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The 5Ks or kakkars or kakke are the five articles of faith worn by all baptised Sikhs. Many non-baptised Sikhs also begin on the path of Sikhi by wearing some or all of these Sikh symbols. The baptised Sikhs both male and female are required to wear a uniform to unify and bind them to their commitment to the true, universal, social and temporal principles defined and amplified by the ten Sikh Gurus and laid down in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. This commitment was publicly announced, made prominent and confirmed by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 at the Vaisakhi gathering for all to witness.
Sikhism stands out as a unique and probably the only faith in the world where in there is no place what so ever for clergy or priestly class. It is self made, self contained, self regulating and dedicated to nothing but flawlessness (read Godly) in all aspects of human living. Flawlessness (or righteousness) is the very aim of human life. Numeral '1', is the first character that appears in the Sikh's holy script, the Guru Granth Sahib and is a textual icon for GOD and hence is the only holy number which a true Sikh believes in.
Unlike most other faiths where only the clergy are in uniform, all Sikhs are enjoined to always wear their uniform of faith at all times and to adhere to the ideals of the "Sant-Sapai" Saint-Soldier; to practise their belief always (rather than on just a particular day or time ie: just Sunday or Friday); to maintain and protect the cosmic balance in the world; to guard against tyranny, discrimination, evil and injustice. These five articles of faith distinguish a Sikh and are essential for preserving the life of the community founded on nothing but truthful living.
The Five Ks, or panj kakaar/kakke, are five items of faith which display and show the wearer's conviction to the Master and are a constant reminder of the adorner's love for the high principles set by their Leader and Commander-in-Chief; faith in the Khalsa; deep conviction to Satguru – the "timeless true Guru"; putting the values of the Khalsa above one's personal and materialist needs; the willingness to sacrifice one's life for the value set by the Sikh Gurus.
Sikhs remain spiritually and socially committed to 'the absolute TRUTH' and to wear these 5 Ks at all times in humble obedience of the Sprituo-Temproral command of the tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, who in 1699 during Amrit Sanchar at Baisakhi so ordained and commanded that all Sikhs uphold righteousness and stand by nothing but 'TRUTH'; to be born again as a new and better person; live a life of a saint-soldier; to turn a new leaf and lead a changed and renewed existence – somewhat detached and elevated from the previous "lesser" past life; and finally to call on and contemplate on the god of TRUTH ,Satguru and to totally merge in with this divine spirit.
Satguru Willing, A Sikh in the persona of the KHALSA (Pure person, an image of god TRUTH incarnate); an ETERNAL spirit; to always remains at war against the universal enemies of mankind.
Satguru Willing, through his or her lifetime to remain a saint-soldier and a member of the elite group called the KHALSA (an army of AKAL PURAKH) on this continuous changing battlefield called LIFE within the species of Nature called Mankind. His only duty being to protect the subjects of mother Earth through HUMANITY against the onslaught from FALSEHOOD.
Satguru Willing, When his time is up and the call is received and he is recalled back from the battlefield, he humbly reports back to SATGURU and blends with TRUTH for eternity & beyond. --- The Five Ks are not merely symbols/icons but articles of faith & dedication and actual utility that are required for this journey of life. Once integrated with a human being this set of 5 entities form the 'True LOGO' of the Almighty and reflect the persona of 'TRUE GURU', Satguru.
The Five K's
- Kesh: (Kesh is uncut hair) A Sikh is to maintain and adorn this natural God-given gift. To work with nature and not against it. The Kesh was covered with a turban, Keski or Chunni to keep it clean and manageable. The keski is regarded by some the kakkar instead of kesh.
- Kanga (wooden comb) for the maintenance and ongoing upkeep of Kesh. A reminder to regularly maintain the body and mind in a clean and healthy state.
- Kara (steel bracelet or slave bangle): Symbolises an unbreakable bond with God. It is a constant reminder that the Sikh is a slave of the Lord. He or she must only do His work in accordance with the Holy Scripture; to abstain for wrong-doing at all times.
- Kachhera (cotton underwear) Standard, Naturally Comfortable, dignified attire reflective of modesty and control. A sign of a soldier; ever ready; dignified and highly mobile.
