Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Anti-Sikhi Parchaar (Part 6): Topic - Amritvela

I was recently watching a video of a Prachaarik who was talking about Amrit-vela at an event. The Prachaarik first claimed to follow, support and propagate the Panthic Sikh Rehat Maryada. Then the Prachaarik went on to talk about Amrit-vela and to attempt to justify his own practice (or non-practice) in the name of Gurmat. Rather than share the video and scrutinise the individual, I would rather discuss and analyse what was said and reflect upon it using Gurbani and the Panthic Sikh Rehat Maryada, and use it as an opportunity to to highlight the importance of Amrit-vela in accordance to Gurmat.

The Parchaarik said the following:
"I do shift work and thought I cannot be a Sikh and do work. But then when studying Gurbani I came across "Amrit Vela Sach Naao Vaddiaaee Veechaar." I was [at first] relating Amrit-vela from 3am to 6am. But when I say "Sach Naao, Vaddiaa Veechaar"; that means my whole day is Amrit-vela. Give me a break! My Amrit Vela is when I am talking to my manager! My Amrit Vela is when I am talking to people working for me on the floor! My Amrit-vela is talking to my mother! My Amrit-vela is when I am talking to my children! This my "Amrit-vela" - when "Amrit" comes out of our mouth. When I don't say "Oih", say "Shut up", don't say anything bad, and don't swear at anyone - this is my Amrit-vela Saadh Sangat Ji. That is what Gurbani says and that is what the Sikh Rehat Maryada says. 
What do you see? Amrit-vela in accordance to Gurbani and the Sikh Rehat Maryada(!?!?!?)

So from then onwards, I realised that and then started to study Jap, Jaap, Svaiyye. I studied Sodar. I studied Sohila. When I study it, I say - My God! What I read in Jap, I read in Sohila. So what is Naam then? So it goes on. It's the same message in the same Bani. Every line in Guru Granth Sahib Ji has the same message so why bickering whether I am reading 5 Banian, I read 10 or 11. Well done! Good for you. But the one I read, it says 'I read all the time', it becomes my habit, it becomes my life, it becomes my swaas (breath). So pick a point of that. "Amrit Vela Sach Naao, Vaddiaaee Veechaar." Do Nitnem, surely do it, but you don't have to tie your schedule to it in a way that you going to get entrapped. Do it in your time, when everything is right. Every time is right."

Is anyone confused whether this person is in favour of Amrit-vela Nitnem or against? Seems like a lot going round in circles. Similarly, the heretic and excommunicated Gurbakhsh 'Kala Afghana', wrote in his anti-Gurmat writings:
“There is no Shabad in Gurbaani in which we can determine or sense any importance or relevance of the late hours of the night or the early hour of the morning which is indicative of any special powers to transform a person who recites Baani at that time. It does not make anyone immortal.
             In those hours a farmer goes to the farms, for the military personal it’s a strategic time to go for the kill and to kill innocent people who are sleeping. The policemen are also trying to catch thieves in those hours, people who capture birds and animals for a living are active in those hours . Its also the most beneficial hours for dacoits, murderers, anti national elements and characterless people. After deliberation of the above there is no doubt that such a time can never be “AMRIT VELA”. 
(Taken from: http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Kala_Afghana)

Guru Gobind Singh Ji and his Sikhs doing Amrit-vela at the River Sirsa despite Mughal forces pursuing them.

