• Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

Comparing The Khalsa Rehat: Damdami, Nihang, Nanaksar, AKJ And Singh Sabha Traditions


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Observing the Khalsa Rahit in North America: Some Issues and Trends

Pashaura Singh

From this source: Untitled Document

RECENT controversy over the "correct" observance of the "Sikh Code of Conduct" (Rahit Maryada) has sparked a world-wide debate within the Sikh community. This ongoing debate between certain Sikh groups represented by the Damdami Taksal (literally, "mint"; here "a school of Sikh exegesis" belonging to the Damdama tradition)1, a recently formed body of Sikh Sants (Gurmat Sidhant Parcharak Sant Samaj, "Society of Sikh Sants: Preachers of the Fundamentals of the Gurus' Teachings"), the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (or the "group devoted to continuous singing of the Sikh scriptures") and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), revolves mainly around the recitation of liturgical prayers, particularly the Sodar Rahiras (Evening Prayer) and Ragamala (a list of the ragas noted at the end of the Guru Granth Sahib), at Akal Takhat, Harimandar Sahib and other historic gurdwaras under the control of the SGPC. The Damdami Taksal upholds a version of the Rahit that is significantly different from the standard manual and insists that it should be followed since it had been bequeathed to the Panth by Guru Gobind Singh when he inaugurated the order of the Khalsa in 1699. This is a claim, which needs to be examined from a purely historical perspective.

In 1988 the Damdami Taksal was able to implement its Maryada at the Golden Temple and Akal Takhat through Bhai Jasbir Singh Khalsa (nephew of the militant leader Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale), the then Jathedar of Akal Takhat. Bhai Jasbir Singh (who was held in custody since 1985 on charges of sedition) assumed the office of the Jathedar of the Akal Takhat soon after he was freed from jail in March 1988. He issued a directive on 30 March 1988 at Anandpur Sahib to start the reading of "Ragamala" at Akal Takhat.2 Since 1936 "Ragamala" was not read at Akal Takhat but only at Harimandir Sahib. Although the SGPC resisted the move initially, it tactically kept silent and postponed to implement its own decision (Resolution No. 11, passed on 11 June 1988) of reverting to the earlier Maryada in the wake of militancy in the Punjab.3 But when the political situation changed, the SGPC executive took the decision in a meeting at Gurdwara Sangh Dhesian (in Jalandhar district), in May 1993 to revert to the "Maryada" prevalent before March 30, 1988, at Harimandir Sahib and Akal Takhat.

Some observers look at the Rahit Maryada controversy from a perspective in which different competing groups are seeking legitimacy and the rights to speak for die Panth with the ultimate goal of controlling the SGPC. They dismiss it as a sign of the present times. They further maintain that the controversy will be over as soon as the political situation in the Punjab returns to normal and the SGPC elections are held. This is indeed a simple explanation of what seems to be a complex phenomenon. The Rahit Maryada debate involves deeper issues, which surface within the Sikh Panth from time to time. This becomes clear from the "Draft of Sikh Rahit Maryada" (Kharara Sikh Rahit Maryada4), released by the Gurmat Sidhant Parcharak Sant Samaj in April 1994 at Anandpur Sahib. The idea- of this thirty-two-page document was conceived at a meeting of various Sikh Sants, the Damadami Taksal and other Sikh organizations on 8 August 1993 at Gurdwara Damadama Sahib,Jodhan Mansuran in Ludhiana district. This new manual of Rahit Maryada begins with the definition of a "Sahaj-dhari Sikh" (who is slowly aspiring to become a puran gursikh or "Perfect Sikh of the Guru") and then provides a brief description of an "Amrit-dhari Sikh", thus raising the issue of Sikh identity all over again.3

The standard manual entitled Sikh Rahit Maryada was published under the auspices of the SGPC in 1950 after reaching a general consensus within the Sikh community. It has ever since been regarded as an authoritative statement of Sikh doctrine and behavior. The SGPC maintains that this manual is a representative of the "collective personality of the Panth" and dial no single group has any right or authority to challenge it. It is, however, important to note that the Sikh Rahit Maryada was produced as a result of the Tat Khalsa reforms, which represented the dominant component of the Singh Sabha movement. It seeks to establish Sikhism as "a monolithic, codified and reified religion" with universal norms of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. To this day its wide circulation of approximately two hundred thousand copies represents a measure of Singh Sabha success. Its reading certainly accentuates the image of a uniform Khalsa identity.

In order to understand the nature of the Rahit Maryada debate, however, we need to look at the ascendancy of the Tat Khalsa interpretation of Sikh tradition and culture. Here, it will be useful to note the basic argument of Harjot Oberoi's thesis advanced in The Construction of Religious Boundaries. He has provided a perceptive analysis of how the Tat Khalsa succeeded in eradicating all forms of religious diversity at the turn of the century. He claims:

"The older pluralist paradigm of Sikh faith was displaced forever and replaced by a highly uniform Sikh identity, the one we know today as modern Sikhism."

Oberoi carefully examines the process by which a new cultural elite aggressively usurped the right to represent others within a singular tradition and established universal norms of religious orthodoxy and orthopraxy. But the question remains whether the Tat Khalsa has really succeeded in creating a highly uniform Sikh identity forever. Or one can ask whether or not the homogenizing process initiated by the Tat Khalsa is under attack in the recent debate on the issue of "correct" observance of Rahit Maryada.

The present paper is intended to examine the all-important question of whether there is any "uniformity" in the actual observance of the Khalsa Rahit throughout the Panth. Or in other words, are we justified in applying such terms as "codified", "monolithic", "reified religion" to understand the present day Sikh situation, particularly the Khalsa discipline? To find answers to these questions we will focus on certain issues and trends in the observance of the Khalsa Rahit in North America. During the discussion a particular emphasis will be placed on the initiation-ceremony and the external insignia of the Khalsa.

One of the momentous decisions of Guru Gobind Singh's career was to institute the order of the Khalsa, an order of loyal Sikhs bound by common identity and discipline. According to well-founded tradition the Guru summoned a large number of Sikhs on Baisakhi Day 1699 and demanded the heads of five loyal Sikhs. As historians we do not know what happened on this particular day. Given the varying accounts of what took place on this day, it is not possible to reconstruct the actual features of this event on the basis of available sources. Nor does it really matter for our present purpose. The overriding fact is that the five volunteers (panj piare, "the Five Beloved Ones") who responded to the Guru's call for loyalty, came from different castes and formed the nucleus of the new order of theKhalsa. They received initiation through a ceremony variously known as khande hi pdhul or khande da amrit, involving sweetened water, stirred with a two-edged sword and sanctified by the recitation of five liturgical prayers. All those who chose to join the order of the Khalsa through this ceremony were understood to be "reborn" in the house of the Guru. From that day onwards, Guru Gobind Singh was their spiritual father and his wife, Sahib Kaur, their spiritual mother. Their birthplace was Kesgarh Sahib (the gurdwara that commemorates the founding of the Khalsa) and their home Anandpur Sahib. This idea of "new birth" is stressed at every amrit ceremony with the exposition of the following text: "By being born to the Guru one is freed from rebirth" (satigur kai janame gavanu mitaia7).

In order to understand the full significance of the amrit-ceremony let us examine it from a theoretical perspective, which explains the place of the initiation rite in human cultures. In this context, Mircea Eliade explains that the central moment of every initiation is represented by the ceremony symbolizing the death of the novice and his/her return to the fellowship of the living through a new birth. He says:

This birth requires rites instituted by Supernatural Beings: hence it is a divine work, created by the power and will of those Beings; it belongs, not to nature but to sacred history...To attain the initiate's mode of being demands knowing realities that are not a part of nature but of the biography of the Supernatural Beings, hence of the sacred history preserved in the myths."

In the majority of initiation rites, Eliade argues, the rhythm is similar: an initial movement into death through which the previous existence is discarded and a culmination of the ritual in a reformation as well as a new creation in the image of the divine Being. He further maintains that whenever the rite of initiation is performed it is the reactualization of the primordial event.9 Incidently, whenever the amrit-ceremony takes place it is always conducted by five Khalsa Sikhs representing the original "FiveBeloved Ones" (panj piare). Also, the pattern of death and rebirth during the amrit-ceremony is singularly evident in the popular understanding of the Sikh community.

It is important to note that initiation rites are generally transmitted orally to successive generations. They are primarily intended for an inner circle of believers. That is why the amrit-ceremony is not conducted in the open and this could be the main reason why we do not find any detailed account of the ceremony in the early sources. The earliest description of it comes from the Chaupa Singh Rahitnama, a text written between 1750 and 1765. W.H. McLeod who has prepared a critical edition and translation of this text maintains that it represents the distinctive Chhibbar tradition, a tradition which was declining within the mainstream Panth during the eighteenth century.10 The Chhibbars were self-consciously Brahman and their brahmanical bias appears in their literature. Nevertheless, their statements of Rahit were regarded as authoritative for one section of the Panth during the middle years of the eighteenth century.

According to the Chaupa Singh Rahitnama, the amrit-ceremony was conducted by the five devout Sikhs who were acknowledged for their piety and who had been scrupulous in maintaining the Khalsa discipline. They prepared the amrit by stirring sweetened water with a double-edged sword and sanctifying it with the recitation of "Five Quatrains" (panj svayye) from the writings of Guru Gobind Singh. The amrit was then given to the novice to drink five times, and was sprinkled five times on his eyes and head. The initiated Sikh then formally takes the oath by repeating the following declaration: Vahiguruji kaKhalsa! Vahiguruji ki Fateh! (Hail to the Guru's Khalsa! Hail the victory of the Guru!).11 Although it is the earliest description of the essential parts of the amrit-ceremony, it is still a very sketchy one. It does not clearly define what the author meant by "Five Quatrains" (panj svayye) from the writings of Guru Gobind Singh. The author presupposes the knowledge of his audience about such details. This lack of early historical evidence can be explained only by the assumption that Sikh culture tended to be transmitted orally.

