Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Anti-Sikh Parchaar (Part 8): Topic - Bana & Panj Kakkaar

I was informed by an Amritdhari Bibi attending a Gurdwara Sahib that an elder of the Gurdwara who was wearing a Kurta Pyjama and a gatra Kirpan over his clothes pulled her over to a side. The elder said, "Do you know Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji does not mention anything about outer clothing or a certain dress, yet Amritdharis make such a fuss about keeping a certain appearance that claim Gursikhs have. Can you have me any evidence from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that Amritdharis have to wear a certain clothing or have a certain identity?" The Bibi hearing this was shocked that someone who looked like an Amritdhari was trying to persuade her that there is no need to wear the outer Kakkaars or Bana, yet he himself was wearing it. The elder did not have enough courage to challenge Sikhi openly and therefore was going around the Gurdwara targeting vulnerable individuals who he could brainwash on a one-to-one basis. Below is a write up of attacks on Bana and Panj Kakkaar posed by mischievous individuals and preachers and responses to them in accordance to Gurmat.

#1. "Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji does not mention anything about wearing ‘Bana’ and that we should dress in a particular way. Why do people insist that is Maryada to wear a certain dress code when Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji doesn’t mention such a thing?"
RESPONSE: Firstly, does this person asking the question only restrict their actions to what is mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and believes anything not mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji should not be done? If so, then I am assuming the person eating ice-cream, eats Laddoos, eats Karhah Prashaad, believes a Gurdwara should have a Nishan Sahib, and says ‘Guru’s Fateh’ when meeting another Sikh. The above mentioned are merely a few examples of things people do unquestioningly and believe it is right to do so, yet they are not mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Asking such a question is merely a cheap shot at making Sikhs break away from their unique dress code (Bana) and stop wearing the Panj Kakkaar. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji mentions what to wear:
ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਪੈਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਇ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਹੋਇ ॥੧॥
“O Nanak! (Meeting the True Guru) one eats the food and wears the clothes of Amrit (i.e. which gives eternal spiritual-life); through Naam, comes glorious greatness. ||1||”
(Bilaaval M:3, 851)
ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਵੇਸੀ ਸਹੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਸੇਈ ਵੇਸ ਕਰੇਉ ॥੧੦੩॥
“I only wear those clothes which by wearing will lead me to meet my Lord. ||103||”
(Salok Fareed JI, 1383)
ਬਾਬਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਪੈਨਣੁ ਖੁਸੀ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥
ਜਿਤੁ ਪੈਧੈ ਤਨੁ ਪੀੜੀਐ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ॥

“O Baba, the pleasures of other clothes is false; wearing which is unhealthy for the body and corrupts the mind with vices.”
(Siree Raag M:1, 16)
Wearing a Chola or Kurta, which is long and covers the back and front private areas for modesty, and wearing the Panj Kakkaar, are not only good for the body but also help to avoid vice and sin entering the mind by reminding one of the Guru. These are the same clothes which we wear to the Amrit Sanchaar when presenting ourselves to the Guru, irrespective of someone’s opinions of what clothes a Sikh should or shouldn’t wear. You must ask yourself wearing which clothes makes you think of Guru Sahib more?

#2. "We should be able to wear jeans and trousers and do Keertan or do Guru Ji’s seva during a Divaan. Wearing a Kurta or Chola is just cultural and nothing to do with our religion."
If wearing a kurta or chola is not important and we can wear any dress code to do important sevas in the Gurdwara, then what next? Will we expect to see Kirtanis or Sri Harmandir Sahib wearing shorts and a t-shirt? The Granthi conducting an Anand Karaj wearing jeans and a vest? This is unthinkable, yet individuals wish to justify their personal weakness and have a personal get out clause.

