Bhai Chaupa Singh


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 Japuji by heart. He should recite the Guru’s mantra

and Japuji 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!’

(vdh 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 (pahj 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 Ai clas. 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 Rahims, 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 kiitan. [1-2, 3, 120]

Dress and outward appearance


A Kes-dhari Sikh is not permitted to wear either a topi or a loin¬

cloth. 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. 11 [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 Kes-

dhari 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, 524-8]


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]

Smoking ("Hookah")

A Gursikh should not work for a Muslim if he is required to take

poisonous substances, 1 " 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,


A Gursikh should instruct his family in the Guru’s teaching

(guramati ) and the duties which these teachings require. Par¬

ents must be cared for, and they should also be obeyed,

provided that they are themselves obedient to the Guru. 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 he 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

dharamsala. There he should offer petition to the Guru and

service to the sangat. The Guru will grant him the peace which

he needs. He must accept widiout complaint whatever response

the Satguru may make to his petition. [25, 489, 536]


Every 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 Guru’s name, particularly those who are

poor. Ai das 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]

Social Behaviour Within the Panth

Relationships with other Sikhs

A Gursikh should regard all fellow Sikhs as members of the

Guru’s family and thus as his own relatives. He should serve all

Sikhs with love and affection and never cause grief or distress

to any of them. He should never look with evil intent on any of

them, never betray their trust, and never obstruct their legitimate

activity. The first-fruits of each harvest should be eaten by an¬

other Sikh. [22, 39, 59,72-3, 76,78-9,94,319, 446,469,484,531]

Courtesy in speech and behaviour

A Gursikh should never criticize another Sikh nor quarrel with

him. He must not abuse him, ridicule him, speak sarcastically

to him, or address obscenities to him. Descendants of the Gurus

should be treated with particular respect. Never insult another

Sikh by making rude gestures, pulling his turban, knocking off

his turban, pulling the hair of his kes, or grasping his beard. Do

not be discourteous to poor Sikhs. A Gursikh should not keep

a poor Sikh waiting while he finishes his meal. Do not address

another Sikh by only half his name. Always attend a fellow Sikh’s

funeral if possible. When drawing water from a well, always

serve it to any Sikh who requests a drink. Never refuse an

invitation thrice to dine with another Sikh, and never awaken a

sleeping Sikh by kicking him. [18, 57, 107, 304, 309-15, 358,

408, 412-13, 415, 417, 447, 454, 495, 514, 530]

Assistance in times of need

Gursikhs should help fellow Sikhs who are in need. Assistance

should always be given to a Sikh who requests in the Guru’s

name. They should warn a fellow Sikh if they perceive that his

business affairs are at risk and should assist him when he is

afflicted by financial need. Shelter should always be given to a

Sikh traveller who is in need. Always aid a wounded, disabled,

or exhausted Sikh on the battlefield. [25-7,135-6, 357, 418, 421,

486, 515]


A Gursikh must share his food with other Sikhs. Whenever he

eats he should invite another Sikh to join him. Any Sikh who

visits his house must be fed as generously as circumstances

permit. A Gursikh should not eat good food himself while

serving inferior food to another Sikh. Poor Sikhs should be

invited to dine, not merely those who are regarded as respect¬

able. A Gursikh should not take possession of a bed if it means

that other Sikhs must sleep on the floor. If a visiting Sikh wishes

to wash his hair he should be supplied with whey if any is

available. The clothes of a poor Sikh staying in the house should

be washed. [2, 63, 111, 316, 352, 354r-5, 358, 391, 393, 404, 423]

Business dealings

Gursikhs should have business dealings only with other Sikhs.

Honest Sikhs should be permitted to conduct their business without

interference. If two Sikhs are involved in a business

dispute they must effect a reconciliation by nightfall. A Sikh who

has suffered a loss in trading should not be required to repay

outstanding debts in full. A Gursikh should never take a bribe.

Never dismiss a Sikh servant and then employ a non-Sikh in his

place. Always pay a Sikh servant the wages that are his due. [17,

55, 444-5, 456, 459, 464, 481]

Treatment of women

A Gursikh should never trust a woman, neither his own nor

another’s. Never entrust a secret to them. Regard them as the

embodiment of deceit. Never keep company with women belong¬

ing to another man’s family. Never touch die feet of any woman

other than one’s own mother. Never eat food left by a woman.

