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Thread: Kirpan

  1. Kirpan


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    I recently stumbled on a Wikipedia article on the kirpan. The concept is much broader than I realized. Here are a couple of quotes from the article.

    The kirpan has both a physical function, as a defensive weapon, as well as a symbolic function. Physically it is an instrument of "Ahimsa" or non-violence. The principle of ahimsa is to actively prevent violence, not to simply stand by idly whilst violence is being done. To that end, the kirpan is a tool to be used to prevent violence from being done to a defenseless person when all other means to do so have failed. Symbolically, the kirpan represents the power of truth to cut through untruth. It is the cutting edge of the enlightened mind.
    A baptized Sikh, better known as a Khalsa Sikh is a "Sant-Sapie" - a Saint-Soldier: A saint first and then a soldier. So to satisfy this term, one must first become a saint and then a Soldier. As a saint one must have total control over ones internal vices and be able to constantly be immersed in five virtues as clarified in the SGGS. Only then can a Sikh become a soldier. Also, the Khalsa is "Akal Purakh de fauj" - the Army of God. Guru Gobind Singh clearly choose these words very deliberately - He did not state that the Khalsa was the army of the Khalsa or an army of the Sikhs or the army of Punjab - but an Army of God whose function was the protection and safeguarding of all the peoples of God regardless of religion, race or creeed.
    And another slightly different angle from the same article.


    The breakup of the word is "Kirpa" which means "Grace" and "Aan" which means "Sovereignty". Grace onto the weak\defenceless and Sovereignty of the
    Khalsa. So as per the the concept any thing which does not adhere to the above two virtues does not qualify to be called as a Kirpan. The ideals of the holder and the capacity of the weapon are prime here. An individual may have a great weapon at his disposal but his\her motives may not be noble and sovereign. Neither he\she qualifies as a Sikh nor his\her weapon as a Kirpan. Again, he\she may possess the ideals i.e he\she is a Sikh but his weapon is ineffective for defence or upholding the sovereignty of the Khalsa. The weapon in this case is not a Kirpan.
    So, one particular weapon cannot be labeled as a Kirpan but any object or any weapon which is capable of delivering justice and upholding the sovereignty of Khalsa, becomes a Kirpan.
    This seems like a noble ideal, and one perhaps not so different from the attitude of many here on Bladeforums.

    However, such idealists may be on a bit of a collision course with modern governmental constraints.

    There have been several court cases in states of the USA relating to the legality of wearing a kirpan in public places. Courts in New York and Ohio have ruled that banning the wearing of a kirpan is unconstitutional.[12] In New York City a compromise was reached with the Board of Education whereby the wearing of the knives was allowed so long as they were secured within the sheaths with adhesives and made impossible to draw. In recent years the Sikh practice of wearing a kirpan has caused problems for security personnel at airports and other checkpoints; security personnel may confiscate kirpans if they feel it is necessary, but are advised to treat them with respect.[13] Sikh leaders chose not to attend an April 17, 2008 interfaith meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC rather than remove the kirpan.[14]
    One has to wonder why acting in such an ethical manner might be legal for members of one religion, but not for atheists.

    The government ruling in the NYC schools referenced above says "Sure, you can wear your kirpan as long as you do something to it that makes it not a kirpan." Here's an old piece from the Huffington Post that addresses that issue.
    Howard Wallace
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  2. #2
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    the answer to your last question is in the question itself. the ethics of the sikh faithful are a bit higher than the ethics of the atheist. while i'm sure there are unethical sikhs, they, unlike the unethical atheist, have a religious leadership they must answer to for their actions. the atheist only answers to himself, and he can usually convince himself not to punish himself.

    having said that, two sikh presidential body guards assassinated indira ghandi after she sent the indian army in to attack a sikh religious centre where they killed a number of sikh protesters and damaged religious shrines. they probably justified that in their minds as a defence of their religion. they are considered martyrs.

