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  1. I forewarn you, some Jathebandi fanboys will find this insulting: The Five Kakkars. Tradition expounds that when the valorous Bhai Jaita brought Guru Teghbahadur Ji’s head to the young Guru Gobind Rai, the latter Guru exhorted emotional restraint. After debriefing Jaita as to the situation in Delhi, where the senior Guru was martyred, the Guru inquired as to the numeric presence of the Sikhs in the city. Jaita replied that though many were present, no conspicuous markers distinguished them from other non-Sikh citizens as long hair was retained by a majority of citizens irrespective of religious denomination. (1) Stolid, the Guru pledged to bequeath such a form to the Sikhs that they would be recognized even in millions! This form was ultimately made manifest in 1699 A.D. upon the creation of the Khalsa with the addition of four distinctive symbols to the physicality of all initiates. (2) Owing to the inherent factionalism of the present-day Sikh orthodoxy, and the corruption of the faith’s academia, features as conspicuous as the Five Kakkars are rarely elaborated upon. The latter are composed of the following: The Kesh- Unshorn Hair. The Kach- Stitched Drawers. The Kirpan- A Dagger. The Kangha- A comb worn exclusively in the hair and/or tied as an accessory to the Kirpan. The Kara- An Iron bracelet worn on the right forearm and/or on both forearms. The prime purpose of the Ks was to demarcate the Sikhs, on ideological lines, from non-Sikhs. Nanakianism, since inception, had placed an uncompromising emphasis upon societal living. Prior, or contemporary, faiths had separated the individual from his/her society on religio-political grounds. Prior Indic faiths-under the rubric of Hindu and composed of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism– perceived the world as an illusion and hence worthy of renunciation. The acolyte was enjoined to deprive himself of worldly pleasures and seek salvation in limitless solitude. Divorce from society, and it’s corollaries, was perceived as the only authentic means of Moksha or salvation. (3) Any attempts at societal betterment, in the case of Hinduism, was to be only attempted when the institute of Varnashrama Dharma (Caste) was physically threatened. (4) Krishna’s command, to Arjuna, on this point is quite illumining as the Demi-God states Caste to be a Divine creation which should be preserved through force if necessary. (5) Islam, a non-Indic faith and of Arabic origin, did not possess any concept of the separation of Church and State. (6) It’s prime aim was to engineer a global state which was fully Islamic in nature and where non-conformism to the state ethos, by default, was treason. ‘the toleration of any sect outside the fold of Orthodox Islam is no better than compounding with sin… The conversion of the entire population to Islam and the extinction of every form of dissent is the ideal of the Muslim state.’ (7) Brohi’s words, on the matter, are more profound: ‘Islam views the world as though it were bipolarized in two opposing camps- Darul-Salam (Islam) facing Darul-Harb- the first one is submissive to the Lord in co-operating with God’s purpose… The second one, on the other hand, is engaged in perpetuating defiance of the same Lord (by the rejection of Islam; interjection ours)…’ (8) This binarism is justified on the following ideological grounds: ‘…The extension of Muslim rule is objectively justified as the duty to spread the Superior truth which, as a way of life, can be fully realized only under a Muslim administration.’ (9) The realization and preservation of the Caliphate is the Summum Bonum of the Islamic faith and Muslims are forbidden to, in the words of the apologist Adeeba, ‘physically revolt or rebel against the ruler, be he righteous or tyrannical…’ (10) Husayn al- Quwatli expounds the following: ‘…the Muslim cannot take a disinterested position vis-a-vis the state… Either the ruler is Muslim and the rule Islamic, then he will be content with the state and support it, or the ruler non-Muslim and the rule non-Islamic, then he rejects it, opposes it and works to abolish it, gently or forcibly, openly or secretly…’ (11) Summarily, both the Hindu tradition and Islam enjoined an adherent to achieve a certain mode of statehood at the expense of the non-conformist. For the Hindu (in a religio-political sense), any attempts at eradicating or influencing the Varna structure was anathema whereas for the Muslim any attempts at change where taboo where a Muslim polity was involved. The individual was, effectively, divorced from the socio-political field under one pretext or another and socio-politically rendered impotent. (12) The Sikh Position: It was seen fit by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and his nine successors, to emphasize upon the socio-political/religio-political field and the latters’ corollaries. To this end the Sikh was enjoined to better his/herself and subsequently their environment. (13) The evolution of the faith was initially foreseen by the first Guru and successively realized by the subsequent nine. Given it’s ethos, it was necessary to physically distinguish the appearance of a Sikh from his non-Sikh fellows. The Sikh Gurus did not discriminate on any individual basis, but were opposed to the inefficacious tenets of other faiths. The Sikh was intended to stand out as a salient ensign of his/her precepts in opposition to the latter. (14) To this end, in 1699 A.D., the tenth Guru revamped the Sikh initiation ceremony of the Charan Pahul Amrit and bequeathed four additional symbols to all acolytes. (15) Let us now scrutinize the two common contentions advanced against the retaining of these Kakkars. 1.) ‘The Kakkars were never five in number. Historic texts mention only three ,the “tre-mudra,” the latter two symbols were introduced by the Singh-Sabha.’ 2.) ‘The Kakkars are related to Hindu religiosity and hence hold no distinctive symbolism, Per se, for the Sikhs and should be treated only as temporary markers. Their continuation is only a corollary of the Singh-Sabha movement.’ It must be noted that the above contentions are, if put candidly, the result of an ossified and otherwise obsolete academia which can be classified as either Assimilative or Mcleodian. Given the political leanings of many Sikh academics, Assimilative academicians promulgate the view that the Sikhs are not distinctive from the greater Hindu society and only an ideological offshoot. The general recourse, in their works, is to accuse the Occident of introducing the concept of self-defining identity in the sub-continental psyche. If their respective criterion is applied to Hinduism, the so-called parent faith, it emerges then that even the latter is an Occident creation vis-a-vis self-definition. (16) Mcleodian (the nomenclature being credited to the subjective intellectual Mcleod) academics opine that the Sikhs are an evolutionary corollary of prior spiritual movements and hence nothing new. Both classes ignore sources pointing to the contrary and advance their own subjective assertions in lieu of any substantive evidence. Contention One: The initial mention of the Tre Mudra is found in the Sri Sarbloh Granth, a secondary scripture generally credited to Guru Gobind Singh Ji although some compositions are said to be post-Guru era additions. (17) ‘The Righteous path of the Khalsa proliferates. It’s form is truth, liberation and auspicious deed. Retaining Kach, Kesh and Kirpan they pay obeisance to the (true) Guru. Worshipers of Kaal, they tread the way of the warrior (kshatriya) and fight in the vanguard. Among them forty-five were accepted, and five were acknowledged as being supreme among the Khalsa. The beloved Ajit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh. The fifth was the true Guru who manifested the Panth.’ (18) Non-scriptural sources, generally historic texts, also mention the Tre-Mudra. A number of scholars believe that the Tre are placed in a context different to what the Ks are contextualized in. Orthodox traditionalists believe the Khalsa, the ultimate form of a Sikh, to be timeless. This, again, is verified by the Sri Sarbloh Granth: ‘By the command of the Timeless One, the Khalsa was manifested in the form of sacred Sages. With unshorn hair, from the top to the toe-nail, the Khalsa is both Saint and Warrior…’ (19) S. Kapur Singh’s research, based on the accounts of Megasthenes, indicates that a strong republican current (as found within the Sikh socio-political framework) existed upon the sub-continent in around circa 330 B.C. (20) Several such polities existed and/or bordered the modern day Punjab with the most prominent being the Kathians and the Sophytes or Sanbhutis. (21) Whilst retreating from the sub-continent, by way of modern Balochistan, Alexander encountered the Oxydrakais – Kshudras– and the Malloi, or the Mallavas. These peoples were essentially governed by republican institutes and fielded a coalition 100,000 strong to ward off the invader. (22) His next encounters were with the Xathroi and subsequently the Musicani. (23) Panini, an academic at 6th century Taxila, describes these polities-ganas– in passing as being ayudhyajivinis or arms-bearing. (24) S. Kapur Singh is of the opinion that these ganas were the socio-political ancestors of the Sikh framework and their citizens were defined by the the bearing of arms as a means of independence, the retaining of long hair which otherwise was a Kshatriya (warrior) prerogative and ultimately the retaining of a Kachera which marked them apart from the Brahminical segregation seeping through the sub-continent. (24) The Musicani, as per Megasthenes, ate from a common kitchen and entertained no distinction within themselves. (25) These ancient republicans were the sages who the Sarbloh Granth mentions as the prototype of the Khalsa. The question now arises, are the Kangha and Kara Singh-Sabha innovations? Let us approach the matter via the aid of historic sources themselves. Mann & Singh substantiate that extant manuscripts of the Dasam Granth contain the, now excised, composition of Nishan-i-Sikhi. (26) Pandit Narain Singh’s exegesis of the scripture, published in 1932, evidences the composition to be a part of the Asfotak Kabit(t) Sv(w)aiye. Some scholars contend the composition to be the work of the sophist Bhai Nand Lal, but the syntax of the subject matches that of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s other works. (27) ‘These five letters beginning with K are the emblems of Sikhism. A Sikh can never be excused from the great five Ks. The Bangle, Sword, Shorts, and a Comb. Without unshorn hair the other lot of symbols are of no significance…’ (28) It is also prudent to note that historic Rehitnamahs, which mention the Tre Mudra, are also agreed that a Sikh should retain the Kangha to keep the Kesh well kempt and a Kara as a Vini Shastra- wrist weapon. (29) Jagir Singh, an amateur collector of Sikh antiquities, believes that the Tre Mudra encompass the other two Kakkars as well. ‘Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave the Khalsa a Divine form but he was also insistent that it not lapse into asceticism. To this end the Kangha was bequeathed as a sign of worldly life. Ascetics allowed their hair(s) to become matted as worldly life did not concern them much. For the Khalsa the world is real; matted hair was to be rejected as a sign of detachment hence the comb. Worldly nuances, to an extent, were to be paid heed to. The Tre Mudra were understood to be timeless (ancient), but the Kangha and Kara were innovations of the tenth Master.’ (30) Historic texts, by default, mention both the Kangha and Kara in differing lights. Koer Singh and Bhangu both mention the Tre Mudra. In subsequent passages, however, they also mention the necessity of keeping one’s hair well kempt with the aid of a Kangha and protecting one’s wrist (the Kara) during combat. (31) A comprehensive account of the 5 Kakkars is given in Bhai Jaita’s Sri Gur Katha, a short exposition of the author’s life in the court of the tenth Guru. Verified by several eminent scholars as authentic (the syntax and structure match that of the Guru’s poets), the text has the following to say vis-a-vis the Kakkars: ‘Five portals to his threshold! Five revered in the Lord’s court! Kirpan, Karra, Kesh, Kachh, Kangha- established as the five K’s…‘ (32) The exposition of several other specific episodes, in the life of the tenth Master, also verifies the authenticity of the document. Regarding the assertion that the Singh-Sabha made the retaining of the later two Kakkars mandatory, Raj Kumar Hans states: ‘Most importantly it (Sri Gur Katha; interjection ours) becomes the first testimony, an eyewitness account, to talk unambiguously about the 5Ks… in a way textually validating the late nineteenth century Singh-Sabha assertion based on the Khalsa Sikh memories and practices.’ (33) In light of the above it can be safely summarized that whatever the contextualization of the Kakkars, and their historicity, in the past they have also been five in number and will continue to be so well into the future. Contention Two: Given the political currents of modern day Indian politics, it is no wonder that such an argument has been manifested to impugn the distinctive Sikh identity. The Kakkars, via Sikh tradition, not only act as identifiers of a Khalsa Sikh but also represent the salient features of the latter’s beliefs. What are these ideological features? Let us analyze them below: The Kesh- As we have seen previously, unshorn hair was a prerogative retained by the Kshatriya (warrior-Caste) of Hindu-dom. Bostom notes that whenever a non-Islamic community or nation was subdued and brought under the aegis of the Sharia, draconian measures were imposed upon the non-Muslims among which the wearing of long hair and the retaining of weaponry was forbidden. (34) By allowing Sikhs, of all hues and Castes, to retain unshorn hair the Sikh Gurus not only afflicted a decisive blow upon Hindu segregation but also challenged the Muslim notion of a caliphate. Dr. Trilochan Singh, an eminent twentieth century scholar, substantiates that Kesh was a symbol of the Sikh faith since the latter’s earliest days. (35) We are not duly concerned with why different Indic traditions emphasized upon the retaining of long hair, but rather why the Sikh Gurus attached a sacrosanct respect to it. It is well-known that Guru Nanak Dev Ji opposed traditional Indic thought that a worldly life was not conducive to the spiritual path. Hair, for any spiritualist, was deemed as being a sign of worldliness and hence shorn when the latter undertook to acquire salvation via asceticism. ‘A person who desires to enter upon a spiritual life, must renounce this world of social vortex, and as a gesture of this renunciation, must shave off his hair to simulate the sterility of an aged, bald, decayed man, who is no longer a link in the chain of the generative activity, which is the world. The generative impulse of the life-process is the very essence of Maya, and the foliage of hair on the head and other prominent body hair, therefore, must be coldly sacrificed, to stress the firm determination of the individual to refuse to cooperate with this generative life impulse of the creation-process.’ (35) The Kangha- It is a contradiction, of Indic spirituality, that the novice was enjoined to shear his hair whereas the master was often depicted as having long, matted hair. (36) Shaivite tradition promulgates Shiva to be the Supreme- the pontificate- Yogi and long matted hair are the leitmotiv of the God inter alia. Asceticism enjoined an acolyte to divorce oneself from worldly nuances. Matters of appearance were naturally not the first subject in an Ascetic’s mind hence the long, unkempt hair. As a sign of worldly life, it’s importance, the Khalsa was bequeathed the Kangha to keep the hair kempt. (37) Historic Rehitnamahs and other texts are insistent that the Kangha be perpetually retained on a baptized Sikh’s body and be used twice a day. (38) The Kirpan- Unless Caste is directly threatened, Hindu-dom does not sanction the utilization of force vis-a-vis the socio-political field. (39) Out of sheer necessity a Brahmin and Vaish are enjoined to arm themselves but otherwise force is the domain of the Kshatriya. (40) The Sikhs, prior to the manifestation of the Khalsa, had been utilizing the Kirpan in dual ways. It was initially a spiritual metaphor which was ultimately transferred to the physical realm under the incumbency of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. In an era where stringent codes regulated contact between the four Castes, the Sikh Gurus desired to meld the four divisions into a single entity. ‘The Pure Khalsa Panth is (now) manifested. An auspicious Panth, it encompasses all the four Varnas and institutions of life.’ (41) Hence members of all Castes, when initiated into the Khalsa, acquired the right to bear arms and be sovereigns Per se. A Sikh’s Kirpan was not only intended to act as a defensive aid; it was also intended to reflect the autonomy of it’s retainer in both the temporal and spiritual realms- Miri and Piri. Whereas Dr. Trilochan Singh believes the application of the Kirpan, as a symbol, to be more figurative than literal S. Kapur Singh expounds: ‘All governments and rulers, whether ancient or modern, have insisted and do insist on their right to control and curtail the right of a citizen to wear arms… a government or the State is sustained and supported by the organized might and exclusive right of possession of arms…’ (42) The Sikh state- Khalsa-Raaj- being exclusively democratic, it was well understood that the right to bear arms was the prerogative of each and every Khalsa. Only those Sikhs were allowed to retain arms who were wholly dedicated to the Khalsa ethos and who pledged to never abuse this privilege for personal aggrandizement; Khalsas par excellence. (43) S. Kapur Singh draws two inferences vis-a-vis the socio-political symbolism of the Kirpan: ‘…it is, by ancient tradition and association, a typical weapon of offence and defence (sic) and hence a fundamental right to wear, of the free man, a sovereign individual…’ (44) And, ‘… (it) is associated with open combat, governed by ethical principles, while the dagger is associated with secret attack, or sudden defence (sic) opposed to it… The second meaning of this symbol, therefore, is that the Sikh way of life is wholly governed by ethical principles… and not a slavish, conformist and self-centered social existence.’ (45) The Kara- The historic application of this Kakkar was arch-typically that of a wrist guard or secondary weapon. Underestimated by many a foe, the Kara could be utilized as a gauntlet in hand-to-hand combat whilst simultaneously protecting the wrist against the heavy talwar. Circular, in shape, the Kara is believed to represent perfectness and also the continuum of faith. (46) In Sikh Sampradas it is generally defined as the Guru’s handcuff; restraining the possessor from committing a misdeed with his hands. (47) The Kach- Upon consuming the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve became aware of their own nudity and covered themselves in leaves. (48) Biblical interpretations aside, Sikh sophists usually interpret this event to mean that the forbidden substance illumined the mind’s of it’s consumers hence ensuring their ascension to a higher intellectual plane. After all, it is man’s high intellectualism which demarcates him from other neighboring mammals and garments represent the initial steps taken towards acknowledging this intellectual capability. (49) It is maybe for this reason that the ancient forebears of the Hindus elected to acknowledge Rama’s transformation of Hanuman. Applauding the Simian’s role in his crusade, Rama awarded him with a garment to cover his nudity hence transposing him from a base level to a civilized level. (50) The Kach was also one of the symbols of the sub-continental republicans (mentioned above) who utilized it as a symbol of their defiance against Brahmin sanctioned monarchy. In Sikh tradition the Kach represents the following: A repudiation of digamb(a)ra, a practice which enjoins one to reject all human social organization via adopting full nudity. The Khalsa, on the opposing end of the spectrum, enjoins the societal life to be divine and hence does not accommodate religious nudity. (51) A repudiation of Vedic norms as described in the Kalpa Vedanga(s). Via the latter, only that individual is worthy of performing divine sacrifice who is a twice-born and adorned in a single, untailored, unstitched garment. (52) Discarding the Dhoti, and Sari, is essentially a blasphemy against the latter tenet for any orthodox Hindu and the Sikh Gurus enjoined their acolytes to commit the latter in order to enter the Khalsa fraternity which laid no store by such superstitions. (53) On a less complex level, the sanctity attached to the Kach should act as a deterrent against rape and sexual misconduct. Sources: (1) Singh J; Percussions of History, pg. 243. (2) Singh T (Dr.); (Third Edition 2005) The Turban and the Sword of the Sikhs- Essence of Sikhism, B. Chattar Singh Jiwan Singh (Amritsar, Punjab), pg. 231-245. (3) Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang. 611. Additionally see Singh J; pg. 82. (4) Singh K; (2006) Parasharprasna, Lahore Book Shop (Ludhiana, Punjab), pg. 166. (5) Bhagvad Gita, vol. iv, 13, vol. ii; pg. 441. (6) Tamney B. J. (1974); Church-State Relations in Christianity and Islam, vol. xvi, Religious Research Association Inc., pp. 10-18. (7) Sarkar J. (1912); History of Aurangzeb Based on Original Sources, M.C. Sarkar (Calcutta, India), vol. iii, pg. 248-250. (8) Brohi quoted in Malik K.S. (Retd-Brig. Pakistan Defense Force) The Quranic Way of War, Lahore/New Delhi (1979/1986), see Introduction. (9) Gustave von Granebaum, Islam: Essays in the Nature and Growth of a Cultural Tradition, Menasha, Wisconsin, (1955), pg. 130. (10) Accessed from (11) Husayn al- Quwatli, 1975, cited in David D. Grafton (2003); The Christians of Lebanon: Political Rights in Islamic Law, London/New York, pg. 4. (12) See Singh K; pg. 162. (13) See Singh J; pg. 84. (14) See Singh K; pg. 80. (15) See Singh T (Dr.); pg. 72. The author evidences the existence of Kesh, as a symbol, prior to the previous four Ks. (16) Singh P. (2003); The Bhagats of the Guru Granth Sahib, Sikh Self-Definition and the Bhagat Bani, Oxford University Press, New Delhi (India), pg. 6. (17) The Nihung savant, and Jathedar of Hazoor Sahib, Akali Hazoora Singh believed the Sri Sarbloh Granth to be the work of Guru Gobind Singh Ji wholly. S. Kapur Singh believes it to be a post-Guru era composition cataloged by Akalis Binod Singh and Mani Singh. Scholars, on the basis of the work’s syntax, do believe some verses to be later additions. (18) Sri Sarbloh Granth Transliteration, vol. ii, pg. 495. (19) Ibid. (20) See Singh K; pg. 173. (21) Ibid, pg. 176. (22) Ibid, pg. 177. (23) Ibid, pg. 178. (24) Ibid, pg. 181. (25) Ibid, pg. 178. (26) Mann G.S. & Singh K. (2015); The Granth of Guru Gobind Singh, Oxford University Press, New Delhi (India), pg. 61. (27) Ibid, pg. 62. (28) Ibid, pg. 61. It is imperative to note here that the Five Kakkars are mentioned in many post-Guru era Sikh manuscripts and communications. Of particular note is the letter written to Raja Narain Parshad, by Narain Singh (Hazoor Sahib), which mentions the practice in full: ‘It is the edict of Sri (Guru) Gobind Singh that he, who on becoming my disciple receives the nectar of the Khanda but then does not retain the 5 kakkars, or desecrates a Sikh shrine, he will be solely answerable to Vahguru Akal Purakh. If he, being my Sikh without the Kesh but conducts himself as a Singh-Khalsa, or does not stay within my commands, he will be barred from Sachkhand and all Gurudwaras of the ten kings…’ (29) See Mann & Singh; pg. 62. (30) Oral Interview; 2017. (31) Ibid; pg. 63. Additionally see Sri Gur Panth Prakash, vol. i for Bhangu’s account of events. (32) Singh N. (2015); Bhai Jaita’s Sri Gur Katha, Singh Brothers, Amritsar, pg. 127. (33) Ibid; pg. 14. (34) Bostom G.A. (2012); Sharia Versus Freedom, The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism, Prometheus Books (NY), pg. 217. (35) See Singh K; pg. 63. (36) Accessed from (37) See Singh K; pg. 82. (38) Rehitnamahs. (39) See Singh K; pg. 199. (40) See Singh J; pg. 306-310. (41) Sri Sarbloh Granth Transliteration, vol. ii, pg. 495. (42) See Singh K; pg. 81. (43) Rehitnamahs. (44) See Singh K; pg. 81. (45) Ibid. (46) See Singh K; pg. 82-83. (47) Rehitnamahs. (48) The Bible (New International Version), Genesis, 3:7. (49) See Singh K; pg. 84. (50) The fundamental meaning of this parable has been glossed over by various Sikh orders, especially the Nirmalas, in a bid to re-write the very essentials of Sikhi. (51) See Singh K; pg. 85-86. (52) Ibid, pg. 86-87. (53) Ibid. Accessed from:
