Desa Singh Rahit-Nama: III


Attitude Towards Muslims 

Smite Turks with immense vigour. A Singh who obeys the Rahit does not bow when he meets a Turk. Never serve Turks, never greet a Turk, never trust Turks. Serve only the Khalsa. Avoid Muslim huttha meat. By fighting them face to face the Muslims will be defeated. Remain ever alert against the Turks. A Turk should be neither accepted as a master nor treated with deference. Keep Muslims away from your cooking-square when preparing for a langar. Muslims are polluted. [16, 20, 21, 30, 45, 46, 62, 94]


Attitude Towards Hindus

A Singh protects cows and Brahmans. Avoid Sanyasis, Bairagis, Udasis, yogis, Shaivite mendicants, and Tantrics. Never eat their food. Those who follow any of the six Hindu systems may believe in them, but for a Singh they are not acceptable. [16, 33, 34]



When you meet a Sikh greet him with Vdh guru hi fateh (‘Hail the Guru’s victory! ‘). [10, 19]


The Gurmukhi Script

A Singh should learn Gurmukhi from another Singh. He should also learn other useful things. [36]

Desa Singh concludes by telling his `own story ‘ in verses 124-49. In it he sees a vision of Guru Gobind Singh who recites to him the names of all the works contained in the Dasam Granth, telling Desa Singh that he composed them all. He then told him that he had also propounded the Rahit of the Khalsa, though he had not included it in the Dasam Granth.

Modern Sikhs tend to be sceptical of this rahit-nama, regard­ing it as a reflection of the early nineteenth century when (according to their view) the Panth was subjected to misguided notions of- Vedantic principle and Brahmanic ideals. They believe that it is not as misleading as the Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama, but certain features of it mislead nonetheless. In particu­lar they object to the rahit-nama ‘s acceptance of caste. There is no evidence, however, to support this view of the rahit-nama’s origin. With only minor blemishes Desa Singh appears to represent the Khalsa accurately at the end of the eighteenth century.

Some of his principal points are the following:


Desa Singh does indeed uphold caste divisions with the significant exception of eating in the langar. In this regard he is not so far removed from the attitude of the majority of today’s Khalsa. Whereas today there is absolute equality on the sacred ground of the gurdwara and the langar, the divisions are generally maintained in matters of marriage.

The ban on the hookah is still maintained, and its dangers are extended to cover intoxicants. Intoxicating liquor may, however, be taken before battle. There is no mention of snuff.

jhatha meat appears, though its use is granted only reluctantly. It is only permitted with goat meat and then only if the animal is killed well away from a langar. In the langar meat is absolutely banned and one is left with the impression that Desa Singh would gladly proscribe it altogether.

Detailed instructions are given for the procedure in a langar. Obviously Desa Singh attached’ great importance to eating in a langar. This portion of the rahit-nama (verses 90–118) is attributed to the instructions of Nand Lal.

Instructions are also provided for the preparation of karah prasad. This time, however, it is the Guru who gives them.

Considerable stress is laid upon the Khalsa Sikh’s duty as a warrior.

The same applies to the author’s comments on the kes (verses 79-85).

Little mention is made of tanakhahs.

The term kurahit (contrary to the Rahit) appears for the first time in a rahit-nama (verse 121). 20

Desa Singh’s comments concerning Muslims are both numerous and extremely vigorous. It is this aspect of the rahit-nama which particularly suggests that it was written at the end of the eighteenth century rather than during the early nineteenth Century.

His comments about Hindus are much fewer and less vigorous. Certain varieties of Hindu should be avoided, but the Brahman is not included amongst them. Singhs are counselled to protect both cows and Brahmans.

The rahit-nama contains little about rituals.

Renunciant Singhs are recognised as legitimate mem­bers of the Khalsa (verse 25).

The Khalsa is called upon to celebrate the birthdays of the Gurus (verse 39).

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