Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Gateway to Sikhism

1 .Tanakhah-nama

The Tanakhah-nama that has been attributed to Bhai Nand Lal, has been discounted, and it should be noted that the title of the rahit-nama is also mistaken. Only general answers are given to the question of the fate awaiting the Khalsa who flouts aspects of the Rahit. It contrasts in this respect with the Daya Singh Rahit-nama which is thoroughly specific regarding the tanakhahs imposed on the wayward Khalsa. The word tnakhah never enters the earliest version (MS 770), nor does tanakhahia. Tanakhdhi nama is actually the wrong name for this rahit-nama. In MS 770 it is entitled Nasihat-nd-ma, the `Manual of Instruction'. i

There is, however, little doubt concerning the early date of this rahit-nama. This, as we have already noted, is S. 1776 (1718-19 CE). As a product that first surfaces barely ten years after the death of Guru Gobind Singh it provides valuable id, sight into the Rahit as it was understood by at least one early member of the Khalsa.

Note that this does not mean that it necessarily communicates an accurate report of the words of Guru Gobind Singh, nor that it was a view held by all members of the Khalsa at that time. The words of Gur Sobha are likely to be more authentic than those of the author of the Tanakhah-nama, as Sainapati was evidently much closer to the Guru during the latter's lifetime. The unknown author may have represented the doctrines and practices of the IKhalsa accurately, but there must remain an element of doubt that cannot be put aside. Already the Khalsa had been split by the quarrels between the Bandai Sikhs and the Tat Khalsa, and it is quite possible that the author was concerned to communicate the notions of a particular group within the Khalsa rather than a balanced and unbiased statement. We are, in other words, up against the problem that obstructs all studies of all rahit-namas.

But the Tanakhah-nama or, more accurately, the Nasihat-nama does at least emerge from an early period and in general terms its views must surely represent this period. These views may be tabulated as follows. Words which have been inserted to maintain continuity are indicated by square brackets in the text. The numbers in square brackets following each section indicate verses in the English translation.

Duties and privileges of a Khalsa

A Sikh of the Khalsa remains absorbed in the divine Name and always repeats it. He abandons pride, triumphs over the five (evil impulses], and upholds his duty as a member of the Khalsa. A Ithalsa should never [show disrespect to] iron by touching it with his foot. A IUhalsa causes no harm to the created world. A Khalsa breaks free from that which binds him. A Khalsa is exalted to kingly rank. [15, 45-7, 49, 51, 52, 54a]

Doctrine and devotion

Perform only those deeds which are in accordance with the divine Name, charity, and bathing (ndm dan isandn). He who utters the divine Word without understanding gains nothing. Always pray before beginning an undertaking. Join in Rahiras each evening and recite Kirtan Sohila before retiring. [2, 7, 26, 9]]

Dress and outward appearance

No Sikh shall cut his hair. Tie your turban afresh each time you remove it. Do not clothe yourself in red. Do not roam around naked. [17, 23, 43, 64]

Bathing and personal hygiene

Always bathe in cold water. Do not bathe naked. Every day clean your teeth and twice comb your hair. Do not use snuff (nasavur). [17, 23, 25, 42]

Crimes and misdemeanours

Do not give way to anger. Do not tell lies. Always keep your word. Do not slander others. Do not gamble. Do not steal. Do not be deceitful. A Khalsa refrains from scurrilous talk and does not look covetously on another's property. [19, 24, 27, 28, 35, 40, 44, 47]

Social relationships

Do not trust a sadhu who does not observe the Rahit. Do not trade deceitfully. [30a, 37]

Sexual morality

Do not look with lustful eyes on women who enter the sangat. A Khalsa must not have sexual relations with any woman other than his wife. Do not visit a prostitute, nor show affection for another's wife. Do not seduce the Guru's wife.2 Do not sleep at night naked from the waist down. Do not engage in intercourse while naked. [18, 32, 38-42, 46, 47]


Keep a charity box. Give a tithe to the Guru. Before eating always set aside a portion for the Guru. Give when you see someone in need. A Khalsa gives gifts as charity and always supports the needy. [24, 31, 33, 37, 44a, 50]

