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Guru ka langar and Bibek?


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I want to educate myself and after reading long article on tapoban.org http://www.tapoban.org/langar.htm I find myself confuse because till now I thought that Guru ka langar was for everyone?

Now when I did search regarding this topic I came across few quotes I would like to share with Sadh-Sangat.

Guru Ka langar:

Langar is also a venue to encourage voluntary service or Sewa for humanity. Sitting and eating together on the floor instills humility and symbolizes equality - Equality amongst all human beings. Discrimination, be it on the grounds of race, sex, color, caste, religion, disability or any social stratification is not permissible in Sikhism.

Then it goes like this:

The Langar system originated during Guru Nanak Dev Ji's time. Once as a child, he was sent to the city by his father - Bhai Kalu Chand - to perform a profitable trade, he was given money for this purpose and a friend known as Bhai Bala was sent with him. During the journey however, the Guru came across some Sadhus (holy ascetics) who were resting in a nearby forest, the Guru spent most of the evening with them before continuing on his journey. Once at the city, he spent the money given by his father on food for the Sadhus - much to the discouragement of his friend. When the Guru returned home, he was scolded by his father.

Throughout his travels, he caused for food to be distributed wherever he rested and some years later, when he returned from his journeys, the prophet caused for the institution of Langar to become regular at the village of Kartarpur. The langar system continued uninterrupted from that time. During Guru Amar Das Ji's time, the Guru made it compulsory that anybody wishing to see him must first partake in the langar Pahile Pangat Pishe Sangat. The emperor Akbar was not exempt from this rule and during his visit, he found himself sitting alongside the lowly folks of his empire eating the same food as them.

The Langar is prepared from the food donations that are made before the Guru Granth Sahib, a kitchen is set aside for this purpose. When the food is prepared, it is taken before the Guru Granth Sahib and an Ardas (prayer) is performed asking the Guru to accept the food and bless the sevadars who prepared it and bless those that eat from the Langar. Following this, it is served in the Langar hall. Traditionally, the head must be covered and shoes removed in this room, the langar should be served on the floor with the sangat sitting cross legged. However, due to Western influences, it is normal to find chairs and table laid out and the rule of removing shoes has often been waived. Gurudwaras in the subcontinent however, still observe the traditional regulations.

allaboutsikhs.com has article related to langar as well.


Few quotes I want to share with Sadh-sangat here.

1. Ghali khae kichu hathon dehi, Nanak rahu pachhanih se1

(Save, eat and give away something; Nanak! such a person finds the path.]

2. Earning one's bread, saving something and giving away a part in charity was to be rewarded in life after death. In Var Asa he said:

Nanak agal so milai,

je khate, ghaie, de.

3. He defined a truly religious person thus:

Gali jog na hol

Ek dristi kari samsar janai

Jogi kahiye sol

[Religion does not consist in words, one who looks on all person~ as equal is religious.]

4. Guru Nanak insisted upon his disciples to share their meals with others, visitors, strangers, friends and foes alike. Every Sikh was expected to contribute liberally for the maintenance of Guru ka Langar. This could be done by making an offering in cash, kind and personal labour in cleaning, cooking and serving meals.

Now I searched on sikhnet and I found this response which has the same question like me.

source: http://www.sikhnet.com/sikhnet/discussion....0F?OpenDocument

I'm curious to know who writes this kind of thing. Sometimes people who are learning to be Sikh ask me questions like this. I usually respond by saying "Sikhs do not believe in meaningless ritual". If someone says, 'true Sikhs eat from iron', ask why. If they give you a good reason for eating from iron, then trust it isn't a meaningless practice, but realize our Gurus did not give such specific instructions.

Not to say that these questions shouldn't be asked, but sometimes they just seem so ridiculous.

I also usually tell people that Sikhism is a practical religion, we don't have strange lifestyle restrictions like fasting and eating foods that have to be specially prepared. Our Gurus told us to live the life of a householder, but most important are the spiritual directives they gave us.

In my opinion 'true Sikhs' concern themselves with truth more than with iron. It is with this attitude and the attitude that our only authorities are God and Guru, that these things should be questioned.

Also, I find this quote which makes it same as Hindu ritual.

None but a Brahmin ascetic cook can cook the meals and serve them . (ref: G.S. Ghurye, Indian Sadhus)

Note: I'm not starting this thread to hear your personal opinions. If you have something authentic to add please do so. And I claim to be Maha-moorakh on this topic, so don't quote me for asking this question. Sikhs supposed to ask where they find themselves confuse and article from tapoban.org is making me confuse.

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Sat Sri Akal:

One thing (not defending or attacking any group here):

The article quoted does not ban anyone from partaking of langar. What it is putting forth is that langar should be served in Sarbloh vessels and cooked by Amritdhari Sikhs. It makes no mention of banning anyone from langar.

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Let me make it clear as well that im not defending or attacking any jatha here. I found articles under gurmat and just want to discuss this according to gurmat point of view.

I don't know brother if you have finished reading the whole article but i've done it.

Here is paragraphs from the same article. And it gives direct indications of descrimination.

