Reflection on Vaisakhi

Members of the Khalsa remain Sikhs, without having any special distinction as 'pure sikhs', reminds AUTAR SINGH in a short musing on what Vaisakhi means

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By Autar Singh | OPINION |

1. Khalsa is the corporate body of Sikhs who have made a commitment to abide by its code of conduct after being initiated through a khanday-dhi-pahul ceremony.

2. As Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, the mission of this corporate body and its every member, is to actively pursue Khalsa ji ke bol baalay and sarbatt dha bhalaa, so that there will be Waheguru ji ki Fateh everywhere.

3. Members of the Khalsa remain Sikhs, without having any special distinction as ‘pure sikhs’. This notion of ‘khalsa=pure sikhs’ takes the Sikhs away from their saint-soldier mission of dedicated activism into a mode of self glorification in being pure compared to others.

4. Hence being a member of the Khalsa enjoins upon one a huge responsibility that needs to be carried out with dedication, commitment, humility and love, carrying out Guru’s hukm in personal life as well as in society. It is not a badge of honour or a status symbol.

5. Traditionally, the 1st day of the month of Vaisakh has been celebrated as Vaisakhi. The 1st of Vaisakh or Vaisakhi, was being celebrated as the harvest festival long before Guru Nanak and before the historic event in Sikhi of 1st Vaisakh in 1699. We know that Guru Amardas ji started a tradition of organising Sikh gatherings during Diwali and Vaisakhi to discuss Gurmat. So looks like the term Vaisakhi just got stuck to the events of 1st Vaisakh 1699. We continue to use the same terminology till date.

6. The event that took place on 1st Vaisakh 1699 has a higher significance for Sikhs than a harvest festival. So what do we call it? Calling it Vaisakhi conjures up the festivities of the harvest festival in mind. As to alternative words to depict the momentous event that took place on 1st Vaisakh 1699, there is difficulty. Which word to use?

Birth of Khalsa? But that which takes birth must die. Khalsa is not an individual being, it is a body corporate, and is beyond birth and death.

Khalsa Saajna Day? Seems more appropriate, as it means establishment or institutionalisation. Or maybe we should just call it KHALSA DAY.

7. Anyway, we Sikhs must celebrate 1st Vaisakh as the day when the Khalsa was presented to the world in Anandpur Sahib by Guru Gobind Singh ji to serve humanity and creation. We must renew our comitment towards this mission on this day. We need to be vigilant lest the significance of this day gets subsumed as only the harvest festival with its attendant festivities.

Wishing everyone a Blessed Khalsa Day. May we all remain in charhdhi klaa and in sync with Gurbani always…

 

[Autar Singh was the former secretary general of Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisations (CMSO) and former jathedar of Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia. He is also author of Q&A On Sikhi: Gurmat Discussions On the Internet]

 

RELATED STORY:

Baisakhi: A joy of belonging, attachment, commitment on a journey of Love (Asia Samachar, 7 April 2019)

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3 COMMENTS

  1. This reflection by Autar ji backs into the parallel release on Asia Samachar by me entitled “Commemorating Guru Tegh Bahadur This Centenary” that delves into some of the institutional difficulties that Guru Tegh Bahadur seems to have identified and addressed during his Ministry. Therefore to me Autar ji’s reference to “Khalsa Saajna — more appropriate, as it means establishment or institutionalisation” is key. We need to look carefully at the evolution of streams of “institutionalization” of Sikhi in our history and their effect on us as a faith group, now as self a led Panth to usher in changes needed. Name changing should be part of that overall process. I would respectfully suggest that approach.

  2. Autar, where are the lines “Khalsa Akaal Purkh Ki Fauj, Pargatio Khalsa Parmatam Ki Mauj.’ ” that you have quoted written ?

  3. Vaisakhi is an agricultural festival, just before the main crop is harvested in Punjab. As I say jokingly, most (majority) of us Sikhs have not cultivated an ‘alu’ in our lives let alone harvest a crop! So we really have nothing to do with Vesakhi or Vaisakhi. Vesakhi was superseded by Amrit-sanchar or amrit-dha-bata (etc) by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1699.
    Now name-wise, why don’t we just call it Khalsa Day/Devas immaterial as to when Waheguru had the concept in mind? Why long winded explanations and numerous names?

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