NISHAN SAHIB (The Sikh Banner)

DIGNITY OF THE KHALSA.
The edict of the Guru is your pass-word.
 
The Guru`s (Prophet`s) Word is the identity to go to the Lord`s presence. This is the thing of the spiritual domain. One of the pass-words - identity, at the worldly level, is  Nishan Sahib (The Sikh Banner).  

GENERAL.
The flag of every denomination has its own distinction of color, shape, design, symbol and of other details to make it specific to represent the physical body it stands for (Country, rank, group, faith, organization) and to proclaim identity of its philosophy.   

In the Sikh World, a banner is called the Nishan Sahib. Nishan means a seal or stamp, a mark of identity and Sahib is added for respect. It is sometimes referred to as Kesri Jhanda (Kesri - saffron colored.  Jhanda - flag), Jhanda Sahib or simply Nishan.

Nishan Sahib is ensign of the Khalsa (Panth - the Sikh World). It is hoisted in religious gatherings and other congregations related to the Sikhs. It leads religious and other processions in which Guru Granth Sahib (The Sikh Holy Book) is there and Parbhat Pherees (Morning hymn singing parades). It is put up on all Gurdwaras (The Sikh Prayer Houses).

REVERENCE. Nishan Sahib has spiritual under-tones and it commands a high level of respect. The Sikhs consider the Nishan Sahib  auspicious and revere it as something special from the Guru - "His fold." The devotees respectfully place flowers on the parapet at its base and light candles there on the days of celebrations.

Religious processions are preceded by five Nishan Sahibs carried by the barefoot, selected devotees. People en route bow to the Nishans and some even touch the feet of their bearers - Panj Piaras (Five beloveds of the Guru). Carrying the flag is considered a special favor and an honor. At Gurdwara Paunta Sahib, a place of the Tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh, the Sangat (Congregation) ambulates around singing devotional hymns and bows to it. The Nishan had been leading the Sikh armies, parades and groups since the time of the Gurus. These are tied to the vehicles on pilgrimages to identify them.

Nishan Sahib is the pride of the Sikhs. Once hoisted, it is never done half-mast. It is hoisted or changed with Shabd-Kirtan (Singing of Hymns), Ardas (Invocation), Jaikaras (Slogans), distribution of Parshad (Sanctified sweet pudding) and rejoicing. At places (Hem Kund and others), the pole is lowered, washed with diluted milk and cleaned before putting on the new flag. The change is generally made on the Baisakhi (13th April), Birthday of the Khalsa (Institution of the Sikhs initiated into the faith).. Old banner is made into pieces which people take as gift from the Guru, to stitch the Chola (Long shirt) of the new born or small child. Old flag or  worn out clothes made out of it, as such or their ashes may be placed in flowing water, or lake. It will be disrespect to throw them into trash or to use as cleaning rags.

MYSTIQUE. A flag represents loyalty, unity and distinction as well as uniformity of the philosophy of the group it stands for. It lays right and claim to the territory and indicates presence, possession and authority of the group whose flag is there. It announces the  independence of the body and mind, individuality, pride and sovereignty of the people it belongs to.

It stands for the Sikhs in their body , mind and action. It is an assertion of their physical and mental independence and of the unity under its protection.  It indicates their purity of thought and spiritual elevation through their belief in one God, faith in their Gurus, as well as Guru Granth Sahib and in the edicts of the Sikh principles including the discipline of Amrit (Holy-Water given for inducting one into Khalsa - an initited Sikh.). It proclaims the unity of the Sikhs, their faith, beliefs, high morale, honest conduct, hard work, truthfulness, justice, equality, "live and let live" attitude, forgive and forget policy, compassion and helpfulness to the needy etc.

