Sikh Missionary Society
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Sikh Reht Maryada
Sikh Reht Maryada

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: Sikh Reht Maryada: Contents

Section Three

Chapter IV

Article V - Joining the congregation for understanding of and reflecting on Gurbani

a) One is more easily and deeply affected by gurbani (the holy bani bequeathed by the Gums) participating in congregational gatherings. For this reason, it is necessary for a Sikh that he visits the places where the Sikhs congregate for worship and prayer (the gurdwaras), and joining the congregation, partakes of the benefits that the study of the holy scriptures bestows.
b) The Guru Granth should be ceremonially opened in the gurdwara every day without fail. Except for special exigencies, when there is need to keep the Guru Granth open during the night, the Holy Book should not be kept open during the night. It should, generally, be closed ceremonially after the conclusion of the Rehras (evening scriptural recitation). The Holy Book should remain open so long as a granthi or attendant can remain in attendance, persons seeking darshan (seeking a view of, or making obeisance to it) keep coming, or there is no risk of commission of irreverence towards it. Thereafter, it is advisable to close it ceremonially to avoid any disrespect to it.
c) The Guru Granth should be opened, read and closed ceremonially with reverence. The place where it is installed should be absolutely clean. An awning should be erected above. The Guru Granth Sahib should be placed on a cot measuring up to its size and overlaid with absolutely a clean mattress and sheets. For proper installation and opening of the Guru Granth, there should be cushions/pillows of appropriate kind etc. and, for covering it, romalas (sheet-covers of appropriate size). When the Guru Granth is not being read, it should remain covered with a romal. A whisk, too, should be there.
d) Anything except the aforementioned reverential ceremonies, for instance, such practices as the arti* with burning incense and lamps, offerings of eatables to Guru Granth Sahib, burning of lights, beating of gongs, etc., is contrary to gurmat (the Guru�s way). However, for the perfuming of the place, the use of flowers, incense and scent is not barred. For light inside the room, oil or butter-oil lamps, candles, electric lamps, kerosene oil lamps, etc., may be lighted.
(*Waving of a platter with burning lamps and incense set in it in vertical circular motion )
e) No book should be installed like and at par with the Guru Granth. Worship of any idol or any ritual or activity should not be allowed to be conducted inside the gurdwara. Nor should the festival of any other faith be allowed to be celebrated inside the gurdwara. However, it will not be improper to use any occasion or gathering for the propagation of the gurmat (The Guru�s way).
f) Pressing the legs of the cot on which the Guru Granth Sahib is installed, rubbing nose against walls and on platforms, held sacred, or massaging these, placing water below the Guru Granth Sahib�s seat, making or installing statues, or idols inside the gurdwaras, bowing before the picture of the Sikh Gurus or elders � all these are irreligious self-willed egotism, contrary to gurmat (the Guru�s way).
g) When the Guru Granth has to be taken from one place to another, the Ardas should be performed. He/she who carries the Guru Granth on his/her head should walk barefoot; but when the wearing of shoes is a necessity, no superstitions need be entertained.
h) The Guru Granth should be ceremonially opened after performing the Ardas. After the ceremonial opening, a hymn should be read from the Guru Granth Sahib.
i) Whenever the Guru Granth is brought, irrespective of whether or not another copy of the Guru Granth had already been installed at the concerned place, every Sikh should stand up to show respect.
j) While going into the gurdwara, one should take off the shoes and clean oneself up. If the feet are dirty or soiled, they should be washed with water. One should circum-ambulate with the Guru Granth Sahib or the gurdwara on one�s right.
k) No person, no matter which country, religion or caste he/she belongs to, is debarred from entering the gurdwara for darshan (seeing the holy shrine). However, he/she should not have on his/her person anything, such as tobacco or other intoxicants, which are tabooed by the Sikh religion.
l) The first thing a Sikh should do on entering the gurdwara is to do obeisance before the Guru Granth Sahib. He/she should, thereafter, have a glimpse of the congregation and bid in a low, quiet voice, �Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh.�
m) In the congregation, there should be no differentiation or discrimination between Sikh and non-Sikh, persons traditionally regarded as touchable and untouchable, the so-called high and low caste persons, the high and the low.
n) Sitting on a cushion, a distinctive seat, a chair, a stool, a cot, etc. or in any distinctive position in the presence of the Guru Granth or within the congregation is contrary to gurmat (Guru�s way).
o) No Sikh should sit bare-headed in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib or in the congregation. For Sikh women, joining the congregation with their persons uncomfortably draped and with veils drawn over their faces is contrary to gurmat (Gum�s way).
p) There are five Takhts (lit., thrones, fig., seats of high authority) namely�
  1. The holy Akal Takhts, Amritsar,
  2. The holy Takhts, Patna Sahib,
  3. The holy Takhts, Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur,
  4. The holy Takhts Hazur Sahib, Nanded,
  5. The holy Takhts Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo.
q) Only an Amritdhari (baptized) Sikh man or woman, who faithfully observes the discipline ordained for the baptized Sikhs, can enter the hallowed enclosures of the Takhts. (Ardas for and on behalf of any Sikh or non-Sikh, except a fallen or punished (tankhahia) Sikh, can be offered at the Takhts.
r) At a high-level site in every gurdwara should be installed the nishan sahib (Sikh flag). The cloth of the flag should be either of xanthic or of greyish blue colour and on top of the flag post, there should either be a spearhead or a Khanda (a straight dagger with convex side edges leading to slanting top edges ending in a vertex).
s)There should be a drum (nagara) in the gurdwara for beating on appropriate occasions.

