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Javanmardi-Sant/Sipahi-Spiritual Chivalry

Guest Javanmard

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Guest Javanmard


Spiritual Chivalry is an essential aspect of our religious tradition. It has been and still is an important aspect of other traditions as well. Christians had the military orders, the Shias had the javanmards, the Ismailis had the Hashishin but if we look closely at it we are the ones who are still keeping up that traditions. Let us find links but let's also discuss the chivalresque spirit as translitted by our Nihang sampradaya through books and experiences.

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  • 2 months later...

Gur Fateh!

Again (continuing from my comments under the notorious sexual assualts in Southall thread), I agree with your outlook here, albeit I have also referred to 5K's and the Kyshatriya Marg followed by Khalsa Singhs as signs of nobility and spiritual valour, however I must admit the term 'Mystical Chivalry' is an apt one!

I'd like to reinvoke this thread, prehaps we could begin by discussing in turn the other traditions and how these may help us understand the various angles of our own and also learn from any errors made by these former groups in their history.

Given that the Khalsa Roop (5K's Kesri, Blue, Horses, Weapons, Classical Sangeet, Poets, Darbari Rasam et al) are largely adapted from Rajput and Moghul Darbari customs, maybe these would be a good place to start...however...I had a quick peek at some books on the Kinghts Templar today when I waltzed into Folyes in London after work...and what happened here (from the little I did read) I find quite applicable to what has happened to Sikhi since the physical passing of Guru Gobind Singh...

...so if everyone's fine, let's kick off with the Knights Templar???

Bring it on folks...

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Here's some basic info...very simple, I know...but it's a start!

Who Were The Knights Templar?

(taken from http://www.templarhistory.com/who.html)

The Knights Templar were a monastic military order formed at the end of the First Crusade with the mandate of protecting Christian pilgrims on route to the Holy Land. Never before had a group of secular knights banded together and taken the monastic vows. In this sense they were the first of the Warrior Monks. The Templars fought along side King Richard I (Richard The Lion Hearted) and other Crusaders in the battles for the Holy Lands.

From humble beginnings of poverty when the order relied on alms from the traveling pilgrims, the Order would go on to have the backing of the Holy See and the collective European monarchies.

Within two centuries they had become powerful enough to defy all but the Papal throne. Feared as warriors, respected for their charity and sought out for their wealth, there is no doubt that the Templar knights were the key players of the monastic fighting Orders. Due to their vast wealth and surplus of materials the Templars essentially invented banking, as we know it. The church forbade the lending of money for interest, which they called usury. The Templars, being the clever sort they were, changed the manner in which loans were paid and were able to skirt the issue and finance even kings.

They were destroyed, perhaps because of this wealth or fear of their seemingly limitless powers. In either case, the Order met with a rather untimely demise at the hands of the Pope and the King of France in 1307 and by 1314, "The Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon" ceased to exist, at least officially.

Although originally a small group of nine knights, they quickly gained fame largely due to the backing of Bernard of Clairvaux and his "In Praise of the New Knighthood". Bernard at that time was often called the Second Pope and was the chief spokesman of Christendom. He is also the one responsible for helping to draw up the Order's rules of conduct.

In European political circles, they became very powerful and influential. This was because they were immune from any authority save that of the Papal Throne. (Pope Innocent II exempted the Templars from all authority except the Pope.) After the crusades were over, the knights returned to their Chapters throughout Europe and became known as moneylenders to the monarchs. In the process many historians believe they invented the Banking System.

The secret meetings and rituals of the knights would eventually cause their downfall. The King of France, Philip the Fair used these rituals and meetings to his advantage to destroy the knights. The real reason for his crushing the Templars was that he felt threatened by their power and immunity. In 1307, Philip, who desperately needed funds, to support his war against England's Edward I made his move against the Knights Templar.

On October 13th, 1307, King Philip had all the Templars arrested on the grounds of heresy, since this was the only charge that would allow the seizing of their money and assets. The Templars were tortured and as a result, ridiculous confessions were given. These confessions included:

Trampling and spitting on the cross

Homosexuality and Sodomy

Worshipping of the Baphomet

Philip was successful in ridding the Templars of their power and wealth and urged all fellow Christian leaders to do the same thing. On March 19th, 1314 the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay was burned at the stake. De Molay is said to have cursed King Philip and Pope Clement, as he burned, asking both men to join him within a year. Whether he actually uttered the curse or if it is simply an apocryphal tale; what remains as fact is that Clement died only one month later and Philip IV seven months after that.

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Dynamic Banda, have a look at this article on some of the charges brought against the Knights Templar...notice anything funny about these!

The Knights Templar:

Innocent or Guilty?

