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Understanding The Sikh Rehat Maryada

Jul 10, 2006
Understanding the Sikh Rehat Maryada
Sunday 20th of March 2005
Gurmukh Singh - Panthic Weekly Columnist

The Panthic Weekly Editors are proud to announce the launch of another column dedicated to the Sikh Rehat Maryada. Every week, our readers will be able to read a commentary on the Rehat Maryada, given by Bhai Gurmukh Singh Ji. - Editors.


The Way of Life described is very hard indeed to practice in a world laden with deceit, illusion (maya) and temptation. But this is the challenge of being a Sikh; you will always stand out in a crowd due to the handsome/beautiful attire the Guru has blessed upon us with the Five Kakkaars and the distinct unique physical appearance of a Sikh.

The Rehat Maryada is a guide which if practiced will give us ever lasting peace, both in this world and the nether. We should accept the eternal truths described and learn from the experiences of our forefathers and not have to make these mistakes ourselves. We should forever be taking steps towards our goal of life which is to become one with Waheguru - our wonderful dispeller of darkness and fountain of knowledge. The Rehat Maryada loads us with the knowledge to attain peace, bliss and happiness.

We are all at different stages of development but we must not forget we are children of the same Father and Mother; we have a common heritage and lineage in the Khalsa. Our Eternal Parents Sahib Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee and Mata Sahib Kaur are forever looking over us, as we play, pray and grow old, they will, no doubt, guide us through the trials and tribulation of life, if we believe and know them explicitly.

It is only through practice that we can make the theory real and we must practice the essence of the Rehat Maryada and all the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. The Rehat Maryada is a summarised guide and all good Sikhs will know that many aspects of Sikh living are not described, but answers to all questions are contained within Gurbani our spiritual guide. Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the writings of Guru Gobind Singh Ji have all the answers to any questions, which may arise in our lives. Bhai Gurdaas Jee's writings and Bhai Nand Lal Jee's writings also give us in-depth insight and inspiration into Gurmat and the search for truth and truthful living.

We hope the Rehat Maryada helps you in your quest for eternal peace and the freeing of the transmigration of your soul. We are the creatures of God and should run after the Creator and not His Creation, which we forget far too easily. May the Great Guru and the Great Gursikhs bless us all with their grace so we may be able to become great like them and become the image of God like they have done and still do today.

Commentary on the Sikh Rehat Maryada


Any human being who faithfully believes in:

i. One Immortal Being,
ii. Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib,
iii. The Guru Granth Sahib,
iv. The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus and v. the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru, and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion, is a Sikh.

The definition of a Sikh highlights the fundamental beliefs an individual must have to identify himself or herself as a Sikh – which is a member of the Sikh faith.

(i)An atheist cannot be a Sikh because a Sikh a seeker of Truth. If you don’t faithfully believe in One Immortal Being, in Waheguru then you are not on the path of love to become one with Waheguru.

pauVI ] gurisKW min hir pRIiq hY guru pUjx Awvih ] hir nwmu vxMjih rMg isau lwhw hir nwmu lY jwvih ]
“Pauree: The minds of the Gursikhs are filled with the love of the Lord, Waheguru; (and as a blessing of that love) they come and serve Satguru, the True Guru. (Coming to the True Guru) they trade lovingly in the Lord's Name, and depart having earned the profit of the Lord's Name…” (Ang 590, SGGS)

(ii)Without faithfully believing in your spiritual enlightener or Guru, you cannot learn anything. At school if you don’t respect the teacher, you don’t acknowledge the teacher or accept the teacher as your source of knowledge then you will not make progress on the road to education. To faithfully believe in Guru Nanak Sahib entails faithfully believing in Guru Gobind Singh Sahib as they shared the One Light are where all the embodiment of the Truth.

joiq Ehw jugiq swie sih kwieAw Pyir pltIAY ]

“They shared the One Light and the same way; the King just changed His body.” (Ang 966, SGGS)

