What is ‘Dietary Bibek Rehit’ and why are some Sikhs strict about who prepares the food they eat?

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In Sikhi, there is an important concept known as ‘bibekta’. Bibek literally means from two to one. Bibek is a God-given conscience that allows a Sikh to discriminate between right and wrong, i.e. knowing what is good and what is bad.

Not only is Bibekta applied in a Sikh’s everyday life – for example, knowing it is wrong to cut one’s hair or that it is right to do Nitnem (daily prayers)  in the morning – but it can also be applied to what one eats. Bujjar Kurehats (cardinal prohibitions) and other Rehat Maryada (Code of Conduct) rules come into play here.

ਬਾਬਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਖੁਸੀ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥
ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਤਨੁ ਪੀੜੀਐ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
“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)

Keeping Bibek Rehit for eating is not a Rehit made up by individual Sikhs or a group of Sikhs. All Gursikhs keep Bibek Rehit for eating to some degree or another.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji states:

ਜਾਕੀ ਰਹਿਤ ਨ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਗੁਰਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਨਹੀ ਚੀਤ ||
ਉਨਕਾ ਭੋਜਨ ਖਾਇਕੈ ਬਿਸਰਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਉ ਪ੍ਰੀਤ ||
“One who has no Rehit (discipline) and does not meditate on the Gurmantar (given by the Panj Pyaare when one receives khande-di-pahul); If you eat their food, you will loose the love for God.”
(Rehitnama Bhai Chaupa Singh)

Baba Jarnail Singh eating Langar prepared by Amritdharis.

Baba Jarnail Singh eating Langar prepared by Amritdharis.

A ‘Bibeki’ is a person who adheres strictly to and regulates his life in accordance with the Guru’s commandments. One who truly loves Guru Ji will follow his commandments since it is dearer to Guru Ji than the Sikh itself. That Sikh has truly offered his head to Guru Ji, who only lives to please Guru Ji. However, this rehit will be of no use if one does not maintain Amritvela, perform daily Naam Abhiyaas (practice of repeating the Divine-Name), and keep humility and sincerity, otherwise keeping Bibek will just promote ego.

Gurbani clearly states:

ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਚੇਤਨੀ ਤਿਨ ਧਿਗੁ ਪੈਨਣੁ ਧਿਗੁ ਖਾਣੁ ॥੧॥
“O Nanak! Those who do not contemplate the Naam, the Name of the Lord – cursed are their clothes, and cursed is their food. ||1||”
(Ang 646)

Naam is given during initiation. So Guru Ka Langar or food that Gursikhs eat pertains to food prepared by people who have taken Amrit and received Naam.

Story of Bheesham Pitama

In accordance to Hindu mythology, Draupadi asked the saint Sant Bheesham Pitama, why he had not come to her rescue when she was stripped of her clothing in Duryodan’s court. She queried him, saying that if he was a saint, why did he not raise his voice when evil was going on before his very eyes in Duryodana’s court. He started to cry and said, “Daughter, I shall tell you the truth; my mind became clouded by darkness as I had eaten in Duryodan’s house.”

Therefore, this shows how the love of God breaks away from a being as their mind becomes clouded by filth and prevents them from performing good deeds.

Gurbani says:

ਸਲੋਕ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ॥ ਚੋਰਾ ਜਾਰਾ ਰੰਡੀਆ ਕੁਟਣੀਆ ਦੀਬਾਣੁ ॥
ਵੇਦੀਨਾ ਕੀ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਵੇਦੀਨਾ ਕਾ ਖਾਣੁ ॥
ਸਿਫਤੀ ਸਾਰ ਨ ਜਾਣਨੀ ਸਦਾ ਵਸੈ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥
“Salok, First Mehl: Thieves, adulterers, prostitutes and pimps (i.e. immoral people) make friendships with the unrighteous and eat the food prepared from the unrighteous. Those people do not know the value of the Lord’s Praises (i.e. their internal Naam Jaap stops), and Satan (desires, anger, greed, emotional attachment, and ego) takes residence in the mind.”
(SGGS – 790)

Note: According to Gurbani those who drink alcohol are ‘husbands of prostitutes’ (ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਮਦੁ ਜੋ ਪੀਵਤੇ ਬਿਖਲੀ ਪਤਿ ਕਮਲੀ || Ang 399); those who don’t Jap Naam are called ‘murderers’ of the soul (ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਜਪਹਿ ਤੇ ਆਤਮ ਘਾਤੀ ||੧|| Ang 188); those who eat meat are called ‘thieves’ (ਸਿੰਘਚ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਜੋ ਨਰੁ ਜਾਨੈ || ਐਸੇ ਹੀ ਠਗਦੇਉ ਬਖਾਨੈ ||੨|| Ang 485).

