All Sikhs and many non-Sikhs know about the 5 Ks, but the 5 Freedoms that Guru Gobind Singh has given us are much less well known. That might be because the 5Ks are easy to adopt, but to enjoy Guru’s Freedoms you have to become a ‘born again’ Sikh, a new woman, a new man, which is far more challenging.
1) Dharm Nash : Freedom from the teachings of your previous religion.
This does not mean that you should now be bound by a new religion, it means that you should serve God by walking the path of righteousness valid for people all faiths and beliefs as taught in the Guru Granth Sahib.
2) Karam Nash : Freedom from your earlier deeds.
As it says in the Guru Granth Sahib, you carry your bad deeds of this and previous lives with you, but God can liberate you from them.
3) Kul Nash : Freedom from caste, race, clan, heritage.
This is a big challenge for many Panjabis. You do not have to forget your background, but you should not be determined by it. A Sikh should look at all ideas, all ‘values’ in the light of Gurmat.
4) Bharm Nash : Freedom from taboos, customs and rituals.
This is linked to the above. Most Sikhs think that we should exchange Hindu, Christian or Muslim taboos, customs and rituals for Sikh ones. Obviously that is not what the Guru had in mind.
5) Sharam Nash : Freedom from distinctions based on job or profession.
In the South Asian context this is connected with caste. I think it means that every job done well, in the spirit of serving others, is worth doing and the person who does the job is worthy of respect.
I want to emphasise two things. The first one is, as I have already indicated above, that it is absolutely counterproductive to exchange Christian, Hindu, Muslim etc religion, taboos, rituals, and prejudices for Sikh ones. This is difficult for people of all backgrounds, but people brought up in India it particularly difficult, as the Indian culture is dominated by prejudices, rituals, taboos etc.
Secondly, our dharm, our religion is not a closed system. Sikhí, Khalsa is not about them bad, us good. The Khalsa is not about holy hair or holy kacchere. Good thoughts, good deeds, as the Buddha taught, as Jesus taught, as our eternal Guru teaches are universal.
The Biblical Good Samaritan was a good follower of Guru, the Sikh Bhai Ghanaya was a good follower of Jesus. In my Dutch Reformed Church I was taught to stand up against unjust governments, just like I am as a Sikh.