In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh told his Sikhs at the Baisakhi Amrit Sanchar to constantly and regularly wear a Kirpan at all times. This was an article of defence which together with the other 4 Kakars formed the external visible symbols to outwardly display ones commitment to the Hukam of the tenth master.
This injunction was primarily in order to protect the weak from tyranny and slavery, to maintain a state of harmony and security, to allow for the free development of trade, craftsmanship, arts & literature and to safeguard and protect the universal right of all beings to live their lives in a peaceful, stable and sheltered environment.
The word “Kirpan” (Gurmukhi: ਕਿਰਪਾਨ ) has two roots – the first root is: Kirpa (ਕਿਰਪਾ ) which means “Mercy, grace, compassion, kindness” and the second root is Aan (ਆਨ ) which in turn means “Honor, grace, dignity”. So together the word stands for “the dignity and honor of compassion, kindness and mercy”.