Chaupa Singh Rahitnama



We come now to the three longer Rahit-Namas. The Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama is both the earliest and by far the longest of these. This rahit-nama has already been the subject of a study comprising an introduction covering its origins, Gurmukhi text, English translation, and detailed notes on both text and translation. Sakhi Rahit hi is also included in the same volume as it has invariably been found attached to the Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama.5

Piara Singh Padam explains the writing of the Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama as follows: After Bhai Chaupa Singh, assisted by faithful Sikhs, had prepared the first rahit-nama Bhai Sital Singh Bahurupia wrote a fair copy and had it approved by the Guru on 7 Jeth S. 1757 [1700 CE]. Chaupa Singh himself mentions this.

The Rahit-nama that now appears under the name of Chaupa Singh cannot possibly be this version, if in fact any such document was ever written. At the same time we should allow for the possibility that the extant version may have roots which go back to the time of Guru Gobind Singh. The extant version was produced between 1740 and 1765, with a date in the 1740s, a strong probability .

Chaupa Singh, the putative author, was a Chhibbar Brahman, In its extant form the Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama is a composite product comprising two substantial blocks of classical rahitnama material, interspersed with narrative sections, which relate the foundation of the Khalsa, anecdotes concerning the enemies of the Guru, and the turmoil which is to come. Although the various injunctions are always addressed to the loyal Gursikh (‘Sikh of the Guru’) there is no doubt that it is directed at the Khalsa. ‘Gursikh’ is a synonym for `Khalsa Sikh’. When the term is first introduced it is defined as one who must `earnestly study the Rahit’ (ChS 57, 149). Who would be likely to study the Rahit other than a Sikh of the Khalsa? And every Gursikh, we are informed, must receive Khalsa initiation (pahul) before his hair has grown to full length.?

The stress that the author lays on the kes makes his preference clear and it is reinforced by his treatment of the sword, of arms generally, of eternal vigilance, and of the righteousness of fighting for a just cause. Other injunctions confirm this. There is, for example, little point for other than Khalsa Sikhs in claiming that using only half a name is word of a tanakhah (ChS 408, 105, 181). The reason for the injunc tion concerns those for whom the omitted portion of the name is the word ‘Singh’, a lapse for which a penance is sure legitimate.

There are five reasons why this rahit-nama has been regarded as hopelessly confused and corrupted.

The extant text is a conflation of at least three different sources. It cannot be the work of a single author.

There are doctrinal reasons against accepting the work of a Brahman, particularly as in one of the rahit-nama sections it is stated:
Any Gursikh who is a Brahman should receive twice the service [and consideration that other Sikhs receive. He who renders such service] shall earn a double reward (G’hS 24, 60, 151; see also 120, 167, 622, pp. 72, 80-1, 127, 160, 168, 197-8). Any Sikh of today would find this instruction intolerable.

The rahit-nama relates, as if it were authentic, the notorious story of how Guru Gobind Singh was persuaded to seek the blessings of Mata Devi (the goddess Durga) by celebrating the traditional fire ritual . The Puranic cosmology introduced near the end presumably falls under the same condemnation (ChS 615-40, 125-30, 196-200).

 The unctuous references to Chhibbar Brahmans, which occur in two of the narrative portions are plainly intended to serve a family purpose.8 This would not be appreciated by many of the rahit-nama’s readers.

 The language of the rahit-nama has been tentatively held to be later than the usage current during the time of Guru Gobind Singh (PSP 41a).

These reasons may explain the unpopularity of the Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama, but they should not conceal its considerable
significance. Its length, its detail, its date, and its circumstances as a product of the Chhibbar family make it an extremely valuable document. The details of its rahit-nama contents may be summarized as follows.




Excerpts taken from : Sikhs of the Khalsa : History of Khalsa Rahit
W.H.Mcleod Oxford Press 2003




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