What is the difference between a Sikh, a Sahajdhari Sikh and a Khalsa? Please explain in context with the definition of a Sikh given in Sikh Rehat Maryada.

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WORLD SIKH UNIVERSITY                                   Priya K Panesar                                    Student ID no:

TUTORIAL 1                                                             ‘SIKHISM’                                                 18 October 2003                                                                                                                       

A1: What is the difference between a Sikh, a Sahajdhari Sikh and a Khalsa? Please explain in context with the definition of a Sikh given in Sikh Rehat Maryada (the

Sikh Code of Conduct)

The meaning of the word ‘Sikh’ is a disciple. Although you can be a Sikh (learner) of anything/anyone this word has been adopted by the followers of Guru Nanak Dev Ji's philosophy. The basic belief of a ‘Sikh’ is a person who believes in one God and in the teachings of the ten Sikh Gurus. They must believe in the sovereignty of Guru Granth Sahib and respects all other scriptures, prophets and religions. Apart from this the most important belief, which is an important necessity for the Sikh way of life, is being apart of the baptism ceremony initiated by our 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. This means that in order to call yourself a proper Sikh, it includes practising the beliefs and following the teachings.

However, looking deeper into the meaning of a Sikh, we can discover that this word can be separated into three different classifications; all containing the basic theme of Sikhism but each differentiate in their own way. The three mainstream Sikhs include the Sahajdharis, a normal Sikh, also known as a Keshdhari, and a Khalsa or Amritdhari.

The word Sahajdhari was known before becoming prominent during the 1880's as a definition of a Hindu or Muslim, or a non-sikh who had a inclination towards Sikhism but had not taken the step to become a full fledged Khalsa or Amritdhari. If a Hindu was interested in become a Sikh as many thousands were during this time then he would first dispense with his Hindu belief and study Gurbani and do the Nitnem prayers. Right from the times of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the procedure to become a Sikh was to get the Pahul from the Guru and follow the instructions given by the Guru. In 1699, when Guru Gobind Singh Ji changed the traditional method of giving 'Pahul' into 'Khandey di Pahul', he told all the members of the Sangat to adopt this way, if they wish to become part of the new Sangat - Khalsa. Those who followed the instinct of their own mind and ignored this order of the Guru failed to become part of this order.

Sahajdhari Sikh is the one who "practices Sahaj." The word "Sahaj" comes in Sri Guru Granth Sahib a number of times. It is not something that can be practiced. It is a stage that can be achieved by devotedly practicing Vaheguru-Akalpurakh's Naam. However, this differs from someone who is Khalsa as this is the belief, which must be practised and maintained. "Sahaj" of the word "Sahajdhari" is a Punjabi word, which means 'slow', whereas "dhaari" means to 'adopt'. Therefore, 'Sahajdhari' Sikh means a 'slow adopter' of Sikhism and has no connection whatsoever with the 'Sahaj Avastha' - A stage of unaffectedness or equipoise (perfect balance). Although a Sahajdhari may acquire the progressive steps in order to become a practicing Sikh, some people are still considered a Sahajdhari as they do not keep uncut kesh or hair or adopt the name, Singh, yet they can still follow the main beliefs of Sikhism.

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There is a slight difference in people who are considered Sahadharis and hose who are Keshdharis. The main difference is Sahajdhari is one who follows the main beliefs of Sikhism, yet does not keep uncut hair or adopt the name Singh within their name, however Keshdharis, or normal Sikhs are those who do not cut their hair, and may follow the five K’s and use the name Singh/Kaur, however they remain classified as a Keshdhari as they have not been baptised. This is considered the main difference.

The Sikh Rehat Maryada is a book defining the Sikh code of conduct ...

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