Unfortunately at many points in our history, true and authentic Sikh rehit became something that was rare. After numerous holocausts and extended periods of living in the jungles of Punjab, differences in rehit crept into the Sikh Panth.
The rehit is a code of conduct which has been passed down from the original Amrit Sanchaar in an oral fashion. Old rehitnamas, like the one written by Bhai Desa Singh state, (in the seventh stanza) “that rehit which the five utter, keep that steadfast in your mind” and later in the ninth stanza, “that is the first rehit, the one which the five Singhs said in the Pahul ceremony.”
The Khalsa Rehit suffered some dilution in the 18th and 19th century. But the Malwa area of Punjab had some areas where this rehit was preserved. Certain movements like the Namdhari movement, which originally had amazing rehit and was originally not a Gurudom, came out of Malwa. Deras like Baba Ajaipal Singh were known for strict rehit. So the original Khalsa rehit was not lost, it was kept in some places.
How can the AKJ substantiate that their rehit is authentic? The answer comes from looking at historical documents and sources. Keski is a rehit that is clear due to bhat vehees, which are the most historic and authentic documents from the time of the first amrit sanchaar. In these vehis, the records of the original amrit sanchaar list “Kesgee” as a kakaar. The Akhand Kirtani Jatha is one of the only Sikh groups that still preserves Keski as a kakaar to this day. (For more information, see question/answer on Keski).
Along with his many other qualities, Bhai Randhir Singh was an ardent seeker of truth. He was not bound by many of the Hindu-influenced practices that had infiltrated the Panth before his time. He was also not bound by following a belief simply because it was a tradition and therefore assumed to be a “maryada”. Bhai Randhir Singh sought to look to Gurbani and Sikh history to see what was the authentic Sikh lifestyle and to revive that lifestyle during his life. Keski rehit was revived because of Bhai Randhir Singh even though it had been on the decline since the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Bhai Randhir Singh cared only for the truth. He was not a “Sant”-like figure who was bound by the beliefs of a predecessor from the same jatha or group.
So it is fair to say that while the Akhand Kirtani Jatha is a relatively new Jatha, only around 100 years old, that it has been carrying on the Sikh rehit as it existed during the time of Guru Gobind Singh Jee and after the time of Guru Gobind Singh Jee, although the true and authentic Sikh rehit may have become rare at various points in our history.
It is commonplace for many Sikh organizations to claim an uninterrupted connection back to the time of Guru Gobind Singh Jee. A study of Sikh history casts doubt on any such claims. Sikhs should look at their history critically to make the proper judgments on this question. Many groups within the panth claim that their institution has been passed on from the lineage of famous Gursikhs from the time of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee. For example, some claim their lineage comes from Bhai Daya Singh Ji while another group may claim that their unbroken lineage comes from Shaheed Bhai Mani Singh Ji. However, an analysis of these groups demonstrates that their practices are not always in line with the great Gursikhs they claim an association with. For example, Bhai Daya Singh Ji mentions to eat out of Sarbloh (iron utensils) from other Amrit Dharis but the group who claims to be descended from his leadership does not follow this practice (see article on eating from Amrit Dharis). Shaheed Bhai Mani Singh Ji describes the method of how panj pyareh teach new Amrit Dharis how to jap naam with the tip of their tongue but the groups claiming a direct lineage to Bhai Mani Singh Ji do not follow this practice (see article on Naam Dhrir). Secondly, the process of giving authority to one being and passing it down to a student is not in accordance with Gurmat. Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave authority to Punj Pyareh and every panthic institution in the past was governed by the Punj Pyareh. No group can claim to be fully following puraatan (old time) traditions when they have abandoned the tradition of Punj Pyareh governance.
The Sikh Rehit Maryada states that wearing dastaar or Turban is required for Sikh males but that it is optional for Sikh females. The Akhand Kirtani Jatha respectfully submits that dastaar should be a requirement for both males and females, believing that there should be no separate rehit between the two genders.
What makes the Akhand Kirtani Jatha unique among most panthic groups is its belief that keski (small dastaar), not kesh (uncut hair), is a kakaar. The evidence for this belief is overwhelming based both on historical fact but also on common sense and basic logic.
The removal of kesh is already considered by the panth as a whole to be a “bujjer kurahit” which means a very serious violation of the Sikh code of conduct. Having kesh as a kakaar is redundant when the removal of kesh is already expressly forbidden.
Furthermore, all of the remaining kakaars are physical items that are given to a Sikh as gifts by Guru Gobind Singh Jee. It defies common sense again that Guru Sahib would “gift” his Sikhs kesh upon taking Amrit when Kesh has been with a Sikh since their birth.
Just as wearing a turban is a requirement for a Sikh male, it is also a requirement for Sikh females. The historical evidence is conclusive in this regard:
ਕੱਛ, ਕੜਾ, ਕਿ੍ਰਪਾਨ, ਕੰਘਾ, ਕੇਸਕੀ, ਇਹ ਪੰਜ ਕਕਾਰ ਰਹਿਤ ਧਰੇ ਸਿਖ ਸੋਇ ॥
“Kachhera, Karha, Kirpan, Kangha, Keski – Whoever keeps the discipline of wearing these 5Ks will be known as my Sikh.”
(Bhai Chaupa Singh Rehatnama)
ਜੋ ਪਗ ਨੂੰ ਬਾਸੀ ਰਖੇ ਸੋ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ। ਇਸ ਲਈ ਹਰ ਗੁਰੂ ਕੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਲਈ ਲਾਜ਼ਮੀ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਉਹ ਰੋਜ਼ ਦਸਤਾਰ ਸਜਾਵੇ।
“One who does not tie a fresh turban is liable for penalty. For this reason it is mandatory for every Sikh of the Guru to tie a turban everyday.”
(Rehitnama Bhai Chaupa Singh)
ਜੂੜਾ ਸੀਸ ਕੇ ਮੱਧ ਭਾਗ ਮੇਂ ਰਾਖੈ, ਔਰ ਪਾਗ ਬੜੀ ਬਾਂਧੇ ।
“Tie your hair-knot on the top of your head, and tie a turban.”
(Bhai Desa Singh Rehatnama)
੩੫. ਦਸਤਾਰ ਬਿਨਾਂ ਨਹੀਂ ਰਿਹਣਾ, ਕੇਸ ਨੰਗੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਰੱਖਣੇ ॥
“Do not stay without a turban, do not keep your hair uncovered.”
(Guru Gobind Singh Ji – 52 Hukams of the Tenth Master recorded by Baba Ram Koher Ji at Hazoor Sahib)
The most convincing evidence that Keski was given as a kakaar at the first Amrit sanchaar comes from the Guru Keeaan Sakheean. These are records from Bhatts, or poets who recorded events. This is the most authentic record of what happened. These Guru Keean Sakheean were published by Piara Singh Padam.
Some of the most convincing passages read like this: “Assigning the word Singh first to his own name and thence to the names of all the Five Chosen Sikhs, Guru ji called out Fateh (the victory salutation) and raised aloud the spirited chant of Sat Sri Akal.
