The Khalsa

The Khalsa

The Khalsa of Guru Sahiban | SikhNetKhalsa is an order that was established by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 during the Baisakhi festival. Khalsa means pure, and the initiation of Sikhs into the order was done in a ceremony that involved taking sweetened water referred to as Amrit. The Sikh men who were initiated into the Khalsa order adopted the name Singh as their surname while women adopted Kaur’s name. The Sikhs who were initiated into the Khalsa were supposed to uphold the highest morality and codes of conduct. Khalsa started with the baptism of five members by Guru in public, which was followed by the initiation of many others in the Khalsa order.

Singh, Nikky-Guninder Kaur. The Birth of the Khalsa: A feminist re-memory of Sikh Identity. SUNY Press, 2005.

Singh explains the origin of the Khalsa that formed the basis of the Sikhism religion. The author also discusses how Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa in 1699 during the Baisakhi festivities by preparing the Amrit and the five men’s baptism to join the family of the Khalsa (Singh xi). The author proceeds to discuss how the Khalsa became an integral part of the Sikh, although it is also a minority proportion of the Sikh who are formally baptized into the Khalsa order. According to the author, all Sikh women and men trace their name, personality, prayers, and religious rites, including what they do and the way they wear to the birth of the Khalsa in 1699. The approach taken by the author of this article, Singh Nikky-Guninder Kaur, is a female perspective (Singh xviii). Singh argues that men have only done the recording of the event of the birth of the Khalsa. As a result, the Sikh Khalsa men are perceived as hypermasculine subjects, while Sikh Khalsa women are perceived as silent and passive objects in the birth of the Khalsa. Additionally, this has led to Sikh women being subjected to a cultural burden that is centuries old. The author also argues that the dramatic Baisakhi event in the birth of the Khalsa does not recognize the role of the Sikh women because the society during the times of Guru Gobind Singh was patriarchal.

McLeod, Hew. “The Five Ks of the Khalsa Sikhs.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008): 325-331.

In this article, Hew Mcleod discusses how Sikh men are recognizable by their uncut beards and hair and the wearing of turbans. The author also indicates that in the United States and many other countries, the wearing of turbans by Sikh men has made many people brand them as Muslims. As a result, the Sikhs in the United States were more vulnerable even than the Muslims following the 9/11 Twin Towers destruction (McLeod 325). This was after a Sikh man was gunned down for being mistaken to be a Muslim who were associated with the terrorism behind the attack. The author proceeds to provide a description of how the Sikh Khalsa men can be identified by describing how the turbans they wear can be identified. However, it is difficult in most instances to differentiate between Sikh Khalsa women from the Punjabi Hindu women.

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Only people who are well informed can recognize the Sikh Khalsa women by associating them with the male Sikh Khalsa. The author of this article explains the origin of the Five Ks in Khalsa or the five Khalsa symbols and how an observer can recognize a Sikh Khalsa since many of those living overseas are no longer wearing turbans and are cutting their beards (McLeod 326). The author indicates that many Sikhs Khalsa do not observe the traditions and the number of Khalsa men who cut their beards and do not wear a turban is larger than those who follow the tradition. According to the author, it has become difficult to recognize a Sikh Khalsa by their appearance since the Five Ks of the Sikh Khalsa established by Guru Gobind Singh concern only the outside appearance (McLeod 328). The author of the article indicates that despite the Five Ks being the major way to identify a Sikh Khalsa, many of the Khalsa do not follow the tradition.

Syan, Hardip Singh. “Debating Revolution: Early eighteenth-century Sikh public philosophy on the formation of the Khalsa.” Modern Asian Studies (2014): 1096-1133.

In this article, Hardip Singh Syan analyzes the public debate that took place among Delhi’s Sikh community after Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa. This debate and its details were expressed in a Sikh text referred to as Sri Gur Sobha written in the early eighteenth century (Syan1096). The text explains the division among Delhi’s Sikhs into anti-Khalsa and pro-Khalsa factions. This division created a conflict that led to the persecution of Delhi’s Khalsa Sikhs. The author examines how the conflict occurred and how it reflects wider socioeconomic and political processes in Sikh society and in early modern India (Syan1097). The author also discusses the establishment of the Khalsa order, whereby the first five members to be initiated into Khalsa had the willingness to sacrifice their lives for Guru Gobind Singh. The author takes the approach of examining how the establishment of the Khalsa order did not only add the rich religious landscape in India but also associated with political ambitions that challenged Mughal’s authority in the Punjab region (Syan1098). According to the author, Khalsa Sikhism was associated with the notions of soldierliness and sovereignty that are clear in the Khalsa’s initiation ceremony. Becoming Khalsa was not a process of merely displaying faith in Guru Gobind Singh by wearing a specific dress code. It was a complex process that required devotion to the Guru in forming a militant organization of righteousness that was added to the religious community (Syan 1104).

Robinson, Catherine Anne. “Raj Karega Khalsa (the Khalsa shall reign): the legacy of Tat Khalsa in portrayals of the Khalsa, the impact on Sikh studies and implications for Sikhism in education.” Religions of South Asia 1.1 (2007): 65-80.

