Fools Who Wrangle Over Flesh

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King Singh

from . Clears up any nonsense about the meat versus vege debate in Sikhi.

Fools Who Wrangle Over Flesh



The authors of this paper (one a vegetarian and one meat eating Sikh) wrangled hard with their own common sense which told them, dont be a fool and start wrangling over an issue which our great Gurus dismissed as not worthy of discussion. We did however feel as amateur Sikh Historians and commentators on Sikh affairs that we should use our knowledge and experience to clarify what is such a controversial issue. This essay out to be objective as possible but we ourselves probably taking one side as we waded through the arguments and counter arguments produced by vegetarian and meat eating Sikhs. One thing that has incensed us is the use of incorrect History and mistranslation to back up arguments. It was these points that we felt needed clarification and we hope the reader will find that this essay does that.

Mistranslation and Misrepresentation of The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

Some of the tukhs of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that are often mistranslated are as follows:

1. Those mortals who consume marijuana, flesh and wine - no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib p1377)

2. You kill living beings and worship lifeless things, at your very last moment, You will suffer terrible pain. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib p332)

3. Do not say that the Vedas are false, false are those who do not reflect. If in all is one god, then why does one kill the hen ? (Sri Guru Granth Sahib p1350)

4. Bhagat Kabir says, that the best food is eating kichree (daal/lentils) where nectar sweet is the salt. You eat hunted meat, but which animal is willing to have their head cut ? (Sri Guru Granth Sahib p1374)

5. In this dark age of Kali Yuga, people have faces like dogs; They eat rotting dead bodies for food. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib p1242)

6. Falsehood is my dagger and to eat by defrauding is meat.
(Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Sri Raaj p24)

7. Avarice is a dog, falsehood the sweeper and cheating the eating of meat.
(Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Sri Raag p15)

Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

Let us analyse each one of these one by one.

1. Those mortals who consume marijuana, flesh and wine - no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib p1337)

In this instance let us firstly add the Gurmukhi with the English:

mukat padaarath paa-ee-ai thaak na avghat ghaat.
kabeer ayk gharhee aaDhee gharee aaDhee hooN tay aaDh.
bhagtan saytee gostay jo keenay so laabh. 232
kabeer bhaaNg maachhulee suraa paan jo jo paraanee khaaNhi.
tirath barat naym kee-ay tay sabhai rasaatal jaaNhi. 233
neechay lo-in kar raha-o lay saajan ghat maahi.
sabh ras khayla-o pee-a sa-o kisee lakhaava-o naahi. 234
aath jaam cha-usath gharee tu-a nirkhat rahai jee-o.
neechay lo-in ki-o kara-o sabh ghat daykh-a-u pee-o. 235
sun sakhee pee-a meh jee-o basai jee-a meh basai ke pee-o.
jee-o pee-o boojha-o nahee ghat meh jee-o ke pee-o. 236
kabeer baaman guroo hai jagat kaa bhagtan kaa gur naahi.
arajh urajh kai pach moo-aa chaara-o baydahu maahi.237
har hai khaaNd rayt meh bikhree haathee chunee na jaa-ay.
kahi kabeer gur bhalee bujhaa-ee keetee ho-ay kai khaa-ay. 238
kabeer ja-o tuhi saaDh piramm kee sees kaat kar go-ay.
khaylat khaylat haal kar jo kichh ho-ay ta ho-ay. 239
kabeer ja-o tuhi saaDh piramm kee paakay saytee khayl.
kaachee sarsa-uN payl kai naa khal bha-ee na tayl.240
dhooNdhat doleh anDh gat ar cheenat naahee sant.
kahi naamaa ki-o paa-ee-ai bin bhagtahu bhagvant. 241
har so heeraa chhaad kai karahi aan kee aas.
tay nar dojak jaahigay sat bhaakhai ravidaas. 242
kabeer ja-o garihu karahi ta Dharam kar naahee ta kar bairaag.
bairaagee banDhan karai taa ko bado abhaag. 243

He obtains the treasure of liberation, and the difficult road to the Lord is not blocked.
Kabeer, whether is is for an hour, half an hour, or half of that,
whatever it is, it is worthwhile to speak with the Holy. 232
Kabeer, those mortals who consume marijuana, fish and wine -
no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell. 233
Kabeer, I keep my eyes lowered, and enshrine my Friend within my heart.
I enjoy all pleasures with my Beloved, but I do not let anyone else know.234
Twenty-four hours a day, every hour, my soul continues to look to You, O Lord.
Why should I keep my eyes lowered? I see my Beloved in every heart. 235
Listen, O my companions: my soul dwells in my Beloved, and my Beloved dwells in my soul.
I realize that there is no difference between my soul and my Beloved; I cannot tell whether my soul or my Beloved dwells in my heart. 236
Kabeer, the Brahmin may be the guru of the world, but he is not the Guru of the devotees.
He rots and dies in the perplexities of the four Vedas. 237
The Lord is like sugar, scattered in the sand; the elephant cannot pick it up.
Says Kabeer, the Guru has given me this sublime understanding: become an ant, and feed on it. 238
Kabeer, if you desire to play the game of love with the Lord, then cut off your head, and make it into a ball.
Lose yourself in the play of it, and then whatever will be, will be. 239
Kabeer, if you desire to play the game of love with the Lord, play it with someone with committment.
Pressing the unripe mustard seeds produces neither oil nor flour. 240
Searching, the mortal stumbles like a blind person, and does not recognize the Saint.
Says Naam Dayv, how can one obtain the Lord God, without His devotee?

Taking out the sentence we see

kabeer bhaaNg maachhulee suraa paan jo jo paraanee khaaNhi.
Kabeer, those mortals who consume marijuana, fish and wine –

tirath barat naym kee-ay tay sabhai rasaatal jaaNhi. 233
no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell. 233
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

Firstly note that maachlee is not flesh, but is indeed fish. The word in Punjabi for flesh is maas. Then secondly one must ask, why is there a forbidding in the consumption of fish specifically. The answer lies in reading the entire paragraph and a picture emerges. In the last two lines the statement is made:

kabeer ja-o garihu karahi ta Dharam kar naahee ta kar bairaag.
Kabeer, if you live the householder's life, then practice righteousness; otherwise, you might as well retire from the world.

bairaagee banDhan karai taa ko bado abhaag. 243
If someone renounces the world, and then gets involved in worldly entanglements, he shall suffer terrible misfortune. 243
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

Now putting this in its entire context what Bhagat Kabir is actually criticising in the rich and those in power. The thrill seekers, who are addicted to their senses and those addicted to the 5 thieves. Kabir was born around the area of Benares, and was brought up in a poor Muslim weavers family. He saw the excesses of the rich around him, while the poor starved. Foods like fish and wine were associated with the rich who had an excessive disposable income. Marijuana was associated with either idol people or those who had time and money to waste. Kabir abhorred this, and this statement is a social comment about the excesses of the rich. At the end he clearly states, that those people who do their duties as householders (i.e. work hard, care for other etc) are the ones who will be liberated, and those who live by excesses will suffer. One cantherefore clearly see that this is in no way a comment about eating meat (because of mistranslation) or about avoiding certain foods (as has been misrepresented).

