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Kirpan: A symbol of benevolence and dignity !

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Kirpan (Sword) in Skhism - A Symbol of Benevolence and Dignity

by: Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD, FICS


Kirpan, which can be literally translated into sword, has a much deeper meaning in the Sikh religion. It consists of two words, Kirpa and Aan. The word Kirpa means benevolence and the word Aan means dignity. Therefore Kirpan is a symbol of benevolence and dignity.

Guru Gobind Singh made Kirpan as an integral part of the 5 k’s. The Kesh, meaning hair symbolizes devotion, asceticism, and renunciation. The hair is associated with spirituality in many other religions. But Guru Gobind Singh made Kangha (comb) also one of the five k’s, which symbolizes order and organization as well as purity and cleanliness. Karha the iron bangle around the wrist is the symbol of universality. Kachara the underwear is the symbol of piousness and sexual purity.

It is Kirpan, which imparts uniqueness to the Sikh religion. Guru Gobind Singh in the worship of Kirpan calls it a symbol of justice, equality and struggle against oppression and discrimination and exploitation. The Guru Hails Kirpan as the liberator and sustainer of mankind and the destroyer of the oppressors and the exploiters. He also sees Kirpan as a symbol of bravery and knowledge because it can dispel cowardice and ignorance. He sees celestial beauty in the shining Kirpan.

The Guru asks us to worship Kirpan as one of the aspects of God. As opposed to the Judeo Semitic concept of creation, which considers the creation as a separate act of God that created the universe in 6 days, from Monday to Saturday and then rested on Sunday, the Sikh religion sees the creation as an uninterrupted and constant act. The Sikh religion believes that the creation has 3 aspects symbolized by Barhama, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva). Barhama symbolizes creation, Vishnu symbols sustenance and Shiva symbolizes destruction. Destruction is an integral part of construction because without destroying the worn out old, room cannot be created for the emerging new.

The outlook and attitude of the Sikh religion to Kirpan is fundamentally different than the others who generally view sword as a symbol of power and domination. The sword can generate and encourage arrogance. Arrogance always leads to ignorance. Kirpan constantly reminds the Sikhs of the power of the Almighty. Therefore Kirpan should promote humility. As arrogance and ignorance like each other’s company similarly humility and knowledge go together.

It is very important in the contemporary world that we use our power as Kirpan and not as a sword. Whereas Kirpan was used by Guru Gobind Singh to liberate the oppressed people, the sword of the colonialists was used to enslave the other people and nations.

The judicious use of force can help us to change the outdated old world order, which has outlived its usefulness and has become redundant and irrelevant.

The only way peace and harmony can be kept in the world and prosperity maintained is by upholding principals of equality, fairness, justice, benevolence and showing respect for other peoples beliefs and values.

We can only suppress others temporarily until they are strong enough to fight against the oppressor. On the other hand benevolence, compassion, universal concern and universal well-being are principles which can lead to a lasting peace and progress. This is the global perspective of Guru Nanak. What we should understand is that Guru Gobind Singh raised Kirpan not only to uphold the principles of Guru Nanak but also to give a practical shape to those principles.


Dr. Sawraj Singh is Chairman of Washington State Network for Human Rights, and Chairman of Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice.


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  • 3 years later...

Whilst the use of Durga on Puratan Nishan Sahibs can be seen as an example of 'Symbolism' I do not believe that the 5 kakaar should be demoted to symbols - when introduced, they were the uniform of Akaal Purkh Ki Fauj - and were tools designed for use - each and every one.

Although its ok to see them as a symbols if it helps ones faith (as per our own understanding), we should not promote (or imply) that Dasmesh Pita introduced them as symbols, he certainly did not.

If anything - only the Kes (and Dastaar containing them - 2 combined) could have been considered symbolic - but in actual fact, kes also play a vital role - they are 'Guru Di Mohar' - which distinguished Singhs from the mainstream populace.

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  • 11 years later...
1 hour ago, kidsama said:

This post was ahead of it's time. Everything is right. Kirpan is the Isht dev of Kshatriya, of Khalsa. It destroys all evil and temptations, worshipping kirpan alone brings mukti. 

What about the fact that the kirpan was only 1 of 5 shaster/ashter Guru ji instructed Singhs to keep? Why does that get ignored? 684199898_panjhathiar.png.e940ce89f4746e32bf0d8eeea5a6f0b0.png

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5 inch taksali kirpan

I found this kirpan. The proportions are very good. This is only 5 inches in the image. Mine will be 9 inches, so that will 6 inches of sarbloh blade. I will have them make it sharp as possible. Also gonna order 2 non-adjustable black gatras my size, so that the kirpan is just at the left hip, and not too far down. 

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