Golden Temple Sikh History Painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Siri Guru Granth Sahib - The Abode of Nanak

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Siri Guru Granth Sahib - The Abode of Nanak

The Siri Guru Granth Sahib is the embodiment of the spiritual revolution which was first ignited by Guru Nanak dev ji and the life breath of eight more Nanaks nurtured and fed this flame. Then in 1699 Guru Gobind Singh ji, the tenth Sikh Guru, transformed that flame into a wildfire of spiritual liberation through the creation of the Khalsa panth.

We look to Siri Guru Granth Sahib as our guide to connect with the One internally, see the One in all and fight inequality and injustice in every sphere of our lives as the Gurus themselves did. The image of Harimandir Sahib (Golden Temple) reflects the other half of the spiritual revolution because it represents the innumerable gurudwaras and abodes of Nanak which we create to enable the sadh sangat to come together, remember Guru Nanak’s message and carry on his revolution.

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Guru Nanak Dev Ji founded the Sikh faith in rural Punjab during the mid 15th century.

Guru Nanak and His Companions (tonal)

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Guru Nanak and His Companions (tonal)

Guru Nanak Dev Ji founded the Sikh faith in rural Punjab during the mid 15th century. Discontent with the elusive values and hollow rituals of the Brahamanic Hindu tradition, he set forth on many journeys throughout his life to achieve a true union with God. His mission knew no boundaries or borders and he even completed the Muslim Hajj by traveling to Mecca.
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Guru Nanak Dev Ji founded the Sikh faith known to us as Udasis

Guru Nanak’s Odyssey

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Guru Nanak’s Odyssey

Guru Nanak Dev Ji founded the Sikh faith in rural Punjab during the mid 15th century. Discontent with the elusive values and hollow rituals of the Brahamanic Hindu tradition, he set forth on many journeys throughout his life to achieve a true union with God. He sought to spread the divine message of the Almighty and bring healing to a world stricken by the fires of Kalyug. The Guru's travels were accompanied by Mardana and Bhai Bala. He traveled throughout India, conversing with religious sages of the age and visit innumerable centers of Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jain, Sufi, Yogi and Sidh learning. His mission knew no boundaries or borders and he even completed the Muslim Hajj by traveling to Mecca.
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Guru Arjan Dev ji - Sikh history painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Guru Arjan Dev Ji - Birth of the Adi Granth

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Guru Arjan Dev Ji - Birth of the Adi Granth

Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth in the line of Guru Nanak, began the compilation of the Guru Granth Sahib, which he called the Adi Granth – the “primal knot” which would forever secure the sanctity of the Sikh faith. The Guru sent out a call to all Sikhs far and wide to bring forth the poetry composed by the four Gurus. When all the volumes had been collected, he sat down with his scribe Bhai Gurdas and carefully selected the genuine works into the Holy Granth. With the completion of this momentous work, the Guru gave the world a gift so pure and essential, that it could transcend the boundaries of time and religion and exist beyond personality and human form.
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Guru Hargobind became the Guru of the Sikhs at the age of eleven after his father Guru Arjan was martyered. Sikh painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Guru Hargobind – Lord of Miri Piri

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Guru Hargobind – Lord of Miri Piri

Guru Hargobind became the Guru of the Sikhs at the age of eleven after his father Guru Arjan was martyered on the orders of the mughal emperor. The Guru wore two swords representing Miri and Piri, to declare his temporal and spiritual authority. Guru Hargobind began construction of the Akal Takhat in 1663 with his own hands, and only Baba Buddha and Bhai Gurdas assisted him in this task. The Guru built the Akal Takhat to serve the panth for eternity and as the seat of the sovereignty of the Sikh nation it has withstood the assaults of many would-be rulers of the subcontinent who have come and gone.
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Sri Akal Takhat sikh history painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Sri Akal Takhat Sahib – Throne of the Almighty

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Sri Akal Takhat Sahib – Throne of the Almighty

This painting illustrates what Sri Akal Takhat sahib, the central legacy of Guru Hargobind sahib our sixth Guru, means to the Sikh quam. The artwork weaves the stories and imagery we relate to Guru Hargobind sahib, such as Bandhi Chhor and Miri Piri (spiritual and temporal balance) to capture the essential nature of our eternal bond to the Akal Takhat as central institution of Sikhism. In this painting, the visualization of blood transforming into flower petals is a reminder that liberation can be found through sacrifice, when the cause is just. Countless shaheeds throughout our history teach us, that with the grace of the Guru and the willingness to bow ones heads in sacrifice, a transformation in the very depths of our being can be experienced. This perfect union of Miri Piri, the inseparable connection between Sri Harimandir Sahib and Sri Akal Takhat sahib is shown in the painting as two interwoven energies. Within their merger we see the khanda and the bata which represents the formation of the Khalsa panth and creation of a new type of being, the saint soldier.
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Guru Har Rai connection to Waheguru.  Sikh painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Guru Har Rai – Jyot The Divine Light

