THE CODE OF SIKH CONDUCT AND
The following is an article
issued by Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Comittee on the formal Code of Conduct and
Conventions of Sikhs. The rehatnama as described by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in his Zafarnama
was different from this. This may not be regarded as the final authority by some as the
actual Code of Conduct for Sikhs can only be taken from Guru Granth Sahib Ji and please
refer to the section on Fundamentals of Sikhism for description of
The Definition of Sikh
Any human being who faithfully
- One Immortal Being,
- Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev to Guru
- The Guru Granth Sahib,
- The utterances and teachings of the
ten Gurus and
- the baptism bequeathed by the tenth
- and who does not owe allegiance to any
other religion, is a Sikh.
A Sikhs life has two aspects :
individual or personal and corporate or Panthic ( as described below in
A Sikh's Personal Life
A Sikhs personal life should
- meditation on Nam (Divine Substance)*
and the scriptures,
- leading life according to the Gurus'
- altruistic voluntary service.
* Also translated as God's
Meditating on Nam (Divine Substance) and
(1) A Sikh should wake up in the
ambrosial hours (three hours before the dawn), take bath and, concentrating his/her
thoughts on One Immortal Being, repeat the name Waheguru (Wondrous Destroyer of darkness).
(2) He/she should recite the
following scriptural compositions every day :
- the Japu, the Jaapu and the Ten
(Quartets) - beginning Sarãwag sudh - in the morning.
- Sodar Rehras compromising the
- (i) nine hymns of the Guru Granth
Sahib, occurring in the holy book after the Japuji Sahib, *
the first of which begins with Sodar and the last of which ends with
saran pare kì rãkhõ sarmã. (ii) The Benti Chaupai of the tenth Guru
(beginning hamrì karõ hãth dai rachhã and ending with dusht dõkh te
lehõ bachãi (iii) the Sawayya beginning with the words pae gaho jab te
tumre (iv) the Dohira beginning with the words sagal duãr kau chhãd
kai (v) the first five and the last pauris (stanzas) of Anand Sahib 1
and (vi) the Mundawani and the Slok Mahla 5 beginning terã kìtã jato nãhi
in the evening after sunset.
- the Sohila - to be recited at night
before going to bed.
The morning and evening recitations should be concluded with Ardas (formal supplication
- The text
2 of the Ardas : **
- One Absolute Manifest; victory
belongeth to the Wonderous Destroyer of darkness. May the might of the All-powerful help!
- Ode to his might by the tenth lord.
- Having first thought of the
Almightys prowess, let us think of Guru Nanak. Then of Guru Angad, Amardas and
Ramdas - may they be our rescuers! Remember then Arjan, Hargobind and Harirai. Meditate
then on revered Hari Krishan on seeing whom all suffering vanishes. Think then of Tegh
Bahadar, remembrance of whom brings all nine treasures. He comes to rescue everywhere.
Then of the tenth lord, revered Guru Gobind Singh, who comes to rescue everywhere. The
embodiment of the light of all ten sovereign lordships, the Guru Granth Sahib - think of
the view and reading of it and say, Waheguru (Wondrous Destroyer of darkness).
- Meditating on the achievement of the
dear and truthful ones, including the five beloved ones, the four sons of the tenth Guru,
forty liberated ones, steadfast ones, constant repeaters of the Divine Name, those given
to assiduous devotion, those who repeated the Nam, shared their fare with others, ran free
kitchen, wielded the sword and everlooked faults and shortcomings, say
Waheguru, O Khalsa.
- Meditating on the achievement of the
male and female members of the Khalsa who laid down their lives in the cause of dharma
(religion and righteousness), got their bodies dismembered bit by bit, got their skulls
sawn off, got mounted on spiked wheels, got their bodies sawn, made sacrifices in the
service of the shrines (gurdwaras), did not betray their faith, sustained their adherence
to the Sikh faith with sacred unshorn hair uptill their last breath, say, Wondrous
Destroyer of darkness, O Khalsa.
- Thinking of the five thrones (seats of
religious authority) and all gurdwaras, say, Wondrous Destroyer of darkness, O
- Now it is the prayer of the whole
Khalsa. May the conscience of the whole Khalsa be informed by Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru
and, in consequence of such remembrance, may total well-being obtain. Wherever there are
communities of the Khalsa, may there be Divine protection and grace, and ascendance of the
supply of needs and of the holy sword, protection of the tradition of grace, victory to
the Panth, the succour of the holy sword, ascendance of the Khalsa. Say, O Khalsa,
Wondrous Destroyer of darkness.
- Unto the Sikhs the gift of the Sikh
faith, the gift of the untrimmed hair, the gift of the disciple of their faith, the gift
of sense of discrimination, the gift of truest, the gift of confidence, above all, the
gift of meditation on the Divine and bath in the Amritsar (holy tank at Amritsar). May
hymns-singing missionary parties, the flags, the hostels, abide from age to age. May
righteousness reign supreme. Say, Wondrous Destroyer of darkness.
