SIKH Weapons (Shasters)
Shaster is the name given to the weapons used in Shaster Vedia. The weapons are held in the highest esteem even higher than the teacher! Weapons have a special place where they are stored and presented. They are approached with respect and bowed to as if they were a living thing. It is believed that these weapons came directly from God and they are manifestations of God's power on earth. Thus the power of God has been put into the hands of man. This is a huge responsibility and something which is easily abused even with the best intentions in mind.
Below are a selection of Sikh shasters that were used during many historic battles.
Selection of Sikh shasters
Safajung & Kirch
The oldest and most typical of Indian swords.
it has a broad, straight blade, usually widening towards the point, which is generally quite blunt. Sometimes it is double-edged, but it generally has a strengthening plate with ornamental borders on the back for a considerable part of its length.
The hilt has a broad plate guard and wide finger guard which joins the large round, flat pommel. There is a spike on the pommel which acts as a guard for the arm, and for a grip for the left hand when making a two-handed stroke.
It is also used as a hand rest when the sword is sheathed. The inside of the guard and finger guard are padded.
sword has been for centuries revered by man as a symbol of his power. It was not
until the Sikh Guru Hargobind that a deeper understanding of this was revealed.
He taught that the sword was a symbol of both temporal and spiritual power.
Later Guru Gobind Singh defined this further by describing " God fashioned
the entire universe with his sword". For this reason the sword is seen as
the primal force of the universe.
The Akali Nihang Singh's worship the sword as a manifestation of God's power. It is through the Sword Meditation that we are granted its blessings. And by which its immense power becomes the law which governs ours thought and actions.
The energy of the sword is called Shakti, it is a 2 1/2 cycle energy which is the regulating force on the physical plane. Mystery of the Sword Meditation is mastery of all aspects of physical reality.
At the moment of creation the Creator was in a profound state of meditation. Every particle of the universe was shaped by this meditation through the sword. By allowing the Sword Meditation the creator grants to his creatures the power of creation.
Every deed regardless of it significance or superficial value is an act of creation. Every action becomes a Kriya, ( a complete and balanced cycle ) every movement a Mudra ( a posture which expresses a particular energy), every though a meditation, creator and creation are united in action, this is Shakti Yoga.
The joy and celebration of this moment of meditation is expressed in the mantra
" Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Wahe Guru "
Chakram, Chacra, Chakar (Pronunciation)
It is a flat steel ring from five to twelve inches in diameter and from half an inch to an inch and a half wide, the outer edge is sharp.
It is usually plain but sometimes elaborately inlaid.
Several of different sizes were often carried on a pointed turban, the dastar ungaa or behind the back. The thrower stands squarely facing his objective, takes the chakra between the thumb and first finger of the right hand, holding it low down on his left side. He then turns his body so as to bring the right shoulder as far forward as possible and throws underhand with the full swing of his body.
Thrown with sufficient force and accuracy it can cut off a green bamboo three-quarters of an inch in diameter at a distance of thirty yards.
It is nearly always round and varies in diameter from about eight inches to about twenty-four.
Some are very nearly flat while others are strongly convex. The edges may be flat or rolled back in the reverse curvature of the shield.
It is held by two handles fastened to ring bolds that pass through the shield and are riveted to bosses on the outside, sometimes formed to spikes. Between the handles there is a square cushion for the knuckles to rest against. The handles are so placed that, when tightly grasped, they force the backs of the fingers against the cushion giving a very firm and comfortable hold.
These shields are nearly always of steel or leather.
Indian maces have a great variations in their shape. From simply curved steel bars to Persian influenced maces with openings in the head which gave a whistling sound when the blow was struck to plane massive heads.
They often have guarded hilts like the Khanda.
Most of the bows are composite. Some are made of steel with block of wood at the handles. They are of the shape of composite bows and reverse when strung. Others are made of up to nine layers of wood or horn
Coutar, Katha, Koutha, Kutha, Kutar (Pronunciation)
Armor piercing Dagger
oldest and most characteristic of Indian knives. The pectiliarity lies in the
handle which is made up of two parallel bars connected by two, or more,
crosspieces, one of which is at the end of the side bars and is fastened to the
blade. The Katar is wrapped to the hand to optimize the grip. The blades are
always double-edged and generally straight, but occasionally curved. They are of
all lengths from a few inches to about three feet. European blades of the 16th
and 17th centuries were often used, especially by the Mahrattas. Katars with
original blades are often thickened at the point to strengthen them for use
against armor. When European blades are used they are always riveted to
projections from the hilt. The native blades are often forged in one piece with
it. The blades are sometimes forked at the point, and even three blades occur.