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Guru Har Rai – Jyot The Divine Light

Guru Har Rai ji was the embodiment of gentleness and kindness. He respected the Jyot (Waheguru’s light) in every living creature and nurtured the health of even those who opposed the Sikhs. Through his actions, the Guru taught that doing Simran and entering the Tenth Gate (Dasam Dwaar) allows Waheguru’s light to be seen in everyone and every living thing, thus, eliminating the distinction between friend and foe.
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Guru Har Krishan Sikh history painting by Kanwar Singh

The Guru’s Grace – Sri Guru Har Krishan

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The Guru’s Grace – Sri Guru Har Krishan

Guru Har Krishan Sahib Ji, became Guru at the age of five.  Despite the tenderness of his age, Guru Sahib continued the message of Shabad Guru to free humanity from the cycle of reincarnation. He demonstrated that regardless of age, anyone can become one with Waheguru through Simran.  This painting of Guru Har Krishan Sahib is a meditation upon the words in our daily Ardas which ask us to reflect upon him. “Think of Guru Har Krishan, that sight dispels all sarrow.”
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Guru Tegh Bahadur the Protector - Sikh history painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Guru Tegh Bahadur - The Protector

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Guru Tegh Bahadur - The Protector

Guru Tegh Bahadur laid down his life in order to protect religious freedom for all India which was under the oppressive rule of Mughal emperor Aurunzeb, who wished to convert the entire land to Islam. According to the Guru, living a truly spiritual life meant that one should neither oppress nor allow others to be oppressed. Sikh teachings have emphasized the basic human rights of equality, justice, freedom and the right to one's own religion. Under the inspiring guidance of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Sikhs regained their confidence and continued to grow in numbers and resources.
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Guru Tegh Bahadur laid down his life in order to protect religious freedom for all India which was under the oppressive rule of Mughal

Guru Tegh Bahadur’s Time

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Guru Tegh Bahadur’s Time

Guru Tegh Bahadur laid down his life in order to protect religious freedom for all India which was under the oppressive rule of Mughal emperor Aurunzeb, who wished to convert the entire land to Islam. According to the Guru, living a truly spiritual life meant that one should neither oppress nor allow others to be oppressed. Sikh teachings have emphasized the basic human rights of equality, justice, freedom and the right to one's own religion. Under the inspiring guidance of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Sikhs regained their confidence and continued to grow in numbers and resources.
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Gobind Rai’s legacy Sikh history painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Gobind Rai’s Legacy

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Gobind Rai’s Legacy

1666-1708 Nine-year old Gobind Rai (later Guru Gobind Singh), having newly succeeded his father as the Tenth Master, embraces his responsibility of leading the community upon news of his father’s execution in Delhi.
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Vaisakhi Birth of the Khalsa Guru Gobind Singh and Mata Sahib Kaur in 1699

Vaisakhi 1699 Birth of the Khalsa

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Vaisakhi 1699 Birth of the Khalsa

Bhai Daya Ram of Lahore, Punjab, is the first to raise his hand when Guru Gobind Rai asks for a volunteer willing to give his life in service of humanity. Mata Sahib Kaur looks on at the crowd of thousands that has gathered from across the land in response to the Gurus call. Transformed through Amrit into Daya Singh, he became one of the first 5 Khalsa…the Punj Pyaarey (the beloved five).
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Mata Sahib Kaur Mother of the Khalsa Sikh Art Wallpaper

Mata Sahib Kaur - Mother of the Khalsa

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Mata Sahib Kaur - Mother of the Khalsa

Just as Guru Gobind Singh Sahib is considered the father of the Sikh nation, Mata Sahib Devan Kaur is considered its mother. A remarkable young woman, Mata Sahib Kaur was a born leader who took her role as symbolic mother of the Sikhs very seriously. When a Sikh takes Amrit from the 5 Beloved, they are born into the royal house of Nanak. To create an egalitarian society, all Sikhs consider Anandpur Sahib their birthplace and Mata Sahib Kaur their mother.
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Guru Gobind Singh initiated the ceremony of Amrit and transformed the Sikhs into the fearless and united body of the Khalsa.

