The Five Ks
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The Five Ks (Punjabi: ਪੰਜ ਕਕਾਰ Pañj Kakār) are five Articles of Faith that Khalsa Sikhs wear at all times as commanded by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, who so ordered it at the Vaisakhi Amrit Sanchar in 1699.
The Five Ks are:
1 Keski (small turban used to cover the Kesh or uncut hair)
2 Kangha (small wooden comb),
3 Kara (steel or iron bracelet),
4 Kacchera (undergarment) and
5 Kirpan (short dagger).
The Five Ks are not just symbols, but articles of faith that collectively form the external identity and the Khalsa devotee's commitment to the Sikh rehni "Sikh way of life".
A Sikh who has taken Amrit dons all five Ks is known as Khalsa (" The pure one") or Amritdhari ("Amrit Sanchar participant"), while a Sikh who has not taken Amrit but follows all rules and keeps all five Ks is called a sahajdhari ("slow adopter").
The Khalsa was initiated on Vaisakhi Day, 1699; during a period of solemn conflict between the Sikhs and the Mughals. According to sources who witnessed the execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur in 1675, Aurengzeb dared the followers of the guru to come and claim the body . Immediately after the execution, however, a severe dust storm gripped the whole of Delhi. The guards and onlookers all ran helter-skelter for shelter. The dust storm has been thought of as a sign from God that He was upset with the Mughal rulers . In the midst of the thick storm, when visibility was severely low, one Sikh took Guru Tegh Bahadur's head and took off for the Punjab; another Sikh found Guru Tegh Bahadur's body, placed it in a cart, covered the cart with cloth, and went off to his house in Delhi. There he placed the Guru's body in his house and set fire to his whole house, so as not to be caught cremating the Guru. His house is today's site of Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib.
Based on the events surrounding Tegh Bahadur's execution and Gobind Singh's subsequent determination, the 5 Ks were incorporated as a mandate for baptized Sikhs. This act created an external uniform for the spirit of the Khalsa that was easily identifiable in the public so that they cannot shirk their duty to protect and serve those who cannot protect themselves and to challenge injustice.
ਕੰਘਾ ਦੋਨਉਂ ਵਕਤ ਕਰ, ਪਾਗ ਚੁਨਹਿ ਕਰ ਬਾਂਧਈ ॥
Comb the hair twice a day, covering it with turban that is to be tied from fresh.
— Tankhanama Bhai Nand Lal Singh
A Kangha is a small wooden comb that Sikhs use twice a day. It is supposed to be kept with the hair and at all times. Combs help to clean and remove tangles from the hair, and are a symbol of cleanliness. Combing their hair reminds Sikhs that their lives should be tidy and organized. The Sikhs were commanded by Guru Gobind Singh to keep a small comb called a Kangha at all times.
The comb keeps the hair tidy, a symbol of not just accepting what God has given, but also an injunction to maintain it with grace. The Guru said hair should be allowed to grow naturally. For men, this includes not shaving. At the time of Guru Gobind Singh, some holy men let their hair become tangled and dirty. The Guru said that this was not right 'Hair should be allowed to grow but it should be kept clean and combed at least twice a day.'
This rule also applies to amritdhari women as well.
The Sikhs were commanded by Guru Gobind Singh Ji at the Baisakhi Amrit Sanchar in 1699 to wear an iron bracelet called a Kara at all times. The Kara is a constant reminder that whatever a person does with their hands has to be in keeping with the advice given by the Guru. The Khenda is an iron/steel circle to symbolize life as never ending. A symbol of permanent bonding to the community-being a link in the chain of Khalsa Sikhs (the word for link is 'kari'). It is also supposed to represent being handcuffed to god and his will. For this reason, many Amritdhari Sikhs wear one on each hand to complete the set of handcuff.
ਸੀਲ ਜਤ ਕੀ ਕਛ ਪਹਿਰਿ ਪਕਿੜਓ ਹਿਥਆਰਾ ॥
The sign of true chastity is the Kachera, you must wear this and hold weapons in hand.
