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Khālsā (Arab., ‘khālis’, ‘pure’). Body of initiated Sikhs; also any true Sikh. The term denoted land in the Mughal emperor's direct possession, as opposed to lands owned by his lords. So, even before the time of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, khālsā could refer to groups of Sikhs whose loyalty was to the Gurū rather than to his masands. However, according to tradition, the khālsā was instituted by Gobind Siṅgh on Baisākhī (30 Mar.) 1699 CE, when the Gurū administered khaṇḍe-dī-pāhul to the pañj pyāre, followed by thousands more. He then enunciated a code of discipline (rahit) to which all khālsā Sikhs must adhere. The khālsā was to be a casteless body of Siṅghs and Kaurs, outwardly distinguishable by the five Ks. Khālsā Sikhs must be brave in battle and protect the needy. They must not commit adultery and must observe rules akin to those currently set down in the Rahit Maryādā.

Following the death of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, the khālsā struggled militarily for survival. With Mahārājā Rañjīt Siṅgh's reign came the nearest realization of khālsā rule. In the late 19th cent. Nāmdhārīs and Akālīs reasserted the khālsā ideals which were challenged by moral degeneracy, Christian mission, and the Ārya Samāj. The khālsā remain the guardians of orthodox Sikh principles.


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Khalsa the body or company of fully initiated Sikhs, to which devout orthodox Sikhs are ritually admitted at puberty. The Khalsa was founded in 1699 by the last Guru ( Gobind Singh). Members show their allegiance by five signs (called the five Ks). Men take the additional name Singh ‘lion’, and women the name Kaur ‘princess’.