- May the Khalsa be imbued with humility
and high wisdom! May Waheguru guard its understanding!
- O Immortal Being, eternal helper of
Thy Panth, benevolent Lord, bestow on the Khalsa the beneficence of unobstructed visit to
the free management of Nankana Sahib and other shrines and places of the Guru from which
the Panth have been separated.
- O Thou, the honour of the humble, the
strength of the weak, aid unto those who have none to rely on, True Father, Wondrous
Destroyer of darkness, we humbly render to you...... 3
Pardon any impermissible accretions, omissions, errors, mistakes. Fulfill the purposes of
- Grant us the association of those dear
ones, on meeting whom one is reminded of Your Name. O Nanak, may the Nam (Holy) be ever in
ascendance! In Thy will may the good of all prevail!
- On the conclusion of the Ardas, the
entire congregation participating in the Ardas should respectfully genuflect before the
revered Guru Granth, then stand up and call out, The Khalsa is of the Wondrous
Destroyer of darkness; victory also is His. The Congregation should, thereafter,
raise the loud spirited chant of Sat Sri Akal (True is the Timeless Being).
- While the Ardas is being performed,
all men and women in the congregation should stand with hands folded. The person in
attendance of the Guru Granth should keep waving the whisk standing.
- The person who performs the Ardas
should stand facing the Guru Granth with hands folded. If the Guru Granth is not there,
the performing of the Ardas facing any direction is acceptable.
- When any special Ardas for and on
behalf of one or more persons is offered, it is not necessary for persons in the
congregation other than that person or those persons to stand up.
Joining the congregation for
understanding of and reflecting on Gurbani
- One is more easily and deeply affected
by gurbani (the holy bani bequeathed by the Gurus) participating in congregational
gatherings. For this reason, it is necessary for a Sikh that he visit the places where the
Sikhs congregate for worship and prayer (the gurduwaras), and joining the congregation,
partake of the benefits that the study of the holy scriptures bestows.
- The Guru Granth should be ceremonially
opened in the gurduwara every day without fail. Except for special exigencies, when there
is need to keep the Guru Granth open during the night, the Holy Book should not be kept
open during the night. It should, generally, be closed ceremonially after the conclusion
of the Rehras (evening scriptural recitation). The Holy Book should remain open so long as
a granthi or attendant can remain in attendance, persons seeking darshan (seeking a view
of or making obeisance to it) keep coming, or there is no risk of commission of
irreverence towards it. Thereafter, it is advisable to close it ceremonially to avoid any
disrespect to it.
- The Guru Granth should be opened, read
and closed ceremonially with reverence. The place where it is installed should be
absolutely clean. An awning should be erected above. The Guru Granth Sahib should be
placed on a cot measuring up to its size and overlaid with absolutely clean mattress and
sheets. For proper installation and opening of the Guru Granth, there should be
cushions/pillows of appropriate kind etc. and, for covering it, romalas (sheet covers of
appropriate size). When the Guru Granth is not being read, it should remain covered with a
romal. A whisk, too, should be there.
- Anything except the afore-mentioned
reverential ceremonies, for instance, such practices as the arti *
with burning incense and lamps, offering of eatables to Guru Granth Sahib, burning of
lights, beating of gongs, etc., is contrary to gurmat (the Gurus way). However, for
the perfuming of the place, the use of flowers, incense and scent is not barred. For light
inside the room, oil or butter-oil lamps, candles, electric lamps, kerosene oil lamps,
etc. may be lighted.
- No book should be installed like and
at par with the Guru Granth. Worship of any idol or any ritual or activity should not be
allowed to be conducted inside the gurdwara. Nor should the festival of any other faith be
allowed to be celebrated inside the gurduwara. However, it will not be improper to use any
occasion or gathering for the propagation of the gurmat (The Gurus way).
- Pressing the legs of the cot on which
the Guru Granth Sahib is installed, rubbing nose against walls and on platforms, held
sacred, or massaging these, placing water below the Guru Granth Sahibs seat, making
or installing statues, or idols inside the gurduwaras, bowing before the picture of the
Sikh Gurus or elders - all these are irreligious self-willed egotism, contrary to gurmat
(the Gurus way).
- When the Guru Granth has to be taken
from one place to another, the Ardas should be performed. He/she who carries the Guru
Granth on his/her head should walk barefoot; but when the wearing of shoes is a necessity,
no superstitions need be entertained.
- The Guru Granth Sahib should be
ceremonially opened after performing the Ardas. After the ceremonial opening, a hymn
should be read from the Guru Granth Sahib.
- Whenever the Guru Granth is brought,
irrespective of whether or not another copy of the Guru Granth has already been installed
at the concerned place, every Sikh should stand up to show respect.