- Kirpan (a small sword) A sign that a Sikh is a soldier in "Akal Purakh's (God's) Army" (Akal Purakh de fauj); to maintain and protect the weak and needy and for self defence. Never to be used in anger.
Sikhs never cut or trims any hair (Kesh), to honor and accept the perfection of God's creation. A 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 Keski/Dastaar, worn to protect the Kesh (unshorn hair), is a socially institutional crown of humble dignity & royalty, a constant reminder to the Sikh that he or she is reflecting and representing the ideals of the TRUE GURU through truthful consciousness and a commitment to live a life by Gurmat principles (TRUE IDEAs) defined and amplified in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
- It is the social identity of a Sikh.
Sayth 10th Nanak
- “KHALSA mero roop hai kaas.
- KHALSY mai hau karon nivaas...”
- "KHALSA (TRUE God's Sagun Saroop "real form") is my special persona.
- Within each KHALSA...
- ...lived even before eternity,
- ...has lived till now,
- ...is living now at this instant and
- ...will ever live beyond eternity,
- ...my special persona (TRUE God's Nirgun Swaroop)"
- Wearing a turban (TRUE God's own Crown) declares sovereignty, dedication, self-respect, courage and piety.
- 5Ks outline the special persona of TRUE God's Sagun Saroop.
The Kanga is kept in the hair knot and is used to keep hygiene and look after the Kesh (unshorn hair). Combing the hair twice a day, dead hair is removed and one keeps tidy.
- Main article: Kanga
Kara (SatGurBani ki Hathkadi), Guru's personal gift to Sikhs, is an iron bracelet worn on the wrist and reflects a link between 'KHALSA' & 'SatGurBani. It is a holy social icon epitomizing & signifying:-
- A truthful life dedicated to no one but 'TRUTH god'
- Unbreakable bond with SatGurBani
- Unbreakable bond among themselves.
- Inner moral strength for sustaining the resolve of the wearer to resist Kaam, Krodth, Lobh, Moh & Ahinkaar.
- Main article: Kara
- Main article: Kacchera
A Kacchera is a pair of knee length shorts. Practically it covers our body and ensures a Sikh is always ready and dressed modestly. Thus it is quite useful in hot weather, swimming and sports activities. The Kachhera reminds the Sikh to uphold high moral character and to control his or her desires.
- Main article: Kirpan
Kirpan comes from the word 'Kirpa' and 'Aan'. Kirpa means an act of kindness, blessing or a favour; 'aan' means honour, respect or self-respect. It is an instrument which adds to self-respect and self-defence. Thus for Sikhs, the kirpan is the symbol of the commitment to self-respect and the freedom of spirit. All initiated Sikhs (or Amritdhari Sikhs) are commanded by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru to wear a kirpan as an inseparable part of their form. The blade should be made of iron or steel.
To call it a dagger or knife, or to just see it as a weapon, is rather insulting as the concept behind the philosophy the Sikh Gurus promoted, nurtured the Sikh community to follow the path of high principles and pure actions, even to sacrifice their own lives to extend mercy and protection to all, no matter their faith, who seek to tread on a path of spirituality, self-determination and independence. The Sikh Gurus taught the need to seek the high ground as far as the behaviour of Sikh society was concerned. This concept of care for society and humanity was quite different from the actions of some of the followers of the two other religions that predominated the culture of the time.
A Sikh should never use the Kirpan in anger or for a malicious attack. However, a Sikh may use it in self-defence or to protect a person in need when peaceful means would be of no use. Some Sikhs choose to learn the art of Gatka a martial art devised by the Sikh Gurus that uses circular movements to effectively swing a sword.
A Sikh is one who has made a lifetime commitment to the teachings of the Sikh Gurus and has made a socio-politically and spiritual pact and is morally duty bound to adhere to the guidelines set by the Guru. One of the rules require the adherent to fight for justice against oppression, falsehood and tyrann] by all means. The Sikh, using the Kirpan in self defence, is abiding by the rules and regulations set by the Gurus.
