The Khalsa is like the pure and original essence of humanity, just the way the creator intended when humans were first made. It's clean, untouched, and directly connected to the Creator, whom we call "Sat Kartar." The Tenth Guru described the Khalsa in this way:

Jaagat jot japai nis baasur ek binaa man naik na aanai|;

Pooran prem prteet sajai brat gor marhi mat bhool na maanai||

Teerath daan dayaa tap sanjam ek binaa nah ek pachhaadai||

Pooran jot jagai ghat mai tab khaalas taah(i) nakhaalas jaanai||1||

One who remembers the ever-lit Lamp (The light, Akal Purakh) night and day, and brings none else to mind;

Practices this with perfect devotion and love, does not make the mistake of worshiping at tombs or mausoleums.

Does not believe in pilgrimages, charities, penances and austerities.

Recognizes none but the One Akal Purakh.

One whose mind is illuminated by such perfect light is recognized as a perfect Khalsa.

The Tenth Guru teaches the Khalsa about two important qualities: having faith in one God (Akal Purakh) and rejecting rituals like pilgrimages. The term "Khalsa" has two connected meanings: firstly, having pure faith in one God, and secondly, being free from rituals and other forms of worship. Therefore, a Khalsa's life is marked by freedom along with obedience, making them fearless.

Among Sikhs, the idea of unity in belief is well understood. Now, let's focus on the concept of freedom from bondage. Some people find satisfaction in performing rituals, thinking it contributes to their spiritual progress. However, they become trapped in these rituals and struggle to progress on the path to God. According to the Third Guru, all forms of bondage are a result of illusions caused by ignorance.

Karam Dharam sabhi bandhna paap pun sanbandhu;

Mamta mohu su bandhna putr klat su Dhandhu;

Jah daykha tah javri maaiaa ka sanbandhr;

Nanak sachay naam binu vartan vartai andhu. 1. (M: 3, SGGS, p 551).

Rituals are bondages because of belief in superstitions about "Paap Nad Punn" (Good and bad deeds);

Possessiveness is bondage because of attachment to the spouse and the children;

This bondage may be seen everywhere; it is Maaiaa, the world play.

People act in ignorance; this happens due lack of earning Divine virtues.

The dual concept of belief in one God and liberation from bondages was not anything new but only a restatement of what Gurbani says:

Bandhan tay chhutkaavai prabhu milaavaihai hai nam japaavai;

Asthir karay nihchalu ih manooaa bahur na katahoo dhaavai. 1.;

Hai kouoo aiso hamra meetu;

Sagal samagree jeeo heeo dayau arpau apno cheet.1. Pause. (M: 5, SGGS, p 674).

Is there a friend of mine?

Who can liberate me from bondage; enable me to meet Akal Purakh through remembering Divine virtues;

stabilize my mind such that it wavers no more, never to run elsewhere. 1.

I shall offer all my wealth, life and mind and dedicate my thoughts to such a friend.

The creation of the Khalsa, a group of saint soldiers, had a significant impact on the history of South Asia. However, some non-Sikh writers and speakers view this as a deviation from the teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith. But that's not accurate. In fact, Guru Nanak encouraged a strong commitment to practicing faith, even to the point of being willing to sacrifice one's life. He emphasized the importance of unwavering dedication.

Jau tau prem khaylan ka chaau; siru dhari tali gali mayri aau;

Itu maarag pair dhareejai; siru deejay kaani na keejai. 20 (Slok Vaaraan tay Vadheek. SGGS, p 1412).

If you want to play the game of love; come prepared to sacrifice your life;
Once you step on this path; do not hesitate to make the supreme sacrifice.

The Sikh faith is described as a mansion that has evolved over time, with a robust and steadfast foundation initially established by Guru Nanak. According to the Fifth Guru, this spiritual journey has flourished with the divine blessings of the Almighty.

Angeekaaru keeo mayrai kartai gur pooray kee vadiaaee;

Abchal neev dharee Guru Nanak nit nit charrai svaaee. 2. (M: 5, SGGS p 500).

The Creator blessed the efforts; this is the greatness of the perfect guru;

The unshakable foundation laid by Guru Nanak has been built on and grown magnificently.

The order of the Khalsa was established on the Baisakhi of 1699 CE, marking the peak of a significant process. Guru Gobind Singh conveyed messages to the local assemblies, urging them to gather in large numbers at Anandpur Sahib on that day. Arriving with an unsheathed Kirpan, the Guru requested five heads, and five courageous Sikhs, known as Panj Pyaray, stepped forward. This dramatic event showcased effective communication, emphasizing the Khalsa's commitment to the supreme sacrifice when necessary. The Guru administered "Amrit," the immortalizing ambrosia, to the five Sikhs, transforming them into "Singhs" or lions. In a symbolic act, the Guru, too, received "Amrit" from the five, illustrating a reciprocal relationship. This tradition wasn't novel; Guru Nanak initiated it when passing on Guru-ship to Bhai Lehna, who became Guru Angad, and it continued through successive Gurus.