(iii)The Divine Word, the Shabad Guru, Guru Granth Sahib is the speaking soul of the Ten Gurus, through whose teaching is the gateway to eternal bliss.

bwxI gurU gurU hY bwxI ivic bwxI AMimRqu swry ] guru bwxI khY syvku jnu mwnY prqiK gurU insqwry ]5]

“The Divine Word, the Baani is Guru, and Guru is the Baani. Within the Baani, the Ambrosial Nectar is contained. If His humble servant believes, and acts according to the Divine Words of the Guru's Baani, then the Guru, in person, emancipates him. ||5||” (Ang 982, SGGS)

(iv)Through the message of the Gurus, which is the utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus we are able to realise God and live a life which blissful. Merely accepting the physical form of the Guru is not going to elevate your spirituality.

sbdu gurU suriq Duin cylw ]

“The Shabad is the Guru, upon whom I lovingly focus my consciousness; I am the chaylaa, the disciple.” (Ang 943, SGGS)

siqgur kI bwxI siq srUpu hY gurbwxI bxIAY ]

“The Word of the True Guru's Baani is the embodiment of Truth; through Gurbaani, one becomes perfect.” (Ang 304, SGGS)
(v)Through the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru, ‘Khande Pahul da Amrit’ a Sikh becomes initiated and makes a commitment of his mind, body and soul, his life and allegiance is only to Guru Gobind Singh Ji and Guru Granth Sahib Ji and no-one else. Taking Amrit and living the discipline is an act of love and dedication which all Sikhs should strive for if they consider the Ten Gurus as their Guru.
pRQm rihq Xih jwn KMfy kI pwhul Cky ] soeI isMG pRDwn Avr n pwhul jo ley ]
“To drink the Ambrosial Nectar of the Khanda (Amrit) is the primary instruction for the Sikh. He who abandons all other initiations is truly a great Sikh.”
(Rehatnama Bhai Desa Singh)

CHAPTER 2 - Sikh Living
Articles II

A Sikh's life has two aspects:
individual or personal and corporate or Panthic.

A Sikh a not a hermit who lives detached from society, The Gurus lives are an example for us of how we can become one with God while living and interacting in society for the better good.

gurmuiK inbhY sprvwir ]

“In the midst of his family, the Gurmukh lives a spiritual life.” (Ang 941)

jYsy jl mih kmlu inrwlmu murgweI nY swxy ] suriq sbid Bv swgru qrIAY nwnk nwmu vKwxy ] rhih iekWiq eyko min visAw Awsw mwih inrwso ] Agmu Agocru dyiK idKwey nwnku qw kw dwso ]5]

“The lotus flower floats untouched upon the surface of the water, and the duck swims through the stream; with one's consciousness focused on the Word of the Shabad, one crosses over the terrifying world-ocean. O Nanak, chant the Naam, the Name of the Lord. One who lives alone, as a hermit, enshrining the One Lord in his mind, remaining unaffected by hope in the midst of hope, sees and inspires others to see the inaccessible, unfathomable Lord. Nanak is his slave. ||5||” (Ang 938, SGGS)

CHAPTER III – A Sikh's Personal Life

Article III
A Sikh's personal life should comprehend:-

i. Meditation on Nām (Divine Substance, also translated as the God's Attributed Self) and the scriptures,
ii. Leading life according to the Gurus' teachings and
iii. Altruistic voluntary service.

Sikhism is founded on three principles, which work in harmony with one another and ensure a balance to keep the mind, body and soul in harmony.

1)Naam Japna (Simran) – through Simran we accumulate the wealth and treasure of NAAM (God’s Name), we increase our energy, become closer to Waheguru and elevate our spirituality. Naam is the ocean of peace.

2)Dharam Di Kirat Kamayee – living and earning a honest and truthful living.

kyqy bMDn jIA ky gurmuiK moK duAwr ] schu ErY sBu ko aupir scu Awcwru ]5]

“There are so many entanglements for the soul. Only as Gurmukh do we find the Gate of Liberation. Truth is higher than everything; but higher still is truthful living”
(Ang 62, SGGS).

