On This Day:
On April 14, GURU Gobind Singh, the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs founded the Khalsa (Servants of God) at the Vaisakhi gathering in 1699, at Keshgarh Sahib near Anandpur, where he had arranged for followers to meet him at the Vasakhi Fair.
First Some History:
In India here a unique political and social scenario existed in 1699 which culminated in the birth of the Khalsa. The Mughal state, under Aurangzeb, had assumed the orthodoxy as the “imperial policy.” In the second year of his reign, he discontinued the celebration of Nauroz (the first day of the lunar year). A few years later music and dancing were prohibited. “Zharoka Darshan” was discontinued on the ground that it smacked of human worship. Severe punishments were awarded for anything that was construed by the theologians as violating the spirit of Islam.
Islam being a missionary religion and the ruling Muslim community being in a minority, great importance was attached to conversions. In March 1695, all and sundry except the Rajputs (a member of the Hindu military sect) were ordered not to ride elephants, horses, or palanquins, or to carry arms.
Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, was martyred in 1675 in Delhi at Sisganj near the Red Fort on the orders of Aurangzeb. He was making efforts to save Kashmiri Brahmins from being converted to Islam. The year 2022 is the 400th Prakash Parv – the birth anniversary year of Guru Guru Teg Bahadur.
Such suffocating social circumstances led to the birth of Khalsa, the Sikh religion on the day of Baisakhi in 1699.
On April 14, 1699, GURU Gobind Singh, the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs founded the Khalsa (Servants of God) at the Vaisakhi gathering at Keshgarh Sahib near Anandpur, where he had arranged for followers to meet him at the Vasakhi Fair. On that day Guru Gobind Singh asked for a man to step forward from the congregation, who was willing to die for his cause.
One man Daya Singh stepped forward, and followed Guru into his tent. When Guru came out of the tent, his sword was stained with blood; and asked for another volunteer. One by one Dharam Singh, Himmat Singh, and Sahib Singh came forward. One after another they entered Guru’s tent, and the Guru emerged alone with his blood stained sword. The crowd was nervous, until five men then emerged from the tent, and were nominated as Panj Piares; or the five beloved ones.
The Guru put water in a bowl for sprinkling over the five in a simple initiation ceremony. He said prayers as he stirred the water with a short steel sword; symbolising the need for strength. The Guru’s wife, Mata Sundri, then came forward and placed some sugar crystals into the holy water or amrit as a reminder that strength must always be balanced by sweetness of temperament. After completing his prayers, the Guru then sprinkled the amrit over the five.
He declared them to be the first members of an old community of equals, to be called the Khalsa, meaning “pure”. These “saint soldiers” were to dedicate their lives to the service of others and the pursuit of justice for people of all faiths. The Panj Pyare were asked to wear five distinctive symbols of their new identity, The Five Ks.
In a move to end social divisions the Panj Pyare’s surnames were removed by the Guru, mainly because surnames were associated with one’s caste – the Guru then gave them (and all Sikh men) the name Singh, meaning “lion”, a reminder of the need for courage.
At the same time, the Guru gave all Sikh women the name or title Kaur, meaning “princess”, to emphasize dignity and complete equality. The Guru then knelt before the five and asked them to initiate him. Hence, the Khalsa became a community in which master and disciple were equal.
(Editor: As a side note, when I was teaching and administering in a school with a high number of Sikh students, many of the boys’ middle names were Singh and most of the girls’ middle names were Kaur.)
Baisakhi is the highest celebration for Sikhs. It is a time of rededication and renewal of their faith. Many people take part in this special baptism to become Khalsa at this blessed time of year.
Baisakhi is also known as Vaisakh Sankranti and is celebrated as the new year of the Punjabis. It is celebrated every year to welcome the spring and new harvest season. It falls on the first day of Vaisakh which is the first solar month of the Punjabi calendar. According to the solar Hindu calendar, Vaisakh Sankranti will be celebrated on Thursday, 14 April, this year.
This festival is celebrated with full enthusiasm and joy not only by Sikhs in India but all across the globe by the Punjabi community present there. Huge events and decorations can be seen in the places where it is celebrated. From Pakistan to Canada, everywhere you can see people dancing, singing, drumming and celebrating this day in their own beautiful way.
This festival marks hope and people welcome the new harvest season with open arms believing that the year will be immensely beneficial for the crops and farmers.
First, a Story:
Why did the drum take a nap? It was beat.
Second, a Song:
This film tells the story of the initiation of the first five disciples of Guru Gobind Singh. This was made for an exhibit on Khalsa in Nanded. May 19, 2009.
Thought for the Day:
“Happy Birthday to Khalsa. A reminder to forever stand up, speak up and fight against injustice. Happy Baisakhi!”
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Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2022 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky
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