Our primary concern here is to understand how the tradition of giving amrit was transmitted among the diaspora Sikhs in the past and how it is being kept by various gurdwaras in North America in the present. There are certain historical references which point towards the fact that the tradition was alive among the pioneer Sikhs. For instance, Sant Teja Singh regularly toured British Columbia and California during the period of his stay between 1908 and 1911, exhorting ail who called themselves Sikhs to take amrit and administering to those who responded. In his autobiography he claims to have baptized hundreds of Sikhs in Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Portland, and California.12 N.G. Barrier also reports that at a Khalsa Diwan celebration of Guru Gobind Singh's birthday in January 1914 twenty Sikhs were given amrit including a Ramdasi.13 Evidently there was a significant number of Khalsa Sikhs in the early phase of migration. They were certainly influenced by two important factors. First, it was the peak of the Singh Sabha period. Second, the hostility of the host Canadians directed against them made them more firm in their commitment to the Khalsa ideal.

The second phase of Sikh immigration began only in the mid-1950s when the immigration laws were somewhat liberalized. However, the great influx of new Sikh immigrants took place in North America in the seventies and eighties. This was the period that marked the beginning of the "third phase of Sikh immigration". Since then new gurdwaras have continued to proliferate, with the increasing demands of Sikh missionaries (parcharak) coming from India to preach among the diaspora Sikhs. The training and affiliation of these missionaries has contributed a great deal in the introduction of diverse views on what constitute the "correct" observance of Rahit Maryada. It is not surprising to find people debating certain features of the Sikh Rahit Maryada in various gurdwaras in North America.

Now let us discuss the various details of the actual ceremony of Khalsa initiation. The standard procedure is well explained by Kapur Singh in his account of the "Axial Ritual" by which a Sikh is knighted a Singh and enrolled as a member of the Order of the Khalsa.14 This account is primarily based on the Sikh Rahit Maryada and reflects the Singh Sabha mode of interpretation. It describes the standard procedure of the preparation of the amrit by the Panj Piares as follows:

All the five officiants should fix the gaze of their eyes into the water of the bowl, and the first officiant should then recite the Japu of Guru Nanak, all the while stirring the contents of the bowl with the sword. In a similar manner, the Jap of Guru Gobind Singh should then be recited by the second officiant. And then the Sudha Swayyas and then the Benati Chaupai of Guru Gobind Singh, and then the Anand (first five and the last stanza) of Guru Amar Dass should be recited in a similar manner, in a well modulated and clear voice, by the third, fourth and the fifth officiant respectively. The reciter should, all the while, keep on stirring the contents of the steel bowl with the double-edged sword.15

This is indeed the proper order in which die five liturgical prayers are recited during the amrit-ceremony. The five officiants kneel around the steel bowl (sarab loh da batta) in the "heroic posture" (bir asah) while reciting these prayers and stirring the sweetened water with the double-edged sword. There are, however, certain disagreements among various groups on the recitation of the particular contents of the Benati Chaupai and the Anand Sahib.
According to the Sikh Rahit Maryada, only the first twenty-five stanzas of the Benati Chaupai16 should be recited, whereas the Damdami Taksal insists on twenty-nine. In line with this argument, the 3HO ("Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization") leader, Harbhajan Singh Khalsa challenges the orthodox standpoint as follows: "One who recites Chaupai without Arril lives in pain and unhappiness."17

In order to understand the real issues involved in this debate, we need to examine the content of the extra four stanzas of the Benati Chaupai. Originally, the Benati Chaupai'8 forms part of a section called Pakhyan Charitar ("Tales of the Wiles of Women") in the Dasam Granth. This whole section is a collection of legendary narrative and popular anecdotes concerning the psychology of women.19 Most of the Singh Sabha scholars consider it highly problematic and try to avoid potentially embarrassing questions. Our main concern here is to look at the following four stanzas which are excluded from the standard version of the Chaupai:

kirpa kari ham par jagg mata. granth kara puran subh rata.
kilavikh sakal deh ko harta. dusht dokhian ko chhai karta. (26)
sri asidhuj jabb bhae diala. puran kara granth tatakala.
man banchhat phal pavai soi. dukkh na tisai biapat hoi. (27)
sunai gung joyahi su rasana pavai. sunai murh chitti lai chaturata avai.
dukkh darad bhau nikat na tin nar ke rahai. ho jo yakhi ek bar chaupai ko
kahai. (28)
sammat sattrahi sahas bhannijje. arad sahas phuni tin kahijje.
bhadrav sudi astami ravivara. tir sattadrav granth sudhara. (29)

The [divine] Mother of the World bestowed her grace on us. Thus the Granth was completed in an auspicious manner. The Lord removed all the bodily afflictions. The Creator destroyed all our wicked enemies. (26)

When the Lord of a Sword-on-His-Banner became compassionate: The Granth was completed instantly! He [who receives the divine grace] alone achieves the desired goal (phal, "fruit") of his life; and no pain can affect him in anyway. (27)

Arril [the Syllable Metre].20

The dumb that listens [to this Chaupai] receives the tongue! The stupid who listens with attention receives wisdom! Pain, grief and fear cannot even touch that person, who recites the Chaupai only once, O Man! (ho!, "Yea!") (28)

First, the sambat seventeen hundred should be said; then one-half of a hundred and three should be added [to make the sambat 1753 or 1696 CE]. It was Sunday on the eighth day of light moon in the month of Bhadon (August/September), when the Granth was completed on the bank of river Sutlej. (29)

Evidently, these stanzas provide important historical information about the completion of the text of Pakhyan Chritar in sambat 1753 or 1696 on the bank of Sutlej river at Anandpur Sahib. The only reason for their exclusion from the standard version may be the reference to the divine "Mother of the World" (jagg mata). The Singh Sabha scholars may have interpreted it to point obliquely towards the worship of Mata Devi (the goddess Kali or Durga).
This was certainly not acceptable to those readers who share the Singh Sabha mode of interpretation. It is, however, important to note that the word "Mata" (Mother) is frequently employed for God in the Adi Granth. It may be interpreted as the feminine principle in the Sikh vision of the Transcendent.21

In the case of Guru Amar Das's Anand, the standard procedure requires that only six prescribed stanzas-the first five and the last- should be recited during the amrit-ceremony. It is based on the well-established tradition of concluding each Sikh ceremony with this short version of Anand Sahib. But most of the Sikh groups, including the Damdami Taksal, Akhand Kirtani Jatha and the 3HO movement, insist on the complete recitation of all the forty stanzas of Anand. Once again, we find a strong condemnation of the orthodox view in the following words of Yogi Bhajan:

Cursed is the Singh who breaks up the Anand! His life becomes as miserable as a leper. One who recites the 40th Pauri after the 5th, distorts the Guru's Words...Whoever prepares the Amrit with a broken Anand, [that Sikh goes straight to hell!22

Clearly, this assertion is based upon a certain classical doctrine of mantra, which holds that a mantra becomes inefficacious if its syllables are changed in any way or if it is recited in its incomplete form (or if it is spoken in public) ,23 In other words, die sacred sounds of gurbani have transformative power only if they are replicated exactly as they were first enunciated by the Sikh Gurus. Verne Dusenbery calls this approach the "non-dualistic" understanding of the Guru's inspired words.24 This kind of interpretation of Gurbani in the mantra form was certainly anathema to the Singh Sabha scholars who produced the standard manual of the Sikh Rahit Maryada. They placed emphasis on the "meaning" of gurbani (rather than on its "sound" properties) by following what Dusenbery calls the "dualistic" understanding (or anti-mantra and anti-ritualistic approach) of theSikh scriptures. The "dualistic" ideology of language "privileges reference, semantic meaning, the arbitrariness of signifier. and signified, and the context-free cognitive qualities of the text at the expense of the sound properties of the words themselves."25

For the last fourteen years or so I have frequently participated in amrit-ceremonies conducted at various gurdwaras in North America. My own experience has greatly sensitized me to a considerable diversity in the procedures adopted by various groups at the time of Khalsa initiation. For instance, in 1981 Baba Nihal Singh, Jathedar of the Taruna Dal of Nihang26 order, participated in the first amrit-ceremony at Calgary, Alberta. He introduced a procedure, which is particularly followed by the Nihang Singhs. Accordingly, when the amrit was ready he initiated the novice with the complete Mul Mantar-beginning with ikk oankar and ending with Nanak hosi bhi sach-before pouring the baptismal water in the cupped palms for drinking. This procedure was repeated five times. However, the standard formula-bol vahiguruji ka khalsa vahiguru ji ki fateh-was repeated five times at the time of sprinkling of amrit in the eyes to transform one's outlook towards life through shock-treatment. The same procedure was repeated while applying the amrit on the top of die head to sanctify die fees ("hair"). The overall Nihang procedure is certainly distinctive in its own right.

It should be emphasized that the Nihangs constitute a distinctive order within the Khalsa. They are recognized by their distinctive appearance. On their heads they wear a high turban known as a damala, surmounted by a piece of cloth called a pharhara ("standard" or "flag"). Their garments are always blue with some saffron and white colour-combinations. They are rigorous in the observance of die Khalsa Rahit. Because they have renounced all fear of death, they are always ready to die for their faith.27 In North America some Sikhs occasionally wear Nihang dress and add colour to the scene in any Sikh gathering. They are conspicuously visible at Baisakhi celebrations in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, New York and California.

The frequent visits of Sant Mihan Singh and Sant Amar Singh of Nanaksar (-"the Sacred Pool of Nanak") tradition resulted in the establishment of their centers, particularly in Richmond B.C. and Toronto.28 They were also responsible for conducting amrit-ceremonies in the early seventies according to their own Nanaksar Maryada, which significantly differs from the standard manual. For instance, the Panj Piare prepare amrit separately in a different room in an esoteric manner and do not allow the novices to watch the ceremony as participants. When amrit is ready, however, they invite them for initiation. They recite the complete Anand Sahib (forty stanzas), a longer version of the Benati Chaupai and complete Mulmantar (from ihk oankar to nanah hosi bhi sochu) during the amrit-ceremony.

