Articles: Essays on Sikh
Values: Ensign of Dignity
Ensign of Dignity
gur kY sbdy dir nIswxY ]
gur kY sbdy dir nIswxY ]
Gur kaae sabadae d.arr neesaan.aae
Word of the Guru is your identity (password).
- Nishan Sahib
The Guru’s (Prophet’s) Word - name of God, is the identity
card to go to the Lord’s presence. This is the thing of the spiritual domain.
One of the passwords - identity, at the worldly level is Nishan Sahib -
The Sikh Banner.
The flag of every denomination has its own distinction
of color, shape, design, symbol and of other details to make it specific
to represent the physical body it stands for (Country, rank, group, faith,
organization) and to proclaim identity of its philosophy.
In the Sikh world, a banner is called Nishan Sahib. Nishan
means a symbol, sign, seal or a stamp - a mark of identity, and Sahib is
added for respect. It is sometimes referred to as Kesri Jhanda (Kesri -
saffron colored, Jhanda - flag), Jhanda Sahib or simply Nishan.
Nishan Sahib is ensign of the Khalsa (Panth - the Sikh
world). It is hoisted in religious gatherings and other congregations related
to the Sikhs. It leads religious and other processions in which mostly
Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh Holy Book) is there, and Parbhat Phaerees (Morning
Hymn-singing parades). It is put up on all the Gurdwaras (The Sikh Prayer
Houses), or is set up in the court or yard of the building.
Nishan Sahib is an expression of authority, has spiritual
tones, and it commands a high level of respect. The Sikhs consider Nishan
Sahib auspicious and revere it as something special - a gift from the Guru:
his fold (protective cover or his lap). The devotees respectfully place
flowers on the parapet at its base, and light candles there, especially
on the days of the Sikh celebrations.
Religious processions are preceded by the five Nishan
Sahib carried by the barefoot, Amritdhari (properly inducted into the faith)
devotees of high ethics (Singhs or Khalsas). The people standing enroute
bow to the Nishans and some even touch the feet of their bearers, called
‘Panj Piarae’ (Five beloved of the Guru). Carrying the flag is considered
a special favor and an honor.
At Gurdwara Paunta Sahib, a place of the Tenth Master
Guru Gobind Singh, the Sangat (Congregation) ambulates around it singing
Hymns with devotion, and bows to it. The Nishan had been leading the Sikh
soldiers, parades and groups, since the time of the Gurus. The Sikhs tie
these to their vehicles on their pilgrimages.
Nishan Sahib is pride of the Sikhs. Once hoisted, it is
never done half-mast. Nishan Sahib, along with cover for its pole, is changed
every year, or when needed, doing Shabad-Kirtan (Singing of Hymns), Ardas
(Invocation), shouting Jaikaras (slogans), distribution of Parshad (sanctified
sweet pudding), and rejoicing. At places (Gurdwara Hemkunt and others),
the steel pole is lowered, washed with diluted milk, and cleaned before
putting on the new cover cum flag. The change is generally made on the
Baisakhi (13 April), birthday of the Khalsa. On this day (Baisakhi of 1699
AD), Guru Gobind Singh initiated the people into the Sikh faith by
a special ceremony (giving Amrit - a holy drink), for the first time.
The old cover and banner of the flag are made into
pieces and the people take these away as a gift from the Guru. They may
stitch a Chola (Long shirt) for the newborn, or for a small child. They
may put the cloth to some other good use, i.e. wrapping their prayer books
in them, or as a scarf for the head. Out of respect, the old flags or worn
out clothes made out of these, as such or their ashes after burning these,
may be put into the flowing water, a lake, or are buried. It will be disrespect
to throw them into trash, or to use them as cleaning rags.
A flag represents loyalty, unity and distinction, as well
as philosophy of the group it stands for. It declares the right and claim
to the territory and indicates presence, possession, and authority of the
group whose flag it is. It announces independence of the body and mind
(individuality), pride and sovereignty of the people it belongs to.