- While going into the gurduwara, one
should take off the shoes and clean oneself up. If the feet are dirty or soiled, they
should be washed with water.
One should circumambulate with the Guru Granth Sahib or the gurdwara on one's right.
- No person, no matter which country,
religion or cast he/she belongs to, is debarred from entering the gurduwara for darshan
(seeing the holy shrine). However, he/she should not have on his/her person anything, such
as tobacco or other intoxicants, which are tabooed by the Sikh religion.
- The first thing a Sikh should do on
entering the gurduwara is to do obeisance before the Guru Granth Sahib. He/she should,
thereafter, having a glimpse of the congregation and bid in a low, quiet voice,
Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh.
- In the congregation, there should be
no differentiation or discrimination between Sikh and non-Sikh, persons traditionally
regarded as touchable and untouchable, the so called high and low caste persons, the high
and the low.
- Sitting on a cushion, a distinctive
seat, a chair, a stool, a cot, etc. or in any distinctive position in the presence of the
Guru Granth or within the congregation is contrary to gurmat (Gurus way).
- No Sikh should sit bare-headed in the
presence of the Guru Granth Sahib or in the congregation. For Sikh women, joining the
congregation with their persons uncomfortable draped and with veils drawn over their faces
is contrary to gurmat (Gurus way).
- There are five takhts (lit, thrones,
fig., seats of high authority) : namely -
- The holy Akal Takht Amritsar,
- The holy Takht, Patna Sahib,
- The holy Takht, Kesgarh Sahib,
- The holy Takht Hazur Sahib, Nanded,
- The holy Takht Damdama Sahib, Talwandi
- Only an Amritdhari (baptized) Sikh man
or woman, who faithfully observes the discipline ordained for the baptized Sikhs, can
enter the hallowed enclosures of the takhts. (Ardas for and on behalf of any Sikh or
non-Sikh, except a fallen or punished (tankhahia) Sikh, can be offered at the takhts.
- At a high-level site in every gurdwara
should be installed the nishan sahib (Sikh flag). The cloth of the flag should be either
of xanthic or of greyish blue colour and on top of the flag post, there should either be a
spearhead or a Khanda (a straight dagger with convex side edges leading to slanting top
edges ending in a vertex).
- There should be a drum (nagara) in the
gurduwara for beating on appropriate occasions.
Kirtan (Devotional Hymn Singing by a
Group or an individual)
- Only a Sikh may perform kitran in a
- Kirtan means singing and scriptural
compositions in traditional musical measures.
- In the congregation, kirtan only of
Gurbani (Guru Granths or Guru Gobind Singhs hymns) and, for its elaboration,
of the compositions of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lal, may be performed.
- It is improper, while singing hymns to
rhythmic folk tunes or to traditional musical measures, or in team singing, to induct into
them improvised and extraneous refrains. Only a line from the hymn should be a refrain.
Taking Hukam *
- Doing obeisance to the Guru Granth
Sahib, respectfully, taking a glimpse of the congregation, an embodiment of the
Gurus person, and taking the command : these together constitute the view of the
Satguru (Immortal destroyer of darkness, the true guru). Raising the drapery covering the
Guru Granth Sahib and merely taking a look or making others take a look at the exposed
page, without taking the command (reading the prescribed hymn) is contrary to gurmat
- In the course of the congregational
sessions, only one thing should be done at a time : performing of kirtan, delivering of
discourse, interpretative elaboration of the scriptures, or reading of the scriptures.
- Only a Sikh, man or woman, is entitled
to be in attendance of the Guru Granth during the congregational session.
- Only a Sikh may read out from the Guru
Granth for others. However, even a non-Sikh may read from it for himself/herself.
- For taking the command (Hukam), the
hymn that is continuing on the top of the left page must be read from the beginning. If
the hymn begins on the previous page, turn over the page and read the whole hymn from the
beginning to the end. If the scriptural composition that is continuing on the top of the
left hand page is a var (ode), then start from the first of the slokas preceding the pauri
and read upto the end of the pauri. Conclude the reading at the end of the hymn with the
line in which the name Nanak occurs.
- Hukam must also be taken at the
conclusion of the congregational session or after the Ardas.
Sadharan Path (Completion of Normal
Intermittent Reading of the Guru Granth Sahib)
- Every Sikh should as far as possible,
maintain a separate and exclusive place for the installation of Guru Granth Sahib, in his
- Every Sikh man, woman, boy or girl,
should learn Gurmukhi to be able to read the Guru Granth Sahib.
- Every Sikh should take the Hukam
(Command) of the Guru Granth in the ambrosial (early), hours of the morning before taking
meal. If he/she fails to do that, he/she should read or listen to reading from the Guru
Granth some time during the day. If he/she cannot do that either, during travel etc., or
owing to any other impediment, he/she should not give in to a feeling of guilt.