The Nanaksar tradition originated with Sant Nand Singh Kaleranwale (1871/72-1943), who enjoyed high spiritual reputation for his piety and asceticism.29 He was succeeded by Sant Ishar Singh (1916?-63)30, who built an imposing gurdwara called Nanaksar at Kaleran village, near a small town of Jagraon in Ludhiana district. He is credited with having initiated about 750,000 Sikhs with the baptism of the double-edged-sword (khande da amrii) during a brief period of his ministry between 1950 and 1963.3' When he died in 1963, he was succeeded by three contenders who set up separate seats in Nanaksar. Each of them has built up a considerable following and influence among the rural people from the neighbouring districts of Ludhiana, Ferozepur and Faridkot. Several of their followers have settled in North America and Britain during die last two decades. They follow their own Nanaksar Maryada, which includes the celebration of puranamashi (the night of full moon), the recitation of arti ("adoration") at each concluding ceremony and the devotional singing of hymns (keirtan) while Akhand Path ("unbroken reading" of the Sikh scriptures) is going on. They do not mount the Nishan Sahib (or "Sikh Flag") at their gurdwaras.32

The main centre of the present-day Damdami Taksal (Jadia Bhindran-Mehta) is located at Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkashat Mehta in Amritsar district. It is actually a branch of a major school of traditional Sikh learning known as die Bhindran Taksal. Although that Taksal was established by Sant Sundar Singh (1883-1930) of Boparai Kalan (in Ludhiana district) in 1906, it achieved prominence through its second incumbent, Sam Gurbachan Singh Khalsa (1902-69) of Bhindran Kalan (hence the name "Bhindran Taksal").33 He devoted his entire life to teaching correct enunciation and intonation in reciting die Sikh scriptures. He trained a large number of gianis (traditional Sikh scholars) through his mobile seminary. When he died in 1969 he was succeeded by two contenders, Giani Mohan Singh (1919-) and Sant Kartar Singh (1932-77), the former leading the original Malwa branch in Ludhiana district and the latter leading the Majha branch in Amritsar district. The influence of Bhindran Taksal is attested by the fact that its alumni include the head granthi ("reader" of die Sikh scriptures) at the Golden Temple, jathedars ("commanders") of various Sikh takhats ("thrones") and granthis of major gurdwaras of historical significance. In the recent past an incumbent of the Majha branch of this school was Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale (1947-84), who achieved world-wide attention when he died along with many other Sikhs during the Indian army's assault on the Golden Temple complex in June 1984. Among North American Sikhs his death is perceived as an example of martyrdom and his picture is displayed in many gurdwaras.

The procedure for the amrit-ceremony adopted by [he Damdami Taksal includes certain distinctive features from the manual called Gurmat Rahit Maryada.^ First, each of the five officiants holds an unsheathed sword (kirpan) on his left shoulder with his left hand (in such a way that the handle of the sword touches the iron bowl), while he is stirring the sweetened water with a double-edged sword (khanda) in his right hand. The divine presence is made manifest in the amrit-ceremony through the burnished steel of the unsheathed sword. When an officiant completes the recitation of the assigned prayer from memory he passes on both the kirpan and the khanda to the next one. Second, the Taksal maintains that during the "heroic posture" (bir asan) the left knee should be laid on the ground and the right knee should be held upright. This is the reverse of the description given in the standard manual, the Sikh Rahit Maryada, wherein the right knee is laid on the ground and the left is held upright.

Third, the Damdami Taksal insists on the recitation of the complete Mul Man tar (from ikh oankar to nanak hosi bhi such) during the amrit-ceremony. This is in line with the stand taken by the followers of the Gurmat Sidhant Parcharak Sant Samaj and Nihangs who stress the recitation of the complete Mul Mantar. They argue that this tradition has come directly from the time of the Gurus, and there is reliable evidence to support this contention. For instance, the Kamar Kassa or body armor of Guru Gobind Singh, preserved at Moti Bagh Palace Museum in Patiala, does contain the inscription of complete Mul Man tar,J1 In order to buttress its claim to orthodoxy, the Taksal has issued its own version of the Khalsa discipline which it outlines in the manual Gurmat Rahit Maryada. Copies of this text were freely distributed throughout North America in 1986 and the following years. This was the time when Bhindranwale's influence was at the peak.

In 1976 Bhai Jiwan Singh, a staunch member of the Akhand Kirtani jatha, organized an amril-ceremony in Vancouver in which a Sikh woman, Jasbir Kaur Khalsa, was included in the Five Beloved Ones (Panj Piare} for the first time. Roy Hay tor's video film Gurdwara: House of the. Guru3" also shows Gururaj Kaur Khalsa, a follower of Yogi Bhajan's 3HO movement, among the Five Beloved Ones, conducting the amrit-ceremony at the Akali Singh Gurdwara in Vancouver. It is indeed in the Western context that this development has taken place in the Sikh Panth. There are very few examples in which women perform that role in the Punjab or any other part of India, although the Sikh Rahit Maryada allows a woman to be one of the Pan] Piares at the time of amrit-ceremony. Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale used to say that no woman responded to Guru Gobind Singh's call for loyalty on Baisakhi day 1699 and this fact is used by the Damdami Taksal to refuse the admission of women to the institution of the Five Beloved Ones,

The Akhand Kirtani Jatha owes its inspiration to the words and example of Bhai Randhir Singh (1878-1961) of Narangwal (in Ludhiana district). He was strongly opposed to the British presence in India and spent lengthy periods in jail because of his involvement in the Gurdwara Rikabganj agitation and the Ghadar movement, both of which occurred between 1914 and 1916. In the "Second Lahore Conspiracy" case, he was sentenced to life in prison on 30 March 1916.37 His life is described in his Jel Chitthion ("Letters written from the Jail"), translated as Autobiography of Bhai Randhir Singh.38 It inspired many educated Sikhs from both urban and rural areas of the Malwa region. Bhai Randhir Singh was released from the Central Jail Lahore in October 1930, and in the following year he was "honoured for his outstanding services to the Panth" at the Akal Takhat on 15 September 1931.39' Although he was a contemporary of Bhai Vir Singh (1872-1957), he is almost completely unknown to the English-speaking world. This may be due to the hegemonic success of the Singh Sabha scholars, who are abundantly known to those who read only English sources. Other representatives and their versions of Sikhism, remain largely hidden.

It is important to note that Bhai Randhir Singh had a long association with Babu Teja Singh of Bhasaur. In fact, he received amrit at a religious ceremony organized by the Panch Khalsa Diwan at Bakapur on 14 June 1903.40 Although he parted company with him when Teja Singh was excommunicated from the Panth, the influence of Bhasaur Singh Sabha can still be seen on the Akhand Kirtani Jatha. For instance, like the Bhasaur Singh Sabha, the Jatha is strongly opposed to the recitation of the Ragamala at the Golden Temple. Its present leader Ram Singh even attempted to prepare a copy of the Guru Grandi Sahib without this controversial text in the recent past.41 Further, the Jatha encourages complete equality of women in every aspect of Sikh life in much the same way as the Bhasaur Singh Sabha did in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The latter advocated that "[women should wear turban[s), be baptized with the double-edged knife, and participate fully in ceremonies, including reading the Granth and helping administer baptism."" Furthermore, the Akhand Kirtani jatha follows the literalist approach of the Bhasur Singh Sabha towards the Sikh scriptures." That is perhaps why its members are generally thought of as fundamentalists."

One can also observe certain distinctive features of the amrit-ceremony conducted by the Akhand Kirtani Jatha. During their amrit-ceremony the Five Beloved Ones lay their hands on the head of an initiate in a particular way to transfer the spiritual power of the divine Name, They call this procedure gurmantur drirauna, which involves an "intense recitation of Gur-Mantar" (Vahiguru) by the Panj Piares and novice together. This distinctive practice of nam simaran is a regular feature of the daily discipline of the Jatha. Further, die Akhand Kirtani Jatha strictly follows its own special Khalsa discipline prescribed in the Rahif Bibeh (a work that forms the second part of the Gurmat Bibefe4*). It includes a complete vegetarian diet, the insistence upon sarab loh ("all iron") and the keski or small turban for female members. Although Bhai Randhir Singh refused to eat any thing which had not been cooked in an iron vessel, his North American followers are not keen on this strict observance.

The Akhand Kirtani Jatha claims that Bhai Randhir Singh had withdrawn himself from the proceedings of the Rahu Rit Committee in the 1930s on the issue of meat eating. By citing this example the members of the Jatha claim that they had never accepted the Sikh Rahil Maryada as a standard manual of Sikh doctrine and behavior. For them the words and example of Bhai Randhir Singh are sufficient for all their needs. True to their name they place great emphasis on the practice of kirtan ("devotional singing" of the scriptures) and devote the whole night to a rain sabai performance of it. There is no place in their services for any katha or exposition of the scriptures. The members of the Jatha never use sub-caste names (gote) and they almost invariably marry within their own group.

The Akhand Kirtani jatha is strongly opposed to the Damdami Taksal on the issue of the Ragamala. However, its members joined hands with the Taksal in mounting the protest against the Sant Nirankaris in Amritsar on Baisakhi Day 1978 (the occasion that thrust Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale before the public gaze) and eleven out of the thirteen Sikhs who were killed belonged to the Akhand Kirtani jatha. It is important to note that Baba Gurbachan Singh, the leader of the Sant Nirankaris, was assassinated on 24 April 1980. Later, Bhai Ranjit Singh another member of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, who was appointed the Jathedar of the Akal Takhat (while he was in Delhi's Tihar Jail), was convicted of Nirankari Baba's murder on 26 March 1993.
46 Also, the Babbar Khalsa, a militant wing of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, played an important part in the recent Punjab disturbances. The Jatha has now realized that things have gone too far, and is trying to distance itself from the agitation. Many of its members hold important positions in government service in India and a significant number of them have settled in North America.

All Sikhs initiated into the order of the Khalsa ("pure") must observe the Rahit (code of conduct) as enunciated by Guru Gobind Singh and subsequently elaborated. They must take the surname Singh ("lion") in the case of men and Kaur ("princess") in the case of women. In most cases in North America, however, it has become a convention to use one's gote (clan, or exogamous group within the zaa.t, or caste) as a last name, reserving Singh and Kaur as middle names.

The most significant part of the Rahit is the enjoinder to wear five items of external identity known from their Punjabi names as the five Ks. These are unshorn hair (fees), a wooden comb (kanga), a miniature sword (kirpan, literally this word is the combination of "kirpa" and "an", meaning, "grace" and "self-respect"), a steel "wrist-ring" (kara), and a pair of short breeches (kachh). In Sikh self-understanding the five Ks are outer symbols of the divine word, implying a direct correlation between bani ("inspired utterance") and bana ("Khalsa dress"). Putting on the five Ks along with the turban (in the case of male Sikhs) while reciting prayers symbolizes that the Khalsa Sikhs are dressed in the word of God. Their minds are thus purified and inspired, and their bodies girded to do battle with the day's temptations. They are prohibited from four gross sins: cutting the hair, using tobacco, committing adultery, and eating meat that has not come from an animal killed with a single blow (jhataka).