The sangat

Regularly attend the satsang. When attending satsang do not let your mind wander. Do not talk while listening to the singing of the praises of God (hari). Do not refuse to have a poor person sit beside you. Assemblies (divan) should be attended. Listen attentively to kirtan and katha. [3-6, 16, 34]

Guru Granth Sahib

Always bow after completing a,reading from the sacred scripture. Sing only songs composed by the Guru. A Khalsa loves the hymns of the Guru. [8, 29, 48]


Marry your daughter [to a Khalsa Sikh]. Accept no price for your daughter's or sister's hand. [19, 20]

Karah prasad

Rules for the preparation of karah prasad: The three ingredients must be in equal quantities and the place for preparation must be swept and plastered. Cooking vessels must be scoured and washed clean. The person preparing karah prasad must bathe and must utter only `Praise to the Guru'. Fill a new pitcher with water. When the karah prasad is ready place it on a four-legged stool. Sit around it and sing kirtan. [10-14, 36]

Preparation and consumption of food

When distributing food [in the langar] do not be a greedy person [who keeps a large portion for himself], and who serves unequal portions [to others]. Do not distribute food without concern for the approved procedure. Never consume anything that is proscribed. Never eat without first reciting fapuji. Say `Praise to the Guru' before eating. Do not distribute nor eat food bare-headed. [9, 16, 25, 32, 38, 43]

Weapons and warfare

Never go unarmed. A Khalsa always carries weapons. A Khalsa never turns his back when fighting. A Khalsa destroys those who oppress [others]. A Khalsa knows how to ride a spirited steed. A Khalsa is always fighting battles. [21, 22a, 44, 48,' 50, 53, 54]

False teachers

Do not listen to anyone who defames the Guru. Kill him. Never` abandon the Guru and follow another. [36, 411

Attitude towards Hindus

A Khalsa despises the rituals [of the Brahmans]. [45]

Attitude towards Muslims

Do not accept a Turk as your master (see ch. 7.13, pp. 219-23). Do not salute a Turk. Avoid meat cooked by Turks. A Khalsa fights against Muslims. A Khalsa slays Muslims. [15, 22a, 29,, 44a, 51, 54]

Sundry prohibitions

Do not rob a wayfarer. Do not blow out a lamp [instead of extinguishing it with your fingers]. Do not extinguish fire with water from which you have been drinking. [22, 37a]

Tanakhah-nama concludes with a triumphant couplet in praise of the Khalsa, the mighty Khalsa which though few in number will yet overwhelm the Turks and demolish all enemies of truth. All those who acknowledge its rule shall find eternal liberation:,

raj karega khalsa ahi rahih na koi

khvar hoi sabh milainge bachahi saran jo hoi (TanN 62).

The author of the Tanakhah-nama shows a particular interest in the following features:

1. Warfare. This is predictable, given the recent struggle. during the time of Banda and the continuing resistance of the Khalsa to Mughal rule.

2. Strong opposition to Muslims, including the killing of them. In view of recent events this too is predictable. The first of thr, two items which still appears in the modern Rahit makes ilq appearance here. This is the ban on eating meat from animaJq killed according to Muslim rites (kuttha). ri

3. Attendance at the sangat. This is also understandable) Religion was, after all, the basis of the Khalsa.

4. The distribution of food (presumably in the langar) avid the consumption of it in general.

5. The preparation of karah prasad. This is peculiar to the T anakhah-•rcama in that it receives such detailed treatment. Obviously the custom was one which the Khalsa, having received it from its earlier Sikh antecedents, was concerned to continue.

6. The sexual morality of the Khalsa. This feature is perhaps surprising, not because its strict message appears in this rahitnama but because it is so strongly emphasised. Is this a strongly-held view by the author as an individual, or does it represent a generally accepted attitude among the Khalsa? Sexual propriety is certainly a message that continues through the rahit-nama literature, but nowhere else does it receive such emphasis as in the Tanakhah-nama.

The following features, which were mentioned by Sainapati in Gur Sobha, have been omitted:

1. There is no reference to the rite of initiation.

2. No warning is issued concerning the hookah. The Khalsa is, however, cautioned about the use of snuff (nasavar).

3. There is no reference to the Five Reprobate Groups (the panj mel).


Excerpts taken from : Sikhs of the Khalsa : History of Khalsa Rahit
W.H.Mcleod Oxford Press 2003
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