About Nishan Sahib and Khanda

San Jose Gurudwara, California
  • Article has extract from book, ‘The Khalsa’ and then a unique perspective on origins of Khanda and its relation with Lord Shiva.

"The emblem of Khalsa is Khanda consisting of a circle with two-edged pointed dagger in the centre and two scimitar shaped swords on both sides. The circle is symbolic of the Supreme Reality which is without a beginning and an end. It stands for enlightenment, “the perfection of humanity in unity”, as in Zen Buddhism and for the crystallization of duality into the Primal One (tai chi) as in Chinese philosophy.   


The dagger signifies the twin qualities of saint-soldier-the quality of piety and of strength. The two swords (worn for the first time by the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind) represent the temporal (miri) and spiritual (piri) aspects of life.


Khanda appears on the angular, yellow or dark blue flag called the Nishan Sahib which is the insignia of victory and honour. History is replete with the heroic deeds and sacrifices of the Khalsa community in the cause of justice and fair play."

Extract from book by Dr Satish K Kapoor, The Khalsa, Substratum, Substance and Significance, Jalandhar, 2001, page 60. 


Author is a historian, spiritualist, published author and formerly British Council Scholar. He was Principal, Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar and Registrar, DAV University.


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Kriyacharya Jyoti provides a historical perspective and its connection with Siva. Read here or below.


The symbol of the Khanda has evolved over time and the history is sketchy. Some believe it was introduced by the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Singh. It was added to the Nishan sahib only in the 1900’s. Earlier it only had the central double edged sword and the Chakkar/Chakra. 


Later the two swords of Miri and Piri, signifying spiritual and temporal responsibilities were added. Practicing Sikhs also refer to the two swords as Bhakti and Shakti.


Each part of the Khanda had its own unique significance and now symbolic meanings has been given to them. The Chakkar or Chakra, an ancient weapon of Bharatvarsh, was used by the Sikh warriors. A steel throwing ring with a razor sharp edge. Soldiers would spin it around their forefinger and throw with momentum at their enemy maiming and wounding the enemy and their horses. It is akin to the use of the Sudarshan Chakra by Vishnu and Krishna.


The central double edged sword is called the Khanda. It originates from the Sanskrit Khand/Khadga meaning to divide and destroy. This kind of sword is believed to have been used in India since 300 BCE, and definitely since 300 AD. Prithviraj Chauhan is credited with improving the design, strengthening it, giving it the broad shape that it now has to eventually make it the formidable weapon that it became. The weapon is venerated as a symbol of Shiva and worshipped during Dasara, Vijaydashami.


The  photographs of the Nihang warriors with the Aad Chand, Ardha Chandra, (see pic) Shiva's moon with the double edged sword in the centre show what  might be the predecessor of the present day khanda, though some  sections of the Sikh’s deny it. 

Ardha Chandra worn a Nihang.


The Nihangs, known for their extraordinary feats in the battlefield at the time of the Gurus, consider themselves as an image of Shiva and call themselves Shiva Swaroop and are believed to have originated from the Akal Sena of Guru Hargobind Singh.


The pictures of Shiva as Ardhanarishvara with the Trishul (pic below of shiva khanda) behind him, from the Chola dynasty 950 AD and 1050 AD, bears an amazing resemblance to the Khanda.


I have always believed the Miri and Piri, the two swords that Guru Hargobind Singh sported, as a symbol of Ardhanarishvara perfect balance between inner and outer world. Shiva representing the spiritual and Shakti the worldly activities.

Shiva Khanda


Author is into Kriya Yoga for over twenty years. Her writings are a combination of the spiritual and reality. They have a unique perspective.


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Both pictures courtesy http://www.sikhmuseum.com/


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