2. You kill living beings and worship lifeless things, at your very last moment, You will suffer terrible pain. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib p332)

Again let us put this into its correct context:

ik-oNkaar satgur parsaad.
jeevat pitar na maanai ko-oo moo-ayN siraaDh karaahee.
pitar bhee bapuray kaho ki-o paavahi ka-oo-aa kookar khaahee.
mo ka-o kusal bataavhu ko-ee.
kusal kusal kartay jag binsai kusal bhee kaisay ho-ee. rahaa-o.
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network
maatee kay kar dayvee dayvaa tis aagai jee-o dayhee.
aisay pitar tumaaray kahee-ahi aapan kahi-aa na layhee.
sarjee-o kaateh nirjee-o poojeh ant kaal ka-o bhaaree.
raam naam kee gat nahee jaanee bhai doobay sansaaree.
dayvee dayvaa poojeh doleh paarbarahm nahee jaanaa.
kahat kabeer akul nahee chayti-aa bikhi-aa si-o laptaanaa.

One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:
He does not honor his ancestors while they are alive, but he holds feasts in their honor after they have died.
Tell me, how can his poor ancestors receive what the crows and the dogs have eaten up?
If only someone would tell me what real happiness is!
Speaking of happiness and joy, the world is perishing. How can happiness be found?Pause
Making gods and goddesses out of clay, people sacrifice living beings to them.
Such are your dead ancestors, who cannot ask for what they want.
You murder living beings and worship lifeless things; at your very last moment, you shall suffer in terrible pain.
You do not know the value of the Lord's Name; you shall drown in the terrifying world-ocean.
You worship gods and goddesses, but you do not know the Supreme Lord God.
Says Kabeer, you have not remembered the Lord who has no ancestors; you are clinging to your corrupt ways.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

Quite clearly when put into context this is nothing to do with meat eating. What is being alluded to is Hindu sacrificial rituals (eg Anustarani where animals were sacrificed on the funeral pyre, ancestors or to deities. Yet the Brahmins who performed these rituals were themselves devout vegetarians. This is a comment about the futility of animal sacrifices to stone idols and dead ancestors. It is a comment on hypocrisy.

3. Do not say that the Vedas are false, false are those who do not reflect. If in all is one god, then why does one kill the hen ? (Sri Guru Granth Sahib p1350)

Again, let us put this into context:

bayd katayb kahhu mat jhoothay jhoothaa jo na bichaarai.
ja-o sabh meh ayk khudaa-ay kahat ha-o ta-o ki-o murgee maarai.
mulaaN kahhu ni-aa-o khudaa-ee.
tayray man kaa bharam na jaa-ee. rahaa-o.
pakar jee-o aani-aa dayh binaasee maatee ka-o bismil kee-aa.
jot saroop anaahat laagee kaho halaal ki-aa kee-aa.
ki-aa ujoo paak kee-aa muhu Dho-i-aa ki-aa maseet sir laa-i-aa.
ja-o dil meh kapat nivaaj gujaarahu ki-aa haj kaabai jaa-i-aa.
tooN naapaak paak nahee soojhi-aa tis kaa maram na jaani-aa.
kahi kabeer bhisat tay chookaa dojak si-o man maani-aa.

Do not say that the Vedas, the Bible and the Koran are false. Those who do not contemplate them are false.
You say that the One Lord is in all, so why do you kill chickens?
O Mullah, tell me: is this God's Justice?
The doubts of your mind have not been dispelled. Pause
You seize a living creature, and then bring it home and kill its body; you have killed only the clay.
The light of the soul passes into another form. So tell me, what have you killed?
And what good are your purifications? Why do you bother to wash your face? And why do you bother to bow your head in the mosque?
Your heart is full of hypocrisy; what good are your prayers or your pilgrimage to Mecca?
You are impure; you do not understand the Pure Lord. You do not know His Mystery.
Says Kabeer, you have missed out on paradise; your mind is set on hell.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

First point to note is that halaal and bismil, does not mean kill but refers to a specific form of ritual slaughter. Put into context this is a comment on the Muslim sacrifice ritual where either a goat or a chicken is kept in the confines of the home and then ritually slaughtered as obeisance to Abraham. Kabeer is mocking the futility of this ritual and saying, that why are you doing this sacrifice just to emulate Gods asking of Abraham to kill his only son? It is a futile gesture that will not sway God. Abraham was sacrificing his son to God, however all the sacrifice in this instance has achieved is destruction of the outer shell of the chicken. The soul wont travel to God, but merely to another form. One can only understand this if one has a basic grasp of history. In this instance the person who tried to use this tukh as an anti-meat quotation was unaware of the Koranic context and had an extremely poor knowledge of Semitic history.

4. Bhagat Kabir says, that the best food is eating kichree (daal/lentils) where nectar sweet is the salt. You eat hunted meat, but which animal is willing to have their head cut ? (Sri Guru Granth Sahib p1374)

Let us add this to the correct context:

oraa gar paanee bha-i-aa jaa-ay mili-o dhal kool.
kabeeraa Dhoor sakayl kai puree-aa baaNDhee dayh.
divas chaar ko paykhnaa ant khayh kee khayh.
kabeer sooraj chaaNd kai udai bha-ee sabh dayh.
gur gobind kay bin milay palat bha-ee sabh khayh.
jah anbha-o tah bhai nahee jah bha-o tah har naahi.
kahi-o kabeer bichaar kai sant sunhu man maahi.
kabeer jinahu kichhoo jaani-aa nahee tin sukh need bihaa-ay.
hamhu jo boojhaa boojhnaa pooree paree balaa-ay.
laagee chot maramm kee rahi-o kabeeraa tha-ur.
kabeer chot suhaylee sayl kee laagat lay-ay usaas.
chot sahaarai sabad kee taas guroo mai daas.
kabeer mulaaN munaaray ki-aa chadheh saaN-ee na bahraa ho-ay.
jaa kaaran tooN baaNg deh dil hee bheetar jo-ay.
saykh sabooree baahraa ki-aa haj kaabay jaa-ay.
kabeer jaa kee dil saabat nahee taa ka-o kahaaN khudaa-ay.
kabeer alah kee kar bandagee jih simrat dukh jaa-ay.
dil meh saaN-ee pargatai bujhai balantee naaN-ay.
kabeer joree kee-ay julam hai kahtaa naa-o halaal.
daftar laykhaa maaNgee-ai tab ho-igo ka-un havaal.
kabeer khoob khaanaa kheechree jaa meh amrit lon.
hayraa rotee kaarnay galaa kataavai ka-un.
kabeer gur laagaa tab jaanee-ai mitai moh tan taap.
harakh sog daajhai nahee tab har aapeh aap.
kabeer raam kahan meh bhayd hai taa meh ayk bichaar.
so-ee raam sabhai kaheh so-ee ka-utakhaar.
kabeer raamai raam kaho kahibay maahi bibayk.
ayk anaykeh mil ga-i-aa ayk samaanaa ayk.
kabeer jaa ghar saaDh na sayvee-ah har kee sayvaa naahi.
tay ghar marhat saarkhay bhoot baseh tin maahi.
kabeer goongaa hoo-aa baavraa bahraa hoo-aa kaan.
paavhu tay pingul bha-i-aa maari-aa satgur baan.
kabeer satgur soormay baahi-aa baan jo ayk.
laagat hee bhu-ay gir pari-aa paraa karayjay chhayk.
kabeer nirmal boond akaas kee par ga-ee bhoom bikaar.

