Sikhism is propounded on three basic rules that serve as a guide for a spiritually elevated existence. The three principles are popularly known as Kirt Kamani, Naam Japna and Wandkey Chhakhana.

Guru Nanak Sahib ji and our Sikh gurus led by example with a life as householders. For the physical day-to-day affairs, Guru Nanak advised his Sikh to be a spiritually honest householder (Kirt Kamani), instead of being a renunciate as this is equivalent to being a beggar. This statute is one of Guru Nanak Sahib ji’s important social reforms at that time.

(SGGS 587 Raag Vadhans M: 3)

ਇਸੁ ਭੇਖੈ ਥਾਵਹੁ ਗਿਰਹੋ ਭਲਾ ਜਿਥਹੁ ਕੋ ਵਰਸਾਇ ॥

Eis Bhaekhai Thhaavahu Gireho Bhalaa Jithhahu Ko Varasaae ||

Instead of wearing these beggar’s robes, it is better to be a householder, and give to others.

There are many verses in Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji relating to the qualities

that a householder should cultivate. Above all, the Sikh is to be sincere as a householder. He is to stay away from deceit and corruption in all his dealings with others. An obsessive attachment to his family and status is to be avoided.

(SGGS 1127 Raag Bhairo M : 3)

ਜਾਤਿ ਕਾ ਗਰਬੁ ਨ ਕਰੀਅਹੁ ਕੋਈ ॥

Jaath Kaa Garab N Kareeahu Koee ||

No one should be proud of his social class and status.

As a family man, the householder should not be too preoccupied with worldly wealth and pleasures, or even with position and power. He has to bear in mind that all this is not permanent but temporal.

(SGGS 1287 Raag Malar M : 1)

ਦੁਖੀ ਦੁਨੀ ਸਹੇੜੀਐ ਜਾਇ ਤ ਲਗਹਿ ਦੁਖ ॥

Dukhee dunee saherreeai jaai ta lagahi dukh

Worldly possessions are obtained by pain and suffering; when they are gone, they leave pain and suffering.

While engrossed in his household commitments, the Sikh has to strive to attain spiritual unity with his Creator (Naam Japna). First and foremost he has to accept the supremacy of the Divine who is without equal – for this is the primal focus in Sikhism. The qualities of the Creator are revealed in the opening verse of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.

(SGGS 1 Jap)

ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

Ikoankaar Sathnaam Karathaa Purakh Nirabho Niravair Akaal Moorath Ajoonee Saibhan Gurprasaadh||

One Universal Creator God, The Name Is Truth, Creative Being Personified, No Fear, No Hatred, Image Of The Undying, Beyond Birth, Self-Existent. By Guru’s Grace~

Jap means to contemplate, to realise, to know and to practise (not chant). Hence the term Naam Japna means to remember God and to invoke His presence in our consciousness, realise and accept Godly virtues and imbibe them in our life, here and now.

(SGGS 1026 Raag Maaroo M : 1)

ਦੇਹੀ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਨਿਵਾਸੀ ॥

Dhaehee Andhar Naam Nivaasee ||

The Naam, the Name of the Lord, abides deep within the body.

In order to be spiritually graced, a Sikh householder must abide by the teachings of his guru. This is termed as Gurmat, the wisdom of the guru as scribed in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.

(SGGS 30 Siri Raag M : 3)

ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਘਟਿ ਚਾਨਣਾ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਉ ॥੨॥

Guramathee Ghatt Chaananaa Sabadh Milai Har Naao ||2||

Through the Guru’s Teachings, the heart is illuminated. Through the Shabad, the Name of the Lord is received. ||2||

By using his bibek budhi (mental facilities), a Sikh householder can choose to be a Gurmukh (God-inspired) if he reads and sticks by the scriptures. Thus he can adapt his life-style accordingly by acquiring gyaan (spiritual wisdom) from Gurbani.

(SGGS 759 Raag Suhee M : 4)

ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੋ ਦੇਇ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇ ॥

Gur Giaan Padhaarathh Naam Hai Har Naamo Dhaee Dhrirraae ||

The wisdom of the Guru is the treasure of the Naam. The Guru implants and enshrines the Lord’s Name in his Sikhs.

One’s bibek budhi (logic and reasoning ability) when inspired by the gems in Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji will prevent the householder from making harmful choices in all matters relating to the Sikh way of life.

(SGGS 711 Raag Todee M : 4)

ਬਿਬੇਕ ਬੁਧਿ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਪਾਈ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੇਰਾ ॥

Bibaek Budhh Sathigur Thae Paaee Gur Giaan Guroo Prabh Kaeraa ||

From the True Guru, I have obtained a discriminating intellect; the Guru has revealed the spiritual wisdom of God.

One who looks away from this path, preferring to listen to his own mind is a Manmukh. He may become lured into encompassing worldly wealth, power or position at the expense of others. Without a guru to provide guidance, a Manmukh may easily be enticed into practising meaningless manmatti (decisions of own mind) rituals that offer no spiritual elevation.

