One who works for what he eats, and gives some of what he has – O Nanak, he knows the Path. — Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ang 1245
Dasvandh (Panjabi: 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/or anywhere else. It falls into Guru Nanak’s concept of VAND CHAKKO (Sharing by Giving). This was done during the time of Guru Arjan Sahib and many Sikhs still do it up to this day. The concept of dasvandh was implicit in Guru Nanak’s Shabads (Hymns): “Ghali Khai Kichhu Hathhu Dei, Nanak Rahu Pachhanahi Cei — He alone, O Nanak, knows the way who eats out of what he earns by his honest labor and shares part of it with others” (SGGS, 1245). The idea of sharing and giving was nourished by the institutions of Sangat (holy assembly) and Langar (Free Community Kitchen) the Gurus had established.
In the time of Guru Amar Das, a formal structure for channelizing Sikh religion was evolved in order to show directions to the Sikhs by preaching them the teachings of the Gurus. He set up 22 Manjis or districts in different parts of the country. Each of these Manjis were 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 excavation of the sacred tank at Amritsar, and the erection of the central shrine, Darbar Sahib 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.