The hail-stone has melted into water, and flowed into the ocean.
Kabeer, the body is a pile of dust, collected and packed together.
It is a show which lasts for only a few days, and then dust returns to dust.
Kabeer, bodies are like the rising and setting of the sun and the moon.
Without meeting the Guru, the Lord of the Universe, they are all reduced to dust again.
Where the Fearless Lord is, there is no fear; where there is fear, the Lord is not there.
Kabeer speaks after careful consideration; hear this, O Saints, in your minds.
Kabeer, those who do not know anything, pass their lives in peaceful sleep.
But I have understood the riddle; I am faced with all sorts of troubles.
Struck by the Mystery of God, Kabeer remains silent.
Kabeer, the stroke of a lance is easy to bear; it takes away the breath.
But one who endures the stroke of the Word of the Shabad is the Guru, and I am his slave.
Kabeer: O Mullah, why do you climb to the top of the minaret? The Lord is not hard of hearing.
Look within your own heart for the One, for whose sake you shout your prayers.
Why does the Shaykh bother to go on pilgrimage to Mecca, if he is not content with himself?
Kabeer, one whose heart is not healthy and whole - how can he attain his Lord?
Kabeer, worship the Lord Allah; meditating in remembrance on Him, troubles and pains depart.
The Lord shall be revealed within your own heart, and the burning fire within shall be extinguished by His Name.
Kabeer, to use force is tyranny, even if you call it legal.
When your account is called for in the Court of the Lord, what will your condition be then?
Kabeer, the dinner of beans and rice is excellent, if it is flavored with salt.
Who would cut his throat, to have meat with his bread?
Kabeer, one is known to have been touched by the Guru, only when his emotional attachment and physical illnesses are eradicated.
He is not burned by pleasure or pain, and so he becomes the Lord Himself.
Kabeer, it does make a difference, how you chant the Lord's Name, 'Raam'. This is something to consider.
Everyone uses the same word for the son of Dasrath and the Wondrous Lord.
Kabeer, use the word 'Raam', only to speak of the All-pervading Lord. You must make that distinction.
One 'Raam' is pervading everywhere, while the other is contained only in himself.
Kabeer, those houses in which neither the Holy nor the Lord are served â€"
those houses are like cremation grounds; demons dwell within them.
Kabeer, I have become mute, insane and deaf.
I am crippled - the True Guru has pierced me with His Arrow.
Kabeer, the True Guru, the Spiritual Warrior, has shot me with His Arrow.
As soon as it struck me, I fell to the ground, with a hole in my heart.
Kabeer, the pure drop of water falls from the sky, onto the dirty ground.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

At one level this is a mistranslation and at another misrepresentation of the context within which this is written:

kabeer khoob khaanaa kheechree jaa meh amrit lon.
Kabeer, the dinner of beans and rice is excellent, if it is flavored with salt.
hayraa rotee kaarnay galaa kataavai ka-un.
Who would cut his throat, to have meat with his bread?
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

In the above Gurmukhi, there is no mention of meat whatsoever. hayraa rotee kaarnay galaa kataavai ka-un, means literally, who would cut their own throat to eat food. The person who has tried to translate this has added his/her own spin .What this is actually saying is that to the follower of the Guru or one who has been touched by God a simple dish of Kheechree (lentils and rice), flavoured with salt is enough. To have something more exotic to eat you would not cut your own throat (the western equivalent would be to cut your own nose off to spite your face). In no way is this tukh anything to do with meat eating and the person who has misrepresented and mistranslated it should be held to account for his/her actions.

5.In this dark age of Kali Yuga, people have faces like dogs; They eat rotting dead bodies for food. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib p1242)

Again, let us put this into context:

salok mehlaa 1.
kal ho-ee kutay muhee khaaj ho-aa murdaar.
koorh bol bol bha-ukanaa chookaa Dharam beechaar.
jin jeevandi-aa pat nahee mu-i-aa mandee so-ay.
likhi-aa hovai naankaa kartaa karay so ho-ay.
Shalok, First Mehl:
In this Dark Age of Kali Yuga, people have faces like dogs; they eat rotting carcasses for food.
They bark and speak, telling only lies; all thought of righteousness has left them.
Those who have no honor while alive, will have an evil reputation after they die.
Whatever is predestined, happens, O Nanak; whatever the Creator does, comes to pass.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

At first glance one notices that this paragraph is clearly a metaphor for people who behave like dogs. The dog is a scavenger, hunts in packs, fights within its pack, eats practically anything it can find etc etc. This entire Ang talks about people greed and those that lack honour when they are alive.
The second point to note is the mistranslation. Murdaar is not the word for meat. Murdaar is a reference to people who are dead. In other words people are acting so much like dogs that when people have died they gather round to get as much as they can. A good analogy would be inheritance, where is some instances people try and contest them or try and grab for themselves as much as they can. In India, it has not been unusual to murder siblings of inheritance disputes. In fact the word Murder in the English language has come from the word Murdaar.

6. Falsehood is my dagger and to eat by defrauding is meat.
(Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Sri Raaj p24

Let us again see this in context:

sireeraag mehlaa 1 ghar 4.
ayk su-aan du-ay su-aanee naal.
bhalkay bha-ukahi sadaa ba-i-aal.
koorh chhuraa muthaa murdaar.
Dhaanak roop rahaa kartaar.
mai pat kee pand na karnee kee kaar.
ha-o bigrhai roop rahaa bikraal.
tayraa ayk naam taaray sansaar.
mai ayhaa aas ayho aaDhaar. rahaa-o.
mukh nindaa aakhaa din raat.
par ghar johee neech sanaat.
kaam kroDh tan vaseh chandaal.
Dhaanak roop rahaa kartaar.
faahee surat malookee vays.
ha-o thagvaarhaa thagee days.
kharaa si-aanaa bahutaa bhaar.
Dhaanak roop rahaa kartaar.
mai keetaa na jaataa haraamkhor.
ha-o ki-aa muhu daysaa dusat chor.
naanak neech kahai beechaar.
Dhaanak roop rahaa kartaar.

