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Practicing the Wrong Maryada
Jasvinder Singh

July 11, 2003: Virginia, USA

The source of Sikh Rehat Maryada - believe it or not - is Gurbilas Patshahi 6.

Gurbilas Patshahi 6, a book released under the SGPC seal, was banned in October 2000. What does a book ban mean for the Sikhs? My understanding is that a book ban should also apply to the reading, listening and implementing of what is written in the book. In other words, we as Sikhs should stop all practices based on a banned book. But this is not the case for Gurbilas Patshahi 6. The maryada at the Darbar Sahib is practiced based on the writings in this book.

Why is the maryada at the Darbar Sahib based on a book which is banned by the SGPC? Some may say that this is Sikh tradition, but the question is: Is this Sikh tradition or is this biparan tradition?

The daily maryada at the Golden Temple as practiced today is based on the same book in which the author states that six of our Gurus - from Patshahi 5th, Guru Arjan Dev to Patshahi 10th, Guru Gobind Singh - were born by unnatural or illegitimate ways. The author further wrote that Guru Hargobind made Kaulan elope, the Gurus masterminded robberies, Guru Nanak was born twice with a white beard and a Seli Toppi (a brahmin cap) and Guru Tegh Bahadur committed suicide while in custody of the Moguls.

It is hard to believe all this but we cannot run away from the idea that the author of this book had an agenda: to bring the brahamanical practices to the Sikh center of learning and to weaken its roots.

Gurbilas Patshahi 6 was first introduced to the Sikh masses in 1718. It was in hand written, stone print or large alphabet print. Katha from this book was started in all Gurdwaras and gatherings including Gurdwara Manji Sahib. The people performing katha were the Udasis, Nirmalas and the Mahants - all were virtual brahmins. The Sikhs during this time period were in a struggle and they were being hunted by the Moguls. The caretakers of the Sikh temples exploited the Sikhs, and through katha of this book, gradually took them away from shabad vichar to a form of idol worship known as 'word worship' that is prevalent amongst the Sikh masses.

The Udasis, Nirmalas and the Mahants were finally removed from the Gurdwaras including Darbar Sahib in 1921 by the Akali movement. Parchaar from this book was stopped in 1928 by the Singh Sabha movement.

But Gurbilas Patshahi 6 has been reprinted numerous times since then. In 1998-99, this book was compiled and released to the panth, both as part of 400th birth celebration of Guru Hargobind and as part of the 300th celebration of the Khalsa. Joginder Singh, Jathedar of Akal Takht, in the mukhbaand of this book wrote that he would feel his efforts were successful if once again katha from this book were to resume. In 2000, when this book was exposed by Gurbax Singh (a.k.a. Kala Afghana), the SGPC banned its publication.

The SGPC, however, will not admit that the maryada at Darbar Sahib is run according to a book which is banned. The logic would state that if the contents of this book are not good (banned) for the Sikhs then the practices by the Sikhs according to this book must not be good either (banned).

Sikh history is very clear about Guru Nanak writing the Gurbani himself and having the Pothi (his writings and compilations) in his possession even when he traveled. In 1604 Guru Arjan completed the Pothi and in 1708 Guru Gobind Singh gave the Guruship to the Shabad Guru in the form of the Guru Granth Sahib.

But according to Gurbilas Patshahi 6, the Pothi of Guru Nanak was called Guru Granth Sahib in 1604 and was being worshipped during the presence of Guru Arjan. According to this book, the first Hukkam Vaak was read by Baba Budha with Guru Arjan standing beside him with folded hands, listening to the Hukkam Vaak. The first Hukkam Vaak was "Santa Ke Karaj Aap Khaloya, Kaar, Kaar Kadhan Hith Kama Hoya". This is a distortion of Bani. The actual lines were "Santa Ke Karaj Aap Khaloya, Har Kam Karavan Aya Ram."

