The Formation of The Khalsa

NM is a USC student born to a second-generation Punjabi Sikh father and a White American mother. He shared a myth that his family would tell him at family gatherings about the Sikh religion:

NM.) Um, yeah so this is gonna be more of a summary than anything, but uh, so first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak, uh. Basically, uh, they were being invaded, and the people didn’t really wanna fight back because it was, like, civilians and all that. So, uh, he asked like a few brave people to come up. And he got a first person pretty readily, and he took him to the back of the tent and came out with a bloody sword. And, after that, he was like, “If we sacrifice, we can win.” And after getting three more people, coming out with a bloodier sword each time, uh, he came out and revealed that he was actually slaughtering an animal, I think it was a goat. And uh, the men were like, one of like the first Sikh warriors, and, I forget the moral of it but that’s basically it. And he went on to like, talk about the four strengths that Sikhism um, like, endorses, which is like, intelligence, wealth, and material, like the strength of your sword, and physical strength

Me.) And, like, how did that affect you and your family. Like, when were you told that? In what circumstance?

NM.) Um, just at, like, family gatherings. And, I think I was first told at like ten, and most recent time I heard it was, like, probably last year. Um, I’m forgetting the moral now but it, like, told, it was supposed to be about bravery, and I think I did internalize that, at the time. Um, yeah, uh, that’s cool. 

This narrative is a legend that describes the formation of the first Sikh Khalsa. The Khalsa was a group of warrior-saints of the Sikh religion. It is unclear whether this actually happened in the creation of the first Khalsa, but it is a common legend that is shared by believers in the Sikh religion. It’s notable that NM believed that it was the first of the ten Sikh gurus, Guru Nanak, that formed the Khalsa instead of Guru Gobind Singh, who is more commonly believed to have performed that act.

While NM is somewhat disconnected from his family’s religions, being unable to understand or speak Punjabi and not being raised religiously, he still claims to be affected by the stories he heard growing up. While many people have stopped following the religions of the parent’s and grandparent’s generations, this is an example of how that heritage still affects those people.