Nishan Sahib stands for the Sikhs in their body, mind,
and action. It is an assertion of their physical and mental independence,
and of the unity under its protection. It announces the purity of
their thought, and spiritual elevation through their belief in one God,
faith in their Gurus as well as Guru Granth Sahib, and in the edicts of
the Sikh faith including the discipline of Amrit (holy-drink given for
inducting a person into the Khalsa - a properly initiated Sikh). It proclaims
their faith, beliefs, high morale, honest conduct, hard work, truthfulness,
justice, equality, liberty - live and let live attitude, forgive and forget
policy, compassion and helpfulness to the needy etc.
Watching a gently fluttering flag lifts up the mind with
joy, and one can derive concentration from it for his or her Naam-Jaap
(meditation - recitation of the name of God). It beckons never to forget
the Lord, and reminds to unite with Him. It affectionately wakes up those
lost in the mundane, and benevolently shows them the path - "Here is the
Holy Book - Word of the Guru, read it, realize the Truth and get emancipated."
Its dignified waving prompts everyone to lead a life of high ethics.
Nishan Sahib is the ensign of harmony between the God
factor and Shakti - Maya; the world-factor.
In general, a flag is a piece of cloth or other suitable
material with its individual color, shape, symbol, etc. It is usually hoisted
from a pole.
PARTS - Nishan Sahib
Nishan Sahib has the following parts -
Pharera - A saffron colored triangular
Phuman - Pompom of black color and of a suitable
size, tied to the tip of Pharera through a black string.
Symbol - on the Pharera . Ik-Oankar, and Khanda-Symbol,
Pole - Usually steel, wood, or bamboo. It has
a cover of saffron color.
Khanda - Double edged sword atop the pole. Mostly
iron, may be stainless steel. It may be gold or nickel plated.
Dastaar - A blue cloth strip tied at the top,
under Khanda. Its both ends are left equal and free.
Nishan Sahib. Cloth is the usual material. Plastic-fiber
cloth and plastic sheets are in common use. Temporary paper flags are often
seen on some celebrations. Sometimes, a metal sheet is used. Pharera (flag)
and cover for the pole are mostly made of the same material - cloth of
one sort or the other.
Most of the non-Sikh flags are rectangular. The religious
flags of many faiths, and some political standards are triangular.
Nishan Sahib - Pharera (flag) is always saffron
in color and triangular, with its vertical axis at 90 degrees to its horizontal
base. Horizontal base is twice the length of the vertical side. The top
and base meet to make an acute angle at the tip to which a Phuman - black
pompom, is tied with a string to leave it hanging (to flutter).
The triangular shape may have its own mystery, and might
have a mystical effect - pointing to immortality. But in general, in
the Sikh faith, no mystery is attached to any shape, color etc., and all
its teachings are open and clear. This shape may claim union of God,
spirituality, and the mundane (three corners or sides of flag). The other
flags might have influenced the shape and color of the Sikh banner.
Triangular shape makes two flags out of the one rectangular
piece of material, and so is economical to manufacture, but this is not
of any importance. Triangular cloth does not fold over easily to hide its
‘contents’ (symbol) and hangs from the pole tapering down gracefully.
Rectangular material needs more wind to flutter and also, may get easily
torn at its free flapping end.
Saffron color stands for courage and sacrifice. White
and yellow colors denote purity. Green is for productivity of the earth,
growth and productivity (abundance of the produce etc.). Red is the color
of change, revolution, high morale, and of celebration (joy). Black is
mostly for protest, resentment, death, grieving, destruction, and witchcraft
The Hindu religious flags are "Bhagva" (Gaerva:
brick-red), red or white. The color of the Muslims is green. Nishan Sahib
is of the saffron color - pleasant, bright, and glowing reddish-yellow,
representing purity (spirituality), courage and bravery.
