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It is said that when Guru Gobind Singh first initialled the five Sikhs (Khalsa) in 1699 he mentioned the four Kurehta (the four prohibitions) to them after they had taken Amrit (baptism ceremony with water) at Vaisakhi 1699. The Guru asked the five Panj Piare (beloved of the Guru) to refrain from the four Kurehtas; namely,

  • 1. Cutting or trimming of hair or Kesh,
  • 2. Fornication or adultery,
  • 3. Halal meat or flesh of animal slaughtered in a slow and painful manner, (some say all meat is banned - the Guru is believed to have used the word - "Kuthha")
  • 4. Use of tobacco and intoxication drug.

The meaning of the Punjabi word ਕੁਠਾ "Kutha"

View 1. The word 'Kutha' (ਕੁਠਾ s ) mean meat prepared after very slow, deliberate and prolonged slaughtering of an animal in ritualistic Islamic religious tradition. Almost all over India this is locally termed as "Halal".

View 2. The word 'Kutha' (ਕੁਠਾ s ) simply means to "kill or destroy or eliminate"; there is no connection will the word "halal" or the ritualistic slaughtering method used to kill.

Use of these words

Etymologically, the word ‘Kuthha’ (ie: ਕੁਠਾ, killed) is a past participle which has been derived from the root ‘Kohna’ (ਕੋਹਣਾ s ) which means simply "to slay or kill". 'Kohna' (ਕੋਹਣਾ) is a word not used in the holy Granth. This word does not mean to slay slowly or according to the Muslim method.

In fact, this word has never been used in the Muslim literature or in their general language to refer to meat obtained by killing animals with any sharp weapon irrespective of whether any holy hymns are read at that time or not.

Another similar word used in the holy Granth is 'Kuhe' (ਕੁਹਿ s ); ""ਕੁਹਿ ਬਕਰਾ ਰਿੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਖਾਇਆ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਆਖੈ ਪਾਇ ॥ Kuhi bakrā rinniĥ kẖāiā sabẖ ko ākẖai pāe. The goat is killed, cooked and eaten, and everyone then says, "Put on the sacred thread""" (SGGS p 471) .In this line of Gurbani the word 'Kuhee' is used to simply mean 'kill'.


The word 'Kutha' (Punjabi: ਕੁਠਾ s ) has been used in Gurbani a number of times; below are three Shabads in the Guru Granth Sahib which have the word "Kutha" in them:

Shabad 1: ik niranjan rav rahiaa bhao duyaa kuthaa

SGGS Page 321 Full Shabad
ਇਕੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਰਵਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਭਾਉ ਦੁਯਾ ਕੁਠਾ ॥
ਹਰਿ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮੰਗੈ ਜੋੜਿ ਕਰ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਦੇਵੈ ਤੁਠਾ ॥13॥

ik niranjan rav rahi-aa bhaa-o duyaa kuthaa.
har naanak mangai jorh kar parabh dayvai tuthaa.
The One Immaculate Lord is pervading everywhere; He destroys the love of duality.
Nanak begs for the Lord`s Name, with his palms pressed together; by His Pleasure, God has granted it. ((13))

This Shabad appears not to refer to any type of meat?

  • Word by Word breakdown
  • ik means "one", numeral "1"
  • niranjan means "Immaculate and Pure"
  • rav from Rami*1 means "wander, roam, dwell, enjoy, take delight in, contemplate, adore"
  • rahi-aa from rahi ( ਰਿਹ ) means "remain, fix, support, last, continue, restrain"
  • bhaa-o from sk Bhava *1 means "love" "
  • duyaa *1 means "second", "the other"

The word 'Kutha' here simply means 'destroy'

Shabad 2: Aabhaakhiaa kaa kuthaa bakraa khaana

SGGS Page 472 Full Shabad
ਅਭਾਖਿਆ ਕਾ ਕੁਠਾ ਬਕਰਾ ਖਾਣਾ ॥

abhaakhi-aa kaa kuthaa bakraa khaanaa
They eat the forbidden "Kuthaa" sheep

Here the word "kuthaa" is in relation to meat of sheep/goat

  • Word by Word breakdown
  • Abhaakhi means according to Reference 1 below: 1. (from Sanskrit Abhaksha) "uneatable" 2. (from Sanskrit A+Bhasha) bad language, language not to be uttered. Also Abhakkhu ( ਅਭਖੁ ) (from Sk. Abhaksha) uneatable, forbidden food.
  • Kaa means "of"
  • bakraa mean "sheep", bakree means "goat"
  • khaanaa mean "to eat"; "is eaten"

Here the word 'Kutha' means 'dead' or 'killed'

The word ਅਭਖੁ s  can be seen to be:

  • SGGS Gurmukhi-Gurmukhi Dictionary states to be:

Abẖakẖ(u). ਨਾ ਖਾਣ ਯੋਗ, ਮੰਦੀ (ਵਸਤ)। unedible, uneatable. ਉਦਾਹਰਨ: ਲੋਭੀ ਜੰਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਈ ਭਖੁ ਅਭਖੁ ਸਭ ਖਾਇ ॥ Raga Siree Raag 5, 91, 2:2 (P: 50).