Watching a gently fluttering flag lifts up the mind with joy and one can derive concentration from it for his Nam-Jap (Meditation on the Name of the Lord). It beckons never to forget the Lord and reminds to unite with Him. It affectionately wakes up those lost in the mundane and benevolently shows path - "Here is the Holy Book - Word of  the Gurus, read it, realize the Truth and get emancipated." Its dignified waving prompts every one to lead a life of high ethics.

Nishan Sahib is the ensign of harmony between the Shiv and Shakti (Maya) - God and Mundane factors).

.CONSTRUCTION -

A flag is a piece of cloth or other suitable matrial with its individual color shape, symbol, etc. It is usually hoisted  from a pole.

NISHAN SAHIB. It has the following parts -

Phrera - Flag itself. Saffron color.

Symbol - It is on the Phrera. Mostly Khanda-Symbol. Black..

Pole. Usually bamboo or steel. It has a cover of saffron color.

Khanda - Double edged sword atop the pole. Mostly steel. Gold or nickel plated

Dastar - A cloth band tied under Khanda. Blue.

MATERIAL. Cloth is the main material. Plastic-fiber cloth and plastic sheets are in common use. Paper flags are often seen on some celebrations. Sometimes, metal sheet is used.

NISHAN SAHIB. So far, the Phrera (Flag) is always made of cloth of one sort or other.

SHAPE. Most of the flags are rectangular. The religious ones of many faiths and some political standards are triangular.

NISHAN SAHIB. Phrera (Flag) is always triangular with its vertical axis at 90 degrees to its horizontal base. The top and the base meet to make an acute angle at the tip to which a pompom is fixed with a string.

The triangular shape may have its own mystery like the Pyramids in Egypt. It is  believed to be mystical, pointing to the immortality. In the Sikh faith, no mystery is attached to the shape: there is nothing hidden and all the teachings are open and clear. This shape of the Sikh banner might be the natural outcome of the environment of the Hindu religious flags, as might have been its color, too.

Triangular shape makes two flags out of one rectangular piece and so is economical to manufacture. This is not of any importance. Triangular cloth does not fold over easily to hide its contents and hangs from the pole tapering down gracefully.  Rectangular material needs more wind to flutter and also, gets easily torn at its free flapping end.

COLOR. Saffron color stands for courage and sacrifice. White and yellow denote purity. Green is for productivity of the earth, growth and plenty. Red is the color of change, revolution and of celebration (Delight).

The Hindu religious flags are  "Bhagwa" (Ger-wa: brick-red), red or white. The color of the Moslems is green. The Nishan Sahib is of saffron color.

Saffron of the Nishan Sahib was perhaps, adopted from the Rajput traditions, possibly like the epithet "Singh" to the Sikh names. In the Rajputs, the ritual of Jauhar (Sati - self-immolation of wife after death of her husband) was performed in the yellow dress (Dr.Man Singh Nirankari, Retd: Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar).

Saffron was the selection of Guru Hargobind (Indirect deduction,  Gurmatt Martand, SGPC, page 616) and was not blue to begin with. At the time of Guru Gobind Singh, the color of  Nishan Sahib changed to blue and the Nihangs maintain the tradition. In the Maharaja Ranjit Singh period, Nishan Sahib was blue (Dr.Harjinder Singh Dilgir, World Sikh News, June 30, 1995). After Maharaja, may be under the influence of  Dogras (Hindu effect) it became white. Baba Naena Singh and Akali Phoola Singh left the color of the Akali-Dall flag yellow but changed Dastar (See Dastar) to antimony. Under ignorance, some use antimony color of the Phrera (Flag) which is not a tradition. They seem to derive this color from the color of the turban of Guru Gobind Singh. It is not clear as to how and when it returned to saffron (A discussion with Dr.Bhai Harbans Lal, Arlington TX, USA).

Dr.H.S.Dilgir, W.S.N, referred above, refers to the Editorial of a daily "Akali," of the 24th Dec: 1921. He writes that Pandit Moti Lal Nehru and other members of the Congress party accepted the condition of the Sikh-color - saffron and it was taken into the Indian National Flag in 1929.

