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Keeping Amrit Vela

Discussion in 'Questions and Answers' started by Mai Harinder Kaur, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur
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    As many of you know, my non-Sikh husband died a couple months ago. While that was a heavy blow to me, it also freed me to keep reht maryada more strictly, which is meaningful to me.

    Among other things, I have been keeping Amrit Vela. He was totally opposed to my getting up before dawn to pray - or for any other reason - as it inevitably woke him up. I really couldn't blame him. One problem has disappeared, but another has arisen.

    I am not big on rules, but it seems to me that bathing before prayers is very basic.

    As my physical condition has deteriorated, I am now needing help with things I used to be able to do on my own. Several times, I have nearly fallen in the shower; yesterday, I managed to catch myself on the side of the shower, but wrenched my shoulder quite badly. Because I am on blood thinners, any fall could be very serious. Even if I appear to be uninjured, I could bleed to death internally.

    A caregiver comes in daily to help me. She is here for 4 hours, from 9 AM - 1 PM. Part of her job is to help me with such things and she is very willing to help me bathe. I would not ask her to come in hours before dawn, though; that is completely unreasonable.

    It seems I have three choices:


    1. Do my Nitnem with a wash-up instead of a full bathing
    2. Do my Nitnem after she has helped me bathe
    3. Risk a fall and continue as I have

    I would really prefer to continue keeping the proper time, if possible. Plus doing it while she is here is difficult because the activity going on in the house is distracting.

    What would the SPN Sangat suggest?
     
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  3. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Mai Ji..DONT FIT IN !! I seriously doubt OUR GURU JI would be nitpicking on such matters..the SRM strictly applies to the Median "absolutley Normal/fit energetic humans..." those above this median and below it have the "chhoat"...exemption...More importnat than these 'rules" and following them to the letter is..the SPIRIT in which we do the Nitnem, remember Him...I am sure when you "think" of Simon..you dont apply rules...so HE is much much bigger than anyone we know...there is no necessity to stand on ceremony...just LOVE HIM...unreservedly....any which way you can..lying down..standing up..in the shower, on the bus..in the garden..as my late dad ji taught me...i have no reservations as to when how and why i remember HIM...i just DO IT.:tablakudi:
     
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  4. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Mai ji.

    Guru Fateh.

    Allow me to add my 2 cent worth after Gyani ji's wonderful explanation. The reason of doing Nitnem is to understand Gurbani and one would assume that those who have been doing it for many many years would understand and practice Gurbani in their lives to make others' better. Otherwise, it merely becomes parroting which normally happens in many household. My own sister who is a retired Doctor parrorts Nitnem daily while picking up crumbs from the floor ( she is a clean freak), talking to others and then carries on. For me, her actions are like hoovering the whole house, a daily chore. Nothing to do with Gurbani.

    So, it matters not what posture you have while doing it, it matters what we all receive from this gift as the blessed ones.

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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    #3 Tejwant Singh, Dec 9, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  5. Ishna

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    The opinion of a hypocrite follows, I have never maintained this kind of rehat.

    When reading Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the impression I get is that bathing in water or washing our bodies is irrelevant - bathing the mind in love, bathing the mind in humility and bathing the mind in meditation on Naam is what is reiterated over and over.

    I think the most powerful shabad which speaks specifically about daily routine is on ang 305 and is by Guru Ram Das Ji. If someone could confirm the translation of the highlighted tuk that would be appreciated, as the translation says to bathe AND to cleanse in the pool of nectar - does the Gurmukhi make a distinction?

    ਮਃ
    मः ४ ॥
    Mėhlā 4.
    Fourth Mehl:


    ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਜੋ ਸਿਖੁ ਅਖਾਏ ਸੁ ਭਲਕੇ ਉਠਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ
    गुर सतिगुर का जो सिखु अखाए सु भलके उठि हरि नामु धिआवै ॥
    Gur saṯgur kā jo sikẖ akẖā▫e so bẖalke uṯẖ har nām ḏẖi▫āvai.
    One who calls himself a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord's Name.


    ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰੇ ਭਲਕੇ ਪਰਭਾਤੀ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰਿ ਨਾਵੈ
    उदमु करे भलके परभाती इसनानु करे अम्रित सरि नावै ॥
    Uḏam kare bẖalke parbẖāṯī isnān kare amriṯ sar nāvai.
    Upon arising early in the morning, he is to bathe, and cleanse himself in the pool of nectar.


    ਉਪਦੇਸਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਪੁ ਜਾਪੈ ਸਭਿ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਪਾਪ ਦੋਖ ਲਹਿ ਜਾਵੈ
    उपदेसि गुरू हरि हरि जपु जापै सभि किलविख पाप दोख लहि जावै ॥
    Upḏes gurū har har jap jāpai sabẖ kilvikẖ pāp ḏokẖ lėh jāvai.
    Following the Instructions of the Guru, he is to chant the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. All sins, misdeeds and negativity shall be erased.


    ਫਿਰਿ ਚੜੈ ਦਿਵਸੁ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਗਾਵੈ ਬਹਦਿਆ ਉਠਦਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ
    फिरि चड़ै दिवसु गुरबाणी गावै बहदिआ उठदिआ हरि नामु धिआवै ॥
    Fir cẖaṛai ḏivas gurbāṇī gāvai bahḏi▫ā uṯẖ▫ḏi▫ā har nām ḏẖi▫āvai.
    Then, at the rising of the sun, he is to sing Gurbani; whether sitting down or standing up, he is to meditate on the Lord's Name.


    ਜੋ ਸਾਸਿ ਗਿਰਾਸਿ ਧਿਆਏ ਮੇਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸੋ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਵੈ
    जो सासि गिरासि धिआए मेरा हरि हरि सो गुरसिखु गुरू मनि भावै ॥
    Jo sās girās ḏẖi▫ā▫e merā har har so gursikẖ gurū man bẖāvai.
    One who meditates on my Lord, Har, Har, with every breath and every morsel of food - that GurSikh becomes pleasing to the Guru's Mind.


    ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਦਇਆਲੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਤਿਸੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਗੁਰੂ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਸੁਣਾਵੈ
    जिस नो दइआलु होवै मेरा सुआमी तिसु गुरसिख गुरू उपदेसु सुणावै ॥
    Jis no ḏa▫i▫āl hovai merā su▫āmī ṯis gursikẖ gurū upḏes suṇāvai.
    That person, unto whom my Lord and Master is kind and compassionate - upon that GurSikh, the Guru's Teachings are bestowed.


    ਜਨੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਧੂੜਿ ਮੰਗੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਕੀ ਜੋ ਆਪਿ ਜਪੈ ਅਵਰਹ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਾਵੈ ॥੨॥
    जनु नानकु धूड़ि मंगै तिसु गुरसिख की जो आपि जपै अवरह नामु जपावै ॥२॥
    Jan Nānak ḏẖūṛ mangai ṯis gursikẖ kī jo āp japai avrah nām japāvai. ||2||
    Servant Guru Nanak begs for the dust of the feet of that GurSikh, who himself chants the Naam, and inspires others to chant it. ||2||

    Sakhis say our Guru Sahiban did bathe in water first thing in the morning.

    The SRM says to bathe in water first thing in the morning.

    But if bathing the body in water first thing in the morning was essential one would think it to be mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Instead, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji says bathing the body in water is futile for spiritual progress.

    However, bathing daily is good for health and I think that is the part that needs to be remembered more than when the bathing is conducted.

    Mai ji, clean what you feel necessary to clean to enable you to focus as much as possible on The Big Stuff.
     
