What is a ‘Jhatka’?
According to popular belief, ‘Jhatka’ means meat that has been prepared by killing it immediately or without delay. But in fact, India has been ruled by Muslim rulers for more than a thousand years, who ate only halal meat or ‘kutha’ meat. When they kill an animal, they read their religious scriptures and kill them slowly. But Indians used to prepare the meat by hunting or by killing the animal with a single blow, thus the two words halal and jhatka became popular for meat.
To the common Sikhs, Jhatka or Eating Jhatka means to behead an animal with any weapon or to kill with a gun. Of course, in today’s fast-paced world, no one has the time to hunt down or hunt, so we don’t consider anything wrong with eating meat sold at shops. Although historical writings show that eating meat was allowed among the Sikhs from the time of Guru Nanak Sahib. Jhatka meat-eating is considered to have been started in the time of Guru Hargobind Sahib when he initiated hunting regularly taking his Sikhs alongside.
Jhatka vs Halal Meat
Where in the Muslim way, an animal or a bird is killed by reciting ‘Kalma’, which they call halal meat. The Jews call meat prepared such way as ‘Kosher’. The word ‘Kuttha’ is derived from ‘Kohna’ which means ‘jihva karna’ or cutting something slowly with the knife. The place where Muslims kill animals etc. is also called Jihvakhana.
Why the Gurus forbade ‘Kutha’ for their Sikhs cannot be explained from a religious point of view. From a social and political point of view, Muslim rulers banned ordinary Indians or non-Muslims from hunting and forced them to eat halal meat. When a person was forcibly converted to Islam, he was first fed halal meat. Guru Sahib saw this phenomenon as a sign of the slavery of Indians.
That is why Guru has satirized the Pundit who eats Kuttha (halal) in the Asa Ki War as a symbol of cultural and political slavery. Guru says ‘He eats Kuttha meat and does not allow them to enter his home treating them as a low caste.
ਅਭਾਖਿਆ ਕਾ ਕੁੱਠਾ ਬੱਕਰਾ ਖਾਣਾ॥ ਚਉਕੇ ਉਪਰਿ ਕਿਸੈ ਨਾ ਜਾਣਾ॥ (ਆਸਾ ਕੀ ਵਾਰ)
Some Sikhs utter ‘Sat Sri Akal’ when performing ‘Jhatka’, which is totally wrong because where meat-eating in Sikhism is not forbidden like Buddhism or Jainism, but there is no religious etiquette of eating it at the same time, as is the case with Islam or other religions. Many religious festivals in Islam can be said to be incomplete without eating meat. But there is no such thing in Sikhism. The Sikh has to use meat with the same ease as he uses other pulses, vegetables, fruits in his daily diet.
From the Persian Source
From the time of Guru Har Gobind Sahib onwards, Sikhs started taking up arms and hunting. Even in the time of Guru Har Rai Sahib, Sikhs used to hunt and eat. Guru Gobind Singh Ji often went hunting. Zulfiqar Ardastani, the author of an old Persian book, Dabistane-i-Mujahib, writes
Sikhs are not bound to eat and drink like Hindus… After a while their Sikhs started eating meat… Later, Guru Hargobind (Sahib), son of (Guru) Arjun Mal, used to eat meat and hunt, which led to this custom among many of his other Sikhs.
Zulfiqar himself writes that he had met Guru Hargobind Sahib in Hijri Year 1055 and also had correspondence with Guru Sahib.
Bhai Gurdas Ji once wrote referring to Guru Hargobind Sahib:
ਉਮਤਿ ਮਹਲੁ ਨ ਪਾਵਦੀ ਨਠਾ ਫਿਰੈ ਨ ਡਰੈ ਡਰਾਇਆ।
ਮੰਜੀ ਬਹਿ ਸੰਤੋਖਦਾ ਕੁਤੇ ਰੱਖ ਸ਼ਿਕਾਰ ਖਿਲਾਇਆ। (ਵਾਰ ੨੬)
Is Jhatka Meat Allowed in Sikhism?
Guru Gobind Singh Sahib started revealing ‘Khalsa Panth’ during Baisakhi of 1699, where the soldiers of the Khalsa Army were allowed to eat ‘Jhatka Maas’, for political reasons (eating halal meat at that time was a symbol of slavery for non-Muslims). ‘Kutha Khana or Eating Halal’ was included in the list of ‘Kurahits’ i.e. forbidden acts.
Although the diet of most Sikhs at that time was in the plains, it was not meat but grains, pulses, vegetables, milk, fruits, etc. But in Sikhism, there is no discrimination between eating meat or not eating meat. During Sikh rule, meat (jhatka) was included in the diet of Sikhs’ langar. In Judaism and Islam, meat has been accepted as a necessary religious rite, but Sikhs were banned to eat Kuttha by Guru Sahibs for political reasons.
Modern Day Significance
However, in today’s world, this banning has no significance because the political situation has changed drastically. Guru Gobind Singh, in order to arouse great self-respect and to overthrow the slavery of the rulers, declared ‘Kuttha’ as ‘Bajjar Kurehat’. The Mughal rulers in those days had also declared that no non-Muslim Indian could possess a weapon, but when Guru Sahib formed his Khalsa army, he ordered every Khalsa to be armed with a kirpan. However, today we are winning the case by using the same kirpan as a religious symbol to pretend to win the case in the courts. Such people became armed and first became mentally free, then after a long struggle became socially and politically free when they established their own Khalsa Raj.
Guru Ji not only crushed the oppression by making the Sikhs ‘Sant Sipahi’ to get rid of any fear, cowardice, and oppression but also made the ‘Khalsa Kaum’ independent:
ਭਾਂਤਿ ਭਾਤਿ ਬਨ ਖੇਲ ਸ਼ਿਕਾਰਾ ਮਾਰੇ ਰੀਛ ਰੋਝ ਝੰਕਾਰਾ॥ (ਪੰਥ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸ਼, ਰਤਨ ਸਿੰਘ ਭੰਗੂ)
Is Jhatka Meat Allowed in Sikhism?
Guru Gobind Singh Sahib started revealing 'Khalsa Panth' during Baisakhi of 1699, where the soldiers of the Khalsa Army were allowed to eat 'Jhatka Maas' but for Political Reasons.
Correct use of Gurbani