Story of Bhai Lalo Ji and Malik Bhago

The bread of Bhai Lalo Ji and Malik Bhago

The bread of Bhai Lalo Ji and Malik Bhago

During Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s time, there was someone named Bhai Lalo Ji who earned his living by honest work. Bhai Lalo Ji once got lunch for Guru Nanak Dev Ji and his companion, Bhai Mardana Ji to have. Bhai Mardana Ji asked, “This meal tastes like nectar. What has been put in it?” Guru Nanak Dev Ji replied, “That was the taste of truthfulness and honesty that you tasted. This taste is above the taste of worldly delicacies.”

There was a high government official of the city called Malik Bhago who gave a general feast and also welcomed Guru Nanak Dev Ji. However, Guru Ji refused the invitation and said, “We are fakirs, what have we to do with your feast?” He was then asked again; therefore, Guru Nanak Dev Ji took Bhai Lalo Ji with him and went to Malik Bhago. Malik Bhago said furiously to Guru Ji, “You are dishonouring Kshatriyas by eating dry chapaties in the house of a low caste carpenter. My feast will offer you delicious food. Why do you refuse to eat it?”

Guru Nanak Dev Ji then took Bhai Lalo’s chapati and Malik Bhago’s fried sweet pancake. When he squeezed Bhai Lalo’s chapati milk dripped out from it but when he squeezed Malik Bhago’s fried pancake, blood dripped out from it.

Guru then said, “Look Malik Bhago, wealth gathered by cruelty and corruption towards the poor is like sucking their blood which you have done. You had invited me to partake of blood, leaving food pure as milk. How could I accept it?” This showed that Bhai Lalo was the symbol of honesty and hard work.

Therefore, the story shows how food from the faithless cynic is nothing but poison, just how Gurbani mentions that Maya is just like sugarcane which is sweet from the outside but inside Maya is just poison which only leaves pain in the end.

ਸੰਤਨ ਕਾ ਦਾਨਾ ਰੂਖਾ ਸੋ ਸਰਬ ਨਿਧਾਨ ||
ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਸਾਕਤ ਛਤੀਹ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਰ ਤੇ ਬਿਖੂ ਸਮਾਨ ||੨||
“The dry bread of the Gurmukh-Saints is equal to all treasures. The thirty-six tasty dishes of the faithless cynic are just like poison.”
(SGGS – 811)

Story from the early life of Guru Amar Daas Ji

Gurbani says:

ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਈ ਨਿਗੁਰੇ ਕਾ ਹੈ ਨਾਉ ਬੁਰਾ ||੧੩||
“Without Satguru, there is no Guru at all; one who is without a Guru has a bad name (i.e. has no honour).”
(Ang 435)

Before Guru Amar Daas Sahib Ji became the third Nanak, he met a Saadhu (holy man) who once ate in his house. On leaving, when the Saadhu realised that Baba Amar Daas Ji was without a Guru, the Saadhu became angry and told Baba Amar Daas Ji that, by eating with him, he the Sadhu had lost all his spiritual wealth which he had earned after many years of meditation. Baba Amar Daas Ji cried the whole night. This shows that if one eats from someone who is without a Guru (has not taken amrit) and does not recite the Gurmantar, one looses their profit of Naam. So how can they ever cross over? By eating by someone who is unrighteous, they too become unrighteous.

When we eat from a faithless cynic, this affects our Naam. It influences the five vices and thinking. Just as when people say, “you are what you eat” due to physical health, this also includes for our spirituality.

Sai Mai Mir Ji and Guru Arjan Dev Ji

Sai Mia Mir was very close to Guru Arjan Dev Ji. However, Guru Sahib didn’t even consume food from Sai Mian Mir even though they were very close since Sai Mian Mir was a Muslim (non-Sikh). Sai Mian Mir prepared different utensils to be used for Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Ji for cooking and eating food from. Whenever Guru Sahib and his Sikhs stayed over with Sai Mian Mir ji, these utensils were used to cook and eat langar from. Also, even different utensils were used to cook food for Guru Arjan Dev ji and Guru Sahib’s sewadars. This proves that Sikhs and Guru Sahib himself did not take food cooked from those who were not Sikhs.