(SGGS 508 Raag Gujri Ki Vaar M : 5)

ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਚੇਤਹਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਵੀਚਾਰਹਿ ਇਹੁ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਕਾ ਆਚਾਰੁ ॥

Naam N Chaethehi Sabadh N Veechaarehi Eihu Manamukh Kaa Aachaar ||

They do not think of the Naam, the Name of the Lord, and they do not contemplate the Word of the Shabad. This is the conduct of the self-willed manmukhs.

Kam krodh lobh moh hankaar are the five vices that need to be discarded.

Instead, good deeds and actions must be the focus of the householder. These can be realised by acknowledging the Hukam (Divine Will) of the Creator and living in harmony with His laws.

(SGGS 1 Jap)

ਹੁਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ ॥੧॥

Hukam Rajaaee Chalanaa Naanak Likhiaa Naal ||1||

O Nanak, it is written that you shall obey the Hukam of His Command, and walk in the Way of His Will. ||1||

Gurbani is the tool that reveals the Shabad or Naam of this Hukam and this enlightenment is only through nadar, His Grace. Hence the Sikh needs the guru as his guide for the spiritual journey of life.

(SGGS 646 Raag Sorath M : 3)

ਇਕਾ ਬਾਣੀ ਇਕੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਇਕੋ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥

Eikaa Baanee Eik Gur Eiko Sabadh Veechaar ||

There is One Bani; there is One Guru; there is one Shabad to contemplate.

The positive cultivation of both physical and mental states will result in the firm belief that all mankind is a creation of the same Hukam and that all men are brothers with an equal status.

(SGGS 611 Raag Sorath M : 3)

ਏਕੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਏਕਸ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਤੂ ਮੇਰਾ ਗੁਰ ਹਾਈ ॥:

Eaek Pithaa Eaekas Kae Ham Baarik Thoo Maeraa Gur Haaee ||

The One God is our father; we are the children of the One God. You are our Guru.

Sewa (service) of others then becomes an essential offshoot of spirituality. A Sikh will naturally begin to indulge in wandkey chhakhana (share and care), in total compliance with the three basic principles of Sikhism.

(SGGS 110 Raag Maajh M : 5)

ਸੇਵਾ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਏ ॥

Saevaa Surath Sabadh Chith Laaeae ||

Center your awareness on seva and focus your consciousness on the Word of the Shabad.

So can we safely define a Sikh of Guru Nanak as a householder who practises truthfulness and honesty in all his dealings? Yes, if this also includes deeds that benefit his own family as well as others around him. That means society at large – encompassing not only mankind but all living creatures, too.

(SGGS 286 Raag Gauree Sukhmanee M : 5)

ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਤ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਹਕਾਮੀ ॥ ਤਿਸ ਕਉ ਹੋਤ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ॥

Saevaa Karath Hoe Nihakaamee ||

This Ko Hoth Paraapath Suaamee ||

One who performs selfless service, without thought of reward, shall attain his Lord and Master.

This householder holds the Creator in high esteem as Satnaam (Truth), the source of all in the universe and beyond. Spiritually awakened persons are aware that the Creator dwells in all his creation (the Divine is all-pervading). They are therefore always kind, compassionate and merciful to all.

(SGGS 1357 Salok Sehshritee M : 5)

ਦਯਾਲੰ ਸਰਬਤ੍ਰ ਜੀਆ ਪੰਚ ਦੋਖ ਬਿਵਰਜਿਤਹ॥

dyaalanǧ sarbatra jeeaa   paňch dokh bivarjitah.

Being kind to all beings and eradicating the five vices from the mind.

The mentor of the householder is the guru who guides him in the path to self-realisation via the Shabad/Naam/Hukam. Everyone will reap what he sows so it’s best to recognise your Mool (inner self) and walk the path of Truth.

(SGGS 474 Raag Asa M : 1)

ਆਪਣ ਹਥੀ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਕਾਜੁ ਸਵਾਰੀਐ ॥੨੦॥

Aapan Hathhee Aapanaa Aapae Hee Kaaj Savaareeai ||20||

With our own hands, let us resolve our own affairs. ||20||

A Sikh is thus a householder who can be close to God while living a family life as depicted in the tenets of Guru Nanak Sahib ji. Kirt Kamani, Naam Japna and Wandkey Chhakhana will be his guidelines on this journey called jeevan (life).

(SGGS 232 Raag Gauree M : 3)

ਜੀਵਨ ਮੁਕਤੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੋ ਹੋਈ ॥: ਪਰਮ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਪਾਵੈ ਸੋਈ ॥

Jeevan Mukath Guramukh Ko Hoee || Param Padhaarathh Paavai Soee ||

How rare are those who, as Gurmukh, become Jivan Mukta – liberated while yet alive. They alone obtain the supreme treasure.

The world will surely be a better place if more people can adopt these universal values. So let us all attempt to walk together with these guidelines to lead us on.