The Birth of the Khalsa
Guru Gobind Singh invited his followers from all over South Asia to a special congregation at Anandpur on Vaisakhi Day of 1699. He asked, with a naked sword in his hand, “Is there any one among you who is prepared to die for the Sikh faith?” When people hard his call, they were taken aback. Some of the wavering followers left the congregation, while others began tolook at one another in amazement. Aftar a few minutes, a Sikh from Lahore named Daya Ram stood up and offered his head to the Guru. The Guru took him into a tent pitched close by, and after some time, came out with a blood-dripping swoard. The Sikhs thoguht Daya Ram had been slain. The Guru repeated his demand calling for another Sikh who was prepared to die at his command. The second Sikh who offered himself was Dharam Das. Thereafter, three more, Himmat Rai, Mohkam Chand and Sahib Chand, offered their lives to the Guru. Later, these five Sikhs were given new robes and presented to the congregation. They constituted Panj Pyare: the Five Beloved Ones, who were initiated as the Khalsa or the Pure Ones with the administration of Khade Di Pahul. Upon administering Khande Di Pahul to the Five Beloved Ones, the Guru asked them to baptize him in the same manner, thus emphasizing equality between the Guru and his disciples.
Khande Di Pahul, namely the initiation by the double edged sword, was prepared by Guru Gobind Singh by stirring water in an iron bowl with the sword, reciting five major compositions (Japji, Jaap, Anand Sahib, Ten Sawaiyas and Chaupi), while the five Sikhs stood facing him.
The creation of the Khalsa marked the culmination of about 240 years of training given by the ten Gurus to the Sikhs. The Guru wanted to create ideal people who whould have the balance of devotion (Bhakti) and strength (Shakti). He combined charity (Degh) with the sword (Tegh) in the image of his Sikhs.
The Khalsa (one who has taken Khande Di Pahul) was to be a saint, a soldier and a scholar, with high moral and excellent character. He or she would be strong, courageous, lerned and wise. In order to mold his/her pesonality the Guru inculcated the five virtues – sacrifice, cleanliness, honesty, charity and courage, and prescribed a Rehit – the Sikh code of discipline. The spirit of God revealed in the Guru’s hymns would strengthen his/her character. For this purpose he was asked to recite the five sacred composotions of Bani (prayers) daily.
The combination of virtue and courage is the strength of the Khalsa. This is an assurance against the ruthless exploitation of masses by their masters, and a device for overcoming hurdles that lied in the practice of holiness and spiritualism in daily life. Guru Gobind Singh commanded the Khalsa to use the sword only in times of emergency, that is, when peaceful methods fail and only for self-defense and the protection of the oppressed; with this the Guru’s spirit will continue to inspire the Khalsa for the preservation of peace, order and dignity of mankind for all time to come.