Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Gateway to Sikhism


Q65. What is the significance of the five symbols?

When Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa Panth in 1699, he ordered them to maintain the five symbols - Panj Kakar. These symbols were not only necessary for the strength and uniformity of the organization, but also for the value they each had in their own right. Let us examine the significance of each symbol.

Hair(kesh) was regarded as a symbol of saintliness and Dharma in ancient times. The Biblical story of Samson Agonistes shows that hair was his source of strength and vitality. Guru Nanak started the practice of keeping unshorn hair. His son Sri Chand, the founder of the Udasi sect, also ordered his followers to maintain long hair. The keeping of hair is regarded as an indication of living in harmony with the Will of God. The shaving of hair may be construed as interference in nature's way and considering oneself wiser than God. keeping hair is the most important symbol. A Khalsa become apostate (Patit) if he shaves or trims his hair.

The comb(Kanga) is necessary for keeping the hair clean and tidy.
Underwear(Kachh) is regarded as a symbol of chastity. Moreoever, it allows unembarrassed movement in times of action. It is also easy and comfortable to wear when at rest. it serves as a mark of readiness and agility.
Sword (Kirpan) is an emblem of courage and adventure. In order to have self-respect, the Khalsa should maintain the means to vindicate his honour. The sword is to be used for the defence of others and not for offence. From the possession of a sword comes the Khalsa Panth to be a brotherhood of arms.

The steel bracelet(Kara) is a symbol of restraint and gentility, it also reminds the Sikh that he is bonded to the Guru. When a Sikh looks at it, he will think twice before doing an evil deed. These symbols are kept to preserve corporate unity and to foster the sentiment of brotherhood. They assist a Khalsa look exactly like Guru Gobind Singh(formwise) and thus hopefully prompt him to behave like a Guru.


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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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