#1. "Is Amrit-vela between 3am to 6am, or is the whole day Amrit-vela?" 
RESPONSE: Terms can have a multiple meanings in different contexts. Amrit-vela literally means, the time of Amrit or the time when Amrit is experienced. So, in theory this could be any time that one connects to Vaheguru. However, in accordance to Guru's Maryada or the way of life instructed by Guru Ji, it is specified that Amrit-vela in terms of daily spiritual discipline is the last part of the night before sunrise. Gurbani says:
ਝਾਲਾਘੇ ਉਠਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਨਿਸਿ ਬਾਸੁਰ ਆਰਾਧਿ ॥
"Rise early before dawn, and chant the Naam; worship and adore the Lord, night and day."
(Gauree M:5, 255)
The word 'ਝਾਲਾਂਘੇ' here means early morning, or what is also known as 'ਪਿੱਛਲ ਰਾਤਿ' in Gurbani:   
ਫਰੀਦਾ ਪਿਛਲ ਰਾਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਗਿਓਹਿ ਜੀਵਦੜੋ ਮੁਇਓਹਿ ॥ "O Fareed! If you do not awaken in the early hours before dawn, you are dead while yet alive."
(Salok Fareed Ji, 1383)
Furthermore Gurbani says:
ਉਠਿ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰਹੁ ਪਰਭਾਤੇ ਸੋਏ ਹਰਿ ਆਰਾਧੇ ||
"Rise in the early hours before dawn, and take your cleansing bath. Before you go to bed at night, remember to worship the Lord."
(Basant M:5, 1185)

In conclusion, the Sikh Rehat Maryada clearly states that Amrit-vela is three hours before sunrise (i.e. the last part of the night):

੧. ਸਿੱਖ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੇ (ਪਹਿਰ ਰਾਤ ਰਹਿੰਦੀ) ਜਾਗ ਕੇ ਇਸ਼ਨਾਨ ਕਰੇ ਅਤੇ ਇਕ ਅਕਾਲ ਪੁਰਖ ਦਾ ਧਿਆਨ ਕਰਦਾ ਹੋਇਆ 'ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ' ਨਾਮ ਜਪੇ |...
"Sikh should wake up in the ambrosial hours (three hours before the dawn), take a bath and, whilst concentrating their thoughts on Akaal Purkh, repeat the name of ‘Vaheguru'."

(Sikh Rehat Maryada)

#2. "My Amrit-vela is being a nice person and not being rude to people when at work. This is what "Amrit Velaa Sach Naao Vaddiaaee Veechaar" means." RESPONSE: In Japji Sahib, Guru Nanak Dev Ji instructs us:
ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ||
"In the Amrit-vela, the ambrosial hours before dawn, chant the True Name, and contemplate His Glorious Greatness."
(Jap Ji: 2)

The Sikh Rehat Maryada states:

ਨਾਮ ਬਾਣੀ ਦਾ ਅਭਿਆਸ
੧. ਸਿੱਖ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੇ (ਪਹਿਰ ਰਾਤ ਰਹਿੰਦੀ) ਜਾਗ ਕੇ ਇਸ਼ਨਾਨ ਕਰੇ ਅਤੇ ਇਕ ਅਕਾਲ ਪੁਰਖ ਦਾ ਧਿਆਨ ਕਰਦਾ ਹੋਇਆ 'ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ' ਨਾਮ ਜਪੇ |
੨. ਨਿਤਨੇਮ ਦਾ ਪਾਠ ਕਰੇ | ਨਿਤਨੇਮ ਦੀਆਂ ਬਾਣੀਆਂ ਇਹ ਹਨ:- ਜਪੁ, ਜਾਪੁ ਅਤੇ ੧੦ ਸਵੱਯੇ ('ਸ੍ਰਾਵਗ ਸੁਧ' ਵਾਲੇ), ਬੇਨਤੀ ਚੌਪਈ, ਅਤੇ ਅੰਨਦੁ* - ਇਹ ਬਾਣੀਆਂ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੇ ਪੜ੍ਹਨੀਆਂ |
"Meditating on Naam (the Divine-Name) and Bani
a. A Sikh should wake up Amrit vela (three hours before the dawn), take a bath and, concentrate his/her thoughts on One Akaal Purakh, repeat Divine-Name of ‘Vaheguru’. 
b. He/she should recite Nitnem (daily routine prayers) every day. The Nitnem is the following Banis (scriptural compositions): Japji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Ten Svaiyye (beginning “sraavag sudh”), Benti Chaupai and Anand Sahib* in the morning..."