Siree Raag, First Mehl, Fourth House:
The dogs of greed are with me.
In the early morning, they continually bark at the wind.
Falsehood is my dagger; through deception, I eat the carcasses of the dead.
I live as a wild hunter, O Creator!
I have not followed good advice, nor have I done good deeds.
I am deformed and horribly disfigured.
Your Name alone, Lord, saves the world.
This is my hope; this is my support. Pause
With my mouth I speak slander, day and night.
I spy on the houses of others-I am such a wretched low-life!
Unfulfilled sexual desire and unresolved anger dwell in my body, like the outcasts who cremate the dead.
I live as a wild hunter, O Creator!
I make plans to trap others, although I appear gentle.
I am a robber-I rob the world.
I am very clever-I carry loads of sin.
I live as a wild hunter, O Creator!
I have not appreciated what You have done for me, Lord; I take from others and exploit them.
What face shall I show You, Lord? I am a sneak and a thief.
Nanak describes the state of the lowly.
I live as a wild hunter, O Creator!
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

Again this is similar to the above translated Shabad. The Guru is clearly making an analogy between people who are acting like dogs. He is even saying that they are barking like dogs.

koorh chhuraa muthaa murdaar.
Falsehood is my dagger; through deception, I eat the carcasses of the dead.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

Again Murdaar does not mean meat at all. Murdaar refers to dead people, and how people are literally fighting over one another to get what they think is theirs. They are so consumed with greed and selfishness that they care not for one another, clearly nothing to do with meat eating.

7. Avarice is a dog, falsehood the sweeper and cheating the eating of meat. (Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Sri Raag p15)

Let us put this last shabad in context with its correct translation:

sireeraag mehlaa 1.
lab kutaa koorh choohrhaa thag khaaDhaa murdaar.
par nindaa par mal mukh suDhee agan kroDh chandaal.
ras kas aap salaahnaa ay karam mayray kartaar.
baabaa bolee-ai pat ho-ay.
ootam say dar ootam kahee-ahi neech karam bahi ro-ay. rahaa-o.
ras su-inaa ras rupaa kaaman ras parmal kee vaas.
ras ghorhay ras sayjaa mandar ras meethaa ras maas.
aytay ras sareer kay kai ghat naam nivaas.
jit boli-ai pat paa-ee-ai so boli-aa parvaan.
fikaa bol viguchnaa sun moorakh man ajaan.
jo tis bhaaveh say bhalay hor ke kahan vakhaan.
tin mat tin pat tin Dhan palai jin hirdai rahi-aa samaa-ay.
tin kaa ki-aa salaahnaa avar su-aali-o kaa-ay.
naanak nadree baahray raacheh daan na naa-ay.

Siree Raag, First Mehl: Greed is a dog; falsehood is a filthy street-sweeper. Cheating is eating a rotting carcass.
Slandering others is putting the filth of others into your own mouth. The fire of anger is the outcaste who burns dead bodies at the crematorium.
I am caught in these tastes and flavors, and in self-conceited praise. These are my actions, O my Creator!
O Baba, speak only that which will bring you honor.
They alone are good, who are judged good at the Lord's Door. Those with bad karma can only sit and weep.
The pleasures of gold and silver, the pleasures of women, the pleasure of the fragrance of sandalwood,
the pleasure of horses, the pleasure of a soft bed in a palace, the pleasure of sweet treats and the pleasure of hearty meals â€"
these pleasures of the human body are so numerous; how can the Naam, the Name of the Lord, find its dwelling in the heart?
Those words are acceptable, which, when spoken, bring honor.
Harsh words bring only grief. Listen, O foolish and ignorant mind!
Those who are pleasing to Him are good. What else is there to be said?
Wisdom, honor and wealth are in the laps of those whose hearts remain permeated with the Lord.
What praise can be offered to them? What other adornments can be bestowed upon them?
O Nanak, those who lack the Lord's Glance of Grace cherish neither charity nor the Lord's Name.
Sry Guru Granth Sahib ji

Again clearly a mistranslation and mischief making on the part of someone who wishes to convey a certain message.

lab kutaa koorh choohrhaa thag khaaDhaa murdaar.
Greed is a dog; falsehood is a filthy street-sweeper. Cheating is eating a rotting carcass.
Sry Guru Granth Sahib ji

Again Murdaar is not Meat but is dead people. The entire Ang is talking about people who fall prey to the 5 thieves, Kaam, Krodh, Moh, Lobh and Hankaar.


There are several reasons behind why these mistranslations and misrepresentations have occurred:
· The publishers have a lack of education and do not understand the meaning of words in Gurmukhi and the correct translation into English.
· In their eagerness to promote their own brand of Sikhism (Sant, Jatha etc) they have deliberately allowed mistranslation and misrepresentation.
· Genuine abhorrence of killing animals can be a motivation too (eg those people that believe in Animal Rights), however Sikhism should not be used as a tool to promote such agendas.
· Poor knowledge of history and the context in which the Gurus and Bhaghats wrotes these Angs is a factor too. This can lead to a misrepresentation.
· In conclusion one can only say that it is very important that Sikh institution promote a clear and concise programme where only those with a certain amount of knowledge in Sikh History and the Sikh Language, should be officially sanctioned as being translators for the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.


The other argument that has been made over this issue is that there is some sort of hierarchy of incarnations within Sikhism of incarnations. Life goes through many incarnations (up to 84 million) before becoming human. In other words, life takes the form of incarnation in plant form, then animal, and then human. The idea being that animal form spiritually is closer to man. Biologically this maybe true, however, spiritually within Sikhism, this could not be further from the truth.

On page 176 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the following is written:

ga-orhee gu-aarayree mehlaa 5.
ka-ee janam bha-ay keet patangaa.
ka-ee janam gaj meen kurangaa.
ka-ee janam pankhee sarap ho-i-o.
ka-ee janam haivar barikh jo-i-o.
mil jagdees milan kee baree-aa. chirankaal ih dayh sanjaree-aa. rahaa-o.
ka-ee janam sail gir kari-aa.
ka-ee janam garabh hir khari-aa.
ka-ee janam saakh kar upaa-i-aa.
lakh cha-oraaseeh jon bharmaa-i-aa.
saaDhsang bha-i-o janam paraapat.
kar sayvaa bhaj har har gurmat.
ti-aag maan jhooth abhimaan.
jeevat mareh dargeh parvaan.
avar na doojaa karnai jog.
taa milee-ai jaa laihi milaa-ay.
kaho naanak har har gun gaa-ay.