It should, however, be emphasized here that the current scholarship has questioned the assertion made by orthodox Sikhs that the convention of the five Ks originated with Guru Gobind Singh's own declaration at the Baisakhi of 1699. For instance, W.H. McLeod argues that "at the end of the [eighteenth] century the convention was still emergent rather than clearly defined."47 In support of his thesis he gives two arguments. First, there is no clear eighteenth-century rahit-nama testimony. Second, no one drew the attention of the early Europeans to the actual convention as such. Does this mean that those five items (now known as five Ks) were not the part of Khalsa discipline in the eighteenth century? This is certainly not the case. We need to examine this issue in its proper historical perspective.

It is worth noting that the Sikh scholars frequently cite a hukam-nama ("commandment") which Guru Gobind Singh addressed to his followers in Kabul.48 This was dated sambat 1756 (1699 CE), the very year of the founding of the Khalsa, and in it he refers to the necessity of bearing the five items, now referred to as the five Ks. Its authenticity is, however, questioned on the following two grounds. First, it lacks the Guru's seal and second, it is in "direct contradiction to other early sources which make it perfectly clear that the five Ks were not among the Guru's instructions."49 That is perhaps why this particular hukam-nama is not to be found in Ganda Singh's collection, 'Hukum-name'.50 From his authentic hukam-namas it is quite evident that Guru Gobind Singh gave the injunction to the Khalsa to wear five weapons: "Appear before the Guru with five weapons on your person" (hathiar panje bann he darsan avana).51 In this context, J.S. Grewal has pointed out that in the near-contemporary sources "there are more frequent references to 'five weapons' than to five K's."52 In the eighteenth-century rahit-nama attributed to Chaupa Singh the five Ks are not mentioned as such, although there are numerous references to the uncut hair and the sword. Certain references to other items are found only in the scattered form.33 A later version of the Chaupa Singh rahit-nama does mention the five items which loyal Sikhs must embrace and three of these-kachh, kirpan, kes-figure in the five Ks. However, the other two items are bani (the sacred words of the scripture) and sadh sangat (the congregation of the faithful).54 Another eighteenth-century text, the Sarab Loh Granth, which awaits serious scholarly analysis, refers to kachh, kes and kirpan as three important "signs" (mudaras) of the amrit-dhari Sikh.55

Almost all early Europeans are unanimous that following an initiation ceremony the Sikhs refrained from cutting their hair, wore an iron "wrist-ring", and strictly avoided the use of tobacco. For instance, Forster writes: "They permit the growth of hair of the head and beard, they generally wear an Iron Bracelet on the left hand and the use of Tobacco is proscribed among them."56 Polier noticed "a pair of blue drawers" as part of the few garments typically worn by the Sikhs whom he observed.57 Francklin's following remark may draw our attention to the use of comb: "[After performing the requisite duties of their religion by ablution and prayer, they comb their hair and beards with peculiar care."58 In the context of the present discussion on the five Ks, one can assume that the sword (kirpan) must have been part of the weaponry worn by the Khalsa Sikhs of the eighteenth century, and the comb (kangha) would be concealed in their conspicuous turbans. Thus the five items, now known as five Ks, were already there in the eighteenth century, though they were not defined as such.

It is, however, important to note that the gur-bilas ("splendour of the Guru") literature such as Sainapati's Gur Sobha (1711), Sukha Singh's Gur Bilas Dasvin Patshahi (1798) and Rattan Singh Bhangu's Prachin Panth Prakash (1841) are completely silent on the convention of five Ks. True to their style these authors present the militant ideal of the Khalsa. Koer Singh's Gurbilas Patshahi 10 (early nineteenth century), for instance, mentions the following five items: "One should always love the company of weapons, the Guru's word (gur sabad), kachh (underwear) and kes (hair). The wearing of sword (karad) make the total five, and one should never abandon them from the daily discipline" (Dohara: shastr mel gur sabad so, kachh kesan sad prem. karad rakhani panch ey tajai na kab hi nem59.). Thus it is not surprising that John Malcolm refers to a tradition of five weapons in his Sketch of the Sikhs (1812). He mentions that at the time of the Khalsa initiation "five weapons"-a sword, a firelock, a bow and arrow, and a pike-were presented to the initiate.60 At the time of the annexation of the Punjab in 1849, however, the British put a legal ban on carrying weapons.
In the light of this situation Baba Ram Singh had to ask his followers to carry a simple staff.61 One can assume that in order to meet this new situation the organizers of the Singh Sabha movement replaced the tradition of "five weapons" with that of "five religious symbols", known as Five Ks.

It is not surprising that Macauliffe, who faithfully follows the Singh Sabha interpretation, wrote in 1881 that

All orthodox Sikhs must have five appurtenances whose names begin with the letter K. They are spoken of by the Sikhs as five K"s, and are -the Kes or long hair, the Kirpan, a small knife with an iron handle round which the Kes, thus rolled, is fastened on the head, the Kachh or drawers, and the Kara, an iron bangle for the wrist.62

Here, the "Kirpan" no longer remains a "weapon" worn diagonally across the right shoulder in a sash-like gatara (or "belt"). Rather it is worn as a matter of religious conviction along with the long hair (kes) and concealed under the turban. Macauliffe's understanding of the ceremonial sword (kirpan) thus reflects the contemporary Sikh response to the British policy of banning the weapons. Similarly, at the close of the nineteenth century Captain R.W. Falcon explicitly mentions the tradition of five Ks in his handbook for the use of regimental officers.63 The British reinforced the legitimacy of the five Ks through its recruitment policy. In this context, N.G. Barrier writes: "Only Sikhs with the 5 Ks could join the army and part of their initiation was baptism and a pledge to maintain 'orthodox' practices."64 Thus the five items which were already there as a part of the Khalsa discipline, acquired new significance because of Singh Sabha's new definition of orthodoxy.

In North America Sikhs face new issues and challenges with respect to the wearing of the five Ks. In particular, Sikhs have had problems wearing the kirpan, which is perceived to be a weapon by many Canadians and Americans. For instance, in December 1584 a Provincial Judge Lawrie Mitchel ruled that the "daggers" would not be allowed in the courtroom during the assault trial of five Sikhs in a Winnipeg court. He argued that he was not disputing the importance of the sheathed daggers, or kirpans, to the Sikh religion, but said that in Canadian law it constitutes an offensive weapon.65 Although the Sikh community appealed, his decision was upheld by the chief justice of the Court of Appeals of Manitoba. In contrast to this case, however, Sikhs wore kirpans into a courtroom during civil proceedings in Calgary, Alberta. The security officials at Calgary's Court of Queen's Bench felt "there was no reason for any concern."66 Obviously they were well aware of the religious significance of the kirpan to the Sikhs of Alberta.
In 1986 Suneet Singh Tuli, a student at Paul Kane High School in St. Albert, was suspended from school because he refused to stop wearing his ten-inch ceremonial sword (kirpan) to class. Following its no-weapons policy, the St. Albert Protestant Separate School Board claimed dial the kirpan could be used as a weapon to inflict serious injury. Tuli lodged a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission and filed a law-suit in the court against the decision of the school board. The Court of Queen's Bench Justice A.H. Wachowich granted Suneet Singh Tuli a temporary order restraining the Separate School Board (District No. 6) from taking action against the Grade 12 student until the issue is settled in a pending law suit. By allowing him to wear the sword, the Judge said: "Students will be given an opportunity to understand the tradition and heritage of the Sikh religion. In my view it's a positive educational tool that would far outweigh the potential danger, so long as it's recognized as a privilege and not a right."67 The Judge granted the injunction on condition that "the kirpan is tied down and can't be removed from its sheath, and tip blunted." Tuli thus wore his kirpan until he graduated from the school. Eventually the Alberta Human Rights Commission ruled that a ban on the kirpans violated the religious practices of the Sikhs.

In May 1988 Sukhdev Singh Hundal was suspended from Brampton's Central Secondary school because he insisted on wearing his 24-centimetre ceremonial dagger to class. The suspension was ratified by w Ontario's Peel Board of Education on the grounds of its no-weapons policy. When Hundal tried to obtain a court order against the decision of the school board, he was barred from a Peel District courtroom because the judge was reluctant to allow him to wear his kirpan there. Judge John Goodearle ruled that he would not permit the wearing of the dagger in motions court "until I examine the authorities on its appropriateness."68 The court asked the Supreme Court of Ontario to decide whether a board of education may prevent a Sikh teenager from wearing a kirpan to school. But in other cases schools in the Etobicoke and North York boards quietly allowed the wearing of the kirpan as long as it was not misused.

o Meanwhile, the Sikhs changed their strategy and took the kirpan case to the Human Rights Commission of Ontario. The Peel Board of Education approached the Ontario Supreme Court to quash a human rights probe into the banning of Sikh kirpans in schools. A three-judge panel of the Ontario Supreme Court, however, rejected the board's view that education is not a public "service" covered under the Human Rights Code. The Supreme Court panel sided with the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the citizenship and culture ministry, which argued anti-discrimination laws must be applied in a "broad, expansive and liberal manner."69 Thus Human Rights adjudicator W. Gunther Plaut heard the arguments of both sides in a public inquiry. After reviewing the evidence he ruled that a ban on kirpans violated Ontario's human rights legislation. He further ruled that the Peel Board of Education must allow Sikh students and teachers to wear the kirpan, provided it is not more than 17.7 centimetres (or seven inches) long, and is securely fastened inside clothing.70

In most of these cases, John Spellman, a Professor of Asian studies at the University of Windsor, served as consultant and expert witness on Sikhism to the human-rights commissions of Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. He argued that the ceremonial swords worn by Sikhs are not weapons but emblems of dignity and honour. He said: "The kirpan has a symbolic importance and is not designed or intended to be used as a weapon. You could say the mace is also a weapon used to strike people, but a mace sits near the Speaker in the House of Commons as a symbol of power and authority. "7I To the suggestion of the Peel Board trustees that a Sikh student may only wear to school a "symbolic representation of a kirpan" (that does not have a metal blade that could be used as a weapon), Spellman replied: "There is no possibility of a golden, or a plastic, or a paper kirpan."72 The Sikh kirpans, he argued emphatically, must be made only of iron or steel and cannot be changed in any way. In an earlier testimony, he made the following observation in 1987:

The turban and the sword are at least equal to the crucifix for Christians.... The kirpan worn by Sikhs is a sacred symbol and is no more to be used to attack someone than crucifix... There are practically no cases on record of any Sikh ever having been convicted in Canada of using his kirpan as a weapon.73

Spellman certainly did advocacy of the Sikh community for a number of years. But eventually some of his statements became questionable in the light of the fact that the kirpan was indeed misused as a weapon in a few disputes in Canada. For instance, on 26 February 1992 Jatinder Singh, a Granthi at Old Western Road Gurdwara in Toronto, was convicted of misusing his kirpan in a scuffle at the gurdwara.74 Once again, the issue of whether the kirpan worn by Sikhs is a religious symbol or a weapon became alive.