Taking saffron into the Indian Flag was acceptance of the Sikh  ideology that a Nishan Sahib represented their politics, as well as faith. The Sikhs have same flag for both.

SYMBOLS. The Moslems have the "Kalma written as a symbol" and "Chand-Tara" (Star on Crescent) and their color is green. The Hindus, usually use  Om or Sri Ganesh (Like two Zs, placed crosswise), mostly on the brick-red banner. Every religion has some symbol for its flag or otherwise. The Jews have the Star of David and the Christians the Cross, etc. The Sikhs have two symbols discussed under Nishan Sahib.

NISHAN SAHIB. There are two symbols described below, but most commonly used in the Sikh flags, widely known and identifying is the Khanda-Symbol. These are done in black color. Mr.Taran Singh mentions it as  blue (Sikh Dharam De Rahas Te Ramaz. Material provided by Mr.S.S.Puri, Lilburn GA, USA). These are cut out of black cloth and stitched on to flag or painted / printed black.

Any one symbol out of two, will be sufficient to convey that it represents the Sikhs. Both these symbols are also put on the letter-heads, buildings and vehicles. As an emblem, these are fixed to the turban and are worn as pins, buttons or ornaments - mostly lockets around the necks.

IK-ONKAR.     It is the "Seed-Form" (Root) of the "Mool Mantar" (Sikh Basic Formula).    1    is equal to   1    in the Roman characters and rest of it means All Pervading (Omnipresent) God - All pervading God is only He and there is none other like Him. It is like "Om" of the Hidus and "La Il-lah Il-lil-lah" (Or, may be 786, in Arabic characters) of the Islam.

KHANDA-CHAKKAR-KIRPAN.      Double edged sword, disc (Sharp, flat, steel ring) and two swords. The people have started calling this simply a "Khanda." It becomes confusing because the name means a double edged sword only. It will be reasonable to call it "Khanda-Symbol." This symbol is something like Sri Ganesh or Chand-Tara. Its history may be a mystery but it has great significance as a symbol of the Sikhs.

It is hard to say any thing conclusive about the meanings of this Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan symbol, because it all appears to be stretching the individual imagination. At the Sikh Takhts (High Seats) especially and at some other Gurdwaras, these weapons are often seen arranged like Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan. This might have given the idea of the symbol but it can be the other way  round,  too.

At all Takhts, only the weapons used to be displayed on the Palki (Palanquin) and it was some time back only that the Holy Granths were placed there (Dr.Nirankari).

KHANDA. It is double edged, straight, concave-sided sword. It is placed in the middle of the symbol. To some, the Khanda, like a numerical  1,  represents one God.

It stands for the "Amrit", which is prepared with it (Dr.Dilgir - referred above and Naunehal Singh Grewal, Sikh Review - June, 1995).

It symbolizes disintegration of false pride, vanity and demolition of the barriers of cast and inequalities (Khanda, H.S.Singha, Mini Encyclopedia of Sikhism, page 65).

Double edged Khanda means to cut evil both ways (Around the Golden temple, Narinderjit Singh, page 20).

The original Khanda with which the Tenth Master prepared the Amrit on the Baisakhi of 1969 AD, is at display in the Gurdwara Kes-Garh, Anandpur Sahib.

CHAKKAR. A Chakkar has no beginning or end, it exhorts the Sikhs to make whole universe the object of their compassion and activities (H.S.Singha, referred above).

It may be for the universality or eternity of the God Factor - the mystique of the Almighty and the humanity (Dr.Dilgir, referred above).

Circle means continuation of life (Narinderjit Singh, referred above).

Khanda symbolizes justice, self preservation, continuity of humanity and destruction of cruelty. Beside representing the Eternal God, it stands for the continuity of His Creation (Universe),  Transmigration and the Cycle of Birth and Death.