1. Various Puraatan rehitnamas also make clear the importance of Bibek for a Sikh. Bhai Daya Singh rehitnaama contains the following bachans: "Bhojanaad Moundit naal chhakey, Tankhaiyaa" or One who eats food with a Mona/non-Sikh, is guilty of a breach of conduct (Piara Singh Padam’s Rehitnamay pg. 72); also "Patr sarb loh kay, bhougtay asan souaad....loh patr mai chhakai," meaning: using utensils of sarbloh, one eats tasty food...one should eat in sarb loh utensils" (Padam, 75)

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Sat Sri Akal:

Forgive me, I missed that line on my first read. Well...that is a wrong statement and I think making your point known to the site administrators would be an appropriate action, as that flies completely in the face of the tradition of Langar. Perhaps they can either give you an explanation or remove it from the article.

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Food cooked/taken in such vessels contains many minerals which fullfill many deficienies of the body.... in the olden days when the nihang warriors lived in jungles, they didnt have proper food to nourish their bodies, so whatever they ate were in sarbloh vessels which took care of all thier nutrition needs

also some saints they mix salt in these vessels before eatin.. anyone know y?

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  • 3 weeks later...

A Bibi, who was strict Sarblohi, was recently administered to a hospital in the US after taking in too much in the way of iron and poisoning did result. I'm not familiar with the full science behind, however I do feel the context in which Sarblohi Bibek is to be practised and by whom is lost with the majority of those who claim to be followers of this maryada.

As per Iron in men, let it be known that excess iron is not simply got rid of by the body, and can lead to liver and heart problems.

As per Sarbohi Bibek and the use of Sarbloh in general within the Sikh Panth, its origins lie two fold as a challenge to the use of Gold and Copper in most Bhramanical Rituals and ceremonies and also as a direct legacy from the Tantrik Shivites as Sarabloh is closely connected with the Devi Kalika and Devi Puja (as I have addressed elsewhere).

The origins of Sarabloh bibek in addition to the health claims during hard times, also follows through with this symbolic reference to Chandi Puja, which in addition to the practice of Martial Arts also include respect for Sarabloh (in the form of weapons and utensils -Tegh and Degh respectively).

Forgive any errors on my part,


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Sat Sri Akal:

Not to brag Niranjana Sahib Ji, but I am in medical profession. Excess iron is eliminated in the stool and thus turns the stool a black color (common side effect of taking iron supplements). A genetic disorder can contribute to excessive iron absorption, called hemochromatosis. Otherwise, the body will only absorb what it needs and rid of the rest.

This is being taken from Dipiro JT, Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach. 4th edition. Pg. 1532 and pg 1537-1538.


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ms514, thanks for this information. I am not disputing that this, however having seen the effects of iron poisoning, this fact is clearly not set in stone.

I made my comment not in disregard of the facts you present, but as an observation of what can ALSO happen dependent upon the environment, individual, health and other inherited genetic and external conditioning factors.

Usually, when one takes too much iron, the first effect is irritation and ulceration of the stomach lining, resulting in nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting.

A few hours later the person can go into shock with a severe blood chemistry imbalance -please could you verify this, seeing you are closer to the subject (medically than me).

Is it true that when too much iron gets into the bloodstream, it goes to all the organs and can damage the stomach, liver, kidneys, lungs, blood vessels and brain?

I would imagine that one reason why iron poisoning is increasingly found nowadays is a result of the numerous over-the-counter and prescription tablets and liquids, such as ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate and ferrous fumarate that are easily available.

It is also found in many multivitamin preparations for both children and adults. Also, as we can see, many people are not aware that iron can be dangerous regarding it as "just a vitamin" or as a nutritional product instead of a medicine.

Please do comment further...

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Sat Sri Akal:

Yes Niranjana Sahib. Usuall iron toxicity is seen in children who take iron pills like candy and end up suffering from a MASSIVE overdose of iron. Another condition that can cause a problem is some ulceration in the intestines/sotmach, which can cause improper iron absorption into the body, leading to many problems with the major organ systems (liver damage, kidney damage, acidosis, excretion of blood, ulceration of stomach/intestines, ultimately shock).

A more common problem, especially in pregnant women, is actually anemia, who are commonly given iron supplements in pregnancy.

Sarbloh can be a contributor to iron poisoning...BUT only if some other morbidity exists (unless, as another Singh Sahib stated you find yourself chewing on a Sarbloh batta...in which case...?!?!?!?).

As one reads about the body, you learn that it is a very paradoxical system. On the one hand, exposing it to major stressors such as brain surgery or even amputations does not mean the end of life...the body is able to cope admirably and even able to reassign roles to brain regions (blind people can allocate the sight area to other senses, for example). On the other other hand, a minor genetic mutation can flood the body with cancer or a bursting of a small artery in the brain can kill a person almost instantly.

Humans exist on a string which God controls. As long as the Almighty jerks the string, we live and move. When the Almighty breaks the string, we fall from the living. These diseases are but excuses for that transition (though all to real for moorkhs like myself).

So if iron toxicity was a concern to refraining from Sarbloh, don't worry about it unless you have a condition that predisposes you to iron overload. Daas asks for forgiveness if any feelings were hurt.

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