However, as a last resort it is at the discretion of Khalsa to actually use weapon to guard his or her faith and for his or her own self defence; self defence of the society in general and to supplement the stock of weapons with Humanity (read GOD) dedicated to fight (not among faiths, societies, nations, cultures & economies ) for Justice for the exploited, oppressed & 'have nots' persona of Humanity (read GOD).[Confusing - Needs style improvement]
The Spiritual Signifance of the 5K's
Desires/ Lust (Kaam)
Wearing the Kachherĝ, a Sikh is reminded to control his desire and only look at his own wife or husband. The Kachherĝ reminds us to self-control and to control the urges of Kaam.
Wearing the Karĝ in our hand we are reminded not to commit crime or theft with our hands. The Karĝ constantly reminds us of Guru Ji and the hands which can be used to misdeeds fuelled by greed are reminded "you are bound to the Guru, remember Vaheguru is always watching you". Therefore, the Kara is a continual reminder of “Think of the Guru, before yourself”.
Wearing the Kirpaan, you have the power to kill someone and therefore you to have control your anger more than the other person. The Kirpan represents the Grace, Truth and Justice, which a Sikh represents which can only happen if a Sikh has no anger.
Combing the hair twice a day, when one sees the dead hair being combed out, one is reminded that just as our hair are not permanent, so is everything around us. One should comb one's mind with Gurbaani (the Divine Word), just as one comb's their hair with a comb.
Maintaining Kesh covered with a Dastaar (turban) on the head one commits him or herself to higher consciousness, saving them from vanity. Crowning oneself with a Dastaar one is reminded that their head belongs to Guru Sahib and that they should not have ego. With a turban covering the hair-knot on top of Dasam Duaar (a spiritual opening on the top of the head), all worldly fashion stops dead. The Dastaar guards the Sikh man and woman from drowning in vanity and society-led fashions. A man or woman wearing a turban well be self-conscious of living up to their principles, living up to the image they are portraying and the Guru they are representing, therefore subduing their ego and Manmukh (self-centred) mind.
The hair is regarded with the highest importance in the Sikh religion. Dishonouring one’s hair is one of the four Bajjar Kurehats (cardinal sins), which the Guru has told a Sikh never to commit. A Sikh doesn’t disfigure their hair from head to toe because Guru jee told us to keep the sanctity of the Kesh (hair). Nothing else matters. A Sikh does what their Guru told them to do, subduing their own ego and self-willed thoughts.
The Kesh act as the identity for a Sikh as well being a spiritual and practical tool that helps the body. Guru Nanak Sahib jee, the founder of the Sikh Path, followed the ancient practice of the sages, prophets, and holy mystics of keeping the hair unshorn because keeping it in a natural state is regarded as living in harmony with the Will of Vaheguru.
The practical functions of human body hair are for example: • The hair on our head protects the skull and brain • The hair on our body acts an insulator and is linked to our nervous system • Our eyebrows prevent water going into your eyes • Facial hair absorb ether energy • The hair under our armpits prevent friction and irritation when we move our arms • When one meditates the hair on our body vibrate energy/ Naam.
Bhai Desa Singh, records in a Rehitnaama (edict of discipline): “God created the whole universe and then he fashioned the human body. He gave men beard, moustaches and hair on the head. He who submits to His Will steadfastly adheres to them. They who deny His Will how will they find God in this world?”
A Sikh lives in harmony with God's Divine Will and blessings. God has given us the gift of the human body. The hair is sacred due to the fact that Naam abides within each and every pore of hair on the body. The Kesh are like electrical wires, which preserve, carry and vibrate energy. When one does Naam Japnaa (meditation on the Lord) the hair acts as a spiritual tool, vibrating and absorbing Naam.
Gurbaani (the Divine Word) says: “On each and every hair, the Lord abides.” (344)
“The Gurmukh meditates on the Lord with every hair of his body.” (941)
- Amrit Sanskar
- National Protest by UK Sikhs Protest in connection with turban
- Legal Turban Case Victory in the UK
- UK Legislation connected with turban
- Sikh Kara
- Live Gurbani Kirtan Golden Temple
- The Five Sikh Symbols - SikhismGuide.org
- BBC - Five Ks
- The Sikh Symbols - eBook
- The Sikh Bangle (Karra) - eBook
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