Never curse a respectable woman nor use weapons against any

of them. [100, 192, 341, 342-3, 443]

Disputes between Sikhs

No Sikh should assault another Sikh, nor should he provoke

disagreement between Sikhs. Any Sikh who deliberately has

another Sikh imprisoned, plundered, or killed should be com¬

pletely ostracized. He who kills another Sikh will go to hell. If

two Sikhs are fighting, they must immediately desist when so

commanded by another Sikh. Disputes between Sikhs must be

settled within the Panth. They should not be taken to a magis¬

trate unless the magistrate is a Sikh. [79, 319, 350, 459-60, 462,

470, 532]

Tankhahs specified

In the case of the Chaupa Singh Rahit-namd diese are too

numerous to mention. See items 286-549 in the translation of

the Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama (Chs 176-88).

The Sangat

The satsang

A Gursikh should regularly join with other Sikhs to hear the

sacred scriptures sung and expounded. Four blessings are con¬

ferred when Sikhs gather. The scriptures are read and sung; the

deeper issues of the Sikh faith are explored; a better under¬

standing of the Rahit is acquired; and each Sikh is encouraged

to give alms according to his means. A Gursikh may participate

only in a Sikh satsang. In it one may only read passages from

Sikh scripture and sing Sikh kirtan. All must sit in lines without

reference to status. The only exceptions are descendants of the

Gurus 13 and those who are leading the singing. They should be

given seats at the front of the gathering. Every Gursikh should

learn humility by placing in rows the shoes of those attending

a satsang. Women may meet in a separate satsang. Do not

dispute the verdict or consensus of a satsang. [96-8, 117-18,

123, 277, 289, 302, 345, 480, 539]

Dharamsala (Gurudwara)

Every village or locality with Gursikh homes should maintain a

dharamsala dedicated to the Guru, where the sangat should

regularly gather. This building should include facilities for

Sikhs who may need a place to stay. There must be free access

to it. No Sikh should be prevented from entering. A Sikh of

the village must visit it regularly, taking an offering and bowing

his forehead to the ground. If a Sikh passes a dharamsala

while the scriptures are being read or kirtan sung he should

enter and bow his forehead to the ground. He should not talk

during kirtan, the reading of scripture, or a religious discourse.

Rahiras should be sung in dharamsalas each evening at dusk.

At its conclusion the officiating Sikh should address those

assembled there with the cry Vahi guru ji hi fate[h] (‘Hail the

Guru’s victory!’). Every Sikhni should daily contribute a handful

of flour to the dharamsala kitchen. [1, 3, 133, 144, 388, 416, 494,

498, 501, 529, 561]


The person placed in charge of a dharamsala (the dharamsalia)

should possess all virtues and be a careful observer of the Rahit.

The conduct of divine worship and rituals is his duty. He should

instruct the Sikh boys of his locality in the contents of the Granth

Sahib, teaching them its hymns and how to sing kirtan. The

Sikhs of each locality should support their dharamsalia. He

should receive a portion of the offerings made in the dharamsala,

though not from descendants of the Gurus. A dharamsalia

should remain celibate and should never steal. [32-3, 69-72]

The Granth Sahib

Preparation and care of the sacred volume

Any Gursikh who is able to copy the Granth Sahib should

prepare a volume and present it to his sangat. He should ask

nothing for this service, but may accept anything which is

offered. The sacred volume must never be kept in a demeaning

place. It must always be given a place of honour. A lectern,

wrapping-cloth, and whisk should be provided. When in the

presence of the Granth Sahib never turn your back on it. [16,

64, 68, 383, 434, 493]

Reading the Granth Sahib

The Granth Sahib is to be revered as the Guru. Every Gursikh

should regularly read or hear it and meditate on its meaning.

Before touching the sacred volume a Gursikh must wash his

hands. Before reading it he must bathe, or at least wash both

hands and feet and rinse his mouth. While reading it he must

never sit on a stool or string-bed which is higher than the sacred

volume itself, and he should not rest his forehead on his hand.

Do not interrupt a Sikh who is reading or expounding the Granth

Sahib. Respectfully announce when a reading is complete and

touch the floor with your forehead. Do not use a piece of straw

as a book-mark, and do not read the Granth Sahib when naked.