  2. Does anyone know any good tittles? I'm trying to learn more about Sikh History, Arts ( Gurmat Sangeet and Calligraphy etc) and Literature. I would prefer if it was written in English. Also Im interested in old paintings so if there is book full of them please let me know. Thanks Gur Fateh Ji.
  3. Evolving trends in pre-nineteenth century Sikh Historiography. The primary sphere of reverence, in Sikh academia, is the Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji with second and tertiary accompaniments being the Dasam Granth and the compositions of Bhai Nand Lal. The latter are noteworthy in many respects. They establish a timeless connection between the reader and writer across several milieus, yet offer only tantalizing glimpses into the lives of the Gurus.' Fluidly focusing upon the Gurus' message, the aforementioned texts lack a cohesive narrative detailing who they where. To ameliorate just such a situation the Sikhs, as a whole, had to parent several distinct genres of literature which would not only detail the birth of their ethos, but also of their evolution under the sacrosanct Gurus. The primary corpus of these genres would not focus upon the tenets, and tutorials, of the faith but upon the lives of the promulgators of the faith itself! Not only would these genres have to incorporate the nuanced orthodoxy of the faith, Per se, but also define the Sikhs as a faith, and holistic force in light of their association with the Gurus. To this end three new literary models were born. The initial Janamsaakhi tradition, followed by the multi-faceted Gurbilas series and the ever-evolving Rehitnamas. The Janamsaakhis' (or tales of birth) incorporate a triumvirate design. They solely concentrate upon the life of Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1539) via specifying it in three general Parochial's. Birth, voyages and settlement. Janamsaakhis,' it seems, were written with three broad intentions. One, to provide an emulative biography of the Guru. Two, to grant Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike a literary darsan (glimpse) of the Guru. And three, to provide an exegetical source of Gurbani via incorporating contextual and environmental influences. The bibliography of these Saakhis consist of oral folklore prevalent in the Guru-era Punjab. Mcleod notes that despite the significant time lapses, prevalent between the writing of each Saakhi, the genre carries an authentic ring to it (1). Significant exegetical evolutions, and re-telling's penultimately catalysed in notable differences in each Saakhi. Plausibly nowhere is the latter more evident, than in the hierarchical number of Saakhis' which presently exist. The Bhai Bala Janamsaakhi claims to be the foremost manuscript of the genre. It's claims are evidenced by the fact that it has become a traditional component of many Sikh orders. The schismatic Meharbaan Janamsaakhi can be said to be the second oldest, but has been discarded due to it's perceived unorthodox content; whilst the Bhai Mani Singh Janamsaakhi is categorised as being the third oldest and authoritarian. Other Janamsaakhis' also exist with the most mooted being the recent B40 Janamsaakhi. Yet as Surjit Singh Hans and W. Owen Cole elucidate each Saakhi should be analysed carefully for veracity and authenticity. Cole is at pains to highlight that no scriptural, or preliminary, Sikh text mentions the existence of Bhai Bala. The fact that the latter's Saakhi eulogizes Baba Hindal, and Bhagat Kabir, at the expense of Guru Nanak Dev Ji makes it's relevance questionable. The Meharbaan Saakhi presents a coloured vision of events, especially in light of the fact that the author's father was opposed to the orthodox lineage of Guruship. Summarily, the criteria for essaying each Janamsaakhi might vary from manuscript to manuscript, but the genre represents the earliest pivotal point in Sikh literature. The Gurbilas series shows a poetic, and structural, strain derived from the Janamsaakhis but radically differs in many respects. A majority of the genre focuses on the life of one individual, although Kesar Singh Chibber's Bansavalinama Dasan Patshian Ka, runs as an anomaly to the genre's Status quo. The primary cataloguing point for this diverse genre hinges on the mythological, and political, content of each manuscript. Chibber's Brahmin ancestry stood him in an instrumental stead to utilise ancient Puranic, and mythological texts, in order to construct a magnetic genealogy of the Gurus.' Yet even his work is without bias. Reaching out to the dominant Hindu majority he rues the over-dominance of stratified Jatts, and Dalits, in the Khalsa whilst exposing Islam to a microscopic scrutiny. Simultaneously he mentions Akali-Nihung Guru Gobind Singh Ji as having manifested Kalika, for military aide, and the Gurus' being honorific avatars of Vishnu. With the commencement of the Sikh Reformative era, it's no wonder his work fell out of use. But Chibber's work is profoundly prolific. In 2,564 stanzas, and 14 chapters, he relates significant events from the lives of the ten Gurus', Banda Singh Bahadur, Ajit Singh (adopted son of Mata Sundar Kaur), and the life of the matriarchal Mata herself. Later Gurbilas additions would follow an emulative course, although fundamental differences would become significant in each serial generation. Gurbilas Patshai Chevin (sixth) orbits the life of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. It encapsulates the latter's birth, father's life, marriage, battles and other impactive events which shaped the subject's life. Despite chronological errors, the work is a well-grounded piece authentically narrating the important events in the life of the Guru. Koer Singh's Gurbilas Patshai Dasvin (tenth) completed in 1751 C.E. (the author was a confidant of Akali-Nihung Mani Singh Ji) is categorised as being the most inauthentic of the series. The author makes no avid distinction between myth, parable and reality in his narrative. He perpetually misplaces dates and implies (insubstantially) that the tenth Guru undertook a journey to Ayodhya. Sukkha Singh's emulative text, of the same name, is solely concerned with the Guru's battles and the ethics orbiting the latter's political mindset. All 31 Cantos of his work carry a scholarly ring and avoid the ardent