Are the five symbols really necessary?
It has been found that the maintenance of a similarity of appearance is essential, not only for the sake of uniformity but also for sustaining the enthusiasm of an organization. Such uniformity should be a living demonstration of the inspiration of the personality that created them. They symbolise the ideal and make it more real and meaningful to the followers.
The Sikh symbols were not intended to create a spirit of exclusiveness or of “chosen people”. They were meant to serve as aids to the corporate life of the community. It may be possible for a man to devote himself to God without adopting any forms or symbols, but if he wants to join an organization, he must keep up the disciplinary forms of the group. One may be a good soldier without military drill and uniform, but that does not minimize the need for such in a regular army, in the same way, the Sikhs of Guru Gobind Singh stick to his uniform and the symbols ordained by him and find them a great aid in Panthic organization.
It has been recorded in history that whenever Guru Gobind Singh was pleased with anyone, he welcomed him to the fold of the Khalsa. Lachhman Bairagi became Banda Singh. It is said that more than eighty thousand Sikhs received initiation through the ‘Amrit of the double-edged sword’, within a few months of the creation of the Khalsa.
The symbols have kept the Sikhs united. They have also helped to maintain their ideals in great crises. Many Sikhs faced death but refused to shave off their hair (Kesh). The maintenance of unshorn hair is in keeping with the idea of living according to the Will of God. The Kesh symbolise the spiritual link with the Guru-power.
Along with the maintenance of five symbols, the leading of an exemplary life – Rehat – is essential. Abstinence from tobocco, Kuthha (slaughtered or butchered meat), wines, narcotics and adultery is part of the discipline of a Khalsa. The code of conduct is a difficult one. Guru Gobind Singh valued the form of the Khalsa, and state that so long as Khalsa maintains the symbols, he will march to glory; when he indifference to them, his luster will tarnish and fade away.