Guru Gobind Singh Maharaj

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Guru Gobind Singh Maharaj

In a brilliant move of strategy and leadership, Guru Gobind Singh initiated the ceremony of Amrit and transformed the Sikhs into the fearless and united body of the Khalsa. The Khalsa became a brave and moral fighting force against the tyrannical mughal ruler that occupied the Punjab. The Khalsa lives in the image and light of Guru Gobind Singh, dedicated to upholding righteousness, freedom, and the dignity of mankind. That is the Khalsa way.
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The first Vaisakhi April 13 1699 saw the initiation of the first five Khalsa.

Guru Gobind Singh – Master and Disciple

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Guru Gobind Singh – Master and Disciple

The first Vaisakhi (April 13, 1699) saw the initiation of the first five Khalsa. Following their investiture, Guru Gobind Rai knelt before the Five Beloved Ones and asked to be initiated in turn as the sixth ‘saint-soldier’. The Amrit ceremony marked his transformation into Gobind Singh. Thenceforth, he was hailed: “Behold the Man non-pareil! Himself the Teacher, Himself the Disciple!”
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Bhai Bachittar Singh Sikh Warrior Painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Bhai Bachittar Singh (Tonal)

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Bhai Bachittar Singh (Tonal)

Initiated into the Khalsa on the historic first Vaisakhi Day, Bachittar Singh fought alongside Guru Gobind Singh in a number of battles in defense of Anandpur. This scene shows him in the famous single-handed combat with the enraged elephant charging at the Sikh fort of Lohgarh by the joint enemy forces of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and the Hindu Hill Rajas.
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Bhai Bachittar Singh Sikh Warrior painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Bachittar Singh – Saint Soldier

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Bachittar Singh – Saint Soldier

Initiated into the Khalsa on the historic first Vaisakhi Day, Bachittar Singh fought alongside Guru Gobind Singh in a number of battles in defense of Anandpur. This scene shows him in the famous single-handed combat with the enraged elephant charging at the Sikh fort of Lohgarh by the joint enemy forces of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and the Hindu Hill Rajas. The Guru gifted Bhai Bachittar with two essential things to defeat the enraged beast, the Nagni spear and the courage to use it.
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Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji the eldest son of Guru Gobind Singh Ji at the battle of Chamkaur. Sikh warrior painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Baba Ajit Singh – The Khalsa Charge

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Baba Ajit Singh – The Khalsa Charge

In the prolonged siege of Anandpur in 1705, Sahibzada Ajit Singh displayed his qualities of courage and steadfastness. An unequal but grim battle commenced on 7 December 1704 in the words of Guru Gobind Singh's Zafarnama, a mere forty defying a hundred thousand. The besieged, after they had exhausted the meagre stock of ammunition and arrows, made sallies in batches of five each to engage the encircling host with sword and spear. Sahibzada Ajit Singh led one of the sallies and laid down his life fighting in the thick of the battle. He was 18 years old at the time of his supreme sacrifice for his faith.
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Baba Jujhar Singh ji

Baba Jujhar Singh

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Baba Jujhar Singh

At the Battle of Chumkaur, Baba Jujhur Singh watched his brother Baba Ajit Singh attain Shaheedi. He desired to fight in the battlefield as well, though doing so meant certain death. He asked his father, Guru Gobind Singh, "Guru Sahib, permit me, dear father, to go where my brother has gone. Don't say that I am too young. I am your son. I am a Singh, a Lion, of yours. I shall prove worthy of you. I shall die fighting, with my face towards the enemy, with the Naam on my lips and the Guru in my heart."
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Guru Gobind Singh ji leaving the battle of Chamkaur in 1705.  Sikh history painting by Kanwar Singh

Guru Gobind Singh – The Siege of Chamkaur

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Guru Gobind Singh – The Siege of Chamkaur

The Battle of Chamkaur took place in 1705. Guru Gobind Singh ji, his two elder sons, Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujhar Singh alongside a small band of loyal Sikhs, defended the small fort of Chamkaur against a large Mughal force pursuing them. After a long day of Battle, in which many Sikhs including the elder Sahibzadey were martyred, the remaining Sikhs issued Guru Sahib with a Hukam (command) to leave the fort. Guru Sahib did not leave quietly. Instead he stood on high ground and clapped his hands three times, saying, ‘Peer-e-Hind-rwad’ (The ‘Peer’ of India is leaving’).
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mittar pyare nu guru gobind singh sikh art by kanwar singh

