Sikhi and Artistry - The Origin of Khalsa Raj
Sikhism seemed to find me in 1972 through my embrace of kundalini yoga and meditation/Naam Simran and the affiliation I developed with my teacher, Yogi Harbhajan Singh. This initial integration and transformation of becoming a Singh (lion) and a Khalsa (pure one) and the challenges I faced with that, were also a gift.
As I began embracing yoga and meditation (which are forms of prayer for me) I also began practicing martial arts and have built my life around the satisfaction and empowerment that come from both of these disciplines. They have served to shape the fabric of who I am today.
Within two years I moved into the local 3HO ashram (Healthy, Happy Holy organization) and began tying a turban. I spent 6 years at a university in upstate New York (State University of New York/SUNY New Paltz) in an undergraduate program learning from master metalsmith professors and graduate students while deeply immersing myself in art, metals and mostly jewelry fabrication. The beginnings of my discerning eye and capacity to execute detailed work were also sharpened during these early years.
I was studying art, gold and silversmithing, and jewelry making in one of the SUNY metals programs and was inspired to try my hand at creating a kirpan by an elder Sikh in the local community. Using my hands in this creative way was quite fulfilling and awoke a new level of capability and artistry in me.
It was 1978 when I made this first Kirpan (pictured below) and it was fabricated as a senior studio project in my metalsmithing class. It was more decorative than anything else, solid sterling silver, with brass rivets and resin - as I had a little experience at that point with metallurgy and knowing anything about grinding or forging an excellent blade.
But it was the beginning of a life-long love of and devotion to the Sikh faith and ethos through the creation of swords, kirpans, jewelry and artwork inspired through our rich and noble history. A few examples of our work are pictured below:
The manifestation of my artistry and Sikhi are quite intertwined
I had never seriously expressed myself artistically prior to this university period. After graduating with a degree in art, I moved to a kundalini yoga ashram just outside of Boston, in Dorchester Massachusetts. Since that time team members and myself have worked diligently creating 'one of a kind' knives, swords, kirpans, jewelry and artful objects for many throughout the world.
The inspiration I have derived through developing an early morning daily discipline involving prayer, yoga and meditation, as well as living as a Singh and a Khalsa have flowed very authentically into my artistic expression. Through His grace and our diligence and hard work, we have been able to manifest excellence in kirpans, swords, knives and jewelry, that provide strength, courage and confidence to many who own and wear those items.
After practicing Sikhi and my craft diligently for almost 50 years, I am grateful for the opportunities I have had and continue to be provided to learn, create and serve.
A Vision is born
In the early 1980’s, I attended the first New York knife show. I viewed and handled all kinds of knives that many had made and were selling and I said to myself “I can do this”. With the help of a colleague I took out a loan, invested in some knife making equipment and materials and set up a small studio in the basement of one of the ashram houses – Khalsa Kirpans and The Khalsa Raj Collection were born. I started developing relationships and selling to local retailers who were offering knives for sale and continued offering inspiring jewelry annually at yoga events and knife shows.
This vision and passion eventually was consolidated and grew into the noble brand and company we have today, Khalsa Raj.
Khalsa literally means pure one or pure one's - Raj means or represents royal or royalty.
We have been privileged to present our swords and kirpans at varied auspicious occasions within and close to the Sikh community in a handful of countries. Several of those stories and presentations are listed just below with links to the swords, kirpans and events.
~ Our highly embellished sword presented to Keshgar Sahib Gurdwara in Anandpur Sahib India honoring the 'Birth of the Khalsa' and life and legacy of the 10th Master of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, in April 1999 - here.
~ Our first 'Song of the Khalsa' sword presented to and honoring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Parliament Hill, Ottawa Canada in a special Baisakhi (Sikh Holiday) service held there - April 2016 - here.
~ Several sword and kirpan presentations honoring exceptional service including an auspicious birth anniversary occasion - here,
Jot Singh, as a contemporary designer, knife and sword maker, has also been fortunate to have won numerous awards over decades for his knives, swords and kirpans listed here.
We anticipate receiving our initial batch of Song of the Khalsa swords from a new supplier by springtime '22 and look forward to continuing to offer these. Consider ordering yours here!
An image of this next generation of these swords is just below.
My gratitude and passion for service
I had done some cooking in a vegetarian restaurant while at university as well as while living in the Boston ashram community, working occasionally at the Golden Temple Restaurant in Harvard Square, Cambridge.
Later on and for over 30 years, I was in charge of all food preparation (always vegetarian) at two annual yoga events, where regularly 2000+ people would attend. Many staff members participated and supported this effort. This is where I began to learn the privilege of serving others in life, by guiding, encouraging and nurturing many at these events. It’s something I consider a blessing to continue to regularly orchestrate locally monthly as well as once a year at our largest event in the USA.
The tradition of preparing and serving langar (a community meal provided free for all who may show up), most often at Sikh Gurdwaras/Temples throughout the world and more recently at varied global tragic events (earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, pandemics, etc.), Sikh organizations have/are providing free meals to those affected during many of these traumatic occurrences as well.
My Gratitude and Art
I consider it a gift that the One Creator affords me the presence of mind, the capacity to focus deeply with steady hands, as well as the joy and the challenges that arise bringing forth original, inspired, artful, quite functional and meticulously crafted edged weapons and jewelry regularly. I’m deeply grateful to be able to collaborate with gifted artisans, engravers, jewelers and stone setters. After decades working at this, I recognize that I’m more capable than ever before to execute complex and involved projects!
You have an opportunity with us, to create something ‘one of a kind’ of the highest quality available anywhere. It can be something you may have only envisioned and we can help bring whatever that might be to life for you! A masterful work which you can cherish for years and eventually pass to loved ones. I’ve been fortunate to specialize in these kinds of projects for around 35 years now, working closely with clients and bringing exceptional, highest quality knives, swords, Kirpans and jewelry into their or loved ones homes. It is most often a privilege.
I was afforded a vision decades ago – ‘the name Khalsa should be synonymous with the name Faberge’ which I took to mean in the realm of masterfully designed and crafted artworks. (Peter Carl Fabergé was a master artisan from Russia who created splendid artifacts for the Russian czars among others including the ‘Fabergé eggs’. He was prolific from the late 1800's-early 1900's). My metals program at Miri Piri Academy is intended to support manifesting this vision.
We've also worked to create very affordable, innovative, original jewelry and artful objects which uplift, empower and inspire all who adorn themselves with these or decorate their home or office with them. It has been our privilege to constantly reflect and offer unique and innovative items to our diverse customer base.
We are working diligently to continue to offer the very highest quality items in varied price ranges and become a recognized and respected global brand. We are continually looking to offer you products that you will be proud to own, share with friends and colleagues and gift to loved ones.
I had a wonderful teacher for about 30 years, Yogi Harbhajan Singh/Yogi Bhajan, a visionary who was exemplary in many ways and not so in others, we found out many years after his passing. While he was with us he told us many times “don't follow me, follow my teachings”. He urged me to use my artistic capabilities to create things of elegance and beauty to ‘uplift, inspire and heal’ others, affording an experience of royalty, nobility and fearlessness to all people doing their best to embody kindness, integrity and service. I'm grateful for his decades of personal support and guidance.