3)Sewa – Some people through doing lots of meditation and Simran they get an ego because they think that they are great, no-one else has done as much penance as them or that they are very close to Waheguru unlike others. This is happened to the yogis and hermits which Guru Nanak Sahib met on his travels living in the Himalayan Mountains. Therefore though they accumulate the wealth of Naam they cannot become one with Waheguru because the ego acts as a veil of illusion between the soul and the Supreme Soul.

siqgur kI syvw sPlu hY jy ko kry icqu lwie ] min icMidAw Plu pwvxw haumY ivchu jwie ]
“Service to the True Guru is fruitful and rewarding, if one performs it with his mind focused on it. The fruits of the mind's desires are obtained, and egotism departs from within.” (Ang 644, SGGS)

To be continued..

Gurmukh Singh can be reached at gurmukh.singh@panthic.org.

Source:Panthic Weekly: Understanding the Sikh Rehat Maryada


Jul 10, 2006
Understanding the Sikh Rehat Maryada
Sunday 27th of March 2005
Gurmukh Singh - Panthic Weekly Columnist

Chapter III

Article IV: Meditating on Nam (Divine Substance) and Scriptures<

1. A Sikh should wake up in the ambrosial hours (three hours before the dawn), take bath and, concentrating his/her thoughts on One Immortal Being, repeat the name Waheguru (Wondrous Destroyer of darkness).

Nothing more beautiful to wake up having a shower to cleanse the body and then have to bathe one’s mind in Naam and repeat ‘Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru’. Your body feels fresh after having a shower and full of energy after Simran. The mind becomes focused, content, and peaceful after Simran. Ultimately the soul gets food on its food – Naam and your spiritual hunger is fulfilled.

Waking up in the ambrosial hours or early morning, you wake up with the nature. The peace, quietness and fresh feeling of waking up during Amrit-vela, early morning is the right environment and condition dedicating solely to Waheguru and Simran.

ਫੇਰਿ ਕਿ ਅਗੈ ਰਖੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਦਿਸੈ ਦਰਬਾਰੁ ॥ ਮੁਹੌ ਕਿ ਬੋਲਣੁ ਬੋਲੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਸੁਣਿ ਧਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥
So what offering can we place before Him, by which we might see the Darbaar of His Court? What words can we speak to evoke His Love? In the Amrit Vela, the ambrosial hours before dawn, chant the True Name, and contemplate His Glorious Greatness. (Ang 2, SGGS)

2. He/she should recite the following scriptural compositions every day :

a. The Japu, the Jaapu and the Ten Sawayyas (Quartets)- beginning "Sarwag sudh"-- in the morning.

Some people make it an issue that in the morning one should also read ‘Benti Chaupai’ and ‘Anand Sahib’ and that the Sikh Rehat Maryada is saying one should only recite Jap Ji Sahib, Jaap Sahib and Sawayyas. But, no where is it written in the Sikh Rehat Maryada that one should only recite three Banis in the morning. Jap Ji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Swayyas, Rehras and Sohila make up the compulsory Nitnem (daily prayers). The more Banis you can read the better. No one is being chastised for reading Anand Sahib or Benti Chaupai, rather it is good but it is not compulsory, according to the Sikh Rehat Maryada.

b. Sodar Rehras comprising the following compositions:-

i) nine hymns of the Guru Granth Sahib, occuring in the holy ‘scripture’ after the Japuji Sahib, (The Phrase in Italic has been interpolated by the translator to help locate the hymns more conveniently.) the first of which begins with "Sodar" and the list of which ends with "saran pare ki rakho sarma",
ii) The Benti Chaupai of the Tenth Guru (beginning "hamri karo hath dai rachha" and ending with "dusht dokh te leho bachai",
iii) the Sawayya beginning with the words "pae gahe jab te tumre",
iv) the Dohira beginning with the words "sagal duar kau chhad kai".
v) the first five and the last pauris (stanzas) of Anand Sahib (The object of reciting the Anand as part of Sodar Rehras or at the conclusion of the congregational gathering is just to express joy and gratitude for the communion with the Guru) and.
vi) the Mundawani and the salok Mehla 5 beginning "tera kita jato nahi"- in the evening after sunset.

