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What is Jhatka?

Weapons hold a position of utmost reverence and honor in the eyes of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the Khalsa, akin to the reverence bestowed upon Sri Akaal Purakh. The poetic masterpiece known as Sri Shastar Naam Maala serves as a testament to this sentiment. In accordance with the ancient warrior traditions of the Kshatriyas in India, weapons were traditionally anointed with blood, symbolizing a form of tilak, a practice that continues to be upheld by the Nihang Singh tradition to this day.

One specific method of applying this tilak was through the ritual of Jhatka, which we will now delve into further. A crucial element of the traditional Shastar Pooja, which involves the worship of weapons and the application of blood as a tilak, is the performance of Jhatka on a male bakra (goat). Simultaneously, the recitation of Chandi di Vaar, a composition from Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib Ji, takes place. As the composition concludes with the words "Fir Na Jooni Aiya," the animal's head is swiftly severed in a single strike, known as Jhatka-Gatka.


ਫੇਰਿ ਨ ਜੂਨੀ ਆਇਆ ਜਿਨਿ ਇਹ ਗਾਇਆ ॥੫੫॥

According to the verse in Chandi Di Vaar, those who sing it will not be subject to reincarnation.55

Ang 325, Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib


Additionally, there is a story mentioned in the Sri Gurpartap Suraj Parkash Granth about the Joganiya (battlefield spirits) approaching Sahib Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji and requesting langar. Although Maharaj offered Guru Ka Langar, they respectfully declined and asked to consume their own langar on the battlefield.

To understand the significance of Jhatka in the context of shastar pooja and its importance for the Khalsa, it is necessary to consider the role of Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib Ji, which was regarded as the Vishav Kosh (knowledge of all scriptures) in ancient times.

Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib Ji is dedicated to socio-political awareness, which emanates from within the Granth itself. To fully grasp this awareness, an invocation to the highest Jogani is considered mandatory.

In the past, Singh warriors would perform Akhand Paaths of Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib Ji before going to war, seeking assistance from these joganis on the battlefield, with the belief that their presence would ensure victory for the Khalsa.

Therefore, during Akhand Paath Sahib or continuous recitation of Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib Ji (or its banis), Jhatka is seen as mandatory for the Joganiya, connecting with the sakhi of Sahib Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji.

In various forms of weaponry, these shastars are recognized as representations of the supreme Jogani (Chandi). In Sri Hazoor Sahib Takhat Abchal Nagar, one of the few remaining Gurdwaras that adhere to Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji's original Maryada, the shastars are anointed with a Tilak.

It should be understood that Jhatka is not performed for personal desires or tastes. Maharaj illustrates this as a characteristic of the supreme Jogani (Chandi) in Ath Chandi Charitar Ustat Barananan.

ਭਰੇ ਜੋਗਨੀ ਪਤ੍ਰ ਚਉਸਠ ਚਾਰੰ ॥

Bharai Joganee Pattar Chausatt Chaaran


Among the 64 Joganis, the highest manifestation of the fierce form of the mother of the universe, known as Mahadevi/Jogani, is Kalika. Kalika wields a Sarbloh Bata (Pattar), symbolizing her power, and she encompasses all four directions while annihilating demons and consuming their blood.


ਚਲੀ ਠਾਮ ਠਾਮੰ ਡਕਾਰੰ ਡਕਾਰੰ ॥

Chalee Ttham Tthaaman Dhakaaran Dhakaaran

She advances, destroying demons and satisfying her thirst for righteousness.

The concept and interpretation of Jhatka is considered to be a profound philosophy that requires open-mindedness and a willingness to think on a larger scale.

In the Sri Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji, it is mentioned:


ਸਿੰਘ ਰੁਚੈ ਸਦ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਮਾਸ ॥

Singh Ruchai Sad Bhojan Maas

The Singh (lion) has an inherent desire for consuming meat.