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Article VI - Kirtan (Devotional Hymns Singing by a Group or an Indvidual)

a) Only a Sikh may perform Kirtan in a congregation.
b) Kirtan means singing the scriptural compositions in traditional musical measures.
c) In the congragation, Kirtan only of Gurbani (Guru Granth's or Guru Gobind Singh's hymns) and, for its elaboration, of the compositions of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lal, may be performed.
d) It is improper, while singing hymns to rhythmic folk tunes or to traditional musical measures, or in team singing, to induct into them improvised and extraneous refrains. Only a line from the hymn should be made a refrain.


Article VII - Taking Hukam* (Command)

(*Hukam:- Reading or Reading out to others, including the congregation, of a Shabad (hymns) or a unit of one or more slokas (short scriptural compositions normally of two to four lines) and a pauri (short stanza of four or more lines) from the Guru Granth Sahib after, or even without performing, Ardas is an important Sikh ritual. It is called Hukam laina (Taking the order or command), Vak laina (taking the word), Awaz laina (taking the voice). The hymn or unit goes by the name of Hukam (order, command) Vak (uttered Word) or Awaz (voice).)
a) Doing obeisance to the Guru Granth Sahib, respectfully, taking a glimpse of the congregation, an embodiment of the Guru's person, and taking the command : these together constitute the view of the Satguru (Immortal destroyer of darkness, the true guru). Raising the drapery covering the Guru Granth Sahib and merely taking a look or making others take a look at the exposed page, without taking command (reading the prescribed hymn) is contrary to Gurmat (Guru's way).
b) In the course of the congregational sessions, only one thing should be done at a time : performing of kirtan, delivering of discourse, interpretative elaboration of the scriptures, or reading of the scriptures.
c) Only a Sikh, man or woman, is entitled to be in attendance of the Guru Granth Sahib during the congregational session.
d) Only a Sikh may read out from the Guru Granth Sahib for others. However, even a non- Sikh may read from it for himself/herself.
e) For taking the command (Hukam), the hymn that is continuing on the top of the left hand page must be read from the beginning. If the hymn begins on the previous page, turn over the page and read the whole hymn from the beginning to the end. If the scriptural composition that is continuing on the top of the left hand page is a var (ode) then start from the first of the slokas preceding the pauri and read upto the end of the pauri. Conclude the reading at the end of the Hymn with the line in which the name 'Nanak' occurs. f. Hukam must also be taken at the conclusion of the congregational session or after the Ardas.

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Article VIII - Sadharan Path (Completion of Normal Intermittent Reading of the Guru Granth Sahib)

a) Every Sikh should, as far as possible, maintain a separate and exclusive place for the installation of Guru Granth Sahib, in his home.
b) Every Sikh, man, woman, boy or girl, should learn Gurmukhi to be able to read the Guru Granth Sahib.
c) Every Sikh should take the Hukam (Command) of the Guru Granth Sahib in the ambrosial (early)hours of the morning before taking meal. If he/she fails to do that, he/she should read or listen to reading from the Guru Granth Sahib some time during the day. If he/she cannot do that either, during travel etc., or owing to any other impediment, he/she should not give in to a feeling of guilt.
d) It is desirable that every Sikh should carry on a continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib and complete a full reading in one or two months or over a longer period.
e) While undertaking a full reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, one should recite the Anand Sahib (the first five and the last stanzas) and perform the Ardas. One should, thereafter, read the Japuji.

