Dasvandh or Dasaundh, literally means a “tenth part” and refers to the practice among Sikhs of contributing in the name of the Guru one-tenth of their earnings towards the common resources of the community. This is also referred to in Punjabi as “Daan” literally “giving” or “contributing” in charity. This is a Sikh’s religious obligation — a religious requirement or duty; a form of seva or humble service which is highly valued in the Sikh system.
One tenth of your income should be given back to God, the giver. This demonstrates your recognition that your income comes to you from God and therefore, your giving back one tenth to the Giver, demonstrates your faith and devotion this Giver. This giving is a seed. It is a seed of trust that actually has the effect of multiplying your income just as a seed sprouts and grows into more plants. It is a principle called tithing. Many religious groups do this and really prosper from the practice.
Another example of one tenth is… one tenth of your day (24 hours) is 2 1/2 hours. As Sikhs we have the practice of dedicating one tenth of our day, 2 1/2 hours (Amrit Vela) to devotion and meditation to set ourselves each day. As Guru Ram Das descibed it, rise before the coming of the dawn and bathe and meditae on God’s Name and inspire others to do this.
You do not have to give your tenth to the Gurdwara. You can put that money aside to do some charitable work. There are organisations that do help the poor and needy.
As the Sikh Dharma has re-emerged in the Western Hemisphere, a tradition has re-awakened among the Khalsa in the West. We have remembered the powerful force of giving one-tenth of our earnings back to the Guru. Siri Singh Sahib Ji told us:
“It is a priority that we must have land. It is a priority that the payments of the land must be made. It is a priority that for our future children there should be a place. It is a priority that we must build something for tomorrow.”
What is the secret of the tenth part? Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Master, told his Sikhs one-tenth of the earnings they received did not belong to them but belonged to God. When we give it back to Him, then all of the wealth and prosperity which is ours is revealed to us and is bestowed upon us.
Das Vandh is a pure and simple business with God. The ten-fold return represents our interest and dividends already waiting to be paid to you from the profit sharing pool. To join the ‘credit union’ and begin collecting our multiple returns, we must contribute your one tenth.
Sikhs first began bringing offerings to the Guru during the time of Guru Nanak. Guru Amar Das started the formal tradition of serving lungar when he called upon his Sikhs to bring a portion of their crops and earnings to share in the community kitchen. During the time of Guru Arjun, the Guru’s House fell upon difficult financial times. Guru Arjun’s older brother, Prithi Chand, had performed certain dishonest acts which corrupted the system, and the Guru’s court and lungar began to fall short of cash. Bhai Gurdas and Baba Buddha became so concerned that they went to Guru Arjun asking what solution could be applied. Guru Arjun knew the Cosmic principle to reverse the trend and multiply their prosperity. He told his dear beloved Sikhs that the problem was simple: they had to collect the tenth part of everyone’s earnings to contribute to the Guru’s Court and the Guruka Lungar. Twenty-two Masands were appointed who went to visit the Sikhs on their farms and in their outlying villages each month, bringing them news of the Guru’s mission and collecting the tenth part of their earnings to build their community bank.