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    #4 Ishna, Dec 10, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
  6. Ishna

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  7. Alisa

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    Please accecpt my well wishes, I have worked as a caregiver for years and it is my wish for you to know that I have seen alot of differnt types of adaptations that can be done with in your bathroom. That can help you to take bath your self if that is your wish. I had this done for my mom as she is no longer able to walk for more than a few steps and it has helped her to keep some of her independance. It would be a honnor if you are needing help to tell you how I set up my moms place for her.
    Please forgive if I have made any offence
    all the best to you,
    Alisa
     
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  8. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    The "Amrit-Sar" is NOT the "pool of nectar/fresh water /saline water/lake/hemkunt/etc etc...
    Here AMRIT SAR means the Pool of GURBANI- since the Amrit is ONE and it is GURBANI. This essentially means IMMERSING ones-self in GURBANI.
    How does one "bathe" then go clean in a pool of nectar ??....Lots to ponder here in the light of Gurbani and Vichaar instead of just simple word for word translation superficially..
     
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  9. japjisahib04

    japjisahib04 Kuwait
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    Giani Jee

    My two cents. If you look closely at the word 'ishnan', as per my understanding it means introspection and after introspection then immerse into nectar of gurbani. Gurbani is all about cleansing the mind when guru sahib says, ' ਸੂਚੇ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਹਨਿ ਜਿ ਪਿੰਡਾ ਧੋਇ ॥ ਸੂਚੇ ਸੇਈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਨ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਸੋਇ ॥੨॥ Those who pretend to make mechanical repetition or bath and decorate body outwardly, they don’t qualify to be one with God, they are not called pure. It is all about presence of God in your action and deeds.

    best regards
    sahni
     
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  10. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Sahni ji,
    Your 2 cents is priceless Gold.
    Yes ISHNAAN is of the MIND...not the BODY.
    And my dad ji used to interpret this in his Katha as...
    "When your are YOUNG...Parbhatee is EARLY MORNING...so in terms of our LIFE TIME..Parbhatee means at a YOUNG AGE... ..get UP Young man...introspect...LOOK WITHIN your MIND...wash it off the dirt of Vikaars..and then DIP into the Nectar of GURBANI...

    Elsewhere Bhagat kabir Ji also dishes out the same advise...telling us..IF we DONT begin practsing form YOUNG..it WONT WORK when we are old..our eyes water..ears go deaf..hands shake..feet tremble..head aches..how can we DO IT ?? And then again..Guru Teg bahadur Ji warns us in Slok Mh 9..Paag dagmaggeh..neain jot te heen...our feet tremble..our eyes water..cant see clearly..and is that when we are going to start ??

    SO Bhalkeh..Parbhatee..Ishnaan Amrt Sar naveh etc etc are all METAPHORS and not to tbe LITERALLY interpreted as most people are doing...Bathing//putting soap..washing with shampoo and rubbing it etc etc MUNDANE BODILY FUNCTIONS...which even the simplest HUMAN being cna do without being told..WHY would GURU JI have to TELL US THAT ?? I wonder why Guru ji didnt ask us to BRUSH OUR TEETH too ??? ANY one who is someone knows that WE MUST BRUSH OUR TEETH IN THE MORNING...BUT is it not surprising that Guru Ji directs us to "ISHNAAN/NAVEH"...and forgets about TEETH BRUSHING ?? No Guru ji didnt forget..its just NOT at all about the "EARLY MORNING CLEANSING ROUTINE"..its about the MANN/MIND...