Story of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and Bhai Dayaal Daas

One day Guru Gobind Singh Ji went to Bhai Dayaal Daas’ ( descendant of Baba Aadam Ji) village and told Bhai Sahib to take Amrit. Bhai Sahib did not take Gurus Hukum seriously and ignored the request. Some time went by and Bhai Sahib had a strong desire to meet Guru Sahib at Sri Damdama Sahib. When approaching Guru Sahib he greeted Guru Sahib but Guru Ji ignored him. Bhai Raam Singh a devoted servant of Guru Sahib asked Guru Sahib why he had ignored Bhai Dayaal Daas knowing that he was descedenent of a Gurmukh (Baba Aadam Ji ) who served the fourth Guru. Guru Sahib responded “He is without a Guru, he has not taken Amrit”. Dayaal Daas responded “I am a Sikh. Sikhi has been in my family since the fourth Guru. I don’t smoke, drink or eat meat. I dont cut my hair”. Still Guru Sahib did not embrace him.

Bhai Ram Singh Ji told Dayal Das “We will be apporaching your village in some time prepare langar for the Guru.” When Guru Ji approached the village ( Bhuchey) Guru Sahib’s horse was thirsty. There was a nearby pond in the village; however, Guru Sahib’s horse did not drink from the pond. When the Sangat asked Guru Ji as to why the horse refused the water from the pond. Guru Sahib said that in this village there is a ‘nigura’ .

Dayaal Daas then requested Guru Sahib to come to his house and bless the langar. Guru Sahib responded:

ਅਸੀਂ ਮਰਯਾਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਪਕ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤੀ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਬੇਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਈਏ ਦੇ ਘਰ ਚਰਣ
ਨਹੀ ਪਾਉਣੇ ਨਾ ਉਸ ਦੀਭੇਟਾ ਤੇ ਨਾ ਲੰਗਰ ਹੀ ਪ੍ਰਵਾਨ ਕਰਨਾ ਹੈ
“I have made the Maryada firm that I will not bless the home of a non-Amritdhari, and neither accept their offerings or Langar.”
(Gurpartap Surya – translated into Punjabi by Baba Katar Singh Bhindranwale: pg 229, Khalsa Jeeva athe Gurmat Maryada)

Meaning the food can be only blessed if prepared by a Sikh of the Guru. Guru Sahib further stated:

ਸਿਖ ਉਹੋ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਹੈ ਹੁਕਮ ਮੰਨੇ , ਹੁਕਮ ਮੰਨ ਤਾ ਸੇਵਾ ਪ੍ਰਵਾਨ ਹੋਵੇਗੀ
“He is a Sikh who obeys the Gurus Hukum. One’s service is only accepted if they accept the Gurus Hukum.”
(Gurpartap Surya – translated into Punjabi by Baba Katar Singh Bhindranwale: pg 229, Khalsa Jeeva athe Gurmat Maryada)

Guru Sahib then quoted the following Gurbani line:

ਸਲਾਮੁ ਜਬਾਬੁ ਦੋਵੈ ਕਰੇ ਮੁੰਢਹੁ ਘੁਥਾ ਜਾਇ ॥
“One who greets but then doest obey has gone astray from the start.”
(Ang 474)

Meaning their greeting is insincere.

Non-Sikh Historical Sources

Historical evidence of Dietary 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”)

Story of Baba Jarnail Singh Ji (BhindranWale)

During the Dharam Yudh Morcha Baba Ji visited the city of Phagwara for an event. Baba Ji had been in Phagwara since the morning, the Sangat requested Baba Ji to eat Langar however he declined. Later on in the day, the Sangat pleaded again that Baba Ji eat Langar as he had not eaten anything since the start of the morcha (protest). Baba Ji replied, “Is this ‘Guru-Ka-Langar’ or ‘Mil-Goba Langar’?” ‘Milgoba’ means mixed, confused or doubtful. Baba Ji went on to say, “If it is Guru-Ka-Langar I will eat it.” The Sangat realised what Baba Ji meant and returned back without having served food to Baba Ji.

Prem Sumarg Granth states:

ਸਭ ਤੇ ਬੁਰਾ ਖਾਣਾ ਜੁ ਹੈ ਸੋ ਬੇਮੁਖ ਦਾ ਹੈ ਸਮਝਿ ਖਾਏ ॥
“The worse food is to eat food knowing its been prepared by one who has turned their face away from the Guru.”