Gauree Gwaarayree, Fifth Mehl:
In so many incarnations, you were a worm and an insect;
in so many incarnations, you were an elephant, a fish and a deer.
In so many incarnations, you were a bird and a snake.
In so many incarnations, you were yoked as an ox and a horse.
Meet the Lord of the Universe - now is the time to meet Him.
After so very long, this human body was fashioned for you. Pause
In so many incarnations, you were rocks and mountains;
in so many incarnations, you were aborted in the womb;
in so many incarnations, you developed branches and leaves;
you wandered through 8.4 million incarnations.
Through the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, you obtained this human life.
Do seva - selfless service; follow the Guru's Teachings, and vibrate the Lord's Name, Har, Har.
Abandon pride, falsehood and arrogance.
Remain dead while yet alive, and you shall be welcomed in the Court of the Lord.
Whatever has been, and whatever shall be, comes from You, Lord.
No one else can do anything at all.
We are united with You, when You unite us with Yourself.
Says Nanak, sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, Har, Har.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

Reading this Shabad one can clearly see that the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji does not attach any particular order to how life is incarnated. Infact it states:

ka-ee janam sail gir kari-aa.
In so many incarnations, you were rocks and mountains;
ka-ee janam garabh hir khari-aa.
in so many incarnations, you were aborted in the womb;
ka-ee janam saakh kar upaa-i-aa.
in so many incarnations, you developed branches and leaves;
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

If you were to apply the logic of those that claim spiritually animal life is closer to human, then according to this a rock then becomes an aborted human foetus, then becomes a plant! It is only after this one becomes human. Surely then a plant is a closer form of life to human?

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji only proclaims one life form as being so precious. On page 50 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji it states:

sireeraag mehlaa 5 ghar 2.
go-il aa-i-aa go-ilee ki-aa tis damf pasaar.
muhlat punnee chalnaa tooN sampal ghar baar.
har gun gaa-o manaa satgur sayv pi-aar.
ki-aa thorh-rhee baat gumaan. rahaa-o.
jaisay rain paraahunay uth chalsahi parbhaat.
ki-aa tooN rataa girsat si-o sabh fulaa kee baagaat.
mayree mayree ki-aa karahi jin dee-aa so parabh lorh.
sarpar uthee chalnaa chhad jaasee lakh karorh.
lakh cha-oraaseeh bharmati-aa dulabh janam paa-i-o-ay.
naanak naam samaal tooN so din nayrhaa aa-i-o-ay.

Siree Raag, Fifth Mehl, Second House:
The herdsman comes to the pasture lands-what good are his ostentatious displays here?
When your allotted time is up, you must go. Take care of your real hearth and home.
O mind, sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, and serve the True Guru with love.
Why do you take pride in trivial matters? Pause
Like an overnight guest, you shall arise and depart in the morning.
Why are you so attached to your household? It is all like flowers in the garden.
Why do you say, "Mine, mine?" Look to God, who has given it to you.
It is certain that you must arise and depart, and leave behind your hundreds of thousands and millions.
Through 8.4 million incarnations you have wandered, to obtain this rare and precious human life.
O Nanak, remember the Naam, the Name of the Lord; the day of departure is drawing near!
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

So clearly, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji sees plants, animals, and minerals, on one level in terms of life, and then human form on another. To take the life of a plant is the same as an animal in terms of spirituality. The following Shabad although a metaphor for how people who speak the truth are treated, clearly shows the mind of the Guru's when seeing life in all its form, be it plant, mineral or animal:
Page 143 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

mehlaa 1.
vaykh je mithaa kati-aa kat kut baDhaa paa-ay.
khundhaa andar rakh kai dayn so mal sajaa-ay.
ras kas tatar paa-ee-ai tapai tai villaa-ay.
bhee so fog samaalee-ai dichai ag jaalaa-ay.
naanak mithai patree-ai vaykhhu lokaa aa-ay.

First Mehl:
Look, and see how the sugar-cane is cut down. After cutting away its branches, its feet are bound together into bundles,
and then, it is placed between the wooden rollers and crushed.
What punishment is inflicted upon it! Its juice is extracted and placed in the cauldron; as it is heated, it groans and cries out.
And then, the crushed cane is collected and burnt in the fire below.
Nanak: come, people, and see how the sweet sugar-cane is treated!
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

The folly of the argument that spiritually one is committing a bigger sin when killing an animal than a plant is a foolish one. The biological argument is a different one and is not tackled within the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, but that in itself shows, the choice of whether or not to eat meat is a personal one and has nothing to do with the Sikh religion.


The most absurd argument that has been come across is that meat eaters only eat for taste, and too satisfy their taste buds. It is a selfish desire in other words, based on Greed and Egotism. The basis of this argument falls down with the fact that Vegetarian dishes (particularly on the Indian Subcontinent), are the most varied and most tasty of all dishes. To say that a vegetarian hates every mouthful of eating an Aubergine and Potatoes Curry and a meat eater loves every mouthful of Liver is indeed the weakest of all arguments. In fact page 61 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji states:

jit tan naam na bhaav-ee *** tan ha-umai vaad.
gur bin gi-aan na paa-ee-ai bikhi-aa doojaa saad.
bin gun kaam na aavee maa-i-aa feekaa saad.
aasaa andar jammi-aa aasaa ras kas khaa-ay.

That body which does not appreciate the Naam-that body is infested with egotism and conflict.
Without the Guru, spiritual wisdom is not obtained; other tastes are poison.
Without virtue, nothing is of any use. The taste of Maya is bland and insipid.
Through desire, people are cast into the womb and reborn. Through desire, they taste the sweet and sour flavors.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji


There is a train of thought amongst certain Sikhs that meat eating promotes cruel, aggressive or lustful behaviour. There have been numerous examples to show that this is simply not true. For example Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian, yet he was very cruel. In terms of aggressive behaviour, we have our own Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala, who was a staunch vegetarian, yet very aggressive. The Kukas (Namdharia’s), were very violent and aggressive yet were strict vegetarians. As for lustful behaviour, one only has too look at the list of A list celebrities who are vegetarians and note their lustful behaviour.

This argument is a ridiculous one and is not mentioned anywhere within the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji. It is true however, many vegetarians do suffer from anaemia (lack of iron), and this causes tiredness (and therefore probably more passive behaviour), however, this is again outside the scope of this essay.


Some pro-vegetarian sections of the Sikh following have produced an alleged Hukamnama that states that the Sikhs of the East were not to go near meat. Unfortunately, the sources that have produced this Hukamnama, have not been able to back it up with any evidence of its genuineness, from any Sikh scholars of note. There have been statements to the effect that Ganda Singh found this document and indeed published it (Two collections of Hukamnamas are available in print form, one edited by Dr. Ganda Singh published in 1968 by Punjabi University and the S.G.P.C), but this has not been verified by any of his contemporaries or any other Sikh scholars..