There are different versions of Rehras found in some gutkas. Some start with ‘Har jug jug bhagat upaaya…’ and others start with ‘dukh daaru sukh rog payiaa…’ Some include extra Dohiras after Benti Chaupai in the Rehraas and some have extra shabads on the end compared to the Rehras prescribed in Sikh Rehat Maryada. To explain why there are variations in Rehras and why there are different versions, I will refer to an extract from Dr. Gurbaksh Singh’s book ‘Sikh Faith – Questions & Answers’ (published by the Dharam Parchaar Committee Amritsar):

"In every Gurdwara people get together for evening Diwan called So-Dar Diwan. Before starting the So-Dar Bani recitation, it was common (it is practiced at Akal Takhat and many other Gurdwaras even now) to sing some Shabads. When the Kirtan starts, Sangat knows that it is time for So-Dar recitation. They gather there and listen to the Kirtan of the Shabads before the start of the Rehras Paath. This helps tuning their minds to Gurbani. At the fixed time the Kirtan is stopped and a Sikh recites the Paath.Wherever Kirtan could not be sung in a Gurdwara, because of the non-availability of the Ragis there, the Sangat would jointly recite Shabads in rhythm. This would give Sikhs time to sit, settle and concentrate their minds before the start of reciting Rehras. Later, when printing of Gutkas started, the Shabads commonly read by the Sangat were also printed along with the Rehras. This was to facilitate the correct singing of Shabads before starting the Rehras. However, having sung these Shabads over a long period of time, Sikhs mistakenly assumed the Shabads to be a part of Rehras. As different Sangats recited different Shabads to their liking, the contents and hence the length of the Rehras became different accordingly. To remove this misunderstanding, the Sikh Rehat Maryada expressly states that Rehras Paath starts from the Shabad So-Dar and ends at Salok Mahala 5: Tera Keeta ... Anything printed before So-Dar or after Mahala 5 is not a part of Rehras."

c. The Sohila - to be recited at night before going to bed. The morning and evening recitations should be concluded with the Ardas (formal supplication litany).

ਸਲੋਕ ਮ: 4 ॥ ਸੁਤਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਚੇਤਿ ਮਨਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਹਜਿ ਸਮਾਧਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਚਾਉ ਮਨਿ ਗੁਰੁ ਤੁਠਾ ਮੇਲੇ ਮਾਇ ॥1॥
“Salok, Fourth Mehl: O mind, even in sleep, remember the Lord God; let yourself be intuitively absorbed into the Celestial State of Samaadhi. Servant Nanak's mind longs for the Lord, Har, Har. As the Guru pleases, he is absorbed into the Lord, O mother. ||1||” (Ang 1315, SGGS)

3 (a) The text (This is a model of the Ardas. It may be adapted to different occasions and for
different purposes. However, the initial composition with "Pritham Bhagauti..." and the concluding phrases commencing "Nanak Nam" must not be altered) of the Ardas: (LIT. Supplication or prayer. In reality, it is litany comprehending very briefly the whole gamut of Sikh History and enumerating all that Sikhism holds sacred. Portions of it are invocations and prayer for the grant of strength and virtue. It concludes with: O Nanak, may the Nam (Holy) be ever in ascendance: in Thy will, may the good of all prevail!

One absolute Manifest; victory belongs to the Wondrous Destroyer of darkness. May the might of the All-powerful help!
Ode to his might by the tenth lord.

Having first thought of the Almighty's prowess, let us think of Guru Nanak. Then of Guru Angad, Amardas and Ramdas - may they be our rescuers! Remember, then, Arjan, Hargobind and Har-rai. Meditate then on on revered Hari Krishan on seeing whom all suffering vanishes. Think then of Teg Bahadar, remembrance of whom brings all nine treasures. He comes to rescue everywhere. Then of the tenth Lord, revered Guru Gobind Singh, who comes to rescue everywhere. The embodiment of the light of all ten sovereign lordships, the Guru Granth - think of the view and reading of it and say, "Waheguru (Wondrous Destroyer of Darkness)".