mythologising found in initial texts of the genre. The most aberrant text, in the entire series, is that of Bhai Sobha Ram. His Gurbilas Bhai Sahib Singh Ji Bedi does not draw upon preliminary sources such as the Dasam Granth, and other contemporaneous accounts; but instead focuses on his own observance of Baba Sahib Singh Ji Bedi. The latter was an eighteenth century descendant of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and an avid player in the politics of Lahore. Ram implies him to be the temporal emulation of Akali-Nihung Guru Gobind Singh Ji, dispatched to coronate Ranjit Singh as the emperor of Punjab. The latter makes evident the political appeal of the work, and one cannot help but wonder if the latter was the sole inspiration for the text's birth. The Rehitnamas are the most divergent of the three genres. They are not exegetical accounts, such as the Janamsaakhis', or even biographical sketches such as the Gurbilas series. They are more de imitatione Gurui, aiming to emulate the conduct of the Gurus' via an indirect mimesis. The Janamsaakhi, and Gurbilas, genres provide a literary darsan of the Gurus' but the Rehitnamas tend to rationalize, and interpret, their actions for the disciple's emulation. The Rehitnamas depict a direct strain of evolution, the genre has a Herculean amount of offshoots and each and every one of the latter depict changing political, and social, trends. Purnima Dhavan notes that the era from 1715-1748 A.D. was important in the evolution of the Rehitnamas. The Khalsa decided to cement an unique and ubiquitous identity, and the Rehitnamas became pivotal judge of it's social and political conduct. She provides an interesting example of this evolution orbiting military service for the Khalsa in the eighteenth century. Prahlaad Singh's Rehitnama warns, '...that the Sikh who bows his head to one who adorns a skull-cap (Muslim) will dwell in hell, but the Sikh who worships the Akal-Purakh will carry the benefits of his entire clan.' (2) Simultaneous Rehitnamas' also carry a similar tone, leading one to conclude that the eighteenth century ascension of the Khalsa polity played an unique role in the formation of each Rehitnama. The writers forewarned against the events which they witnessed, i.e. Khalsa adherents becoming mercenaries for Islamic rulers (Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Adina Beg). The latter was construed as being a grievous trespass. Especially in an era where the Khalsa was warring for political autonomy from radical Islam. The Chaupa Singh Rehitnama represents another facet of the genre. The separation of Khalsa socialism, and political precepts, from that of the contemporaneous Islamic polity. 'The rulers of the world should serve as lights, yet nowhere had a lamp been lit, nowhere could a light be seen. And so these rulers were driven out in order that the panth might rule in their place. He bestowed authority on the panth in order that it might take revenge on the alien Muslims (maleccha), ending their rule once and for all.' (3) The latter carries an impertinent warning for Khalsa rulers. Just as Islamic tyranny was brought to heel, so would the Khalsa state if it emulated the latter. One can easily conclude that no Rehitnama is definite. Whereas the genre, in the eighteenth century, concentrated on martial pursuits and politics; it's modern counterpart is more concerned with spirituality and day-to-day conduct. Thus, they reflect the periodical psyche of the Khalsa as it slowly evolves. They offer no firm insight into the perpetual, non-changing, psyche of the Khalsa because the latter does not exist. Unlike the Gurbilas genre however, they do tend to draw material from Gurbani and are often at pains to pinpoint their relevance to the latter. Whereas the Janamsaakhis, and the Gurbilas, are reminiscent of the past; the Rehitnama is a continuing genre ever-changing from milieu to milieu. Sources: (1) Fenech, E. L; Singh P. (2014) The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies.Oxford University Press, NY, USA, pg. 183. (2) Dhavan P. (2011) When Sparrows Became Hawks: The Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition. Oxford University Press, NY, USA, pg. 78. Source:
  4. These Singhs are from Maharajah Ranjit Singh Ji's times. Can we add more to the list with a short biography?? Gyani Sant Singh Ji (1768-1832 A.D.) The fifth head of Damdami Taksal and one of the famed proponents of the Nirmala order Gyani Sant Singh Ji's name has become synonymous with the divinity and mysticism of the Khalsa empire. Gurmat was a hereditary tradition of his family, his father Gyani Soorat Singh was the third head of Damdami Taksal followed suite by his brother Gyani Gurdass Singh Ji. Receiving an extensive amount of education in Gurmat from both his father and brother he became a famed treasure trove of spiritual knowledge at a young age, and imbued the unique saintliness given to the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Subsequently his brother nominated him for leading Taksal in his stead before encountering his demise, and from 1790 A.D. commenced the daily exegesis of the foremost recital of Guru Granth Sahib in Darbar Sahib. Parallel to this he tutored many youngsters in Gurmat-lore and Khalsa principles. His dynamic style of education, and blatant practicality brought him to the attention of Maharajah Ranjit Singh who decided to test his resolve. The Maharajah dispatched two messengers to the Gyani's residence ordering him to present himself before the Maharajah, the Gyani seated the two messengers in his abode and served them food and engaged them in conversation. After noticing the absence of his messengers the Maharajah dispatched two more messengers to the Gyani's stead. The Gyani treated them in the same fashion as their predecessors, he then had them accompany him to Darbar Sahib where he provided his daily exegesis to the congregation. The Maharajah also attended this service and after hearing the Gyani's melodious explanation, sought an audience with him and publicly praised him for his services. Captivated by the Gyani's mystical charisma the Maharajah bestowed upon the Gyani, the honor tutoring his own grandson, the illustrious Kanwar Nau Nihal Singh. An