What is the place of sword in Sikhi?

No faith can survive unless it can defend itself. Sikhi was born in a hostile atmosphere and had to face a lot of persecution. In addition to giving Sikhs lessons in the art of daily living, the Gurus gave Sikhs power to uphold their beliefs. For this reason Guru Hargobind donned two swords: one of spiritual leadership and the other of temporal power. He was the first Guru to throw a challenge to the Mughal power and to wage a war against the cruel and corrupt administration. His disciplined soldiers were successful against the Mughal armies in three battles. Guru Hargobind popularized the cult of the sword for purposes of defense and justice.

In a similar situation, after the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh took up arms against Emperor Aurangzeb. He justified the use of force as the only means of survival. He wrote in Zafarnama:

“When affairs are past other remedies, It is justifiable to unsheathe the sword.”

Where goodness and sacrifice cannot avail, violence has to be met by violence. Undoubtedly, in certain circumstances there are exceptions to the pro-active of non-violence.

The carrying of the sword or kirpan may perhaps be questioned in the atomic age. In the present world it continues to be a symbol of power, as it has been in the past. On ceremonial occasions, practically all armies in the world wear it. Its carrying reminds one of belief in one’s own self and therefore it creates self-confidence. The Sikh sword is a symbol of self-respect, prestige and independence. Guru Gobind Singh hailed it as the Saviour and Protector of saints and the oppressed. In fact he even referred to God as ‘sarbloh’ (Pure Iron).

The sword is one of the compulsory symbols of the Khalsa. The Khalsa is ever ready in his uniform to protect the weak and suffer for a just cause. Guru Gobind Singh demonstrated in a practical way that the sword can be reconciled with spirituality. Goodness without the means to sustain and activate it will fail to survive. Therefore, it is right to say that the sword holds a very important place in the history and philosophy of the Sikhs.

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