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The authors of this paper (one a vegetarian and one meat eating Sikh)
wrangled hard with their own common sense which told them, “don’t be a fool
and start wrangling over an issue which our great Guru’s 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

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. (SGGS p1377)

2. You kill living beings and worship lifeless things, at your very last moment,
You will suffer terrible pain. (SGGS 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 ? (SGGS 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 ? (SGGS p1374)

5. In this dark age of Kali Yuga, people have faces like dogs; They eat rotting
dead bodies for food. (SGGS 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. (SGGS p1337)

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

mukat padaarath paa-ee-ai thaak na avghat ghaat. 231

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. 231
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.
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
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.
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. (SGGS 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.
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
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
You worship gods and goddesses, but you do not know the Supreme Lord
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 ? (SGGS 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
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
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 God’s 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 won’t 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 ?
(SGGS 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
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
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
Kabeer, those houses in which neither the Holy nor the Lord are served –
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. (SGGS 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
Those who have no honor while alive, will have an evil reputation after they
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 –
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
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

• 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 Guru’s and
Bhaghats wrote these Angs is a factor too. This can lead to a

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
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
O mind, sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, and serve the True Guru with
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 tit 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 behavior. 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 behavior, we have our own Sant
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala, who was a staunch vegetarian, yet very
aggressive. The Kuka’s (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 behavior.

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

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 Guru’s 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. 1288).
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
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,

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.
The Sikh Faith by Gurbakhsh Singh, Canadian Sikh Study and Teaching Society,

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. 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

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.

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 t
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
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 eating’s pro’s and con’s 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
Nanak’s 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.

Food For Thought[2]
Meat classifed with good foods such as bread, not bad foods such as

The body is the bottle, self-conceit is the wine, and desire is the company of
drinking companions. The glass of the mind’s longing is filled to overflowing
with falsehood; the Messenger of Death is the bartender. Drinking in this wine,
O Nanak, one takes on countless vices and corruption. So make spiritual
wisdom your molasses, and the Praise of God your bread; let the Fear of God
be the dish of meat. O Nanak, this is the true food; let the True Name be your
only Support.
Baba Mardana, Bihagara, pg. 553

In the society of the times meat was avoided by Hindus and certain kinds by
the Muslims. The Gurus tried to explain to these people that it was not eating
meat was not the real sin but:

Taking anothers right is the real thing to be avoided

"Nanak, another's right is swine for him (the Musalman) and cow for him (the
(Guru Nanak, pg. 141)

Falsehood is the real thing to avoid

"By uttering falsehood, man eats meat, Yet, he goes to admonish others. Such
appears to be the leader, O' Nanak! who himself is beguiled and beguiles his
(Guru Nanak, Slok, pg. 140)

"Falsehood is my dagger and to eat by defrauding is meat."
(Guru Nanak, Sri Rag, pg. 24)

Evil intellect, heartlesness, slander and wrath are the real things to
“Evil-intellect is the she drummer, heartlessness is the butcheress, other’s
slander in the heart is a sweepress and deceitful wrath is a pariah-woman”
(Guru Nanak, Slok, pg. 91)

Avarice, falsehood, cheatings and slander are the real things to avoid

“Avarice is a dog., falsehood the sweeper and cheating the eating of meat.
Slandering others solely amounts to puting other’s filth in ones own mouth and
fire of wrath is a pariah.”
(Guru Nanak, Sri Rag, pg.15)

The Gurus clearly stated what are sins throughout the Guru Granth
Sahib, nowhere is eating meat mentioned as being one of these sins.

"Taking halter, men go out at night to strangle others, but the Lord knows all, O
mortal. Concealed in places they look at other women. They break into places,
difficult to acceess and enjoy wine deeming it sweet. Over their respective
misdeeds, they shall themselves afterwards regret. Azrail, the courier of death
shall crush them like the mill full of sesame."
(Guru Arjan Dev, Pauri, pg. 315)

"Renounce sexual pleasures, wrath, falsehood and calumny, forsake worldly
valuables and dispel pride. Put aside the lust for belles and leave worldly love.
Then shalt thou obtain the bright Lord amidst the dark world. Eschew self-
adoration, egotism and affection for thy sons and wife. Shed thirst and desire
for wealth and embrace love for the omnipresent Lord. Nanak, he, in whose
mind the True One abides, through the True Gurbani gets absorbed in God's
(Guru Ram Das, pg. 141)

"Abandon lust, wrath, avarice and worldly love. Thus be rid of both birth and
death. Distress and darkness shall depart from thy home, when, within thee,
the Guru implants wisdom and lights the Divine lamp. He, who serves the Lord
crosses the sea of life. Through the Guru, O slave Nanak, the entire world is
(Guru Arjan Dev, Gauri, pg. 241)

"In the fire of desire, avarice, arrogance and excessive egotism the man is
burning. He repeatedly goes, comes and loses his honour. His life he wastes
away in vain. Rare is the person who understands Gurbani."
(Guru Amar Das, Majh, pg 120)
The superstitions of the impurity of certain foods such as meat exposed
and the real emphasis revealed:

"If the principle of impurity be admitted, then there is impurity everywhere.

