In Sikhism, Shastar commonly refers to weaponry used by ancient Sikh warriors or collections and displays of ancient, modern and ceremonial weaponry. Sikhism has a martial history dating back to the time of Sixth Guru Har Govind following the martyrdom of his father Fifth Guru Arjun Dev. The succeeding Gurus maintained a fighting force. After the martyrdom of Ninth Guru Teg Bahadar his son, Tenth Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa warrior order of saint soldiers to stand up to oppressive Mughal tyranny and injustice. Khalsa warriors fought using a wide variety of held Shastar weaponry including, but not limited to:
- Barchha - Long spear, or pike.
- Barchha Nagni - Javelin with cork screw spear head.
- Barchhi - Short slender spear.
- Bhag Nakh - Tiger claw device.
- Bothatti - Throwing lance.
- Chakar - Throwing ring.
- Flails - Spinning weapons such as chains, chakar bolo, chuks etc.
- Gurj - Spiked Mace.
- Kataar - Armour piercing, double edged flat implement with a divided handle gripped by the fist and bound to the wrist.
- Khanda - Double edge strait sword.
- Kirpan - Short curved sword.
- Khukuri - Curved broadsword.
- Lathi - Wooden cudgel, cane, stick or staff.
- Shield - Used to protect the body and deflect enemy weapons
- Talwar - Single edge curved slim sword.
- Teer - short spear, spike or arrow.
Phonetic Roman and Gurmukhi Spelling and Pronunciation:
The legacy of Guru Gobind Singh includes a collection of compositions with a martial spirit and tempo which praise shastar and battles fought by valorous warriors:
- "Namo sastr paanae || Namo astr maanae ||
Salutation to Thee who art the wielder of weapons and art accounted with Arms." DG||8
- "Phannee-ar phunkaaran baagh bakaarann sastr prehaarann saadh matae ||
Snakes hiss (round your neck), your lion roars, you wield weapons and possess a saintly nature." ||DG||75
- "Ghungharoo ghamankann sastr jhamankann phanee-ar phanukaarann dharam dhujae ||
O flagstaff of righteousness! small bells (worn round your ankles) make a jingling sound, your weapons gleam and snakes (round your neck) hiss furiously." DG||75
- Jai jai hosee sastr prakarkhan aadh aneel agaadh abhae || 10||220||
Hail! O wielder of weapons, primeval, countless, extremely profound and dauntless.(10)(220)" DG||76
- "Jitae sastr naaman || Namasakaar taaman ||
I salute the weapons of all names." DG||108
- "Tehaan beer bankae bakai aap maadhan || Outh-ae sastr lai lai machaa judh sudhan ||
The dandyish dressed warriors (of both the tribes in the battlefield) challenged each other to fight. With weapons in their hands, they stood up and a serious battle ensued."
Bhai Gurdas wrote eye witness accounts in the compositions of his Vars:
- "Ioun outh bhabakae bal beer singh shastr chamakaa-ae|
The mighty Singhs rose and made their arms [weapons] shine." Amrit kirtan | 284
- *Shastar bastar - arms and accoutrements.
- *Shastar dhari - one who is armed and accoutred.
*The Punjabi Dictionary by Bhai Maya Singh
Scriptures of Siri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), Dasam Granth (DG) by Tenth Guru Gobind Singh, Bhai Gur Das Vars and Amrit Kirtan Hymnal - Translations by Dr. Sant Singh Khalsa.
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