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Gateway to Sikhism

Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama-5

False Teachers and Enemies of the Guru

A Gursikh should have no dealings with any of the Five Reprobate Groups, viz. (1) Minas. (2) The followers of Ram Rai. (3) The followers of Dhir Mal. (4) The masands. (5) Those who acknowledge the authority of the masands. A Gursikh should not associate with any of the following, nor should he accept their teachings: (1) A Muslim (turak). (2) A yogi. (3) Anyone who does not wear a turban. (4) One who shaves his head (sirkhutha). (5) A mendicant who mats his hair. (6) A naked sadhu who coats himself with ashes. (7) A person who wears a topi. (8) Anyone who arrogantly assumes spiritual authority. A Gursikh should never patronize nor protect apostates, delinquents, impostors, cheats, thieves, adulterers, or gamblers. [6, 31, 83, 121, 186-8, 546-7]

Attitude towards Muslims

Never associate with a Muslim nor trust his word. Never drink water from a Muslim's hands, never eat his food, and never sleep in his company. Do not be influenced by anything a Muslim may say. Muslims have no respect for the religious obligations of caste and the cow. A Gursikh should not enter a Muslim mosque nor accept the authority of a mullah or a qazi. Never touch a Muslim woman. Never eat meat from animals killed according to the Muslim rite (kuttha). Do not distribute or eat karah prasad in the company of Muslims. Never eat sweets or any other food offered as an oblation by a Muslim official. Religious discourse should not be held with Muslims. A Gursikh should never delegate the management of his household affairs to a Muslim. He should never entrust his sword to a Muslim and then walk on ahead. Never invite a Muslim to recite the Kalima nor attend the mourning ceremony for a deceased Muslim. A Gursikh should never reverently place on his kes anything inscribed in Arabic. Gursikhs who are employed by a Turkish administration may be forgiven any unavoidable transgressions which may result from their employment, except for the following three offences that can never be pardoned: (1) Killing a daughter. (2) Cutting of one's hair or beard. (3) Taking poisonous substances (i.e. smoking a hookah). Never touch a Mughal's feet nor eat food which lie leaves. The command of the Guru is, `Fight the barbarians! Destroy them all!' [10, 31, 80, 120-1, 137, 330, 372, 384-6, 407, 436, 441-2, 444-6, 472, 541]

Hindu Conventions

A Gursikh must not wear either a sacred thread or a frontal mark. He must never offer prayers at any tomb, cenotaph, or sacred pool, nor at a shrine dedicated to Gugga Pir. He should not worship at the shrines of deceased Hindus and he should not enter a Hindu temple. Sikh marriages should be performed by Brahmans. Brahman Sikhs should receive double the deference and attention normally bestowed on a Sikh. The ashes of a deceased Sikh should be deposited in the Ganga. On the anniversary of a father's death, a shraddh ceremony should be held. [20, 24, 45-6, 120, 137, 387, 406]

Belief in the Goddess Devi

The Devi receives abundant attention in the Chaupa Singh Rahitruima. It comes in the lengthy narrative description of the successful fire ceremony, held on the hill called Naina Devi. [205-35]



A Gursikh should never fail to respond when greeted by the salutation `Vahi guTnft ki f tte[h]!' ('Hail the Guru's victory!'). Each morning a Gursikh should greet the sun with a Namaste' and his fellow Sikhs with the salutation `Vahi guruji hi fate[h]!'. When the new moon appears a Gursikh should salute it with a `Namaste' and his fellow Sikhs with `Vahi guruji ki fatefhj!' [150-1, 363, 516]


The Gurmukhi Script

A Gursikh should never tread on any paper inscribed with Gurmukhi, nor use such paper as a wrapping. He should show respect for the letters of the Gurmukhi alphabet. Never speak of `drying' a slate after washing Gurmukhi characters from [147, 511]


Sundry prohibitions

Never misdirect a Sikh who asks the way. A Gursikh should n ot rub gum-tragacanth or henna on his hands, nor apply black collyrium to his eyes. [382, 419, 490, 513]

