Guru Gobind Singh Ji forms the Khalsa

Khalsa_Guru_Gohind_Singh.jpgIn the late 17th century, rampant religious intolerance and political tyranny posed a threat to the very existence of the Sikh community. To foster a renewed sense of courage within the Sikh community, Guru Gobind Singh formed the Khalsa. On March 30, 1699, Guru Gobind Singh invited thousands of Sikh followers to hear a message. As a test of faith, he asked five followers to come forward, willing to give their lives as a sacrifice. The crowd was shocked at this request. Boldly, one individual stepped forward and put his life in the hands of Guru Gobind Singh, who led him into a small tent and returned with blood dripping from his sword. This happened four more times, when finally, the Guru revealed to the crowd that the men were in fact alive, and the blood on his sword had been that of a goat.

These faithful individuals were privileged as the first members of the Khalsa—an institution embodying the most serious commitment to the Sikh community, its code of moral conduct and its responsibilities for protecting the oppressed. Divisions of caste meant nothing in the Khalsa, and each individual who joined was given a common last name, Singh (meaning lion) for men or Kaur (meaning princess) for women.  To ensure that the Khalsa maintained their commitments to protect equality and religious freedom during a time of oppression, members were instructed to maintain a uniform appearance, including uncut hair worn under turbans.  Guru Gobind Singh was then the fifth person initiated in the Khalsa Order by the new members. The founding of the Khalsa was the beginning of the democratic organization of Sikhs—from here on, common people would become Sikh leaders with the responsibility of actively protecting the underprivileged and downtrodden.

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