Desa Singh Rahit-Nama



This rahit-nama purports to be a lengthy question-and-answer conversation between Nand Lal and Guru Gobind Singh, followed by an account by the elderly Desa Singh of a vision that he had of the Guru. In this vision Guru Gobind Singh assured Desa Singh that he had written the whole of the Dasam Granth. It is by no means certain that the two parts of the rahit-nama belong together, their contrasting subjects fitting very imper ­fectly. It is, however, the composite version which has come down to us, and we must accept it in its present form until evidence is produced which enables us to change our view. There can be no doubt of course that the reasons for both sections are fanciful. We have already seen that the date of Desa Sing h ‘s rahit-nama is late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, a period which makes it impossible to record a conversation , between Guru Gobind Singh and Nand Lal. Similarly the vision of Desa Singh must be rejected, as only a small portion at most of the Dasam Granth can claim to be the work of the Guru!

According to the Bhatt vahis, Desa Singh was the youngest of Bhai Mani Singh ‘s ten sons. This may or may not be true;’ but it makes little difference to the contents of the rahit-nama These may be summarised as follows.

The Khalsa

The benefits of the Khalsa

The Khalsa is the Guru made manifest. Faith in the Guru brig firm devotion to a Sikh of the Khalsa. Wealth, renown, peace a wife, sons, and knowledge are the reward. These are all the gifts of the Guru. [22, 57]

The Rahit

One recognizes Singhs by their obedience to the Rahit. He who takes initiation insincerely and violates the Rahit, earns for himself an evil karam. How can anyone who flouts the Rahit earn a good reputation merely by maintaining his kes? This splendid Rahit deserves the highest praise. Anything opposed to it is contrary to the Rahit (kurahit). The Rahit is the religious duty of the Singh and without it none can be regarded as a Singh. Without the Rahit there is no access to truth and none can be accounted virtuous. Without the Rahit one wanders lost in the world, is punished in the divine court, goes to hell, is treated as a tanakhahia, is a demon, and knows no happiness. Therefore hold fast to the Rahit. [75–6, 82–9, 121]

Khalsa Virtues

Always be humble. Never associate with those who are evil. Uphold humility, true understanding, and dharam. Accept the destiny which has been given to you. [51, 53–6] 


Character and Behaviour


The supreme truth lies in following the Guru. Every day utter ‘Praise to the Guru’ (vah guru). Repeat the divine Name, give alms, and bathe. Never neglect worship (puja). [10, 12, 35, 71]


The Daily Discipline

Se at daybreak, bathe, and recite Japuji and Jap. Towards ening wash your hands, feet, and mouth. Then put your comb, ife, and turban on again. In the evening recite Sodar. After P.M. recite [Kirtan] Soliila. Each day learn a text from either ranth. [11, 38, 68, 101]


Dress and Outward Appearance

Always wear your kachh and kirpan. Wash your kes in whey every night. Dry it in sunshine. He who shaves his head can never find God (hari). A man without his kes is like a bird without tags, a sheep without wool, a woman without clothing. Retaining his kes and obeying the Rahit is the supreme glory. [15, 69, 79—85]


Bathing and Personal Hygiene

Early in the morning scrupulously bathe. Then put on your comb, knife, and turban. Take a vessel filled with water when you go out to defecate. After defecation splash on water and rub with earth. Then you may put on your weapons. Have your clothing washed after 20 days. [66-7, 70]


The hookah and other intoxicants

Keep away from poisonous substances (bikhaya). Avoid the hookah, the tobacco bowl on a hookah, tobacco (tamaku), cannabis (charas), hemp (ganja), toddy, and other intoxicating things. It is, however, acceptable to take small amounts of opium or bhang. [25, 30]


Family Responsibilities

Do not attach yourself wholly to your family. Always serve the Guru. Manage income prudently and so provide for your household ‘s needs. Keep well away from those who kill their daughters. [8, 50, 71]


Sexual Morality

Sleep only with your own woman. Avoid prostitutes, Shun the following women: a Musalli, a Dum, a procuress, a loose woman, and anyone belonging to a caste different from your own. [14, 25, 29, 44]


Speech and Manner of Address

He who is fierce on the battlefield will remain calm at home. He will be simple of speech, with sweet words, always devoted to the Guru. Never utter a frivolous word. [52, 55]



Give gifts as your resources permit. Allocate a tithe of your income to the Guru. [11, 13]

Crimes and Misdemeanor

Do not tell tales, slander others, or covet their property. Avoid lust, anger, pride, drunkenness, and covetousness. Do not gamble. Do not be greedy for excessive wealth. Do not take bribes. A Singh should avoid the following five vices: taking another’s woman, gambling, speaking untruth, theft, drinking alcohol. [8, 14, 25, 44, 51, 54, 64]





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