If you go back to my previous column you will notice that I have not given any specific reasons for having uncut hair, steel bangle, cotton boxer short or wooden comb. This is because authors of books about Sikhí all give different reasons for wearing these 4 Ks, which do not seem to be based on authentic pronouncements of Guru. The Kirpan of course stands for the fight against injustice.
To me the main reason for wearing my 5 Ks is because Guru asked me to offer my head and wear the 5 Ks and the turban. I also see the value of being a visible Sikh. It reminds me that I have committed myself to Guru’s path, and is a signal to others that here goes a Sikh who promised to serve all.
Many religious traditions have rules about not cutting or shaving all body hair, part of the body hair and also of course about having bold heads or shaving part of the head. To me all these have in common that they are signs of commitment.
Rings or bangles are often symbols of unity, unity within marriage, within a group, with God or with God and all humanity.
Guru’s fighters often wore a number of heavy steel bangles from their elbow to their hand to protect the sword arm.
Cotton boxer shorts are very comfortable when worn underneath a traditional long wide shirt (chola), underneath an Indian style pijama or any wide type of trousers. Cotton clothes keep you warm in winter and cool in summer and absorb perspiration, which avoids prickly heat (rash) during the monsoon time.
The wooden comb is useful to comb your hair and pulls out less of it than modern western combs. If you tie you hair in a topknot, as many Sikhs do, you can stick the comb in your topknot, which helps to stabilise it.
The outer five Ks and the turban should go together with a Sikh way of life. The way of life is often associated with the five qualities. They are: Sat (Truth), Santokh (Contentment), Diá (Compassion), Nimratáh (Humility) and Piár (Love).
God is Truth, and Her/His followers should strive to live in Truth. We should be ‘content’, we should accept what is given to us and not constantly look for more, more, more. We should have compassion and care for the poor, the discriminated, the ill etc and we should also be willing to forgive those that have hurt us.
Humility is very important for a Sikh, and even more for an amritdhari (initiated) Sikh. It is so easy to become proud of the fact that you wear the 5 Ks and have given up habits that most people take for granted. Pride leads to ego and where there is ME there God is not !
Just like God is Truth, God is also Love, real Love, unconditional Love. We who claim to be God’s followers should try and nurture this Love, also when those we try to truly Love do not respond with even ordinary human love.
If you thought walking in God’s will would be easy I have to disappoint you, God puts many challenges on our way, but also gives us the strength to overcome them.