Saffron color existed in the Rajput traditions, possibly
like the epithet "Singh." In the Rajputs, the ritual of Jauhar (Satti -
self-immolation of wife after the death of her husband) was performed in
the yellow dress (Dr. Maan Singh Nirankari, Retired Principal, Government
Medical College, Amritsar). But, the Sikhs don’t adopt such extremes, nor
do they approve Jauher (Satti). Moreover, the Sikh color is Saffron, and
this color signifies purity, no doubt sacrifice too. Very likely, the Rajputs
expressed purity by using the yellow clothes. In celebrations like marriages
and betrothals, saffron water is sprinkled on the clothes of the guests
to honor them, and to signify sanctity of the occasion, its spiritual overtures,
and to express happiness.
Saffron color for the banner was selection of Guru Hargobind
(Indirect deduction. Gurmatt Martand, S.G.P.C., page 616) and was not blue
to begin with. At the time of Guru Gobind Singh, the color of Nishan Sahib
changed to blue, and Nihangs maintain the tradition. In the Maharaja Ranjit
Singh period, Nishan Sahib was blue (Dr. Harjinder Singh Dilgir, World
Sikh News, June 30, 1995 AD). After the Maharaja, may be under the influence
of Dogras (majority environmental effect) it became white. Baba Naaena
Singh and Akali Phoola Singh left the color of the Akali-Dal flag yellow,
but changed Dastaar (see Dastaar) to antimony. Some use antimony color
for Pharera (flag) which is not a tradition. They seem to derive this color
from the color of the turban of Guru Gobind Singh. It is not clear as to
how and when the color returned to saffron (A discussion with Dr. Bhai
Harbans Lal, Arlington TX, USA).
Dr. H.S. Dilgir referred to the editorial of a daily "Akali,"
of the 24th Dec: 1921 AD. He wrote that Pandit Moti Lal Nehru and other
members of the Congress Party accepted the condition of the Sikh-color
- saffron, and it was taken into the Indian National Flag in 1929 AD.
Taking saffron into the Indian Flag was acceptance of
the Sikh ideology that a Nishan Sahib represented their politics, as well
as faith. The Sikhs have the same flag for the both - politics, and faith.
The Muslims have "Kalma written in the symbol form" and
"Chand-Tara" (Star and Crescent), and their color of the flag is green.
The Hindus, usually use Om or Sri Ganesh (like two Zs, placed crosswise),
mostly on the brick-red banner. Every religion has some symbol for its
flag or even otherwise. The Jews have the Star of David, and the Christians
the Cross, etc. The Sikhs have two symbols discussed under Nishan Sahib.
NISHAN SAHIB - SYMBOLS
There are two symbols - the Khanda symbol and Ik-Oankar.
Out of the two, the most commonly used in the Sikh flags is the Khanda
symbol. These symbols are done in black color. Master Taran Singh mentions
it as blue (Sikh Dharam Dae Rahas Tae Ramaz, provided by Mr. S.S. Puri,
Lilburn GA, USA). These may be cut out of the black cloth and stitched
on to the flag, or printed black, or the needlework may be done with black
Anyone symbol out of the two, will be sufficient to convey
that it represents the Sikhs. Both these symbols are also put on the letterheads,
buildings and vehicles. As an emblem, these are fixed to the turban and
are worn as pins, buttons, or gold ornaments - mostly lockets around
Ik-Oankar is the Seed-Formula (Root formula). With this
Ik-Oankar, starts "Mool Mantar" (the Sikh Basic Formula). “Ik”
is equal to One “ 1 “ in the Roman characters, and “Oankar” means, “All
Pervading, Omnipresent, God” - All pervading God is only He, and
there is none other like Him. It is like "Om" of the Hindus and “La Il-lah
Il-lil-lah” (Or, may be 786, in the Arabic characters) of the Islam.