KIRPAN. Two swords, one on each side of the symbol, are usually taken to represent the spiritual and the temporal aspects of the faith. It seems to be in line with the two swords, one of Meeree (Sovereignty) and other of Peeree (Guruship - Spirituality) of the 6th Guru Hargobind. His sword of Peeree on his right was 40" and that of Meeree on left was 36." long. This indicated that the temporal power was under the spiritual one (N.N.S.Grewal, referred above). Two Kirpans stand for temporal and spiritual leadership of the Guru (H.S.Singha, referred above).

Two Kirpans show that the balance in every thing is most essential in life: One of it means that you need power to protect your faith. Other impresses the need of authority to live with dignity and to face and curb all wrongs as well as, to help the needy - to use it for justice and  Drm  Dharam (Principle). Thse two demonstrate the balance of life  including that of  the spiritual and the mundane and make one a Sant-Sipahi (Saint-Soldier).

In the symbol, two Kirpans might have been used for symmetry. Kirpan is an essential item of the Sikh-Reht (Bindings of one inducted into the faith).

PHUMAN.  (Pompom). It is a small black pompom attached to the apex of the flag through a short length of a black string. It makes fluttering of the flag smooth in high wind and as well, enables it to flap when the  wind is low. Like each turn of their prayer-wheel, the Tibetans think that each flutter of a flag is saying of their Mantar once. There is nothing like this in the Sikh World.

Is  the pointed apex a finger towards one God ? May be !

DASTAR. It means a turban. It is a blue cloth band of short width and about three hands in length (From elbow to the tip of fingers - 18", is one hand). It is  tied at its middle to the top where the end of the pole and Khanda (Double edged sword) join. It leaves its two equal lengths free to wave. It is tied to most of flags. It has the same high esteem and significance as the Phrera itself.

In the battle of Anandpur, 1703 AD, at the time of Guru Gobind Singh, Bhai Man Singh son of Bhai Jita Singh, who was a regular Nishan-Sahib bearer, was leading the Sikh force with a blue flag. He fell down wounded and the flag also, came down with him. At this, the Great Guru tore a piece from his blue Dastar (Short turban), left its one end free, tucked the other end into his regular turban and declared that the Standard of the Khalsa (Phrera) shall never fall again. Tying a Dastar to a Nishan Sahib started since then. A Nihang leader displays a blue Phrera from his turban (Dr.Dilgir, referred above). Rarely, there are saffron Turbans on  some of the saffron Phreras (flags) but it is not the old tradition.

POLE. The pole of a flag may be wood, bamboo, reed, cane, metal or plastic - any suitable material.

NISHAN SAHIB. The flag-pole is mostly bamboo, except for the permanently fixed ones which are made of metal. The present day metal poles are generally very  tall to give direction from far away, to the faithful and the needy, . Some poles have a  hinge at their lower end. The tall poles are held with steel-rope stays. A pulley, bucket and steel-rope is fixed to them for changing the worn out flags. The pole is covered with the same-colored cloth and it is stitched or tied to the flag and both of these make  one unit.

It is not uncommon to see a metal frame around Khanda (Double edged sword) at the top and an electric light fitted to it. On one, there was a weather-cock fixed atop this frame. It is very common to put up the loud-speakers on  the pole. Even light on the same pole should not be okay though it is very useful and may be accepted, but other objects appear sacrilegious. These distort the appearance of the Nishan.

KHANDA. A Khanda (Double edged sword only) is fitted at the top of the flag-pole. It may be taken as pointing to the fact that the Sikhs believe in one God. It also, portrays their high spirits, rights, freedom, justice and sovereignty etc. This is the only religious cum political flag in the world with a weapon at the top of its pole. The cavalry-spears with small flags is a different story.

SIZE. The Nishan Sahib may have any size including that of its pole. Other religions also, don't seem to have any set standards for this. "Yukti Kalpattar" XukqI klp`qr describes different types of flags depending on the length of the pole according to the political rank of the person (Dr.Dilgir referred above).

