Rehat Maryada

How does a Sikh greet another Sikh?

The Panthic Sikh Rehit Maryada (Section Four, Chapter X, Article XVI) states:

“r. A Sikh, when he meets another Sikh, should greet him with “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh” (Rendered into English: The Khalsa is Waheguru’s; victory too is His !). This is ordained for Sikh men and women both.
Bhai Desa Singh Ji (a contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh Ji) writes in a Rehitnama:

ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਨਿਤ ਬਚਨ ਉਚਾਰੇ ॥ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਕੋ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਧਾਰੈ ॥
ਆਗੇ ਆਵਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੁ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਕੀ ਫਤੇ ਬੁਲਾਵੈ ॥
“He repeats the True Name of ‘Waheguru’ (Wondrous Lord) daily. He enshrines Waheguru in his heart. Whenever he sees another Singh approaching at a distance. He greets him with ‘Waheguru Jee Ka Khalsa! Waheguru Jee Kee Fateh!!’

In Kushvakat Rai’s ‘Tavaareek Sikhaa(n)’ it is says:
ਇਵਜ਼ਿ ਕਲਮਾ-ਇ-ੲੋਸਲਾਮ ਫਤਹ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਮੁਕੱਰਰ ਕਰਦ
“A Singh seeing another Singh says ‘Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh”.

It was also ordered that the Sikh receiving the greeting of ‘Fateh’ should reply back with “Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh”. Responding with ‘Sat Siree Akaal’ instead of ‘Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh’ is not Gurmat but rather a cultural practice. When two Sikhs meet one another and greet one another by sharing the ‘Fateh’, then ‘Waheguru’ (Wondrous Lord) comes four times comes from the mouth.

In ‘Bhagat Ratnaavlee’, Bhai Mani Singh, the contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and scriber of the Sri Damdami Bir writes what Guru Gobind Singh Ji says in regards to saying the greeting of ‘Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh’:

ਜੋ ਕੋਈ ਸਿੱਖਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਅੱਗੋਂ ਦੇ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫਤਹ ਬੁਲਾਂਵਦਾ ਹੈ , ਉਸ ਵੱਲ ਮੇਰਾ ਮੁੱਖ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਹੈ ॥
ਅਰ ਜੋ ਪਿਛੋਂ ਹੌਲੀ ਜਹੇ ਬੁਲਾਂਵਦਾ ਹੈ , ਉਸ ਵੱਲ ਮੇਰਾ ਸੱਜਾ ਮੁਢਾ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਹੈ ।
ਅਰ ਜੋ ਪਿਛੋਂ ਹੌਲੀ ਜਹੇ ਬੁਲਾਂਵਦਾ ਹੈ , ਉਸ ਵੱਲ ਮੇਰਾ ਖੱਬਾ ਮੁਢਾ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਹੈ ।
ਜੋ ਨਹੀਂ ਬੁਲਾਉਂਦਾ , ਉਸ ਵੱਲ ਮੇਰੀ ਪਿੱਠ ਹੁੰਦੀ ਹੈ ।
“Whoever sees a Sikh and says ‘Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh’, my face will be facing them.
The person who says Fateh from behind, my right shoulder will be towards them.
The person who says Fateh in a very quiet voice, my left shoulder shall face them.
The person who does not say Fateh [to another Singh/Singhni], my back is turned to them.”

Zakhriya Khan who was the Mughal Governor of Panjab told the Afghan Invader Nadar Shah about the Sikh distinctive tradition and practice:

ਰਾਮ ਰਾਮ ਸਲਾਮ ਨ ਰਟਤੇ ,
ਗੱਜ ਕਰ ਫਤਹ ਗਜਾਤੇ ।
“They do not say ‘Raam Raam’ (like the Hindus) or say ‘Salaam’ (like Muslims);
Like thunder they roar ‘Fateh’.”

The Sikh greeting of Victory, ‘Fateh’, (as described in the Sikh Rehat Maryada), holds a feeling of optimism and chardikala. First of all through the ‘Fateh’ (Sikh greeting of Victory), faith in the Immortal Power, Waheguru, is born in the mind. Having ‘vishvaas’ or faith in Waheguru is very important:
ਜਾ ਕੈ ਰਿਦੈ ਬਿਸ੍ਵਾਸੁ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਆਇਆ ॥
ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਤਿਸੁ ਮਨਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਾਇਆ ॥
” One whose heart is filled with faith in Waheguru the essence of spiritual wisdom is revealed to his mind. “
(Gaurri Sukhmani M:5, Ang 265)

After this the Khalsa is mentioned who fully follows the Sikh Path and Principles. To reach to the full-state of the Khalsa, Guru Nanak Ji had to come in ten bodies (Das Saroop). In the Tenth body, the unique form of the Khalsa was fully complete. Guru Ji went as far as to say that the Khalsa is my Guru. The Khalsa is manifests a positive and chardikala appearance as well as virtues.

In the first part of the ‘Fateh’ the connection between the Khalsa and Waheguru is established. The Khalsa is Waheguru’s. ‘Khalsa’ means ‘Pure’, by becoming which one can be a ‘complete Gursikh’.

In the second part of the ‘Fateh’ illustrates an optimistic view-point. Saying “The Victory belongs to Waheguru’ is a tool of positive thinking which has been blessed to us by our Father, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. By Saying ‘Fateh’ it becomes necessary to achieve Victory and success. The biggest Victory is to control our lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego.

The ‘Fateh’ can be used by anyone regardless of colour, caste, gender or nationality. It hold a universal principle that that the Pure ones belong to the Wondrous Lord and that all Victory whether it be internal or external belongs to the One Divine Lord.