Akand Path – Ritual or Spiritual?

Karminder Singh Dhillon,
PhD (Boston), Kuala Lumpur.

THE SIKH REHAT MARYADA (SRM) stipulation for the akhand paath begins as follows:

  • ਅਖੰਡ ਪਾਠ ਕਿਸੇ ਭੀੜ ਜਾਂ ਉਤਸ਼ਾਹ ਵੇਲੇ ਕੀਤਾ ਜਾਂਦਾਂ ਹੈ।[[1] This stipulation provides the two conditions during which an akhand paath is to be done – ਭੀੜ  and ਉਤਸ਼ਾਹ.  The Punjabi University at Patiala’s dictionary defines BIV as “multitude, swarm, stampede, and crisis.”[2] The same dictionary defines auqSwh as “zeal, enthusiasm, ardour, verve, avidity.” It is clear that both terms (ਭੀੜ and ਉਤਸ਼ਾਹ) thus denote two extreme ends of sorrow and happiness respectively.  Using the vocabulary of the Punjabi University, it can be surmised that an akhand paath is to be done when one’s sorrow is akin to being “swarmed or stampeded with a multitude of crisis,” or when one’s joy is one of “enthusiasm, ardour, verve and avidity”. Given the modern world we live in, sorrow and happiness are very subjective indeed. Yet such subjectivity cannot take away primary rationale and basic logic from our attempt to make sense of the above mentioned SRM stipulation.  And in doing so the one thing that comes across clear is that this is a limiting The purpose of using the terms (ਭੀੜ and ਉਤਸ਼ਾਹ) as derived from two extreme ends of the spectrum of human emotions is twofold.  The first is to seriously narrow the scope of both the emotions of happiness and sorrow that are applicable for an akhand paath. The second is to limit severely the circumstances under which an akhand path is to be undertaken.

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