Khanda Chakkar Kirpan >
Khanda - double-edged sword. Chakkar - quoit: a flat,
steel ring with sharp outer edge. Kirpan - slightly curved dagger, or small
sword. The people have started calling this simply a "Khanda." It becomes
confusing because the name means only a double-edged sword. It will be
reasonable to call it "Khanda-Symbol," or “Khanda-Kirpan.” This symbol
is something like Sri Ganesh in the Hindus, or Chand-Tara in the Muslims.
The history of Khanda-Symbol, may be a mystery, but it has attained great
significance as a symbol of the Sikhs.
It is hard to say anything conclusive about the meanings
of this Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan symbol, because it all appears to be stretching
the individual imagination. At the Sikh Takhts (Religio-political High
Seats) especially, and at some other Gurdwaras, the weapons are often
seen arranged like Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan. This might have given the idea
of the symbol, but it can be the other way round, too.
At Akal Takht, Amritsar, only the weapons used to be displayed
on the Palki (Palanquin). It was some time back that Guru Granth - the
Sikh Holy Book, was placed there (Dr. Man Singh Nirankari).
It is double edged, straight, sword. Its edges are concave.
It is placed in the middle of the symbol. To some, the Khanda, like a numerical
“1” represents One God.
It stands for the "Amrit", which is prepared with it (Dr.
Dilgir - referred to above, and Naunehal Singh Grewal, Sikh Review - June,
It symbolizes disintegration of the false pride, vanity
and demolition of the barriers of cast and inequalities (Khanda, H.S. Singha,
Mini Encyclopedia of Sikhism, page 65).
Double-edged Khanda means to cut evil both ways (Around
the Golden Temple, Narinderjit Singh, page 20).
The original Khanda, with which the Tenth Master prepared
Amrit on the Baisakhi of 1669 AD, is at display in the Gurdwara Kes-Garh,
Anandpur Sahib, District Ropar, Punjab, India. It is a full length weapon.
A Chakkar - quoit, has no beginning or end; it exhorts
the Sikhs to make the whole universe the object of their compassion and
activities (H.S. Singha, referred to above).
It may be for the universality or eternity of the God
Factor - the mystique of the Almighty and the humanity (Dr. Dilgir, referred
Circle means continuation of life (Narinderjit Singh,
referred to above).
The Khanda symbolizes justice, self-preservation, and
continuity of the humanity and destruction of cruelty. Besides representing
the eternal God, it stands for the continuity of His creation (universe),
transmigration and the cycle of birth and death (reincarnation).
Two swords, one on each side of the symbol, are usually
taken to represent the spiritual, and the temporal aspects of the faith.
It seems to be in line with the two swords of the 6th Guru Hargobind i.e.
one sword of Meeree (sovereignty) and the other of Peeree (Guruship - Spirituality).
His sword of Peeree worn on his right was 40" and that of Meeree on left
was 36" long. This indicated that the temporal power was under the spiritual
one (N.N.S. Grewal, referred to above). Two Kirpans stand for temporal
and spiritual leadership of the Guru (H.S. Singha, referred to above).
Two Kirpans show that the balance in every thingis most
essential in the life. One of the two means that you need power to protect
your faith. The other impresses on the need of authority to live with dignity
and to face and curb all wrongs, as well as to help the needy - to use
it for justice and Dharam (principles - protection of the faith). These
two demonstrate the balance of life including that of the spiritual and
mundane, and this make one a Sant-Sipahi (Saint-Soldier).
In the symbol, two Kirpans might have been used for symmetry.
Kirpan is an essential item of the Sikh-Reht (Bindings of the one inducted
into the faith).
Phuman is a Pompom, black in color. Size, suitable. It
is attached to the apex of the flag through a short (suitable) length (15”
to 18”) of a black string. It makes fluttering of the flag smooth in high
wind and as well, enables it to flap when the wind is low. Tibetans think
that each turn of their prayer wheel, and each flutter of their flag, is
saying of their mantar (mantra) once. There is nothing like this in the
Is the pointed apex of the triangle (flag) a finger towards
one God? May be, yes!