The Tenth Guru adhered to established Sikh teachings. He embraced the readiness to sacrifice for a cause and combined belief in God with the rejection of rituals. The Guru embodying the disciple role was not a novel concept. His approach, including the use of arms, mirrored the actions of the Sixth Guru.

A Khalsa is ever mindful that his existence is owed to Akal Purakh, the Timeless and Deathless Creator. As a soldier of the Creator, the Khalsa is both a saint and a warrior—a "Sant-Sipahi." This concept is evident in Sarab Loh Granth.

"Khalsa Akal Purakhki fauj.

Pragtio Khalsa Parmatam ki mauj" (Chaupaee: Sarab Loh Granth).

The Order of the Khalsa serves as the Creator's army, brought into existence by divine will. However, the Khalsa, as the Creator's soldier, must refrain from using its strength for harm or territorial expansion. Instead, its purpose is to engage in self-defense and safeguard the vulnerable. According to Bhagat Kabir:

"Soora so pechaaneeai jo larai deen kay hayt;

Purja purja kati marai kabahoo na chhaadai khayt. 2.2. (Kabir, SGGS P 1105)".

A warrior is one who fights for the cause of the weak;

He may be cut into pieces but never abandons the battle field.

The Khalsa endured hardships but emerged stronger, thanks to the resilience instilled by the Tenth Guru. Despite the sacrifices of his entire family, including ancestors like Guru Arjan and his own father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Ninth Guru, the Tenth Guru persevered. Mata Gujri, his mother, and all four sons were sacrificed, yet he refused to give up.

 The Tenth Guru imbued the Khalsa with a "never say die" spirit, and they responded admirably. When sympathized with for the loss of his four sons, he replied, "What if four have died; thousands live," identifying himself with the Khalsa. He inspired them to maintain Charhdi Kala, high spirits. Further, he conveyed his perspective on the Khalsa, saying:

"In hi ki kripa kay sajay ham hain naho mo say gareeb crore paray. (Swayyay)"

I owe my position to them; otherwise there are tens of millions of unknown mortals like me.

In the middle of challenges, the Guru remained true to his roles as a spiritual guide and Commander-in-Chief. He diligently compiled Sri Guru Granth Sahib, incorporating the ninth Guru's compositions. Before departing, he entrusted the spiritual realm to Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the temporal matters to the collective Guru Panth.

To fortify the Khalsa spirit, he organized them and appointed Baba Banda Singh Bahadur as their capable leader. With the Guru's blessings and the Sikhs' enthusiastic support, Banda Singh avenged the atrocities against the Khalsa and the Guru's family. Seizing Sirhind, where the Guru's sons met a tragic fate, he established Khalsa rule in 1710, triumphing over the Mughal forces. This remarkable feat was accomplished within a brief two-year period, fulfilling the mission entrusted by the Guru.

The saying holds true: eternal vigilance is the cost of liberty. While the Khalsa takes pride in its heritage, dwelling in past glory is not a perpetual option. The timeless values and ethics advocated by the Gurus should persist in the present, resisting the allure of compromise. Though certain aspects may evolve with time, our core values and ethics should remain steadfast. Let's adhere to the ‘Sikh Reht Maryada’- our Code of Conduct. Above all, let's uphold the remembrance of Akal Purakh, lead an honest life, and steer clear of the four intolerable violations outlined in the Code.

Respect the Kes, our sacred hair – no cutting or shaving allowed. Avoid adultery; it's harmful. Say no to tobacco and its products; the Guru warned us 300 years ago, and science now agrees. Don't consume Kutha meat, which inflicts unnecessary pain on animals or birds, unlike the practices of some Muslims. This isn't about animosity; it traces back to Mughal rule when only Muslims were allowed to slaughter animals. A tactic to demoralize Hindus and Sikhs, but Sikhs and Rajputs stood firm, turning it into an honourable tradition that fosters awareness, discrimination in eating, and discipline – resisting the norm.

It's a well-known truth that only those with high spirits genuinely wish good for others. The Khalsa consistently embodies this spirit. In our daily Ardas, when we supplicate to the Almighty, we earnestly pray for the well-being of all humanity not just once, but three times.

"Sarbat Khalsa ji ko Vahiguru, Vahiguru, Vahiguru chit aavay; chit aavan ka sadka sarab such hovay."
May the Khalsa ever remember Vahiguru and for that let there be peace for every one.

"Bhul chuk maaph karni; sarbat day kaaraj raas karnay."
Please forgive our faults; let every one's tasks be accomplished.

"Nanak Naam charhdi kala; taray bhaanay sarbat da bhalla."
Remembering God's virtues keeps us in high spirits; May the Almighty's Will be good for all.

Let us maintain the Spirit of the Khalsa adhering to the Sikh Reht Maryada. Through collective prayer and goodwill for all humanity, may the Khalsa continue to radiate the timeless light of the Guru’s  teachings.

*Based on an article published in Sadh Sangat by Rawel Singh on 13th April 2010

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