Gurbani supporting Dietary Bibek

  1. ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨਾ ਜੋ ਪਹਿਰੈ ਖਾਇ || ਜਿਉ ਕੂਕਰੁ ਜੂਠਨ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਇ ||੧||
    “Without the Naam, one who dresses and eats well is like a dog, who falls in and eats impure foods. ||1||”  (Gauree M:5, 240)
  2. ਸੰਤਨ ਸਿਉ ਮੇਰੀ ਲੇਵਾ ਦੇਵੀ ਸੰਤਨ ਸਿਉ ਬਿਉਹਾਰਾ ||
    “My dealings are with the Saints (i.e. Gursikhs), and my business is with the Saints (i.e. Gursikhs).”
    (Sorath M:5, p. 614)
  3. ਕਬੀਰ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਦੂਰਹਿ ਜਾਈਐ ਭਾਗਿ || ਬਾਸਨੁ ਕਾਰੋ ਪਰਸੀਐ ਤਉ ਕਛੁ ਲਾਗੈ ਦਾਗੁ ||੧੩੧||
    “Kabeer, do not associate with the faithless cynics; run far away from them. If you touch a vessel stained with soot, some of the soot will stick to you.”
    (Salok Bhagat Kabeer Ji, p. 1371)
  4. ਸੰਤਨ ਕਾ ਦਾਨਾ ਰੂਖਾ ਸੋ ਸਰਬ ਨਿਧਾਨ || ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਸਾਕਤ ਛਤੀਹ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਰ ਤੇ ਬਿਖੂ ਸਮਾਨ ||੨||
    “The dry bread from the (homes of the) Gurmukhs is equal to all treasures. The thirty-six tasty dishes from (the home of) the faithless one, are (known to be) just like poison.”
    (Bilaval M:5, p. 811)
  5. ਊਤਮ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਊਤਮੁ ਹੋਵੈ|| ਗੁਣ ਕਉ ਧਾਵੈ ਅਵਗਣ ਧੋਵੈ ||
    “In the uplifting society, one is uplifted. He chases after virtue and washes off his sins.”
    (Aasa M:1, p. 414)
  6. ਨਾਨਕ ਕਚੜਿਆ ਸਿਉ ਤੋੜਿ ਢੂਢਿ ਸਜਣ ਸੰਤ ਪਕਿਆ ||
    “O Nanak! Break away from the false, and seek out the Saints, your true friends.”
    (Maaroo M:5, p. 1102)
  7. ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਈ ਨਿਗੁਰੇ ਕਾ ਹੈ ਨਾਉ ਬੁਰਾ ||੧੩||
    “Without the True Guru, there is no Guru at all; one who is without a Guru has a bad reputation.”
    (Aasa M:3, p. 435)
  8. ਬਾਬਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਖੁਸੀ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥
    ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਤਨੁ ਪੀੜੀਐ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
    “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||”
    (Siree Raag M:1, p 16)
  9. ਸਲੋਕ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ॥ ਚੋਰਾ ਜਾਰਾ ਰੰਡੀਆ ਕੁਟਣੀਆ ਦੀਬਾਣੁ ॥
    ਵੇਦੀਨਾ ਕੀ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਵੇਦੀਨਾ ਕਾ ਖਾਣੁ ॥ ਸਿਫਤੀ ਸਾਰ ਨ ਜਾਣਨੀ ਸਦਾ ਵਸੈ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥
    “Salok, First Mehl: Thieves, adulterers, prostitutes and pimps (i.e. immoral people) make friendships with the unrighteous and eat the food prepared from the unrighteous. Those people do not know the value of the Lord’s Praises (i.e. their internal Naam Jaap stops), and Satan (desires, anger, greed, emotional attachment, and ego) takes residence in the mind.”
    (Soohee M:1, p. 790)
  10. ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਚੇਤਨੀ ਤਿਨ ਧਿਗੁ ਪੈਨਣੁ ਧਿਗੁ ਖਾਣੁ ॥੧॥