    thus, in new york, i'd bet the govt. considers security to overrule religion, as a sikh might use his unfettered kirpan to defend the innocent victim against a criminal act by a perp who is likely to be even better armed. in new york, you are not allowed to defend yourself, and only criminals and police are allowed to carry arms (tho the rich and famous can buy a concealed weapons permit). the proper procedure in NYC is when attacked, ask your attacker to wait around while you call the police, who will come to your defence in a few hours, and who will fill out all the required forms and deal with disposal of your body.
    CAVE CANEM RADIX LECTI ET SEMPER PARATUS
    Dic, hospes Spartae nos te hic vidisse iacentes,
    Dum sanctis patriae legibus obsequimur


    My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by kronckew View Post
    the answer to your last question is in the question itself. the ethics of the sikh faithful are a bit higher than the ethics of the atheist. while i'm sure there are unethical sikhs, they, unlike the unethical atheist, have a religious leadership they must answer to for their actions. the atheist only answers to himself, and he can usually convince himself not to punish himself.

    having said that, two sikh presidential body guards assassinated indira ghandi after she sent the indian army in to attack a sikh religious centre where they killed a number of sikh protesters and damaged religious shrines. they probably justified that in their minds as a defence of their religion. they are considered martyrs.

    thus, in new york, i'd bet the govt. considers security to overrule religion, as a sikh might use his unfettered kirpan to defend the innocent victim against a criminal act by a perp who is likely to be even better armed. in new york, you are not allowed to defend yourself, and only criminals and police are allowed to carry arms (tho the rich and famous can buy a concealed weapons permit). the proper procedure in NYC is when attacked, ask your attacker to wait around while you call the police, who will come to your defence in a few hours, and who will fill out all the required forms and deal with disposal of your body.
    Cities are a terrible place for the mind, body, and spirit. I feel a small part of me die every time I head to work. It is a place governed by both the very rich, and the poor, and has a tendency to create natural and legal law that in no way favors family, comradery, valor, independence, ethics, or even rational thought.

    Funny sikhism should come up, there's a Gurudwara down in Bloomington I've been wanting to visit for while now. They seem to be a very morally sound group with a very positive philosophy on life. In a way it's shame that they do not seek out converts, it makes their literature and culture relatively inaccessible to those outside their ethnic and linguistic group.

  4. #4
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    Ahhh, the kirpan, ever-controversial symbol of the Sikh credo!

    Lately I've become a bit of a fan of another of the "five K's", the kara:





    Far less conspicuous than the kirpan, but I'm betting if a need for self-defense arose, that an assailant wouldn't want one of the above jabbed at the facial area.

    Quote Originally Posted by kronckew View Post
    the answer to your last question is in the question itself. the ethics of the sikh faithful are a bit higher than the ethics of the atheist. while i'm sure there are unethical sikhs, they, unlike the unethical atheist, have a religious leadership they must answer to for their actions. the atheist only answers to himself, and he can usually convince himself not to punish himself.
    Whether the atheist can convince society not to punish him is another matter.

  5. #5
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    I guess this means I'm not the only westerner who keeps an almost religious reverence for a knife. I had a seasonal job at a big box store last winter, and almost quit on the spot when my supervisor said I wasn't allowed to use my Spyderco. I don't consider myself fully dressed without a pocket knife.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by C.S. Graves View Post
    Ahhh, the kirpan, ever-controversial symbol of the Sikh credo!

    Lately I've become a bit of a fan of another of the "five K's", the kara:





    Far less conspicuous than the kirpan, but I'm betting if a need for self-defense arose, that an assailant wouldn't want one of the above jabbed at the facial area.



    Whether the atheist can convince society not to punish him is another matter.
    A symbolic brass knuckle when sized properly. Just broke my "kirpan" the other day in a month-ruining moment of shock. I'm carrying a small pocket knife as I always do, but I was thinking of replacing it with either a fixed blade, or interesting enough, wearing an additional 350 gram kara I had been eying.

