We often talk about three basic principles of Sikhism in accordance of which a Sikh householder ought to live his life.

He should NOT be 

– idle or a ‘holy’ beggar 

– a cheat who earns by deceit

– too attached to his family or material wealth 

– obsessed with power, position or worldly pleasures

Instead he should be true to these three principles.



1. Nam Juppna

Realize Godly virtues at all times (ceaseless devotion to God).


2. Dharam di Kirat Karnee

Earning/making a living honestly based on spirituality without exploitation or fraud.

3. Vand Chhakhna

Sharing with others, helping those with less and who are in need.

Guru Nanak in Rag Maajh has this to say :

ਪਹਿਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਹਲਾਲ ਦੁਇ ਤੀਜਾ ਖੈਰ ਖੁਦਾਇ ॥

Pehla Sach Halal Dhue Teeja Khair Khudhaey ||

Let the first be truthfulness, the second honest living, and the third charity in the Name of God.

ਚਉਥੀ ਨੀਅਤਿ ਰਾਸਿ ਮਨੁ ਪੰਜਵੀ ਸਿਫਤਿ ਸਨਾਇ ॥

Chouthee Neeath Ras Man Panjvee Sifat Sanaey ||

Let the fourth be good will to all, and the fifth the praise of the Lord.

Naam Juppna

We all have “names” given by others so we can have a Gareeb (poor) Singh who is a billionaire or we can have a Dhanee (rich) Singh who has not a dime to his name! We can have a Jarnail (general) Singh who doesn’t have any army!


Unfortunately we have similarly reduced Naam to mean NAME. BUT the true NAAM – the Gunns (Virtues) of HIM – are not empty like our names are. He is the real stuff. If He is Dyaal then He really is “Dyaaltah da sagar” (Ocean of Generosity). If He is Gobind, Narayan, Hari – then it is for REAL. That is one way our “names” and His NAAM differ!

The KIRAT that we do of Dharam is the Naam that we IMBIBE and those GUNNS that we share. If we don’t have any Dyaaltah (compassion) for example as one GUNN of the Dyaal Creator, how can we share that? We first have to cultivate more and more Dyaaltah and then we share it as daswandh.

(SGGS 141 Rag Maajh M : 1)

ਵਿਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਹੋਰੁ ਧਨੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਹੋਰੁ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਸਭੁ ਛਾਰਾ ॥

Vin Navai Hor Dhan Nahee Hor Bikhia Sabh Chhara ||

Without Naam, there is no other wealth. Everything else is just poison and ashes.

Dharam Dee Kirat

A vast majority of the people in the world earn a living (kirat karnee).  Even a chor (robber) or a corrupt person does his “kirat” and fills his pockets. Sajjan Thuggh had a vast hoard of treasure accumulated by his thuggish activities of robbery (including murder) and Guru Nanak ji certainly recognised that.

(SGGS 1245 Rag Sarang M : 1)

ਘਾਲਿ ਖਾਇ ਕਿਛੁ ਹਥਹੁ ਦੇਇ ॥

Ghal Khaey Kichh Hathu Dey ||

ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਸੇਇ ॥੧॥

Nanak Rah Pachhaneh Sey ||1||

One who works for what he eats, and gives some of what he has

– O Nanak, he knows the Path. ||1||

DHARAM Dee Kirat therefore requires pre-requisites. The primary condition is the performance of our livelihood /deeds within the parameters of Godly virtues. The secondary condition is to earn our living sans the trappings of materialism (greed, deceit, dishonesty etc).

Guru Nanak anchored our KIRAT on DHARAM.  It is a KIRAT that is anchored in and held up by the principles of Guru Nanak’s spirituality in every aspect.  DHARAM must be part of the conceptualization of our KIRAT, its actual performance and in obtaining its rewards. 

That is why the word DHARAM is crucial.  It is from the third aspect above (obtaining the rewards of our DHARAM Dee Kirat) that the principle of VAND CHHAKHNA arises. 

(SGGS 266 Rag Gauri Sukhmani M : 5)

ਸਰਬ ਧਰਮ ਮਹਿ ਸ੍ਰੇਸਟ ਧਰਮੁ ॥

Sarab Dharam Meh Sreyshat Dharam ||

ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਕਰਮੁ ॥

Har Ko Nam Jupp Nirmal Karam ||

SAGAL – of all

SREYSHAT-  most noble 

HAR KO NAAM – Virtues of the Omnipotent God 

JUPP -realize (inculcate, adopt, become).

KARAM – deeds, acts, synonymous with KIRET 

NIRMAL- devoid of the trappings of materialism. 

Meaning: The most noble DHARAM is the realization of Godly virtues and the performance of KIRAT while imbued in those Godly virtues. 

Vand Chhakna

Naam is the acceptance of His Laws and Gunns and THAT is what we need to share (Vand Chhakna). We Sikhs have dealt with the Vand Chhakna/ Daswandh issue rather platonically and REDUCED it to 10% of money/savings/salary etc and Vand Chhakna just to sharing Guru Ka Langgar (which is all ok ) but it is NOT the End-all and Be-all at all.

There can be no VAND CHHAKHNA in the Sikhi sense if there is no DHARAM in our KIRAT in the first place. 

Money and material earned by unfair or illicit means can be donated, shared or given to others in abundance. Yet they can NEVER be VAND CHHAKHNA in the Sikhi sense.

DHARAM is the real qualifier in this and unknowingly (or perhaps slyly), how has this vital qualifier been dropped when we talk about this aspect?

We need to emphasise HONEST Labour based on Religious Principles instead of just Labour.  Only the fruits of such Honest Labour can qualify for Vand Chhakna.

What about those who give as a show of their wealth or to gain honour as a reward?

(SGGS 466 Rag Asa M :1)

ਦੇ ਦੇ ਮੰਗਹਿ ਸਹਸਾ ਗੂਣਾ ਸੋਭ ਕਰੇ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥

Dey Dey Mangeh Sehsa Guna Sobh Karey Sansar ||

They give and give, but ask a thousand-fold more, and hope that the world will honor them.

(SGGS 466 Rag Asa M :1)

ਹਉ ਵਿਚਿ ਦਿਤਾ ਹਉ ਵਿਚਿ ਲਇਆ ॥

Hau Vich Ditha Hau Vich Leya ||

ਹਉ ਵਿਚਿ ਖਟਿਆ ਹਉ ਵਿਚਿ ਗਇਆ ॥

Hau Vich Khatteya Hau Vich Geya ||

In ego they give, and in ego they take.

In ego they earn, and in ego they lose.

(SGGS 466 Rag Asa M :2 )

ਹਉਮੈ ਏਹਾ ਜਾਤਿ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਹਿ ॥

Haumai Eha Jaat Hai Haumai Karam Kamahi ||

This is the nature of ego, that people perform their actions in ego.

Vand Chhakna or sharing/caring should be from the heart without ego or expectation of recognition or reward.

Dharam is the ESSENCE in Kirat Karnee, Naam Juppna and Vand Chhakna


(SGGS 286 Rag Gauri Sukhmani M : 5)

ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਤ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਹਕਾਮੀ ॥

Seva Karat Hoey Nihkamee ||

One who performs selfless service, without thought of reward,

ਤਿਸ ਕਉ ਹੋਤ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ॥

Tis Kau Hoth Parapath Suamee ||

Shall attain his Lord and Master.