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t every inhabitant of India should follow it.
The Mughal ruler Aurungzeb wanted to spread Islam in India. Naturally, when
Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth spiritual leader of the Sikhs, stood up for the
rights of Hindus and Sikhs the monarch saw him as a threat and an obstacle
in his grand religious scheme. He publicly beheaded Guru Teg Bahadur on
November 11, 1675 to stop the latter's activities and also let this
execution serve as a warning to the followers of other religions.
But the undying fire of righteousness leapt forth again when a new spiritual
leader was appointed by the Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh became the tenth Sikh
leader. In the summer of the year 1699, he organised a huge celebration of
Baisakhi. Baisakhi, which was only an ancient harvest festival for the
people of the Punjab region till this time, assumed an altogether new
significance in the light of the incidents that took place at Anandpur in
On March 30, 1699, Guru Gobind Singh called on a large congregation of Sikhs
at Keshgarh Sahib near Anandpur. The purpose of the Guru was to instill
courage and strength to sacrifice among his fellow men. He understood that
nothing but an armed struggle was required to show the Mughals that the
Sikhs were not ready to let their religion be maligned and subjugated.
When thousands of people assembled for his blessings, Guru Gobind Singh came
out of his tent carrying an unsheathed sword. He gave a powerful speech to
infuse courage amongst fellowmen. He ended his speech with the demand for
men who were ready to sacrifice themselves for greater good as every great
deed required equally great sacrifice. But none was prepared to give himself
up to the Guru.
At the Guru's third call, a thirty-year-old man named Daya Ram Khatri
responded and went ahead to become a volunteer. The Guru took the man inside
a tent. After sometime he came back alone with a bloodied sword, much to the
horror of everyone present there. He called again for a volunteer. Another
man walked up to him. The same thing happened again and the Guru returned
again to call for another man.
This was repeated for three more times until a total of five Sikhs had gone
into the tent with the Guru. The Guru took a long time to return after he
went with the fifth man, during which everyone speculated that all the men
were being killed for some sacred sacrificial ritual. It did not go down
well with most present there despite the fact that the people had immense
faith on their leader. So everyone heaved a sigh of relief when they found
their Guru reappearing with the five men, each of them wearing turbans and
clad in saffron-coloured garments. Besides Daya Ram Khatri, a shopkeeper by
profession, there stood Dharm Das, a Jat (farmer) from Delhi; Mokhan Chand,
a washerman from Dwarka; Sahib Chand a Nai (barber) from Bidar and Himmat
Rai, a (Ghumar) water carrier from Jagannatha.
The Guru named these five men "Panch Piara" or 'Beloved Five' and blessed
them with an elaborate ritual. The men sat on a special dais made for the
occasion while he prepared water to bless them. Mata Sundari Ji, the wife of
the Guru, put a batasha (a type of sweet) into an iron vessel containing
water. The Guru mixed this with the water using a sword called "Khanda
Sahib", while the congregation recited sacred verses from scriptures to
complete the ritual.
The water thus prepared was considered the sacred nectar of immortality
called amrit. The Guru gave it first to the five volunteers to drink, then
he had some of it himself and later distributed the remaining part amongst
the crowd. With this ceremony, everyone present there, irrespective of caste
or creed, became members of the "Khalsa Panth" (the Order of the Pure Ones).
The five men initiated as the "Panch Piaras" were regarded as the first
members of the Khalsa and the embodiment of the Guru himself. He asked every
Sikh male to use the surname of "Singh" (meaning "lion") and also took the
name for himself. The women were instructed to call themselves "Kaur",
assistants to the "Singh". He asked Sikhs to follow the five K's:
Kesh (hair) - He asked them to wear their hair long.
Kangha (comb) - He asked them to use a comb.
Kripan (dagger) - He asked them to carry along a dagger all the time to
Kachha (shorts) - He asked them to wear shorts.
Kara (bracelet) - He instructed them to wear a bracelet.
He also did away with the tradition of Gurus and asked all Sikhs to accept
the "Grantha Sahib" as their eternal guide. He urged them to come to him
with their hair and beard unshorn to get baptized by the sword.
This important ceremony was a landmark event in Sikh religious religious and
social history. Firstly it rekindled the religious zeal and cultural pride
for the Sikhs. Secondly, it infused the spirit of bravery and fearlessness
among the Sikh youths who were to be the harbingers of change and the
champions of religious and cultural freedom. Thirdly, the initiation of the
five volunteers, who came from different castes and social strata, as well
as the instruction of using similar surnames obliterated the caste
differences in the contemporary society and formed a big step towards
Since then, Baisakhi has been observed on the first day of the Baisakh month
in the solar Nanakshahi calendar, which corresponds to April 14 in the
Gregorian calendar. The formation of the "Khalsa Panth" is still marked
across the country in gurdwaras where special prayer meetings are also
organised where millions of Sikhs come together to pay a tribute to Guru
Gobind Singh. Holy songs are sung and sacred verses are read aloud to
commemorate the historic event of 1699 and pay a tribute to the Guru as well
as his beloved five men. Food offerings are dedicated to the Guru which are
afterwards distributed among members of the congregation.