Dastar means a turban. It is a blue cloth band (strip)
of short width (5 to 7 inches) and about three hands in length (From elbow
to the tip of fingers - 18", is one hand). It is tied at the top where
end of the pole and Khanda (Double edged sword) join. Its two equal lengths
are left free to wave. It is tied to most of the flags. It has the same
high esteem and significance as the Pharera itself.
In the battle of Anandpur, 1703 AD, at the time of Guru
Gobind Singh, Bhai Man Singh son of Bhai Jita Singh, who was a regular
Nishanchi - Nishan-Sahib bearer, was leading the Sikh soldiers with a blue
flag. He fell down wounded and the flag came down with him. Watching this,
Guru Gobind Singh tore a piece from his blue Dastar (Short turban), left
its one end free, tucked the other end into his regular (full) turban and
declared that the standard of the Khalsa (Pharera) shall never fall again.
Tying a Dastar to a Nishan Sahib started since then. Rarely, there are
saffron Dastars (turbans) on some of the saffron Phareras (flags), but
it is not the tradition. A Nihang leader displays a blue Pharera (length
of cloth) tucked into his turban.
Now a days, it is not uncommon to see a metal frame around
Khanda (Double edged sword) at the top, and an electric light fitted to
it. On one pole, there was a weathercock fixed atop this frame. It is very
common to put up loudspeakers on the pole. Even a light on the same pole
should not be okay though it is very useful and may be accepted, but the
other objects like loud speakers, appear sacrilegious. Such things are
not in good taste, and distort the appearance of Nishan.
In general, the pole of a flag may be wood, bamboo, reed,
and cane, metal or plastic - any suitable material will do.
Nishan Sahib - The flagpole is mostly bamboo, except
for the permanently fixed poles that are made of iron pipes. The present
day metal poles are generally very tall to give direction from far away,
to the faithful, and the needy. A pole may have a hinge at its lower end.
The tall poles are held with the steel-rope stays. A pulley, bucket, and
steel-rope is fixed to pole for changing the worn out flags. The flagpole
is covered with the same-colored (saffron, or blue) cloth and it is stitched
or tied to the flag and both of these make one unit.
A Khanda (Double edged sword only) is fitted at the top
of the flagpole. It affirms the location of a Gurdwara. Khanda may be taken
as pointing to the fact that the Sikhs believe in one God. It also, portrays
their high spirits, rights, freedom, justice, and sovereignty etc. This
is the only religious cum political flag in the world with a weapon at
the top of its pole. The cavalry-spears with small flags are a different
Nishan Sahib, including its pole, may have any size. Other
religions also, don't seem to have any set standards for size. "Yukti Kalpattar”
describes different types of flags depending on the length of the pole
according to the political rank of the person.
The flags are traced to the time immemorial to the Hindu
culture in India, civilization of China, and Egypt. Perhaps, the first
flags were animal heads on poles carried by hunters, and human heads of
the vanquished for the winners to boast of their victory. Later, the animal
skins were used to make them (Grolier’s encyclopedia).
The flags headed the armies, and also might have been
put on the fighting vehicles like chariots as we see in the paintings of
the episodes of Mahabharat or Ramayan (the great Hindu epics). Flags are
there in the mythological and old historical paintings, too. It is hard
to pinpoint the exact era of the start of the flags. There is no doubt
these forms of flags kept evolving with time. Each faith has its own flag.
