There are two unique institutions in Sikhism. Sangat and Pangat. Sangat is the congregation where under Sat Guru’s blessings we get together. Pangat is the line of dinners at the Community kitchen. Here we learn the first lesson of Sewa (Service). Here we cook food, serve food and water to the diners who sit in a line irrespective of social status, caste and creed or of any other factor. Feeding the hungry is an integral function of the Gurdwara. This service is called Langar.

In short Sikhs are enjoined to share with brethren Guru’s commands are very clear in this respect. “Eat spend but share, it will not exhaust but ever expand.”

”He who eats and shares his hard earnings has found the way to salvation.”

This institution was started by Guru Nanak when he settled at Kartarpur a habitation he himself founded on the Burks of river Ravi. There a community of disciples grew around him, It ‘was not a monastic order but a fellowship of ordinary men engaged in ordinary occupations of life. Here was introduced an institution of far reaching importance. Langar (free kitchen) where all sat together to share a common repast overruling the distinctions of caste and creed. This work is undertaken voluntarily and zealously and is considered a particularly pious duty.

Guru Amar Das, the third Guru, made it mandatory to eat in the langar. When Emperor Akbar paid a visit to Guru Amar Das at Goindwal on his way to Delhi from Lahore, he had to sit in Pangat to eat the langar before he could be presented before Guru Amar Das. Emperor Akbar offered a large sum for this purpose which Guru Amar Das returned saying the langar would loose its sanctity by becoming one man’s institution. Emperior Akbar eating langar seated with commoners,

‘When President Nasser of Egypt visited the Golden Temple, he was so deeply impressed by the unique sight of Kashmiri Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, the rich and poor with tattered clothes, sitting as equals in the Langar Hall of the Golden Temple that he and his party left all the money they carried as donations for the Guru Ka Langar (Guru’s free kitchen).

It is a sin for a Sikh to question man’s faith and creed before offering him a seat in the community kitchen. It is open to all human beings of all Nationalities and all people of all countries. The rich and poor the black and white, the Hindus, Muslims: and Christians all sit in a row and eat to their fill the food that is prepared.

The guru ka langar was the first target of attack by Indian army in June 1984.

As Crisis Worsens, It Appears He Can Do No Right.

Article extracted from this publication >>  April 7, 1989