“Thereafter, Guru ji pronounced, ‘on your rebirth in the Khalsa Panth, your previous lineage, caste, creed, calling, customs, beliefs and superstitions, etc. stand annulled from now onwards. Transforming you into the Order of Khalsa, I have endowed you with the apparel of the Almighty God, you shall have to keep its honour. Before administering this nectar of steel, I also bestowed you with five kakaars (Ks, i.e. defining emblems). You have never to keep them away from your body even by mistake. I gave you, at the start, a blue keski, kangha, kirpan, sarbloh ka kara and white kachhehra. In the event of the loss or misplacement of any of these, get its infringement pardoned in the Sangat by going to Gurdwara without any delay.”
Another account by a different bhatt in the same records reads: “Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Tenth Guru, son of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, in the year Seventeen Hundred Fifty Two, on Tuesday – the Vaisakhi day – gave Khande-Ki-Pahul to Five Sikhs and surnamed them as Singhs. First Daya Ram Sopti, Khatri resident of Lahore stood up. Then Mohkam Chand Calico Printer of Dawarka; Sahib Chand Barber of Zafrabad city; Dharam Chand Jawanda Jat of Hastnapur; Himmat Chand Water Carrier of Jagannath stood up one after the other. All were dressed in blue and he himself also dressed the same way. Huqqah, Halaal, Hajaamat, Haraam, Tikka, Janeyu, Dhoti, were prohibited. Socialization with the descendants of Prithi chand (Meenay), followers of Dhirmal and Ram Rai, clean shaven people and Masands was prohibited. All were given Kangha, Karad (***Karad is synonomous with kirpaan***), KESGI, Kada and Kachhehra. All were made Keshadhari. Everyone’s place of birth was told to be Patna, of residence as Anandpur. Rest, Guru’s deeds are known only to the Satguru. Say Guru! Guru! Guru! Guru will help everywhere.”
Historically both Sikh men and women wore at least the short turban (Keski). Right up to the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Sikh women had been steadfast in following the edicts of the Guru which included wearing the Dastaar. This was also witnessed by English observers in Punjab during this time. Well known 19th Century English Historian, J. D. Cunningham (1812-1851) who was an eyewitness to the First Anglo-Sikh War, in his History of the Sikhs – 1848 refers to Sikh women of that time as follows: “The Sikh women are distinguished from Hindus of their sex by some variety of dress, chiefly by a higher topknot of hair.” Higher topknot of hair on Sikh women’s heads automatically implies their coverage by some sort of turban, as Cunningham has connected it with“some variety of dress.”
Even after the Punjab came under the British rule, many Sikh women wore the keski right up until the Gurdwara Reform Movement and the establishment of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) in 1926. Until then, no one – man as well as woman was allowed to be initiated (by taking Amrit) at Sri Akal Takht Sahib without a Keski. It was only afterwards that laxity was introduced in this respect and the wearing of Keski was made optional.
The Akhand Kirtani Jatha has preserved this important rehit up until the current day and hopes that more of the panth embraces this important rehit that gives equality to both genders and which allows all Sikhs to dress in the form of Guru Gobind Singh Jee, our father.
The Sikh Rehit Maryada states that wearing a dastaar is optional for Sikh women but the Akhand Kirtani Jatha urges all Sikh women to adopt the dastaar as it would do great things for the equality of women and for the Chardi Kala or well-being of the panth.
Those who do kirtan on stage set an example for the rest of the sangat. Those who are doing Kirtan on stage must wear the proper “bana” while doing kirtan which includes the 5 kakaars and Sikh dress such as simple suits, kurta pyjama or chola. Requiring that those doing kirtan wear bana is an important way of promoting bana along with keski. If the Akhand Kirtani Jatha did not preserve the rehit of Keski or dastaar for women, in part by insisting that all male and female kirtanis wear bana including dastaar, keski for women may have become extinct in the panth.
Sometimes exceptions are made for young children who are still preparing themselves to maintain the Sikh rehit but generally, the Jatha believes that kirtanis must be role models for the sangat who keep at least the minimum Sikh rehit. Those who have committed “bujjer kurahits” (cardinal sins) or other serious infringements against Sikh rehit are also asked to seek forgiveness from the Punj Pyareh before doing Kirtan seva again.
The Akhand Kirtani Jatha make no differentiation between rich or poor, high caste or low caste, male or female. All people who accept the Guru’s teachings are allowed to perform seva. When Dayal Das, the grandson of Baba Adam Ji, tried to serve the sangat langar, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji rejected his service and said first acccept my Hukum then you can serve the sangat. Likewise, if one wants to perform any Seva in the Guru’s house then they must first accept Guru’s hukums such as keeping nitnem, panj kakkars, abstaining from bujjer kurahits, etc.
Unfortunately, there is some confusion in the Sikh panth over whether the eating of meat is permitted for Amrit Dhari Sikhs. The Sikh Rehit Maryada prohibits the eating of “Kuttha” which is usually interpreted as meaning a slaughtered animal but some interpret it as referring to halaal meat which is the type of ritualized meat eaten by Muslims. However, by looking into Sikh history and most importantly, by looking towards Gurbani, it becomes clear that eating all kinds of meat is not permitted in Sikhi.
In hukumnamas collected by Dr. Ganda Singh jee and published in his book ‘hukumnamas’ each one of Guru Hargobind Sahib’s hukumnamas state ‘guru guru japna janam savar sangat dee kamnaa guru pooree karraygaa. Sangatee da ruzgaar hog, ik daasee rahinaa. Maas muchee day naray nahee avanaa.’ The last line says not to even go near meat or fish.
Bhai Gurdas jee, whose banee was called the key to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee by Guru Arjan Dev Jee says:
ਸੀਹ ਪਜੂਤੀ ਬਕਰੀ ਮਰਦੀ ਹੋਈ ਹੜ ਹੜ ਹਸੀ||
ਸੀਹੁ ਪੁਛੈ ਵਿਸਮਾਦੁ ਹੋਇ ਇਤੁ ਅਉਸਰਿ ਕਿਤੁ ਰਹਸਿ ਰਹਸੀ||
ਬਿਨਉ ਕਰੇਂਦੀ ਬਕਰੀ ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਅਸਾਡੇ ਕੀਚਨਿ ਖਸੀ||
ਅਕ ਧਤੂਰਾ ਖਾਧਿਆਂ ਕੁਹਿ ਕੁਹਿ ਖਲ ਉਖਲਿ ਵਿਣਸੀ||
ਮਾਸੁ ਖਾਨਿ ਗਲ ਵਢਿ ਕੈ ਹਾਲੁ ਤਿਨਾੜਾ ਕਉਣੁ ਹੋਵਸੀ|| (Vaar 25-7)
This means that the goat says, ‘I was eating Ak and Dhatura plants (weed plants found in India) for whole of my life, to which no body else liked to eat. And even then I am being brutally killed and my skin being ripped, What will happen to those who cut my throat and eat my meat?