When taking Amrit the Panj Pyaare are dressed in a Chola. Can they wear anything? Even those who advocate that Sikhi has no dress code expect the Panj Pyaare to dress in a Chola and those presenting themselves before the Panj Pyaare must be wearing the Panj Kakkaar (includes Dastaar), men with a flowing untied beard, and Kurta/Chola. If dress code is not important then why do these people appear before the Guru to become a Sikh in such a way? The same Guru at the Amrit Sanchaar sits on the throne during the Sunday divaan. It is hypocrisy to dress in Gurmukhi dress on the Amrit Sanchaar to see the Guru but when seeing the Guru otherwise, dressed with a beard tied or wearing jeans etc.

#3. "Guru Nanak never wore the Panj Kakkaar, and nor did his Sikhs or the Sikhs of the 8 other Gurus. Can it really be wrong to follow the teachings and life of Guru Nanak and not wear the Panj Kakkaar?”
Sikh way of life developed gradually over time from 1469 to 1699. Guru Nanak Dev Ji laid the foundation of Sikh lifestyle by teaching principles and wrote them down. His successor built the house upon the foundation by explicating and implementing these principles. Guru Gobind Singh Ji completed the house by putting a roof over it i.e. he finalised the mission started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji by giving a final shape to the Sikh lifestyle. It is a historical fact that Guru Gobind Singh Ji kept Panj Kakkaar and made them mandatory for all Sikhs. Since Guru Gobind Singh Ji, being the successor of guruship, was the same spirit of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, it proves that whatever He taught and established was fully according to the teachings of his predecessors.
ਜੋਤਿ ਓਹਾ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਸਾਇ ਸਹਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਫੇਰਿ ਪਲਟੀਐ ||
"They (the Gurus) shared the One Light and the same way; the King just changed His body."
(Raamkalee Bhatt Satta and Balvand Ji, 966)
The Panj Kakkaar existed in some form of shape before the Vaisakhi of 1699. All the Sikh Gurus wore a Dastaar. There is evidence that previous Gurus wore a Kara, Kachhera, Kirpan and Kangha as well. According to the Sikh Rehat Maryada in order to be a Sikh we must follow the instructions, teachings and Bani of all Ten Gurus and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Therefore, one cannot claim to be a Sikh if or she refuses and disputes to wear the Panj Kakkaar that were commanded by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.  

#4. “The Panj Kakkaar are not mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, so why do we wear them? Is there any need when Guru Ji says the most important thing is to live in Hukam?"
It is written in the Sikh Rehat Maryada and historical Rehitnamas to wear the Panj Kakkaar. If someone claims to follow Sikh Rehat Maryada and Sri Akal Takht Sahib, then how can they not follow the instruction in Maryada to wear Panj Kakkaar?
ਤੁਮ੍ਹੇ ਪਾਹੁਲ ਦੇਨੇ ਸੇ ਪਹਿਲੇ- ਹਮੇਂ ਪਾਂਚ ਕਕਾਰ ਦੀਏ ਹੈਂ- ਇਨ੍ਹੇ ਭੁਲ ਕੇ ਬਦਨ ਸੇ ਜੁਦਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਕਰਨਾ । ਪ੍ਰਿਥਮੇ ਤੁਸਾਂ ਕੋ ਨੀਲੀ ਰਾਂਗ ਕੀ ਕੇਸਕੀ, ਕੰਘਾ, ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾਨ, ਸਰਬ ਲੋਹ ਕਾ ਕੜਾ ਤੇ ਸਫੈਦ ਰੰਗ ਕਾ ਕਛਿਹਰਾ ਦੀਆ ਹੈ । ਇਨ ਮੇਂ ਏਕ ਭੀ ਜੁਦਾ ਹੋਇ ਜਾਇ, ਗੁਰਦਵਾਰੇ ਜਾਇ ਸੰਗਤ ਮੇਂ ਬਖਸ਼ਾਨਾ, ਢਿਲ ਨਹੀਂ ਪਾਨਾ ।
“Before giving you Amrit, I (Guru Gobind Singh Ji) gave you five Kakkaars, which you never separate from your body. First to be given you is the blue-coloured Keski, Kangha, Kirpan, pure iron Karha, and white-coloured Kachhera. If any one of these gets separated (from you), then seek forgiveness for that from the Sangat in the Gurdwara, and in doing this there should be no delay.”
(Guru Kian Sakhiaan, authored by Swaroop Singh Kanishk (1790ce), p. 123)