In this article, Catherine Anne Robinson explains how Khalsa tends to be a representation of Sikhism. The author provides an explanation of the origin of the Khalsa and the elements that define true Khalsa. The author also indicates the way Tat Khalsa or true Khalsa has influenced teaching and research in Sikhism by examining the history of Sikh studies (Robinson 65). In the article, Catherine Anne Robinson demonstrates how Khalsa’s current form was shaped through activities that campaigned for true Khalsa in the early twentieth and late nineteenth centuries. According to Robinson, the traditionalist Sikh ideology perceived Sikhism as embedded in Hinduism. Additionally, being a member of the Khalsa order was not a privilege over other allegiances and affiliations as an element of the true Sikh Khalsa (Robinson 68). However, Khalsa has been reformed and has profoundly influenced the Sikh ideology to become a significant differentiating element between Sikhism and Hinduism. This author takes an approach of critical reflection of how Khalsa in Sikhism is represented in education. The author examines the origin of the Khalsa ideology and how it has evolved to become the identity of the Sikhs (Robinson 68). The author provides scholarly views on how the standard version of establishing the Khalsa order is featured in Sikhism.

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Pilgrimage, H. A. Y., J. “The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of World Religions.”

In this article, the author explains the topic of Khalsa, whereby it describes Khalsa as the Sikh community in which the members have gone through formal initiation into the Khalsa order (Pilgrimage 176). The author explains the establishment of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in a ceremony that had the intention of turning the Sikhs into a military organization that was willing and ready to defend their faith and identity. The author describes the ceremony of initiating Sikhs into the Khalsa through baptism using sweetened water. The author also indicates how the Khalsa Sikhs were required to adhere to the stipulated code of behavior, including caring for the needy, maintaining marriage vows, and courage in conflict. The author further discusses how Sikh Khalsa men were recognizable in public by not cutting their beards or hair, wearing donning clothes and a steel bracelet on their right wrists, and crying a small dagger (Pilgrimage 176). This author takes the approach of providing a description of how Khalsa Sikhs were not hiding their faith and how they had to learn how to maintain their pride in public. They had to be ready to defend their identity and religion. Men had to adopt the name Singh in their surname, and women adopted the name Kaur.

Comparing the findings of the article, including their approaches

The findings of the five articles analyzed have various similarities despite the scholars using different approaches. In all the articles, the authors have discussed the establishment of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh. All the scholars of the analyzed articles also discuss the initiation of the Sikhs into the Khalsa. The authors also provide a description of the features that make Sikh Khalsa men recognizable in public. However, the article by Hew McLeod indicates that all Sikh Khalsa men do not observe these observable features like not cutting their hair and beards and wearing turbans. The articles have differences in the approaches used by each scholar. The article by Singh Nikky-Guninder Kaur takes a female perspective by arguing how the event that led to the birth of the Khalsa does not recognize the role of the Sikh women because the society was patriarchal (Singh xix). The approach taken by Hew McLeod is also different from the rest because it explains how the majority of Sikh Khalsa men are no longer recognizable by wearing turbans and not cutting their hair because this tradition is not observed by all Sikh Khalsa (McLeod 326). The article by Hardip Singh Syan also takes a different perspective by analyzing the public debate among Delhi’s Sikh community after Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa. This scholar examines how the establishment of the Khalsa order added to the rich religious landscape in India and associated with political ambitions (Robinson 68). The article by Catherine Anne Robinson also takes a different approach to the topic by examining the origin of the Khalsa ideology and how it has evolved to become the true identity of the Sikhs. The article by Pilgrimage provides a summary of the Khalsa order by discussing how formal initiation is carried out and how Sikh Khalsa men are recognizable in public.

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Reflection on What I Have Learned About How Each Scholar Approaches the Topic

There are several lessons that can be derived from how the various scholars approach the topic of the Khalsa. Among the lessons that I learned is that despite the approaches taken by the various scholars, the Khalsa is depicted as a principle that forms the basis of the Sikhism religion (Pilgrimage 176). I also learned that despite the scholars taking different approaches on the topic, the process of initiation into the Khalsa order had been described in the same way. I also learned that it is only a minority of the Sikhs who are initiated in the Khalsa despite the Khalsa being an integral part of the Sikhism religion. From the approach taken by Hew McLeod, I learned that it is not all the Khalsa Sikh men and women follow the traditions provided by the Five Ks of the Khalsa (McLeod 329) This is because McLeod indicates that the majority of Sikh Khalsa men living overseas cut their hair and beards and do not wear a turbine. The scholars also indicate that the Khalsa was established as a military organization aimed at ensuring that the Khalsa Sikhs defend their identity and faith.

References

Singh, Nikky-Guninder Kaur. The Birth of the Khalsa: A feminist re-memory of Sikh Identity. SUNY Press, 2005.

McLeod, Hew. “The Five Ks of the Khalsa Sikhs.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008): 325-331.

Syan, Hardip Singh. “Debating Revolution: Early eighteenth-century Sikh public philosophy on the formation of the Khalsa.” Modern Asian Studies (2014): 1096-1133.

Robinson, Catherine Anne. “Raj Karega Khalsa (the Khalsa shall reign): the legacy of Tat Khalsa in portrayals of the Khalsa, the impact on Sikh studies and implications for Sikhism in education.” Religions of South Asia 1.1 (2007): 65-80.

Pilgrimage, H. A. Y., J. “The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of World Religions.”

 

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