In another vaar, Bhai Gurdas jee talks about a goat being cut by butcher to be eaten :
ਕੁਹੈ ਕਸਾਈ ਬਕਰੀ ਲਾਇ ਲੂਣ ਸੀਖ ਮਾਸੁ ਪਰੋਆ||
ਹਸਿ ਹਸਿ ਬੋਲੇ ਕੁਹੀਂਦੀ ਖਾਧੇ ਅਕਿ ਹਾਲੁ ਇਹੁ ਹੋਆ||
ਮਾਸ ਖਾਨਿ ਗਲਿ ਛੁਰੀ ਦੇ ਹਾਲੁ ਤਿਨਾੜਾ ਕਉਣੁ ਅਲੋਆ|| (Vaar 37-21)
This means that the goat is being killed, cut into pieces and salt being spread on the pieces. While being killed goat says this all happened to me while I was just eating Ak plant (weed found in India’s desert fields). In last line goat puts a question, what will be the fate of those in the court of god who cut my throat with a knife and eat my meat?
In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee, there are also lots of references which establish that it is important not to eat meat. ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋਰੁ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਜੁਲਮੁ ਹੈ ਲੇਇ ਜਬਾਬੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ || ਦਫਤਰਿ ਲੇਖਾ ਨੀਕਸੈ ਮਾਰ ਮੁਹੈ ਮੁਹਿ ਖਾਇ ||੨੦੦|| meaning it is evil to use force and kill, god will certainly take you to task for it. When you must present your deeds in the court of god, you will face blows to the face. And ਕਬੀਰ ਭਾਂਗ ਮਾਛੁਲੀ ਸੁਰਾ ਪਾਨਿ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ਖਾਂਹਿ || ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕੀਏ ਤੇ ਸਭੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਜਾਂਹਿ ||੨੩੩|| here Kabeer jee clearly states eating meat, fish and drinking liquor is wrong and religion is not possible while eating these. ਬੇਦ ਕਤੇਬ ਕਹਹੁ ਮਤ ਝੂਠੇ ਝੂਠਾ ਜੋ ਨ ਬਿਚਾਰੈ || ਜਉ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਕਹਤ ਹਉ ਤਉ ਕਿਉ ਮੁਰਗੀ ਮਾਰੈ ||੧|| meaning, the Semitic and Hindu scriptures aren’t false, false is he who does not reflect on them. If they say that there is god in all, then why do you kill a chicken? Finally, Bhagat Kabeer jee says ਕਬੀਰ ਖੂਬੁ ਖਾਨਾ ਖੀਚਰੀ ਜਾ ਮਹਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਲੋਨੁ || ਹੇਰਾ ਰੋਟੀ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਗਲਾ ਕਟਾਵੈ ਕਉਨੁ ||੧੮੮|| meaning it is good to eat kicharee (mixture of rice and pulses), that has been tastefully prepared with salt. Who should risk having their throat cut (in the after life) just for a meal of meat and bread?
Mercy is of utmost importance in gurmat ਦਇਆ ਜਾਣੈ ਜੀਅ ਕੀ ਕਿਛੁ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਦਾਨੁ ਕਰੇਇ || from aasaa dee vaar tells us to have mercy on all living things. Guru jee also tells us ਦੂਖੁ ਨ ਦੇਈ ਕਿਸੈ ਜੀਅ ਪਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਘਰਿ ਜਾਵਉ || give pain to no living thing, go home with honour. ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਸਗਲ ਪੁੰਨ ਜੀਅ ਦਇਆ ਪਰਵਾਨੁ || meaning: Going to the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage, of greater merit and acceptance is having mercy upon living things.
The Akhand Kirtani Jatha along with many other Gursikhs in the panth do not believe that Raagmala (which is a small composition appearing at the end of modern day saroops of Guru Sahib) was recited by any of the Gurus and thus is not Gurbani. When concluding Akhand or Sehaj Paaths, the Jatha does not read Raagmala and does Bhog at Mundavni. There is a controversy to this day in the Panth regarding the reading of Raagmala. According to Panthic norms, Raagmala may or may not be read according to the wishes of those doing the Paath. However, all Saroops that are now printed or written must include Raagmala at the end. The AKJ is a Panthic organisation and thus does not intend to create any controversy around this issue. Gursikhs from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha respect those who choose to read Raagmala in good faith but believe for many reasons that Raagmala is not Gurbani.
The reasons why the Jatha does not believe Raagmala to be Gurbani are numerous. For starters, there is no obvious spiritual message in Raagmala; a simple reading of Raagmala makes this clear. “Mundavni” (the last Bani to come before Raagmala) means “seal” and the meticulous numbering system which was designed to prevent extraneous writings from being included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee is not present in Raagmala and ends after Mundavni. There are many more reasons which cast doubt on the authenticity of Raagmala:
1. Not all Raags of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji included: There are 8 raags that are utilised in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that have not been mentioned in the Raagmala. These are: Bihagara, Wadahans, Manjh, Jaitsri, Ramkali, Tukhari, Prabhati and Jaijawanti. Mali-Gaura is not included in Raagmala but Gaura is.
2. Differentiation between Raags and Raagnis: In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji no distinction has been made between raags and raaginis and all the measures employed have been given the status of raags, each one of them recognized in its own right and not as “wife” or “son” to another raag. In practice over a long stretch of time, Gurmat Sangeet, i.e. Sikh music, has evolved its own style and conventions which make it a system distinct from other Indian systems.
3. Similar Raagmalas exist: The Raagmala appended to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is not much different from the others, and, by itself, does not set up a new system. This Raagmala is nearest to the Hanuman Mat, but the arrangement of raags in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is nearer to the Saiv Mala and the Kalinath Mat which give primacy to Siree Raag. The only system wherein occur all the raags and sub-raags employed in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is Bharat Mat.
4. Conflict in message: The Raagmala has given Bhairav the first position in the ‘mala’ (ਪ੍ਰਥਮ ਰਾਗ ਭੈਰਉ ਵੈ ਕਰਹੀ ||), but in the Raag system of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Bhairav has been relegated to 24th position. According to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Siree Raag has the first position and is called the supreme Raag (ਰਾਗਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਸ੍ਰੀਰਾਗੁ ਹੈ ਜੇ ਸਚਿ ਧਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੁ || – ang 83), which is backed up by Bhai Gurdas Ji (ਰਾਗਨ ਮੈ ਸਿਰੀਰਾਗੁ ਪਾਰਸ ਪਖਾਨ ਹੈ || – Vaar 42: Pauri 376). This has made most of the scholars doubt its relevance to the Raag system of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Either Raagmala is the truth and Bhairav is the first position Raag and supreme, which implies Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is false in saying Siree Raag is supreme and has first position. Or Raagmala is false and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is true in saying that Siree Raag is supreme and in first position.
5. Difference in use of words: In the fifth line of Raagmala the word Pun (ਪੁਨਿ = ਫਿਰ; ਸੰਸਕ੍ਰਿਤ ਪੁਨਹ ਦਾ ਰੂਪ) has been used. This is a derivation of Sanskrit word Punah. On the other hand, in Sri Guru Granth Sahib wherever the derivation of Sankrit word Punah has been used it occurs in its prevalent Punjabi version, i.e., as Phun (ਫੁਨਿ). Nowhere it has been written as Pun (ਪੁਨਿ). Prof. Sahib Singh thinks it to be a strange occurrence of this word in Raagmala since no Guru ever used this word in Gurbani to mean what is conveyed in Raagmala.