Historical evidence, in fact contradicts what Guru Hargobind ji was actually like. He was an avid hunter and warrior. Again this fact some have tried to dismiss as Guruji giving Mukhti to animals souls. This, however, contradicts the Gurus own philosophy which clearly states that only God is capable of granting such things.
Infact Bhai Gudas in his Vars States:

Just as one has to tie pail's neck while taking out water,
Just as to get Mani, snake is to be killed
Just as to get Kasturi from deer's neck, deer is to be killed
Just as to get oil, oil seeds are to be crushed
To get kernel, pomegranate is to be broken
Similarly to correct senseless people, sword has to be taken up.
Bhai Gurdas, Var-34, pauri 13

In fact such a hukamna would indeed contradict the one Guru Gobind Singh ji sent to his Sikhs in Kabul (ADVANCED STUDIES IN SIKHISM by Jasbir Singh and Harbans Singh.):

"Sarbat sangat Kabul Guru rakhe ga
Tusa ute asaadee bahut khusi hai
Tusi Khande da Amrit Panja to lena
Kes rakhne...ih asadee mohur hair;
Kachh, Kirpan da visah nahee karna
SARB LOH da kara hath rakhna
Dono vakat kesa dee palna karna
Sarbat sangat abhakhia da kutha
Khave naheen, Tamakoo na vartana
Bhadni tatha kanya-maran-vale so mel na rakhe
Meene, Massandei, Ramraiye ki sangat na baiso
Gurbani parhni...Waheguru, Waheguru japna
Guru kee rahat rakhnee
Sarbat sangat oopar meri khushi hai.
Patshahi Dasvi
Jeth 26, Samat 1756

To the entire sangat at Kabul.
The Guru will protect the Sangat,
I am pleased with you all.
You should take baptism by the sword, from the Five Beloveds.
Keep your hair uncut for this is a seal of the Guru,
Accept the use of shorts and a sword.
Always wear IRON KARA on your wrist,
Keep your hair clean and comb it twice a day.
Do not eat Halal (Kosher) meat,
Do not use tobacco in any form,
Have no connection with those who kill their daughters
Or permit the cutting of their children's hair.
Do not associate with Meenas, Massands and Ram-raiyas (anti-Sikh cults)
Recite the Guru's hymns
Meditate on "The Name of our Wonderful Lord",
Follow the Sikh code of discipline
I give the entire sangat my blessing)
Signature of 10th Guru
Jeth 26, 1756 Bikrami 23rd May 1699 A.D

As we know, there is no contradiction in the Guru’s message.
It should be noted also that there are a number of Hukamnama’s that have been found that also purport Sikhs to adopt Brahmanical religious tenets.


Misconceptions About Eating Meat - Comments of Sikh Scholars

Throughout Sikh history, there have been movements or subsects of Sikhism which have espoused vegetarianism. I think there is no basis for such dogma or practice in Sikhism. Certainly Sikhs do not think that a vegetarian's achievements in spirituality are easier or higher. It is surprising to see that vegetarianism is such an important facet of Hindu practice in light of the fact that animal sacrifice was a significant and much valued Hindu Vedic ritual for ages. Guru Nanak in his writings clearly rejected both sides of the arguments - on the virtues of vegetarianism or meat eating - as banal and so much nonsense, nor did he accept the idea that a cow was somehow more sacred than a horse or a chicken. He also refused to be drawn into a contention on the differences between flesh and greens, for instance. History tells us that to impart this message, Nanak cooked meat at an important Hindu festival in Kurukshetra. Having cooked it he certainly did not waste it, but probably served it to his followers and ate himself. History is quite clear that Guru Hargobind and Guru Gobind Singh were accomplished and avid hunters. The game was cooked and put to good use, to throw it away would have been an awful waste.
Sikhs and Sikhism by I.J. Singh, Manohar, Delhi

The ideas of devotion and service in Vaishnavism have been accepted by Adi Granth, but the insistence of Vaishnavas on vegetarian diet has been rejected.
Guru Granth Sahib, An Analytical Study by Surindar Singh Kohli, Singh Bros. Amritsar

Commenting on meat being served in the langar during the time of Guru Angad: However, it is strange that now-a-days in the Community-Kitchen attached to the Sikh temples, and called the Guru's Kitchen (or, Guru-ka-langar) meat-dishes are not served at all. May be, it is on account of its being, perhaps, expensive, or not easy to keep for long. Or, perhaps the Vaishnava tradition is too strong to be shaken off.
A History of the Sikh People by Dr. Gopal Singh, World Sikh University Press, Delhi

As a true Vaisnavite Kabir remained a strict vegetarian. Kabir far from defying Brahmanical tradition as to the eating of meat, would not permit so much, as the plucking of a flower (G.G.S. pg 479), whereas Nanak deemed all such scruples to be superstitions, Kabir held the doctrine of Ahinsa or the non-destruction of life, which extended even to that of flowers. The Sikh Gurus, on the contrary, allowed and even encouraged, the use of animal flesh as food. Nanak has exposed this Ahinsa superstition in Asa Ki War (G.G.S. pg 472) and Malar Ke War (G.G.S. pg. 128).
Philosophy of Sikhism by Gyani Sher Singh (Ph.D), Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. Amritsar

The Gurus were loath to pronounce upon such matters as the eating of meat or ways of disposing of the dead because undue emphasis on them could detract from the main thrust of their message which had to do with spiritual liberation. However, Guru Nanak did reject by implication the practice of vegetarianism related to ideas of pollution when he said, 'All food is pure; for God has provided it for our sustenance' (AG 472). Many Sikhs are vegetarian and meat should never be served at langar. Those who do eat meat are unlikely to include beef in their diet, at least in India, because of their cultural proximity to Hindus.
A Popular Dictionary of Sikhism, W.Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi, England

In general Sikhism has adopted an ambivalent attitude towards meat eating as against vegetarianism. But if meat is to be taken at all, Guru Gobind Singh enjoined on the Khalsa Panth not to take kosher meat ie. Halal meat slaughtered and prepared for eating according to the Islamic practice. In fact it is one of the kurahits for every amritdhari Sikh. One who infringes it becomes patit (apostate).
Sikhism, A Complete Introduction by Dr. H.S. Singha and Satwant Kaur, Hemkunt Press, Delhi

A close study of the above-mentioned hymns of Guru Nanak Dev clarifies the Sikh standpoint regarding meat-eating. The Guru has not fallen into the controversy of eating or not eating animal food. He has ridiculed the religious priests for raising their voice in favour of vegetarianism. He called them hypocrites and totally blind to the realities of life. They are unwise and thoughtless persons, who do not go into the root of the matter. According to him, the water is the source of all life whether vegetable or animal. Guru Nanak Dev said. "None of the grain of corn is without life. In the first place, there is life in water, by which all are made green" (Var Asa M.1, p. 472). Thus there is life in vegetation and life in all types of creatures.
Real Sikhism by Surinder Singh Kohli, Harman Publishing, New Delhi

The Gurus neither advocate meat nor banned its use. They left it to the choice of the individual. There are passages against meat, in the Adi Granth. Guru Gobind Singh however prohibited for the Khalsa the use of Halal or Kutha meat prepared in the Muslim ritualistic way.
Introduction to Sikhism by Dr. Gobind Singh Mansukhani, Hemkunt Press, Delhi

There are no restrictions for the Sikhs regarding food, except that the Sikhs are forbidden to eat meat prepared as a ritual slaughter. The Sikhs are asked to abstain from intoxicants.
Introduction to Sikhism by G.S. Sidhu, Shromini Sikh Sangat, Toronto