If a copy of the Granth Sahib is kept in a private house it must

be regularly read by the owner of the house or by someone else

appointed for the purpose. A woman should not read the Granth

Sahib in any Sikh assembly. [126, 131, 138-9, 339, 435, 437,

450, 467, 483, 492, 508-9, 538]

Complete readings

When a Gursikh concludes a reading of the Granth Sahib he

should read the scribe’s ink formula, repeat Japuji, and end the

entire reading with its terminal shalok. The complete Granth

Sahib should be read following the death of a Sikh. This should

be spread over as many days as his family can afford to provide

hospitality for mourners. 14 [45, 141]



The newborn son of Gursikh should not be publicly displayed

until he has been given an initiatory drink of water which has

been sweetened with raw sugar and touched by the feet of five

Sikhs. If the child is to be brought up a Kes-dhari his hair should

be left uncut from birth. He should be given a name from the

Granth Sahib and after the ceremony he should be bathed in

whey. 15 [60-1]


Marriage should be in accordance with caste and lineage

prescriptions. A marriage should be performed at the house

of the bride’s father, to which the bridegroom should be

escorted by a marriage-party. A Gursikh should not demand a

bride-price. A Kes-dhari’s son may be married to the daughter

of a father with cut hair (mono,) if she receives foot-wash

initiation (charanan di pahul). He should not marry his daughter

to a Sahaj-dhari Sikh unless the prospective bridegroom

undergoes initiation. This is performed with sweetened water

that has been used to wash a Granth Sahib lectern. Five stanzas

of Japuji and five of Anand are recited and the couple then

drink the water. If the bridegroom has previously worn a

sacred thread he may continue to do so during the wedding

ceremony, but he should subsequently remove it. [11, 13-16,

21, 503]


A Gursikh should receive initiation ( pdhut) before his hair has

grown to its full length. It is a father’s duty to have his son

initiated. 16 The procedure for conducting an initiation ritual is

set out in detail (see pp. 196-8). He who accepts initiation is

required to keep his kes uncut. Any Sikh who administers

initiation must be devout, wise, and scrupulous in his observance

of the Rahit. He should not be one-eyed, bald, lame, or a leper,

nor should he be a beardless person. Sword baptism (khande

dipahut) should not be administered to a woman. [88, 90-1, 122,

178-83, 375, 506]


The head of a deceased Gursikh must not be shaved, not even

that of a Sahaj-dhari. Kiitan should be sung and charitable

offerings distributed. There should be no public lamentation.

Karah prasad is distributed after the corpse has been washed.

Katha and kirtan should continue for as many days as the family

of the deceased can afford. The mourners should all be Sikhs.

Spread a complete reading of the Granth Sahib over this period.

After the funeral the ashes of the deceased should be deposited

in the Ganga. On the anniversary of a father’s death hold a

shraddh ceremony. [45-6]

Karah prasad

The preparation of karah prasad must not be entrusted to

anyone who cuts his hair or smokes a hookah, nor to any other

transgressor of the Rahit. Before it is prepared the cooking-

square must be freshly smeared and clean clothes put on.

Anand should be recited before commencing the preparation.

Karah prasad should not be weighed after it has been prepared.

Before it is distributed, recite Ardas. Karah prasad should be

distributed to all without favouritism or discrimination. A

Gursikh should never set aside his own portion before serving

others. [288, 290, 294, 296, 305, 376-7, 430-3, 440]

The Preparation and Consumption of Food

Prepration of Food

The Sikh who can afford a cook should employ only a Sikh. He

must never employ anyone who smokes a hookah, wears a topi,

cuts his hair, steals, fornicates, gambles, or otherwise flouts the

Rahit. Shoes must never be worn in a kitchen. Hands must be

washed before kneading dough and finger-nails should not be

permitted to grow long. Remain silent while preparing a meal.

Burn wood when cooking, not dung. If wood is insufficient burn

equal parts of wood and dung. [84, 86, 105, 298]

Eating and drinking

A Gursikh should wash his hands and feet, rinse his mouth, and

say l Sat nam vdhi guru' before eating. Before commencing he should

also put aside a portion as an offering to the Guru. Take

care not to begin to eat before a guest does so. Sikhs should

sit in a single line when eating together. Before eating a Gursikh

should remove his shoes, but not his turban. Do not talk while

eating and do not stand up if anyone arrives during the meal.

When others are present do not eat carelessly, spitting out

particles of food. Eat no more than is necessary to satisfy your


Prohibition on kutha or halal meat of Muslims

A Gursikh is strictly forbidden to eat meat killed according to

Muslim rites.

Prohibition on taking water from Muslims

If possible he should also avoid drinking water from a leather

bag. He should certainly never drink water served by a Muslim.

A cup received from someone who cuts his hair must be washed

before it is used. A Gursikh will never give others food that he has

already tasted. He will never eat food left by a woman.