    You know..it was a 4 year old kindergarten studnet of my Gurbani/punjabi class that brought up this QUESTION...Since EVERYONE..including his parents..the kindergarten TEACHER, the School NURSE, DENTIST etc etc always INSISTED on teaching/emphasising TEETH BRUSHING on a DAILY BASIS...and when this TUK came up in the Older classes..she stood up and asked me..WHAT ABOUT TEETH BRUSHING ?? Does GURU JI also EMPHASISE IT ?? What does Gurbani say about DENTAL HYGEINE ??? absolutely NOTHING !!..why ?? SIMPLY BECAUSE the VEDAS..the PURANAS..the Yogis the brahmins etc also KEPT QUIET baout THIS...although in AYURVEDA DAATANN etc is a compulsory habit everyoen in INDIA does daily...BUT since GURBANI is about DISPELLING all those RITUALS/FALSE NOTIONS about ishnaans holy bathes, sucham soch purity of body etc...GURBANI also talsk about THAT ONLY. PERFECTLY LOGICAL...the need was to DEMOLISH the SUCHAM FALSE BELIEF..so ONLY that is mentioned...and the GURBANI/GURMATT VIEW is stressed...unfortunately SIKHS fell backwards...flat on their Vedic Backs !!! and REFUSE to GET UP....:faujasingh::faujasingh::faujasingh::faujasingh::japosatnamwaheguru:
     
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  11. japjisahib04

    japjisahib04 Kuwait
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    Giani Jee

    Yes Jeo but it was Bhagat Farid who says,

    'ਫਰੀਦਾ ਕਾਲੀ ਜਿਨੀ ਨ ਰਾਵਿਆ ਧਉਲੀ ਰਾਵੈ ਕੋਇ ਕਰਿ ਸਾਂਈ ਸਿਉ ਪਿਰਹੜੀ ਰੰਗੁ ਨਵੇਲਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੧੨॥

    With due apologies from you, literal interpretation of this sabd by most of the scholars reveals who didn't serve God while had black hairs, will not be able to merge with God, when their hair gets grey thus Guru Amardas in next sloka makes little correction to above sabd by stating,

    'ਫਰੀਦਾ ਕਾਲੀ ਧਉਲੀ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸਦਾ ਹੈ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਚਿਤਿ ਕਰੇ ॥ ਆਪਣਾ ਲਾਇਆ ਪਿਰਮੁ ਨ ਲਗਈ ਜੇ ਲੋਚੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਇ ॥

    Fareed, whether one's hair is black or grey, better late than never, our Lord and Master is always here if one remembers Him. This loving devotion to the Lord does not come by one's own efforts, even though all may long for it. It develops itselves.

    When I looked serialwise theme, I found sabd is not referring to Hairs but is flashing upon black chapter of my life and 'dhauli' is not grey hair but divine wisdom. I even checked the sabd, 'naino neer bahai tan kheena bhai kes dhudhwani .. SGGS.659.12 of Bhagat Bheekhan and noticed he is not referring to the helpless state of old age but is trying to say in positive tone that my body which used to run after demons karma has now 'tan kheena' distanced itself from vicious vikar as it 'bhai kes dhudhwani - has obtained the divine wisdom now'. 'Rudha kanth sabd nahi uchrai - my tongue which used to speak only harsh words is changed and does not speak the harsh languge now but sweet words. Whenever symbolic growth of 'white hair' is explained, it is said 'bhai kes dhudhwani'. 'Dhudh', cow, butter is the symbol of divine wisdom in gurbani as Bhagat Namdev is requesting to his mind 'dudh peo mere gobind rai - O my mind, please listen to the inner voice and live and is not asking him to drink milk'. SGGS.1163.

    I even checked the sabd of sloke mahla No.9, ' ਸਿਰੁ ਕੰਪਿਓ ਪਗ ਡਗਮਗੇ ਨੈਨ ਜੋਤਿ ਤੇ ਹੀਨ ॥ if we literally interpret this pankti relating with with general state of old man, then we will discriminate the baani with those people who had maintained their body and whose head don't necessarily tremble, feet stagger and or their eyes become dull. Thus this pankti is not pointing towards state of old man but of a person who is spiritually blind who has not as yet seriously understood the meaning of 'how to be sachiar' thus claim there is no need to keep the natural growth of hair and call it a non-essential symbol link it with janeo and other faiths rituals.

    Above is my understanding only and I stand corrected.

    best regards
    sahni
     
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  12. chazSingh

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    Everyones responses are great ji,

    you inspire me a lot, my wife although of same religion couldnt comprehend me doing Simran during amrit vela, nor even going to the gurdwara...

    your heart is already pouring out with love for Guru so i dont think the bathing is all too important as most are saying.