After the Vaak, the author stated that someone explained the meaning of the 2nd line "Kaar Kadhan Hith Kama Hoya" as follows: "When Guru Arjan was making the sarovar, Vishnu (a Hindu god) decided to come down as a laborer and help Guru Arjan since the temple was being made for Vishnu. Vishnu was working very hard and lifting away more dirt than any other laborer, so Guru Arjan recognized Vishnu and sang a verse in his praise. Then Vishnu asked Guru Arjan to name it Harimandir, make it in water and have four doors representing the four arms of Chatarbhuji (a Hindu god). Then he led Guru Arjan to the place of Kotha Sahib and asked him to stay there and also told him that his son Guru Hargobind will build the Akal Takhat under orders from Vishnu. And before he left, Vishnu also instructed Guru Arjan not to enter Harimandir.

Also according to Gurbilas Patshahi 6, Baba Budha asked Guru Arjan as to how will the maryada of Harimandir run. Guru Arjan replied:

Granth is in the form of God. Every night, about four hours after sunset, read Kirtan Sohila, then take Guru Granth Sahib to the Kothri and bathe the Darbar. (To this day this seva is performed every night which includes bathing the place of seating with milk - a Hindu practice). Ghee jyoti should remain lit forever in the Darbar Sahib. In Kothi Sahib have a cot and a quilt. In the early morning, start reciting Asa Di Vaar in Darbar Sahib (Asa Di Vaar recital starts two hours before Guru Granth Sahib is brought back into the Darbar Sahib.) As the Guru Granth Sahib comes with dholki, sankh and chaur, Asa Di Vaar is interrupted. The Granth is seated. The rest of the day stretching into night, the Kirtan is to be recited in Ragas. Perform chaunki in Kanra Raag in the parkamaya of Darbar Sahib.

The author further stated that Guru Arjan offered parshad, did puja of the Granth, and said that water of the sarovar was Amrit.

Gurbilas Patshahi 6 was written 285 years ago and these practices are still prevalent today. The sad thing is that what is stated in Guru Granth Sahib is not put into practice.

I conclude with a list of question:

Where was the Sarbat Khalsa?

The book Gurbilas Patshahi 6 is banned. Is the panth ready to ban practices based on this book at the Darbar Sahib which are against Gurmat?

Editorial comment: In reading this article, the question which becomes apparent is what was the maryada in practice from 1604, when Guru Arjan compiled the Pothi, to 1717, before Gurbilas Patshahi 6 was introduced.

The author, Jasvinder Singh, is a Pediatric Critical Care Physician and by hobby a beginner level programmer.

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©The Sikh Sentinel 2003 [Please distribute unmodified only, with credit]

reader comments:

An Attempt to Confuse Sikhi
July 25, 2002: Harpreet Singh, Massachusettes, USA

Jasvinder Singh's article is full of inaccuracies and conjectures and lacks substance to warrant serious consideration. Such conjectures, however, can lead to confusion within the Panth.

He is right when he considers the Gurbilas Patshahi 6 as antithetical to Sikhi. However, he fails to provide a single fact that supports that the Sikh Rehat Maryada stems from this Brahminical work.

Much of the article consists of a description of the Gurbilas Patshahi 6 but utterly fails to provide a single fact on how it is even remotely related to the Panthic Sikh Rehat Maryada. The Sikh Rehat Mayada represents the first effort by the Panth worldwide to establish a code of conduct through the consensus of the Sikh people. It is a cherished document for the Panth because it reflects Sikh values as understood by the Panth a little less than a century ago.

According to the Sikh Coalition's website:

Rehat Maryada is the code of conduct that every Sikh must follow in their day to day life. It also outlines conduct during special ceremonies like birth, death and marriage. The original Rehat was verbally communicated by the tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh to the Five Beloved Ones in 1699. Following that event the rehat was primarily transmitted orally. During the eighteenth century some individuals wrote down what they understood of the rehat. None of these written versions, however, seem to have comprehensively captured the original verbal communication to the Five Beloved Ones.