(Sikh Rehat Maryada, *in accordance to Sri Akal Takht Sahib Hukamnama dated: 28-4-1985)

The Sikh Rehat Maryada clarifies that the True Name or Naam is 'Vaheguru'. It is definitely not having a friendly worldly conversation with a smile on one's face and saying "please" and "thank you." Then the question arises what does it mean by contemplating on Vaheguru's Glory and Greatness? Through Gurbani we discover the qualities and praise of Vaheguru. Therefore, a Sikh recites and contemplates on the Nitnem Banian (daily prayers) every day. The more Bani one can read and contemplate, the better it is for the individual. It is clearly stated Nitnem is to be done in the early morning and not whenever one feels like it, unless I suppose one has special circumstances.

#3. What is the benefit of waking up Amrit-vela to do Naam Simran and Nitnem?"
The reason this time of the day is known 'Amrit-vela', is because this is when the Amrit (Divine-Nectar) showers as one lovingly repeats Naam. We should remember and meditate upon Vaheguru all day, however the early morning hours is the time for the soul-gym, where the mind and spirit practice Naam to be prepared and equipped for the day.  The spiritual exercise and practice in the early morning hours has greater blessings and gives us a spiritual boost for the rest of the day:
ਫਰੀਦਾ ਰਾਤਿ ਕਥੂਰੀ ਵੰਡੀਐ ਸੁਤਿਆ ਮਿਲੈ ਨ ਭਾਉ ॥
ਜਿੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਨੈਣ ਨੀਦ੍ਰਾਵਲੇ ਤਿੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਮਿਲਣੁ ਕੁਆਉ ॥੮੦॥
"Fareed, musk is released at night. Those who are sleeping do not receive their share. Those whose eyes are heavy with sleep - how can they receive it? ||80||"
(Salok Fareed Ji, 1382)

Fundamentally, waking up Amrit-vela is the Hukam (instruction) of Guru Ji. Guru Ji goes as far as saying that someone who does not wake up Amrit-vela, i.e. the early morning hours, to chant Naam, cannot be called a GurSikh.
ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਜੋ ਸਿਖੁ ਅਖਾਏ ਸੁ ਭਲਕੇ ਉਠਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ
ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰੇ ਭਲਕੇ ਪਰਭਾਤੀ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰਿ ਨਾਵੈ ॥
ਉਪਦੇਸਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਪੁ ਜਾਪੈ ਸਭਿ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਪਾਪ ਦੋਖ ਲਹਿ ਜਾਵੈ ॥
ਫਿਰਿ ਚੜੈ ਦਿਵਸੁ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਗਾਵੈ ਬਹਦਿਆ ਉਠਦਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥...

"One who calls themselves a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord's Name. Upon arising early in the morning, they are to bathe, and cleanse themselves in the pool of nectar. Following the Instructions of the Guru, they are to chant the Name of Vaheguru. All sins, misdeeds and negativity shall be erased. Then, at the rising of the sun, they are to sing Gurbani; whether sitting down or standing up, he is to meditate on the Lord's Name.
(Gauri M:4, 305)

Giani Sant Singh Ji Maskeen said,
"You can remember and repeat Vaheguru's Name whenever you want in the twenty-four hours of the day. But why has importance been given to Amrit-vela? It is because there is a time to do everything and correct method. For example, when wheat is grown, it is grown in a particular month, not the whole year. It also ripens and grows ready for harvest in a particular month, not all the time. Similarly, Guru Ji says that humans too shall meditate upon Vaheguru at a particular time. What should that time be? That time should be that time when it is neither night nor day, neither full sun nor full moon. For this reason Guru Ji has blessed us with two sets of time for Bhagti (devotional worship). One is early morning of Amrit-vela, at which time there is neither full night nor full morning. The other is evening time for Rehraas. At this time too, neither is the sun (fully) nor the moon. So in other words, any time is a good time for devotional worship and praise of the Guru, but the importance of Amrit-vela is some folds greater."