    “O Nanak! Those who do not contemplate the Naam, the Name of the Lord – cursed are their clothes, and cursed is their food. ||1||”
    (Sorat’h M:3, p. 646)
  11. ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਨਹੀ ਪੀਆ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਭੂਖ ਨ ਜਾਈ ||
    ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੂੜ੍ਹ ਜਲਤ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੀ ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਈ ||
    ਆਵਤ ਜਾਤ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ਦੁਖਿ ਲਾਗੈ ਪਛੁਤਾਈ ||
    ਜਿਸ ਤੇ ਉਪਜੇ ਤਿਸਹਿ ਨ ਚੇਤਹਿ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਜੀਵਣੁ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਖਾਈ ||੧||
    “One who has never drunk Amrit, the Ambrosial Nectar, by Guru’s Grace – their thirst and hunger (of the world) are not relieved. The foolish self-willed manmukh continues to burn in the fire of egotistical pride; they suffer painfully in egotism. Coming and going in reincarnation, they waste their life uselessly; afflicted with pain, he regrets and repents. Such people do not even remember the One, from whom they originated. Cursed is their life, and cursed is their food and drink. ||1||”
    (Malaar M:4, p. 1265)
  12. ਅਭਖੁ ਭਖਹਿ ਭਖੁ ਤਜਿ ਛੋਡਹਿ ਅੰਧੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਜਿਨ ਕੇਰਾ ॥
    “They eat the uneatable; they reject and abandon what they could eat. They have a teacher who is blind.”
    (Malaar M:1, p. 1290)
  13. ਸੀਲੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਸੁਚ ਭੰਨੀ ਖਾਣਾ ਖਾਜੁ ਅਹਾਜੁ ॥
    “Humility, self-control and purity have run away; people eat the uneatable, forbidden food.”
    (Saarang M:1, p. 1243)
  14. ਜੇ ਓਇ ਦਿਸਹਿ ਨਰਕਿ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਤਾਂ ਉਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਕਾ ਦਾਨੁ ਨ ਲੈਣਾ ॥ ਦੇਂਦਾ ਨਰਕਿ ਸੁਰਗਿ ਲੈਦੇ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਧਿਙਾਣਾ ॥
    “If you see them going to hell, then do not accept charitable gifts from them. Look! it is injustice that the giver goes to hell, while the receiver goes to heaven.”
    (Malaar M:1, p. 1290)
  15. ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨਾ ਜੋ ਪਹਿਰੈ ਖਾਇ || ਜਿਉ ਕੂਕਰੁ ਜੂਠਨ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਇ ||੧||
    Without the Naam, one who dresses and eats well is like a dog, who falls in and eats impure foods. ||1||
    (Gauree M:5, p. 240)
  16. ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਪੰਖੀ ਭਇਓ ਉਡਿ ਉਡਿ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਜਾਇ ||
    ਜੋ ਜੈਸੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਸੋ ਤੈਸੋ ਫਲੁ ਖਾਇ ||੮੬||
    “Kabeer, the mind has become a bird; it soars and flies in the ten directions. According to the company it keeps, so are the fruits it eats. ||86||” (Salok Kabeer Ji, p. 1369)

