This is an introduction to the next essay… which I promise will be both deep and shocking.
What is a warrior?
According to popular news, media and entertainment programmes, warriors are armed forces personnel who sit in helicopter gun-ships and shoot-to-kill at distant crowds that pose zero personal threat to them. These are the so-called warriors championed in the western media, whose acts are celebrated as brave and heroic.
We, from our background, do not deem such behaviour as warrior-like, at all.
It is worth briefly focusing on the classifications of fighter, warrior and divine warrior that sometimes get jumbled up together using examples most of us know…
The Knights Templar were an immensely wealthy, politically powerful, west European, Christian military order. They were religious rather than spiritual. They were fighters, not warriors.
The Shogun are an example of warriors. As are the original Sufis. Prior to conversion to Islam many centuries after the founding of Mohammedism, Sufism was a spiritual movement and therefore at a higher level than mere religiosity.
The original baptised Sikh – the Khalsa – were, until they diverged from their founding tenets in the 1950s, divine warriors.
Now let me clarify each of the three classifications of fighter, warrior and divine warrior.
Old-fashioned fighters never actually picked a fight. They defended. Trained in armed warfare, they also maintained and continued a tradition of working in the family business. Their readiness to kill or be killed turned on split-second emotions. They reacted to situations, but were proactive in that reaction.
Old-fashioned warriors were thoughtful protectors of life. More often than not, they ate humble pie. Humiliation was not a reason or justification for them to pick up arms or kill. Occasionally, they acted as consultants, intervening to defuse disputes and find face-saving solutions for all concerned parties. With the passage of time, however, the traditional value of responsibility diminished, and these warriors transmuted into mercenaries.
The Khalsa – referring to a state beyond divinity – were warriors with a difference. They had awakened perception. They were a movement comprising advanced Sadhus who were ordered to immerse themselves in family, business and secular life while simultaneously maintaining their divine ethos. Similar to the Shogun and Sufi strata, they were protectors of life; what set them apart from that strata of warrior was the fact that they had to protect another’s right to kill them. In war, they sought not to kill their foe, but to disarm them and thereby allow them to return to their families. If foes persisted, after at least three times of such magnanimous behaviour, they were killed.
Only those steeped in meditation can fully comprehend the ramifications of death and killing.
So, you see, unlike the poster-boys of the contemporary so-called warrior-class described at the beginning of this essay, a divine warrior would never deign to press buttons from a distance, raining death upon whoever happened to be there.
This is a prelude and companion to next week’s essay about Sikhism, Vaisaski and Khalsa….