According to the Maryada booklet 'Kutha', the meat prepared by the Muslim ritual, is prohibited for a Sikh. Regarding eating other meat, it is silent. From the prohibition of the Kutha meat, it is rightly presumed that non-Kutha meat is not prohibited for the Sikhs. Beef is prohibited to the Hindus and pork to the Muslims. Jews and Christians have their own taboos. They do not eat certain kinds of meat on certain days. Sikhs have no such instructions. If one thinks he needs to eat meat, it does not matter which meat it is, beef, poultry, fish, etc., or which day it is. One should, however, be careful not to eat any meat harmful for his health. Gurbani's instructions on this topic are very clear. "Only fools argue whether to eat meat or not. Who can define what is meat and what is not meat? Who knows where the sin lies, being a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian?" (1289) The Brahmanical thought that a religious person should be a vegetarian is of recent origin. Earlier, Brahmans had been eating beef and horse meat. In conclusion, it is wrong to say that any person who eats meat (of course Kutha, because of the Muslim rituals is prohibited) loses his membership of the Khalsa and becomes an apostate.
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network
The Sikh Faith by Gurbakhsh Singh, Canadian Sikh Study and Teaching Society, Vancouver

The above discussion leads us to the conclusion that the Sikh Gurus made people aware of the fact that it is very difficult to distinguish between a plant and an animal, therefore, it is difficult to distinguish between a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian diets and there is no sin of eating food originating from plants or animals.
Scientific Interpretation of Gurbani, Paper by Dr. Devinder Singh Chahal

The practice of the Gurus is uncertain. Guru Nanak seems to have eaten venison or goat, depending upon different janamsakhi versions of a meal which he cooked at Kurukshetra which evoked the criticism of Brahmins. Guru Amardas ate only rice and lentils but this abstention cannot be regarded as evidence of vegetarianism, only of simple living. Guru Gobind Singh also permitted the eating of meat but he prescribed that it should be Jhatka meat and not Halal meat that is jagged in the Muslim fashion.
Mini Encyclopaedia of Sikhism by H.S. Singha, Hemkunt Press, Delhi.


What is Kuttha meat?

Punjabi-English Dictionary, Punjabi University, Dept. of Punjabi Lexicography, Published Dec. 1994. "Kuttha: meat of animal or fowl slaughtered slowly as prescribed by Islamic law."
Punjabi English Dictionary, Singh Bros., Amritsar "Kuttha: Tortured, killed according to Mohammedan law."

In the Rehit Marayada (, Section Six, it states:
The undermentioned four transgressions (tabooed practices) must be avoided
1. Dishonouring the hair;
2. Eating the meat of an animal slaughtered the Muslim way(Kutha);
3. Cohabiting with a person other than one's spouse
4. Using tobacco.
Sikh Rehit Maryada

There have been some quarters who have been at pains to create confusion over the word Kuttha. Some even defining it as all meat. There is no confusion over this word, and the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji is proof of this.
In the following Ang Guru Nanak condemns Brahmins, who serve their Muslim rulers stating they are acting like pseudo-Muslims. In this Ang there is a line which clearly refers to Kuttha as meat which has had Muslim prayers read over it. Kuttha, however, can meat any meat that is killed in a ritualistic manner.

mehlaa 1.
maanas khaanay karahi nivaaj.
chhuree vagaa-in tin gal taag.
tin ghar barahman pooreh naad.
unHaa bhe aavahi o-ee saad.
koorhee raas koorhaa vaapaar.
koorh bol karahi aahaar.
saram Dharam kaa dayraa door.
naanak koorh rahi-aa bharpoor.
mathai tikaa tayrh Dhotee kakhaa-ee.
hath chhuree jagat kaasaa-ee.
neel vastar pahir hoveh parvaan.
malaychh Dhaan lay poojeh puraan.
abhaakhi-aa kaa kuthaa bakraa khaanaa.
cha-ukay upar kisai na jaanaa.
day kai cha-ukaa kadhee kaar.
upar aa-ay baithay koorhi-aar.
mat bhitai vay mat bhitai.
ih ann asaadaa fitai.
tan fitai fayrh karayn.
man joothai chulee bharayn.
kaho naanak sach Dhi-aa-ee-ai.
such hovai taa sach paa-ee-ai.

First Mehl:
The man-eaters say their prayers.
Those who wield the knife wear the sacred thread around their necks.
In their homes, the Brahmins sound the conch.
They too have the same taste.
False is their capital, and false is their trade.
Speaking falsehood, they take their food.
The home of modesty and Dharma is far from them.
O Nanak, they are totally permeated with falsehood. The sacred marks are on their foreheads, and the saffron loin-cloths are around their waists;
in their hands they hold the knives - they are the butchers of the world!
Wearing blue robes, they seek the approval of the Muslim rulers.
Accepting bread from the Muslim rulers, they still worship the Puraanas.
They eat the meat of the goats, killed after the Muslim prayers are read over them,
but they do not allow anyone else to enter their kitchen areas.
They draw lines around them, plastering the ground with cow-dung.
The false come and sit within them.
They cry out, "Do not touch our food,
this food of ours will be polluted!
But with their polluted bodies, they commit evil deeds.
With filthy minds, they try to cleanse their mouths.
Says Nanak, meditate on the True Lord.
If you are pure, you will obtain the True Lord.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

Hence, it is clear that Kutha does not mean all meat at all, it means specifically Halal Meat, but in the wider context it can mean meat that is ritually slaughtered.

Also on Page 956 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

Ŧis ḏā kuṯẖā hovai sekẖ.
If the Shaykh is killed with that,

Lohū lab nikthā vekẖ.
then the blood of greed will spill out.

Ho▫e halāl lagai hak jā▫e.
One who is slaughtered in this ritualistic way, will be attached to the Lord.
Sru Guru Granth Sahib ji

Several points to note:

1) If we took the sentence where the word "Kutha" is we would say, that word just means "Killed", however if we read on we see "One who is slaughtered in this ritualistic way". Meaning, that "Kutha" is seen as a form of ritualistic killing.

2) Note also "Halal" is defined as "
slaughtered in this ritualistic way". Meaning that where "Halal" is used it can be seen as defining "ritualistic" killing.

3) This is nothing to do with meat eating as some people would have us believe but rather to do with the 5 thieves, in this instance "Lobh" or "Greed".


This clearly a falicy, since the rules that guide and Amritdhari are from the Rehit-Marayada, which places no taboo on meat eating.