 

Various Historical Rehitnamas (Codes of Conduct) regarding Dietary Bibek

  1. ਨੜੀ ਮਾਰ, ਸਿਰ ਗੁੰਮ, ਕੁੜੀ-ਮਾਰ ਨਾਲ, ਰੋਟੀ ਬੇਟੀ ਦਾ ਨਾਤਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਰੱਖਣਾ | (ਰਹਿਤਨਾਮਾ ਭਾਈ ਨੰਦ ਲਾਲ ਜੀ)
    “Those who consume any intoxicant, cut their hair, or those who kill their baby-daughters – do not keep the relationship of eating from food from them or marriage with them.”
    (Rehitnama Bhai Nand Lal Singh Ji)
  2. 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)
  3. 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)
  4. ਪਰ ਤਿਸ ਸਮੇਂ ਸਿਖ ਆਹੇ ਜਤੀ ਸਤੀ ਰਹਿਤਵਾਨ।
    ਪੰਜ ਪੰਜ ਸੱਤ ਸੱਤ ਦਿਨ ਭੁਖੇ ਰਹਿਨ ਪਰ ਐਲਾ ਮੈਲਾ ਧਾਨੁ ਨ ਖਾਨ।
    ਤਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਸਿਖਾਂ ਦੇ ਤਪ ਕਰਿ ਤੁਰਕਾਂ ਦਾ ਹੋਇਆ ਨਾਸੁ।
    ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਸਿਖਾਂ ਦੇ ਤਪ ਭਜਨ ਸੀਸ ਦੇਣੇ ਕਰਿ ਖਾਲਸੇ ਜੀ ਦਾ ਹੋਣਾ ਹੈ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸੁ ।੫੪।
    (ਬੰਸਾਵਲੀਨਾਮਾ)
    “The Sikhs of those times were Rehatvaan. They would stay hungry for many days because they would not eat food which was not considered Bibek. It is because of such penance (staying hungry to stay within Hukam) that the enemy was defeated and it is the sacrifices made by these spiritually trained  Gursikhs that will give birth to the glory of Khalsa.”
    (Bansaavalinama)
  5. ਜੋ ਨਿਗੁਰੇ, ਅਣਪਾਹੁਲੀਏ ਨਾਲ ਵਰਤੇ, ਸੋ ਭੀ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ|
    “Whoever associates with a Nigura (one who has not accepted a Guru) and one who has not taken ‘Pahul’ (Amrit) – they are liable for Thankhaah.”
    (Rehatnama: Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji, p. 99)
  6. ਜਾਕੀ ਰਹਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਗੁਰਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਨਹੀ ਚੀਤ|| ਉਨਕਾ ਭੋਜਨ ਖਾਇਕੈ ਬਿਸਰਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਉ ਪ੍ਰੀਤ||
    “One has no Rehat (spiritual discipline) and doesn’t contemplate on the GurMantar (given by the Panj-Piaare). Eating from such a person you will forget the love of God.”
    (Rehatnama: Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji)
  7. ਗੁਰ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਕੀਨੀ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਮਨਮੁਖੀ ਦੁਹੇਲਾ ||
    “The Khalsa associates with the Guru’s Sangat (company), whilst the Manmukhs (those who do not obey the Guru) remain in duality.”
    (Bhai Gurdas II, court poet of Guru Gobind Singh Ji)
  8. ਮੀਣਾ ਅੋਰ ਮਸੰਦੀਆ, ਮੋਨਾ, ਕੁੜੀ ਜੋ ਮਾਰ ਹੋਇ ਸਿਖ ਵਰਤਨ ਕਰਹਿ ਅੰਤ ਕਰੇਗਾ ਖੁਆਰ |੬|
    “(The followers of) Minas or Masands, ‘Mona’ (cut-haired person), or one who kills their daughter – if a Sikh associates with these then at the end he will be disgraced.”
    (Rehatnama: Bhai Prahlad Singh Ji, p. 64)
  9. ਰਹਿਤ ਏਹੀ ਹੈ ਜੋ ੧ ਮਸੰਦੀਏ ੨ ਧੀਰਮ੍ਨਲੀਏ ੩ ਰਾਮਰਾਈਏ ੪ ਸਿਰ ਮੁੰਡਤ – ਇਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨਾਲ ਵਰਤਣਾ ਨਹੀਂ |
    “This is the Rehat that whoever is a follower of 1) Masands, 2) Dhir Mal, 3) Ram Rai, or 4) is has their hair cut – do not associate with them.”
    (Rehatnama: Bhai Prahlad Singh Ji, p. 69)
  10. ਜੋ ਨਿਗੁਰੇ, ਅਣਪਾਹੁਲੀਏ ਨਾਲ ਵਰਤੇ, ਸੋ ਭੀ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ |
    “Whoever associates with a Nigura (one who has not accepted a Guru) and one who has not taken ‘Pahul’ (Amrit) – they are liable for Thankhaah.” (Rehatnama: Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji, p. 99)


Different Levels of Bibek:

In Amrit Sanchaars (initiation ceremonies) the Panj Piaare give the clear directive: “ਖਾਲਸਾ ਦੇ ਰੋਟੀ ਬੇਟੀ ਸਾਂਝ ਖਾਲਸੇ ਨਾਲ ਹੈ |” (“The Khalsa keeps the relation of dining and marriage within the Khalsa”) which has been passed down in oral Rehat since 1699. It is noteworthy that although an Amritdhari Gursikh does not eat cooked or prepared foods from a non-Gursikh, this does not apply to raw ingredients.

The Panthic Sikh Rehit Maryada also states conditions on who not to keep social relationship of food and marriage (Roti Beti di Saanjh) with:

੧. ਮੀਣੇ, ਮਸੰਦ, ਧੀਰਮੱਲੀਏ, ਰਾਮਰਾਈਏ, ਆਦਿਕ ਪੰਥ ਵਿਰੋਧੀਆਂ ਨਾਲ ਜਾਂ ਨੜੀ ਮਾਰ, ਕੁੜੀ ਮਾਰ, ਸਿਰਗੁੰਮ ਨਾਲ ਵਰਤਣ ਵਾਲਾ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ ਹੋ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ |
“1. Anyone maintaining relations or communion with elements antagonistic to the Panth including the minas (reprobates), the masands (agents once accredited to local Sikh communities as Guru’s representatives, since discredited for their faults and aberrations), followers of Dhirmal or Ram Rai, et. al, ‘Narhee-maar’ (users of tobacco or intoxicants), ‘Kurhee-maar’ (killers of female infants) or a ‘Sirgum’ (one who has cut hair), shall be liable to punishment (‘Thankhaah’).”
(SRM: Chapter XIII, Article XXIV)

The above line in the Sikh Rehat Maryada has a footnote that states:

