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Rehitnama of Bhai Chaupa Singh

Chaupa Singh belonged to the Chhiber family, which served seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth Gurus as Ministers of their durbar. The printed version of Bhal Chaupa Singh’s Rehitnama is a short one with about 20 instructions. The Nirmala scholar Pandit Tara Singh Narotam says, he saw a bigger version. Kesar Singh Chhiber, who belongs to this family says there were 1800 instructions included in it. Now I have seen two copies, one now available in Sikh Reference Library. The colophon indicates that scribe Blaka Singh wrote it and it was made larger version by Gurbaksh Singh, son of Dharam Chand, treasurer of Guru Gobind Singh. This is a condensed translation of the larger and short version. Basically they are the same. The following are the major Moral Instructions of this Rehitnama:

  1. Righteous living according to the moral and spiritual laws of the Sikh Gurus (Rehit) helps a devotee to steadily get rid of his shortcomings, evil habits and sinful ways: Rehit rehit reh jahe bikara.
  2. Both baptized Khalsa Sikhs (Kesadhari) and Unbaptized Novices, who choose to remain lay devotees for indefinite period, (Sahajdharls: lit those who adopt Sikhism gradually and slowly), should get up early in the morning and either take a bath, or in case of some difficulty perform ablution panj-isnana: washing the five; two hands, two feet and face. Then it is the command of Guru Ram Das to recite Japuji five times along with other prayers. After that he should go to the Sikh temple, then known as Dharamsdla, now known as Gurdwara. In the temple, he should offer either flowers, fruit or even a penny or half penny, whatever one can easily afford. This offering goes for distributing sacramental food to the people.
  3. A Sikh should never drink wine. By drinking wine a man loses his mental balance. Both baptized Sikhs and Sahajdharls should not take any wine or drugs.
  4. A Sikh should never have illegal sex relations with other people’s wives.
  5. A Sikh should never have social relations with those who kill infant daughters. A Sikh should marry his daughter to a baptized Sikh, irrespective of his social position and disre¬garding caste prejudice. It is a sin to take either dowry or money for giving a daughter in marriage.
  6. A novice or a person who wishes to adopt Sikhism should be baptized when he has fully grown his hair and when he has fully disciplined himself in the moral and spiritual rules of living.
  7. A Sikh should comb his hair well. Hair (Kesas) is the seal of the distinct personality and religious identity of the Khalsa Sikh. While hair is absolutely essential for a baptized Sikh, the Khalsa Sikhs should not be vain and conceited about it. It is an external symbol to inspire dignity, humility and spirituality. While keeping hair (Kesas), sword (Kirpan), one should consider contemplation of God’s Name, recitation of hymns, and companionship of the Saints absolutely essential and indispensable.
  8. A Sikh should not dye his hair. It is a transgression of moral rules of discipline.
  9. A Sikh should avoid associating himself with the following eight Muslim and Hindu cults: (i) Yogis of all schools, (ii) Brahmins, (iii) Tantrics of all colours (iv) Cynics, (v) Ascetics with matted hair (vi) Muslim recluses: Pirs (vii) Anchorites (viii) Bigoted Muslims.

These cult teachers try to destroy your convictions and deprive you of your genuine faith and belief, and they wilfully try to impose their own false cult beliefs and misleading doctrines.