Miscellaneous injunctions

Take care never to drop a knife (karad) when it is being passed from one person to another. A tree should not be cut down while it is still able to bear fruit. A lamp should be extinguished waving a fan or piece of cloth. It should not be blown out by human breath nor snuffed with the fingers.' Do not extinguish fire with water left over after drinking. Do not throw a stone a dog without good reason. [324, 491, 505, 523, 543]

This is a substantial statement of what the Rahit was believed to contain. It is true that it represents the views of the Chhibban family, and it is, also true that it may have been corrupted to some extent. Little importance needs to be attached to the latter possibility. A manuscript copied in S. 1821 (1765 CE), is suf ficiently early to make corruption unlikely (see p. 13). More importance should perhaps be attached to the rahit-nama's Chhibbar origins. Yet barring the few items that communicatd privilege to Brahman Sikhs there is little reason for believing that it had strayed far from the orthodox Khalsa path. The standard Khalsa precepts have all been written into the rahit-namas' and although the author may sometimes have addressed it to all Sikhs there can be no doubt that his injunctions are over whelmingly directed to the Khalsa. Certain features stand out

1. The author takes into account the whole of life. Detail prescriptions are enunciated that cover virtually every aspect a Sikh's life, with summary listings of qualities to be upheld and evils to be spurned. In this respect the Rahit-nama is in marked contrast with its predecessors (though not with its successors)

2. In spite of its length the rahit-nama contains little doctrine material. The emphasis is on behaviour rather than on belief. The general attitude is a rather puritanical one.

3. Considerable stress is laid upon the maintenance of the kes and care of the hair.

4. Likewise the use of arms and the practice of warfare receive close attention.

5. Smoking still means use of a hookah. A cook and anyone responsible for preparing karah prasad must not be a huhai. A Gursikh should not work for a Muslim if lie is required to join in smoking a hookah.

6. A lengthy list of offences against the Rahit (tanahhah) is given. No penances are prescribed.

7. Like the Tanahhah-nama the author attaches considerable importance to the sangat, going into detail concerning the dharamsala and the duties of the person in charge of one.

8. A detailed initiation ceremony is provided.

9. Hindu conventions are retained to some extent. At funerals the head of a deceased Sikh must not be shaved (thereby agreeing with Gur Sobha), but the ashes of a deceased should he deposited in the Ganga and on the anniversary of a father's death a shraddh ceremony should be held. Reverence for the cow is upheld (ChS 10, 59, 150).

10. Caste and lineage distinctions are maintained.

11. Although the Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama is unique in allocating a lengthy section to the duties of female members of the Khalsa, the author staunchly upholds patriarchy. In this regard he agrees at much greater length with the author of Snh,hi Rahit hi. Women are the embodiment of deceit and one should not entrust a secret to them. Initiation can never be conferred on women. A Khalsa has important duties to perform for his son (such as preparing him for initiation), but arranging a suitable marriage is the only one that he has for his daughter.

12. The Five Reprobate Groups are all named. Eight other kinds of people to be avoided are separately named.

13. Muslims are subjected to an extensive panoply of condemnation, culminating in a quotation from the Dasam Granth: `Fight the barbarians! Destroy them all!' 17 It appears that Sikhs and Muslims uneasily co-existed in the Punjab of the time, but there was no doubt about the Khalsa opinion of Muslims. The third of the three items which, in an altered form, still survives in the modern Rahit makes its appearance. This is the ban on touching Muslim woman (see ch. 7.15, pp. 224–5).

14. The author firmly believes the account of Guru Gobind Singh 's encounter with the goddess Devi or Durga.

The Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama supplies a substantial array of Rahit provisions. It has been argued that in spite of its Brahman provenance the rahit-nama is generally orthodox. The fact that it is securely located in the middle years of the eighteenth century means that a comprehensive view of the Rahit has emerged at a relatively early date.



Excerpts taken from : Sikhs of the Khalsa : History of Khalsa Rahit
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