In a similar case in the United States, three kirpan-wearing Sikh children (Rajinder Singh Cheema, 10, Sukhjinder Kaur Cheema, 8 and Jaspreet Singh Cheema, 7) were excluded from school in the middle of January 1994 in Livingston school district in Fresno, California. Injune 1994 a federal court Judge Gerald E» Burrel, Jr. turned down a request by those children that they be allowed to attend school wearing their kirpans while their lawsuit was being resolved. The children and the American Civil Liberties Union had sought a preliminary injunction against the Livingstone School District. The judge ruled that the school district "has a compelling interest in preserving a learning environment at its school which facilitate the healthy well-rounded growth of young people. It also has a compelling interest in protecting the health and welfare of children, while in that environment, from the disruption and harm that kirpans in the hands of young children at school present."73 The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco, however, ruled in early September 1994 in favour of Sikh children, overruling a lower court decision backing the school district. The appellant court said the Livingston School District did not try to compromise with children, who said they were willing to wear shorter, blunt kirpans sewn securely into a sheath. Thus the children have returned to school with their kirpans. It should, however, be emphasized here that three California districts-Yuba City, Live Oak and Selma-have already granted exemptions to their no-weapons policies for kirpans.76 This was indeed due to the political influence of the Sikh community in that area.

Once again, the Sikh community adopted a new strategy and approached the members of the California State Assembly to introduce a bill that would exempt Sikh students from the California penal code provision which bars carrying of weapons in public and private educational institutions. Senate President Pro Tern Bill Lockyer, D-Hayward, introduced the bill, which included a variety of safeguards such as requirement that if a child brandished a kirpan it would be taken away. The State Assembly indeed passed this landmark legislation on 44-to-22 vote on 24 August 1994 allowing Sikh children to wear 3.3-inch curved kirpans symbolizing their religious convictions on school grounds.77 Although the Senate also approved the bill in the final vote, it was vetoed by the State Governor Pete Wilson on 30 September 1994. The Republican governor stated: "I am unwilling to authorize the carrying of knives on school grounds and abandon public safety to the resourcefulness of a thousand districts." He acknowledged that the kirpans are religious symbols, but he insisted that they still meet the definition of a knife in the state's penal code and therefore must be banned.78 The governor, however, made it quite explicit that he would be willing to sign a bill allowing kirpans at school if they were made incapable of use as a weapon. Although Sikhs were deprived of a major victory by the governor's decision, they certainly won sympathetic voices to their cause. For instance, Les Adler wrote on the editorial page of a major newspaper that "denying Sikhs' traditions cannot be justified."79 Here the noteworthy point is that the Sikh community has to fight the kirpan-case again and again from different platforms.

Let me address here the issue of the transmission of Khalsa traditions. The significance and need for full commitment to the Khalsa discipline has received new recognition by the North American Sikhs (especially by young adults) after the army action at the Golden Temple of Amritsar in 1984. This new trend is quite evident from frequent arrangements made by the gurdwara committees for the amrit ceremony, which was once, a rare occurrence. As a result of these efforts approximately ten to fifteen per cent of the Sikhs strictly follow the Khalsa discipline. This is based on my recent survey of major gurdwaras in North America. Many Sikhs who had abandoned their turbans and beards because of discrimination by prospective employers, returned to their traditional ways. The recent years have also witnessed among the Sikhs of North America a revived interest for their inherited tradition and identity. This awakened consciousness has produced a flurry of activities in children's education. Sikh parents realize that worship in gurdwaras is conducted in Punjabi, which scarcely responds to the needs of children born in North America. At school these children are being trained to be critical and rational, and they are therefore questioning the meaning of traditional rituals and practices. Traditionally-trained granthis ("readers" of the Sikh scriptures) and gyanis (traditional Sikh scholars) are unable to answer their queries. Moreover, without an adequate knowledge of Punjabi, the language of the Guru Granth Sahib, the new generation of Sikhs is in danger of being theologically illiterate.

Furthermore, a steady process of assimilation is in progress amongst second- and third-generation Sikhs. Western culture has added new challenges and obstructions to the Khalsa tradition. This situation has created new responses from the Sikh community. Many Sikh parents have started home-based worship in both Punjabi and English in order to meet new challenges from the diaspora situation. They have introduced another innovative feature in the form of Sikh Youth Camps to pass on the Khalsa traditions to the children. These camps last one or two weeks. Through them a spiritual environment is created which provides the children with continuous exposure to Sikh values and traditions.

Ideally, the Khalsa Brotherhood provides the most fascinating example of a homogeneous religious community. The real situation is, however, quite different. The argument of this paper has revealed that there is a considerable internal differentiation within the Khalsa tradition. The empirical evidence has shown that different groups within the Panth follow their own Rahit Maryada at the time of conducting the ceremony of Khalsa initiation. Nevertheless, each group claims to follow the "correct" procedure laid down by Guru Gobind Singh at the Baisakhi of 1699 and transmitted orally through successive generations. One may argue that the differences in the actual amrit ceremony are peripheral and that the central ceremony remains intact. This would indeed be too simplistic a view of the actual situation. A more realistic view would acknowledge the colourful diversity of the Khalsa tradition and encourage an accommodative approach (rather than that of confrontation) to the Rahit Maryada debate

The present debate over the Rahit observance is certainly not a new phenomenon. It has always been there and it will continue to be so in the future. The controversy on liturgical prayers may be better appreciated if we try to understand the logic behind two different approaches (that is, non-dualistic and dualistic) towards the inspired words of the Sikh scriptures. On the surface this debate certainly reflects conflict and confusion between different groups within the Panth. At a deeper level, however, it reflects a creative tension within the Sikh community. Paradoxically, it may result in greater long-term community solidarity and understanding, because it forcefully draws people's attention to the Khalsa ideal. Moreover, each generation has to define "what it means to be a Sikh" and to address the larger issues of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. The Diaspora Sikhs have to respond to these issues from the perspective of their own particular situation. They have to face new challenges, which require new responses.

1 Traditionally, it is maintained that Guru Gobind Singh founded a dis-tinguished school of exegesis at Sabo Ki Talwandi (more recently known as Damdama Sahib) in 1706. Among those who received instruction was one Deep Singh. After the death of the Guru in 1708, Deep Singh established the Damdami Taksal. For more details, see Harjot Oberoi, "Sikh Fundamentalism: Translating History into Theory," in Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, eds., Fundamentalisms and the State, Vol. 3 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993), pp. 266-270.
2 P. P.S.Gill, "Genesis and Shape of 'Rehat Maryada'debate", The Tribune (13 August, 1993).
3 See Professor Darshan Singh's article in the Indo-Canadian Times (July 22-28,1993): 33. The article contains the photocopies of the decisions oftheSGPC.
4 Kharara Sikh Rahit Maryada (Gurmat Sidhant Parcharak Sant Samaj, 1994).
5 Ibid., pp. 2-3. This document uses the language and style of the standard manual Sikh Rahit Maryada with certain obvious differences that reflect the contemporary debate over Sikh liturgical prayers and other issues.
Most interestingly, it mentions a Persian stanza concerning the five Ks attributed to Guru Gobind Singh (Sri Mukhavak Patashahi 10, Phokat Kabbitt, Sri Dasam Granth). See p. 23:
nishane sikhi iin panj harafkaf. hargiz na bashad azin panj muaf. 1.
kara harado kacch kanghe bidan. bila kes hech asat zumale nishan. 2. This stanza is, however, not to be found in the authentic version of the Dasam Granth.
6 Harjot Oberoi, The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 25.
7 Ml, Ramakali Siddh Costi, (20), AG, p. 940.
8 Mircea Eliade, Birth and Rebirth: The Religious Meaning of Initiation in Human Culture (1958), p. xiv.
9 Ibid., pp. xii-xiii.
10 W.H. McLeod, The Chaupa Singh Rahitnama (Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 1987), pp. 16-19.
11 Ibid., 90, 178-9, 182-3. The numerals refer to the specific verses in the Gurmukhi text of the Rahit-nama.
12 Sant Teja Singh, Jivan Kahani Raj Jogi Sant Attar Singh Ji Maharaj de varosae sevak Sant Teja Singh Ji di, Vol. II (Kalgidhar Trust, 1992), pp. 61,70-74, 91.
13 N. Gerald Barrier, "Sikh Emigrants and their Homeland", in N.Gerald Barrier and Verne A. Dusenbery, eds., The Sikh Diaspora (Delhi: Chanakya Publication, 1989), p. 72.
14 Kapur Singh, Sikhism For Modern Man, edited by Madanjit Kaur and Piar Singh (Amritsar: Guru Nanak Dev university, 1992), pp. 158-174.
15 Ibid., p. 162.
16 For English translation of the text, see W.H. McLeod, trans. and ed., Textual Sources for the Study of Sikhism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984), pp. 99-100.
17 Harbhajan Singh Khalsa, Furman Khalsa: Poems To Live By (Columbus, Ohio: Furman Khalsa Publishing Co., 1987), p. 235.
18 Dasam Granth, pp. 1386-88.
19 For a useful introduction, see C.H. Loehlin, The Granth of Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa Brotherhood (Lucknow: Lucknow Publishing House, 1971), pp. 48-51.
20 For details on 'Arril' metre, see Harbans Singh, ed., The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism (Patiala: Punjabi University, 1992), p. 526. 'Arril' is a popular metre of the Dasam Granth poetry. It is of 21 syllabic instants having pause at 11, lO with ragan (SIS) at the end of each quarter and use of 'Ho' syllabic instant at the beginning of the fourth quarter, which is always in addition to the actual count. It is of Apbhrans origin and is an early form of Chaupai.

