Kirpan is not a weapon

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Sikhs do not regard the Kirpan as a weapon:

This article is an attempt to explain why Sikhs do not regard the Kirpan (one of the five articles of faith, known to them as the 5Ks) as a weapon. To start with let's look at the legal definition of a weapon: "An implement used or designed to be used to kill or injure a person [1]" usually "something such as a club, knife or gun comes to mind." [2]

But everyday items can become weapons

Even a baseball bat, a heavy clock, a hoe, a chair, a pair of sissors or even a car can be used as a weapon. Guns, which Babar introduced to India, easily defeating the bow and arrows, spears and sword arms of the armies of India. Guns, rockets and explosives are not the only lethal weapons which can cause injury and grievous bodily harm. Often one hears the statement, guns don't kill - people kill and that appears to be all too true, as the western part of the former Sikh Raj is today being daily transformed by human bombs intent on earning his/her 'Heavenly rewards' ; not to forget the fedayeen who attacked Mumbai and New Delhi. Jet aircraft ferry people around the world each day, but their use as weapons of mass destruction have altered the way we fly forever.

As the level of violence has increased in societies around the world, some have advocated the use of everyday items as defensive weapons. One website says, "A pen, a key and a mobile phone are all legal to carry and make excellent improvised weapons in certain circumstances;" [3] another says, "You can use everyday items as weapons, shields or spears: your laptop computer, cell phone, wallet, briefcase and many other items to create your own arsenal." [{{{1}}}]

In one case a person in Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK killed another by raining, "up to eight heavy blows on a popular and hard-working student, (using a cricket bat) as he sat eating in the house in which they both lodged." [4] However, sometimes, even simple everyday item can kill unintentionally.

In 2008, a 2-year-old boy in the USA was killed when his sister accidentally struck him in the chest while swinging a baseball bat. [5] The child was inadvertently struck in the chest, producing an interruption of the boy's heart function; onlookers attempted to perform CPR on the boy. He was quickly taken to hospital, where unfortunately he died.

So even everyday household items can become lethal weapons.

Some implements are made as weapons

However, there are some implements which are designed to cause death or injury. One such device is the gun; the primary function of the gun is to fire bullets that put holes through vital organs, causing injury or death. Aside from hunting and target practise (an Olympic sport) the gun does not have any other intended function. So there are some man made devices which work as weapons only and perform no other useful function at all. Other examples of common weapons are; swords, spears, knives, bombs, poisons, arrows, grenades and rockets, to name a few.

Availiability of such weapons is strictly controlled in many countries where only special security personal and other professionals are specially trained and allowed to carry such devices. However, gun crime and deaths through the use of guns continues to grow. The United States is said to lead the world in gun deaths; murders, suicides, and accidental deaths occur daily as the right to own guns is allowed in the US Constitution. According to a study published in 1998 there were 14.24 gun deaths per 100,000 people. Japan had the lowest rate, at 0.05 gun deaths per 100,000 (1 per 2 million people). [{{{1}}}]

Guns, which once were limited to armies are now purchased for security against those who rob, rape and murder for an easy living. The gudas of yesterday are the yahoos of today. Some even kill in the name of religion, when they are really only thieves and robbers. According the Eighth United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (2002) [6], the number of murders with firearms figures were: 9,369 in the USA, 144 in Canada and only 14 in UK where hand guns are more strictly controlled. Otherwise crimes would be a lot higher. So the use of weapons in crime is on the increase worldwide.

What about the kirpan

The standard kirpan worn by Sikhs is about 6” (15cm) in length , while the blade is usually 3.5” (9cm) long. Comparing this with a normal table knife or the serrated 'steak' knife the kirpan comes up short; a little longer than the standard kirpan worn by Sikhs. Further, the kirpan is housed in a sheath which offers further protection as the blade is covered by the sheath at all times until the kirpan is removed from the protective sheath. We could compare the kirpan to an eating fork and find that the fork may prove to be a better weapon for combat compared to a kirpan.

So the question that needs to be asked is: Are the eating fork, the eating knife and standard Sikh kirpan really potent weapons? In most Sikh households in the West, you will find all of these three items readily available.

Function of the Kirpan

Khalsa Sikhs carry a Kirpan in keeping with their vows to honor the edict by Guru Gobind Singh who on Vaisakhi Day 1699 included it as one of the five articles of faith or the 5Ks. It became part of a 'uniform' that was to be worn by all Sikhs who had taken part in the Khanda di pahal or Amrit Sanchar. In addition to the 5Ks, Sikhs who have taken Amrit (Khalsa) also are expected to follow other strict rules of behavior as ordained by the tenth Guru.

The Kirpan is used for many other rituals that Sikhs have to perform in their daily lives. When a Sikh does ardas before the Guru Granth Sahib, the kirpan is used to .... the offering of food (or Kara parshad) to Akal Purakh (Almighty Lord).

Did the Guru intend the Kirpan as a Weapon?

Like the Dastar (turban) that the Guru intended to mark Sikhs as an 'Island of safety' in a dangerous world was the Kirpan included as a weapon or as a Icon never to be used in combat.Traditionally, a Sikh is taught never to use the kirpan in anger or for a malicious attack. It may however be used in self-defence or to protect a person in need. Some Sikhs do carry longer kirpans - particularly thr Akali Nihands

Traditionally Sikhs at the time, as today, carried longer swords and used many other shastars like lances, axes and throwing weapons.

To be continued.

Question: How are kirpans dealt with on airlines, when box cutters with only one inch blades were used to slit throats and turn jet fueled heavy aircraft into bombs more potent that the air to ground rockets of today?

Sikhs in Pakistan have recently been threatened with death and others have been killed in Kashmir and Jammu. Alarming reports (two in the New York times quote the taleban and al qaeda 'yahoo' troglodytes to still be doing the same hideous sorts of torture used on sikhs hundreds of years ago. Reports have them - even eating the eyes of a captured enemy (a US marine)- one even attempting to cut the flesh out of a fellow Muslim's calf to cook. Shades of Kauda Bheel.

Weapon or not, its the man or woman holding it that matters

It seems that it is the man holding the weapon that needs radical education.

Ignorant, base men still think little of taking the lives of innocent men women and children. Bhai Mani Singh Shaheed may have been able to mockingly remind his torturers that they were skipping a few joints, but recently after the death of Baitullah Mesud, one man confessed, to earn his death, after they had disemboweled him and cut off one leg (all while he was still alive). The confession was most likely false, one of several reported that week in Wazirastan. (where every man is a wazir and every woman is totally unseen.)

But unlike Bhai Mani Singh ji, they didn't have to try to force a religious conversion, as the victims were already their Muslim brothers.

These articles deal with Sikh's Five ks

Kesh (uncut hair) -|- Kara (bangle) -|- Kanga (small comb) -|- Kachera (under garment) -|- Kirpan (sword)