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What is 'Trai Mudra' ?


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Guest Javanmard

Mudra means sign and it refers to either yogic postures, positions of hands or in the case of the tre mudre to the three signs and stands for the kakkars.

kechari mudra should be kept out of the discussion as it has nothing to do with the tre mudre.

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Gur Fateh!

In the Sarabloh Granth we find the following verses:

The dharma panth of the Khalsa spread, whose form is truth, liberation and auspicious action.

Adorned with kachh, kes and kirpan they worshipped the Guru.

Worshippers of Kala, [following] chhatriya dharma, they girded their loins and came first in the field of battle.

Among them forty-five were accepted, and five were supreme among the Khalsa:

The beloved Ajit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Fateh Singh and Joravar Singh,

The fifth among the Khalsa [was] the True Guru who manifested this good Panth.

Sri Sarab Loh Granth, 3, p. 496.

This is an interesting reference to the 'Kshatriya' aspect of the Khalsa vis-a-vis the 4 components that make up 'Bir Ras'; Dharam, Daya, Dhan and Yudh and hence combine into the qualities of the Khalsa.

Also, there is the reference to the Tria Mudra (Kesh, Kirpan and Kach) that many old historical texts reference before the formalising of the 5 K's.

Any thoughts of the forum on this development into the 5Ks and also the 5 Banis as we now know them today?




Mahaa Kaal Kee Saran Jae Paray su lae bachae.

Uor Na upjae doosar jag pachiyo sabhai banai.366


We have seen the matter of the ‘Treh Mudra’ mentioned elsewhere in other discussions on the forum, I feel that this notion does merit a separate discussion and I invite all to present their views, research and arguments on this topic.

From my personal understanding and limited research I have come across the following things:-

(1) The ‘Treh Mudra’ whilst only explicitly mentioning Kesh, Kirpan/Kard and Kach/Kachera may also include through implicaion the two missing components that make up the present day understanding of the 5K’s, namely that Kesh will automatically encapsulate the Khanga and Kirpan ‘may’ also imply the kara...

My reasoning behind this (and please do present any counter arguments for this, for at present this is purely speculative) is that the Khanga is implicit from the injunctions for Khalsa Singhs to not have their hair matted (traditionally signs of passiveness, not necessarily in terms of warriorship, considering that warrior traditions do exist amongst the likes of Udasis, but from life in general as matted hair/locks like shaved heads do indicate signs of renunciation) and the Kara as it complements the Kirpan or Kard in its function...(these arguments do warrant further expansion, which I will do later, but for now these are only for introductory purposes).

(2) Following from the above idea, we can see that if this implicit notion holds, then the ‘Treh Mudra’ or in very basic translation the Three Symbolic Gestures/Positions/Artefacts (please expand, those who have a better understanding of the language than I) essentially form groupings representing certain messages/ideals...I say this, since the number 3 is the first number of form, without getting too caught up in numerological notions, the triangle is the most basic shape (composed of 3 sides, the minimum number required to create form)... using this methodology, I have heard from some scholars that the ‘Treh Mudra’ is a means to consolidate into one all the 3 varnas classified in the Rig Ved (those familiar with this text, please expand...all I know is that traditionally prior to the reforms of Manu, there were only 3 varnas and not 4 and that these could be moved within as opposed to the strict rigidity that now exists)...on a similar note, the number 5 usually corresponds to change within Numerological circles, considering this number occurs commonly for Sikhs, what implications could this have...

(3) Less esoterically, the ‘Treh Mudra’ was the form given and adopted by Guru Ji as signs of Khsatriyas (similar artefacts can be found in all Warrior traditions) and that insofar as keeping 5 items on one’s person this was a reference to the 5 Shasters to be kept (“Neeshani Sikhi di Punj Shaster Parvaan...Teero Dofungo...â€). Following the ban by the British on all weapon like implements, these were combined with the ‘Treh Mudra’ into the 5Ks as we now know them with increased ‘symbolic’ value over and above practical function...

