Wearing the 5K’s (Kara, Kesh, Kirpan, Kacheras, Kanga)


When Guru Gobind Singh gave the gift of the Five K’s to the Khalsa he did so with a promise; that by following the teachings of the Guru and keeping ourselves distinct, we will have his undying power and support. These five tools, along with our daily sadhana, allow us to maintain our grace. dignity and attitude of service through all pressure of time and space.


(pronounced Kaysh) is uncut hair, is kept intact, as given by the Creator. To keep it is a sign of the Sikh’s acceptance of the Will of God, and a symbol of recognition of God’s Wisdom in creating the human in the form in which s/he was created. Hair has a function given by the Creator, which scientifically can be understood as an antenna for transmitting energy from the cosmos to the individual. As an antenna for bringing solar energy to the brain, hair is important in preserving mental stability. Kesh relates to the element of ether.


Is a wooden comb which is worn in the hair at all times. The hair is made of the purest protein in the body. It channels the etheric energy into the body through the solar center at the top of the head. The kanga is a tool for keeping the hair beautiful and bringing energy into the body. When Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji was asked why we wear the kanga, he said, “Guru Gobind Singh was the most scientific of all scientists. He gave you the wooden comb so that you would create your own electric energy for your brain by combing with wood. The kanga is for whenever you feel low on energy. Just comb your hair with it right there on the spot. It works much faster than you can imagine to revitalize your energy. The kanga is a very virtuous thing.” When one combs the hair, (ether) with the kanga (earth), akaasha (heavens) and earth meet.


Is an iron bangle which represents prana (life force) and Infinity. It is worn on the right hand of the male and the left hand of the female, as a reminder to dedicate all one’s actions to the service of the One Creator. The steel is a reminder that as a Sikh, one’s steel, one’s strength of commitment, will be tested; the steel metal itself is a conductor of the energy which gives courage and fearlessness to the wearer. Kara relates to the element of air.


(or “kacha”) are cotton undershorts which is a symbol of chastity and purity. Calcium is controlled by the thigh bone through its sensitivity to temperature. The kachera keeps a warm mantle of air surrounding the thigh and protects it against sudden temperature changes. The kachera maintains the polarity of the second chakra in relation to ida and pingala, the left and right polarities of the human energy system. Kachera relates to the element of water.


(sword).  As Guru Gobind Singh explained to Bahadur Shah, (the Mughal Emperor) it is an emblem of dignity, power and self-respect. It is not just a “sword,” but a combination of “kirpa” (kindness) and “aan” (dignity). Guru Gobind Singh explained that while the sword is used in anger or to take revenge, the kirpan is used in grace and dignity to protect the honor of one’s self or of those who cannot protect themselves. As a symbol, it inspires respect for weapons and the highest sense of responsibility to God, Guru and humanity. The Sikh is God’s own soldier-saint, and their sword is used only as a last resort when all other efforts towards achieving peace and right actions have been exhausted. One is a saint first, but when one’s sainthood is attacked, one must be a soldier. Currently, in situations in which it is illegal to carry a sword, one can carry a small symbolic kirpan. Kirpan relates to the element of fire.
(An excerpt from “Victory & Virtue” published by Sikh Dharma International)

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