Sant Sipahi

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Sant Sipahi stands for the Sikh concept of "Warrior Saint". The two words 'Sant' and 'Sipahi' can be translated as:

  • Sant is used to refer to a wise, knowledgeable and Dharmic person or a "person with knowledge of God". Sometimes it is naively translated as "Saint".
  • Sipahi means Warrior or Soldier.

This is a philosophy and a lifestyle which was first endorsed by Guru Hargobind, and later personified in Guru Gobind Singh. The order of the two words is important.

The first word in this phrase is "Sant" and so this has domination and means that the first duty of the Sikh is to be a "Sant" or to be a wise and knowledgeable person. SANT can be loosely translated as saint though this is not very exact, for the English term, when used in the adjectival sense ‘saintly’ refers to a person of great holiness, virtue or benevolence and has a formal connotation in the Western culture. This is not what the Punjabi word "Sant" conveys to the average person in Punjab. The word is a modified form of the word "Sat" which can simply mean "True" but can also be translated as meaning lasting, real, wise and venerable. Sat or Satya has commonly been used since the Vedic times for the Ever-existent, Unchanging Reality or the Self-existent, Universal Spirit, Brahman or God. The word "Sant" which can be linked to "Sat" is not generally used in a formal sense and is a subjective word which refers to a person who is considered an able and wise. So the common translation of the word

"Sant" is a wise, considerate, judicious and knowledgeable person who has a good understanding of Dharam (Religious observance, righteousness, piety, duty, virtue, merit, honesty, justice, spirituality and morality)

The second word in the phrase is "Sapahi". So this "Sant" should also be a soldier able to fight and engage in warfare. A Sikh who cannot fight cannot be a "Sant-Sapahi" and would be lacking in the required qualities. So the second duty of a Sikh is to be able and ready to fight for a worthy cause and for the protection of righteousness and the weak. So the idea for being a warrior is to protect and defend the weak and oneself from any tyrants and bullies. Sikhs are taught to be kind as well as fearless. However, the Khalsa is forbidden to ever engage in a first attack on any person for whatever reason. Only when all means have been exhausted and negotiations have failed can the sword be yielded in defence of a legitimate and worthy cause.