KAR BHET, from Persian kdr (lit. work, labour, occupation) and Hindi bhent (lit. meeting, offering), denotes voluntary offering made by a devotee to the Guru. It has been a common practice especially in India, for one going to make obeisance to a saint, teacher, the deity, or king to carry with him some bhent or offering. The bhent, as distinguished from legal or customary taxes or tithes, could be in the form of cash, jewellery, a quantity of grain or some other farm produce. If one had nothing better to offer, one could take out a flower, a petal or a green leaf.
The term kdr bhet which gained currency in early Sikhism signified offerings made by Sikhs to the Guru. A typical connotation was that kdr bhet must come from earnings made by honest labour or work (kdr). Guru Nanak had extolled kiral, synonymous with kdr or ghdl (hard physical labour or industry). Further, unlike bhent which once offered became the property of the personage to whom it was offered, kdr bhet was meant to be spent on works of service, such as Guru ka Langar, the free community kitchen, the digging of wells and tanks and construction of dharamsdids or places of worship.
Sikhs brought offerings to the Guru directly or made these over to masandsor leaders appointed by the Guru in different parts.The masands carried the collections to the Guru when they led sangats to his presence or otherwise visited him. The system remained in vogue until the lime of Guru Gobind Singh who, receiving complaints of malpractice, discontinued it and instructed the sangats or local fellowships or devotees to organize collection of kdr bhel and its remittance to the Guru through hundis, equivalent of modern bank drafts.
Now offerings, mostly in cash, are laid in front of the Guru Granth Sahib, by the devotees as they go to the gurudwaras to pay homage and to perform religious devotions.The word in common use today is dasvandh or one-tenth of the income which every Sikh is expected to contribute in the name of the Guru to the common funds of the community. It is relevant to compare kdr bhel to kdr sevd, another peculiarly Sikh practice of offering free voluntary labour for works such as the de-silting of sarovars, or sacred tanks, and building or rebuilding of gurudwaras.
1. Kahn Singli, Bli;ii, Gnrmat Mart find. Amritsar, 1962
2. Padaiii, Piar.i Singli, Rdhitname. Patiala, 1971