- It is desirable that every Sikh should
carry on a continuous reading of the Guru Granth and complete a full reading in one or two
months or over a longer period.
- While undertaking a full reading of
the Guru Granth, one should recite the Anand Sahib (the first five and the last stanzas)
and perform the Ardas. One should, thereafter, read the Japuji
(Uninterrupted-Non-stop-Completion of the Reading of the Guru Granth Sahib)
- The non-stop reading of the Guru
Granth is carried on at hard times or on occasions of elation or joy. It takes forty-eight
hours. The non-stop reading implies continuous uninterrupted reading. The reading must be
clear and correct. Reading too fast, so that the person listening in to it cannot follow
the contents, amounts to irreverence to the Scriptures. The reading should be correct and
clear, due care being bestowed on consonant and vowel, even though that takes a little
longer to complete.
- Whichever family or congregation
undertakes the non-stop reading should carry it out itself through its members, relatives,
friends, etc., all together. The number of reciters is not prescribed.
If a person himself, cannot read, he should listen in to the reading by some competent
reader. However, it should never be allowed to happen that the reader carries on the
reading all by himself/herself and no member of the congregation or the family is
listening in to the reading. The reader should be served with food and clothing to the
best of the hosts means.
- Placing a pitcher, ceremonial
clarified-butted-fed lamp, coconut, etc. around , during the course of the uninterrupted
or any other reading of Guru Granth Sahib, or reading of other Scriptural texts side by
side with or in the course of such reading is contrary to the gurmat (Gurus way).
Commencing the Non-Stop Reading
While undertaking the intermittent reading of the whole Guru Granth Sahib, the
sacred pudding (Karhah Prashad) for offering should be brought and after reciting the
Anand Sahib (six stanzas) and offering Ardas, Hukam should be taken. While beginning the
unbroken reading, the sacred pudding should first be laid. Thereafter, after reciting the
Anand Sahib (six stanzas), offering the Ardas and taking the Hukam, the reading should be
Concluding the Reading
- The reading of the whole Guru Granth
Sahib (intermittent or non-stop) may be concluded with the reading of the Mundawani or the
Rag Mala according to the convention traditionally observed at the concerned place. (Since
there is a difference of opinion within the Panth on this issue, nobody should dare to
write or print a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib excluding the Rag Mala). Thereafter, after
reciting the Anand Sahib, the Ardas of the conclusion of the reading should be offered and
the sacred pudding (Karhah Prashad) distributed.
- On the conclusion of the reading,
offering of draperies, fly whisk and awning, having regard to the requirements of the Guru
Granth Sahib, and of other things, for Panthic causes, should be made to the best of
Karhah Prashad (Sacred Pudding)
- Only the sacred pudding which has been
prepared or got prepared according to the prescribed method shall be acceptable in the
- The method of preparing the Karhah
Prashad is this : In a clean vessel, the three contents (wheat flour, pure sugar and
clarified butter, in equal quantities) should be put and it should be made reciting the
Scriptures. Then covered with a clean piece of cloth, it should be placed on a clean stool
in front of the Guru Granth Sahib, the first five and the last stanza of the Anand Sahib
should be recited aloud (so that the congregation can hear) 1
the Ardas, offered and the pudding tucked with the sacred Kirpan for acceptance.
- After this, before the distribution to
the congregation of the Karhah Prashad, the share of the five beloved ones should be set
apart and given away. Thereafter, while commencing the general distribution, the share of
the person in attendance of the Guru Granth Sahib 2
should be put in a small bowl or vessel and handed over. The person who doles out the
Karhah Prashad among the congregation should do so without any discrimination on the basis
of personal regard or spite. He should dole out the Karhah Prashad equally to the Sikhs,
the non-Sikhs or a person of high or low caste. While doling out the Karhah Prashad, no
discrimination should be made on considerations of caste or ancestry or being regarded, by
some, as untouchable, of persons within the congregation.
- The offering of Karhaha Prashad should
be accompanied by at least two pice in cash.
Exposition of Gurbani (Sikh Holy
- The exposition of the Gurbani in a
congregational gathering should be carried out only by a Sikh.
- The object of the exposition should
only be promoting the understanding of the Gurus tenets.
- The exposition can only be of the ten
Gurus writings or utterances, Bhai Gurdass writings, Bhai Nand Lals writings
or of any generally accepted Panthic book or of books of history (which are in agreement
with the Gurus tenants) and not of a book of any other faith. However, for
illustration, references to a holy persons teachings or those contained in a book
may be made.
No discourse contrary to the Gurus tenets should be delivered inside a
In the gurduwara the schedule of the congregational service generally is :
Ceremonial opening of the Guru Granth Sahib, Kirtan, exposition of scriptures, expository
discourses, recitation of Anand Sahib, the Ardas (see Article IV (3) (a)), the
raising of Fateh slogan and then the slogan Sat Sri Akal and taking the Hukam.