6. No authorization: Unlike Gurbani in Sri Guru Granth Sahib there is no Mehla in the title of Raagmala. According to style of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji after any Raag there is an indication of authorship by Mehla, e.g. Mehla 4 etc. The whole of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is unambiguous in this respect. There is no shalok in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji where Sikhs have to guess about its author.
7. Difference in serialisation of stanzas: If we closely study Shabad, Ashtpadia, Chhand in Sri Guru Granth Sahib we find that there is a unique system if serialisation of stanzas with numbers. When a band or couplet ends, it is given a number to indicate its position in the hymn, and that it can now stand alone, and is complete in its meaning. The fifth Guru evolved a hierarchical system of numbering where the total number of couplets and Shabads are explicitly mentioned as totals and grand totals that run concurrently. This nesting is so distinctive that it does not allow anyone to add or delete a couplet without disturbing the numbering system. This is a fool proof method for the protection of originality of Gurbani. Now compare it with the unorganized system of numbering in Raagmala.
ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪਸਾਦਿ ਰਾਗ ਮਾਲਾ || ਰਾਗ ਏਕ ਸੰਗਿ ਪੰਚ ਬਰੰਗਨ || ਸੰਗਿ ਅਲਾਪਹਿ ਆਠਉ ਨੰਦਨ || || ਪ੍ਰਥਮ ਰਾਗ ਭੈਰਉ ਵੈਕਰਹੀ || ਪੰਚ ਰਾਗਨੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਉਚਰਹੀ || ਪ੍ਰਥਮ ਭੈਰਵੀ ਬਿਲਾਵਲੀ || ਪੁੰਨਿਆਕੀ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਬੰਗਲੀ || ਪੁਨਿ ਅਸਲੇਖੀ ਕੀ ਭਈ ਬਾਰੀ || ਏ ਭੈਰਉ ਕੀ ਪਾਚਉ ਨਾਰੀ || ਪੰਚਮ ਹਰਖ ਦਿਸਾਖ ਸੁਨਾਵਹਿ || ਬੰਗਾਲਮ ਮਧੁ ਮਾਧਵ ਗਾਵਹਿ || ੧ || ਲਲਤ ਬਿਲਾਵਲ ਗਾਵਹੀ ਅਪੁਨੀ ਅਪੁਨੀ ਭਾਂਤਿ || ਅਸਟ ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਭੈਰਵ ਕੇ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਗਾਇਨ ਪਾਤ੍ਰ || ੧ ||
See the style of describing Bhairav Rag in 8 lines of a Chaupai. There is || ੧ || after eight lines of Chaupai. But note that in the last two lines all the 8 sons of Bhairav Rag could not be included. Lalit and Bilawal are in the next couplet (Dohra), and there is also || ੧ || at the end of this Dohra. This type of inadequacy in indicating a complete family of a Raag is also seen for other Raags. Apparently the system of Raagmala has no similarity with that followed by the Great Guru.
In Ragamala || ੧ || is used all through and at the end it occurs twice|| ੧ || || ੧ ||. Clearly, the style does not follow that used in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
8. Stanzisation does not stand alone: See the following couplet where the last line of Band (couplet) describes that from the next Band will start Deepak Raag.
ਸੁਰਮਾਨੰਦ ਭਾਸਕਰ ਆਏ || ਚੰਦ੍ਰਬਿੰਬ ਮੰਗਲਨ ਸੁਹਾਏ ||
ਸਰਸਬਾਨ ਅਉ ਆਹਿ ਬਿਨੋਦਾ || ਗਾਵਹਿ ਸਰਸ ਬਸੰਤ ਕਮੋਦਾ ||
ਅਸਟ ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਮੈ ਕਹੇ ਸਵਾਰੀ || ਪੁਨਿ ਆਈ ਦੀਪਕ ਕੀ ਬਾਰੀ || ੧ ||
This way the couplet does not stand alone as is the system followed in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
9. Grammatical incoherence with Gurbani: Guru Arjan Dev ji evolved a unique system of grammer for Gurbani. This system is also followed by Bhai Gurdas in his poetry of Vaars. It is surprising to read ਰਾਗ ਏਕ ਸੰਗਿ ਪੰਚ ਬਰੰਗਨ ||; there is no Aunkar (ੁ) below ਰਾਗ ਏਕ to indicate plurality or singularity of ਰਾਗ and ਏਕ. However, both words here indicate singularity that any one Raga has five wives and eight sons. Similar examples of use of Mukta and Sihaari in Raagmala that do not follow the grammar of Gurbani exist. If Raagmala is Gurbani then Guru Arjan Dev Ji and Bhai Gurdas Ji changed the style of Gurbani used in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji for a different style in Raagmala or Raagmala is not written by Guru Arjan Dev ji or Bhai Gurdas ji.
10. The puraatan (old) saroops that did or do include Raagmala also included other compositions after Mundaavni (but before Raagmala), such as: (i) Jit Dar Lakh Mohammada, (ii) Siahi Di Bhidhi, (iii) Ratanmala, (iv) Hakeekatrah mukam, (v) Praan Sangli, (vi) Rab Mukam Ki Sabk, (vii) Baye Atisb (16 saloks) etc. All seven of these compositions that existed after Mundaavni (but before Raagmala) were all unanimously discredited by the Panth and it was acknowledged that mischievous individuals had over time included these compositions at the end of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji but had no standing against Gurbani.
11. Those who do not believe in raagmala are not limited to the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and in fact many if not most of the prominent Sikhs of the early 20th century did not believe in Raagmala such as: Famous Sikh historian Giani Gian Singh, Giani Ditt Singh, Prof. Gurmukh Singh (founders of Singh Sabha Movement); Pandit Tara Singh Nirotam; Sant Arjun Singh Vaid; Sadhu Gobind Singh Nirmala; Prof. Hazara Singh; Bhai Sahib Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha, the author of Mahan Kosh; Master Mota Singh; Master Mehtab Singh; Master Tara Singh; Gyani Sher Singh; Giani Nahar Singh; Principal Dharmanant Singh; Giani Bishan Singh Teeka-kar; Sant Baba Teja Singh Mastuana Wale; Principal Ganga Singh; Dr. Ganda Singh; Prof. Sahib Singh; S. Shamsher Singh Ashok Research Scholar of S.G.P.C.; Bhai Randhir Singh, research scholar; Pandit Kartar Singh Daakhaa; Principal Bawa Harkishan Singh; Principal Narinjan Singh; Prof. Gurbachan Singh Talib; Principal Gurmukhnihal Singh.
For more information and to see pictures of many old saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee without Raagmala, please visit: http://www.sikhanswers.com/sacred-literature-sikh-studies/raagmala/
Gurbani tells us not to eat that which will cause us trouble:
ਬਾਬਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਖੁਸੀ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥
ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਤਨੁ ਪੀੜੀਐ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥੧॥
“O Baba! The pleasures of other foods are false, by eating which, the body is ruined, and wickedness and corruption enters into the mind. ||1||Pause||”
(SGGS – 16)
Gurbani tells us again to eat the food of the saints and to avoid the food of faithless people as if it were poison.