Mittar Pyare Nu

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Mittar Pyare Nu

Guru Gobind Singh ji finally rested in the Machhivara jungle after many days of battle at Chamkaur, in 1705. It looks as though Guru ji might be asleep with his eyes closed and his body in a state of deep repose, but all around him we see that the world is alive with flowing energy, with the play of light and shadow, trees moving in the wind and a storm moving by. The storm of battle is passing and the clouds are clearing. In this moment of rest and repose, Guru Ji is fully aware of and completely connected to his surroundings, and the viewer is transported into the swirling motion of nature, while at the "eye of the hurricane" the Master lies, in the deep peace that surpasses all understanding. He rests, not upon a rock, but in the comforting arms of the eternal, Waheguru.
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Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh Sikh history painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Chhotey Sahibzadey

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Chhotey Sahibzadey

Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh were the youngest of Guru Gobind Singh's sons, aged only 7 and 5 when they and their grandmother Mata Gujri were imprisoned by the tyrant Wazir Khan in Sirhind. Wazir Khab offered them safety if they converted to Islam or death if they refused. Though they were only young children physically, their spirit had been prepared for this moment since birth. The painting conveys their internal strength, honed as sons of Guru Gobind Singh and grandsons to Guru Tegh Bahadur, who also attained saheedi for refusing to give up the Sikh faith. Even though they are the ones being confined to darkness, they alone are the source of all radiance and light. That's why the painting shows the outside world painted in dark blood red like an open wound. The high walls of the fortress also question who is really imprisoned and who is really free. This painting Chhotey Sahibzadey reflects on their pure spirit which is prepared to embrace death and fears no one.
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Mai Bhag Kaur (Mai Bhago) Sikh history art by Kanwar Singh

Mai Bhago and the Chaali Muktey

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Mai Bhago and the Chaali Muktey

Mai Bhag Kaur (Mai Bhago) was the inspiration behind the bravery of the martyrs known as the Chaali Muktey – the Liberated Forty – who died in the Battle of Muktsar (1705). She is best remembered as a valiant military commander and one of the elite warriors accompanying the Tenth Guru in battle.
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Banda Singh Bahadur Sikh warrior painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Banda Singh Bahadur - Sava Lakh Khalsa

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Banda Singh Bahadur - Sava Lakh Khalsa

Banda Singh Bahadur was handed the mantle of leadership from Guru Gobind Singh Ji himself. Born into the Hindu faith as Lachhman Dev, he encountered the Guru at Nander and immediately declared, “I am your Banda (slave).” Thus the Guru gave him the name Banda Singh Bahadur upon his initiation into the order of the Khalsa. After receiving the Guru’s blessing, Banda Bahadur became the first general of the Sikh panth. He amassed a force large enough to threaten the Mughal Empire and change the social, political and religious landscape of Punjab. "I will tell you, whenever men become so corrupt and wicked as to relinquish the path of equity and to abandon themselves to all kinds of excesses, then the Providence never fails to raise up a scourge like me to chastise a race so depraved; When the tyrants oppress their subjects to the limit, then God sends men like me on this earth to mete out his punishment to them." - Banda Singh Bahadur
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Baba Deep Singh Shaheed Sikh Art

Baba Deep Singh Shaheed

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Baba Deep Singh Shaheed

1682-1753 Baba Deep drew a line with his Khanda and beseeched only those committed to giving their lives in defense of the Sikh faith to step over it. Five thousand Sikhs accompanied him on his journey to free Harimandir Sahib from the Afgan army that had desecrated it. Dressed as bridegrooms in fine clothing and festive ribbons, they joyously readied themselves to wed death. The painting speaks of this blessed journey and the mortal release experienced through their shaheedi spirit, where the spiritual fire upon which they cast their bodies also freed their souls.
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Guru Gobind Singh transferring Guruship to the Guru Granth Sahib Sikh painting by artist Kanwar Singh

The Eternal Guru

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The Eternal Guru

In 1708, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, having consciously witnessed the sacrifice of the lives of all his four sons, handed over the legacy of the Guruship to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. He understood that the age of lineage was over, and so he consciously left no heirs. The unique beauty of this is that the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, our present Guru, can neither be altered nor changed in any way. It is a touchstone for all humanity that exists beyond the limitations of time and space, now and in the future.
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Guru Gobind Sikh history Painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Gurgaddi Siri Guru Granth Sahib

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Gurgaddi Siri Guru Granth Sahib

