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The Khanda symbol is visually intriguing, featuring three swords and a circle, carefully arranged in a manner to symbolize the foundational concepts of the Sikh faith. Let’s take a closer look at the Khanda and what it stands for.
A Union of Several Images
The Khanda is a central emblem of the Sikh faith, with the current form appearing in the first decade of the 1900s. It’s a symbol of the Sikh doctrine Deg Tegh Fateh, which teaches the dual responsibility of providing food and protection for the deprived and ill-treated. But there’s more to the symbol than just that.
Looking at the image of the Khanda, you will see that it consists of a sword in the centre flanked by two other swords. All three overlay a circle. The Khanda is, therefore, a combination of several images.
- The Khanda – This is the main sword in the middle of the Khanda symbol and indicates the belief in one God. The Khanda can also symbolise divine power that rules over life. The right edge of the sword represents the freedom one experiences when making the right moral choices and following the appropriate spiritual values. The left side of the Khanda stands for divine chastisement for those who do evil and rule with cruelty. As a whole, the Khanda symbolises the severing of truth from lies.
- The Chakram This is the circle within the overall image of the Khanda symbol. It indicates the eternal nature of God, who is without beginning or end. Also, the chakra is a symbol of the Sikh belief in the oneness and unity of all things. There is no religious division, and we are to show compassion towards each other. Sikhs also see it as a reminder to stay within the rules of God.
- The Two Swords The sword on the left of the Khanda symbol is known as Piri and is an emblem of spiritual dominion. The righthand side sword is referred to as Miri and symbolises political jurisdiction.
With the Piri and Miri on either side of the closed chakra, it serves as a reminder to all Sikhs that a balance has to be maintained between the spiritual and the secular.
Why is the Khanda Significant?
The Khanda symbol serves as a cue that we all are duty-bound to take care of those around us, no matter what creed, color or religion we belong to. As an integration of the concept of one God, oneness in all creation and harmony between spiritual and secular authorities, the Khanda implore us to look out for one another. It is a call to unity and compassion where we treat each other with compassion and love.
The concept of harmony between all things sees the Khanda symbol take on a deeper spiritual meaning. The Piri and Miri represent the divine and secular forces affecting the soul. The Khanda sword in the center of the symbol symbolizes the ability to slice through the lies of illusion and see things clearly. One can gain expanded consciousness.
The circle stands for the unity of all things and symbolizes one’s harmony and integration with the divine. We have a realization of one as an infinite being.
A Militaristic Meaning
Though the Sikhs promote the concept of love and harmony, the Khanda symbol also shows the importance of the secular and the need to accept its significance in our lives.
In the book, Hidden Religion, the authors mention how the Khanda symbol is used to represent the principles of the Khalsa Knighthood. This a militaristic band within the Sikhs who have the ideal of fighting only for defense. They vow not to fight from fear or out of retaliation. Those who belong to the Khalsa Knighthood act to guard the oppressed against tyrants.
Here we see the symbolism in Piri and Miri within the Khanda symbol representing a balance between the sovereignty of the divine and the secular.
A Symbol of Solidarity
Though we have seen that the Sikh military has used the Khanda symbol, it still is seen as symbol of unity and solidarity. This concept was starkly illustrated by the Sikh community in New Orleans when they gathered together to remember the Sikh victims of a shooting in Milwaukee. During this memorial, candles were lit and placed under a flag bearing the Khanda symbol.
A Summing Up of The Khanda Symbol
The Khanda symbol cropped up in the early 20th century and is used to symbolize the basic tenets of the Sikh faith. It represents a combination of:
- The belief of one God
- The unity of all people
- A balance between the divine and worldly sovereignty
From this, the Khanda symbol underscores the concept of defending the less fortunate from oppression, and of treating everyone fairly and ensuring that we are doing our social duty to one another. It’s a symbol of unity. The Khanda symbol also has a spiritual meaning in which it reflects one’s devotion and practice in seeking the divine and pursuing the truth.