ਸੰਤਨ ਕਾ ਦਾਨਾ ਰੂਖਾ ਸੋ ਸਰਬ ਨਿਧਾਨ ||
ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਸਾਕਤ ਛਤੀਹ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਰ ਤੇ ਬਿਖੂ ਸਮਾਨ ||੨||
“The dry bread of the Saints is equal to all treasures. The thirty-six tasty dishes of the faithless cynic are just like poison.”
(SGGS – 811)
Puraatan Rehitnamai (code of conducts written by Sikhs from the time of Guru Gobind Singh Jee) make it clear that Sikhs were given instructions to only eat from other Amrit Dharis.
ਭੋਜਨਾਦਿ ਮੁੰਡਿਤ ਨਾਲ ਛਕੇ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ ॥
(ਭਾਈ ਦਯਾ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਰਹਿਤਨਾਮਾ, ਪੰਨਾ ੭੨ – ‘ਰਹਿਤਨਾਮੇ’, ਸੰਪਾਦਕ ਪਿਆਰਾ ਸਿੰਘ ਪਦਮ)
“One who eats food with a Mona/non-Sikh, is guilty of a breach of conduct”
(Bhai Daya Singh Ji Rehitnama – Piara Singh Padam’s Rehitnamay pg. 72)
ਗੁਰੂ ਕਾ ਸਿਖ, ਸਰਦਾਰ ਹੋਵੈ, ਸ਼ਾਹੂਕਾਰ ਹੋਵੈ, ਮੁਸ੍ਨਦੀ ਹੋਵੈ, ਆਪਣੇ ਲੰਗਰ ਰਸੋਈ ਵਿਚ ਸਿਖ ਰਖੇ ॥
ਹੁਕਈ, ਟੋਪੀਆ, ਭਾਦਣੀ, ਚੋਰ, ਯਾਰ, ਜੂਏਬਾਜ਼, ਕੁਰਹਿਤੀਆ ਨਾ ਰਖੈ ॥
“A Guru ka Sikh…should keep only a Sikh in his langar and kitchen. Smokers, hat-wearers, shaven people, thieves, gamblers, kurehitees should not be kept”
(Rehitnama Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji – Piara Singh Padam, pg. 85)
Many Gursikhs also insist on cooking in and eating from Sarbloh (Iron) utensils, which also has support from Puraatan Rehitnamai:
ਪਾਤ੍ਰ ਸਰਬ ਸੁ ਲੋਹ ਕੇ, ਭੁਗਤੇ ਅਸਨ ਸੁਆਦਿ ਲੱਕੜੀ ਕੋ ਭੋਜਨ ਭਖੇ, ਨੀਲ ਬਸਤ੍ਰ ਮਿਰਜਾਦ…ਲੋਹ ਪਾਤ੍ਰ ਮੈਂ ਛਕੈ…
(ਭਾਈ ਦਯਾ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਰਹਿਤਨਾਮਾ, ਪੰਨਾ 75 – ‘ਰਹਿਤਨਾਮੇ’, ਸੰਪਾਦਕ ਪਿਆਰਾ ਸਿੰਘ ਪਦਮ)
“Using utensils of sarbloh, one eats tasty food…one should eat in sarb loh utensils”
(Rehitnama Bhai Daya Singh Ji – Piara Singh Padam, pg. 75)
Historical evidence of Bibek Rehit can be found in the historical records of M.A. Macauliffe who writes:
“…so amid the general corruption of the religion of Gobind there are to be found about one hundred Sikhs at Naderh in the Dakhan, who are said to have up to the present time preserved intact the faith and ceremonies of Guru Gobind. They have kept aloof from the contact of Brahmins. Brahmin ministrations are not permitted either at their births, their marriages, or their obsequies. Whether they be Brahmin or Sudras who receive the sacramental pahul, all are by this fact admitted within a pale of social and religious equality. Brahmin weds Sudra and Sudra weds Brahmin. No need, therefore, to put their infant daughters to death through fear of not obtaining for them husbands of their own social status, as is the custom among such a large section of the Sikhs of Punjab. And widow marriages, reprobated by Hindus and now consequently by the Sikhs of the Punjab are habitually solemnised with the clearest conscience among the Sikhs of Naderh…At Patna, as at Naderh, the Sikhs pay the strictest attention to the Injunctions of Guru Gobind. Sleeping or waking, they are never without the habiliments known as the “five Ks.” So strong is the aversion of the more orthodox among them to Hindus, that they will not even partake of food cooked by their hands. This is carrying orthodoxy a long way, but still further is it carried when they will not partake of food cooked even by a Sikh who has not on his person all the ‘five Ks’”
(Macauliffe in “The Sikh Religion under Banda and its Present Condition”)
There are varying levels of dietary bibek. There are also other rehats, depending on how strict an individual wishes to be and how much of Guru Sahib’s rehat they are able to follow. These rehats include:
* Eating cooked food from Amritdharis’ hands exclusively
* Not eating any processed or machine made foods (as the factories are still populated by non-Amrit Dharis and proper cleanliness or “suchum” is not observed)
* Eating food only prepared in Sarbloh (Iron) by Amritdharis
Eating from other Gursikhs, especially if those Gursikhs recite Gurbani while preparing their food is ideal. Just as Amrit is required to be prepared by an Amrit Dhari while reciting Gurbani in Sarbloh (iron), this is also the ideal way to prepare food in our daily lives. Bhai Randhir Singh was a strict proponent of only eating from other Amrit Dharis and went through great sacrifices to preserve this rehit while he was in jail for 16 years.
Eating from Amrit Dharis who prepare food while reading Gurbani allows a Sikh to stay in good sangat and also enforces a level of simplicity and discipline in their life.
Whatever level of practice an individual interprets is right for them, a Gursikh should at least observe the minimum. The reason Gursikhs increase the level of observing Rehit is only to strengthen their mind, to avoid it wandering while in connection with the Divine and to improve concentration. If these Rehits (or any other) are kept for any other reason (for show etc) they become a hindrance to us and slow down progression, which in return becomes hypocrisy (pakhand) and ego. This is the reason why a lot of Gursikhs keep their personal Rehit discreet, to avoid collision with ego.
While compiling Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Gurbani was written in Gurmukhi script in a continuous chain system of writing, where all the words in a line are joined together. This is known as lareedaar. Having coming to this world directly from Vaheguru, Gurbani’s true and correct reading as well as understanding is obviously beyond the limited capacity of most people. Even today, in spite of the hard efforts of the top Sikh scholars to decide on the correct reading of Gurbani, there are about 500-700 words where they have not been able to reach a consensus (on how to correctly break-up words). While there is such confusion existing, it is inappropriate to print Padh Chedh Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib which will contain mistakes. Our Guru is beyond mistakes and it is inappropriate to insert mistakes into our Guru.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib is not merely a Holy Book. Had it been so, it would have been alright to print or write it in any way one likes. Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the Satguru – the True Guru – under whose benevolent care and protection, the Khalsa Panth has been placed by the Satguru himself. If we really believe in the True Guruship of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, then it follows as an obvious corollary that the Satguru will himself remove our ignorance and will bless us with the true wisdom enabling us to read Gurbani correctly. Breaking up the words using our own “Mat” or thinking is not correct. It is better for the reader or paathi to make mistakes while reading rather than for there to be mistakes in the Guru.