There are a number of eyewitness accounts from European travellers as to the eating habits of Sikhs. Although there is no prohibition on Sikhs for eating beef, it is clear that Sikhs as a mark of respect for their Hindu neighbours did not partake in eating beef:

The Seiks receive Proselytes of almost every Cast, a point in which they differ most materially from the Hindoos. To initiate Mohammedans into their mysteries, they prepare a Dish of Hogs legs, which the Converts are obliged to partake of, previous to admission............They are not prohibited the use of Animal food of any kind, excepting Beef, which they are rigidly scrupulous in abstaining from.
John Griffiths writes in February 17th 1794

The seiks are remarkably fond of the flesh of the jungle hog, which they kill in chase: this food is allowable by their law. They likewise eat of mutton and fish; but these being unlawful the Brahmins will not partake, leaving those who chose to transgress their institutes to answer for themselves.
William Francklin in his writing about Mr George Thomas 1805

It is clear from the above that there is a clear distinction between Sikhs (meat eaters), and those who chose to follow Brahmanical practices (Vegetarians), however there appears to be no dispute over this issue as people are allowed to decide for themselves.
The following is an Extract from an officer in the Bengal Army and is taken from the Asiatic Annual Register 1809:

Now become a Singh, he is a heterodox, and distinct from the Hindoos by whom he is considered an apostate. He is not restricted in his diet, but is allowed, by the tenets of his new religion, to devour whatever food his appetite may prompt, excepting beef.
Asiatic Annual Register 1809

Clearly, this gives us an idea that even independent observers of Sikhs who saw their eating habits. These Sikhs were around some 100 years after the demise of the last physical Sikh Guru and represented hardcore Sikh philosophy at that time.


The reason why meat is not served at langar in the Gurdwaras is because langar is supposed to be a symbol of equality of mankind where all people no matter what race, religion or caste can eat together in the atmosphere of brotherhood. Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, it does not matter who they are. Different religions have different dietary restrictions. Hindus cannot eat cow, muslims cannot eat pork and will only eat halal meat. Jews will only eat kosher meat, others cannot eat fish or eggs. But in a gurdwara langar, it does not matter what their dietary taboos or religious beliefs are, the food is designed so that all can eat together and no one will be offended or not be able to partake of the meal.


What is Jhatka Meat and Why?

Jhatka meat is meat in which the animal has been killed quickly without suffering or religious ritual.

We must give the rationale behind prescribing jhatka meat as the approved food for the Sikhs. According to the ancient Aryan Hindu tradition, only such meat as is obtained from an animal which is killed with one stroke of the weapon causing instantaneous death is fit for human consumption. However, with the coming of Islam into India and the Muslim political hegemony, it became a state policy not to permit slaughter of animals for food, in any other manner, except as laid down in the Quran - the kosher meat prepared by slowly severing the main blood artery of the throat of the animal while reciting verses from the Quran. It is done to make slaughter a sacrifice to God and to expiate the sins of the slaughter. Guru Gobind Singh took a rather serious view of this aspect of the whole matter. He, therefore, while permitting flesh to be taken as food repudiated the whole theory of this expiatory sacrifice and the right of ruling Muslims to impose iton the non-Muslims. Accordingly, he made jhatka meat obligatory for those Sikhs who may be interested in taking meat as a part of their food.
Sikhism, A Complete Introduction, Dr. H.S.Singha & Satwant Kaur, Hemkunt Press

And one semitic practice clearly rejected in the Sikh code of conduct is eating flesh of an animal cooked in ritualistic manner; this would mean kosher and halal meat. The reason again does not lie in religious tenet but in the view that killing an animal with a prayer is not going to enoble the flesh. No ritual, whoever conducts it, is going to do any good either to the animal or to the diner. Let man do what he must to assuage his hunger. If what he gets, he puts to good use and shares with the needy, then it is well used and well spent, otherwise not.
Sikhs and Sikhism, Dr. I.J.Singh, Manohar Publishers.


Guru Nanak Devji tackled this entire issue head on and rubbished the claims of so called spiritual people who thought themselves more pious and religious simply because they did not eat meat.
Page 1289 Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

mehlaa 1.
maas maas kar moorakh jhagrhay gi-aan Dhi-aan nahee jaanai.
ka-un maas ka-un saag kahaavai kis meh paap samaanay.
gaiNdaa maar hom jag kee-ay dayviti-aa kee baanay.
maas chhod bais nak pakrheh raatee maanas khaanay.
farh kar lokaaN no dikhlaavahi gi-aan Dhi-aan nahee soojhai.
naanak anDhay si-o ki-aa kahee-ai kahai na kahi-aa boojhai.
anDhaa so-ay je anDh kamaavai tis ridai se lochan naahee.
maat pitaa kee rakat nipannay machhee maas na khaaNhee.

First Mehl:
The fools argue about flesh and meat, but they know nothing about meditation and spiritual wisdom.
What is called meat, and what is called green vegetables? What leads to sin?
It was the habit of the gods to kill the rhinoceros, and make a feast of the burnt offering.
Those who renounce meat, and hold their noses when sitting near it, devour men at night.
They practice hypocrisy, and make a show before other people, but they do not understand anything about meditation or spiritual wisdom.
O Nanak, what can be said to the blind people? They cannot answer, or even understand what is said.
They alone are blind, who act blindly. They have no eyes in their hearts.
They are produced from the blood of their mothers and fathers, but they do not eat fish or meat.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji

This Shabad specifically deals with the arguments that rage today about spirituality and meat eating. The purpose of this essay, stated in the beginning is not to look at meat eatings pros and cons in terms of the wider biological debate, but to look at I terms of Sikhism and spirituality. As Sikh, one should be concerned with getting into the triviality of such worthless debates and certainly one should not mistranslate, or misrepresent the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji to back up a certain point of view.


There have always been vegetarian Sikhs, and there have always been Meat eating Sikhs and the two groups have happily sat together and consumed a mutually acceptable Vegetarian Langar side by side. So why in the 20th and 21st Century has this issue caused so much debate and controversy?
This maybe traced back to the Times of the British Raj and encouragement of recruitment of Sikhs into the British Army. Many new converts to Sikhism came into the fold, many of whom still practiced Hindu Vaishnav practices of strict vegetarianism.
This need to cause division amongst Sikhs may even be traced earlier. In Mobad Dabistan-I Mazahib 1645-46, the author states:

Many person became his disciples. Nanak believed in the Oneness of God and in the way that it is asserted in Muhammadan theology. He also believed in transmigration of souls. Holding wine and pork to be unlawful, he had [himself] abandoned eating meat. He decreed avoidance of causing harm to animals. It was after his time that meat-eating spread amongst his followers. Arjan Mal, who was on of his lineal succesors, found this to be evil. He prohibited people from eating meat, saying This is not in accordance with Nanaks wishes. Later, Hargobind, son of Arjan Mal, ate meat and took to hunting. Most of their [the Gurus] followers adopted his practice.
Mobad Dabistan-I Mazahib 1645-46

Now clearly we know the message of the Guru’s was uniform. It was not that they contradicted each other on issues such as meat eating. If some of this authors writings are to be believed as factual, then one can only conclude that some of the Guru’s were indeed vegetarian and some meat eaters, but it was not an issue that mattered to them or which they attached importance to. The author in this instance has liberally applied his own thoughts in order to show a contradiction amongst the Sikh Guru’s teaching and possibly a mean to exploit division. There was no contradiction in Sikh thought from the First Master to the Last.



King Singh

Note how shabads are usually used by people to twist meanings one way or the other. Sikhi does not have a view on diet. It is up to the individual to make that decision. You are not a better or worse Sikh because of your diet.
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