Living in Consonance with Gurus
A Sikhs living, earning livelihood, thinking and conduct should accord with
the Gurus tenets. The Gurus tenets are :
- Worship should be rendered only to the
One Timeless Being and to no god or goddess.
- Regarding the ten Gurus, the Guru
Granth and the ten Gurus' word alone as saviors and holy objects of veneration.
- Regarding ten Gurus as the effulgence
of one light and one single entity.
- Not believing in cast or descent,
untouchability, magic, spells, incantation, omens, auspicious times, days and occasions,
influence of stars, horoscopic dispositions, shradh (ritual serving of food to priests for
the salvation of ancestors on appointed days as per the lunar calendar), ancestor worship,
khiah (ritual serving of food to priests - Brahmins - on the lunar anniversaries of the
death of an ancestor) *, pind (offering of funeral barley cakes to the
deceaseds relatives), patal (ritual donating of food in the belief that that would
satisfy the hunger of the departed soul), diva (the ceremony of keeping an oil lamp lit
for 360 days after the death, in the belief that that lights the path of the deceased),
ritual funeral acts, hom (lighting of ritual fire and pouring intermittently clarified
butter, food grains etc. into it for propitiating gods for the fulfillment of a purpose)
jag (religious ceremony involving presentation of oblations), tarpan (libation), sikha-sut
(keeping a tuft of hair on the head and wearing thread), bhadan (shaving of head on the
death of a parent), fasting on new or full moon or other days, wearing of frontal marks on
the forehead, wearing of thread, wearing of a necklace of the pieces of tulsi **stalk
, veneration of any graves, of monuments erected to honour the memory of a deceased person
or of cremation sites, idolatry and such like superstitious observances. ***
- Not owning up or regarding as hallowed
any place other than the Gurus place - such, for instance, as sacred spots or places
of pilgrimage of other faiths.
- Not believing in or according any
authority to Muslim seers, Brahmins holiness, soothsayers, clairvoyants, oracles, promise
of an offering on the fulfillment of a wish, offering of sweet loaves or rice pudding at
graves on fulfillment of wishes, the Vedas, the Shastras, the Gayatri (Hindu scriptural
prayer unto the sun), the Gita, the Quran, the Bible, etc.. However, the study of the
books of other faiths for general self-education is admissible.
- The Khalsa should maintain its
distinctiveness among the professors of different religions of the world, but should not
hurt the sentiment of any person professing another religion.
- A Sikh should pray to God before
launching off any task.
- Learning Gurmukhi (Punjabi in Gurmukhi
script) is essential for a Sikh. He should pursue other studies also.
- It is a Sikhs duty to get his
children educated in Sikhism.
- A Sikh should, in no way, harbour any
antipathy to the hair of the head with which his child is born. He should not temper with
the hair with which the child is born. He should add the suffix Singh to the
name of his son. A Sikh should keep the hair of his sons and daughters intact.
- A Sikh must not take hemp (cannabis),
opium, liquor, tobacco, in short any intoxicant. His only routine intake should be food.
- Piercing of the nose or ears for
wearing ornaments is forbidden for Sikh men and women.
- A Sikh should not kill his daughter,
nor should he maintain any relationship with a killer of daughter.
- The true Sikh of the Guru shall make
an honest living by lawful work.
- A Sikh shall regard a poor
persons mouth as the Gurus cash offerings box.
- A Sikh should not steal, form dubious
associations or engage in gambling.
- He who regards another mans
daughter as his own daughter, regards another mans wife as his mother, has coition
with his own wife alone, he alone is a truly disciplined Sikh of the Guru.
A Sikh woman shall likewise keep within the confines of conjugal rectitude.
- A Sikh shall observe the Sikh rules of
conduct and conventions from his birth right upto the end of his life.
- A Sikh, when he meets another Sikh,
should greet him with Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh ****.
This is ordained for Sikh men and women both.
- It is not proper for a Sikh woman to
wear a veil or keep her face hidden by veil or cover.
- For a Sikh, there is no restriction or
requirement as to dress except for he must wear Kachhehra ***** and
turban. A Sikh woman may or may not tie turban.
Ceremonies pertaining to Birth and Naming
- In a Sikhs household, as soon
after the birth of a child as the mother becomes capable of moving about and taking bath
(irrespective of the number of days which that takes), the family and relatives should go
to a gurduwara with karhah prashad (sacred pudding) or get karhah prashad made in the
gurduwara and recite in the holy presence of the Guru Granth Sahib such hymns as
parmeshar ditã banã (Sorath M. 5) *,
Satguru sache diã bhej (Asa M. 5) **
that are expressive of joy and thankfulness. Thereafter if a reading of the holy Guru
Granth Sahib had been taken up, that should be concluded. Then the holy Hukam (command)
should be taken. A name starting with the first letter of the hymn of the Hukam (command)
should be proposed by the granthi (man in attendance of the holy book) and, after its
acceptance by the congregation, the name should be announced by him. The boys name
must have the suffix Singh and the girls, the suffix Kaur.