 
HISTORY.

The flags are traced in the time immemorial to the Hindu culture in India, civilization of China and to Egypt. Perhaps, the first flags were animal-heads on the poles  showing the bags of the hunters and human heads of the vanquished ones for the winners to boast their victory. Later, the animal skins were used to make them (Grolier`s encyclopedia).

The flags headed the armies and also, might have been put on the fighting vehicles like chariots, as we see in the paintings of the episodes of Mahabharat or Ramayan (Hindu Epics). Flags are there in the mythological and old historical paintings, too. It is hard to pinpoint the exact era of the start of the flags.

NISHAN SAHIB. It is generally accepted that it came into being at the time of the 6th Guru Hargobind. In 1608 AD, he erected Akal Bunga (Also called Akal Tkht - Divine Throne). and fixed Jhanda (flag - Nishan Sahib) on it. There was no flag used by the Gurus, before this. The flag was saffron and at top of the pole was sharp pointed spear-like Khanda. (Gurmatt Matand, SGPC, page 616,  and also, See JMfw swihb - Jhanda Sahib, Mahakosh, Kahn Singh). Clearly, the Sixth Master hoisted one flag only and that too, at the top of the building. It was after him that two flags were fitted in the court-yard of the Akal Takht. In 1862 AD, Udasi Sadhus, Bawa Santokh Das and Pritam Das set up two Nishan Sahibs, one for Akal Takht and other for Harimandir Sahib (Golden Temple).

It was about three years after the advent of Nishan Sahib that Jahangir confined Guru Hargobind to the fort at Gwalior in 1612, when Baba Budha ji and Bhai Gurdas ji (Ji is used for respect), two leading Sikhs, organized morning processions carrying Nishan Sahib, at Amritsar and around the fort of Gwalior to protest and express resentment of the Sikhs. After the Guru ji came back to Amritsar, these processions were continued in the Parkarma (Walkway) around the Golden temple, to thank the Lord for the release of Guru ji. This continues as  a tradition. These marches at that time, further added to the political tinge of the religious flag - combining the  worldly and the spirituality, more intimately. It is clear that the Sixth Master himself introduced this Standard as the identity and assertion of the Sikhs. This was the foundation for the liberty of the country from the grip of the foreigners - first land-mark for independence.

Currently (1996), there are two flags at Akal Takht. Their poles are covered with gold-plate and both are joined with two cross-bars and at their crossing is fixed a golden Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan emblem. The Khanda in this is concave at both edges and is not spear like. It shows that this emblem is a later addition. Tops of the poles have spear-like golden double edged Khandas. This makes it evident that the present Khanda symbol was not there at the time of the Gurus and upto the immediate post Maharaja Ranjit Singh period. Otherwise, Khandas at the top of the poles might have changed shape. The flags have Khanda symbols, no doubt and very likely these also, came in later. The flag towards Akal-Takht is one foot shorter than the other. It means the temporal power should be under the reins of the spiritual authority. The difference of heights had been affirmed by Professor Darshan Singh, Ex. Singh-Sahib (Head) of the Holy Akal-Takht. He claimed it in one of his kirtan-cassettes (Kirtan - singing of hymns). Dr.Madanjit Kaur, Ex. Head, Department of the Guru Nanak Studies and Dean of the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, got the measurements taken with a sextant and confirmed it. The photographs taken by Mr.Gurinder Singh Khokhar, from different directions and at various levels, were inconclusive

In the Gurbani (Hymns in the Holy Book) the words like Dhuja, Jhanda, Neja, Nisan, meaning a flag have been used. In an article "Nishan Sahib : the Sikh Standard," in the Sikh Review, June, 95, Mr.Naunehal Singh Grewal quotes -

Jis dhiraj dhur dhawal dhuja saet baekunth been.a.

