Chapter X – Beliefs, Observances, Duties, Taboos and Ceremonies

Article XVI – Living in Consonance with Guru’s Tenets

A Sikh’s living, earning livelihood, thinking and conduct should accord with the Guru’s tenets. The Guru’s tenets are:

a. Worship should be rendered only to the One Timeless Being and to no god or goddess.

b. Regarding the ten Gurus, the Guru Granth and the ten Gurus word alone as saviors and holy objects of veneration.

c. Regarding ten Gurus as the effulgence of one light and one single entity.

d. Not believing in cast or descent, untouchability, magic, spells, incantation, omens, auspicious times, days and occasions, influence of start, horoscopic dispositions, shradh (ritual serving of food to priests for the salvation of ancestors on appointed days as per the lunar calendar), ancestor worship, khiah (ritual serving of food to priests – Brahmins – on the lunar anniversaries of the death of an ancestor), pind (offering of funeral barley cakes to the deceased’s relatives), patal (ritual donation of food in the belief that that would satisfy the hunger of the departed soul), diva (the ceremony of keeping an oil lamp lit for 360 days after the death, in the belief that that lights the path of the deceased), ritual funeral acts, hom (lighting of ritual fire and pouring intermittently clarified butter, food grains etc. into it for propitiating gods for the fulfillment of a purpose) jag (religious ceremony involving presentation of oblations), tarpan (libation), sikha-sut (keeping a tuft of hair on the head and wearing thread), bhadan (shaving of head on the death of a parent), fasting on new or full moon or other days, wearing of frontal marks on the forehead, wearing thread, wearing of a necklace of the pieces of tulsi stalk [A plant with medicinal properties], veneration of any graves, of monuments erected to honour the memory of a deceased person or of cremation sites, idolatry and such like superstitious observances. [Most, though not all rituals and ritual or religious observances listed in this clause are Hindu rituals and observances. The reason is that the old rituals and practices, continued to be observed by large numbers of Sikhs even after their conversion from their old to the new faith and a large bulk of the Sikh novices were Hindu converts. Another reason for this phenomenon was the strangle-hold of the Brahmin priest on Hindus secular and religious life which the Brahmin priest managed to maintain even on those leaving the Hindu religious fold, by his astute mental dexterity and rare capacity for compromise. That the Sikh novitiates include a sizable number of Muslims is shown by inclusion in this clause of the taboos as to the sanctity of graves, shirni, etc.] Not owning up or regarding as hallowed any place other than the Guru’s place – such, for instance, as sacred spots or places of pilgrimage of other faiths. Not believing in or according any authority to Muslim seers, Brahmins holiness, soothsayers, clairvoyants, oracles, promise of an offering on the fulfillment of a wish, offering of sweet loaves or rice pudding at graves on fulfillment of wishes, the Vedas, the Shastras, the Gayatri (Hindu scriptural prayer unto the sun), the Gita, the Quran, the Bible, etc.. However, the study of the books of other faiths for general self-education is admissible.

e. The Khalsa should maintain its distinctiveness among the professors of different religions of the world, but should not hurt the sentiment of any person professing another religion.

f. A Sikh should pray to God before launching off any task.

g. Learning Gurmukhi (Punjabi in Gurmukhi script) is essential for a Sikh. He should pursue other studies also.

h. It is a Sikh’s duty to get his children educated in Sikhism.

i. A Sikh should, in no way, harbour any antipathy to the hair of the head with which his child is born. He should not temper with the hair with which the child is born. He should add the suffix “Singh” to the name of his son. A Sikh should keep the hair of his sons and daughters intact.

j. A Sikh must not take hemp (cannabis), opium, liquor, tobacco, in short any intoxicant. His only routine intake should be food.

k. Piercing of the nose or ears for wearing ornaments is forbidden for Sikh men and women.

l. A Sikh should not kill his daughter, nor should he maintain any relationship with a killer of daughter.

m. The true Sikh of the Guru shall make an honest living by lawful work.

n. A Sikh shall regard a poor person’s mouth as the Guru’s cash offerings box.

o. A Sikh should not steal, form dubious associations or engage in gambling.

p. He who regards another man’s daughter as his own daughter, regards another man’s wife as his mother, has coition with his own wife alone, he alone is a truly disciplined Sikh of the Guru.

q. A Sikh shall observe the Sikh rules of conduct and conventions from his birth right up to the end of his life.

r. A Sikh, when he meets another Sikh, should greet him with “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh” [The Khalsa is Waheguru’s; victory too is His!]. This is ordained for Sikh men and women both.

s. It is not proper for a Sikh woman to wear a veil or keep her face hidden by veil or cover.

t. For a Sikh, there is no restriction or requirement as to dress except for he must wear Kachhehra [A drawer type garment fastened by a fitted string round the waist, very often worn as underwear] and turban. A Sikh woman may or may not tie turban.