21 See Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh, The Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1993), chap. 2. For a critique of this work, see Doris Jakobsh's article in this volume, chap. 3.
22 H. S. Khalsa, Furman Khalsa, p. 235.
23 See my "The Text and Meaning of the Adi Granth" (unpub. Ph. D. thesis, University of Toronto, 1991), p. 98.
24 For an insightful analysis of two different approaches towards the words of the Sikh scriptures, see Verne A. Dusenbery, "The Word as Guru: Sikh Scripture and the Translation Controversy," History of Religion, 31:4 (May 1992), pp. 385-402. The "non dualistic" ideology of language "recognizes the material as well as cognitive properties of language (especially articulated speech) and refuses to privilege semantic-referential meaning at the expense of other properties that language is thought to possess" (pp. 388-89).
25 Ibid., p. 389:
26 For details on the Nihangs, see McLeod, Textual Sources, p. 132.
27 Ibid.
28 For a useful study on the visits of various Sikh Sants overseas, see Darshan Singh Tatla, "Nurturing the Faithful: The Role of the Sant among Britain's Sikhs," Religion, 22 (1992): 349-374.
29 For more details, see H.S. Doabia, Life Story of Baba Nand Singh Ji of Kaleran (Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 1981); several volumes of hagiographic accounts in Gurmukh Singh, Anand Chamatkar (Nanaksar, n.d.) and the various issues of Anand Sarovar (Nanaksar: Anand Sarovar Trust, n.d.) by Bhagat Singh.
30 For traditional accounts of his life, see Gurmukh Singh, Ishar Chamatkar (Nanaksar, n.d.).
31 Balbir Singh, Paragat Guran Ki Deh: Part 1 (1978), pp. iii-iv.
32 See Tatla, "Nurturing the Faithful," 360-63 and Eleanor Nesbitt, "The Nanaksar Movement," Religion, 15:1 (1985): 67-79.
33 For details, see Giani Gurbachan Singh Khalsa, Gurbani Path Darshan (Bhindran Kalan: Gurdwara Akhand Prakash, 5th edn., 1985).
34 Giani Gurbachan Singh Khalsa, Gurmati Rahit Maryada (Amritsar: Khalsa Brothers, 1986), pp. 90-146.
35 See Patwant Singh, Gurdwaras: In India and Around the World (Himalayan Books, 1992), p. 108.
36 Roy Hayter, Director, Gurdwara: House of the Guru (Vancouver: Temple Films Ltd., 1992).
37 Harbans Singh, Heritage of the Sikhs (Columbia, MO: South Asia Books, 1983), pp. 261-65. Also see the monthly journal of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Sura (July 1990), p. 41.
38 Trilochan Singh, trans., Autobiography of Bhai Randhir Singh (Ludhiana: Bhai Randhir Singh Publishing House, 1971).
39 Harbans Singh, ed., The Encyclopaedia ofSikhism, p. 59.
40 See Sura (July 1990), p. 41.
41 In 1990 the Akhand Kirtani Jatha made an appeal to stop the recitation of the Ragamala at the Akal Takhat (introduced by the Damdami Taksal). Meanwhile, Ram Singh prepared a copy of the Sikh scripture without the controversial text of the Ragamala. The coverage of this controversy in the Punjabi language press created a major stir within the Sikh Panth.
42 N.G. Barrier, "Vernacular Publishing and Sikh Life in the Punjab, 1880-1910," in Kenneth W.Jones, ed., Religious Controversy in British India: Dialogue in South Asian Languages (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), p. 219.
43 Ibid., pp. 217-18.
44 For details, see W.H. McLeod, "The Meaning of Sikh Fundamentalism and its Origins", a paper presented in Chicago, pp. 12-14.
45 Bhai Randhir Singh, Gurmat Bibek (Ludhiana: Bhai Randhir Singh Publishing House, 2nd edn., 1975; Istedn., 1946), pp. 95-260.
46 "Nirankari Baba's murder: Ex-chief of Akal Takhat Convicted," The Hindustan Times (March 27, 1993).
47 W.H. McLeod, Who is a Sikh?: The Problem of Sikh Identity (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), p. 58. Also see his The Sikhs: History, Religion, and Society (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), p. 45.
48 For the text of the hukam-nama, see Gobind Singh Mansukhani, "Sikh-Rahat-Maryada and Sikh Symbols," in Jasbir Singh Mann and Harbans Singh Saraon, eds., Advanced Studies in Sikhism (Irvine, CA: Sikh Community of North America, through Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh, 1989), p. 176.
49 W.H. McLeod, "Cries of Outrage: History versus Tradition in the Study of the Sikh Community," South Asia Research, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Autumn 1994), p. 129.
50 Ganda Singh, ed., Hukam-name (Patiala: Punajbi University, 1967).
51 Ibid., pp. 179, 194.
52 J.S. Grewal, From Guru Nanak to Maharaja Ranjit Singh: Essays in Sikh History (Amritsar: Guru Nanak University, 1972), p. 60.
53 The Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama, p. 15, 33-4, 40, 150, and 173.
54 Ibid., p. 150.
55 Cited in Piara Singh Padam, Rahitname (Amritsar, 4th edn., 1989; 1st edn., 1974), p. 33.
56 Ganda Singh, ed., Early European Accounts oj the Sikhs (Calcutta: Indian Studies Past and Present, 1962), p. 79. Also see pp. 18,63,65, 79,92, and 103-4.
57 Ibid., p. 63.
58 Ibid., p. 103.
59 Shamsher Singh, ed., Gurbilas Patshahi 10: Krit Koer Singh (Patiala:

Punjabi University, 2nd edn., 1986; 1st edn., 1968), p. 130.
60 Lt. Col. Malcolm, Sketch of the Sikhs: Their Origin, Customs &> Manners,
with notes by Subash C. Aggarwal (Chandigarh: Vinay Publications,
reprint, 1981; Original London, 1812), pp. 146-7. <
61 J.S. Grewal, The New Cambridge History of India 11.3: The Sikhs of the Punjab (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 142.
62 Max Macauliffe, "The Sikh Religion Under Banda, and its Present Condition", The Calcutta Review, Vol. 66 (1881), p. 162.
63 Captain R.W. Falcon, Handbook on Sikhs: For the Use of Regimental Officers (Allahabad. Pioneer Press, 1896), p. 9.
64 N. Gerald Barrier, "Thje Singh Sabhas and the Evolution of Modem Sikhism, 1875-1925," in Robert D. Baird, ed., Religion in Modern India (New Delhi: Manohar Publication, 2nd edn., 1989), p. 204.
65 Calgary Herald (December 19, 1984), p. C6.
66 Carol Howes, "Sikhs vow support to dagger appeal," Calgary Herald (January 4,1985), p. B4.
67 World Sikh News (November 28, 1986), p. 11.
68 "Sikhbarredfromcourtwhilewearingdagger," The Globe andMail (May 18, 1988), p. A15. For other similar case, see Peter Moon, "Refugee hearing probed after Sikh ordered to remove dagger," Globe and Mail (August 24,1990), p. AID and Paul Watson, "Hearing refused for Sikh with kirpan," The Toronto Star (August 23,1990), p. Al.
69 Nomi Morris, "Judges reject move to stop kirpan probe," The Toronto Star (March 6,1990), p. A13.
70 For arguments of both sides, see various reports of Paula Todd, The Toronto Star (March 28, April 19 and 20, 1990), pp. A2, A10 and A9 respectively. For details of the decision, see Globe and Mail (July 9, 1990), p. Al 1 and Sutantar Singh, Kernel of Sikhism: An Introduction to Sikhs ondSiWiism (Ottawa: Sikh Institute of Canada, 1994), pp. 195-96.
71 Tony Wong, "Sikh daggers symbols of honour, rights probe told," The Toronto Star (February 6, 1990), p. A4.
72 Ibid.
73 John W. Spellman, Calgary Herald (September 17, 1987).
74 In a telephone interview on 19 February 1995 Jatinder Singh told me that he used his sword in self-defence when he was attacked by three persons (Sarbjit Singh Sander, his father and his uncle) in a scuffle that followed an argument at the gurdwara. In the court, however, he pleaded guilty before District Court Judge Ted Wren to the lesser charge of assaulting Sarbjit Singh Sander on July 19,1987, after a dispute in the gurdwara. See the news report "Temple priest admits stabbing his parishioner," The Toronto Star (February 1992).
75 Viji Sundaram, "Judge Bars Kirpans from School Till Case Resolved," India West (June 8-12,1994), p. 1.
76 Greg Lucas, "Wilson Veto For Knives At School: Children Wear Daggers As Part Of Sikh Faith," The San Francisco Chronicle (October 1, 1994), p. A21.
77 Greg Lucas, "Bill Allows Sikh Daggers On Campus," The San Francisco Chronicle CAugust 25, 1994), p. A17.
78 Greg Lucas, "Wilson Veto For Knives At School," The San Francisco Chronicle (October 1, 1994), p. A21.
79 Les Adler, "Denying Sikhs' Traditions Cannot Be Justified," The San Francisco Chronicle (October 12, 1994), p. A21.