As I have indicated, the foregoing is simply presented as a means to spark discussion and are not entirely correspondent to my own views (which still are forming on this matter, hence the request to discuss further).

I look forward to hearing from you all soon.



and finally before anyone else asks where I the Sarabloh Granth can be found online...

Sorry to disappoint, but I have not found the Sarabloh Granth online, despite trying to search for myself! There is very limited information about this on the net...I think I was asked about this on another thread, but if you do find anything, please do let me know...

...in the meanwhile, please could the forum provide some guidance on the points raised above...

(For your informaiton, the quote above is not my own translation, but taken from the notes to an article published by Harvard Univeristy Press).

Hope this helps...let's have some more on the Treh Mudra!!!

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The words 'Trai' and 'Mudra' belong to Indian languages. The word 'trai' means 'three'. The word 'mudra' has different meanings, like 'posture', 'currency', 'stamp', 'tradition', 'secret' and 'sign' etc.

The meaning 'posture' seems irrelevant here. The 'currency' and 'secret' will also be irrelevant. If we use the meaning 'stamp' or 'sign', it could be relevant. So, in the concept of 'Trai Mudra', the most relevant meaning is the 'three signs'.

The Sikh concept of 'Trai Mudra' is used for three things, which are 'Kes' (hair), 'Kachh' (Sikh underwear) and 'Kirpaan' (sword). These three things, which start with Gurmukhi letter 'Kakaa' (English letter 'K'), are the signs of a Sikh.

Before I share my views on the Sikh concept of 'Trai Mudra', I would like to talk about the kings and the Hindus in the medieval India.

The word 'King' was the title of a male ruler, who had the authority over a single state, nation, or tribe, usually for life and by hereditary succession.

A king had three signs, 'Chavar' (whisk), 'Takht' (throne) and 'Dand' (club)

The 'chavar' indicates the luxurious living of the king. The 'takht' is the symbol of the sovereignty. The 'dand' tells that this person has the right to punish the guilty. (In Hindi, the word 'dand' means 'punishment' also).

Thus, the 'chavar', 'takht' and 'dand' were three signs of a sovereign king. A king lived a luxurious life. He fulfilled his desires. No one was there to stop him. He could issue orders to his subjects. Everyone had to obey him. If someone dared to disobey, the king had the power to punish him. This was the 'Raaj Dharma' (the duty of king). Thus, the 'chavar', 'takht' and 'dand' were the three signs of a king or a sovereign state. He, who had these three signs, was called 'Mahaa-raaj' (great king).

If the 'chavar', 'takht' and 'dand' are three political signs, an ordinary Hindu had three religious signs too. These were, 'Tilak', 'Dhoti' (a men's wear) and 'Janeyoo' (sacred thread). Even a Hindu King had these three signs, though he had other three political signs of 'chavar', 'takht' and 'dand'. When the Muslim rule established itself in India, these three signs of 'tilak', 'dhoti' and 'janeyoo' became the symbol of the Hindu people. These three signs were the distinctive feature of a traditional Hindu.

When Guru Gobind Singh Jee created the 'Khalsa', he wanted it to look different to the traditional Hindu religion. He was aware that this new religion could be merge into the great ocean of Hinduism. So, there was a great need to give new concepts to protect the identity of the Khalsa.

Thus, Guru Gobind Singh Jee gave the three different signs to the Khalsa. These were 'Kes', 'Kachh' and 'Kirpaan'. Guru Nanak Dev Jee already showed that the 'Janeyoo' has no religious value. So, the traditional Hindu signs of 'tilak', 'dhotee' and 'janeyoo' were discarded finally. The new religion has its new three signs or the 'Trai Mudra'.

Now, the 'Trai Mudra' were the distinctive features of the Khalsa. The Khalsa could be recognized by these three signs. Turban was the men's wear. Both of the Hindus and Muslims used to wear it. But they cut their hair. The Khalsa was ordered to keep all the hair. Thus, 'Kes' (hair) became the sign of the Khalsa. The 'Joorha' (hair knot) could be felt even when it was covered under the turban. The uncut beard and mustaches became the symbols of the Khalsa. The 'Joorha', beared and mustaches are included in 'Panch Kes', which was included in the 'Trai Mudra' of the new religion.

