The Sikh Murders: The Hero of Oak Creek

Via NPR and the AP, according to his son, the leader of the Sikh temple “managed to find a simple butter knife” and died futilely trying to save his congregation from the mass-murdering gunman with it.

Was it a “butter knife?”

Religious tradition requires a male Sikh not only to abjure smoking and drinking and leave his hair uncut, but to carry at all times on his body a ritual sword called the Kirpan. Out of respect for the sensibilities of Western countries in which they’ve settled, many Sikhs have taken to carrying a small ritual knife.

It’s not on the mainstream wires yet, but a website called writes of “The Hero of Oak Creek:”

Shaheed Bhai Satwant Singh Kaleka was 62 years old. He was the president of the gurdwara at the time and was getting ready to deliver a speech. Page, the shooter, walked in, armed with a 9mm handgun.

Satwant Singh approached him in the lobby and tried to stop him from hurting others and disrespecting Guru Sahib. From what we understand, he attempted to use a kirpan or talwar to attack and tackle the shooter but was shot in the back after a struggle. This is the correct use of a kirpan, protecting the innocent and those that are unable to protect themselves.

He was unable to stop the shooter though and tried to find cover. He died from his injuries within the Gurdwara.

Blood trails, [Amardeep Kaleka, Satwant Singh’s son] continued, indicate that the gunman was “slowed … enough so that other people could get to safety.”

The Hero of Oak Creek, then. Armed with a ritual sword too small for the job.

Earlier last year, there was a controversy in Detroit about whether a 4th-grader could carry a “dull, 3- to 5-inch kirpan.” His principal said yes, the school board said no. Then they said yes. Sort of, mostly.

The blade of the Kirpan must be dull and no longer than two and one-fourth inches long and the ceremonial sword must be worn under clothing and not visible in any way.
Students who violate the rules will be disciplined and may be prohibited from wearing the Kirpan to school in the future.

“Have, on your person, all the time, the five K’s: The Keshas (unshorn hair), the Kirpan (sheathed sword), the Kachhehra (drawers-like garment), the Kanga (comb), the Karha (steel bracelet).”—Rehat Maryada, Ceremony of Baptism or Initiation, Section 6, Chapter XIII, Article XXIV, paragraph (p)

The Kirpan is a ritual and ceremonial blade, but it’s also literally a sword.

According to Sikh theology, it’s for fighting evil, that evil should be fought. An interesting religion. At this point we don’t know what blade exactly Satwant Singh fought evil with, but fight it he did, and in doing so he saved the lives of some of his family and people.

The “gurdwara” was his place of worship and could be translated as temple or church, but in Sikh parlance, it really means “gateway.” And since unlike Hinduism, Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, Godspeed, Shaheed Bhai Satwant Singh Kaleka. May your soul rest in peace.


Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past contributor to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.


  1. Godspeed, Shaheed Bhai Satwant Singh Kaleka. May your soul rest in peace

    I will Amen that ass well.

    And since unlike Hinduism, Sikhism is a monotheistic religion

    Its more complicated. Hinduism is about as monotheistic as Christianity. The multiple Gods are in the end one in the about the same way Christians see that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are both three and one.

    • Except it’s more complicated than that… on both sides. Brahmins will say that hinduism is monotheistic… but that’s … not what everyone else might say.

      Likewise, when you’ve got people worshiping/praying to saints…

      • Well, the trinity is simpler- more like the fact that I’m a son, a husband, and a father, all at the same time- different facets of the same being. Also, we Catholics don’t worship saints- we pray to them in the way we might ask a friend to pray for us- intercessions. We don’t pray to them in the sense that they’re gods.

        At any rate, Shaheed Bhai Satwant Singh Kaleka lived up to the Singh part of his name- Singh meaning ‘Lion’ or ‘Lion blooded’. Amen indeed.

        • You’ve understated the complexity of the trinity. You are a son of one entity, the father of another, and your father-aspect is not the father of your son-aspect, nor does your son-aspect speak (pray) to your father-aspect. In the trinity, the father-aspect is the father of the son-aspect, and the son prays to the father. And the father sends the spirit-aspect, it is not simply Him going in another guise.

  2. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

  3. Look at the name, “Charles Foster Kane.”

    Ironically, while the first two names of the character is the hero who killed the McDonald’s gunman, Orson Welles’s (the man who played Charles Foster Kane) last name is the same name as the first name of a hero who gave his life saving 12 others, Welles Remy Crowther! Believe it or not, Charles Foster Kane’s last word, “Rosebud,” that means Kaleka in English, it says it all! Kaleka, the man with a blue turban, gave his life stopping the gunman (ironically, the gunman is the distant cousin of Welles Remy Crowther!) and the first names of Kaleka are Satwant Singh, the Lion of Truth!

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