  1. A Sikh should not indulge in gambling, theft, cheating and promiscuity of any kind.
  2. When a member of a Sikh family dies, a Sikh should not perform any Hindu rites of shaving the head in mourning. He should arrange the reading of Guru Granth Sahib, Kirtan (Singing of Hymns) and Lahgar: distribution of sacramental food.
  3. A Sikh should not wear the sacred thread of the Brahmins, or put frontal marks on his head. For a Sikh his hair (Kesas) are sacred thread.
  4. Out of his savings from the righteous labour a Sikh should give tithes for charitable purpose. A Sikh should consider the mouth of the poor to be treasury of the Guru. It means that any money spent on the poor and destitute is as good as giving it as offering to the Guru in the temple.
  5. A Sikh should not become a Masand, a Pir, or spiritual preceptor in any sense of the word. He should also not acknowledge anyone as his Guru or Pir besides the ten Gurus and the Guru Granth.
  6. A Sikh should not by himself assume the religious honorific, Bhai, Mahaht etc. It is bestowed as an honour by the Sangat not as a title but as an address. It is the vanity and pride of these honorifics, which brought unprecedented disaster and destruction to the Masands.
  7. A Temple Officiant (Dharmsalia, now known as Granthi) should be humble, fearless, truthful, restrained in habits, patient, helpful to others, compassionate, merciful, affectionate, regular in prayers and meditations, forgiving and sensitive to the suffering of human beings. He should be hospitable to travelers coming from distant lands.
  8. A Sikh should not use cow-dung to plaster a kitchen or hearth. It is a Hindu superstition. As far as possible a Sikh should employ a Sikh as his cook. While preparing and distributing food his hands should be scrupulously clean.
  9. A Sikh should neither worship nor pay homage to tombs, graves, Qazls, Brahmins, Mullas, or Samadhis of Hindu widows (Satis), who burn themselves with their dead husband.
  10. Every village and city should have a temple-cum-rest-house where wayfarers can spend their nights. The Guru Grahth Sahib should be installed in it.
  11. A Sikh should teach his children how to read and understand Guru Granth Sahib. The closing ceremony of the reading of Guru Granth should be performed by reading the Slokas of Guru Tegh Bahadur. (Bhal Kahan Singh Nabha, author of Sikh Encyclopedia: Mahan Kosh interprets this clause by concluding that the Ragmala should not be read).
  12. A Sikh should discuss and debate Sikhism and Sikh doctrines with a person who is sincere seeker and who asks questions with good and noble intentions. A Sikh should not talk about Sikhism in the house of irreligious, atheists and confirmed opponents of moral and spiritual values.
  13. If a Sikh is in difficulty, then in the late hours of the night he should recite Japuji five times and contemplate on the feet of the Guru and ask other devout Sikhs to pray for him.
  14. A Sikh should not annoy, harass or cause trouble to a devout and saintly Sikh, however poor. Even God and the True Guru will not forgive him.
  15. A Sikh should show reverential respect for the Sword, as Guru Gobind Singh did so. A Sikh should always remain in defence preparedness and keep necessary weapons with him.
  16. The Khalsa is distinct in his faith and character from the Hindus and Muslims. He should not have any faith in any Masand. He should never run away from the battlefield, but face the enemy and fight unto death for victory.
  17. If a Sikh commits any moral offence, or breaks any rule of the Rehitnama, let him stand in the congregation with folded hands or present himself before the Panj Piaras and seek forgiveness and accepts disciplinary punishment for atonement.

Note: This disciplinary action is generally imposed in the form of some service of act of charity. The person punished may be asked to clean the shoes of the congregation for two or three weeks, or he may be asked to wash utensils in the Community Kitchen. These are services which the Sikhs voluntarily do out of devotion. No physical punishment is ever imposed unless the sin is a crime.

  1. The religious and cultural matters of the Sikhs should be settled within the religious orders of the community. Cases involving religion, social relations and culture should not be taken to secular courts and secular governments.
  2. To break one’s vows, to take a false oath or to cause wilful injury to others by treachery, jealously or ill - will are serious offences and transgressions of moral laws of Sikhism.
  3. One who does not accept the greetings or courtesy shown by another Sikh, commits a serious moral offence.
  4. Dharam Chand, father of Chaupa Singh, once asked Guru Gobind Singh, “Thou O True King, have said, I am in the Khalsa and the Khalsa is my embodiment. Kindly elucidate the meaning.”

Spake Guru Gobind Singh: “My spiritual Personality, which will live eternally with God, will manifest its divine power in the Sarbat Khalsa: Assembly of Disciplined Khalsa; the Sikh Panth (Sikh Nation) as a whole, wherever their collective Will is expressed, and not in individuals or small groups.”

Source - The Turban and the Sword of the Sikhs by Dr. Trilochan Singh