"Kes Hamesh Paanch Jo Raakhe.

Tis Ko Darso Oothh Sabhaakhe."

(26th Niyaas (chapter), page 232, 'Panth Prakaash', written by 'Giyaanee Giyaan Singh', published by 'the language department, Punjab', edition 1987).

These are the 'Panch Kes': - hair on the head (including eyebrows), mustache, beard, hair on chest or middle-body, and hair on under-parts. (Obviously, only the men have the 'Panch Kes'). The description of 'Panch Kes' proves that the 'Kes' means hair on any part of the body.

The traditional Indian wear 'dhotee' was rejected. It was replaced by the 'Kachh' (Kachhehara). When 'Kachh' was worn, there was no need to wear 'pyjamas' or 'salwar'. ('Salwar' is a men's wear also). The 'Kachh' was the complete dress to cover the lower body. That is why the five beloved ones order to take off 'pajamas' etc. during the 'Amrit Sanchar' (only to the men).

The other sign was the 'Kirpaan' (sword). The Khalsa has special love for weapons. The sword is not just a weapon, but it is the representative to all the weapons. To save the poor and to punish the culprits, the sword (weapon) is must. The 'flag' of the Khalsa carries the weapons.

Then the poets notice that these three signs have a similarity. All of them start with the 'Gurmukhi' letter 'Kakaa', so they gave a new name 'Kakaars'.

The 'Kangha' (comb) was needed for the 'kes' (hair). The 'Karha' (iron bangle) was needed to save the wrist. Perhaps, the 'Karha' was a weapon itself, which, later, turned into an ornament.

The 'Kangha' and the 'Karha' also start with letter 'Kakka'. So, these were also included in the 'Kakaars'. The 'Vaam-maargis' have the five 'Makaars' (which starts with letter 'M'); the Khalsa have five 'Kakaars'.

Interestingly, the 'Vaam-maargis' have the FIVE 'makaars', the Khalsa have the FIVE 'kakaars'. The Hindus have FOUR 'Maths', the Khalsa have the four 'takhts' (after 1947 AD, they are now five, for some reasons). The Hindus have FOUR 'kilvish' (or big sin), the Khalsa have FOUR 'bajar ku-rahats' (big sins). The Hindus have the 'DAS AVTAARS' (ten incarnations), the Khalsa have the DAS GURUS (ten Gurus in physical bodies). The Hindus have the three signs of 'tilak', 'dhoti' and 'janeyoo'; the Khalsa have the three signs of 'Kes', 'Kachh' and 'Kirpaan'.

Some people think that the concept of the 'Trai Mudra' is a new one. They should know that this term has been used in the old Sikh books: -

"Kachh Kripaan Kes Trai Mudra, Gur Bhagataan Raamdaas Bhaye".


"Gur Updes Sikhan Prat Bhaakhan, Mudra Trai Kachh, Kes, Kripaanang". (Sri Sarabloh Granth).

The term 'Trai Mudra' (te-mundree) is described in 'Panth Prakaash': -

"Raakhoh Kachh, Kes, Kripaan.

Singh Naam ko eho nishaan.

Kachh, Kripaan, Kes te mundree.

Jo pahre so Gur Singh sundree". (26th Niyaas (chapter), page 233, 'Panth Prakaash', written by 'Giyaanee Giyaan Singh', published by 'the language department, Punjab', edition 1987).

Sri Gur Prataap Sooraj Granth also tells about this term (Teen Mudra): -

"Kes, Kachh, Karad Guru Kee Teen Mudra Eh Paas te naa door Karoh, sadaa ang sang dhar". (Stanza 9, ansoo 20, Rit 3, page 5060, 'Gur Prataap Sooraj Granth', by Bhaayee Santokh Singh).

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