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Dasvand (Punjabi: ਦਸਵੰਧ) literally means "a tenth part" and refers the act of donating ten percent of one's harvest, both financial and in the form of time and service such as seva to the Gurdwara and anywhere else. It falls into Guru Nanak Dev's concept of Vand Chhako. This was done during the time of Guru Arjan Dev and many Sikhs still do it up to this day. The concept of dasvandh was implicit in Guru Nanak's own line: "ghali khai kichhu hathhu dei, Nanak rahu pachhanahi sei—He alone, O Nanak, knoweth the way who eats out of what he earneth by his honest labour and yet shareth part of it with others" (GG, 1245). The idea of sharing and giving was nourished by the institutions of sangat (holy assembly) and langar (community kitchen) the Guru had established.
In the time of Guru Amar Das, Nanak III, a formal structure for channelizing Sikh religious giving was evolved. He set up 22 manjis or districts in different parts of the country. Each of these manjis was placed under the charge of a pious Sikh (both male and female) who, besides preaching Guru Nanak’s word, looked after the sangats within his/her jurisdiction and transmitted the disciple's offerings to the Guru. As the digging of the sacred pool at Amritsar, and the erection in the middle of it of the shrine, Harimander, began under Guru Ram Das resulting in a large amount of expenditure, the Sikhs were encouraged to set aside a minimum of ten per cent (dasvandh) of their income for the common cause and the concept of Guru Ki Golak "Guru's treasury" was coined. Masands, i.e. ministers and the tithe-collectors, were appointed to collect "kar bhet" (sewa offerings) and dasvandh from the Sikhs in the area they were assigned to, and pass these on to the Guru.
The custom of dasvandh is found in documents called rahitnamas, manuals of Sikh conduct, written during the lifetime of Guru Gobind Singh or soon after. For example, Bhai Nand Lal’s Tankhahnama records these words of Gobind Singh: "Hear ye Nand Lal, one who does not give dasvandh and, telling lies, misappropriates it, is not at all to be trusted." The tradition has been kept alive by chosen Sikhs who to this day scrupulously fulfil this injunction. The institution itself serves as a means for the individual to practice personal piety as well as to participate in the ongoing history of the community, the Guru Panth ("Guru's path").
One who works for what he eats, and gives some of what he has - O Nanak, he knows the Path. (1)
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