Nishan Sahib - the Sikh Flag. It is generally accepted
that it came into being at the time of the 6th Guru Hargobind. In 1608
AD, he erected Akal Bunga (Also called Akal Takht - the Divine Throne),
at Amritsar, and fixed a Jhanda (flag - Nishan Sahib) on it. Before this,
the Gurus did not use flags. The flag was saffron and at top of the pole
was sharp pointed spear-like Khanda. (Gurmatt Matand, SGPC, page 616. Jhanda
Sahib, Mahakosh by Kahn Singh). Clearly, the Sixth Master hoisted one flag
only and that too, at the top of the building. It was after him that two
flags were fitted in the courtyard of Akal Takht. In 1862 AD, Udasi Sadhus
Bawa Santokh Das and Pritam Das, set up two Nishan Sahibs close together,
at Akal Takht. The one was for Akal Takht and the other for Harimandir
Sahib (Golden Temple) - covering both politics and spirituality.
It was about three years after the advent of Nishan Sahib
that King Jahangir confined Guru Hargobind to the fort at Gwalior in 1612
AD. Baba Budha and Bhai Gurdas, two leading Sikhs, organized morning Chaukis
- the Holy Hymn singing processions carrying Nishan Sahib, at Amritsar,
and around the fort of Gwalior. It was to protest and express their resentment
against confining the Guru to the fort.
After the Guru came back to Amritsar, these Chaukis -
flag carrying and singing processions, continued in the Parkarma (walkway)
around the Golden temple. It was to express their humble thanks to the
merciful Waheguru - the Lord, for the release of the Guru. This continues
as a Sikh holy tradition. At that time, these marches added the political
tinge to the religious flag. The Sixth Master introduced Nishan Sahib -
a flag, as an identity, and assertion of the Sikhs. This was the active
foundation for the liberty of the country from the grips of the foreigners
- first landmark of an open struggle for independence.
Flags at Akal Takht
There are two flags at Akal Takht. Their poles are covered
with gold-plate and the both are joined with the two cross bars. At their
crossing is fixed a golden Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan emblem, Khanda in it is
concave at both edges and is not spear like. This shows that this emblem
is a later addition. Tops of the poles have spear-like golden double-edged
Khandas. The flags (Phareras) have the Khanda symbols (Khanda-Kirpan-Chakkar),
which no doubt also came in later.
The flag towards Akal Takht is one foot shorter than the
other. It symbolizes that the temporal power should be under the control
of the spiritual authority. Height of the two poles, has also been mentioned
by Professor Darshan Singh, Ex. Singh-Sahib (Head) of Akal Takht, in one
of his Kirtan (devotional singing) cassette. Dr. Madanjit Kaur, Ex. Head,
Department of Guru Nanak Studies, and Dean of the Guru Nanak Dev University,
Amritsar, Punjab, got the measurements taken with a sextant, and confirmed
it. The photographs taken by Mr. Gurinder Singh Khokhar, supported this
In the Gurbani (Hymns in Guru Granth Sahib - the Sikh
Holy Book), the words like Dhuja, Jhanda, Neja, and Nisan, meaning a flag,
have been used -
Flag in Gurbani
ijsu DIrju Duir Dvlu
Dujw syiq bYkuMT bIxw ]
ijs DIrj Dur Dvl Dujw syiq
bYkuMT bIxw ]
Jis dh:iraj dh:ur dh:awal dh:uja saet. baaekunth:
(The Guru is such that) his banner of patience is visible
right at the start of the bridge to God’s domain.
Svayae Mahlay T.eejae Kae-1393-16.
Puin DRMm Dujw PhrMiq
sdw AG puMj qrMg invwrn kau ]
Pun Drm Dujw PhrMq sdw AG puMj
qrMg invwrn kå ]
Phun dh:aram Dh:uja fahrant. sad.a agh aap punj t.arrang
And, his banner of righteousness flutters to ward off
all the waves of sins.