1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Re: Comparing the Khalsa Rehat: Damdami, Nihang, Nanaskar, AKJ and SinghSaba Traditio

Rehat of Budda Dal Takal
Taken from Nihang Rehat - The Voice of Sikh Youth

Reference: Adi-Dasam Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji de Patha Dee Sankeph Maryada

which can be located at Welcome to www.NihangSingh.org

1.Do ardaas upon waking up in the mornings and ask for the boon of righteous actions
2. When adhering to the call of nature excercise hygene and cleanliness, and upon entering a city always procure water for such purposes
3. Cleanse your face with water (upon waking)
4. Bathe in cold water
5. When removing your kachera, your head and shoulders should be covered, and one leg should remain in the old pair as you transfer the opposite leg into the new pair 6.When tying your turban you must sit in the lotus posture (asan), your turban and kachera should never touch, and your turban should never be lifted off like a topi but should be properly untied
7. Upon waking in the morning recite Waheguru mantra and Mool Mantra while uniting surat and shabd through breath control
8. In the morning one must recite gurmantra, mool mantra and then recite or listen to the 5 banis, and Kirtan Sohila should be recited before going to sleep
9. When bathing the hair can be washed with yogurt
10. When drying the hair keep a small patka on
11. When drying the hair it must not be laid back, but should be combed to the sides with a blur keski
12. The dead hairs caught in your comb must not be thrown underfoot but should be cremated
13. Kachera should not be slung over the shoulder as it could come into contact with your beard and hair which is prohibited
14. The beard should not be dyed black
15. One should dress in blue
16. Worship the three Granths
17. Always depend on Akal and repeat his mantra
18. The Five Beloveds must give baptism to the Singhs
19. Do not abbreviate Singhs names into nicknames
20. Consider the five k's as your limbs
21. You must not take off the 5 k's when bathing
22. Always keep 2 combs and never use a broken comb
23. One cannot enter Guru Darbar without bathing instead he can only namaska from outside, nor can one enter with socks on
24. Stay away from the four kurehits
25. Keep on a blue keski at all times
26. Regard the sword as your isht and never be without it
27. Wear a dastaar and never a topi
28. Bathe daily
29. Always recite gurmantra and the 5 Banis
30. Always share with others,
31. Give 10% to the guru,
32. Do satsang and seva,
33. Do everything in accordance to gurmat
34. Always obey the hukam of SGGSji
35. Always speak the truth and attain virtuous qualities such as contentment,
36. Don't do nindaya
37. Never cut any hair,
38. Do not use drugs,
39. Do not do Halal custom
40. Never take the honor of a women or adulerate
41. ? (could not translate)
42.Do not steal or gamble
43. Restrain from intoxicants as much as possible
44. Don't go on Hindu pilgramiges or worship idols
45. Always be armed,
46. Any action should begin with ardaas to God, and Waheguru mantra is to be repeated with every breath whether, walking, standing, he is to always be thanked
47. After heeding the call of nature bathe five times
48. Gurbani should be kept in a ramalla, stored in a high place,
49. Never fight with Sikhs, always help the poor,
50. Don't take or use your sister's money
51. Don't eat with non-amritdharis
52. Always be truthful
53. Learn gurumukhi, remember gurbani and teach young people our history
54. One should not flatulate in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib
55. Do seva, bhakti,simran remain content and do righteous actions,
56. Never beg anything from anyone,
57. Never disgrace the Khalsa army
58. Always greet Singhs with Wahiguru ji ka Khalsa, Wahiguru ji ki Fateh
59. From birth until death keep gurmat in mind and act accordingly
60. Come to Budha Dal and register as a full-fledged member
61. Celebrate Holla Mohalla at Anandpur Sahib
62. Celebrate Sahibzadey's Memorial at Chamkaur Sahib
63. Celebrate Mata Gujri Anniversary at Fatehgarh Sahib
64. Celebrate fullmoon, Guru Nanak's Birthday pur Lodhi, Kapurthala
65. Magi, Sri Mukhtsar Sahib
66. Basant pachmi, Patiala
67. Do not get piercings


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Re: Comparing the Khalsa Rehat: Damdami, Nihang, Nanaskar, AKJ and SinghSaba Traditio

Hazoori Sahib Maryada

If anyone can help locate a primary source or a link to the actual rehat I would appreciate knowing about it. Thanks.

Here is a summary of the Hazoori Sahib Maryada -- but some things are missing from this account.

The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Punjab

Hazur Sahib has unique maryada
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service
Hazur Sahib, October 29

Maryada (Sikh code) does not allow the Jathedar of Takht Hazur Sahib to leave Nanded till death and he has to be a “brahmchari” throughout life.

As per two-century-old maryada, the Jathedar, Giani Kulwant Singh, can’t attend the meetings of Akal Takht though he nominates his second in command (vice-Jathedar) to attend the meetings of Sikh high priests at Akal Takht. Though the first ardas in the wee hours is performed at Takht Hazur Sahib for allowing the Sikh community to do a pilgrimage of all historical gurdwaras, including the Golden Temple, as per the maryada of Takht Hazur Sahib, Giani Kulwant Singh can’t pay obeisance there.

Talking to The Tribune, Dalip Singh, a class fellow of Giani Kulwant Singh, said he (Jathedar) had to remain at Nanded as his duty starts at 2 am with the performance of ardas before washing of the sanctum sanctorum with holy water of the Godavari is carried out. After a break of only a couple of hours, the Jathedar has to perform the daily rites in the sanctum sanctorum where even other Sikh high priests are not allowed to enter.

]Finally, the Jathedar goes back to his official residence in the Takht complex after the evening prayers, which are performed in the most traditional manner.

]Gagrya Sikh Hardyala Singh, who carries gaggar (a silver utensil) for carrying holy water from the Godavari to Takht Hazur Sahib, too has to be bachelor and can’t leave Nanded till death. A task force of the youth, carrying traditional weapons, escort him barefoot. The tradition of performing aarti besides ardas on the riverbanks after the first pitcher is drawn is a mesmerising experience. Being a separate committee, the maryada of Takht Hazur Sahib is quite different from that of Akal Takht and the SGPC.

Milk and water of the Godavari is sprayed on the gurdwara building from a fire tender on the eve of Diwali.

The naubat (a traditional musical instrument) is played by non-Sikhs in front of Takht Hazur Sahib every day. The most significant variation among maryada of Takht Hazur Sahib and other three Takhts of Punjab is that the recitation of Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth go on simultaneously. Unlike at the gurdwaras and Takhts under the control of the SGPC, devotees offer “panjeer parsad”, which can be collected from the counters put up by the Takht management.
Last edited by a moderator:

Randip Singh

May 25, 2005
United Kingdom
Re: Comparing The Khalsa Rehat: Damdami, Nihang, Nanaskar, AKJ and Singh Sabha Tradit

The SGPC maintains that this manual is a representative of the "collective personality of the Panth" and dial no single group has any right or authority to challenge it.

I find the above comment something for people to think about!


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Re: Comparing The Khalsa Rehat: Damdami, Nihang, Nanaskar, AKJ and Singh Sabha Tradit

Harinder1986 ji

This is the best source I have been able to find but there are other sources of information about the Nanaskar movement. I don't think there is a Nanaksar rehat maryada as such, rather a set of traditions. I am still looking.

Nanaksar Movement

Nanaksar Movement

Doctrines A strict belief in vegetarianism (excluding eggs and fish), celibacy (both gurus were celibates), austerities, asceticism and meditation (using a rosary), and a focus on Guru Nanak, all push the Nanaksar devotees into Sanatan Sikhism (see entry). The gurus of this group also favoured the Nirmala tradition of asceticism (see entry) known to be the core of Sanatan Sikhism with the Udasis (see entry). They believed that deep reverence of the Guru Granth would lead to the darshan (spiritual vision) of Guru Nanak himself. Thus the Adi Granth is very much the focus of this movement. They believe that the Sevadhars (those who help in the temple precincts) must be celibates, and are called bahingams, literally 'birds' that have no attachment to earthly abodes. This again stresses their Sanatanist nature. Devotees believe that Guru Nanak was an incarnation (avatara) of the Divine. [The Hindu doctrine of avatar has been explicitly rejected by orthodox Tat Khalsa Sikhs, see entry]. They specialise in extended sessions of kirtan (devotional singing of the praises of the divine) at times of the full moon (purnimasi). Guru Nanak's birthday is celebrated with special vigour on the nearest full moon. It is believed that staying awake (meditating and performing kirtan) all night is more beneficial than staying awake during all the other nights of the year put together. (See also Sikh Panth entries).


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Re: Comparing The Khalsa Rehat: Damdami, Nihang, Nanaskar, AKJ and Singh Sabha Tradit

I have also found this very interesting document from the Gurdwara Nanaksar Sahib in Fresno California.

Introduction: Sant Baba Nand Singh Jee is the founder of Nanaksar Institution. He stands out amongst his peers as he unveiled the hidden glory of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee in which he unfolded the hidden eternal splendors of the founder of Sikhism Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee. He restored the highest respect, esteem, faith and loving devotion of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. He caused and effected integration of thousands of stranded souls with Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee and thus saved them from drowning in this burning ocean of universal illusion. The service of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee as described by Sant Baba Nand Singh Jee was fully established by his successor Sant Baba Ishar Singh Jee at Nanaksar Kaleran, near Jagroan, Punjab, India. He undertook this mission to various cities of India and taught the people about the eternal glory of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee besides administration of Amrit (sacred Nectar as prescribed by 10th Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee) on large scale.

Sant Baba Ishar Singh Jee carried out the mission for 13 years and bestowed the responsibilities of continuation of mission to Sant Baba Gurdev Singh Jee who went to village Samadh Bhai as per instructions of Sant Baba Ishar Singh Jee. Sant Baba Gurdev Singh Jee, who at present is fulfilling the responsibilities and has been instrumental in taking this mission to abroad as well. Sant Baba Gurdev Singh Jee has established 17 Nanaksar Gurdwaras both in India (Samadh Bhai, New Delhi, Dehradun, Bagthalla, Pune, Seerah, Kandila, Bhadaur and Banwala Anu) and abroad (Houston (TX) and Fresno (CA) in USA, Birmingham and Southhall in UK, Brampton (ON), Winnipeg (MB) and Surrey (BC) in Canada and Nairobi in Kenya) where thousands of devotees pray and worship Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee everyday, in the beacon light shown by towering Light House, Sant Baba Nand Singh Jee.

Service (Sewa) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee: The religious ceremonies and services at all Nanaksar Gurdwaras of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee is carried out as per the hukamnama (order) established by 10th Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee. The followers of Sikh Religion are ordered to treat Sri Guru Granth Sahib as not the mere Holy Book but as Living Divinity (Pargat Guran Ki Deh). Therefore, a special room (Sachkhand) is dedicated to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. This is the only room that has the Palang (bed) of size 6x4 sq ft is for Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. All Sangat (visiting devotees) and Ragiis (Monks) sleep on thin mattress on the floor. Even Sant Baba Gurdev Singh Jee have his Aasan (bed), a thin mattress on the floor. The food is not cooked at the Gurdwara but is brought by turn from amongst the devotees because it is a true belief that if you engage yourself in the selfless devotion of God, God will automatically make sure by inculcating in the mind of devotees to prepare fresh food and take it to Gurdwara for offering it to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee and for the people engaged in such selfless devotion. As a matter of fact devotees have to request for a turn and have to wait for a month in some cases to bring food. As mentioned above the food brought by devotees is first offered to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee (as Guru Sahib is treated as Living Divinity) and then distributed amongst the Ragiis and Sangat. The Parkash (opening) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee is done twice, first in the morning at 3 am and then in the afternoon at 4 pm. The Sukh Assan (closing) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee is done in the morning after Nitnem (daily services) and in the evening after Hukamnama.