The first volume of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, compiled by Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji, was written in continuous form with all the words in a line joined to one another. Later, the Bir on which Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji formally invested the Guruship for all times to come, was also written in the same way. On this basis, until recently, Sri Guru Granth Sahib was written or printed in the same way. Some effort is definitely needed to enable the beginner in read Gurbani printed in such a way but such difficulties are always faced by beginners in every new field of knowledge. Until only a few decades ago, when the so-called literacy level was also low, devout Sikhs living even in remote villages were able to read Gurbani printed in such a way by following a systematic methodology, i.e., first practicing difficult Banis from Gutkas and Pothis under the guidance of certain learned and devout Gianis or Granthis. Only after they developed some amount of confidence in their reading of Bani, they used to be introduced to the reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in a formal ceremony – Gurcharni Lagna – after saying Ardas or prayers. Now, when the literacy percentage as well as the level of education is reported to have increased, we are finding difficulties in reading from Sri Guru Granth Sahib printed in joined or continuous system (lareedaar). This difficulty is the result of the complacency of many who do not want to take even small efforts as Gursikhs in the past used to do. The reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib to Sikhs has become a very low priority.
Today, the Akhand Kirtani Jatha places a special emphasis on doing Amrit Sanchaars only in front of Lareedaar Saroop of Guru Sahib and also only doing Sri Akhand Paath Sahibs from Lareedaar Saroop.
In conclusion, the Jatha hopes that the panth embraces Lareedaar Saroop in the future for all Gurdwara Sahibs. Padh Chedh Saroops have caused a weakness in the panth where paathis are not truly fluent in Gurbani as well as the fact that padh-chedh of Gurbani is certainly done incorrectly hundreds of times, thus bringing faults into Guru Sahib by inserting our own thinking into the printing of Guru Sahib saroops. May Guru Sahib bless the panth with a new generation of paathis who can conduct Lareedaar Sehaj Paaths and Lareedaar Akhand Paaths.
Naam Dhrir is a practice that is mostly unique to the Akhand Kirtani Jatha. It is when the Punj Pyareh during the Amrit Sanchaar ceremony teach the seeker of Amrit the technique of how to “Jap Naam” (recite the name of God). This practice is also referred to as “Swaas Swaas Simran”
Gurbani talks about Swaas Swaas Simran time and time again. There are many shabads, for example:
ਸਾਸ ਸਾਸ ਸਾਸ ਹੈ ਜੇਤੇ ਮੈ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਰੇ ॥
ਸਾਸੁ ਸਾਸੁ ਜਾਇ ਨਾਮੈ ਬਿਨੁ ਸੋ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਸਾਸੁ ਬਿਕਾਰੇ ॥੭॥
“With as many breaths as I have, I chant the Naam, under Guru’s Instructions. Each and every breath which escapes me without the Naam – that breath is useless and corrupt. ||7||”
(SGGS – Ang 980)
Gurbani says “Gurmat Naam”, meaning Naam in accordance to the Guru’s instructions. So what are the Guru’s instructions? This is discovered at the Amrit Sanchaar. However, sadly the reality today is that people take Amrit and then ask others like Sants and Holy men “How do we Jap Naam?” They should not ask others. The Guru is Great. If the Guru gives GurMantar then he also has given a technique of how to Jap it.
Gurmat Naam is bestowed to the Sikh when one receives Amrit from the Panj Piyaare (5 initiated Sikhs who are the physical representation of the Guru) in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Gurbani gives the hints that when a seeker receives Naam from the Guru in the form of the Panj Pyaare then the Panj Pyaare place their hands on the head of seeker and make the devotee repeat Naam:
ਮੇਰੈ ਹੀਅਰੈ ਰਤਨੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹਰਿ ਬਸਿਆ ਗੁਰਿ ਹਾਥੁ ਧਰਿਓ ਮੇਰੈ ਮਾਥਾ ॥
ਜਨਮ ਜਨਮ ਕੇ ਕਿਲਬਿਖ ਦੁਖ ਉਤਰੇ ਗੁਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦੀਓ ਰਿਨੁ ਲਾਥਾ ॥੧॥
“(When) the Guru placed His hand on my forehead, the Jewel of the Lord’s Name came to abide within my heart. (Whoever) the Guru has blesses with Naam, the Name of the Lord, their sins and pains of countless incarnations are cast out and the debt (of sins) is paid off. ||1||”
(SGGS – Ang 696)
ਸਮਰਥ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਿਰਿ ਹਥੁ ਧਰ੍ਯ੍ਯਉ ॥
ਗੁਰਿ ਕੀਨੀ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦੀਅਉ ਜਿਸੁ ਦੇਖਿ ਚਰੰਨ ਅਘੰਨ ਹਰ੍ਯ੍ਯਉ ॥
“The All-powerful Guru placed His hand upon my head. The Guru was kind, and blessed me with the Lord’s Name. Gazing upon His Feet, my sins were dispelled.”
(SGGS – Ang 1300)
ਮੈ ਸੁਖੀ ਹੂੰ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥
ਗੁਰਿ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਵਸਾਇਆ ॥
ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਪੁਰਖਿ ਵਿਖਾਲਿਆ ਮਸਤਕਿ ਧਰਿ ਕੈ ਹਥੁ ਜੀਉ ॥੯॥
“I have obtained the comfort of spiritual comforts. The Guru has implanted the Word of the Shabad deep within me. The True Guru has shown me my Husband Lord when He has placed His Hand upon my forehead. ||9||”
(SGGS – Ang 73)
Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji, contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh Jee, records the 10th Guru’s instruction in his Rehatnama:
ਗੁਰੂ ਕਾ ਸਿਖ ਸਾਸ ਸਾਸ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਉਚਾਰ ਕਰਦਾ ਰਹੈ ॥
“The Guru’s Sikh with each and every breath (‘Saas Saas’) should keep uttering ‘Vaheguru’.”
(p. 105, Piara Singh Padam – ‘Rehatnamay’)
Naam Dhrir was a concept that was lost in much of the Panth but was preserved in some places. Prem Sumaarag Granth, an old puraatan rehitnama describes it in the 4th dhiaaai or section. Bhai Mani Singh’s bhagat ratnaavalee describes how Guru Nanak did Naam Dhrir on two Sikhs when they were initiated. The Sau Sakhee also mentions how Guru Gobind Singh taught this method. The book “Jeevan Sant Baba Attar Singh jee” by Sant Teja Singh MA has a section on “naam” which gives historical details on Naam Dhrir. Sant Teja Singh was a prominent Sikh leader and a close associate of Sant Attar Singh Jee. In the book, Sant Teja Singh writes the following:
“The method of reciting naam (naam japan dee jugath) has been passed down from Gursikh to Gursikh. But this daas has only seen it written in two places. In Sau Sakhi its says that Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj tells Mata Jeetho Ji that the tip of the tounge (jeeb di teesy), with force (jOr naal), should touch the roof of the mouth (thaloo naal), and at all times keep saying Waheguru Waheguru.
