Last summer, during one of the camps I attended, an Amritdhari camper approached me and asked me about practicing NITNEM (daily-prayers). Below is a summary of the conversation, which took place:
Camper: Bhaji, I would like to ask you a question.
Daas: Go ahead. Hukam Karo.
Camper: Why should I do my Nitnem?
Daas: It is Guru's Rehat (discipline), which we commit to when we take Amrit.
Camper: Other than the reason that "the Panj Piyaare told me to do so" is their any othe reason? Is there any point?
Daas: Is it not enough Guru Sahib in the form of the Panj Piyaare have instructed you to read daily Banis (prayers)? Taking Amrit is a commitment. When we take Amrit we adopt the life-style of the Guru and strive to create an internal and external environment where one can receive the fruits of Naam.
Why are you asking me this Bhenji?
Camper: I don't do my Nitnem. I am on a 'spiritual-low'. I don't wake up Amrit-vela (early morning) and don't do Nitnem in morning or evening. I have lost enthusiasm and don't see the point of doing the same thing, day in - day out! Other than the Panj Piyaare saying to do Nitnem, there is no other reason why one should read the same Bani over and over again, every day!
Practicing Nitnem should not be a BURDEN, however a spiritual RELIEF. Reading Nitnem in the morning, evening and at bedtime is drawing on the Guru’s DIVINE WORD to give STRENGTH and INSPIRATION for the day. Click here to read read people's comments and views on lines from their Nitnem which they particularly find uplifting and inspiring from a discussion topic on www.DiscoverSikhi.com. Basic Nitnem (daily-prayers) keeps the CONNECTION between the Sikh and Guru alive, and reminds a Sikh of the Guru’s message.
The same Banian (prayers) which are recited during the PREPARATION OF AMRIT during an Amrit-Sanchaar, are the same Banian recited by a Sikh daily. The EXPERIENCE of receiving Amrit from the Guru in the Amrit Sanchaar is RE-LIVED everyday and the INNER-AMRIT is FELT and ENJOYED, just as one drank the sweet Amrit given by the Panj Piyaare and felt it trickling down inside.
This question comes up with many people, and not necessarily limited to youngsters. First of all, we must recognise that HUKAM (order) is HUKAM (order). The relationship between the Guru and the Sikh is like that of a MENTOR and PRODIGY. Let’s look at the life of Guru Angad Dev jee (known as Bhai Lehna jee) before he became Guru. Guru Angad Dev jee’s life can be summarised as “Hukam Mannaa” (ACCEPTING the WILL). Guru Angad Dev jee served Guru Nanak jee with such devotion that he NEVER questioned Guru Nanak jee’s order. If Guru Nanak jee said, “Go wash my clothes” during when there’s a stormy rain, Guru Angad Dev jee would fold his hands and happily do it. He would not say “Sorry Guru jee, I will do it once the rain has stopped.” Guru Angad Dev jee’s Sewa & Simran made him worthy of becoming Guru and carrying on the Jyot (light) of Guru Nanak jee.
The role of mentor and prodigy reminds me of the film ‘KARATE KID.’ The film is about a young boy called ‘DANIEL’ who learns Karate from MR. MIYAGI. When Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel son to do something, Daniel would never question Mr. Miyagi. Even if Mr. Miyagi said “Climb the tree”. He would do it. Why? OBEDIENCE is the foundation stone for the relationship between coach and student. How will Daniel learn Karate if he questions and scrutinizes everything Mr. Miyagi says? However this is what we do with Guru Sahib and yet expect so much.
To EXPERIENCE Amrit and feel the sublime essence, we have been given REHAT, a way of life. Just as a farmer will not produce good crop unless he PLOUGHS his field, despite how much rain falls on the fields. The more you plough a field; better quality the crop will be produced.
For this reason, Bhagat Dhanna Ji, a farmer by occupation, in praying to Waheguru for the basic necessities of life, says:
ਦਾਲਿ ਸੀਧਾ ਮਾਗਉ ਘੀਉ ॥ ਹਮਰਾ ਖੁਸੀ ਕਰੈ ਨਿਤ ਜੀਉ ॥ ਪਨ੍ੀਆ ਛਾਦਨੁ ਨੀਕਾ ॥ ਅਨਾਜੁ ਮਗਉ ਸਤ ਸੀ ਕਾ ॥1॥
daal seeDhaa maa(n)gau gheeo. hamraa kushee karai nit jeeo. panHeeaa chhadan neekaa. anaaj magau sat see kaa.
Lentils, flour and ghee - these things, I beg of You. My mind shall ever be pleased. Shoes, fine clothes, and grain from a field, which has been ploughed seven times - I beg of You, Waheguru. 1.
Similarly, when we take Khande-di-pahul, the Amrit of the double-edged sword, from the Panj Piyaare we obtain Amrit to drink, then we are given the SEEDS of NAAM to sow, and a REHAT, way of life, to use to PLOUGH our MIND and BODY ready. If we take Amrit, but don’t sow the seeds of Naam, then we don’t obtain the crop of Guru Sahib’s blessings. If we take Amrit, but don’t observe Rehat, then the quality of our Naam’s fruits will be affected. With Amrit, Naam and Rehat a Sikh lives in CHARDIKALA, high spirits, and blessed with a PEACEFUL and HARMONIOUS life in Waheguru’s Will through the Guru’s blessings.
ਰਹਿਤ ਪਿਆਰੀ ਮੁਝ ਕੋ ਸਿਖ ਪਿਆਰਾ ਨਾਹਿ ॥
rehit piaaree mujh ko, sikh piaaraa naahi.
"I love a Sikh’s disciplined way of life, not the Sikh."
(Rehatnama Bhai Desa Singh)
To be continued… (Tips to concentrate or take maximum benefit from reading Nitnem).