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Definition of 'Khalsa'
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Before we delve into who is the actual Khalsa, lets first look at the definition of the word ‘Khalsa’. The renowned modern day Sikh historian Piara Singh Padam defined Khalsa thus:

Khalsa, is an Arabic word. The meaning of which is – ‘The land of the Emperor, That land that can not be taxed’. Meaning derived from this is that the free individual who is free from all forms of subservience, is Khalsa.’
‘Gobind Sagar’, by Piara Singh Padam, Pa.107

Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha defined Khalsa thus:

‘Meaning of Khalsa is genuine, pure and unadulterated. Taking this meaning, Siri Guru Gobind Singh gave this name ‘Khalsa’ to Amritdhari Sikhs (Singhs), that which is translation of ‘Nirmal’ (pure).’
‘Gurmat Martand’, by, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, Vol.1, Pa.322-323

Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh
The tenth Sikh Guru, flanked by his Akali Sikh warriors armed with traditional weapons

Thus above are the definitions of Khalsa as accepted by modern mainstream Sikhs. The Sanatan Sikhs at large agreed with above definitions, but yet extended these to include non-Amritdhari Sikhs - an idea so repugnant to many modern Sikhs. Yet to substantiate, their case Sanatan Sikhs quote the Adi Guru Durbar it self.

‘Oh Kabir, they have become Khalseh [attained salvation], those who have known Prem Bhagat [love of devotion to God].’
‘Adi Guru Durbar’, Raag Sorath, Bhagat Kabir, Pa.654

Hence, according to Adi Guru Durbar, anybody who lovingly devote themselves to God can be seen as Khalsa. To say then that ‘Amrit Sanchaar’ (Sikh initiation ceremony), alone marks one out as a Khalsa is incorrect.

Adi Guru Durbar

Adi Guru Durbar commissioned by Sodhi Bhan Singh, circa 19th century. The 10 Sikh Gurus, 'Suraj Vansh' (Sun dynasty),
'Chandra Vansh' (Moon dynasty), and Sodhi Bhan Singh himself (centre) worshipping Durga and Shiva are all depicted in this particular folio

Bhagat Kabir, Baba Sheikh Farid, Bhagat Trilochan, Bhagat Namdev, Bhagat Akroor, Bhagat Dhroo etc., all of whom lived before the Sikh Gurus, and thus before the Amrit initiation, can all be considered to be Khalsa. Anyone who does ‘Naam Simran’ (devotion to the Almighty) be they of any faith, creed, country etc. according to Sanatan Sikhism is by definition, a Khalsa.

Bhagat Jaidev
According to Sanatan Sikhi, Bhagat Jaidev, author of 'Gita Govinda' is considered a Sikh

Within the Sanatan Sikh world, numerous Nirmala, Udasi and Seva Panthi Sahejdhari (non-Amritdhari) Khalsa Sikhs flourished, and were acknowledged by even Amritdhari Khalsa Sikhs as holy men right up to early last century.

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