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Sikh Rehat Maryada

Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama p2

Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama -2

The Khalsa

The Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama favours a wider Sikh understanding rather than the distinctively Khalsa mode. It addresses its injunctions to the loyal Gursikh rather than to a specifically Khalsa Sikh, and in its first item it notes that these directions ore for a Sikh who is `either a Kes-dhari or a Sahaj-dhari’. It is true that there is an apparent ambivalence in the rahit-nama as a whole, with its author sometimes favouring the Kes-dhari and explicitly placing the Sahaj-dhari outside the Khalsa Panth. This is explained by the author’s valid understanding of the Sahaj-dhari as outside the Khalsa Panth but not outside the wider Sikh Panth. It is not a prominent feature of the rahit-nama, which generally includes the wider Sikh Panth within its range. 10 The one exception is the kes. This receives very considerable attention and clearly shows that the author adamantly favoured its retention by all Sikhs.

Character and Behaviour


A Gursikh must be benevolent and sympathetic, fair and impartial, patient and forgiving, compassionate, generous, and wholly trustworthy. He should never be proud, arrogant, or deceitful. Anger is particularly polluting. A Gursikh should associate with others of exemplary character in order that he may assimilate their qualities of love, trust, piety, and wisdom. He should never associate with the perverse. The qualities which accompany the faithful Gursikh at death are compassion, charity, austerities, devotion, continence, truth, humility, his faith as a Sikh, service to the Guru, and service to others. [34-5, 39, 40, 88, 104, 120-1, 123, 153, 189, 270-3, 465, 471]


The ten Gurus must be recognized as ten incarnations of the one eternal Guru. The Gursikh should praise and glorify the Guru, and should obey his commands. He should show respect to descendants of the Gurus, places associated with the Gurus, all who serve the Gurus, and the Gurus’ writings. [107, 125, 448-9, 502, 534]


Every Gursikh should know the Guru’s mantra (guramantar) and should learn fapuji by heart. He should recite the Guru’s mantra and fapuji every day. Every day he should read or hear the Guru’s Word, he should memorize portions of it, and should regularly meditate on it. He should regularly repeat `Praise to the Guru!’ (vah guru). [87, 126, 142, 149, 337, 504, 535]

Daily discipline

During the last watch of the night, a Gursikh, whether a Kes dhari or a Sahaj-dhari, should rise and bathe, or at least wash his hands and feet, and rinse his mouth (panj isanan). He should then recite Japuji five times, together with any other scriptural passages which he may know by heart, and he should conclude with Ardas. Next he should proceed to the dharamsala where he should make an offering, bow his forehead to the ground, and join his fellow Sikhs in praise to the Guru. He should then proceed to his daily labours. At dusk he should participate in Sodar Rahiras, preferably in a dharamsala-but otherwise at his home. After his evening meal, he should join his fellow Sikhs at worship in the dharamsala. Before sleeping he should perform kirtan. [1-2, 3, 120]

Dress and outward appearance


A Kes-dhari Sikh is not permitted to wear either a topi or a loincloth. Presumably only a Sahaj-dhari Sikh may wear these. A Gursikh’s tunic must be fastened at the front, not at the side, and he should never wear red garments. A Gursikh should never sleep naked. He should have on a kachh at least and should also wear a turban.” [191, 291-2, 380, 477-8]



The Gursikh must always protect the dignity of his kes and thus preserve the honour of his Sikh faith. The kes is the outward symbol of the inward faith of the Sikh. It is the seal of the Guru, the visible sign of loyalty to his teachings. The hair of a Kesdhari Sikh must be left uncut from birth. His kes, facial hair, body hair, and pubic hair must all remain uncut. A Sahaj-dhari Sikh may remove his body hair with scissors, but he must not touch his beard or (if living as a family man) his pubic hair. The Gursikh should comb his kes twice a day and wash it in whey (though not whey from sheep’s milk). It should never be touched with dirty hands, and it must be protected from insect infestation. The kes may not be washed with soap or salt-earth detergent. The hair of the kes should never be vigorously winnowed with one’s hands when drying it after washing. It must never be left tangled and it must never be dyed. White hairs must not be plucked from the kes. The hair of the beard must not be nibbled with one’s teeth, nor should it be trimmed with scissors or plucked with tweezers. The kes must be kept covered when out walking, sitting in a bazaar, travelling, or eating. The kes must never be allowed to hang loose in the presence of women. An adult male Sikh must not permit women to pick insects out of his kes. Always use terms of respect when referring to one’s kes. Never call it `hair’ (val). After washing the kes speak of `refreshing’ it, not `drying’ it. [53-4, 61, 80, 92, 145, 287, 295, 335-6, 346-7, 360, 390, 411, 473, 482, 510,518-22, 524-81 ]