honor which the Gyani accepted in the context of a service and set about with a legendary enthusiasm. Despite being the head custodian of Darbar sahib the Gyani was extensively humble and did not hold any distinctions between highness and lowness. This quality of his was depicted by his daily routine in Darbar Sahib. He would observe a circular locomotion of the outer precincts of Darbar Sahib, and collect the various garbage in his hands and cremate it with the utmost respect. His faith in the Guru was tempered via steel. When Maharajah Ranjit Singh was displaced from his horse, in battle, and subsequently lost consciousness the Gyani lifted him on his back and traversed to a nearby fort unaided, unarmed and unprotected. As a result he was made one of the Maharajah's advisors, a move which catalyzed in the prosperity of the Khalsa empire. When the Maharajah plated Harmandir Sahib in gold, it was the Gyani who oversaw the service. After nominated Sant Daya Singh, an erstwhile student of his, as sixth head of Taksal he departed for his heavenly abode in 1832 A.D. Kabit – (This is the invocation to the teacher of Bhai Santokh Singh Ji) Forever was my teacher (Vidya Guru) imbued in the name of God as his consciousness was engrossed in the concentration of the Lord. The name of my Vidya Guru was ‘Bhai Sant Singh’ who was forever in the company of other saints. Bhai Sant Singh Ji was friendly, graceful, content and righteous. From childhood they ever remained engrossed in the meditation of the name of God. I have taken a drop of sweat from the feet of Bhai Sant Singh Ji and put it in my mouth (this is not a reference to Charan Pahul as Bhai Santokh Singh Ji took Khande Da Amrit however it is metaphoric for watching someone’s life and adopting the same as them). From accepting their spiritual discourses I have become great and diligent. The feet of Bhai Sant Singh Ji are beautiful like a lotus blossom and grant the gift of liberation. I am folding both of my hands and bowing to the feet of Bhai Sant Singh Ji as their feet are forever the abode of bliss. 33. -Kavi Santokh Singh in praise of his educational Guru, Gyani Sant Singh Ji. Baba Sahib Singh Ji Bedi. A descendant of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and an extensively altruistic personage, Baba Sahib Singh Bedi was an embodiment of the Khalsa discipline during the latter's imperial period. Born in 1756 A.D. in Punjab, he joined his family in it's migration to the Sivalik hills where they found residence in the township of Una. An ancestral residence where the family held extensive properties. After the demise of his father in 1776 A.D, and his own subsequent succession, the Baba built a magnificent fortress at Una to ward off foreign raiders and provide an education in the Khalsa ethos. Hundreds flocked to his wing and simultaneously spread his fame far and wide, as a result thousands flocked to his abode to receive the Khalsa's initiatory rights at his blessed limbs. A strict adherent of Guru Gobind Singh Ji's commands he also mastered political science, and became a mediator in-between the various chieftains who plagued Punjab's political landscape in the mid-seventeenth century. A keen intellectual and an extensive adherent of military matters, the Baba planned an expedition against the Afghani governor Ata Ullah Khan of Malerkotla. In this he was joined by the famed Baghel Singh, chieftain of the Karora-Singhia confederacy; Tara Singh Ghaiba, and Bhanga Singh of Thanesar. Ironically however, in an extensive parallel to it's ancestor Ala Singh, the Phulkian confederacy aided Ata Ullah Khan and subsequently after adhering to a war indemnity, Baba Sahib Singh and his coalition retreated. Despite this early blow to his battle interests the Baba was not mentally vanquished, after re-assigning his forces he launched another extensive crusade in 1798 A.D. This time he renewed his prior coalition and with the aid of Tara Singh, Gurdit Singh and Jodh Singh he engaged Rai Illyas of Raikot in a tactical skirmish. After a stunning victory over his opponent, he traversed on wards to Jagroan, Dakha, Badoval, Ludhiana and ultimately Mansuran subsequently ending with his carving of these new territories into a new fiefdom. During Shah Zaman's prolonged invasion, and simultaneous looting, of Punjab he spearheaded an effective campaign against the latter's forces ultimately prolonging the Khalsa's resistance and inflicting a high amount of casualties on the Shah's forces. With the advent of Sukerchakia dominance, the Baba allied himself with the young Ranjit Singh and assisted the latter in vanquishing Gulab Singh, scion of the Bhangi confederacy. This allegiance ultimately catalyzed in the declaration of Ranjit Singh as emperor of Punjab in 1801 A.D. As a sign of gratitude Ranjit Singh made the Baba a honorary member of the polity, and on his ascension to the throne, had the Baba perform the coronation rites. A trail blazing reformer, in his own right, the Baba wrestled the property of various Khalsa shrines from corrupt administrations even going to the great length of confronting the latter. The proletariat accorded to him the status of a saint and conferred upon him many a honorary rank. It is said that before her son's coronation Maharajah Ranjit Singh's mother expressed her concern over her son's militant tendencies, the Baba chuckled at her nervousness and prophesied that even the rivers of Punjab would have to stop in front of her son's ambitions. Noticing the poverty afflicting the populace of Punjab, the Baba initiated a new crusade where langar was distributed freely to all or any individual, irregardless of caste or creed, who entered any Khalsa shrine or resided in it's vicinity. This practice of Guru Nanak Dev was extensively prolonged by the Baba who in it's aftermath migrated to Nanakana Sahib. Noticing the deficiency of food supplies in the shrine's kitchens the Baba sought an audience with Ranjit Singh. After hearing how the devotees were availed of all material cares by the shrine, yet the shrine itself lacked the basic necessities required for it's upkeep, Ranjit Singh gifted 1,000 acres of land towards Nanakana sahib's upkeep, property still preserved by the regional Sikh populace. An extensive