What happened to Guru Nanak’s iconic symbol?

Ik Oangkar logo from the cover of the Mehram magazine (2019)

By Dr. B.S. Bains | Opinion |

What happened to Guru Nanak’s iconic symbol, Ek Onkar (ੴ)? And why has the Khanda ☬ symbol gained more prominence among Sikhs?

Today it’s so evident that the true meaning and significance of Guru Nanak’s iconic symbol, Ek Onkar (ੴ), has been overshadowed by the Khanda symbol in modern times. Despite the clear-cut explanation of Ek Oang Kar, given by Guru Nanak himself, it appears to have been neglected by many writers and followers of Sikhism.

As a result, there is confusion and lack of understanding about what Sikhism truly represents. It is essential to reflect on when and where we went wrong in overlooking the significance of Ek Onkar (ੴ) and giving more prominence to the Khanda symbol.

How can we better understand the true essence of Guru Nanak’s iconic symbol, Ek Oang kar (ੴ), and why it should hold such significant importance in Sikhism?

I feel it is crucial to revisit the teachings and principles of Guru Nanak and understand the deeper meaning of the symbol, which represents the oneness of God and the unity of all creation. By doing so, we can better appreciate the essence of Sikhism and uphold its core values, with the iconic symbol as a focus point.

It is essential to remember that the true essence of Sikhism lies in its teachings and principles rather than in any created symbol or outward representation by unknown. While symbols like the Khanda may hold significance for some Sikhs, it is crucial to understand that it is not the core of Sikhism’s beliefs and values.

To better understand the significance of Ek Oang kar (ੴ), we must delve deeper into its meaning and the message that Guru Nanak intended to convey through it. The symbol represents the oneness of God and the unity of all creation, emphasizing the idea that there is only one divine being who exists in all things.

As followers of Guru Nanak, it is crucial that we reflect on whether we truly comprehend the symbol’s significance and what it represents. By doing so, we can connect with the message that Guru Nanak aimed to impart to his followers and uphold the true spirit of Sikhism.

In conclusion, rather than placing undue emphasis on symbols or outward representations, we should focus on understanding the teachings and principles of Sikhism. By doing so, we can better appreciate the significance of Guru Nanak’s iconic symbol, Ek Oang kar (ੴ), and uphold the true essence of Sikhism.

It is my belief that having a weapon’s illustration of our khanda into a spiritual context, makes it difficult to justify for individuals outside of our community, and even for me.

Since it was Guru Ji himself who designed this iconic symbol for us Sikhs, representing spirituality within his teachings, this symbol (ੴ) is what we should adhere to.

Therefore, all Sikhs must unite and choose “Ek Oang Kaar* as a symbol that represents our faith. It is essential to move away from a militant outlook and come to a consensus on making ‘ੴ’ the primary symbol of Sikhism.

This resolution should be adopted by the Sikh Panth as a whole during this Vaisakhi of 2023. The Khanda can still be used as a secondary symbol, but it should have no religious representation and association.

Let us all as Sikhs shift our perspectives and embrace ੴ (Ek Oang Kaar) as a symbol that represents every Sikh. This could involve altering the main logos of our Gurdwaras, brochures, turban pins, patkas, and symbol on our Nishan Sahib. Removing all weaponry displayed in front of Guru Granth Sahib to a wall for display only, but, not to revere it especially when we pay our respect before SGGS in our Gurdwaras.

The following references are to justify what khanda represents and the truth about it’s origin. I’ll advise all Sikhs to give to these references below a read with an open mind.


https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-history-of-the-Khanda-Sikh-symbol – (an outsider’s query)
https://www.allaboutsikhs.com/introduction/the-sikh-insigniakhanda/?utm_content=vc-true – (Weapon
https://www.academia.edu/3876893/Khanda_Symbol_on_Mughal_Coins_A_Hoax – (Hoax)
https://www.sikhnet.com/news/sikhi-nishan-%E0%A9%B4-and-or-khanda-sahib – (Sikh Nishan ੴ OR ☬)
https://spiritualitycircle.com/display-only/khanda-Sikh – (Khanda Justifies)
https://www.sikhphilosophy.net/threads/origin-of-khanda-symbol-the-sikh-insignia.28847/ – (Insights of Actuality)

Dr Balwant Singh Bains is a Malaysia-based kirtan enthusiast and a practicing physiotherapist with a chain of physiotherapy clinics.


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