Article IX - Akhand Path (Uninterrupted-Non-stop-Completion of the reading of the Guru Granth Sahib)

a) The non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib is carried on at hard times or on occasions of elation or joy. It takes approximately fortyeight hours. The non-stop reading implies continuous, uninterrupted reading. The reading must be clear and correct. Reading too fast, so that the person listening in to it cannot follow the contents, amounts to irreverence to the Scriptures. The reading should be correct and clear, due care being bestowed on consonant and vowel even though that takes a little longer to complete.
b) Whichever family or congregation undertakes the non-stop reading should carry it out itself through its members, relatives, friends, etc., all together. The number of reciters is not prescribed.
If a person, himself, cannot read, he should listen in to the reading by some competent reader. However, it should never be allowed to happen that the reader carries on the reading all by himself/herself and no member of the congregation or the family is listening in to the reading. The reader should be served with food and clothing to the best of the host's means.
c) Placing a pitcher, ceremonial clarified-butter-fed lamp, coconut, etc. around, during the course of the uninterrupted or any other reading of Guru Granth Sahib, or reading of other Scriptural texts side by side with or in the course of such reading is contrary to the gurmat (Guru's way).

Article X - Commencing the Non-Stop Reading (Akhandpath)

While undertaking the intermittent reading of the whole Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred pudding (Karhah Prashad) for offering should be brought and after reciting the Anand Sahib (six stanzas) and offering Ardas, Hukam should be taken. While beginning the unbroken reading, the sacred pudding should first be laid. Thereafter, after reciting the Anand Sahib(six stanzas), offering the Ardas and taking the Hukam, the reading should he commenced.

Article XI - Concluding the Reading

a) The reading of the whole Guru Granth Sahib (intermittent or non-stop) may be concluded with the reading of Mundawani or the Rag Mala according to the convention traditionally observed at the concerned place. (Since there is a difference of opinion within the Panth on this issue, nobody should dare to write or print a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib excluding the Rag Mala). Thereafter, after reciting the Anand Sahib, the Ardas of the conclusion of the reading should be offered and the sacred pudding (Karhah Prashad) distributed.
b) On the conclusion of the reading, offering of draperies, fly-whisk and awning, having regard to the requirements of the Guru Granth Sahib, and of other things, for Panthic causes, should be made to the best of means.

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Article XII - Karhah Prashad (Sacred Pudding)

a) Only the sacred pudding which has been prepared or got prepared according to the prescribed method shall be acceptable in the congregation.
b) The method of preparing the Karhah Prashad is this : In a clean vessel, the three contents (wheat flour, pure sugar and clarified butter, in equal quantities) should he put and it should be made reciting the Scriptures. Then covered with a clean piece of cloth, it should be placed on a clean stool in front of the Guru Granth Sahib. Thereafter, in the holy presence of the Guru Granth Sahib, the first five and the last stanza of the Anand Sahib should be recited aloud (so that the congregation can hear (If another vessel of the sacred pudding is brought in after the recitation of the Anand, it is not necessary to repeat the recitation of the Anand Sahib. Offering of the sacred Pudding brought later to the sacred Kirpan is enough.), the Ardas, offered and the sacred pudding tucked with the sacred Kirpan for acceptance.
c) After this, before the distribution to the congregation of the Karhah Prashad, the share of the five beloved ones should be set apart and given away. Thereafter, while the general distribution, the share of the person in attendance of the Guru Granth Sahib(Giving double share to the person in attendance constitutes improper discrimination)should be put in small bowl or vessel and handed over. The person who doles out the Karhah Prashad among the congregation should do so without any discrimination on the basis of personal regard or spite. He should dole out the Karhah Parshad equally to the Sikh, the non-Sikh or a person of high or low caste. While doling out the Karhah Prashad, no discrimination should be made on considerations of caste or ancestry or being regarded, by some, as untouchable, of persons within the congregation.
d) The offering of Karhah Prashad should be accompanied by at least two pice in cash.

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Article XIII - Exposition of Gurbani ( Gurbani Di Katha)

a) The exposition of the Gurbani in a congregational should be carried out only by a Sikh.
b) The object of the exposition should only be promoting understanding of the Guru's tenets.
c) The exposition can only be of the ten Gurus' writings or utterances, Bhai Gurdas's writings, Bhai Nand Lal's' writings or of any generally accepted Panthic book or books of history (which are in agreement with the Guru's tenets) and not of a book of any other faith. However, illustration, references to a holy person's teachings or those contained in a book may be made.

Article XIV - Expository Discourse

No discourse contrary to the Guru's tenets should be delivered inside a Gurdwara.

Article XV - Gurdwara Service

In the Gurdwara the schedule of the congregational service generally is ceremonial opening of the Guru Granth Sahib, Kirtan, exposition of scriptures, expository discourses, recitation of Anand Sahib, the Ardas(see Article-IV (3) (a)), the raising of Fateh slogan and then the slogan of Sat Sri Akal and taking the Hukam.
Previous Chapter - Section Two
Next Chapter - Section Four

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