Meditating on the achievement of the dear and truthful ones, including the Five Beloved Ones, the four sons of the Tenth Guru, Forty Liberated Ones, steadfast ones, constant repeaters of the Divine Name, those given to assiduous devotion, those who repeated the Naam, shared their fare with others, ran free kitchen, wielded the sword and everlooked faults and shortcomings, say "Waheguru", O Khalsa.

Meditating on the achievement of the male and female members of the Khalsa who laid down their lives in the cause of Dharma (religion and righteousness), got their bodies dismembered bit by bit, got their skulls sawn off, got mounted on spiked wheels, got their bodies sawn, made sacrifices in the service of the shrines (Gurdwaras), did not betray their faith, sustained their adherence to the Sikh faith with unshorn hair up till their last breath, say "Wondrous Destroyer of darkness", O Khalsa.

Thinking of the five thrones (seats of religious authority) and all Gurdwaras, say "Wondrous Destroyer of darkness", O Khalsa.

Now it is the prayer of the whole Khalsa, May the conscience of the whole Khalsa be informed by ‘Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru’ and, in consequence of such remembrance, may total well-being obtain. Wherever there are communities of the Khalsa, may there be Divine protection and grace, the ascendance of the supply of needs and of the holy sword, Protection of the tradition of grace, victory of the panth, the succour of the holy sword, ascendance of the Khalsa. Say, O Khalsa, "Wondrous Destroyer of darkness."

Unto the Sikhs the gift of the Sikh faith, the gift of the untrimmed hair, the gift of the discipline of their faith, the gift of sense of discrimination, the gift of trust, the gift of confidence, above all, the gift of meditation on the Divine and bath in Amritsar (holy tank at Amritsar). May hymns-singing missionary parties, the flags, the hostels, abide from age to age. May righteousness reign supreme. Say, "Wondrous Destroyer of darkness."

May the Khalsa be imbued with humility and high wisdom! May Waheguru guard it’s understanding!

O Immortal Being, eternal helper of Thy panth, benevolent Lord, bestow on the Khalsa the beneficence of unobstructed visit to and free management of Nankana Sahib and other shrines and places of the Guru from which the Panth has been separated.

O Thou, the honour of the humble, the strength of the weak, aid unto those who have none to reply on, True Father, Wondrous Destroyer of darkness, we humbly render to you .......... (Mention here the name of the scriptural composition that has been recited or, in appropriate terms, the object for which the congregation has been held.) Pardon any impermissible accretions, omissions, errors, and mistakes. Fulfil the purposes of all.

Grant us the association of those dear ones, on meeting whom one is reminded of Your Name. O Nanak, may the Naam (Holy) be ever in ascendance! In Thy will may the good of all prevail!

The Ardas is a very powerful. First of all remembering the Almighty and seeking Waheguru’s help. Then we seek the blessings of the Ten Sikh Gurus and the embodiment of the Guru’s light and message, the Shabad Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee.

Afterwards we remember the Five Beloved Ones, the sons of the Tenth Guru, the Forty Liberated Ones and Sikhs who remained steadfast in Sikhi. Their lives are an inspiration to us and from this inspiration we seek strength and energy.

Following on, we remember the Sikh men and women who went under countless sufferings, tortures and persecution in the cause of righteousness. They didn’t turn their back on their Guru. They didn’t turn their back on Sikhi. They kept their Guru’s identity and principles to their last breath. Under such tortures they remained in high spirits. Subsequently we seek their undying determination and love for Naam and Sikhi that even under the shadow of death they kept the treasures of Sikhi with them.

We then remember the Five Takhats and the Gurdwaras. The Gurdwara is the gateway to the Guru. The Takhats are spiritual thrones which keep the Sikh nation together. Acknowledging this we share appreciation towards the Sikh Nation and towards the Gateway to the Guru, the Gurdwara.