    Deciding what or if to replace a knife you have carried and used every day for years is grueling.

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    Thank you very much Howard for posting this great topic. I have always been in awe of Sikhs while in the Navy but never took time to understand them. Of course in most American cities there are few Sikhs so it is not a natural urge to study them. Anyway, this is another interesting tool you have presented with a neat background.

    Below: The Kirpan
    sikh-knife.ap.jpgYoung Amritdhari Sikh.jpg

    sikhs_800.JPG
    Above picture:Capt. Kamaljit Singh Kalsi, left, a doctor, and 2nd Lt. Tejdeep Singh Rattan right, both are Sikh Officers in the US Army.
    Last edited by sweetcostarica; 07-21-2012 at 03:01 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by abdelhazred View Post
    I'm carrying a small pocket knife as I always do, but I was thinking of replacing it with either a fixed blade, or interesting enough, wearing an additional 350 gram kara I had been eying.
    350 grams! That'll be hefty!

  9. This story of murder in a Sikh temple hit the news today.

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/05/us/wis...ing/index.html

    The gunman apparently wasn't stopped until police came. It appears that none of the kirpans present met the effectiveness criterion.
    Howard Wallace
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  10. #10
    Who the hell attacks a gurdwara? From what I've gotten the only thing found was a single pistol. It's a shame that we live so disarmed that a single man with a sidearm could kill so many.

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    Quote Originally Posted by abdelhazred View Post
    Who the hell attacks a gurdwara? From what I've gotten the only thing found was a single pistol. It's a shame that we live so disarmed that a single man with a sidearm could kill so many.
    I think the real shame is the hate that would drive such a killing.

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    Not even hate. Ignorance and stupidity make a dangerous combination. The Sikhs may not have had weapons but they didn't lack the will: "Congregation president Satwant Kaleka was shot and wounded when he attempted to tackle the gunman"

    Quote Originally Posted by kronckew View Post
    thus, in new york, i'd bet the govt. considers security to overrule religion, as a sikh might use his unfettered kirpan to defend the innocent victim against a criminal act by a perp who is likely to be even better armed. in new york, you are not allowed to defend yourself, and only criminals and police are allowed to carry arms (tho the rich and famous can buy a concealed weapons permit). the proper procedure in NYC is when attacked, ask your attacker to wait around while you call the police, who will come to your defence in a few hours, and who will fill out all the required forms and deal with disposal of your body.
    Let's leave the political/social analysis for the Political Arena. I spent most of my life in NYC and don't appreciate uninformed mockery of a complex situation.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Esav Benyamin View Post
    Not even hate. Ignorance and stupidity make a dangerous combination. The Sikhs may not have had weapons but they didn't lack the will: "Congregation president Satwant Kaleka was shot and wounded when he attempted to tackle the gunman"



    Let's leave the political/social analysis for the Political Arena. I spent most of my life in NYC and don't appreciate uninformed mockery of a complex situation.
    The lack of effective and timely response from police nationwide, not to mention their unwarranted attacks on ordinary citizens and their households, has become a serious issue. Do not elevate the pedestal your city sits on until you cannot see its problems any longer. I too did not come here to debate politics, especially as a live and work in a city I would consider to be collapsing.

    If it's alright with you we could both take our hollow rage out on the areas surrounding DC. I have lived there, and would much rather peel the nails off of three fingers than return. It feels like the end of the line when you see street violence on more days than not.
    Last edited by abdelhazred; 08-06-2012 at 11:02 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by abdelhazred View Post
    The lack of effective and timely response from police nationwide, not to mention their unwarranted attacks on ordinary citizens and their households, has become a serious issue. Do not elevate the pedestal your city sits on until you cannot see its problems any longer. I too did not come here to debate politics, especially as a live and work in a city I would consider to be collapsing.
    OK, my fault. "My" city which I left in 1997 is on no pedestal. It's an easy target for common-wisdom criticism. I should have shut my computer off before responding here. Or closed the thread.

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