[8, 10, 42, 52, 104, 119-20, 299, 301, 342, 372, 399, 521, 542]

Weapons and Warfare

The obligation to bear and revere arms

A Gursikh should carry weapons, both large and small. He

should always have at least one weapon on his person. A Gursikh

should revere and worship his sword (siri sahib). Worship is due

first to the Guru and secondly to the sword. The right to rule

is won and sustained by the sword. Arms should only be used,

however, when there is good cause for so doing. [41, 146, 188,

196, 250, 279, 322, 332]

The fighting Singh’s equipment

A Singh should regularly practise the use of his weapons to

ensure that he maintains and improves his skill. A Singh should

wear a kachh made from strong cloth, not a flimsy article which

will fail to serve its purpose. A weapon should never be left

uncleaned. [189, 193-4, 197]

The need for vigilance

A Singh should never keep his sword on his person while defecat¬

ing. Place it some distance away to ensure that it is not defiled,

or else 'entrust it to another Singh who will keep watch for him.

He must remain ever alert, even when sitting and thinking or

when defecating. He will always remain ready to spring into action

with his sword. He should always sleep prepared, clothed

and wearing a turban. His sword should never be earned behind

his back nor slung over the shoulder with the hilt behind the


Distrust towards Muslims

Never entrust your sword to a Muslim while you walk

ahead. A Singh should don his kachh as soon as he has bathed,

regardless of whether it is wet or dry. [189, 191, 195, 198, 204,



A Singh should never turn his back in battle. Always aid a

wounded, disabled, or exhausted Sikh on the battlefield. Always

have a slain Sikh cremated on the battlefield if possible. [190,

418, 420]


Persona! relationships amongst Sikhs should be based on the

belief that there is only one caste and only one lineage for those

who are followers of the one true Guru. Sikhs should, however,

observe the distinctive customs of their various castes, and they

should marry according to the traditional prescriptions of caste

and lineage. This they should do in order that no stigma may

attach to their name. Sikh marriages should be performed by

Brahmans. Brahman Sikhs should receive double the deference

and attention normally bestowed on a Sikh. In the langar,

however, Brahmans should not be seated in front of others. All

should be required to sit in the same line and Brahmans should

not necessarily be served first. [11, 24, 79, 120-1, 499]

Women’s Duties

Personal behaviour

A Gursikhni should maintain a dutiful and placid disposition as

a wife. She should regard her husband as her lord, serving him

better food than other members of the family and instructing

him in the principles of the Sikh faith. A Gursikhni should never

abuse or berate a man, nor should she fight with one. She should

spurn ridicule, mockery, vulgar jokes, and obscene language.

She should not sing coarse songs at weddings or at any other

times. The songs which she sings should always be chaste and

wholesome. A Gursikhni should not bathe naked, nor should she

stand naked in water and cast it towards the sun. [550, 552, 554,

556-8, 565, 567]

Cooking and serving food

A Gursikhni should wash and cleanse herself with fresh earth

before preparing or serving food. To avoid pollution a Gursikhni

should observe the following rules while preparing food:

1. She should not speak.

2. If she clears her nose or scratches her body she should

wash her hands before proceeding.

3. Small children should be kept out of her cooking area. [551,


Women’s prayer and devotions

Before reciting the Guru’s mantra a Gursikhni should bathe, or

at least wash her hands and feet and rinse her mouth. She

should visit the dharamsala twice daily; she should keep her

head covered in a satsang; and she should learn portions of the

sacred scripture by heart. She should not read the Granth Sahib

in a Sikh assembly. A Gursikhni should spin cotton, and with

it weave cloth to be used as a wrapping ( rumai ) for the Granth

Sahib or as a covering for the dharamsala floor. She should not

offer prayers at tombs or cenotaphs. Sword baptism is not to

be administered to women. [506, 538, 553, 559-60, 566]

Social relationships

A Gursikhni should not keep the company of men other than

those of her own family. She should not sit with malicious

women, exchanging gossip with them. Social contacts with

women belonging to die Five Reprobate Groups (pahj met) are

to be avoided. [555, 564]

Travel and Pilgrimage

Visiting a pilgrimage centre does not free a Gursikh from

obedience to the Rahit. If he decides to go on pilgrimage, he

should visit only places associated with the Gurus. Before

commencing any journey, he should offer Ardas to the Guru and

ask for his protection. When he returns he should proceed to

his dharamsala as soon as possible and make his thanksgiving.

