Khalsa

A man taking a ritual bath in the sacred pool of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Sikhs' holiest pilgrimage place.Khalsa Sikhs outside a Gurudwara, or Sikh temple. The word Khalsa means "Pure" and refers to the community of initiated Sikhs.Pilgrims entering a Gurudwara, as Sikh temple are known. Literally translated the word Gurudwara means "Gateway to the Guru."A man becomes emotional on entering the compound of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Sikhs' holiest site.Pilgrims outside a Gurudwara, or Sikh Temple.A woman prays at a Gurudwara, or temple.Sikh Sants, or holy men and women, at the Golden Temple. The Punjabi word "Sant" is cognate with the word "Sat," which means "Truth." So, the Sikh Sants are not saints, in the Western sense, but rather the tellers of Truth, people with direct experience of Ultimate Reality.Sikh Nihangs or soldier saints are members of a spiritual military order who's historical mission was to defend the Sikh religion by force of arms. Though they no longer called upon to engage in battles, the Nihangs maintain their military traditions.A boy and his horse. There are no monks or renunciates in Sikhism, and all members of the community are called upon to participate in worldly and community life. A man tying his turban in the early morning. All Sikhs are supposed to lead a spiritual life, even while engaged in the life of the world.  This reconciliation of the worldly and spiritual expresses the Sikh Gurus' ideal of the unity of all things and the arbitrariness of drawing dividing lines between the sacred and the profane.A Sikh Nihang, or soldier saint, and his devotees. A boy peeks out of a horse stable.A boy cares for his horse.At a Nihang encampment. during a Sikh festival.Inside a tent at a Nihang encampment during the festival of Hola Mohalla. The ideal Nihang, or soldier saint, is a person who unites within himself a life of contemplation and a life of vigilant action in the service of the community.Sikhs at a Gurudwara, or temple.Pilgrims wait to enter the Golden Temple in Amritsar.A woman prostrates herself in front of the Golden Temple, a sign of respect and submission.Men pray in front of a Gurudwara, or temple. The focal point of worship inside a Gurudware is not any idol or image, but the Sikh's holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, which Sikhs see as a living guide and as a symbol of enlightenment.A boy kisses his horse.Nihangs prepare food for a shared meal.A Sikh man.A Sikh bard performs songs chronicling Sikh exploits in days gone by. Music plays an important role in the Sikh religion, and devotional services usually involve Pilgrims above a Gurudwara, literally the Gateway to the Guru; it is called such because it houses the Sikh book of scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib, which is venerated as the living physical embodiment of the Guru.Nihangs, or Sikh soldier saints. The Sikh religion recognizes no inherent contradiction between the spiritual and the worldly. Worldly power must serve people's spiritual aspirations, and spiritual realizations must inform their exercise of worldly power.Nihangs in a procession during a festival. The Nihangs, or Sikh soldier saints, constitute the remnants of spiritual armies that once defended the Sikh nation from religious persecution, especially by the Mughals and Afghans.Sikh Nihangs.Pilgrims.A woman meditates or prays at the Golden Temple.Sikhs queue up to enter a Gurudwara during a festival.A Nihang with his students. Nihangs are also known as Akalis, or those who serve the Timeless One.Young Sikhs.A man trains his horse.Sikhs at a Gurudwara, or Sikh temple.Sikh women outside a Gurudwara in Anandpur Sahib.Pilgrims greet the sunrise at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Sikhs' holiest site. Sikh Tradition tells that, at the request of the Sikh Guru Arjan, the foundation stone for the temple was laid by the Sufi saint Mian Mir.