Article © Judith Long

Author of The Last Mass of the Knights Templars

When one attempts to delve into and/or reconstruct history in order to prove or disprove an occurrence such as discovering whether the Knights Templars were guilty of the accusations that King Philip and the French government brought against them in the year 1307, one should consider all the aspects of world history at the time leading up to and during the actual activity. It is my belief, after such a search thoughtfulness and talking with other historians, that the Knights were innocent of the charges.

King Philip intended to devastate the Order by falsely accusing them of a variety of crimes that included the denial of Christ; sacrilegious acts upon the crucifix; obscene affection; disbelief in the sacraments; idolatrous practices; and arrogating unto themselves the power to absolve sin. All of these charges were discovered to be unfounded and disproved in a court of law.Significant factors revolving around the time of the Templar demise and potential results were:

King Philip wanted more money and power = dangerous.

The Church was in revolution and disorganized = non-supportive.

The Templar Knights were both wealthy and powerful = a perceived threat to some rulers.

Conflicts between educational standards in Paris and that of the Church = frictions.

King Philips desire to engage his country in the Flemish and other wars = greed.

Thus, a great wrong was done, the termination of a notable Holy Military Order, the Knights Templars. So we continue to delve into history, searching for reasons, rationale, justifications, and explanations to answer our questions. Hopefully our understanding is elevated as we analyze people of yesterday with the knowledge that we have today, and that we will strive to create a better world for mankind to live in.

[Judith Long is the author of "The Last Mass of the Knights Templar."]

That said, folks, let us also remember, the Knights Templar whilst have long beards and weapons and a strict moral code, didn't bathe!!! Ooooohhhhhh!!! Phoooowarrrrrrrr!!!

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It is disturbing when people compare ideologies of cultures. There is always inherent danger when trying to draw parallels betweem Indian and Western ideology...in some fundamental aspects they are unique, distinct and often contradictory. Each has its attributes, and shud be kept distinct. While searching for esoteric concepts beyond the realms of the physical, once has to remember the conditioning and environment an individual or a culture experiences as their philosophies take root.

...Western ideology follows a linear path for one...Eastern is circular (chakravarti), fluid and never static.

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Guest Javanmard

I am glad people discovered on their own what I was willing to indicate.

If you read Henry Corbin's works you'll soon realise that there is a whole tradition of mystical chivalry going from Western Europe to Panjab through the Middle East. Fascinating.

Dynamic Banda is right. What is the difference between Philip le Bel and the SGPC.

The templars are dead, so are the samurai: NIhangs are the only left and trust me we'll do everything we possibly can to keep the tradition alive and give it a new life.

Gur Bar Akaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal hi Akaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal

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Guest Javanmard

Dear Narsingha you wrote

...Western ideology follows a linear path for one...Eastern is circular (chakravarti), fluid and never static

1. Niranjana is refering to the Middle Ages and well the concept of time was no linear in those times in Europe

2. Is there a Western ideology? no! Is there an eastern ideology? no!

3. You are using essentialist Orientalist constructs and that's the real danger.

4. I do understand your concern though and it is good to remind us of the methodological difficulties of comparatism. Nevertheless the link between these traditions has been clearly shown by Henry Corbin in his collection "En Islam Iranien"

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I did not refer to the concept of TIME as being linear, but the ideologies...

Eastern and Western ideologies exist by the natural geographical divide that exists today (maybe less so due to inter global communications), and existed in the past....perhaps these ideologies were referred to differently in the past, but the divide existed.

lalleshvari, you state: "You are using essentialist Orientalist constructs and that's the real danger. "

To employ an analogy, seeing with one eye one find it difficult to understand perspective...as such, using one view to analyse a subject brings with it its own problems....you assume I am seeing this from one point of view...tsk tsk.

Enjoy the debate....interesting to see what conclusions u come up with

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Is there really a West or an East?

Go to Greece for example and you'll see what I mean!

On a lighter note, I'd like to say that I've been to Greece.The Greeks and Italians are just like us Panjabi.They behave a lot like us, have same izzat like us.They are very macho society, like us.

They even look like us.I would say the Italians and Greeks are more like Panjabi than the Germanic races, like English, Swedish et al.

I've also been told that the Spanish and Portugese are like Panjabi too.

Don't take my comments too seriously, but if you travel to such countries, you will see very little difference between us and them.It is only Germanic races, I would say that are very different from East.I could be wrong.

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Not really, the infamous 12th century mystic Meister Eckhart is straight out of Zen primary school. Otto who wrote about mysticism, compared his ideology with Adishankara's advait vedant. John Cage once gave one of his quotes (I think) to those who thought there was an East and West along the lines of 'break the branch, what is inside other than God?'.