When on pilgrimage he should not accept support from offer¬

ings made by others if this can be avoided. He should himself

make offerings in order that others may be fed. Any Gursikh

traveller in need should receive assistance from local Sikhs

regardless of his capacity to pay. [108-9, 111-12, 121, 135, 537]

False Teachers and Enemies of the Guru

A Gursikh should have no dealings with any of the Five Repro¬

bate Groups, viz. (1) Minas. (2) The followers of Ram Rai. (3)

The followers of Dhir Mai. (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 (sir-

khutlia). (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 follow¬

ing three offences that can never be pardoned: (1) Killing a

daughter. (2) Cutting of one’s hair or beard. (3) Taking poison¬

ous substances (i.e. smoking a hookah). Never touch a Mughal’s

feet nor eat food which he 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]

Complex Engagement with Hindu


Rejection of sacred thread and frontal mark

A Gursikh must not wear either a sacred thread or a frontal


Rejection of prayers at funerary shrines

He must never offer prayers at any tomb, cenotaph, or

sacred pool, nor at a shrine dedicated to Gugga Pir.

Advice against going to temples

He should not worship at the shrines of deceased Hindus and he should

not enter a temple.

Sikh marriages to be performed by Brahmans

Sikh marriages should be performed

by Brahmans.

Special status of Brahman Sikhs

Brahman Sikhs should receive double the deference

and attention normally bestowed on a Sikh.

Holiness of river Ganges

The ashes of a deceased Sikh should be deposited in the Ganga.

Retention of Brahmanical "Shraddh" ritual by Sikhs

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 Rahit-

nama. It comes in the lengthy narrative description of the successful fire

ceremony, held on the hill called Naina Devi. [205-35]

[Editorial Note: This is the most complex instruction of this rahit-nama.

Oddly enough it is asking Sikhs to reject sacred thread and frontal mark

used by Brahmans yet it asks them to continue to worship the Hindu

Goddess Naina Devi, immerse the ashes of the deceased Sikhs in Hindu

holy river Ganges, get marriages officiated by Brahmans , perform

Brahmanical rituals such as shraddh, and accord higher status to Brahman

Sikhs (thereby formally confirming caste system within Sikhs). This also

sheds some light on the behavior of Sikh laity, clergy and royalty up till

Maharaja Ranjit Singh's rule when Sikhs, including, the Maharaja himself,

appeared to practice Sanatani and Sikh traditions simultaneously with

great gusto.]


A Gursikh should never fail to respond when greeted by the

salutation ‘ Vdhi gurufi ki fate[h]V (‘Hail the Guru’s victory!’).

Each morning a Gursikh should greet the sun with a ‘ Namaste ’

and his fellow Sikhs with the salutation ‘ Waheguru ji ki fate[h]!'.

When the new moon appears a Gursikh should salute it with a

‘Namaste ’ and his fellow Sikhs with ‘ Waheguru ji ki fate[h]!' [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 it.

[147, 511]


Sundry prohibitions

Never misdirect a Sikh who asks the way. A Gursikh should not

nib Guru-tragacanth or henna on his hands, nor apply black

collyrium to his eyes. [382, 419, 490, 513]

Miscellaneous injunctions

Take care ne^er to drop a knife ( harad) 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 by

waving a fan or piece of cloth. It should not be blown out by

human breath nor snuffed with the fingers. Do not extinguish a

fire with water left over after drinking. Do not throw a stone at

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 Chhibbar

family, and it is also tine 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 sufficiently

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 communicate

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-nama,

and although the author may sometimes have addressed it to

all Sikhs there can be no doubt that his injunctions are overwhelmingly

directed to the Khalsa. Certain features stand out:

1. The author takes into account the whole of life. Detailed

prescriptions are enunciated that cover virtually every aspect of

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 doctrinal

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 die 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 hukai. A

Gursikh should not work for a Muslim if he is required to join

in smoking a hookah.

6. A lengthy list of offences against the Rahit ( tanalthah ) is

given. No penances are prescribed.

7. Like the Tanakhah-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 SobJih), but the ashes of a deceased should

be 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-ndma 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 Sdkhi

Rahit Id. 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 con¬

demnation, 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.


Sikhs of the Khalsa: A History of the Khalsa Rahit,W. H. McLeod, Oxford University Press, 2003 /Fair Use Notice: Excerptedfor non-commercial use under "Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of the US Copyright Law" from the foregoing text as published on archives.org for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, scholarship, and promoting research.