Ang 1180, Sri Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji

The Sri Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji also mentions the following:

ਮਾਸੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਰਿ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਝਗੜੇ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੈ ॥

Maas Maas Kar Moorakh Jhagare Giaan Dhiaan Nahi Janai

The ignorant engage in debates about flesh and meat, while remaining oblivious to the practice of meditation and spiritual wisdom.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Ang 1289, Sri Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji


Guru Nanak Dev Ji expresses in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji:


ਮਾਤ ਪਿਤਾ ਕੀ ਰਕਤੁ ਨਿਪੰਨੇ ਮਛੀ ਮਾਸੁ ਨ ਖਾਂਹੀ ॥

Maat Pita Kee Rakhat Nippane Machhi Maas Na Khahee

They are born from the blood of their mothers and fathers, yet they do not consume fish or meat.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Ang 1289, Sri Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji


The Sri Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji contains a universal message that does not promote or demote any specific food, focusing instead on spiritual wisdom. The dietary choices of herbivores like deer or carnivores like lions do not determine their liberation from the cycle of rebirth; rather, it is their actions that shape their spiritual destiny. The Sri Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji appeals to people of all ideologies, embracing a diverse range of beliefs.

Within the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the lion is used as a metaphorical symbol, and the name Singh was bestowed upon the Khalsa by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Some individuals may selectively use verses from Bhagat Kabir Ji's Bani to criticize the concept of Jhatka, but it is important to understand that the Sri Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji serves to guide us on our spiritual journey and keep us on a righteous path.

However, when the Guruship was passed from Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Sri Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Vishav Kosh), and the Sri Sarabloh Granth Sahib Ji (Sri Manglacharan Puran) were designated as Gurus.

It is noteworthy that the Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji and Sri Sarabloh Granth Sahib Ji offer knowledge on socio-political affairs and provide guidance on living life. The Khalsa was not meant to be a Nirmala institution, and in the present day, it is crucial not to use the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as a means to attack others, but rather to respect all three Granths and seek knowledge from each of them.

Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji wrote in the Sri Bachittar Natak, expressing his thoughts and experiences:


ਭਾਂਤਿ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਬਨਿ ਖੇਲ ਸਿਕਾਰਾ ॥ ਮਾਰੇ ਰੀਛ ਰੋਝ ਝੰਖਾਰਾ ॥੧॥

I ventured into the forest and engaged in hunting different types of animals. I hunted bears, nilgais (blue bulls), and elks.

Ang 143, Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib Ji

Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji was known to partake in hunting, which was a customary practice among the Khalsa, as documented in the Puratan Rehitnameh. The Bhai Daya Singh Ji (one of the Panj Pyare) Rehatnama mentions the following:


ਖੇਲੈਂ ਨਿੱਤ ਸ਼ਿਕਾਰ ਬਨਨ ਮੈਂ, ਮਾਰਿ ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਬਹੁ ਖਾਵੈਂ ।

Engage in the activity of hunting, skillfully take down deer, and then consume the meat obtained from your hunt.


This significant and obligatory tradition of the Khalsa holds immense importance for several reasons:

Firstly, it serves as a means to mentally prepare the warrior by acquainting them with the act of taking a life. It allows them to understand the transition from a living being to one that is deceased, the shared characteristics of bleeding and breathing. As the Khalsa is duty-bound to engage in Dharam Yudh (righteous battle) for the defense of justice, it is crucial to grasp this concept. Not everyone is capable of taking a life, which is why this maryada (code of conduct) is specifically for the Khalsa, as it conditions and readies them for the harsh realities of war. One must contemplate that if they are unable to witness the hunting of a goat, how could they confront the inevitable bloodshed on the battlefield?

Secondly, the act of killing the goat with a bladed weapon imparts important military, fighting, and training skills to the Khalsa. In the warfare of the past, decapitation was the most effective way for the Khalsa to engage in battle. It ensured a swift death, preventing the enemy from rising again to harm the Khalsa or their comrades. Moreover, it saved valuable time for the outnumbered Khalsa warriors, who needed to deliver quick and lethal blows in order to effectively combat their much larger enemy armies.