After the Guru, one person cannot document the rehat as the Guru transferred his authority to the Guru Panth and the Guru Granth. So it is only the Panth, the collective of all committed Sikhs, who has the authority to draft the rehat in light of the teachings of the Guru Granth. Through out the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the Khalsa would assemble at the Akal Takht, or elsewhere when the Takht was inaccessible and make decisions for the Panth through consensus. The rehat during these years was never disputed and it remained an oral tradition, although disputes in the correct code of conduct started becoming prevalent. By the end of the 19th century the rehat and Sikh practice had deteriorated so much that the Sikh identity was pretty much lost. As with the Buddhists, the Sikhs had been engulfed into the larger Hindu fold. The Sikhs had also become complacent about their practices and identity.

In the later half of the 19th century, Sikhs realized their own plight and several reform movements started that sought to revive the original intent of the ten Sikh Masters. One of these movements was the Singh Sabha lehar. These movements also addressed the issue of the community not having a uniform rehat.

In 1925, after much debate and discussion, a rehat was drafted by scholars from several differing schools of Sikh thought. This draft of rehat was then sent to Sikhs all over the world. After eleven years of debate and discussion, a final version was agreed to in 1936. This version is what most mainstream Sikhs today accept as the Guru Panth's rehat.


In the future the Sikh Sentinel should not publish baseless conjectures. The longstanding traditions of our Panth are sovereign and any attempts to challenge them must accompany thoughtful criticism and proper evidence. I admit that the Sikh Rehat Maryada is not perfect, but only the Guru Panth has the authority to amend it and through consensus -- one individual has not right to change or discard what has been built through the collective will of the Panth.

Hindu Rituals Creeping In
July 25, 2002: Jarnail Singh

I agree completely that the Maryada as followed at Harmandir Sahib is totally wrong and most of it is following Hindu worship. For example, why wash the Holy place where Guru Granth Sahib is placed with milk? This is a totally Hindu practice used on Idols in Hindu Temples. Harmandir Sahib is NOT a Hindu temple. It is a Sikh Gurdwara.

It is against Sikh gurmat to preach that the water in the sarovar is amrit. It definitely is not amrit. In the Gurbani of Guru Garnth Sahib, wherever the word Amritsar occurs, it invariably means the sadh sangat and not the actual place called “Amritsar” in Punjab. Many have translated this wrongly. Even the Tuk “Raamdass sarovar nahteh, sabh utreh paap kamateh” is about bathing in the naam sarovar of sadh sangat, not the ritual immersion in the sarovar at Harimandir Sahib. Such ritual immersion is a Hindu belief and is outrightly condemned by Gurbani in numerous places and by all Gurus and Bhagats whose bani is in the Guru Garnth Sahib.

It is also wrong to call the Harmandir Sahib the 'Golden Temple' – It is not a temple but a Gurdwara – and the gold is also against ostentatious showing off of wealth.

Burning of a ghee jyot is also against gurmat – Guru Nanak has said that jyot of Akal Purakh is too immense to be reflected by a puny tiny ghee lamp. In Gaggan Mein Thaal Shabad, Guru Ji describes the actual jyot of Akal Purakh.

I earnestly hope the Sikhs will rise up again as they did in the Gurdwara Reform Movement in 1920 to restore gurmat. A new Gurdwara reform movement or lahir is in order.

Of Sants and Maryada
July 22, 2002: Inderbir Singh, California, USA

You are absolutely right regarding Gurbilas Patshahi 6 and Rehat Maryada of Darbar Sahib. The Udasis, Nirmalas and Mahants were thrown out of the Gurudwaras in 1920's, however they are coming back in the form of so called Sant's in various Gurudwaras who are spreading their message throughout North America. The Gurudwara Management Committees should not allow these people to speak from the stage.


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