In cow-dung and wood there are worms.
As many as are the grains of corn, none is without life.
In the first place there is life in water, by which, all are made green.
How can impurity be warded off? It falls on our own kitchen.
Nanak, impurity is not removed like this. It is washed away by Divine
The mind's impurity is avarice and the tongue's impurity falsehood.
The impurity of the eyes is to behold another's woman, another's wealth and
The impurity of the ears is to hear the slander of others with ears,
Nanak, mortal's soul goes bout to the city of death.
All impurity consists in doubt and attachment to duality.
Birth and death are subject to Lord's command and through His will mortal
comes and goes.
Eating and drinking are pure, for the Lord has given sustenance to all.
Nanak, the Gurmukh who know the Lord, to them impurity sticks not."
(Guru Nanak, Slok, pg. 472)

"What can be achieved by eating and what by dressing, so long as that True
Lord abides not in the man's mind? What is fruit, what clarified butter and
sweet molasses, what fine flour and what meat? What is rainment and what
comfortable couch to enjoy sexual intercourse and revelments? Of what use is
an army and of what the mace-bearers, servants and coming and dwelling in
mansions? Nanak, without the True Name, the entire paraphernalia is
(Guru Nanak, pg. 142)

"The True food is the Lord's love. So says the True Guru. With the True food I
am appeased and with Truth I am delighted."
(Guru Angad, Pauri, pg. 146)

"The world-hardened men, who eat poison by repeatedly telling lies, the Lord
Himself has led astray. They know not the ultimate reality of departure, and
increase the poison of lust and wrath."
(Guru Amar Das, Pauri, pg. 145)
"Without the Name all, which man wears and eats is poison. By praising the
True Name one merges in the True Master."
(Guru Nanak, Pauri, pg.144)

"By reading and reciting men grow weary but they obtain not peace. By desire
they are consumed, and they have no knowledge of it. Poison they purchase
and for the love of poison they are thirsty. By telling lies they eat poison."
(Guru Amrar Das, Majh, pg. 120)

"I have tasted and seen all other relishes but to my mind the God's dainty is
the sweetest of all."
(Guru Arjan Dev, Majh, pg.100)

"Do thou only that by which filth may not attach to thee, and this soul of thine
may remain awake in singing God's praises.

Meditate on the One Lord, and think not duality.
In the guild of saints repeat only the Name.
Rituals, duty, religious rites, fasting and worship are all covered recognising
none else in sans the Supreme Lord.
Of him the toil is approved, whose affection is with his own Master.
Infinitely invaluable is that vegetarian (Vishnavite), says Nanak; who
renounced sins."
( Guru Arjan Dev, Gauri, pg. 199)

"Let somone sing, someone hear, someone reflect on, someone preach the
Name of God and somone fix it in his mind, he shall forthwith be saved. His
sins shall be effaced, he shall become pure and his filth of many births shall be
washed off. In this world and the next world, his countenance shall be bright,
and mammon shall not affect him. He is the man of wisdom, he the vegetarian,
he the divine and the man of wealth; He is the hero, and he is of high family,
who has meditated on the Fortunate Lord."
( Guru Arjan Dev, Pauri, pg. 300)

"Self-conceit and wealth are all poison. Attached therewith, man ever suffers
loss in this world. By pondering on the Name, the Guru-ward earns the profit of
God's wealth. By placing God and God's elixir in the mind, the poison of the
filth of ego is removed."
( Guru Ram Das, Slok, pg. 300)
"The attachment of all the visible objects is all impurity. Due to this, the mortal
dies and is reborn again and again. Impurity is in fire, air and water. Within all
the food, which we eat, there is pollution. Defilement is in mans actions as he
performs not God's worship."
( Guru Amar Das, Gauri Guareri, pg. 229)

"Without the Name all, which man wears and eats is poison. By praising the
True Name one merges in the True Master."
( Guru Nanak, Pauri, pg.144)

"The True food is the Lord's love. So says the True Guru. With the True food I
am appeased and with Truth I am delighted."
( Guru Angad, Pauri, pg. 146)

The vegetable feels pain just as the animal does, there is no difference.