ਵਰਤਣ ਤੋਂ ਭਾਵ ਰੋਟੀ-ਬੇਟੀ ਦੀ ਸਾਂਝ ਹੈ, ਜਿਸ ਦਾ ਸਪਸ਼ਟ ਅਰਥ ਰਿਸ਼ਤਾ-ਨਾਤਾ ਕਰ ਕੇ ਬਰਾਦਰੀ ਦਾ ਸੰਬੰਧ ਪੈਦਾ ਕਰਨਾ ਹੈ | ਗੁਰੁ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦਾ ਭਾਵ ਪੰਥ ਨੂੰ ਇਕ ਕਰ ਕੇ ਰਖਣ ਦਾ ਸੀ ਤਾਂਕਿ ਵਖਰੇ ਗੁਰਿਆਈ ਦੇ ਸੈਂਟਰ ਜਾਂ ਮਿਲ-ਗੋਭਾ ਸਿਖੀ ਦੇ ਅਡੇ ਨਾ ਬਣਨ |
“This means Roti-Beti dee saanjh (sharing relations via eating food and marriage), which in a clearer sense means social boycott. The reason for Guru Ji for this Rehat was to keep the Panth united and one so that different centres of Guruship and different version of washed-down Sikhi do not get made.”

From the above, it is clear that a Sikh eats from fellow Sikhs. As a Sikh cannot eat from tobacco users or those who cut their hair it follows that a Sikh cannot eat from restaurants or places where non-Sikhs or at least people with cut hair or who smoke prepare the food. Those Sikhs who eat only from Amritdharis avoid any situation of violating the Rehit (code of conduct) as per the Akal Takht’s Rehit Maryada.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji states:

ਸੁਣ ਗੁਰਸਿੱਖ ਕੀ ਰਹਿਤ ਕੋ ਤਜੇ ਤਮਾਕੂ ਸੰਗ || ਮਰਣੀ ਮਰੈ ਤੌ ਅਤਿ ਭਲਾ ਜਗਤ ਜੂਠ ਨਹਿ ਅੰਗ ||
(ਭਾਈ ਨੰਦ ਲਾਲ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ)
“Listen to the Rehit of a Gursikh who comes in contact with tobacco – it is better to die than to touch the world pollutant drug (tobacco).”
(Rehitnama Bhai Nand Laal Singh Ji)

Bhai Nand Lal Singh Ji states:

ਨੜੀ ਮਾਰ, ਸਿਰ ਗੁੰਮ, ਕੁੜੀ-ਮਾਰ ਨਾਲ, ਰੋਟੀ ਬੇਟੀ ਦਾ ਨਾਤਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਰੱਖਣਾ | (ਰਹਿਤਨਾਮਾ ਭਾਈ ਨੰਦ ਲਾਲ ਜੀ)
“Those who consume any intoxicant, cut their hair, or those who kill their baby-daughters – do not keep the relationship of eating from food from them or marriage with them.”
(Rehitnama Bhai Nand Lal Singh Ji)

Kavi Santokh Singh (1787-1853), the infamous Sikh poet and historian, writes in Sooraj Parkash Granth:

ਤਨਕ ਤਮਾਕੂ ਸੇਵੀਏ ਦੇਵ ਪਿੱਤ੍ਰ ਤਜਿ ਜਾਇ ॥
ਪਾਨੀ ਤਾਂ ਕੇ ਹਾਥ ਕਾ ਮਦਰਾ ਸਮ ਅਘ ਦਾਇ ॥ 22॥
ਮਦਰਾ ਦਹਿਤਾ ਸਪਤਿ ਕੁਲ ਭੰਗੁ ਦਹੈ ਤਨ ਏਕ ॥
ਸ਼ਤ ਕੁਲ ਦਹਿਤਾ ਜਗਤ ਜੂਠ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਦਹੈ ਅਨੇਕ ॥ 23॥
“Those that consume even a minuscule amount of tobacco are disowned in the afterlife by their ancestors and drinking water from such a person is similar to drinking alcohol. By drinking alcohol seven generations are exterminated and by consuming Bhang/marijuana the body is destroyed. The person who consumes tobacco exterminates one hundred generations and many generations go to hell because of gossiping.”

By even accepting water from a smoker is similar to drinking alcohol! What a bold statement Kavi Santokh Singh has made here. If just accepting water from a smoker is similar to drinking alcohol, then one could only imagine how much one would suffer for letting such a person make their food. Now people may use the argument that if the person is not a smoker it is okay, but this is also not true. Guru Sahib has listed four Bujjar Kurehat’s, no one Bujjar Kurehat is worse than the other. Thus, eating from a smoker is the same as eating from a meat eater, someone who cuts their hair, or an adulterer.

