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Khalsa Aid – Sikhs Offering Balm

Honoring a Legacy of Service to All

Khalsa Aid – Sikhs Offering Balm

by Tarunjit Singh Butalia

Photo:    Khalsa Aid

Photo: Khalsa Aid

Long before the formation of the Red Cross, there was Bhai Kanhaiya – an ardent Sikh follower of the Tenth Sikh Guru, Siri Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. He took it upon himself to roam battlefields carrying a goat skin pouch full of water over his shoulder, serving both Sikhs and Mughals alike who were injured in the battlefield while fighting against each other. At the battle of Siri Anandpur Sahib in 1704 in Punjab, South Asia, he served water to the Sikh and Mughal soldiers who lay wounded in battle. Some Sikhs approached the Tenth Guru complaining that Bhai Kanhaiya was offering support and solace to enemies even while the Mughal army had surrounded Sikh army.

Bhai Kanhaiya was summoned by the Tenth Guru and asked to respond to the complaint. Bhai Kanhaiya responded that he saw no Mughal or Sikhs on the battlefield but only human beings – each of whom had the same spirit of God in them. Siri Guru Gobind Singh Sahib was pleased that Bhai Kanhaiya saw God’s jot (light) in everyone. The Sikh scripture says: “No one is an enemy, none a stranger. I get along with all.”

This spirit of seeing God’s light in everyone – the refugee, war displaced, victims of natural and human-caused disasters, irrespective of religion, caste, creed, or nationality, and serving humanity with compassion and kindness to all, seem to be the Kanhaiya Principles of Sikh Faith.

The four pillars of the Kanhaiya Principles are:

  1. Self-less service (Nishkam Sewa) to humanity without the need for recognition or honor

  2. Serve with compassion (Daya), compliance with truth (Sat), inner contentment (Santokh), humility (Nimrata), and love (Pyar).

  3. Well-being of all (Sarbat da Bhalla)

  4. Treat everyone equally – sharing and not charity.

Khalsa, formally initiated Sikhs, are to uphold these principles in everyday life. To observe the 300th anniversary of birth of the Khalsa in 1999, a UK based charity, Khalsa Aid International, was formed to serve humanity, reduce people’s immediate suffering, and help maintain their dignity in response to both natural and human-caused disasters, including floods, earthquakes, famine, and war.

Since its formation, Khalsa Aid has provided aid to millions of people around the world. It ranges from victims of the Yemen Civil War to refugees landing on the shores of Greece from the Middle East, and more recently, to Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar seeking refuge in Bangladesh. It works in earthquake, flood, and hurricane-stricken areas in Nepal, Australia, and the Caribbean. It has also helped residents in the UK cope with the devastating floods that swept through Cumbria and the southwest England and were there to support the families who escaped the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in London. More on Khalsa Aid responses to natural disasters are listed below:

Today, Khalsa Aid has become the first ever cross-border international humanitarian aid organization based on Sikh principles.

Returning to Bhai Kanhaiya, the Tenth Guru gave him balm and asked him to apply it to both Sikhs and Mughals injured on the battlefield.

While Bhai Kanhaiya formed the Sikh Red Cross in the 1700s to provide water, comfort, and healing to the injured and needy, Khalsa Aid continues the mission of Bhai Kanhaiya today by serving all of humanity in response to disasters of all kinds.

Header Photo: Khalsa Aid Facebook