After that the Anand Sahib (short version comprising six stanzas) should be recited and
the Ardas in appropriate terms expressing joy over the naming ceremony be offered and the
karhah prashad distributed.
- The superstition as to the pollution
of food and water in consequence of birth *** must
not be subscribed to, for the holy writ is : The birth and death are by His
ordinance; coming and going is by His will. All food and water are, in principle, clean,
for these life-sustaining substances are provided by Him.
- Making shirts or frocks for children
out of the Holy Books draperies is a sacrilege.
Anand Sanskar (Lit. Joyful Ceremonial :
Sikh Matrimonial Conventions and Ceremony)
- A Sikh man and woman should enter
wedlock without giving thought to the prospective spouses caste and descent.
- A Sikhs daughter must be married
to a Sikh.
- A Sikhs marriage should be
solemnized by Anand marriage rites.
- Child marriage is taboo for Sikhs.
- When a girl becomes marriageable,
physically, emotionally and by virtue of maturity of character, a suitable Sikh match
should be found and she be married to him by Anand marriage rites.
- Marriage may not be preceded by
engagement ceremony. But if an engagement ceremony is sought to be held, a congregational
gathering should be held and, after offering the Ardas before the Guru Granth Sahib, a
kirpan, a steel bangle and some sweets may be tendered to the boy.
- Consulting horoscopes for determining
which day or date is auspicious or otherwise for fixing the day of the marriage is a
sacrilege. Any day that the parties find suitable by mutual consultation should be fixed.
- Putting on floral or gilded face
ornamentation, decorative headgear or red thread bands round the wrist, worshipping of
ancestors, dripping feet in milk mixed with water, cutting a berry or jandi (Prosopis
spicigera) bushes, filling pitcher, ceremony of retirement in feigned displeasure,
reciting couplets, performing havans * , installing
vedi (a wooden canopy or pavilion under which Hindu marriages are performed), prostitutes
dances, drinking liquor, are all sacrileges.
- The marriage party should be as small
a number of people as the girls people desire. The two sides should greet each other
singing sacred hymns and finally by the Sikh greeting of Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru
ji ki Fateh.
- For marriage, there should be a
congregational gathering in the holy presence of Guru Granth Sahib. There should be
hymn-singing by ragis or by the whole congregation. Then the girl and boy should be made
to sit facing the Guru Granth Sahib. The girl should sit on the left side of the boy.
After soliciting the congregations permission, the master of the marriage ceremony
(who may be a man or woman) should bid the boy and girl and their parents or guardians to
stand and should offer the Ardas for the commencement of the Anand marriage ceremony.
The officiant should then appraise the boy and girl of the duties and obligations of
conjugal life according to the Gurus tenets.
He should initially give to the two an exposition of their common mutual obligations. He
should tell them how to model the husband-wife relationship on the love between the
individual soul and the Supreme Soul in the light of the contents of circumambulation
(lavan) hymns in the Suhi measure (rag) section ** of the Guru Granth
He should explain to them the notion of the state of a single soul in two
bodies to be achieved through love and make them see how they may attain union with
the Immortal Being discharging duties and obligations of the householders life. Both of
them, they should be told, have to make their conjugal union a means to the fulfillment of
the purpose of the journey of human existence; both have to lead clean and Guru-oriented
lives through the instrumentality of their union.
He should then explain to the boy and girl individually their respective conjugal duties
as husband and wife.
The bridegroom should be told that the girls people having chosen him as the fittest
match from among a whole lot, he should regard his wife as his better half, accord to her
unflinching love and share with her all that he has. In all situations, he should protect
her person and honour, he should be completely loyal to her and he should show as much
respect and consideration for her parents and relations as for his own.
The girl should be told that she has been joined in matrimony to her man in the hallowed
presence of the Guru Granth Sahib and the congregation. She should ever harbour for him
deferential solicitude, regard him the lord and master of her love and trust; she should
remain firm in her loyalty to him and serve him in joy and sorrow and in every clime
(native or foreign) and should show the same regard and consideration to his parents and
relatives as she would, to her own parents and relatives.
The boy and girl should bow before the Guru Granth Sahib to betoken their acceptance of
these instructions. Thereafter, the girls father or the principal relation should
make the girl grasp one end of the sash which the boy is wearing over his shoulders and
the person in attendance of the Guru Granth Sahib should recite the matrimonial
circumambulation stanzas (lavan of the fourth Guru in the Suhi musical measure section of
the Guru Granth) *** . After the conclusion of the
recitation of each of the stanzas, the boy, followed by the girl holding the end of the
sash, should go round the Guru Granth Sahib while the ragis or the congregation sing out
the recited stanza.
