BIBEKBARDHI, (bibek= discrimination or discipline, bard/if = ocean; by implication, “guide to Sikh religious practice”) is a collection of rahit namas or codes of conduct compiled in AD 1877 by Pandit Bhagvan Singh, a Brahman who converted to Sikhism under the influence of Baba Sumer Singh, celebrated high priest of Takht Sri Patna Sahib. The work has never been published and the manuscript, believed to be written in the compiler`s own hand, is preserved at the Dr Balbir Singh Sahitya Kendra at Dehra Dun. The manuscript comprises 140 sheets, written on both sides, of plain handmade paper of approximately foolscap size. Paper, obviously procured at different times, ranges in colour from off white to light cream.
Different pens and inks have been used, but the hand is throughout the same. The text begins with the compiler`s invocation to the goddess Kali, followed by a section stressing the importance of bibek, i.e. strict observance of the Sikh code of conduct. Bhagvan Singh, then, proceeds to specify the code a Sikh is expected to follow. Like other writers of rahit namas, he lays down rules of conduct for a Sikh embracing personal, social and religious aspects of his life.
To support his prescriptions, he puts forth copious illustrations and quotations from the Sikh sacred literature, though these are not always relevant and germane to the point sought to be upheld.A major part of the work consists of reproduction of several older rahit namas such as those of Bhai Mani Singh (d. 1737), Bhai Nand Lal, Bhai Chaupa Singh, Bhai Prahlad Singh, and Kavi Sainapati. Among the lesser known rahit namas are “Rahatmala Rahat nama Atharvan Muktnama Jo Suraj Prakash Adko Men Kaha Hai,” “Bhai Sukha Singh Anandpurie Ke Gur Bilas Me Se Rahat Bachan Chhante Hain,” “Malve ki Sakhi Me Jo Rahatname Ke Bachan Hain Dasam Guru Krit,” “Bibek Bodhni Sapat Sati Yane Baba Sumer Singh Ji Krit,” and “Jo Muktsar Tirath Me Guru Ji Sabh Sikhon Ko Sunaye.” In all, the manuscript has, according to the author`s own calculation, 2,555 bachans or sayings.
In the index, appended to the manuscript the author has classified various rahits and worked out the total number of injunctions set down. The work is important insofar as it gathers in one volume many old rahitnamas and authorities, but most of the compiler`s own writing is under Brahamanical influence and at several places he goes against the Sikh tenets. For his involvement with this genre of Sikh literature, he is also known as Bhagvan Singh Rahitnamia. He is the author as well of a rahitnama called Rahit Darpan.
1. Padam, Piara Singh, Rahi`tname. Patiala, 1974
2. Kahn Singh, Bhai, Gurushabad RatnaJcar Mahan KosA. Patiala, 1974
3. Nripinder Singh, The Sikh Moral Tradition. Delhi, 1990