Swayye Mhle Teejay Ke, Page 1393, Line 16.

Phun dharam Dhuja fahrant sada ugh punj tarang navaran kau.

Swayye Mhle Chauthe Ke, Page.1404, Line 6.

Kul Sodhi Gur Ramdas tanu dharam dhuja Arjun Hare bhagta.

Swayye Mhle Panjven Ke, Page.1407, Line 16

We have to keep in mind that the Gurbani is in poetry and  similes have been used freely by the authors: Gurus, saints or  Bhatts. We cannot conclude from this that the Gurus before Guru Hargobind, had the flags, white or of any other color.

Due to internal conflict of the Sikhs, the Udasis got possession of the Golden Temple (Icluding Akal Takht). Udasi saints Bawa Santokh Das and Pritam Das of Dera Brahm Buta, fixed tall trunks of two trees and put Nishan Sahibs on them (1775 AD). Perhaps, the color used was Bhagwa (Brick red). In 1841 AD, one of them fell down in a storm and it was placed on one side of the bridge on the Holy Tank and it stayed there neglected for a long time. Kahn Singh, in his Mahan-Kosh writes that the Udasis set up one Nishan Sahib (See Jhanda-Bunga). Jhanda Singh, head of the Bhangi-Missal, set up a flag here in 1772 AD (See Nagara-Nishan, Gurmatt Martand, SGPC, page 616 / Jhanda-Bunga, Mahan Kosh, Kahn Singh, page 410 / A talk with  Dr.M.S.Nirankari). Evidently, Jhanda Singh fixed one Nishan.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780 to 1839 AD) contributed towards the service of the Jhanda Bunga - the Place of flag (Mera Dharam Mera Itihas, SGPC, page 221). After him, one Jhanda was put up by Maharaja Sher Singh and other by Sardar Desa Singh of Majitha. The poles of both were iron-pipes clad with gold covered  copper sheet (Jhanda-Bunga, Maha-Kosh).

The origin and adoption of the Khanda-symbol is surrounded by a deep mist. In an article in tribune, Mona Puri wrote that "Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan" was a very old symbol and that a replica in stone was preserved in the museum at Madras. According to Dr.Nirankari, its photograph was with the State Archives, Government of Punjab, Patiala.

In his article sent to me, Mr.Gurbachan Singh, New Jersey, USA, wrote on the basis of Bhai Kahn Singh (Author, Maha-Kosh), that Guru Hargobind (!595 - 1644 AD) first hoisted saffron colored Nishan Sahib with the emblem of Khanda, at a village in the police station Phagwara, in the former Kapoorthala state The detail of the reference is needed. Mr.Naunehal Singh Grewal, referred above, writes that it took 239 years for the Nishan Sahib to take its final shape by adding the Khanda symbol to it. It needs references.

Dr.Madanjit Kaur checked pictures of the coins and medals of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in an article on the symbols, medals, seals and coins of the Maharaja, by Mr.Manmohan Singh, Secretary to the Government of India. She did not find a Khanda-symbol on any one of them. Mr.Manmohan Singh, disclosed to Dr. M.S.Nirankari that two Sikh army flags in the British Museum at London, bore the symbol of Kartik - god of war (A peacock). It is clear that even in  the era of  Maharaja Ranjit Singh, this Khanda-symbol was not in existence or in use.

In a personal talk, Dr.M.S.Nirankari  referred to an English writer that the flags at the Golden Temple were red and that on one was written "Dn gurU rwmdws" (Dhan Guru Ramdas) and on other, "  <  siqgurpRswid ] " (Ikoankar Satgur-Parsad).

Dr.Dilgir (Referred above) writes that Khanda-symbol came in the time of Nirmalas, the color of the flag was blue, the Khanda-symbol was yellow and that the Khanda symbol was unanimously accepted by the Sikh Panth. Reference have not been given.