Kirtan: As per the sayings of Guru Jee “Kalyug Mein Kirtan Pardhana” (Singing of Hymns is Supreme in this Time), Kirtan is prime in Gurdwaras. The praying and glorifying of Gurus is conducted through Kirtan that is performed twice daily in all Gurdwaras. It is the most important ritual, Sant Baba Gurdev Singh Jee always initiate Kirtan before constructing Gurdwara building.

Ragiis (Monks): Our Ragiis are self-motivated, celibate and devoted to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee, Sikh religion and Sant Baba Gurdev Singh Jee. The Ragiis of our organization live a very simple life under penance. We have lot of Ragiis in India at each Gurdwara but between 5-8 Ragiis in each Gurdwara outside India. The responsibilities of each Ragii is to offer prayer, religious discourse, sing praises of the Lord in the chantry, in the Assemblies of God, which run from 2.00 A.M. reveille (pre-dawn) to 9.00 P.M. taps with slight respite in the afternoon. Our Ragiis however travel from one Gurdwara to other at all times under instruction of Highest Monk Holy Saint Baba Gurdev Singh Jee.

Morning Service: The morning service of prayers starts at 2.00 A.M. and concludes at 6.30 A.M. (In India this service is carried out for an extra half an hour) The service includes recitation of the part of the Holy Book, chanting hymns, canticles, liturgical songs and biblical psalms, delivering homilies, religious discourses and divine sermons, quoting sayings from the scriptures and the Holy Book and their rendition and interpretation, preaching the Gospel and teaching of the Universal Sikh religion, offering prayers and addressing Assemblies of God.

Evening Service: At 3.30 P.M., the priests bathe and go to the Deewan Hall at 4.00 P.M. to lay the liturgical settings for the evening session. The evening session begins with a recital from the Holy Book after which full service starts. This is an exact replica of the morning session and is orchestrated and conducted with great gusto to the accompaniment of musical instruments and concludes with taps at 9.00 P.M (In India this service is carried out for an extra one hour).

Special Services: In addition, some special services are also performed. In commemoration of the Founding Guru’s (Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee) birth is held continuous recitation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee without any break for seven days every month on the eve of Pooranmashi (Full Moon day). All the Ragiis (Monks) and devotees take part in it for a turn of two hours at a stretch. This is followed by a concluding ceremony that singularly glorifies Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee. Beside this Masya (No Moon Day) is celebrated at Banwala Anu and Southhall, Dashmi (10th Day from Masya) is celebrated at Kandila and Bagthala, Masand (Last Day of a Lunar Calendar Month) is celebrated at Bhadaur and Sangrand (1st Day of Lunar Calendar Month) at Samadh Bhai each month.

On Sundays following the Pooranmashi every month and after the Sangrand, Masand, Dashmi and Masya ceremony is held a ceremony at Gurdwara marking induction, presentation of candidates for partaking Amrit (baptisation ceremony).

There are other special days celebrated at each Gurdwara as outlined in the Calendar every year.

Special Functions: In a Calendar Year, two big functions are celebrated by our Institution in India. The one is in February-March each year, which is celebrated in our New Delhi’s Nanaksar Gurdwara. The Sampat Akhand Path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee is carried out in three turns that starts on February14 (February 15 in leap year) and culminates with the full fervor on March 4 each year. The other function is celebrated at Samadh Bhai, our first Gurdwara to commemorate the Barsi of Sant Baba Ishar Singh Jee. These are Tuk Tuk Wale Sri Sampat Akhand Paths (recitation of Mool Mantar and special hymn at each line) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee that are completed in 25 days. It starts every year on September 14. The Rein Sabai (all-night long) Kirtan is performed after the Bhog of Sri Sampat Akhand Paths. Famous Ragi Jathas feel privileged to come and perform the free Kirtan for the Sangat assembled at the occasions from not only from all over the India rather from different parts of the globe.

It is important to note that all the services carried out at Nanaksar Gurdwaras are done for the welfare of the mankind. In the main Sachkhand, Ardas is carried out only for the welfare of the mankind and not in the name of any person.

Nishan Sahib in not erected in any of Nanaksar Gurdwaras because it is a political symbol or an army flag. At Nanaksar, politics is never mixed with religion. Nanaksar is the center of pure devotion and Bhagtee and is equally available to people of all denominations as per the philosophy and teaching of our reverend Gurus that their teaching, lessons and blessings are for each and every one. Therefore on different celebrations in each Gurdwaras, the following Dargai Parsaad (Divine Blessings) is given to each and every one. Sangat visiting the Gurdwaras is told that till the coming function, every family should do or get done one Sehaj Path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee or 50 Paths of Sri Sukhmani Sahib or 250 Paths of Japji Sahib or 6 Malas with 108 beads of Mool Mantar from IK ON KAAR to NANAK HOSI BHEE SACH every day or 80 Malas of Waheguru every day. For Hindus 80 Malas of Ram Ram and for Muslim, 80 Malas of Allah Allah of 108 beads every day. Similarly Christian can do 80 Malas of Issa Issa of 108 beads every day. In the Ardas of monthly celebration at each Gurdwaras, the Ardasia (Lead Monk performing prayers) says that Pichlay Pathan De Bhog Pah Han (Bhogs of the recitations done by Sikh Sangat at their home since last monthly celebrations) to include these Paths (Divine Blessings) in Ardas (Prayers) at each Gurdwara.


  • maryada.jpg
    32.9 KB · Reads: 960
Feb 25, 2010
Phoenix, Arizona
I'm planning on taking amrit soon, God Willing, and have been studying various rehits. I think the ones that I find the most interesting are the Damdami Taksal Rehit and the Nihang Rehit, which for the most part, I've noticed, are very similar. I have great respect for both of them but I feel for me they're almost too extreme in some ways and I would hate myself if I chose to follow their rehits took amrit and wasn't able to uphold and live by it every day. Where as the SGPC's SRM seems to be a little more... I don't know if laid back is the term I want to use but thats the term I'm going to use.

I think thats one thing that has been holding me back from taking amrit. Fear that I'll disgrace myself and mess up one way or another. As far as amrit ceremonies go, I don't really have too much of a choice. I live in PHX, AZ and there are only (as far as I know) 2 groups here. The Standard, I guess you could say, "Orthodox" Sikhs who take the Rehit of the SGPC and do the standard Amrit ceremony, and the 3HO who as far as I know follow the same Rehit but have a slightly different Amrit ceremony. SO I don't really have a the ability to take the Nihang Amrit or the Damdami Amrit unless I left Arizona, which is not an option due to my monetary issues. It can all be very confusing and upsetting for me at times.

And a question for the elders. I know this is an old thread and I don't know if Anyones goign to respond to this but. Is it essential that I be able to speak and completely understand Panjabi to take amrit.
Thank you all VJKK VJKF


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Or, santokh singh ji

You could wait until you are more certain of yourself. Until you are you will be wearing a "suit of clothes" that do not quite fit because they belong to someone else. And they won't be comfortable - too tight, too loose. By the time you are ready you may have the funds to go where you need to go to find the rehat that fits you.
Feb 25, 2010
Phoenix, Arizona
Kaur ji
I'm not afriad that the suit will not fit. I know and have faith that it will. I just don't know what color suit I want to wear. With that being said, me taking Amrit is not going to be something that happens tomarrow, or next tuesday, or next month, or probably even in the next 2 months. But it is indeed something thats going to happen because its what my heart and soul wants to happen, and its probably going to happen in the not too distant future because thats what I feel my soul desires. I've wanted to do it for a year and a half now, and have been slowly, step by step learning, reading, studying, comparing and practising little by little building myself up for that point, which I feel is drawing near. It's just a matter of what "color" suit I want to where. God willing when that time comes if I decide I need to go out of state or out of country to do what I need to do hopefully Akaal will provide the necessary tools get there. Anywyas as a side note, very nice article. It was very illuminating.
Sat Naam ji

Randip Singh

May 25, 2005
United Kingdom
I'm planning on taking amrit soon, God Willing, and have been studying various rehits. I think the ones that I find the most interesting are the Damdami Taksal Rehit and the Nihang Rehit, which for the most part, I've noticed, are very similar. I have great respect for both of them but I feel for me they're almost too extreme in some ways and I would hate myself if I chose to follow their rehits took amrit and wasn't able to uphold and live by it every day. Where as the SGPC's SRM seems to be a little more... I don't know if laid back is the term I want to use but thats the term I'm going to use.

I think thats one thing that has been holding me back from taking amrit. Fear that I'll disgrace myself and mess up one way or another. As far as amrit ceremonies go, I don't really have too much of a choice. I live in PHX, AZ and there are only (as far as I know) 2 groups here. The Standard, I guess you could say, "Orthodox" Sikhs who take the Rehit of the SGPC and do the standard Amrit ceremony, and the 3HO who as far as I know follow the same Rehit but have a slightly different Amrit ceremony. SO I don't really have a the ability to take the Nihang Amrit or the Damdami Amrit unless I left Arizona, which is not an option due to my monetary issues. It can all be very confusing and upsetting for me at times.

And a question for the elders. I know this is an old thread and I don't know if Anyones goign to respond to this but. Is it essential that I be able to speak and completely understand Panjabi to take amrit.
Thank you all VJKK VJKF

The entire SGPC Rehat is published in English:

Here is a synopsis:

In the Rehit Marayada (http://www.sgpc.net/rehat_maryada/section_six.html), Section Six, it states:

The undermentioned four transgressions (tabooed practices) must be avoided
1. Dishonouring the hair;
2. Eating the meat of an animal slaughtered the Muslim way(Kutha);
3. Cohabiting with a person other than one's spouse
4. Using tobacco.
Sikh Rehit Maryada

Just click on the link above.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
santokh singh ji

It sounds to me as if you are very centered and will make the choice that "suits" your temperament. Randip Singh ji has posted the link to the SRM -- which it seems you have already considered. That would be my choice because it captured Guruji's message in a simple and pure way. Sometimes I believe it is the hardest of all the rehat's because it has so little in the way of do this and do that. We need to find ourselves. You will.



📌 For all latest updates, follow the Official Sikh Philosophy Network Whatsapp Channel: