History of Sikligar Sikhs

History of Sikligar Sikhs

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Sikligars Sikhs were the lohars (ironsmiths/blacksmiths) who once specialized in the craft of making and polishing weapons. Once more commonly known as Gaddilohars the term Sikligar was bestowed on these men who fashioned iron by Guru Gobind Singh who turned Lohgarh (the Iron fort at Anandpur Sahib) into the Sikh Armoury. The word is derived from the Persian – saqi/sakli, lit. polishing, furnishing, making bright (a sword), the term saqlgar means a polisher of swords. In medieval India, Sikligars were in great demand for manufacturing spears, swords, shields and arrows. What the world knows as Damascus steel, used in making some of the finest swords known to man, was manufactured by Indian lohars and shipped to Damacus as layered iron pellets.

Recently a piece of Gold embellished steel armour decorated with Sikh Bani (Hinted to be posibly once owned by Guru Gobind Singh) was made of this type of steel, which in India was called watered steel as its surface reminds one of flowing water. A lohar by the name of Ram Chand, initiated as a Sikh by Guru Gobind Singh, became Ram Singh the first Sikligar Sikh. Though not one of the Panj Piares he was with the Panj Piaras and Guru Gobind Singh fighting in the battle of Chamkaur and accompanied the Guru out of the fort in the night.

Traditionally held to be of a low caste (working with iron can make one appear very dirty) the gaddilohars first came in contact with Sikhi during the time of Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) who had, after the Martrydom of his father Guru Arjan initiated the ‘practice of arms’ and ‘statehood’ among Sikhs with his donning of ‘Miri and Piri’ (his two swords which sybolized spiritual and wordly power). They seem to have been Rajputs of Mewar who came to the aid of Guru Hargobind who percieved the need for his Sikhs to begin to learn and master the martial arts to insure their growing community’s survival.