Additionally, the neck of a goat is similar in size and structure to that of a human. By executing the Jhatka technique, the Khalsa warriors could gauge the precise amount of force required to eliminate their adversaries, thus conserving energy on the battlefield. It served as a practical training exercise for the Khalsa warriors.

Once the goat is decapitated through Jhatka, the blood of the animal, now considered pure instead of impure, having been killed by a bladed weapon and hence blessed by Sri Akaal Purakh, is used as Tilak (mark) to be applied on the weapons of war. This ritual practice draws parallels to the customs followed by Kshatriya warriors.

For the Khalsa, weapons of war hold a significance beyond mere instruments. They are a manifestation of the divine energy of Akaal Purakh, as expressed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who refers to the Kirpan and Khanda as his masters, metaphorically representing the Almighty:


ਜੋ ਪੂਜਾ ਅਸਿਕੇਤੁ ਕੀ ਨਿਤ ਪ੍ਰਤਿ ਕਰੈ ਬਨਾਇ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਪਰ ਅਪਨੋ ਹਾਥ ਦੈ ਅਸਿਧੁਜ ਲੇਤ ਬਚਾਇ ॥੩੬੭॥

Jo Pooja Askait(u) Kee Nit Prit Kareh Banai. Tin Par Aapno Haath Deh Asidhuj Lait Bachai.


By regularly venerating weapons, Akaal Purakh (the timeless divine) will extend protection and ensure your safety.

Ang 2258, Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib


Guru Gobind Singh Ji eloquently discusses this topic in his composition within Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

The meat obtained from the Jhatka'd animal is then utilized as Mahaa Parshad, distributed as Langar to the Khalsa, providing them with the necessary protein for muscle building and energy during warfare.

In an era predating protein shakes, when living in challenging environments like jungles, swamps, and caves, the Khalsa consumed the meat of Jhatka'd animals. It remained an essential aspect of the Khalsa Warrior Maryada. The consumption of meat was believed to impact the mentality of the eater. For the Khalsa Warriors, this was both necessary and desired, as they had to transcend their saintly nature in order to engage in righteous warfare. Guru Ji acknowledged that no saint had ever gone to war, necessitating the transformation of the Khalsa into "Sant-Sipahi," signifying a complete shift in mindset from the imbalanced and feeble state of Sants and Brahmins in India.

The goat's skin served practical purposes, such as making tabla and nagara (kettle drum) skins, as well as bases for stringed instruments. It also functioned as skins for water carriers, which were permitted for all soldiers. Thus, we can perceive the practicality alongside the spiritual aspects of the Jhatka practice.

Furthermore, Jhatka breaks the cycle of transmigration and liberates the soul of the goat. This practice not only keeps the warrior spirit alive within the Khalsa Panth, as authorized by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, but also counters misinformed views that mistakenly label it as animal cruelty. It serves to free the animal's soul, as expounded in Guru Gobind Singh Ji's composition, Chandi Di Var.

The Sarab Loh Granth emphasizes Khalsa Raaj with the utilization of Bir Raas. Just as the physical body requires food, clothing, and possessions, Khalsa Raaj necessitates Maya (illusion). To sustain the physical body and fulfill these needs, Maya is required to procure food, clothing, and fund the empire, among other things.

The Sarab Loh Granth (authored mostly by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, with contributions from Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji) highlights the fact that Guru Nanak Dev Ji is the embodiment of Parbrahm Parmeswar, unlike the other avatars who were incarnations of Vishnu. The Sarabloh Granth Ji strongly asserts that no one, including Durga, can comprehend the limits of Hari. However, Mahraaj also mentions that without Maya (illusion) and Laxmi (wealth), one cannot accomplish anything in this world. Without money (Maya Laxmi), one will face hardships. Guru Gobind Singh Ji explicitly instructs the Khalsa Panth to recite and worship Akaal (timeless/deathless) alone, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji also confirms this by proclaiming "Sri Maya Jag Mohani."

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