The boy and girl, after every circumambulation, should bow before the Guru Granth Sahib in
genuflexion, lowering their forehead to touch the ground and then stand up to listen to
the recitation of the next stanza. There being four matrimonial circumambulation stanzas
in the concerned hymn, the proceeding will comprise four circumambulations with the
incidental singing of the stanza. After the fourth circumabulation, the boy and girl
should, after bowing before the Guru Granth Sahib, sit down at the appointed place and the
ragis or the person who has conducted the ceremony should recite the first five and the
last stanza of the Anand Sahib. Thereafter, the Ardas should be offered to mark the
conclusion of the Anand marriage ceremony and the sacred pudding distributed.
- Persons professing faiths other than
the Sikh faith cannot be joined in wedlock by the Anand Karaj ceremony.
- No Sikh should accept a match for
his/her son or daughter for monetary consideration.
- If the girls parents at any time
or on any occasion visit their daughters home and a meal is ready there, they should
not hesitate to eat there. Abstaining from eating at the girls home is a
superstition. The Khalsa has been blessed with the boon of victuals and making others eat
by the Guru and the Immortal Being. The girls and boys people should keep
accepting each others hospitality, because the Guru has joined them in relationship
of equality. 1
- If a womans husband has died,
she may, if she so wishes, finding a match suitable for her, remarry. For a Sikh man whose
wife has died, similar ordinance obtains.
- The remarriage may be solemnized in
the same manner as the Anand marriage.
- Generally, no Sikh should marry a
second wife if the first wife is alive.
- A baptized Sikh ought to get his wife
- The body of a dying or dead person, if
it is on a cot, must not be taken off the cot and put on the floor. Nor must a lit lamp be
placed beside, or a cow got bestowed in donation by, him/her or for his/her good or any
other ceremony, contrary to Gurus way, performed. Only Gurbani should be recited or
Waheguru, Waheguru repeated by his/her side.
- When some one shuffles the mortal
coil, the survivors must not grieve or raise a hue and cry or indulge in breast beating.
To induce a mood of resignation to Gods will, it is desirable to recite Gurbani or
- However young and deceased may be, the
body should be cremated. However, where arrangements for cremation cannot be made, there
should be no qualm about the body being immersed in flowing water or disposed of in any
- As to the time of cremation, no
consideration as to whether it should take place during day or night should weigh.
- The dead body should be bathed and
clothed in clean clothes. While that is done, the Sikh symbols - comb, kachha, karha,
kirpan - should not be taken off. Thereafter, putting the body on a plank, Ardas about its
being taken away for disposal be offered. The hearse should then be lifted and taken to
the cremation ground, hymns that induce feeling of detachment should be recited. On
reaching the cremation ground, the pyre should be laid. Then the Ardas for consigning the
body to fire be offered. the dead body should then be placed on the pyre and the son or
any other relation or friend of the deceased should set fire to it. The accompanying
congregation should sit at a reasonable distance and listen to kirtan or carry on
collective singing of hymns or recitation of detachment-inducing hymns. When the pyre is
fully aflame, the Kirtan Sohila (prescribed pre-retirement night Scriptural prayer) be
recited and the Ardas offered. (Piercing the Skull half and hour or so after the pyre has
been burning with a rod or something else in the belief that that will secure the release
of the soul - kapal kriya - is contrary to the Gurus tenets). The congregation
should then leave.
Coming back home, a reading of the Guru Granth Sahib should be commenced at home or in a
nearby gurduwara, and after reciting the six stanzas of the Anand Sahib, the Ardas,
offered and karhah prashad (sacred pudding) distributed. The reading of the Guru Granth
Sahib should be completed on the tenth day. If the reading cannot, or is sought not to, be
completed on the tenth day, some other day may be appointed for the conclusion of the
reading having regard to the convenience of the relatives. The reading of the Guru Granth
Sahib should be carried out by the members of the household of the deceased and relatives
in cooperation. If possible, Kirtan may be held every night. No funeral ceremony remains
to be performed after the tenth day.
- When the pyre is burnt out, the whole
bulk of the ashes, including the burnt bones, should be gathered up and immersed in
flowing water or buried at that very place and the ground leveled. Raising a monument to
the memory of the deceased at the place where his dead body is cremated is taboo.
- Adh marg (the ceremony of breaking the
pot used for bathing the dead body amid doleful cries half way towards the cremation
ground), organized lamentation by women, foorhi (sitting on a straw mat in mourning for a
certain period), diva (keeping an oil lamp lit for 360 days after the death in the belief
that that will light the path of the deceased), pind (ritual donating of lumps of rice
flour, oat flour, or solidified milk (khoa) for ten days after death), kirya (concluding
the funeral proceedings ritualistically, serving meals and making offerings by way of
shradh, budha marna (waving of whisk, over the hearse of an old persons dead body
and decorating the hearse with festoons), etc. are contrary to the approved code. So too
is the picking of the burnt bones from the ashes of the pyre for immersing in the Ganga,
at Patalpuri (at Kiratpur), at Kartarpur Sahib or at any other such place.
