Sikh History & Personalities

Was meat served in Langar during the period of the first two Gurus?

There a Saakhi (account) which claims that when Guru Amar Daas Ji first met Guru Angad Dev Ji, Guru Ji invited his daughter’s father-inlaw (Baba Amar Daas Ji) to eat Langar. Rice and daal (lentils) were first served, then “maha-parshaad” was served. Baba Amar Daas Ji said to himself, “I have never eaten meat before, if I do, where does this leave my dharma?” Baba Ji thought to himself that, if this Guru is perfect and all-knowing he will tell the sevadaars (volunteers) to not serve him the meat. Guru Angad Dev Ji told the sevadaars to not offer Baba Amar Daas Ji “maha-parshaad”. Hearing this, Baba Amar Daas Ji’s faith in Guru ji was affirmed and he fell at the feet of Guru Ji.

The above Saakhi of meat being served in langar of Guru Angad Dev Ji first appeared in Mehima Parkaash Vaartak whose author and the year it was written are unknown though it is sure that it was written in later part of 18th century. This granth (scripture) is heavily based on Mehima Parkaash Kav of Saroop Daas Bhalla, a descendent of Guru Amar Daas Ji, with some more saakhis such as the meat one added into it. The Saakhi of meat does not appear in original Mehima Parkaash.

The same Saakhi is retold by Kavi Santokh Singh in Sooraj Parkaash. Kavi Santokh Singh had mainly used five sources to write his Sooraj Parkaash and one of them was Vaartak Mehima Parkaash. Bhai Sahib Vir Singh and Bhai Satbir Singh also copied this saakhi from the same source. ‘Saada Itihaas Part 1’ by Bhai Satbir Singh in which this saakhi appears is provided with the reference of Mehima Parkaash with no name of the author. Bhai Satbir Singh wrote only half of the saakhi which to means that he did not accept the other half.

Saakhis were added deliberately to justify meat eating which became common among Sikhs after the Misls took over Panjab. This is similar to adding saakhis to Guru Sahib’s name to justify cannabis, jhatka etc. Prior to 1765, evidence of Sikhs eating meat is very scarce if any. There are numerous historic events from first half of 18th century that make it clear that eating meat was not practiced by the Sikhs.

If we assume that Mehima Parkaash Vaartak was written in 1780 and this is the first time the saakhi appeared in history then one cannot but doubt the authenticity of it since how did the author who was too scared to mention his name in the entire text came to know of this unknown sakhi 228 years after Guru Sahib’s Jyoti Jot? To say that Guru Amar Daas Ji stopped meat in langar is also wholly incorrect but even if we assume this is true then it goes to show that it was Guru Angad Dev Ji himself in form of Guru Amar Daas Ji who stopped serving or eating meat because Guru Amar Daas Ji was the same jyot as his predecessor and had full authority to make any changes. To distinguish one Guru from another in principle is contrary to Gurmat and Guru Gobind Singh Ji calls such people fools in Dasam Granth. Although it is clear in Gurbani that meat eating is against Gurmat but it also cannot be justified based on historical evidence.