The five purposes of a universal Kirpan or Sword.

Five Purpose Kirpan

The five purposes of the a universal Kirpan or Sword.

I am presenting these five purposes without threat, duress, fear or intimidation from any religious or secular authorities and without prejudice to any religious or secular authorities.

These five purposes are universal. They have pre-existed the Sikh religion. This is the only religion that has made the Kirpan or sword into a religious symbol. No other world religion has included them. In the beginning of Sikh history, the meaning for the Kirpan or Sword was comprised of the five purposes. Now, the Sikh religion has not only lost most of that meaning but also perverted it. Instead, Sikhs often misuse the Kirpan or Sword. . I address these concerns after explaining the five purposes.

1)     First purpose:

Used to physically represent the concept for developing a mind that knows how to discern the difference between being deceived and its opposite, being enlightened. To find the meaning of deceived, look to its noun, ‘deceit’. One must always utilize definitions from old dictionaries. The reason for this is that the powers-that-be have ensured that the education we receive leaves out the original meanings and thus, it becomes easier for them to control and manipulate every one of us.

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)


(v. t.)

To lead into error; to cause to believe what is false, or disbelieve what is true; to impose upon; to mislead; to cheat; to disappoint; to delude; to insnare.


(v. t.)

To deprive by fraud or stealth; to defraud.


(v. t.)

To beguile; to amuse, so as to divert the attention; to while away; to take away as if by deception.

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913), edited by Noah Porter.

2)     Second purpose:

Represents the fundamental right for all living men and women to live in honour with freedom and not under slavery of any kind.

3)     Third purpose:

Is a weapon that can be used either for self-defence or offence. Also represents the concept of using any thing as a weapon including a machete, hammer, switchblade, guns, and even a pencil or a pen, etc.

4)     Fourth purpose:

Must be well-maintained and always sharp. Requires training in the use of other martial arts in order that it be used skilfully.

5)     Fifth purpose:

Can be used like a knife for cutting apples but a kitchen knife is better utilized for that purpose.

When I fought for my right to wear the Kirpan, I accepted the fact it was a religious symbol. I based my decision upon what I had read in books written by Sikhs or what my elders told me. It was a decision made on the information that was available to me at that time. But the assault that I experienced on August 2, 2010, though it was my personal experience of violence at the hands of Sikhs, this connected me with violence that is widespread throughout the Sikh community, worldwide. While building this blog, I embarked upon a deeper introspection.

The Kirpan is considered by the Sikhs to be a religious symbol. I began to look for the meaning of this word.

At the Sikh Coalition website, I found a power point presentation that had an etymology of the word, “kirpan”. As of September 7, 2017, I checked and they don’t have it there anymore. It is included in the file “Kirpan.ppt (powerpoint)“.


As of August 17, 2017, they now have a factsheet: Kirpan Fact Sheet PDF which states:

“What is a Kirpan?
• A kirpan is a mandatory Sikh article of faith. It is carried by Amritdhari (initiated) Sikhs at all times. The word “kirpan” comes from two Punjabi words: ‘Kirpa’ means an act of kindness, a favor; and ‘Aan’ means honor and self- respect.”



Sikh Coalition: Etymology of “Kirpan”.

The World Sikh Organization defines the Kirpan as  “The word kirpan means mercy or grace and the kirpan is worn by initiated (Amritdhari) Sikhs, both men and women, and is one of five articles of faith, often called the 5Ks. Sikhs wear them as a reminder of their commitment to the tenets of their faith including justice, charity, morality, humility, and equality.”


From reading and watching the news about Sikh incidents of violence, I know that the kirpan is not being used as “an act of kindness”. It is being used as a weapon. It is no different than a dagger or a knife.


For the most accurate meaning of this word, I consulted “Kahan Singh Nabha’s Punjabi Mahan Kosh (dictionary)”. It is available as a pdf.  Some refer to it as a Sikh Encyclopaedia. It is a compendium of the words used in Sikh literature and particularly in the Guru Granth.


In this dictionary, the word “Kirpan” is not described as having a prefix and a suffix to it. There is no “Kirpa” or “aan”. But, there are two words for “Kirpan” and both are pronounced the same way but written differently. They are like what we call in English as homonyms. I provide examples of those punjabi words from a pdf containing 4,181 pages of “Mahan_Kosh the great dictionary, below.




What follows are my own translations from Punjabi to English.

On page 1194 of the pdf, the above meaning for ‘kirpan’ signifies “a home of grace in which compassion dwells”.



On page 1293 of the pdf, the above meaning for ‘kirpan’ signifies “One who feels no mercy while employing a weapon upon anyone who had spurned the gift of grace. See Talwar (Sword), Sri Sahib (The Almighty Sword), Shastar (Weapon). The second kakar belonging to Amritdhari Singhs for whom the wearing is obligatory. See Shastars…” and gives a reference from the writings entitled –“Vachitar” which I have not reproduced.

See also pages 1294, 1295, and 2044 of the 4,181 pages in the pdf.

It defines the kirpan as a weapon and one that is used when a “gift of grace” is spurned. It does not define what is meant by a “gift of grace”. I am still looking up the meanings for “grace.”  It could be “kirpa” meaning “meharbani” or “daya” (compassion) or “reham.”

Apparently, the “grace” they are referring to must be the kind that only the one who uses terror, knows. Such a definition would make Sikhs no different than William Wallace from the movie “Braveheart – Wikipedia“.

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