Svayae Mahle Chauthae Kae-1404-6
kuil soFI gur rwmdws
qnu Drm Djw Arjunu hir Bgqw ]
We have to keep in the mind that the Hymns, also by the saints
and others in the Sikh Holy Book, are in poetry and similes have freely
been used by their authors. It is hard to conclude from these that the
Gurus before Guru Hargobind had the flags, white or any other.
kuil soFI gur rwmdws qnu Drm
Djw Arjunu hir Bgqw ]
Kul Sodhi Gur Ramd.as t.anu dh:aram dh:uja Arjun Har-e
In the clan of Guru Ramdas a Sodhi, is born Arjun who
is the flag of devotion to God
Svayae Mahlae Panjvaen’ Kae-1407-16
Udasi saints, got possession of the Golden Temple (Including
Akal Takht). Udasi saints Bawa Santokh Das and Pritam Das of Dera Brahm
Buta, Amritsar, fixed tall trunks of two trees and put Nishan Sahibs at
their tops (1775 A.D). Perhaps, the color used was Bhagwa (Brick red).
In 1841 AD, one of them fell down in a storm, and it was placed on one
side of the bridge on the Holy Tank. It stayed there neglected for a long
time. Kahan Singh, in his Mahan-Kosh writes that the Udasis set up one
Nishan Sahib (See under ‘Jhanda-Bunga’). Jhanda Singh, head of the Bhangi-Missal,
set up a flag here in 1772 AD (Nagara-Nishan, Gurmatt Martand, SGPC, page
616. Jhanda-Bunga, Mahan Kosh, Kahn Singh, page 410. A talk with Dr. M.S.
Nirankari). Evidently, Jhanda Singh fixed one Nishan. Later, research added
some more data to the history.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780 AD, to 1839 AD) contributed
towards the service of the Jhanda Bunga - the Place of flag (Mera Dharam
Mera Itihas, SGPC, page 221). After him, one Jhanda was put up by Maharaja
Sher Singh, and the other by Sardar Desa Singh of Majitha. Poles of the
two were iron-pipes clad with gold covered copper sheet (Jhanda-Bunga,
the Khanda Symbol
A deep mist surrounds the origin and adoption by the Sikhs
of the Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan symbol. In an article in tribune, Mona Puri
wrote that "Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan" was a very old symbol and that a replica
in stone was preserved in the museum at Madras. According to Dr. Nirankari,
its photograph was with the State Archives, Government of Punjab and Patiala.
In his article sent to the author, Mr. Gurbachan Singh,
New Jersey, USA, wrote on the basis of Bhai Kahn Singh (Author, Maha-Kosh),
that Guru Hargobind (!595 AD - 1644 AD) first hoisted saffron colored Nishan
Sahib with the emblem of Khanda, at a village in the police station Phagwara,
in the former Kapoorthala state. Detail of the reference was needed. Mr.
Naunehal Singh Grewal, referred to the above, and wrote that it took 239
years for the Nishan Sahib to take its final shape by adding the Khanda
symbol to it. It needed references.
Dr. Madanjit Kaur checked pictures of the coins and medals
of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in an article on the symbols, medals, seals,
and coins of the Maharaja, by Mr. Manmohan Singh, Secretary to the Government
of India. He did not find a Khanda-symbol on anyone of them. Mr. Manmohan
Singh, disclosed to Dr. M.S. Nirankari that two Sikh army flags in the
British Museum at London, bore the symbol of Kartik - god of war (a peacock).
It is clear that even in the era of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, this Khanda-symbol
was most probably not in existence or in use.
In a personal talk, Dr. M.S. Nirankari referred to an
English writer that the flags at the Golden Temple were red, and that on
one was written Dhan Guru Ramdas and on the other, "Ik-Oankar Satgur-Parsad.”
Dr. Dilgir writes that Khanda-symbol came in the time
of Nirmalas, the color of the flag was blue, the Khanda-symbol was yellow,
and that the Khanda symbol was unanimously accepted by the Sikh Panth.
References have not been given.
This Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan symbol was perhaps designed
for the Sikh army by the Britishers (Dr. .M.S. Nirankari and Dr. Madanjit
Kaur). The photocopy of the two current Khanda-symbols used in the army,
was sent to the author by Brig: Pal Singh, Sakchi, Jamshedpur, Bihar. One
of it showed a Kirpan standing directly on top of a Chakkar. In the other,
there was a lion inside a Chakkar.
The flag of Iran has a Khanda like emblem but it is calligraphic
representation of the Kalma (Islamic religious formula).
Some people use the symbols of two crossed Nishan Sahibs
or similarly placed two arrows, on their letter heads etc. The only popular
symbol is Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan. Another commonly used symbol is
At the Gurdwara Sachkhand Hazoor Sahib, an arrow has a
great significance. There, anything offered is sanctified (accepted by
the Guru) by touching it with a steel arrow. The significance of an arrow-symbol
might have arisen from there. Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale carried a
steel arrow, and some Nihangs also do so.
Making personal symbols looking like Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan,
may create confusion, and is not in a good taste. It is also, not reasonable
to modify Ik-Onkar in any way. It should be fine to make any appropriate
thing around these symbols.
Khanda symbol remains un-standardized. Khanda projects
above the Chakkar, remains below it, or its tip stays covered by it. The
grips of the Khanda and Kirpans also, have no set shape. The proportion
of the sizes of the weapons differs, too. Some, like the Coat of Arms,
add arrows or flags to the Khanda symbol.
Nishan Sahib links the Sikhs with their Guru, God, and
gives direction to their Gurdwara - place of their worship. It is a symbol
of the life according to the Sikh ethics, justice, equality, sovereignty
and independence of the Sikh thought and faith. It shows that the Sikh
is always in high morale, his or her thinking is lofty, for every thinghe
or she looks up to only one God, and stays related to Him. The saffron
Nishan Sahib is the pride of all those who believe in the Gurus` philosophy,
and they ever keep ready even to offer their lives for its glory! Everyday,
in their Ardas - invocation, they say, "Jhandae Bungae jugo jugg atall"-
Eternal be the Nishan Sahib and its citadel!
Nishan Sahib is always there on a Gurdwara. There is no
limit or restriction on their numbers, heights, sizes, and the sites of
their hoisting. Maharaja Ranjit Singh took care that all the Gurdwaras
had flags (Dr. M.S. Nirankari). Some Gurdwaras have a second flag mostly
offered by a person on his or her wish fulfillment (Goindwal Sahib), or
in the memory of the visit of Guru Hargobind (Gurdwara Khadoor Sahib).
Mostly, display of a Nishan Sahib means that the place is related to the
Panth (The Sikh world) and is open to the public. Nishan Sahibs located
highest in the world are gracefully fluttering on the 17,000 feet Sapt-Sring
peaks around the Hemkunt Lake (Himalayan Ranges), in U.P. (Uttar Pradesh),
A gently fluttering Nishan Sahib is a call to the needy,
and to all those turned away and rejected by others, " Come on. You are
most welcome. Here is food for you, a place to rest, and a devoted service
without any discrimination of faith, caste, color, status, sex or country."
(Saint Balwant Singh, Hassanpura Khurd, Batala). After staying there, in
addition the guests will have the benefit of uplifting their minds with
a bonus of listening to "Asa Dee Var." (Musical recitation of the Holy
Hymns) - a morning routine in the Gurdwaras (Sant Balwant Singh).
Long time back, Sant Balwant Singh was traveling at night.
Directed by the highest light of Nishan Sahib, he went to the Gurdwara.
The Granthi (care-taker) offered him food, place to sleep, and massaged
the feet of the saint. On questioning, he said, "You have come to the Guru
Nanak`s house. See that Nishan Sahib! It calls and guarantees affectionate
care, food and a place to rest" -
Jhooltae Nishan rahaena Panth Maharaj kae
Note - The author of "Jhoolte Nishan Rahaen..." is
not known. It was a popular slogan at the time of Akali-Lehar (Akali movement).
May ever flutter banner of the Great Panth!