What are the five symbols for?

The 5 symbols of the Khalsa have the same value as the uniform of a policeman or a soldier and something more subtle than that. This means equality, uniformity, unity, and identity of the wearers. Every member of a team is required to put on a certain prescribed uniform for this very purpose. In the same way a Sikh has to wear the 5 symbols being a member of the Khalsa team, a SantSipahi. Every team member is proud of his uniform, particularly if the team has won most of the matches and has lost only a few. Here is the Khalsa team whose "coaches", "captains", and "players" played extremely well the "sport" of protecting the helpless people from the sword of the tyrannical rulers. Their victories have shaken the world and their successes have no parallel. That's why the Khalsa can justifiably feel proud of their uniform. This is what Cliff R. Huthins, an Englishman who adopted the Sikh faith, meant when he said, "Is it not enough that people call me the son of Guru Gobind Singh just because I wear the five kakaars (5K symbols)?"

There is another way of explaining the significance of this Khalsa Reht. In a Sikh youth camp, pointing towards a non Sikh press reporter, the author asked the students, "If the wears Sikh symbols, will he become a Sikh?" The quick and unanimous response "no" showed their understanding of the basic importance of the Sikh symbols. It is not the physical utility of wearing the Sikh symbols that makes the person a Sikh, it is the philosophy behind their wearing and his becoming a member of the gives the person the pride of being a Sikh. The five symbols connect us to that philosophy.

The wearing of the Khalsa uniform has many physical advantages too, but that is not the primary reason we wear the uniform. These advantages may be considered as a bonus of the Khalsa uniform but not the reason for wearing the uniform. While answering the question "Why do we Sikhs keep the 5 symbols?" mentioning their advantages is an incorrect way of justifying the wearing of them. One can say I am keeping my kirpan (sword) for protecting myself. Other persons have been heard to challenge this reply by asking "Why not keep a pistol instead of a sword? Why not has an automatic opening knife? Why not keep it concealed when it is meant to challenge your enemies? Why wear the kirpan outside?"

Any arm cannot replace the kirpan because the kirpan is a part of the uniform of the Sant-Sipahi. He can keep any arm for his protection in addition to wearing his kirpan. It is not just for the utility or the advantage of the 5 symbols that we wear them; we do so because the Guru made their wearing a requirement for Sikhs as a policeman or a player is required to wear his uniform.

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