Shaheed Bhai Mani Singh, the one who sat and listened to the recitation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji by Sri Guru Gobind Singh himself, in Bhai Gurdas Ji’s ‘yarwee waar’ in ‘sheeha thay gajan dee sakhee’, has written that when our breath goes in we should say ‘Wahe’ and when our breath goes out we should say ‘guru’”
Through this method, Naam vibrates through every pore of one’s being and brings one closer to the blessed Darshan of Vaheguru. It is ideal to engage in naam abhyaas in the transformative environment of sadhsangat. Only with the Guru’s grace does this opportunity arise.
A Gursikh reading Gurbani does so in a “shudh” or correct manner when Gurbani is read with the correct pauses (bisraams) and “bindeeyaan” (a grammatical tool used to indicate nasal sounds and when certain letters such as “sussaa” should be pronounced in a secondary way). It is much easier for someone listening to the paath to understand when the paath is read correctly.
The Jatha believes that Gurbani should not be just read how it is written. There are some words that are spelled the same but adding a bindi or nasal sound changes the meaning. One of these words appears on ang 137 in the pangti: ਨਾਵੈ ਧਉਲੇ ਉਭੇ ਸਾਹ ॥ The word ਸਾਹ here means breath while the same word appears spelled the exact same way on ang 855 ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹੁ ਅਚਰਜੁ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਮੇਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਸਚੇ ਸਾਹ ਕਾ. In the second pangti the word ਸਾਹ means king and is pronounced with a bindi like ਸ਼ਾਹ. It would be incorrect to pronounce it as ਸਾਹ as it would change the meaning.
Other examples include ਮਹਲਾ ੧, ਮਹਲਾ ੨, ਮਹਲਾ ੩, ੪, ੫ we read this as ਮਹਲਾ ਪਹਿਲਾ, ਦੂਜਾ, ਤੀਜਾ, ਚੌਥਾ, ਪੰਜਵਾ) and not as ਮਹਲਾ ਇੱਕ, ਮਹਲਾ ਦੋ, ਮਹਲਾ ਤਿੰਨ, ਮਹਲਾ ਚਾਰ, ਮਹਲਾ ਪੰਜ
For ਮ:੧ , ਮ:੨ , ਮ: ੩ we read it as ਮਹਲਾ ਪਹਿਲਾ, ਦੂਜਾ, ਤੀਜਾ. We do not read them as ਮੰਮਾ ਇੱਕ, ਮੰਮਾ ਦੋ, ਮੰਮਾ ਤਿੰਨ
An example from the English language is the word Sugar. Those that know the English language well know to pronounce it as shugar, and not as as sugar. Those that do not have any knowledge on the English language but can only read the language would pronounce it as sugar which is incorrect.
It is common for certain letters to have two unique sounds. For example, the Ghughaa letter in the word “Singh” is pronounced differently than the same letter in the word “Ghar” (home). In the same way, the letter “sussaa” is pronounced usually as “s” but sometimes it is also pronounced as “sh”.
There are banis such as Sidh Gosht which is a dialogue between Guru Nanak Dev Jee and Yogis. It defies common sense that Guru Nanak Dev Jee would speak to the Yogis while failing to pronounce the correct nasal sounds and while failing to consistently pronounce the “sussaa” letter correctly while speaking to the Yogis in their language, considering that the Yogis spoke with underneath “bindeeyaan” which included sometimes pronouncing the “s” sound as “sh”.
Bhai Randhir Singh was strongly in favour of not reading Gurbani “as written”. In his book “Gurbani diyaan Laga Matra dee Vilakhanta”, he wrote several times about the need to add the correct nasal sounds and “bindeeyaan” to words that do not have them.
Other famous Gursikhs in the Panth such as Sant Gurbachan Singh Bhindrawale advocated the usage of bindia as well and did not read Gurbani simply as it is written. He taught his students where to add nasal sounds, adhaks, tippia etc. Evidence of this can be found in his book Gurbani Paat Darshan/Darpan.
To read Gurbani as it is written defies common sense in many cases. For example in the shabad:
ਠਾਕੁਰੁ ਲੇਖਾ ਮਗਨਹਾਰੁ ॥
His Lord and Master shall ask for his account.
The word ਮਗਨ means absorbed but in this line that word would not make any sense. The word ਮੰਗਨ with a tippi means to ask and that is the word that makes sense in this line. So to add bindia, nasal sounds, tippia, adhakhs is common sense in many cases in order for Gurbani to be pronounced correctly.
The Jatha was a group of Gursikhs who lived simple lives as householders who got together and did Kirtan. They were not trained raagees, so they sang simple tunes. Simple tunes are used so that even young children and beginners can sing Kirtan. Not everyone can become a skilled raag kirtani overnight and others don’t have time to learn due to other responsibilities, so simple tunes are those, which are based on raag, and can be learnt by all without much problem.
The tradition of simple tunes in panth has been there since the start. Hence the tradition of Chaunkees and JoTeean shabads. Same with Parbhaat Fayrees. At Darbaar Sahib, at certain times in the day, the Sangat go in the parkarma and sing shabads together in simple tunes or JoTees. This is a puraatan maryada and at certain times of the day it happens. It happens at Bangla Sahib, Patna Sahib and other Gurdwaras too. This maryada has carried on from puraatan (old) times. At Nagar Keertans, a puraatan (old) tradition, sangat sings together in simple tunes.
Much of Gurbani has no raag whatsoever including Jap Jee Sahib along with many other Banis. The main thing is to sing Gurbani with love. Many Gursikhs such as Bhai Randhir Singh reached amazing spiritual heights by singing Gurbani in a simple but loving way. Keertan sung with love by a keertanee who is connected to Vaheguru is most important.
Many prominent kirtanis in the Akhand Kirtani Jatha in the past such as Giani Amolak Singh were well-versed in raag Kirtan. Even today, Kirtan done at AKJ programs and smagams is usually a mix of Kirtan done in simple tunes as well as Kirtan done in raag.
Some Gursikhs have a difference in opinion on the length of Mool Mantar. This is not a serious issue and it’s more important to actually do recitation of Mool Mantar rather than fixating over debates on its length.
Nevertheless, most Gursikhs in Akhand Kirtani Jatha believe that Mool Mantar is until “Gurprasaad” (up until which point, the various qualities of god are described) and then “Jap” is the name of the Bani of Jap Jee Sahib and then “Aadh Such Jugaadh Such…” is a slokh similar to how it is a slokh that comes up (in a slightly different form) in Sukhmani Sahib.
The AKJ is a Panthic organisation that follows the Panthic Maryada sanctioned by Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib. The Panthic Maryada says: The Benti Chaupai of the tenth Guru (beginning “hamri karo hath dai rachha” and ending with “dusht dokh te leho bachai”).
