdrawn from the ‘high’ or the ‘low’ castes. They lost the old distinctionsbased on caste and became a nation of brothers, with Guru GobindSingh as their Father. Guru Nanak’s mission was fulfilled. The dutycharged with which Guru Gobind Singh had been sent into the worldhad been successfully discharged. The Divine Orders had been fullycarried out. This was the Master’s great miracle of creation — ‘his Khalsawhich he brought out ready-made from his brain as Jupitor had broughtout Minerva.’ 1 It was the Master’s type of the future universal man ofGod, brave and fearless as a lion, sweet and loving as a woman, holyand pious as a saint, brother of all, striking fear in none, and himselfafraid of none.