Tankhahnamâ Rehitnama

The Tankhahnama (or Nasihatnama) is a three page rehitnama document written in Punjabi. Different versions of the document exist and they differ in length and content. The document has been a very important rehitnama throughout history which is indicated by the large amount of manuscripts that are scattered all over Punjab as well as the interest the British showed in this document as they translated it back in 1849.

The rehitnama is a didactic document and via a Q & A session between the Guru and the poet the document outlines the various rules and responsibilities that a Sikh and a Singh are to follow. In spite of its brief length it covers a wide range of topics such as the duties and privileges of the Khalsa, doctrine and devotion, dress and outward appearance, bathing and personal hygiene, crime, social relationships, sexual morality, charity, the sangat and the Guru Granth Sahib, rituals, weapons and warfare etc. The climax of the Tankhahnama comes with the theme of the Khalsa military prowess and its eventual attainment of sovereignty. This is echoed in contemporary Sikh practice in the ardas prayer, where the lines "Raj karega Khalsa" are a direct quotation from the Tankhahnama of Bhai Nand Lal.

According to the document, the point of departure for all rehit is the concept of Nâm, dhân and ishnân (Spiritual practice, giving charity and mental purity of mind). A Sikh is never to commit acts that violate these basic principles laid out by Guru Nanak. The document then in short and simple sentences lays out the various rules that are to be obeyed by the practising Sikhs. The first few lines are reproduced below:

Listen to what I say, Nand Lal. These are the deeds required of a Sikh: Let him perform only deeds which are in accordance with the threefold rule of Meditating on the Divine Name, giving charity and personal purity. Let him who does not regularly attend the satsang be regarded as a grievous offender. He who attends but lets his mind wander will find no peace. He who talks while listening to the kirtan is bound for Yam’s abode (ie. Cycle of reincarnation). He who refuses to have a poor person sit beside him should be roundly condemned as an offender. He who utters the divine Word without understanding gains nothing.

The document is interesting as the final lines prophesize the future Khalsa Raj of the Sikhs wherein all subjects will be regarded as equals and be protected from external confrontation by the Singhs. It is no wonder that the lines Raj Karega Khalsa are heralded from this document and sung aloud by pious Sikhs worldwide.


An early 18th-19th century manuscript of the Tankhahnama.

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