What Are the Four Cardinal Commandments of Sikhism?

What Are the Four Major Mandates Against Misconduct?

Panj Pyare leading a procession
Panj Pyare, leading a procession at Wolverhampton. (J Singh/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0)

The Sikh code of conduct is called Sikh Rahit Maryada (SRM) and stipulates four major mandates, or cardinal commandments, for the baptized Sikh which are mandatory after being initiated as Khalsa. The initiate must refrain from:

  • Hajaamat – Dishonoring, removal, or alteration, of any hair on the body, face, or scalp.
  • Halaal – Eating of flesh especially that killed in the manner of sanctioned sacrificial slaughter as proscribed in Islamic law.
  • Haraam – Adulterous relations with the spouse of another. Relations with a Muslim woman for whom consequence might be the death penalty for consorting outside of marriage or Islam.
  • Hukaa – Use of tobacco and other intoxicants.

Repercussions

If any one of these four mandates is breached, it is considered to be a major misconduct. In order for the offender to be reinstated into the good graces of the congregation, the transgression must be rectified. The transgressor must appear for confession and chastisement before the panj pyara, the five administers of the Amrit initiation ceremony.

Policy of Reinstatement

The policy of reinstatement for the transgressor involves the penalty of chastisement called Tankhah, and is meted out for a designated number of days on an individual basis, and make take the form of:

  • Community service, such as shoe seva, (cleaning shoes of the congregation).
  • Assigned reading or recitation of a particular selection of scripture such as is found in Nitnem, the Sikh daily prayerbook.