Facets of Corporate Sikh Life
- The essential facets of Panthic life are:
- (1) Guru Panth (the Panth’s Guru status);
(2) The ceremony of ambrosial initiation;
(3) The statute of chastisement for aberrations;
(4) The statute of collective resolution;
(5) The appeal against local decisions.
Panth’s Status of Guruhood
The concept of service is not confined to fanning the congregation, service to and in the common kitchen-cum-eating house, etc. A Sikh’s entire life is a life of benevolent exertion. The most fruitful service is the service that secures the optimum good by minimal endeavor. That can be achieved through organized collective action. A Sikh has, for this reason, to fulfill his Panthic obligations (obligations as a member of the corporate entity, the Panth), even as he/she performs his/her individual duties. This corporate entity is the Panth. Every Sikh has also to fulfill his obligations as a unit of the corporate body, the Panth.
(a) The Guru Panth (Panth’s status of Guruhood) means the whole body of committed baptized Sikhs. This body was fostered by all the ten Gurus and the tenth Guru gave it its final shape and invested it with Guruhood.
Ceremony of Baptism or Initiation
(a) Ambrosial baptism should be held at an exclusive place away from common human traffic.
(b) At the place where ambrosial baptism is to be administered, the holy Guru Granth Sahib should be installed and ceremonially opened. Also present should be six committed baptized Sikhs, one of whom should sit in attendance of the Guru Granth Sahib and the other five should be there to administer the ambrosial baptism. These six may even include Sikh women. All of them must have taken bath and washed their hair.
(c) The five beloved ones who administer ambrosial baptism should not include a disabled person, such as a person who is blind or blind in one eye, lame, one with a broken or disabled limb, or one suffering from some chronic disease. The number should not include anyone who has committed a breach of the Sikh discipline and principles. All of them should be committed baptized Sikhs with appealing personalities.
(d) Any man or woman of any country, religion or cast who embraces Sikhism and solemnly undertakes to abide by its principles is entitled to ambrosial baptism.
The person to be baptized should not be of very young age; he or she should have attained a plausible degree of discretion. The person to be baptized must have taken bath and washed the hair and must wear all five K’s – Kesh (unshorn hair), strapped Kirpan (sword), Kachhehra (prescribed shorts), Kanga (Comb tucked in the tied up hair), Karha (Steel bracelet). He/she must not have on his/her person any token of any other faith. He/she must not have his/her head bare or be wearing a cap. He/she must not be wearing any ornaments piercing through any part of the body. The persons to be baptized must stand respectfully with hands folded facing the Guru Granth Sahib.
(e) Anyone seeking to be rebaptized, having committed an aberration, should be singled out and the five beloved ones should award chastisement to him/her in the presence of the congregation.
(f) One from amongst the five beloved ones administering ambrosial baptism to persons seeking to be baptized should explain the principles of the Sikh religion to them:
The Sikh religion advocated the renunciation of the worship of any created thing, and rendering of worship and loving devotion to, and meditating on, the One Supreme Creator. For the fulfillment of such devotion and meditation, reflection on the contents of Gurbani and practicing of its tenets, participation in the congregational services, rendering service to the Panth, benevolent exertion (to promote the good of others), love of God’s name (loving reflection on the experience of the Divine), living within the Sikh discipline after getting baptized etc. are the principal means.
He should conclude his exposition of the principles of Sikh religion with the query: Do you accept these willingly?
(g) On an affirmative response from the seekers of baptism, one from amongst the five beloved ones should perform the Ardas for the preparation of baptism and take the holy Hukam (command). The five beloved ones should come close to the bowl for preparing the amrit (ambrosial nectar).
(h) The bowl should be of pure steel and it should be placed on a clean steel ring or other clean support.
(i) Clean water and sugar puffs should be put in the bowl and the five beloved ones should sit around it in bir posture [Sitting in bir posture comprises sitting resting the body on the right leg, the right calf and foot gathered inward and the left leg upto the shin kept in a vertical position.] and recite the undermentioned scriptural compositions.
(j) The scriptural composition to be recited are: The Japuji, the Jaap, The Ten Sawayyas (commencing with sarawag sud), The Bainti Chaupai (from hamri karo hath dai rachha to susht dokh te leho bachai), the first five and the last one stanza of the Anand Sahib.
(k) Each of the five beloved ones who recites the scripture should hold the edge of the bowl with his left hand and keep stirring the water with a double-edged sword held in his right hand. He should do that with full concentration. The rest of the beloved ones should keep gripping the edge of the bowl with both hands concentrating their full attention on the ambrosial nectar.
(l) After the conclusion of the recitation, one from amongst the beloved ones should perform the Ardas.
(m) Only that person seeking to be baptized who has participated in the entire ceremony of ambrosial baptism can be baptized. One who has turned up while the ceremony was in progress cannot be baptized.
(n) After the Ardas as per clause (1) above, thinking of our Father, the tenth Master, the wearer of the aigrette, every person seeking to be baptized should sit in bir posture, putting his/her right hand cupped on the left cupped hand and be made to drink the ambrosial mix five times, as the beloved one who pours the mix into his cupped hand exclaims: say, Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh! (The Khalsa is of the Wondrous Destroyer of darkness; victory too, is His!) The person being baptized should after imbibling the ambrosia, repeat: Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh. Then five handfuls of the ambrosial mix should be sprinkled into the eyes of the person being baptized and another five into his hair. Each such sprinkling should be accompanied by the beloved one administering baptism saying, Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh, and the person being baptized repeating the chant. Whatever ambrosial mix is left over after the administration of the ambrosial baptism to all individual seekers, should be sipped by all (men and women) baptized, together.
