RAJ KAREGA KHALSA, lit. “the Khalsa shall rule,” a phrase expressive of the will of the Sikh people to sovereignty, is part of the anthem which follows the litany or ardas recited at the end of every religious service of the Sikhs. While the ardas is said by an officiant or any Sikh leading the sangat standing and facing Guru Granth Sahib, the anthem is recited aloud in unison by everyone present, with responses from the assembly. Rendered into English the anthem comprising dohards or couplets reads: 1. Verily by the order of God the Immortal was the Panth promulgated. It is incumbent upon all the Sikhs to regard the Granth as their Guru. 2. Regard the Granth as the Guru, the manifest body of the Gurus.

Those who desire to be united with God may find Him in the Sabda, the holy Word. 3. The Khalsa shall rule and none will remain defiant; all such shall come into the fold after wandering in humiliation. All who take refuge (in the Panth) shall be protected. Some more couplets follow signifying the ultimate victory of the Panth and praise of God and the Guru. While the first two couplets appear in Giani Gian Singh, Panth Prakash (1878), as snmukhvdk, i.e. the Guru`s own utterance, the third is found at the end of Bhai Nand Lal`s Tankhdhndmd, a catalogue of prohibitions laid down for initiated Sikhs.

The remaining couplets have no authentic source and might well be later additions by the devout. The ideas embodied in the three couplets cited relate to two basic themes, the Panth and the Granth, a restatement of the earlier doctrine of minpin or the symbiosis of the mundane and the spiritual, of religion and politics. The statement that the Khalsa Panth was created under God`s own command is substantiated by Guru Gobind Singh`s autobiographical Bachitra Ndtak in which he slates that God sent him into this world to uphold dharma and to uproot evil. And the Guru`s parting order to the Sikhs to treat the Holy Book as their manifest Guru confirms the earlier belief that the Guru`s utterances represent the Guru.

`Sabda is Guru,` had said Guru Nanak (GG, 943); `Guru`s barn is the Guru and vice versa,` says Guru Ram Das (GG, 982); and `the Book is the abode of God,` said Guru Arjan, Nanak V, who compiled the Holy Book, the Guru Granth Sahib (GG, 1226). The third couplet, raj karegd Khalsa dqi rahe nd koe, khudr hoe sab milainge bache saran jo hoe, appearing at the end of Tankhdhndmd, lit. code laying down penalties for faltering Sikhs, is the Guru`s blessing as well as the expression of his vision of the destiny of the Khalsa (Panih). It is this blessing and this vision which carried the Panth, under the Granth, triumphantly through the cataclysmic half century that followed the departure of the founder of the Khalsa.

The idea that the Khalsa was destined to rule may be expected to appear spontaneously after t1 ” institution of the Khalsa. The Sikh doctrine that religious worship and social commitment are interrelated and that political participation and power are complementary to Sikhs` religious activity, makes the aspiration to political power as a fulcrum for social change and upliftment quite legitimate. Sainapati, a poet contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh, closes his Sn Our Sobhd declaring: “The Guru, king of kings, shall establish righteousness upon earth through the Khalsa.” The author of Prem Sumdrag, who attributes his work to Guru Gobind Singh, writing in mid eighteenth century, prophesies the establishment of the rule of the Khalsa.

Kuir Singh and Sarup Das Bhalla, also in the eighteenth century, project the idea that sovereign rule had been potentially bestowed upon the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh. Ratan Singh Bharigu, writing in 1841, espouses the same theory. The idea of protection in the second line of the couplet is a logical concomitant of the idea of divine sanction guaranteeing authority to the Khalsa. Khalsa being God`s own (Vdhiguru ji kd Khalsa), its victories (and achievements) also belong to God (Vdhiguru ]Z ki Faieh). And God for the Sikhs is the Compassionate Preserver. He gives protection to those who seek it.

Says the Guru Granth Sahib, jo snrani dvai tisu kanthi Idvai ihu birdu sudmi sandd (GG, fiH). Bache saran jo hoi is, therefore, essential to raj karegd Khalsa. That the Khalsa acted upon this edict is evidenced by the brief Khalsa rule under Banda Singh Bahadur ensuring peace and security for all subjects regardless of their class or creed. Even the enemy chronicler, Qa/T Nur Muhammad, in spite of his obvious hatred for the Sikhs, writes in his fangndmd, lit. war notes (1767): “nakushtand ndmard rd hechgdh, fardrandah rd ham na girand rah never do they (the Sikh warriors) kill the weak, nor do they chase those who flee the field.

” The Khalsa raj as it came to be established under Banda Singh was liberal and free from religious fanaticism and social discrimination. The ideas enshrined in the Sikh anthem and crystallized in the liberation of the Land of the Five Rivers from the Mughal and Afghan rule, acquired a new momentum and sanctity. The continued recitation of the raj karegd Khalsa anthem as part of litany at least twice a day has been for the Sikhs a constant source of inspiration and strength in their religious, social and political life in the past and shall always act as continuous stimulus for the future. J.S.G.

References :

1. Kapur Singh, “Raj Karega Khalsa”, The Sikh Review, April 1978
2. Ganda Singh, “The True Import of Raj Karega Khalsa,” The Sikh Review, July 1987