ਕੱਛ, ਕੜਾ, ਕਿ੍ਰਪਾਨ, ਕੰਘਾ, ਕੇਸਕੀ, ਇਹ ਪੰਜ ਕਕਾਰ ਰਹਿਤ ਧਰੇ ਸਿਖ ਸੋਇ ॥
“Kachhera, Karha, Kirpan, Kangha, Keski – Whoever keeps the discipline of wearing these 5Ks will be known as my Sikh.”
(Bhai Chaupa Singh Rehatnama)
The Panj Kakkaar themselves are not mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as Panj Kakkaar, but each of the Panj Kakkaar’s are founded on the principles and philosophy of Gurbani. The Panj Kakkaars are embodiments of these principals laid out in Gurbani. Gurbani envisions an ideal human, the Gursikh, to be full of virtues and good deeds. A true Sikh is fully dedicated to the Will of Vahiguru and serves Vahiguru as His humble servant. He must be an active member of society and fully participating in social, religious and political spheres of life. He must not renounce the world and became an ascetic. He must imbibe traits of a saint and a warrior simultaneously. He must fight for truth and justice without any discrimination. He must fight to protect oppressed and downtrodden. He must fight against the enemies despite heavy odds because he is a servant of God’s true principles. All of these principles of Gurbani are directly related to each of the Kakkaars.

Let’s discuss each Kakkaar separately:

The Kachhera is worn as a practical clothing to ensure ease of movement in all circumstances whilst guarding one's modesty. The ‘Knot of the Guru’ which secures the Kachhera, elevates the consciousness of the wearer to remember of his or her commitment to keep high moral character and not committ any sexual misconduct. Gurbani clearly advocates restraining sexual behaviour and considering all others than one's spouse as a son, daughter, brother, sister, or mother and father.
ਪਰ ਤ੍ਰਿਅ ਰੂਪੁ ਨ ਪੇਖੈ ਨੇਤ੍ਰ ||
"With your eyes do not gaze upon the beauty of others (in a lustful way)."
(Gauree M:5, 274)

The Kara is a bangle made of pure-iron (sarb loh) which is required to be worn on the arm used the most, and ideally positioned to be seen or felt whenever we act. The Kara is firstly a consciousness activation tool. For example, if a Sikh was to try and steal something, he or she would see their Kara and their consciousness would remind him of her to not perform the wrong deed. It is essentially a handcuff given to Sikhs, by God. It reminds the wearer that he or she is bound and committed to living and practising the Truth. Gurbani reminds us:
ਮਨ ਮੂੜੇ ਦੇਖਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸੁਆਮੀ || ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਸੋਈ ਜਾਣੈ ਰਹੈ ਨ ਕਛੂਐ ਛਾਨੀ || ਰਹਾਉ ||
“O foolish mind! God, your Lord and Master is watching over you. Whatever you do, He knows; nothing can remain concealed from Him.”
(Sorath M:5, 616)

For the purpose of keeping hair clean and neat. Without combing hair every day, hair becomes dirty and matted. Matted hair is a symbol of renunciation of the world and celibacy. Gurbani categorically condemns such a lifestyle. Hence, Kangha represents commitment to householder (grihstee) lifestyle.
ਇਕਿ ਜਟਾ ਬਿਕਟ ਬਿਕਰਾਲ ਕੁਲੁ ਘਰੁ ਖੋਵਹੀ ||
“Some look hideous, with their uncut hair matted and dishevelled. They bring dishonour to their family and ancestry.”
(Malaar M:3, 1284)
ਨਾਨਕ ਸੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਸਿਮਰੀਐ ਤਿਸੁ ਦੇਹੀ ਕਉ ਪਾਲਿ ||੨||
“O Nanak, meditate in remembrance on God, and nurture this body.” (Bihaagraa M:5, 554)