Sikhs must abstain from alcohol and tobacco, that is a given. Arguments ignored, most Sikhs also agree that it is against Sikhi to consume meat, fish, or eggs. Gurbani clears up all doubts and clearly prohibits the slaughter and eating of animals. Dr. Ganda Singh, a 20th century famous Sikh historian, collected historical edicts and commands written by the Guru Sahibs and published them in his book “Hukamnamas”. On page 64-65 a photograph of the Sixth Nanak, Guru Hargobind Sahib’s Hukamanama (edict) is given with a translation of it in Punjabi:

Historical edict hand written by Guru Hargobind Ji.

The Hukamnama clearly states:

ਮਾਸ ਮਛੀ ਦੇ ਨੇੜੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਆਵਣਾ |
“Do not come near (i.e. consume) meat and fish.”
(Hukamnama of 6th Guru found at Sri Harimandir Sahib, Patna Sahib)

So the most basic Bibek Rehat a Sikh can keep is to abstain from meat, fish, eggs, foods with animal derivatives, alcohol, tobacco, and non-medicinal drugs. Also not eating from the hands of smokers.

There are varying levels of Bibek. There are also other rehats, depending on how strict an individual wishes to be and how much of Guru Sahib’s maryada they are able to follow. These rehats include:

* Eating cooked food from Amritdharis’ hands exclusively
* Not eating any processed or machine made foods
* Eating food only prepared in Sarabloh (Iron/Carbon Steel) by Amritdharis

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 Rehat is only to strengthen their mind, to avoid it wandering whilst 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.

“..so amid the general corruption of the religion of Gobind there are to be found about one hundred Sikhs at Naderh in the Dakhan
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8 Responses to “What is ‘Dietary Bibek Rehit’ and why are some Sikhs strict about who prepares the food they eat?”

  1. Ravinder Kaur says:

    The shabad quoted relating to eating meat…is this from Guru Granth Sahib? if so please say what page. Thanks

  2. admin says:

    The quote about meat and fish is from a historical Hukamnama (edict) issued by Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, the sixth Guru. This Hukamnama and other historical documents written by the Sikh Gurus has been published in a book by SGPC historian, Professor Ganda Singh. The book name is “Hukamnamey”.

  3. Bikram Singh says:

    Waheguruji ka khalsa waheguruji ki fateh.
    Veerji after amritpaan I also stopped eating anything from outside. I would not East even packed food items including cold drinks. But I am a government servant and recently posted in UP province. In up almost everyone is tobocco user I am forced to eat from dhsbhas where food is cooked by tobacco users. My thoughts have been effected by this food I can clearly see the difference. What should I do I can’t prepare foods myself. Ardas karoji

  4. admin says:

    Dear brother,

    Why cannot you prepare your own food? Can you not cook your own daal, sabjee and parshaada? If not, learn! It is important for both Singhs and Kaurs to know how to cook. How else can we say “DEGH tegh fateh”

    You can always eat fruit, raw vegetables and nuts (wash before eating to ensure tobacco traces are washed away) for lunch. You can buy bottled water that has been bottled by machines in a factory. You can get snacks made by your family or another Gursikh like pinneeaaN, mithiaaeeN, seernee or mattree.”

    Hope that helps

    SikhAnswers Team

  5. Khalsa ji says:

    Chardikla ji

  6. Pritpal Singh says:

    Waheguru ji ka khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh…
    Gurudawara vich jayda tar jeo langar de sewa kar rahe hunde heo clean shave hunde edha te apne vichar rakho ji…

  7. Gurpreet kaur says:

    Waheguru Ji ka khalsa
    Waheguru Ji ki Fateh

    Veerji very good Upprala Ji.. .I am amritdhari..strictly restrained from eating meat , eggs etc. I have heard about eat bibek..but bit confused about it…you have given excellent examples.but one doubt…is it wrong to eat Langar from gurdawara Sahib? Because there also the Sangat who prepares Langar or do sewa are not all amritdhari
    ..secondly Langar da Bhogg vi lagda hai…if guruji can eat then why can’t we?
    I am not contradicting eat bibek…it is really good…and me too preparing My mind for it…but I have this confusion???

    Gurpreet Kaur
    Bhopal (m.p) India.

  8. Admin says:

    Dear Gurpreet Kaur,

    If Langar is prepared and served in accordance to Maryada, then one should eat it. If it is not, then there should be no guilty feeling for not eating it.

    Gurur Ji only accepts and eats what is made in accordance to Maryada.

    “Rehat Pyaaree Mujh Ko, Sikh Pyaara Naahe.”

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