The Khalsa Knighthood arose to fight the Muslim Inquisition in Indian in 1699. The Khalsa Knighthood of the Sikhs is and was a very unusual group because both men and women belong, and because the Khalsa Knighthood is “defense only”. A Khalsa Knight is under vow to never attack anyone. They must never fight out of fear or anger or revenge. They can only defend the oppressed from oppressors. This they vow to do but that is it.
Thus Sikhs fighting in WW2 did NOT fight against Hitler, rather they fought on behalf of Jews and Jew’s right to practice the Jewish faith.
Not all Sikh men and women belong to the Khalsa Knighthood – and, unfortunatlely, not all Sikhs who you see wearing the 5 symbols of the Khalsa Knighthood – uncut hair, comb, sword, steel bracelet, and underwear – are keeping the 5 Khalsa vows that these symbols represent.
1. Kesh, uncut hair: Khalsa Sikhs vow to keep their bodies natural and live wholesome lives. No intoxicants, no smokes.
2. Kanga -comb: They bathe daily and keep clean.
3. Kirpan – the sword: Khalsa Knights vow to defend the innocent and/or oppressed. A Khalsa Knight is under vow to jump in and help those being oppressed or attacked. They feed the poor too.
4. Kara – the bracelet: They vow to defend the Divine Ideals, and again never to attack. Khalsa Knights vow to be ethical, to shun corruption, to live truthfully.
5. Kacchera – underwear: Khalsa Knights wear underwear (rather like simple boxer shorts). This symbolizes the 5th Khalsa vow. Khalsa Knights treat all men and women as brothers and sisters, as equals. They vow to not view the opposite sex as sex objects or romance objects, or practice any sort of rock-star-itis.
In Sikh history, a history that Sikhs remember, Sikhs have fought in battles to defend the rights of Hindus and also Muslims to practice their religions in peace. Sikhs are proud of this. Sikhs are a proud people with a glorious (study them) past. Only Sikhs have ever run into battle yelling “Sat Siri Akal!” which means “Truth is Undying” or “The Truth Will Out!”.
That said, most Sikhs are ordinary folk. Most are not Khalsa, and some who think they are Khalsa, are breaking Khalsa vows. Basically Sikhs are just as messed up, at times more messed up, than other humans. They are a tiny minority everywhere. Before 1984, Sikhs had politically clout in India (they were the swing vote between Hindus and Muslim in a small, but very prosperous, part of Northern India) since then they don’t. All their historic Gurdwaras (temples) are in India and also in Pakistan, and those two countries are full of hotheads (mostly Hindu, Muslim; also Sikhs, Jain, and Christian Missionaries), and those two countries have the bomb.