In the 1920s, after the panth had finally taken control of our Gurdwaras back from Mahants, the panth went to work on a written “Rehit Maryada” to provide a document which explained the basic practices of a Sikh. At this time, the panth decided collectively that Chaupai Sahib was to end at “Dusht Dokh Tai Leho Bachaaee” as the tuks (lines) afterwards refer to the completion of Charitropakhiyan and were not recited by Guru Gobind Singh Jee when Chaupai Sahib was first revealed. Whereas all of the Bani up until ”Dusht Dokh Tai Leho Bachaaee” fits into the Bani’s theme of a “Benti” (request) to god, the 26th pauree onwards no longer contains Bentis.
As mentioned above, it becomes clear after reading the Bani that the subject matter of the first 25 pauris of Chaupai Sahib is different from the rest of the pauris. The 26th pauri is talking about how by the kirpa of Vaheguru, Guru Jee has completed the Charitropakhiyan Granth. It does not pertain to Chaupai Sahib. Chaupai Sahib as proved by Giani Harbans Singh and other scholars, was written independently just as another Chaupai “Main na Ganesha pritham Manaayoo” and the Shabad “Deh Shiva Bar Mohe Ihai” are independent of the overall compositions of Guru Sahib that they are written in. Similarly, the 10 svaiyaas in Nitnem are an extract from the larger Bani known as Sri Akaal Ji Ki Ustat , but the 10 svaiyas in Nitnem are in themselves complete, just like the 6 pauris of Anand Sahib read in Sodar Rehras Sahib are complete. Similarly, we only read the first verse of Chandi Di Vaar for Ardaas, not the complete Chandi Di Vaar.
Chaupai Sahib does not contain the Svaiyaa and Dohra we read in Sodar Rehraas Sahib which come immediately after Chaupai Sahib. These are verses that are found in other parts of Dasam Granth.
In conclusion, Gursikhs from Akhand Kirtani Jatha follow the decision of the panth that Chaupai Sahib ends at “Dusht Dokh Tai Leho Bachaaee” for the reasons outlined above.
There is sometimes a confusion as to why Gursikhs read Rehraas Sahib of different lengths. The last thing the Panth should be divided on is Gurbani, whether it is in Mool Mantar or Rehraas. Far too many youth who just have devotion to read more Bani are being misled to think that only a particular version of Rehraas Sahib is acceptable or right. There was a time when everyone read the same Rehraas. Overtime Gursikhs attached extra shabads as part of their own abhyaas (practice). If these Gursikhs were prominent, then when they passed away, their followers made their routine an inadvertent maryada (tradition).
In the early 20th century, the Panth came together on what is the basic Rehraas for the panth to follow. The Rehraas included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib was used a base and Chaupai Sahib (along with a Svaiya and Dohra), six-pauree Anand Sahib and Mundavni were also added. Rehraas Sahib is a dynamic bani and its length can be flexible but no one should doubt that any reading of Rehraas equal to or above what is prescribed by the panth is acceptable for a Sikh to read. Gursikhs are free to add Bani to the Rehraas Sahib decided upon by the panth if they wish to do so as a part of their personal preferences. However, all Gursikhs should respect the Panthic Rehraas and should not claim that only a particular longer version of Rehraas Sahib is acceptable or correct as doing so is harmful to panthic unity (togetherness).
The Akhand Kirtani Jatha is an inseparable and invaluable part of the Khalsa Panth. The Jatha’s purpose is to provide Sikhs around the world with Sangat (companionship with enlightened souls), just like any other Jatha or group within the greater Khalsa Panth. The Jatha organizes Kirtan Smagams in dozens of cities around the world, spreading the transformative power of lovingly sung Gurbani to all. The Jatha also has a strong focus on the Sikh lifestyle or Sikh Rehit. The Sikh lifestyle was embodied in Bhai Randhir Singh, a revolutionary freedom fighter who also rose to the highest of spiritual heights. Bhai Randhir Singh (lovingly referred to as Bhai Sahib), was a revolutionary, an author, a poet and a saint.
The Jatha (group) was started in the late 1800s, when Mata Gulab Kaur, a spiritually enlightened Gursikh woman asked Bhai Randhir Singh to re-invigorate the Khalsa Panth with Kirtan. For a long time, the Jatha did not have an official name. In the past, it was often referred to as the “Waheguru Singhs”. In one such text, this was because people would say that everywhere these Gursikhs went, they would walk, talk, work, sleep, with Waheguru resounding around them. Other names for the Jatha have included the Nirban Kirtani Jatha and “Bhai Randhir Singh da Jatha”.
The name AKJ only became common when Bhai Randhir Singh started doing Kirtan in all of the historical Gurdwaras. It was when Bhai Sahib started doing his marathon non-stop kirtan sessions that the name Akhand Kirtani Jatha (non-stop kirtan group) became prominent and was used often by the SGPC officials and the historical Gurdwaras where they performed Kirtan. This was how the name Akhand Kirtani Jatha came into existence. Bhai Sahib never named the Jatha and only referred to it as ‘the Jatha’, a name commonly used in India, which means a group. The name was started by Parbandaks and managers of the Gurdwaras; later it got registered in the 1970s, as was the case with most panthic groups. Today it is a worldwide organization which spreads the message of Shabad Guru, and considers itself a part of the Khalsa Panth and not a separate entity.
Gursikhs from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha believe that Sikhi is an all-absorbing element of a Sikh’s life. From the Amrit Vela hours until one goes to sleep, Naam and Gurbani should be central throughout. Sadhsangat and in particular, kirtan done in sadhsangat is a central element of the lifestyle promoted by the Jatha. Most Gursikhs affiliated with the Akhand Kirtani Jatha strive to increase their nitnem above and beyond the minimum and many follow Gurmat teachings such as dietary bibek. You can learn more about the lifestyle of Gursikhs from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha by reading books such as The Autobiography of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh or Rangle Sajjan.
A uniformity of beliefs within the Khalsa Panth is unfortunately not a reality at the present time. In fact, we can see that Sikhs did not have a uniform set of beliefs as far back as the early 18th century when amazing Gursikhs such as Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and other Gursikhs from his time who also received Amrit during the time of Guru Gobind Singh Jee, had disagreements as well. However, Gursikhs have always found ways to be united around what we share.
Being a part of a group or jatha can be a helpful part of one’s spiritual journey as long as the sangat in that group or jatha helps focus one’s attention on meeting Vaheguru.
Our loyalty to the Khalsa Panth trumps any allegiance to the Akhand Kirtani Jatha or any individual organization. During much of the 18th century, the Khalsa Panth was divided into “Misls” but these Misls would put aside their differences and come together whenever the Panth needed them. In the same way, the Jatha is always at the mercy of the overall Panth and is always willing and eager to come together for the Chardi Kala of the panth when called upon. Older Jatha Gursikhs decry the sad state of affairs today where some youth who are part of one jatha must also be opposed to those from another jatha. As long as the various segments of the Khalsa Panth love one another as brothers and sisters and work together, Jathas are a valuable tool for sangat and Sikhi parchaar (propogation). More effort can be made from all Jathas to ensure the unity and chardi kala of the panth. Recent efforts in this regard were made by Gursikhs from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha in the UK.
The AKJ does not have a membership system. We believe that all Sikhs belong to the Khalsa Panth and that any allegiance to a particular organization is wholly secondary. However, the AKJ is an international jatha spanning many countries and it is an inseparable part of the Khalsa Panth.