The Five K’s
The Guru instructed his Amritdhari (Baptised) Sikhs to keep five K s i.e. Kesh (uncut hair), Kangha (Comb), Kirpan (sword), Kachha (A pair of shorts prepared in a special way), Kara (a steel bracelet). All the five essentiars of the Sikh form are equally important but Kesh (uncut hair) comes first since it is this ‘K’ which gives the unique form to a Sikh as the Guru had visualised it from the accumulated experience of many generations of men in the social, cultural and spiritual heritage of India. To keep the hair intact is the first and foremost duty of a Sikh. The Guru gave the highest importance to Kesh and named the baptismal place at Anand Pur as Kesh Garh (the fort of uncut hair).
It was thus that Guru Gobind Singh met the challenge of the times and established the Khalsa Panth (The Sikh Brotherhood). The Sikhs henceforth were to become as fearless as lions. They were to fight the tyrants with determination and courage but their sword was always to strike in defence of the weak and the downtrodden. They were to act upon the principle of ‘Fear not, Frighten not.’ The Sword was in fact, a symbol of self respect and the freedom of the Khalsa. The Guru had thus increased the responsibility of his Sikhs so that the perfect law of ‘Live and let others live’ could be established with complete tolerance and harmony.
In the Sikh form, the Kangha is to be used to keep the hair clean and smooth. It is a symbol of cleanliness. The majority of the people of India used to wear a kind of loose cloth (Dhoti) around their waists. In order to make his Sikhs look active and smart, the Guru prescribed Kachha (shorts). The Kachha allows the wearer to move with briskness and agility. It is also a symbol of high moral character. The Guru enjoined his Sikhs to wear the Kara on the right hand wrist. Rich people and the high castes in India, used to wear gold or silver bracelets as pieces of ornamentation, but the Guru did not approve of something was beyond the reach of common man. Moreover, he did not prescribe it as an ornament but the steel bangle was to remind the Sikhs of his principles of equality, unity and strength. The Kara is a gift from the Guru and it is also a symbol of restraint, maturity and moderation. It is to act as a constant reminder to every Sikh that he belongs to the Guru.
The Guru merged himself into the Khalsa by declaring the five beloved ones equal to the Guru. He identified himself with the representatives of the common people and declard, The Khalsa is the Guru, and the Guru is the Khalsa.