— Bhai Gurdas, Var. 41, pauri 15
Originally, the Kachera was made part of the five Ks as a symbol of a Sikh soldier's willingness to be ready at a moment's notice for battle or for defense. It was to get around quickly in a fight. The confirmed Sikh (one who has taken the Amrit) wears a Kachera every day even while bathing, to be ready at a moment's notice, changing into a new one leg at a time so as to have no moment where they are unprepared. Further, this garment allowed the Sikh soldier to operate in combat freely and without any hindrance or restriction, because it was easy to fabricate, maintain, wash and carry compared to other traditional under-garments of that era, like the dhoti. The Kachera symbolises self-respect, and always reminds the wearer to maintain mental control over lust, one of the Five Evils in Sikh philosophy.
Kachera follow a generally practical and roomy design. It features an embedded string that circles the waist which can be tightened/loosened as desired, and then knotted securely. The Kachera can be classed between underwear and an outer garment, as in appearance it does not reveal private anatomy, and looks and wears like shorts. As with all of the Five Ks, there is equality between men and women, and so women are also expected to wear it. Considering the hot climate in India, the Kachera is often worn by men as an outer garment, keeping the wearer cool and being practical in manual work such as farming, however it is generally not considered respectful for women to wear the Kachera as an outer garment (on its own) as it is considered too revealing.
ਸ਼ਸਤਰ ਹੀਨ ਕਬਹੂ ਨਹਿ ਹੋਈ, ਰਿਹਤਵੰਤ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਸੋਈ ॥
Those who never depart his/her arms, they are the Khalsa with excellent rehats.
— Rehatnama Bhai Daya Singh
The Kirpan is a short dagger which symbolizes a Sikh's duty to come to the defence of those in peril. All baptised Sikhs should wear a short form of Kirpan (approximately. 6" to 9" long) on their body at all times as a means of defense just as a police officer is expected to wear a public-defensive weapon when on duty. Its use is only allowed in the act of self-defense and the protection of the defenseless. The kirpan is also a tool for meditation and acts as a reminder that as a weapon can change the tide of a battle, so can God change the tide of your life and that one must always live in his will in Chardi kala (high spirits) It is the duty of the true Sikh to help those who suffer unjustly, by whatever means available, whether that means alerting the police, summoning help, or literally defending those who cannot defend themselves, even if that means putting oneself in harm's way.
The Keski is meant to protect the Kes as well as the Dasam Duwar the area where a person is connected to god. It is a misconception that the long unshorn hair (kes) is the fifth K. However the Keski that protects the hair and the Dasam Duwar ("god head") is the actual fifth Kes. Kesh is a beautiful gift which Sikhs believe is given by God. It begins growing whilst the unborn baby is still in its mother’s womb. Proving that hair (kesh) isn’t man made, it is God made. We have no control over kesh, it is naturally there, it is not in our hukam (will).
The Keski on the other hand is a small turban which is normally worn under the large Dastar (turban); it is manmade and protects the Kes and the Dasam Duwar at all times. This is the fifth gift because it was given to the khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh ji. The Kes could not have been given by the Guru during the Amrit Sanchar since it was already there since before one is born.
ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਛਾਪ ਸਿਰ ਕੇਸਕੀ ਪਾਹੁਲ ਦੇਇ ਉਤਾਰ ਸੋ ਬੇਮੁਖ ਜਾਨਹੁ॥
The stamp of the Guru is the Keski, if after being given Amrit, one takes it off, know them as a Bemukh (apostate).
— Bhai Sahib Singh Rehatnama
- "The Five K's". Retrieved October 9, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Five Ks.|
- The Five Sikh Symbols – SikhismGuide.org
- The Sikh Symbols – eBook
- The Sikh Bangle (Karra) – eBook
- THE FIVE SYMBOLS OF SIKHISM