Guru Gobind Singh ji passed the Guruship to the Guru Granth Sahib ji, our eternal Guru. The event was witnessed by a loyal retinue of Sikhs who had accompanied him south to Nanded. This closely knit sangat, said to be composed of roughly three hundred Khalsa soldiers including Mai Bhago, devout Sikhs and the few remaining members of the Guru’s own family, had endured much tragedy and hardship to remain by his side in those difficult times. In 1708, on the banks of the river Godavari, on a spot chosen by the Guru, they assembled and bore witness this sublime moment that defined Sikhism forever after. Guru Gobind Singh instructed them to follow the Guru Granth Sahib just as if it were a living, breathing Guru.
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sarbat khalsa (collective governance) gathering at the Golden Temple during Vaisakhi

Sarbat Khalsa

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Sarbat Khalsa

This painting shows the Sikhs of the tumultuous 18th century gathering at the Golden Temple during Vaisakhi. The Sikhs served as the leaders and protectors of the region and through their courage and consciousness were able to lead the people through the extreme challenges of that time.
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Sikh Warrior Art Akali Nihang red chalk drawing by artist Kanwar Singh

Akali (red chalk sketch)

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Akali (red chalk sketch)

The term Akali is derived from the gurbani term Akaal Pururk “The Timeless One”, a term for God, thus an akali is the “Servitor of the Timeless God.” This also reflects the idea of Akalis as the “Immortals” or the timeless warriors. Early Sikh military history is dominated by the Akali Sikh military order particularly for many famous military victories won while often heavily out-numbered. The Akalis have historically been held in great affection and respect by Sikhs due the pivotal role they have played in Sikh history and Sikh military history in particular. The Nihang order is today mostly ceremonial because it is peacetime in India but in times of war, the Akalis have historically spear-headed the attack on the enemies of the Sikh religion.
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The Nihang or Akali is an armed Sikh warrior order originating in the Indian subcontinent.

Akali Nihang

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Akali Nihang

The order of the Nihangs, a fiercely independent vangaurd of the Khalsa army is said to date back to the time of Guru Arjun and the formation of the Akal Sena. The Nihangs were fierce warriors who fought with little regard for life and limb. They are credited for being in the forefront of many of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's crucial campaigns such as the battles of Kasur, Multan and Naushera at which they took great losses in the service of the Sikh empire. Akali Phula Singh, amongst the most famed of all Akali Nihang leaders, died whilst leading a charge against the Ghazis at Naushera in 1823. A memorial to his courage still stands across the river in Kabul.
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Canadian Sikh Soldier Private Buckam Singh

Stand on Guard for Thee

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Stand on Guard for Thee

To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Sikhs contribution to World War One, this painting represents a foray into the contemporary period of Sikh Military history. It deals with the role of Sikh men and women of various nationalities who lived through this epic confrontation of Nations. The title of the painting, taken from the Canadian National Anthem, reflects upon the willingness of Sikhs to fight against oppression throughout history. It is a testament to the spirit of Guru Gobind Singh, which forever emboldens the Khalsa to strive towards a greatness that surpasses humble beginnings.
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Kirtani Jatha

Kirtani Jatha

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Kirtani Jatha

Kirtan is the devotional singing of praise as expressed in the hymns and compositions of Sikh scripture. Adoration expressed in song is considered by Sikhs to be the highest form of devotion, unsurpassed as the way to overcome the effect of ego and escape mortality.
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Jaswant Singh Khalra The Witness Sikh history painting by artist Kanwar Singh

Jaswant Singh Khalra – The Witness

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Jaswant Singh Khalra – The Witness

Jaswant Singh Khalra - The Witness: This painting chronicles the life's work of human rights activist Shaheed Jaswant Singh Khalra and the events of the bloody decade (1984 -1995) in Punjab. It depicts how government forces operated with complete impunity to end the Khalistan movement, and in doing so, carried out the secret murders of thousands of its' own citizens, many of them complete innocents. This portrait of Jaswant Singh Khalra and the state of Punjab speaks to the loss of humanity when power is asserted through terror and violence. In those desperate times, the Guru inspires great souls who act as our protectors, saving us from being engulfed by total darkness. In an inspirational speech, which was to be his last, Jaswant Singh Khalra declared: "I challenge the darkness, if nothing else, then at least around myself, I will not let it settle. Around myself I will establish light." Jaswant Singh Khalra was murdered at the age of 42, giving his life to the preservation of human rights in Punjab. To commemorate the incredible impact of his life, 42 rare Artist signed canvas prints will be released. All proceeds will go to Ensaaf, a charity dedicated to carrying forward his mission to end impunity and give voice to the disappeared.
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