The turban

A turban must be freshly tied each time it is put on. It should not be removed when eating or sleeping. A Gursikh must never tug another Sikh’s turban, nor knock it from his head. If his own turban falls to the ground he must apologize. A Kes-dhari Sikh must never use a waist-cloth as a turban. [191, 297, 312-13, 323, 334, 478, 542]


A Gursikh should never bathe at a dhobi ghat, never bathe naked, and never pour strained water on his head. He should always wear a kachh and should bathe after sexual intercourse. [5, 19, 119, 148, 340, 368]

Personal hygiene

After urinating a Gursikh must wash his hands. He should never defecate in a field of grain or beside water, and he should not speak during the operation. After defecating he should use earth to cleanse himself, employing only his left hand in the process. He should then wash his hands and feet, and rinse his mouth. Merely washing his hands is not sufficient. [105-6, 333, 466, 475-6, 540]

The hookah

A Gursikh should not work for a Muslim if he is required to take poisonous substances,12 nor should he sit beside anyone who does so. No smoker of the hookah should be employed as a cook by a Sikh nor permitted to prepare karah prasad. [80, 84, 432,” 438]

Family responsibilities

A Gursikh should instruct his family in the Guru’s teaching (guramati) and the duties which these teachings require. Parents must be cared for, and they should also be obeyed, provided that they are themselves obedient to the Guni. Any Gursikh who possesses the means should make provision for wife and family in the event of his death. As he approaches old age he should transfer his responsibilities to his offspring and increasingly devote himself to attending the satsang. A Gursikh must never kill a female baby. He must have no dealings with anyone who has committed this unpardonable offence. [12, 80, 122, 359, 371, 426, 428, 547]

Sexual morality

A married Sikh may have intercourse with his wife only between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. If lie has sexual intercourse during the night he must bathe completely when he arises. A Gursikh may not stare at another’s wife, nor should he have intercourse with her. Adultery is forbidden. Intercourse with a Muslim prostitute is strictly forbidden. [4, 5, 11, 102 368, 370, 396]

Speech and manner of address

A Gursikh should never speak offensively, nor should he use bitter words that may cause distress. He should always speak with kindness and affection. [119, 121]

Illness and need

Ardas may be said on behalf of a Sikh who is ill. If this is done, he must serve a thanksgiving meal when he recovers. In times of need or distress a Gursikh should arise during the last watch of the night, repeat ,Japuji five times, and proceed to the d aramsala. There he should offer petition to the Guru and service to the sangat. The Guru will grant him the peace which needs. He must accept without complaint whatever response the Satguru may make to his petition. [25, 489, 536]

very Gursikh should regard a pauper’s mouth as the Guru’s alms-box. If a Gursikh encounters a needy Sikh he should provide him with shelter. If possible he should have his clothes washed, enable him to wash his hair, and serve him food. From the proceeds of his labours’ every Gursikh should set aside a tenth part for the Guru. The Guru’s portion should be taken from each heap of winnowed grain. This offering should be used to feed other Sikhs in the Guni’s name, particularly those who are poor. Ardas offerings are to be made to a person duly authorized by the sangat. This person must dispense the collection honestly and must not conceal it for his own future use. A portion of the Ardas. offerings may be given to descendants of the Gurus, but they must not pass any of it on to Muslim authorities. [23, 48, 101, 364-7, 392]

Oaths and vows

A Gursikh should never require another Sikh to swear a false oath, nor should he himself swear an oath which harms an honourable man. If a Gursikh vows to donate anything in return for the granting of a favour he must honour his promise in full, withholding nothing. [56, 451-2]

Crimes and misdemeanours

A Gursikh should never commit theft or adultery, nor should he gamble. He should not drink intoxicating liquor. A Gursikh should not sing worldly songs, nor should he dance. At weddings he should not listen to lewd songs nor watch vulgar dancing. [7, 102, 127, 128, 345, 405]




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