We have Ruysbroeck in holland, Ibn 'Arabi, one of the greatest Sufis, born in Spain, St. john of the cross, the Spanish Jewish Kabbalists (one of whom integrated practices and ideas from his trip to India in the 13th century or round abouts- see Ayra Kaplan's works), the french Cathars, etc

Even our very own UK has it's fair share of heavy-gauge mystics; the unknown author of the Cloud of Unknowing for example. There are many caves and wells dedicated to the Christian equivalent of yogis, hermits, dotted around the UK. Again one of the UK's indigenous mystics, Walter Hilton, spent some portion of his life as a hermit.

Both these constructs of 'east' and 'west' are just emphasising on one particular strand at the expense of others within that geographical and cultural region (one simple example, early Islamic history had it's own materialists, yet we associate materialism as a modern western concept)

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Gur Fateh!

Just to spell it out, the Latin term, meaning ‘fonts of honour’ due to the recognised Right and ability to bestow Noble Honours works such that any "fons honorum" may grant a legitimate and authentic Title of Nobility.

Bhai Sahib, you asked "Would you kindly explain why in your view a fons honorum is a pre-requisite to being an honourable person with noble "chivalric" qualities?"

Again, to expand upon the terms in question, Chivalry has a discipline because ancient soldiers trained themselves daily through learning and practicing the arts of attack and self-defense.

These arts gave rise to the idea of control of body, mind, and speech in the Knight. Further, the idea of social interaction developed because the Knight originally followed carefully the orders of his superiors who were interested only in battle with those who were eligible to fight--that is, civilians were not to be engaged in battle.

From this idea of engaging only other Knights developed the idea of treating enemies and friends fairly and equally.

Now to consider nobility. There are many interpretations of nobility - in the Mundane world it refers to those people who are set above the peasants or indeed certain works of art, and compositions of music that are noble in themselves.

True morality, in Nietzsche's naturalism, is nobility; this is where we will find the "free spirits," the philosophers of the future. "Every enhancement of the type "man" has so far been the work of an aristocratic society." But what is nobility and how do we reach it, given the great odds against it in this world?

The struggle for nobility is an inner struggle and it is, indeed, both difficult and dangerous. "The dangerous and uncanny point has been reached where the greater, more manifold, more comprehensive life transcends and lives beyond the old morality; the "individual" appears, obliged to give himself laws and to develop his own arts and wiles for self-preservation, self-enhancement, self-redemption."

In the words of Yogi Bhajan, "Nobility is when other good takes priority over you".


The Noble ones are in command of their own time and resources, judge themselves and their actions by their own standards, and do things to do them well.

The Servant does things to please another, judges himself and his actions by another person's standards, and does things to get them done.

Nobles often also serve. Noble service occurs whenever one volunteers to serve and when one's own standards exceed the expectations of those who one is serving.

I hope from the foregoing it is possible to see why I have referenced Nobility in the manner I have and that you find the answers to your questions.

Best regards,



Noble comes from the French noscere -- to know:

To perceive or apprehend clearly and certainly; to understand; to have full information of; as, to know one's duty.

To be acquainted with; to be no stranger to; to be more or less familiar with the person, character, etc., of; to possess experience of; as, to know an author; to know the rules of an organization. (Webster)

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Thanks for that Niranjana. I do not agree with your use of the term "nobility" without disciminating between Nietzsche's nobility, and the nobility conferred as an honour or award by someone with temporal power. There is a clear incompatibility between the nobility of a truly free man without a master (Nietzsche's Ubermann) and the nobility of the highest-ranked slave in the master's house.

Equally, although you have made a worthy (noble?) attempt to define what "noble" means, you have not addressed the meaning of "chivalry", which is the term you used originally.

The word "chivalry" comes from the French term "chevalier" which means horseman. How can you have chivalrous qualities without a horse? If you cannot afford a horse or the king has not given you one, you cannot be chivalric. However, as we know the term "cavalier" is a euphemism for indisciplined attitude and behaviour. How do you reconcile the noble cavalier with your ideas of nobility coming from being part of a disciplined, organised military force?

I suggest that you cannot equate membership of an army, or the authority of the king or of the priest or of the general, with the chivalry and nobility you are referring to. I suggest that the cavalier is (as suggested by the modern understanding of the term) a man who follows a personal code of honour, not someone who follows a series of parameters prescribed externally by a corporate body to regulate his behaviour. Along the lines of the Chinese xia. Hence, although the Tsar's guards may have been well-trained, they were all drawn from a specific ethnic group that had a tradition of valuing personal honour over corporate honour.

You have not addressed the question of why, in your view, membership or approval of someone who is recognised as a giver of honours is necessary, in order to be a man of honour. I'm sure you can see the implications of this question. If you're right, then what standard should we apply in deciding, in today's world, who is worthy to be our fons honourum? A learned man? A violent man? A descendant of a learned or violent man? Who???

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Guest Javanmard

All institutions go through stagnation at some point in their history. In the case of the Nihangs this was due to the effect of British colonialism and the rise of the greedy SGPC. Hence my insentive to bring new blood and life into the NIhang sampradaya.

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