Other Rites and Conventions
Apart from these rites and conventions, on every happy or sad occasion, such as
moving into a new house, setting up a new business (shop), putting a child to school,
etc., a Sikh should pray for Gods help by performing the Ardas. The essential
components of all rites and ceremonies in Sikhism are the recitation of the Gurbani (Sikh
Scriptures) and the performing of the Ardas.
(1) Voluntary service is a prominent
part of Sikh religion. Illustrative models of voluntary service are organized, for
imparting training, in the gurduwaras. Its simple forms are : sweeping and plastering the
floors * of the gurduwara, serving water to or fanning
the congregation, offering provisions to and rendering any kind of service in the common
kitchen-cum-eating house, dusting the shoes of the people visiting the gurduwara, etc.
- Gurus kitchen-cum-Eating House.
The philosophy behind the Gurus kitchen-cum-eating house is two fold : to provide
training to the Sikhs in voluntary service and to help banish all distinction of high and
low, touchable and untouchable from the Sikhs minds.
- All human beings, high or low, and of
any caste or colour may sit and eat in the Gurus kitchen-cum-eating house. No
discrimination on grounds of the country of origin, colour, caste or religion must be made
while making people sit in rows for eating. However, only baptized Sikhs can eat off one
Facets of Corporate Sikh Life
The essential facets of Panthic life are :
- Guru Panth (the Panths Guru
- The ceremony of ambrosial initiation;
- The statute of chastisement for
- The statute of collective resolution;
- The appeal against local decisions.
Panths 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 Sikhs 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.
- The Guru Panth (Panths 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
- Ambrosial baptism should be held at an
exclusive place away from common human traffic.
- 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 baptised 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.
- 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 baptised Sikhs with
- 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 baptised should not be of very young age; he or she should have attained
a plausible degree of discretion. The person to be baptised must have taken bath and
washed the hair and must wear all five Ks - 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 baptised must stand
respectfully with hands folded facing the Guru Granth Sahib.
- Anyone seeking to be rebaptised,
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.
- One from amongst the five beloved ones
administering ambrosial baptism to persons seeking to be baptised 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
Gods name (loving reflection on the experience of the Divine), living within the
Sikh discipline after getting baptised etc. are the principal means.
He should conclude his exposition of the principles of Sikh religion with the query : Do
you accept these willingly?
- 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
- The bowl should be of pure steel and
it should be placed on a clean steel ring or other clean support.
- Clean water and sugar puffs should be
put in the bowl and the five beloved ones should sit around it in bir posture
1 and recite the undermentioned scriptural compositions.
- The scriptural composition to be
recited are : The Japuji, the Jaap, The Ten Sawayyas (commencing with sarawag sud), The
Bainti Chaupai (from hamrì karõ hãth dai rachhã to dusht dõkh te
lehõ bachãi), the first five and the last one stanza of the Anand Sahib.
- 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.
- After the conclusion of the
recitation, one from amongst the beloved ones should perform the Ardas.
- Only that person seeking to be
baptised who has participated in the entire ceremony of ambrosial baptism can be baptised.
One who has turned up while the ceremony was in progress cannot be baptised.
- After the Ardas as per clause (l)
above, thinking of our Father, the tenth Master, the wearer of the aigrette, every person
seeking to be baptised 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 baptised should after imbibing 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 baptised 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 baptised 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) baptised, together.
- 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 aunkãr satnãm kartã purakh nirbhau nirwair akãl mùrat ajùnì saibhang gur
- 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 Gurus 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 Ks : The Keshas (unshorn hair), the Kirpan (sheathed sword) 2
, the Kachhehra 3 , the Kanga (comb), the Karha (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 ones 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 Gurus 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.
- 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 Gurus representatives,
since 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 Gurus
(7) One who defaults in the maintenance of Sikh discipline.
- After this sermon, one from among the
five beloved ones should perform the Ardas.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- The congregation should then, in the
holy presence of Guru Granth Sahib, elect from among themselves five beloved ones who
should ponder over the suppliants fault and propose the chastisement (punishment)
- 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.
- And finally an Ardas for correction
should be performed.
Method of Adopting Gurmatta
- 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**.
- A Gurmatta can be adopted only by a
select primary Panthic group or a representative gathering of the Panth.
Appeals against Local Decision
An appeal can be made to the Akal Takht against a local congregations
Website designed and
maintained by Flowershark Designs.
No material from this site may be reproduced without the written permission of the webmaster
Copyright © Flowershark Desings 1997-1999.