Who Qualifies As A Sikh?

A Sikh is supposed to follow the path laid down by the Gurus, believe in the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib, keep the five k’s…all this is widely known. However, when it comes to defining who a Sikh is, there is a degree of ambiguity that crops up from time to time, often fuelled by vested political interests.

In defining a Sikh, we go back to the Rehat-namas issued after Guru Gobind Singh in which the teachings of the Gurus were or given as Code of Conduct by prominent Sikhs. In modern times, the need of defining who a Sikh is was largely legalistic, in response to a perceived need of having a Sikh body manage the affairs of historical gurdwaras which were then in the hands of the mahants. In 1915, Sikhs got together to define a Sikh and their definition had a bearing on the Sikh Gurdwaras Act which was adopted in 1925, It says:

Rehat Maryada


The Sikh Rehat Maryada, issued by the SGPC in 1945 after deliberations, terms Sikh as: “Any human being who faithfully believes in: (i) one immortal being. (ii) Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev to Guru Gobind Singh. (iii) Guru Granth Sahib. (iv) the utterance and teachings of the Ten Gurus and (v) the baptism bequeathed by the Tenth Guru and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion, is a Sikh.”

Amritdhari Sikh

The Sikh Gurdwaras Act says that Amritdhari Sikh means and includes every person who has taken khande-ka-amrit or Khanda Pahul prepared and administered according to the tenets of Sikh religion and rites at the hands of five pyare or the ‘beloved ones’

Sehajdhari Sikh

A Sehajdhari Sikh means a person: (i) who performs ceremonies according to Sikh rites; (ii) who does not use tobacco or kutha (halal meat) in any form; (iii) who is not a patit; and (iv) who can recite Mul Mantar .

Meaning of Patit





“Patit” means a person who being a Keshdhari Sikh trims or shaves his beard or keshas or who, after taking amrit commits any one or more of the four kurahits(breach of code) (a) trimming or shaving hair, (2) eating halal meat; (3) sexual contact with a person other than one’s spouse; and (4) using tobacco. 


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