Monday, May 16, 2011

Kesh - The Covenant between Man and God

The Rehat (discipline) of maintaining the sanctity of the Kesh (hair) and not dishonouring it anyway (i.e. cutting, trimming, colouring, or bleaching) was started by Guru Nanak Dev jee. Guru Sahib stresses that keeping Kesh is essential for a Sikh as well as any other human being. Below are quotes from "Makke di Gosht" - Guru Nanak Dev jee's conversation with Muslim scholar/priests, during Guru Sahib's Udaasi (journey) to Mecca.

ਜਵਾਬ ਨਾਨਕ ਸ਼ਾਹ ਸੂਰਾ:
ਸਚੀ ਸੁਨਿਤ ਰਬ ਦੀ ਮੋਇਆ ਲੈ ਆਇਆ ਨਾਲ |
ਜੋ ਰਖੇ ਮੋਇ ਅਮਾਨਤੀ ਖਾਸਾ ਬੰਦਾ ਭਾਲਿ |
ਅਵਲ ਸੁੰਨਤ ਮੋਇ ਹੈ ਸਿਰ ਪਰ ਰਖੇ ਕੋਇ |
ਪਾਵੇ ਮਰਾਤਬਾ ਸਯਦੀ ਬਡਾ ਰਿਖੀਸਰ ਹੋਇ |
(ਮੱਕੇ ਮਦੀਨੇ ਦੀ ਗੋਸ਼ਟਿ, ਪੰਨਾ ੧੪੪. ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਯੂਨਿਵਰਸਿਟੀ)
"Courageous Lord Nanak replied: The true divine sunnat (tradition) is the hair brought by birth. Blessed is the one who keeps the hair as a trust of God. The primary sunnat is hair and the one who adorns it on his head acquires the status of a rishi (sage) or a sayyid (master)."
(Conversation of Mecca-Madina, page 144, Punjabi University)

ਮੋਇ ਸਿਰਪਾਉ ਖੁਦਾਇਦਾ ਲੈ ਆਇਆ ਬੰਦਾ ਨਾਲ |
ਨਾਨਕ ਆਖੇ ਪੀਰ ਜੀ ਫਿਰ ਲੈ ਜਾਇ ਨਾਲ |
ਫਿਰ ਗਇਆ ਦਰਗਹ ਵਿਚਿ ਅਕੇ ਰਖਿ ਨੀਸਾਨ |
ਸਾਬਤ ਸੂਰਤਿ ਰਬ ਦੀ ਭੰਨਨ ਬੇਈਮਾਨ |
(ਮੱਕੇ ਮਦੀਨੇ ਦੀ ਗੋਸ਼ਟਿ, ਪੰਨਾ ੧੪੪. ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਯੂਨਿਵਰਸਿਟੀ)
"Says Nanak, the hair is the blessing of the Lord to man which ought to be presented back. The man has to present himself in the court of Lord with this trust. The one who could not keep the hair intact has is in fact committed breach of trust and is to be regarded as be-eemaan (faithless)."
(Conversation of Mecca-Madina, page 144, Punjabi University)

ਆਖੀ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਹ ਸਚੁ ਸੁਣਹੁ ਬਹਾਵਦੀ ਪੀਰ |
ਹਿੰਦੂ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ਦੁਇ ਸਿਰ ਗੁੰਮ ਥੀਏ ਜਹੀਰਿ |
(ਮੱਕੇ ਮਦੀਨੇ ਦੀ ਗੋਸ਼ਟਿ, ਪੰਨਾ ੧੩੮. ਪੰਜਾਬੀਯੂਨਿਵਰਸਿਟੀ)
"Says Nanak to Pir Bahavdeen, both Hindus and Muslims by losing the hair in fact have lost head and have become sirgum."
(Conversation of Mecca-Madina, page 138, Punjabi University)

A Sikh's love for their Guru is represented in the maintaining of the Kesh. A Sikh would would not grieve losing an arm, leg or even their own life, but a Sikh could never accept having anyone touch his or her Kesh (hair).

When Sikhs were ethnically cleansed in Delhi during the 1984 anti-Sikh programs, the Hindu mobs would first cut the Kesh (hair) of a Sikh and then put a tyre around their head and burn them alive. Someone may think, why cut their hair when they are going to kill them anyway? The whole purpose of cutting the hair was to dishonour a Sikh through the greatest insult a Sikh could imagine and then murder them.

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