KHĀLSĀ DHARAM SHĀSTAR, the Sikh manual of conduct enunciating Sikhs' social and religious duties was prepared under the patronage of Soḍhī Rām Naraiṇ Siṅgh, a scion of the Soḍhī family of Srī Anandpur Sāhib and was published at Srī Gurmat Press, Amritsar, in the year Nānakshāhī 445 (AD 1914). The name of the author given in abbreviation may be deciphered as Avtār Siṅgh Vahīrīa. The book contains 430 pages, excluding the introduction, the table of contents, the Anandpur genealogical table and a corrigendum. It is a manual of Sikh ceremonial and tenets; hence the name Pūrab Mīmāṅsā (after Pūrva Mīmāṅsā describing the Vedic ritual).

         The book, according to the author, was written to preserve Sikhism in its pure form which appeared to him to be becoming garbled. The manuscript had been sent to various Sikh authorities and some amendment made in the light of suggestions received. The author claims to have given a true interpretation of the Sikh way of life as communicated by Sikhs who were contemporary of the Gurūs and as supported by the Janam Sākhīs, the Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth, and handwritten pothīs or books available in various gurdwārās. He supports his argument by quotations from the Gurū Granth Sāhib, the Dasam Granth, Bhāī Gurdās' Vārāṅ and the Rahitnāmās or books on the Sikh code of conduct.

         The book stresses the independent identity of the Sikh faith. It is argued that Sikhism has its own individual philosophy, code of conduct and symbols and its own scripture. The author states that the Sikhs have respect for the Vedas, Shāstras and other religious books, but they do not accept them as their scripture; that status belongs to the Gurū Granth Sāhib only. At the same time the author contends that Sikhism is part and parcel of Hinduism; it is a branch of Hinduism purified by removing evils that had crept into this ancient religion.

         The contents are divided into nine parts, each with a separate heading. The first part is devoted to establishing the superiority of Sikh faith, the second deals with the rituals connected with the Gurū Granth Sāhib, the third is concerned with initiation ceremony of the Khālsā and the fourth describes the Khālsā code of conduct. The succeeding parts deal with Sikh shrines and institutions, punishments to be awarded for violation of the code, and social ceremonies and rites. The author has set down exhaustively the traditional rituals and ceremonies of Sikhism, classifying and elaborating practices, injunctions and penalties. Yet there are assertions contrary to Sikh belief and norms. For instance, admitting the abolition by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh of the personal gurūship and accepting the apotheosization of the Gurū Granth Sāhib, the author suggests that there should be seats set apart in the gurdwārās for the descendants of the Gurūs. Also, he favours a different form of initiation for Sikh women and suggests that they need not keep the kirpān like men.

Ātam Siṅgh