The Kirpan is not just a sword. The word Kirpan derives from two words which signifies and highlights the purpose for which it is to be used: ‘kirpa’, meaning kindness, and ‘aan’, meaning dignity. Whilst the sword can be used in anger or to take revenge, the Kirpan is used in grace and dignity to protect the honour of one’s self or of those who cannot protect themselves. Gurbani instructs us that in order to be free from slavery and bondage one needs to have strength and power. Furthemore Gurbani instructs us to defend the poor and weak.
ਸੂਰਾ ਸੋ ਪਹਿਚਾਨੀਐ ਜੁ ਲਰੈ ਦੀਨ ਕੇ ਹੇਤ ||
"They alone are known as a spiritual hero, who fights in defense of poor and weak."
(Maaroo Kabeer Ji, 1105)
ਬਲੁ ਹੋਆ ਬੰਧਨ ਛੁਟੇ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਹੋਤ ਉਪਾਇ ||
"If I have power and strength, then I am broken from my bonds and slavery; then, I can do everything (needed)."
(Salok M:9, 1429)

Gurbani instructs humans to keep the body in its natural form without altering it and crowned with a turban (keski/dastaar):
ਨਾਪਾਕ ਪਾਕੁ ਕਰਿ ਹਦੂਰਿ ਹਦੀਸਾ ਸਾਬਤ ਸੂਰਤਿ ਦਸਤਾਰ ਸਿਰਾ ||੧੨||
“Purify what is impure, and let the Lord's Presence be your religious tradition. Remain in complete (unaltered) form with a turban on your head. ||12||”
(Maaroo M:5, 1084)
Keeping hair intact is a symbol of submission to God because a true follower of God accepts the form God has created him in. A head without hair is analogous to a maimed limb and sign of turning away from God’s Will. 
ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਮੂੰਡਿਆ ਨਹੀ ਕੇਸ ਮੁੰਡਾਏ ਕਾਂਇ ||
ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਮਨ ਕੀਆ ਮੂੰਡਾ ਮੂੰਡੁ ਅਜਾਂਇ ||੧੦੧||

“Kabeer, you have not shaved your mind, so why do you shave your head? Whatever is done, is done by the mind; it is useless to shave your head. ||101||”
(Salok Kabeer Ji, 1369)

#5. “Does wearing the Panj Kakkaar give me salvation or make me a better person? If not, then why wear them?”
Bhai Bijla Singh very nicely sums up this point in an article he wrote. He writes:
"Wearing Panj Kakkaars alone does not result in salvation or makes a person better because Panj Kakkaar are part of the Sikh dress code. Guru Sahib did not want anyone to be under the false impression that external appearance alone makes one a Sikh. In other words, adopting a Sikh look does not make one a Sikh. It does not negate the fact that external appearance is required but not without the commitment and dedication to the Gurbani principles. What’s more important is commitment to Gurbani injunctions and living according to the ideals taught in Gurbani. External appearance without the internal commitment to ideals is hypocrisy and any claim of internal commitment without external reflection is a lie. Both are needed because one’s character is reflective of inner dedication and external adherence to principles further strengthens the inner commitment and faith. Gurbani injunctions were written down because principles are the root of a lifestyle, and one’s external appearance and character are reflective of their inner commitment. On the other hand, external appearance alone does not necessarily mean one is actually dedicated to the Sikh way of life. A person who looks like a Sikh but lacks the Sikh character is a hypocrite. Those who are committed to living according to Gurbani would naturally reflect the Sikh appearance but not the other way around. For example, a person in a police or military profession would wear a uniform to show his commitment to his duties and law of the land but anyone else who is not in the police or a military member is an imposter in a uniform. This is why when a Sikh wears Kakkaars, they are communicating to the world that they are committed to fight and lay down their life to uphold justice, righteousness and truth. In other words, they are committed to the lifestyle or principles of Gurbani. For this reason, the Panj Kakkaar were not explicitly mentioned in Gurbani to avoid Gurbani principles being overlooked or diluted by people solely focusing on external appearance."

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