(o) After this the five beloved ones, all together in chorus, communicating the name of Waheguru to all who have been administered the ambrosial baptism, recite to them the mul mantar (basic creed, seminal chant) and make them repeat it aloud: ik aunkar satnam karta purakh nirbhau nirwair akal murat ajuni saibhang gur prasad.
(p) After this, one from amongst the five beloved ones should explain to the initiates the discipline of the order: Today you are reborn in the true Guru’s household, ending the cycle of migration, and joined the Khalsa Panth (order). Your spiritual father is now Guru Gobind Singh and, spiritual mother, Mata Sahib Kaur. Your place of birth is Kesgarh Sahib and your native place is Anandpur Sahib. You, being the sons of one father, are, inter-se yourselves and other baptized Sikhs, spiritual brothers. You have become the pure Khalsa, having renounced your previous lineage, professional background, calling (occupation), beliefs, that is, having given up all connections with your caste, descent, birth, country, religion, etc You are to worship none except the One Timeless Being – no god, goddess, incarnation or prophet. You are not to think of anyone except the ten Gurus and anything except their gospel as your savior. You are supposed to know Gurmukhi (Punjabi alphabet). (If you do not, you must learn it). And recite, or listen in to the recitation of, the undermentioned scriptural compositions, the daily repetition of which is ordained, every day: (1) The Japuji Sahib, (2) The Jaap Sahib, (3) The Ten Sawayyas (Quartrains), beginning sarawag sudh, (4) The Sodar Rahiras and the Sohila. Besides, you should read from or listen in to the recitation from the Guru Granth. Have, on your person, all the time, the five K’s: The Keshas (unshorn hair), the Kirpan (sheathed sword) [The length of the sword to be worn is not prescribed.], the Kachhehra [The Kachhehra (drawers like garment) may be made from any cloth, but its legs should not reach down to below the shins.], the Kanga (comb), the Karha (steel bracelet) [The karha should be of pure steel.].
- The undermentioned four transgressions (tabooed practices) must be avoided:
- (1) Dishonouring the hair;
(2) Eating the meat of an animal slaughtered the Muslim way;
(3) Cohabiting with a person other than one’s spouse;
(4) Using tobacco.
In the event of the commission of any of these transgressions, the transgressor must get rebaptised. If a transgression is committed unintentionally and unknowingly, the transgressor shall not be liable to punishment. You must not associate with a Sikh who had uncut hair earlier and has cut it or a Sikh who smokes. You must ever be ready for the service of the Panth and of the gurduwaras (Sikh places of worship). You must tender one tenth of your earnings to the Guru. In short, you must act the Guru’s way in all spheres of activity.
You must remain fully aligned to the Khalsa brotherhood in accordance with the principles of the Khalsa faith. If you commit transgression of the Khalsa discipline, you must present yourself before the congregation and beg pardon, accepting whatever punishment is awarded. You must also resolve to remain watchful against defaults in the future.
- (q) The following individuals shall be liable to chastisement involving automatic boycott:
- (1) Anyone maintaining relations or communion with elements antagonistic to the Panth including the minas (reprobates), the masands (agents once accredited to local Sikh communities as Guru’s representatives, sine discredited for their faults and aberrations), followers of Dhirmal or Ram Rai, et. al., or users of tobacco or killers of female infants;
(2) One who eats/drinks left-overs of the unbaptised or the fallen Sikhs;
(3) One who dyes his beard;
(4) One who gives off son or daughter in matrimony for a price or reward;
(5) Users of intoxicant (hemp, opium, liquor, narcotics, cocaine, etc.);
(6) One holding, or being a party to, ceremonies or practices contrary to the Guru’s way;
(7) One who defaults in the maintenance of Sikh discipline.
(r) After this sermon, one from among the five beloved ones should perform the Ardas.
(s) Thereafter, the Sikh sitting in attendance of the Guru Granth Sahib should take the Hukam. If anyone from amongst those who have received the ambrosial baptism had not earlier been named in accordance with the Sikh naming ceremony, he should renounce his previous name and be given a new name beginning with the first letter of the Hukam now taken.
(t) And finally, the karhah prashad should be distributed. All the newly launched Sikh men and women should eat the karhah prashad together off the same bowl.
Method of Imposing Chastisement
(a) Any Sikh who has committed any default in the observance of the Sikh discipline should approach the nearby Sikh congregation and make a confession of his lapse standing before the congregation.
(b) The congregation should then, in the holy presence of Guru Granth Sahib, elect from among themselves five beloved ones who should ponder over the suppliant’s fault and propose the chastisement (punishment) for it.
(c) The congregation should not take an obdurate stand in granting pardon. Nor should the defaulter argue about the chastisement. The punishment that is imposed should be some kind of service, especially some service that can be performed with hands.
(d) And finally an Ardas for correction should be performed.
Method of Adopting Gurmatta
(a) The Gurmatta can only be on a subject that affects the fundamental principles of Sikh religion and for their upholding, such as the questions affecting the maintenance of the status of the Gurus or the Guru Granth Sahib or the inviolability of the Guru Granth Sahib, ambrosial baptism, Sikh discipline and way of life, the identity and structural framework of the Panth. Ordinary issues of religious, educational, social or political nature can be dealt with only in a Matta [resolution].
(b) A Gurmatta [Holy resolution] can be adopted only by a select primary Panthic group or a representative gathering of the Panth.
Appeals against Local Decisions
An appeal can be made to the Akal Takht against a local congregation’s decision.