Bhai Kulbir Singh (Toronto) writes:
"Amritvela is the last pehar (3 hours or so) of the night, which is highly productive time for Naam Japna. The whole world is sleeping and Gursikhs find this time very peaceful to concentrate on Naam and contempla te on the qualities of Vaheguru listed in Gurbani. Gurmukhs who have reached high spiritual states say th at at this time there is a shower or rainfall of Amrit. For this reason, one can effortlessly concentrate on Naam and achieve the spiritual aim much faster."

#4. "If Amrit-vela is the early morning hours, then I cannot do Amrit-vela because I work night-shifts."
RESPONSE: Working a night shift could be a blessing in disguise. It means you are awake during the early morning hours before dawn. To my understanding, in one of your breaks you could do Panj Ishnaana (wash face, hands and feet) and do Naam Simran whilst working. Depending on the job situation, if you have memorised the Nitnem Banian then you could recite Nitnem or listen to them on some earphones whilst working or during a break (most employers are very accomodating if you ask them). The other options are reciting Nitnem when arriving back home, or if you are too tired you could have a sleep, then have a shower then recite Nitnem before eating anything. Either way, you would have remembered and meditated upon Akaal Purakh in the Amrit-vela hours. You can do Naam Simran loudly or discretely depending on the job environment and situation.

#5. "How can you call a particular time of the day Amrit-Vela when so many evil things happen around the world at that time."
RESPONSE: Because Guru Ji says so! It seems people with such views are desperate to justify themselves enjoying sleeping through Amrit-vela and not wishing to wake up! What next, "I cannot read Gurbani or do Simran during the day because this is the time when most of the world lies and commits fraud." Then "I cannot read Gurbani or do Simran in the evening because this is the time most of the world is drinking alcohol and getting into brawls." Vaheguru help us! It is only problem what other people in the world are doing if we are going to join in with them. 
ਕਬੀਰ ਲੂਟਨਾ ਹੈ ਤ ਲੂਟਿ ਲੈ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਹੈ ਲੂਟਿ ||
ਫਿਰਿ ਪਾਛੈ ਪਛੁਤਾਹੁਗੇ ਪ੍ਰਾਨ ਜਾਹਿੰਗੇ ਛੂਟਿ ||੪੧||
"O Kabeer! If you must rob and plunder, then plunder the plunder of the Lord's Name. Otherwise, in the world hereafter, you will regret and repent, when the breath of life leaves the body. ||41||"
(Salok Kabeer Ji, 1366)


Anonymous said...

Veer Ji great post as usual.

Points that could perhaps be added:
Shabads -
Gur Satgur Ka Jo Sikh Akhaaey So Bhalkay Utth Har Naam Dhiaavai... goes on to describe ishnaan, simran and paath at sunrise.

Bhalkay Utth Paraahuna Merai Ghar Aavhu...

Regarding the last question... the point is illogical and moot. If other people are doing bad things at a certain time, why on earth should it affect you unless you are with them? By this logic there can be no Amrit-vela even "during the day" as people are always doing bad deeds somewhere or the other. Moreover, due to different time zones; according to the 'logic' that the actions of others elsewhere affect you, then the actions of thieves, armies, etc. at the so-called "hour of the thieves" are always going on as it is always this time somewhere in the world.

Bhul Chuk Maaf

Prabhsimran Singh said...

waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh! b. He/she should recite Nitnem (daily routine prayers) every day. The Nitnem is the following Banis (scriptural compositions): Japji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Ten Svaiyye (beginning “sraavag sudh”), Benti Chaupai and Anand Sahib* in the morning..."
(Sikh Rehat Maryada, *in accordance to Sri Akal Takht Sahib Hukamnama dated: 28-4-1985) could you post a ciopy of this hukamnama great to see this was addressed!

Manvir Singh said...