This Khanda symbol was perhaps designed for the Sikh army by the Britisher's (Dr.M.S.Nirankari and Dr.Madanjit Kaur). The photocopy of two current Khanda-symbols used in the army, was  sent to me by Brig: Pal Singh. One of it showed a Kirpan standing directly on top of a Chakkar. In other, there was a lion inside a Chakkar.

The flag of Iran has a Khanda like emblem but it is calligraphic representation of the Kalma (Islamic religious formula).

Some people use the symbols of two crossed Nishan Sahibs or similarly placed two arrows, on the letter heads etc. The only popular symbol is the Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan. Another commonly used is   <   Ik-Onkar.  At Gurdwara Sachkhand Hazoor Sahib, an arrow has a great significance. There, any thing offered is sanctified by touching it with a steel arrow. The significance of an arrow-symbol might have arisen from there.

Making personal symbols looking like Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan, which may create confusion, is not in good taste. It is also, not reasonable to modify Ik-Onkar by extending it into a flower stem, candle light or something else. It is fine to make any proper thing around them.

Like many other things in the Sikh World, the Khanda symbol remains unstandardized. The Khanda (Double edged sword) itself, projects above the Chakkar, remains under or its tip stays covered by it. The handles of the Khanda and Kirpans also, have no set shape. The proportion of the sizes of the weapons differs, too. Some, like the Coat -of-Arms,  add arrows or flags to the Khanda symbol.

 
IMPORTANCE.

Nishan Sahib unites the Sikhs with their Guru, God and gives direction to his abode (Gurdwara). It is the symbol of unity, purity (Life according to the Sikh ethics), justice, equality, sovereignty and independence of the Sikh thought and faith. It shows that the Sikh is always in high morale, his thinking is lofty, for every thing he looks up to one God only and stays related to Him. The revered Saffron Nishan Sahib is the pride of all those who believe in the Gurus` Philosophy and they ever keep ready even to offer their lives for its glory ! Every day, in their Ardas (Invocation) they say, "Jhande Bunge jugo jug atall" - Eternal be the Nishan Sahib and its citadel !

Nishan Sahib is always there on a Gurdwara. There is no limit on their number.   Maharaja Ranjit Singh took care that all the Gurdwaras had flags (Dr.M.S.Nirankari). Some Gurdwaras have a second flag offered by a person on wish-fulfillment (Goindwal Sahib), or in memory of the visit of Guru Hargobind ji (Khadoor Sahib). Mostly, display of a Nishan Sahib means that the place is related to the Panth (The Sikh Word) and is open to the public. The highest Nishan Sahibs in the world are gracefully standing on the 17,000 feet high  Sapt-sring peaks around the Hemkund Lake (Himalayan Ranges), in the United Provinces (UP), India.

A gently fluttering Nishan Sahib is a call to the needy and all those turned away and rejected by others - " Come on. You are most welcome. Here is food for you, a place to rest and a devoted service without any discrimination of faith, caste, color, status, sex or country." After staying there, in addition, they will have the benefit of uplifting their minds with a bonus of listening to "Asa Dee Var." (Musical recitation of Gurbani) which is a morning-routine in the Gurdwaras (Sant Balwant Singh, Batala).

Long time back, Sant Balwant Singh was traveling at night. Directed by the Nishan Sahib, he went to a Gurdwara. The Granthi ji (Care taker) offered food, place to sleep and massaged the feet of the saint. On questioning, he said, "You have come to the Guru Nanak`s house. See that Nishan Sahib ! It calls and guarantees affectionate care, food and a place to rest" -

Jhoolte   Nishan   rahen   Panth   Maharaj   ke.

May ever flutter the banner of the Great Panth !

Anonymous.
 

Note - The author of "Jhoolte Nishan Rahen" is not known. It was a popular slogan at the time of the Akali-Lehr.

Some think that Guru Nanak Dev ji had white Nishan Sahib. It is hard to comment and there is no reference


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