Birth of the Khalsa, The
A Feminist Re-Memory of Sikh Identity
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: State University of New York Press
The Birth of the Khalsa
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I want to thank Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany, Chairman of the Sikh Foundation of America, for getting me started with this project. Uncle Kapany has a remarkable vision for the Sikh world, and he motivates Sikh scholars, artists, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs in all parts of the world. His enthusiasm reaches me across the continent in his phone calls from California to Maine. ...
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The birth of the Khalsa (from the Arabic khalis, meaning “pure”)1 by Guru Gobind Singh is a pivotal event in the psyche and imagination of the Sikhs. During the Baisakhi festivities of 1699 the guru and his wife prepared amrit, and five men from different castes sipped it from the same bowl. Their drink purified them of all mental defilements. ...
List of Abbreviations
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1. Pregnant Text and the Conception of the Khalsa
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Beginning with Guru Nanak (1469–1539), the Sikh gurus have left a vast literary legacy, which was collected in the Guru Granth, the sacred text of the Sikhs. It was compiled by the fifth guru, Arjan (1563–1606), and placed by him in 1604 in the Harimandir, the Golden Temple of modern times. While compiling the sacred volume, Arjan included the poetry of Hindu and Muslim saints that resonated with the voice of the Sikh gurus....
2. The Guru in Labor and the Birth of the Khalsa
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The imagination and creative sensibilities of the author of the Bicitra Natak emerge splendidly in the drama par excellence of the Sikh religion, the Baisakhi of 1699. The poet and the artist whom we described in the preceding chapter emerges as the director and chief protagonist of this drama. Soon after writing the Bicitra Natak, Guru Gobind Singh staged a wondrous performance in the town of Anandpur. Years of deep reflection...
3. Mythic Inheritance and the Historic Drink of the Khalsa
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Since that Baisakhi Day, Sikhs are being fed on the nurturing drink made by Guru Gobind Singh and Mata Jitoji. Sikhs who go through the initiation ceremony by drinking amrit which is prepared by the churning of water with steel, are called the amritdharis. There may be variations in the actual practice among Sikhs, but as Pashaura Singh has cogently said, “Each group claims to follow the ‘correct’ procedure laid down by Guru Gobind Singh at...
4. The Five Ks and the Accoutrement of the Khalsa
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The internal transformation of the Sikh rite of passage is marked by five external sacra, all beginning with the letter k: kesha (long hair), kangha (comb), kirpan (sword), kara (bracelet), and kacha (underwear). Sikhs firmly believe that during Baiskahi 1699 Guru Gobind Singh introduced a new physical identity for his community, and no matter what part of the globe they may migrate to, Sikh men and women proudly continue to maintain ...
5. Semiotic Poetry and the Reproduction of the Khalsa
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Sikh identity wrought by Guru Gobind Singh is a fusion of the external and internal self, for just as the Five Beloved were endowed with the five Ks (bana), they were endowed with the five hymns (bani). If we return to Koer Singh’s account of Baisakhi Day 1699 in chapter 9 of his Gurbilas Patshahi 10, we distinctly hear the following injunctions: ...
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I started out this project for personal reasons, and it has ended up being most fulfilling. The loss of my “motherly” father was unbearable for me. But launching the theme of birth at that tragic moment gave me much hope and sustenance. My father’s unbounded love, his care for the minute details of my food, clothes, books, and lectures, his smiles and his tears, were really the reservoir ...
Appendix: Brief Biography of Guru Gobind Singh
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Page Count: 252
Publication Year: 2005
Series Title: SUNY series in Religious Studies
Series Editor Byline: Harold Coward