The Indian armies occasionally made Katars that were hollow and served as
sheaths for smaller ones; or with three blades that folded together, appearing
to be one, until handle bars were pressed together, when they opened out.
At first the ordinary hatchet or axe of civil life was used as a weapon, but special varieties were soon developed for fighting. War axes were of all sizes from light weapons, to heavy pole axes requiring the use of both arms.
The Indian axes are generally lighter than the European and often have the handle made of a flat plate of steel with pieces of wood riveted to each side.
Occasionally they have a dagger concealed in the handle; and, sometimes, a sharp-edged hook projects from one side.
Combinations of axes and pistols were fairly common in India; in these the barrel of the pistol is often the handle of the axe.
Tulwar, Tulwaur, Tarwar (Pronunciation)
The Indian sabre, class name. It includes practically all of the curved swords used in India; but those of very marked curvature are frequently called by their Persian name, shamshir. The Talwar is the commonest sword in India and the blades vary enormously in Size, curvature and quality. The hilts generally have short, heavy quislings and disk pommels. They may or may not have finger guards; some have as many as three. Several other forms of hilts are also used. The Nihangs are as careful of their swords and take as much pains to keep them in order as the Japanese samurai. It is a common saying that an really objectionable act is "as disgraceful as having a blunt sword." "These are Sikh cavalry-who know not steel scabbards-but wear leather sheaths, wherein the swords do not become blunt and dull-keen bright and ready, as many a deep and ghastly cut on spey corpses can testify.
The Indian arrows have steel heads of a great variety of shapes, with tangs fitting into the shafts, which are generally of reed. The shafts are often painted and gilded elaborately. These arrows have three feathers and bone, or ivory , noks.
Gatka Soti, Sothi
The Soti is made from fire hardened bamboo or ratan, 1m long and usually has a hand guard. It is mainly used for practice and "playing Gatka", the training fight.
For combat they were replaced by oak ore ironwood sticks, without hand guards.
The most typical Knife.
It usually has a curved blade, and should be carried by every Sikh. The special techniques used make this weapon very dangerous.
many people question the need of Kirpan or the sword in the atomic age. Others
require an explanation for the wearing of the sword. How can sword he reconciled
with spirituality ? Even before Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, his grand father Guru
Hargobind had donned the sword as a twin-symbol of temporal and spiritual power
(Miri & Piri). He had maintained an army and taken part in military
operations against the Mughal forces.
Guru Gobind Singh Sahib justified the use of the sword as a duty and as a means of protecting the weak and the oppressed. With human brutes, non-violence is meaningless. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib says:
When the affairs are past other remedies,
It is justifiable to unsheath the sword.
Tyrants are like mad dogs and wolves. They should be opposed in the interests of the good of humanity as a whole. The sword is neither to be used for conquest nor for wreaking vengeance. The sword is meant only for self-defence or for the good of the people. In cases of injustice and intolerance, the refusal to use the sword may do more harm than good. The Sikh's sword is not an instrument of offence but a symbol of independence, self-respect and power. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib called it Durga or Bhagwati and praises it thus :
Sword that smites in a flash,
That scatters the armies of the wicked
In the great battle-field,
0 symbol of the brave.
Your arm is irresistible, your brightness shines forth
The splendour of the black dazzles like the sun.
Sword, you are the scourge of saints,
You are the scourge of the wicked ;
Scatterer of sinners, I take refuge with you.
Hail to the Creator. Saviour and sustainer,
Hail to you : Sword supreme !
"The harder the times the longer the Lathis"
This weapon is nearly everywhere available and very dangerous when used in the right way. Lathis should be as long as the warrior and Ironwood or Oak are preferred.
The Marati is a bamboo stick with wooden or cloth balls on its ends. It is mainly used for training purposes but there are variations with blades or burning cloth on its ends, to attack and distract elephants and for psychological warfare.