"See, that the sugarcane is sheared. After cleansing and chopping off its
plumes, its feet are bound to form it into bundles. Placing it in between the
wooden rollers of the press, they crush and award it punishment. Extracting
the juice, they put it in the cauldron and it groans as it burns. Even the empty
crushed cane is collected and is burnt in the fire. Nanak, how the sweet-leaved
sugar-cane is treated, come and see, O’ people!"
( Guru Nanak, Slok, pg. 143)

Glorious God is compared not only to the fish and the net but also to a
fisherman - a killer of fish for food.

"He Himself is the fisherman and the fish and Himself the water and the net.
He Himself is the metal ball of the net and Himself the bait within."
( Guru Nanak, Sri Rag, pg. 23)

There is no difference between plants and animals. God in his perfection
has designed all living things to eat what they eat. We eat meat as part
of the natural order of all living things designed by God. Man has been
eating meat and vegetables for millions of years, God has not designed
meat eating human beings in error. The only things banned for Sikhs are
all unnatural manipulations of natural foods - tobacco, drugs, alcohol all
unnatural manipulations of vegetation, and all banned for Sikhs.
"When Thou art true, then all, that flows from Thee is true. Absolutely nothing
is false. Talking, seeing, uttering, living, walking and perishing are from Thee,
O' Lord! Nanak, the True Lord Himself creates by His order, and in His order
He keeps all the beings."
(Guru Nanak, Slok, pg. 145)

"The tigers, hawks, kites and falcons, them the Lord causes to eat grass. Who
eats grass, them He causes to eat meat. This way of life He can set agoing."
(Guru Nanak, Slok, pg. 144)

"God Himself has made the earth and Himself the sky. He of Himself created
the beings therein, and of Himself puts morsels (food) in their mouths. All by
Himself He pervades everywhere and Himself is the treasure of excellences.
Remember Thou God's Name, O slave Nanak, and He shall efface all thine
(Guru Ram Das, Slok, pg. 302)

"They walk in a single file, brush the ground before they lay their foot on it all
this they do to avoid killing life, but it is God who giveth and taketh life."
(Guru Gobind Singh, 33 Swayyas, Dasam Granth)

"There is but one breath, all are identical in matter and among all the entire
light is the same. The One Light is contained among all the different and
diverse things."
(Guru Ram Das, Majh, pg. 96)

"Many millions of beings, the Lord has made of good many descriptions. From
the Lord they emanated and into the Lord shall they be absorbed."
(Guru Arjan Dev, Ashtpadi, pg. 276)

"In forests, grass blades and mountains, the Supreme Lord is contained. As is
His will so are His creatures acts. The Lord is in wind, water and fire. He is
permeating the four quarters and ten directions. There is no place without
(Guru Arjan Dev, Ashtpadi, pg. 294)
Amongst all the forms, the Lord Himself is contained.

Through all the eyes, He Himself is the beholder.
The whole creation is His Body.
His praises He Himself hears.
He has made coming and going as a play.
He has rendered mammon subservient to Him.
Though amidst everything He remains unattached.
Whatever is to be said, He Himself says.
By His order man comes and by His order he goes.
Nanak, when it pleases Him, He blends the mortal with Himself, than.
Whatever comes from Him, that cannot be bad.
.....All that He does must be accepted. Through Guru's grace, Nanak has come
to know this.
(Guru Arjan Dev, Ashtpadi, pg. 294)

"I have heard the One Lord to be the treasure of imperishable peace. God is
said to be fully filling the ocean, dry land, sky and every heart. He looks equally
adorned amongst all the high and low, an ant and an elephant. The friends,
comrades, sons and relatives are all created by Him."
(Guru Arjan Dev, Slok, pg. 319)

"His plays, He Himself enacts. Coming and going, visible and invisible and the
entire world, He has made obedient to Himself."
(Guru Arjan Dev, Ashtpadi, pg. 281)

Meat prepared by the Muslim ritual slaughter is banned for Sikhs

"Yet holding the knife, the world they butcher. Wearing blue the rulers approval
they seek; With money derived from mlechhas the Puranas they worship.
Goats slaughtered over the unapproved Muslims texts they eat."
(Guru Nanak, Raga Asa, pg. 472)

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