  • SGGS Gurmukhi-English Dictionary states to be:

[n.] (from Sk. Abhaksha) uneatable, forbidden food

Shabad 3: Tis daa kuthaa hovai saaykh

SGGS Page 956 Full Shabad
ਤਿਸ ਦਾ ਕੁਠਾ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੇਖੁ ॥
ਲੋਹੂ ਲਬੁ ਨਿਕਥਾ ਵੇਖੁ ॥

tis daa kuthaa hovai saykh
lohoo lab nikthaa vaykh.
If the Shaykh is killed with that,
then the blood of greed will spill out.

Here the word "kutha" is in relation to "Sheikh"

  • Word by Word breakdown
  • tis means "their, his, her. its"
  • daa means "of", "belonging to",
  • hovai means "becomes", "is", "happens"
  • saykh from sakh ( ਸੇਖ ) means *1 Shaikh, a Muslim religious leader

Here the word 'Kutha' means 'kill'

Other similar words

‘Kuhat’ (ਕੁਹਤ s )

In the two quotes below, the word ‘Kuhat’ (ਕੁਹਤ s ) refer to "killing, slaughtering, slaying" in general. ‘Kuthhey’ simply means to kill and does not refer in any way to "halal".

"The sinner will certainly be ruined or destroyed. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p.109)

ਬੇਦੁ ਪੜੈ ਮੁਖਿ ਮੀਠੀ ਬਾਣੀ ॥ ਜੀਆਂ ਕੁਹਤ ਨ ਸੰਗੈ ਪਰਾਣੀ ॥੩॥
Beḏ paṛai mukẖ mīṯẖī baṇī. Jīāʼn kuhaṯ na sangai parāṇī.

Kuhe (ਕੁਹਿ s )

In this line of Gurbani, a similar word - Kuhee is used to mean 'kill'

ਕੁਹਿ ਬਕਰਾ ਰਿੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਖਾਇਆ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਆਖੈ ਪਾਇ ॥
Kuhi bakrā rinniĥ kẖāiā sabẖ ko ākẖai pāe.
The goat is killed, cooked and eaten, and everyone then says, "Put on the sacred thread".

Other Angles

Dictionary of Guru Granth Sahib

1. In Mahan Kosh Encyclopedia, Gurbani Dictionaries and Punjabi/English Dictionaries is the following entry:

Kutha: (ਕੁਠਾ) adj Mahan Kosh Encyclopedia Slaughtered.

2. From Punjabi-English English-Punjabi Dictionary by Krishan Kumar Goswani Page 91

Kohnaa ( ਕੋਹਣਾ ) v To torture, to slay, to kill

3. In Dictionary of Guru Granth Sahib by Surinder Singh Kohli on page 205 is the following entry:

Kutha: (ਕੁਠਾ) adj (from P(unjabi) Kohana) Slaughtered.

Similar Words in SGGS

1. ਕੁਠਾਰੁ "Kuthaar"

The word ਕੁਠਾਰੁ "Kuthaar"

a). SGGS page 693:Bajar kuthaar mohi hai chheenaaN kar minat lag paava-o.

SGGS Page 693 Full Shabad
ਬਜਰ ਕੁਠਾਰੁ ਮੋਹਿ ਹੈ ਛੀਨਾਂ ਕਰਿ ਮਿੰਨਤਿ ਲਗਿ ਪਾਵਉ ॥

bajar kuthaar mohi hai chheenaaN kar minat lag paava-o.
I fell at the Guru's feet and begged of Him; with the mighty axe, I have chopped off emotional attachment.

Here word "Kuthaar" appears to mean "Axe"

b). SGGS page 714 Kaadh kuthaar pit baat hantaa a-ukhaDh har ko naa-o. ((1)) rahaa-o.

SGGS Page 714 Full Shabad
ਕਾਢਿ ਕੁਠਾਰੁ ਪਿਤ ਬਾਤ ਹੰਤਾ ਅਉਖਧੁ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

kaadh kuthaar pit baat hantaa a-ukhaDh har ko naa-o. ((1)) rahaa-o.
The Name of the Lord is the medicine; it is like an axe, which destroys the diseases caused by anger and egotism. ((1)(Pause))

Again the word "Kuthaar" appears to mean "Axe"

Also see SGGS pages 825: The Lord and Master raised His axe, and chopped off his head; in an instant, he was reduced to dust. ||1||

and SGGS page 1389: Parasraam the son of Jamdagan, whose axe and powers were taken away by Raghuvira, sing of Him.

2. ਕੁਠਾਰਿ "kuthaar"

The word ਕੁਠਾਰਿ "kuthaar"

SGGS Page 1225 Full Shabad
ਹਰਿ ਕਾਟੀ ਕੁਟਿਲਤਾ ਕੁਠਾਰਿ ॥

har kaatee kutiltaa kuthaar.
The Lord has cut down the crooked tree of my deceit.

3. The Word ਕੁਠੇ "kuthay"

The Word ਕੁਠੇ "kuthay"

SGGS Page 1019 Full Shabad
ਅਜਰਾਈਲਿ ਫੜੇ ਫੜਿ ਕੁਠੇ ॥

ajraa-eel farhay farh kuthay.
Azraa-eel, the Angel of Death, seizes and tortures them.

See main article Vegetarianism

External Links

WARNING: - Some external links have disturbing pictures of animal slaughter - Not suitable for young children.


  • 1. Dictionary of Guru Granth Sahib by Surinder Singh Kohli ISBN 81-7205-174-3
  • 2. Punjabi-English English-Punjabi Dictionary by Krishan Kumar Goswani ISBN 81-7476-247-7