Next, the Khalsa begs for grace, followed by the gifts of Sikhism, Naam and a dip in the tank of Amritsar. Please note that according to Gurmat it does not make sense to ask to have a bath in the sarowar (pool) of the Golden Temple, Amritsar because Guru Jee himself condemns pilgrimage or bathing at places of worship. Bathing at Amritsar according to Gurmat is for physical cleansing and not spiritual cleansing. Spiritual cleansing is only through Naam. ‘ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਣ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ॥ … Why should I bathe at sacred shrines of pilgrimage? The Naam, the Name of the Lord, is the sacred shrine of pilgrimage’ (Ang 687, SGGS). In a physical sense asking to bath at Amritsar can be seen as an act of Panthic unity and how all Sikhs see Amritsar as their Centre of Sikhi.

If we seek strength then we need to know our weaknesses. Hence we ask that may the Khalsa be humble but their wisdom exalted so that ego doesn’t affect our strength and power.

The Sikh nation requests that may the Sikhs of the Guru be able to manage their own institutions and Gurdwaras, which have been deprived from the Khalsa as a result of the 1947 partition. Eventually the Ardaas concludes with mentioning the object of the prayer.

All the power and strength sought and achieved through the Ardas is shared amongst the world and all God’s people and creation. This down to the blessings bestowed by Guru Nanak Sahib. Through sharing our strength, hopes and prayers with the world, we in fact make our selves humble; we share our love, which entails increasing our spiritual energy.

b) On the conclusion of the Ardas, the entire congregation participating in the Ardas should respectfully genuflect before the revered Guru Granth, then stand up and call out, "The Khalsa is of the Wondrous Destroyer of darkness: victory also is His." The Congregation should, thereafter, raise the loud spirited chant of Sat Sri Akal (True is the timeless Being).

c) While the Ardas is being performed, all men and women in congregation should stand with hands folded. The person in attendance of the Guru Granth should keep waving the whisk standing.

During the Ardas one should be fully alert and disciplined and therefore should have their hands pressed together and up. This is a posture of submission.

ਦੁਇ ਕਰ ਜੋੜਿ ਕਰੀ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ॥
“With my palms pressed together, I offer this prayer…” (Ang 1340, SGGS)

ਮਿਸਟ ਬਚਨ ਬੇਨਤੀ ਕਰਉ ਦੀਨ ਕੀ ਨਿਆਈ ॥ ਤਜਿ ਅਭਿਮਾਨੁ ਸਰਣੀ ਪਰਉ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਨਿਧਿ ਪਾਈ ॥2॥

“I offer my prayer with sweet words, in sincere humility. Renouncing egotism, I enter His Sanctuary. I have found the Lord, the treasure of virtue. ||2||” (Ang 745, SGGS)

d) The person who performs the Ardas should stand facing the Guru Granth with hands folded. If the Guru Granth is not there, the performing the Ardas facing any direction is acceptable.
ਸਲੋਕ ਮ: 2 ॥ ਆਪੇ ਜਾਣੈ ਕਰੇ ਆਪਿ ਆਪੇ ਆਣੈ ਰਾਸਿ ॥ ਤਿਸੈ ਅਗੈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਖਲਿਇ ਕੀਚੈ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ॥1॥

Shalok, Second Mehl: He Himself knows, He Himself acts, and He Himself does it right. So stand before Him, O Nanak, and offer your prayers. ||1|| (Ang 1093)

e) When any special Ardas for and on behalf of one or more persons is offered, it is not necessary for persons in the congregation other than that person or those persons to stand up.

To Be Continued...

Gurmukh Singh can be reached at gurmukh.singh@panthic.org


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Shabad Vichaar by SPN'ers

In honor of the gurgaddi of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji on October 20 the Shabad of the Week is taken from the Hukamnama drawn at Sri Harimandir Sahib early this morning.

It is found on Ang 555...

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