All About the Sikhism Code of Conduct

Principles and Mandates of Sikhism

The Sikhism code of conduct is known as Sikh Reht Maryada (SRM) and outlines the mandates of daily living for every Sikh as well as requirements for the initiated. The code of conduct defines who is a Sikh and offers guidance for the Sikh in personal and public life. The code of conduct stipulates principles and mandates, according to the teachings of Sikhism's 10 gurus and includes protocol guidelines for worship, care of the Guru Granth Sahib and reading of scriptures, important life events, ceremonies, practices, rituals, baptism and initiation requirements, prohibitions and penance.

Code of Conduct & Conventions Document

Sikh Reht Maryada
Sikh Reht Maryada. Photo © [Khalsa Panth]

The Sikh code of conduct outlined in the document Sikh Reht Maryada, (SRM), is based on historical mandates and the decrees established by the teachings of Sikhism's ten gurus and baptism bequeathed by Tenth Guru Gobind Singh:

  • Rahit the Code of Conduct
  • Maryada Conventions of Compliance

Five Defining Essentials of Sikhism

Ik Onkar - One God
Ik Onkar - One God. Photo © [S Kahlsa]

A Sikh may be born into a family who practices Sikhs or may convert to the Sikh faith. Any one is welcome to become a Sikh. The code of conduct defines a Sikh as one who believes in:

The Three Pillars of Sikh Principle

The Three Principles of Sikhism
The Three Principles of Sikhism. Photo © [S Khalsa]

The code of conduct outlines three principles developed and established by the ten gurus. These three pillars form the foundation of Sikh living:

  1. Personal daily worship routine:
    Early Morning Meditation:
    1. Morning Ablution
    2. Five Daily Prayers
    3. Formal Prayer of Petition
    4. Contemplative Meditation
    5. Meditating on the Divine Identity
    6. Meditating on the Wondrous Enlightener
    7. Top Ten Tips for Establishing Early Morning Meditation
  2. Honest Earnings
    1. Ten Percent Tithe
  3. Community Service:
    1. Sacred Food Service
    2. The Guru's Free Kitchen
    3. The Sikh Dining Tradition
    4. All About Langar, the Guru's Free Kitchen
    5. Sikh Tradition of Selfless Service Illustrated

Gurdwara Worship Protocol and Etiquette

Gurdwara Bradshaw Worship Service
Gurdwara Bradshaw Worship Service. Photo © [Khalsa Panth]

The code of conduct includes the etiquette and protocol for worship in the gurdwara which houses the Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism's Holy Scripture. It is necessary to remove shoes and cover the head before entering any gurdwara. Smoking and alcoholic beverages are not allowed on the premises. Gurdwara worship service includes singing traditional hymns, prayer and reading scripture:

Guru Granth Sahib Scripture Etiquette

Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib. Photo &copy [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

The holy scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, is the eleventh and everlasting guru of the Sikhs. The code of conduct requires Sikhs to learn to read Gurmukhi script and encourages reading of scripture every day with a goal of repeatedly reading the entire Guru Granth Sahib. Etiquette and protocol is to be followed when reading and caring for the Guru Granth Sahib in the gurdwara or home:

Prashad and Offering of Sacrament

Blessing the Prashad
Blessing the Prashad. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Prashad is a sweet sacred delicacy made with butter sugar and flour and is offered as a sacrament to the congregation with every worship service. The code of conduct gives guidance for preparing and serving prashad:

Tenets and Teachings of the Gurus

Children's Camp Kirtan Class
Children's Camp Kirtan Class 2008. Photo © [Kulpreet Singh]

The code of conduct incorporates both personal and public aspects of life. A Sikh is to follow the tenets of the ten gurus teachings and recognize the Guru Granth Sahib, (Sikhism's holy scripture) as sovereign from birth until death, regardless of whether or not they have opted for initiation and baptism. Every Sikh is to be educated about Sikhism. Anyone interested in conversion to Sikhism ought to adopt the Sikh way of life at earliest opportunity as they go about learning the precepts of Sikhism:

Ceremonies and Important Life Events

Wedding Ceremony
Wedding Ceremony. Photo © [Hari]

The code of conduct offers guidance for conducting ceremonies marking important life events. Ceremonies take place in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism's holy scripture, and are accompanied by singing hymns, prayer, reading scripture, and a communal meal from the Guru's free kitchen:

Amrit Initiation and Baptism

Amritsanchar - Initiation of Khalsa
Amritsanchar - Initiation of Khalsa. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

The code of conduct advises a Sikh who has reached the age of accountability to be baptized. All Sikh men and women of any caste, color, or creed have the right to be initiated:

Code of Conduct FAQ

Intact Eyebrow of Sikh Woman
Intact Eyebrow of Sikh Woman. Photo © [Jasleen Kaur]

Frequently Asked Questions about the Sikhism code of conduct on a variety of subjects include:

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Your Citation
Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "All About the Sikhism Code of Conduct." Learn Religions, Mar. 4, 2021, Khalsa, Sukhmandir. (2021, March 4). All About the Sikhism Code of Conduct. Retrieved from Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "All About the Sikhism Code of Conduct." Learn Religions. (accessed June 3, 2023).