treasure-trove of Khalsa lore and the third principle of the Bhai Daya Singh 'samprada' (order), the Baba breathed his last in 1834 A.D. The Legend of "Karnivala." Despite leading the sub-continent's, and simultaneously the Khalsa's, first revolution against Anglo expansionism the image of Bhai Maharaj Singh "Karnivala" still remains shrouded in mist. A veritable Bhindranwale of his times, he commenced a Herculean rebellion on an unprecedented scale to eradicate colonialism from the entire sub-continent. A unique vision which was not shared by any of his contemporary insurrectionists. Born in Ludhiana (his birth date is not known) to pious Sikh parents he was enrolled into the tutelage of Bhai Bir Singh, at Naurangabad, at a young age. His maturity and strict conformation of the Khalsa code soon saw him being delegated the chieftain ship of Naurangabad's kitchens and simultaneously the role of Bhai Bir Singh's aide-de-camp. His humility and high precepts catalyzed in him being blessed with amrit by his master and subsequently being renamed Bhai Bhagwan Singh. The Naurangabad congregation simultaneously bestowed on him the title of "Maharaj" or great authoritarian due to his high mindset and perception. The "Sotto Vocce" assertions of the Dogra polity and it's subtle maneuvers catalyzed in the emergence of heavy factionalism in-between the Lahore polity and in order to save their lives, two strident critics of the Dogra influence, Attar Singh Sandhanwalia and Prince Kashmira Singh sought refugee at Naurangabad. Simultaneously Naurangabad was besieged by Hira Singh Dogra and his formidable entourage of 20,000 troops and 50 cannons. On receiving the blatant refusal of his preposterous demands he commenced a bloody barrage which saw the fiery demise of the two refugees and their senior patron, Bhai Bir Singh. In the aftermath of the carnage, Bhai Maharaj Singh was declared as successor to Bhai Bir Singh's mystical legacy and the veritable head of his dera. Garnering knowledge of the Dogra treachery, via indigenous sources, the Bhai shifted camp to Jalandhar and established a headquarters from where he cemented contact with the disposed Maharani Jind Kaur. Availing her of her difficulties during her imprisonment, he also established contact with the young Prince Deep Singh's aboriginal wards and commenced an agenda which encapsulated the remaining independent entities of Punjab and incited them to revolt against their new despots. Gaining intelligence regarding the Bhai's designs, the British dispatched the young Deep Singh to Mussori and placed extensive surveillance on the Bhai. In 1847 A.D. they confiscated the Bhai's property and instigated him in an assassination plot targeting Henry Lawrence, the contemporary British Resident to Lahore. Unwilling to surrender and extinguish his young crusade the Bhai, along with six hundred of his ardent adherents, sought shelter in the jungles of Chumbh and commenced the execution of a new operation. One which would see the birth of a sub-continental coalition aiming to eradicate all colonial designs for India. Garnering knowledge of his whereabouts the British incited the regional Islamic zealots to commence a manhunt and capture the Bhai, who proved to be far too elusive and subtly departed Chumbh. Knowing that an extensive number of the Khalsa chieftains would not willingly submit to the British yoke, the Bhai set about contacting them. With the blessings of Chattar Singh Attari he contacted Mul-Raaj, the governor of Multan and explained his future designs to him. The latter was highly captivated by the Bhai's charismatic character and set a series of events in motion, which upon execution, resulted in the commencement of the second Anglo-Sikh war. With the advent of the war, the Bhai was found serving at Ram-Nagar, Chillianwala and Gujrat, in the aftermath of which he elusively retreated from the battlefield and commenced a long-drawn dance against the British antagonists. Endeared to the regional populace, the Bhai and his entourage rapidly increased, and found shelter with an extensive amount of proletariat(s). His ability to evade capture and incite the masses soon saw the Bhai earn the title of "Karnivala" or the performer of miracles. After his failure in inviting a confounded Dost Muhammad Khan (the latter had submitted to Maharajah Sher Singh, and joined the Attari's at Chillianwala in the aftermath of which he had retreated) to incorporate himself into a potential coalition, the Bhai drew up a new plan. He aimed to unleash a two pronged strike against the British heart. The commencement would incite the Jalandhar region into rebellion, and the conclusion would catalyze in a potential national coalition and the expulsion of colonialism. To this end he set about testing the British resolve. He commenced ruthless raids and subsequent destruction of the Hajipur, Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar cantonments. Emboldened by the feeble British resistance he commenced to loot the treasury at Bajwara. Realizing that he had created a fertile atmosphere for rebellion he announced his intention to annihilate all the British cantonments in Jalandhar. Heavily supported by the local populace he traveled from village to village spreading his gospel of justice and rebellion. The attack would commence on 3rd January 1850 A.D. and plausibly end with the expulsion of the entire colonial administration from Punjab. Ironically only five days before his planned execution of the sub-continental rebellion, he was arrested near Adampur by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Jalandhar. Along with twenty unarmed prisoners he was imprisoned in the residential jail. Fearing an outburst of pro-secessionist violence, the local authorities had him deported to Singapore after a Kangaroo court. On 9th July 1850 A.D. he was imprisoned in Outram Jail Singapore. Over the next six years he developed tongue cancer, rheumatic swelling among other anatomical diseases. Yet even these did not break his ever optimistic spirit, and iron-resolve in the obedience of his Guru's will. Ultimately on 5th July 1956 A.D. he breathed his last and discarded the mortal plane for a more spiritual one. Akali Phoola Singh, I have to complete that one.