    The days i felt more connected to Waheguru is when my heart was pouring out and i was feeling this strong pull from inside ... on those days i don't think my mind was on having a bath or anything else...i just needed to feel His presence.

    Hope this helps Ji..

    God Bless on your journey.

    Waheguru
     
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  13. Awakeand Singh

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    Mai ji,

    Firstly, my condolences; I wasn't aware your husband had died, and I sincerely hope that the Guru will fill this now-hollow place in your heart and in your life.

    Regarding Ishnaan, it doesn't seem reasonable to me that it should be required to put oneself in such a potentially dangerous position to observe a precept of this sort. Surely your intention is to observe it fully, but your personal circumstances (which, I pray, will change for the better) presently prevent full observance.

    I recall the advice of Yuktanand Singh in his classic piece, "Guru and Sikh", in the chapter, "The Sikh", to, "rinse face, hands and mouth". If this is done at the time of Amrit Vela, it would be considered as Ishnaan. So, I would vote for #1.
     
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  14. chazSingh

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  15. love and peace

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    I really don't believe that your body has to be clean before doing prayers, though it is a good practice to wake up early and to take a shower to get rid of the sweat or other wastes dirt or anything that maybe accumulated on the skin, but if your body conditions prevent you from taking an early bath i would suggest just wash your face to get a bit active and do your prayers, i believe no matter if your body smells foul your soul should not!!! i used to believe that we should not do prayers in our menstrual days, lots of people used to put this fear inside me that you are dirty and bla bla...sometimes i won't do my prayers those days but i told myself if menstrual period was that bad and dirty why was God gonna start it, He could do something else to prepare a lady's uterus and stuff for babies, so i didn't care whether i was dirty or not but i would do my prayers and i never cared for my body, all i cared was that my soul enjoyed praying and i guess what matters is really the soul enjoying the Love with God.
     
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  16. Inderjeet Kaur

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    This thing about menstrual periods being unclean is a belief of both the Jews and the Muslims. I believe most Hindus also believe a menstrating womsan to be unclean. Sikhi teaches no such thing. I'm with you. If the Almighty created us this way, it is good and clean and pure, not evil or dirty.
     
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  17. love and peace

    love and peace
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    well as I live in India so there are lots of Sikh and Hindu people and both these communities do regard menstrual periods dirty,. glad i don't care anymore about this, all i care is that i should take a bath once a day at least to keep my body clean so that bugs don't get any room :) Sikhi is freedom, i don't care for such small things anymore.
     
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  18. Tejwant Singh

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    Love and peace ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    Great name btw. A rather thought provoking one. It forces one to think which is the mean that brings the end. The interesting part is that your name dictates both are intrachangeable starting from the personal relations and then moving on to the other horizons of life..

    I agree with you. My Nitnem starts with the droplets of sweat in the very early hours in the hot dry desert of Las Vegas. I had to stop this journey for some months due to unforeseen reasons but I am slowly getting my stride back, so to speak. So, I feel my cleansing process starts from the within.

    Allow me to paraphrase Bulleh Shah,(a great Sufi poet sung by many great artists). He was born in 1680 long after Guru Nanak's birth. One of his many Kalams (Odes) where he talks about cleanliness (pilgrimages to take dips in Holy waters, a must in Hinduism), Running towards the forests to meditate in order to find Rabb, (one more must in the same religion); both of which Guru Nanak talked against about long before Bulleh Shah but the thought process is the same.

    Rabb= Ik Ong Kaar

    Jei Rabb mildha nateian dhotien
    If one finds Rabb by washing self in water

    Tei Rabb milda dadduan machian num
    Then the frogs and the fish are the lucky ones

    Jei Rabb milda jungle phirian
    If one finds Rabb wandering around into the jungles

    Tei rabb milda gahian vachian num
    Then the animals and their off springs are the lucky ones.

    Vei Mian Bullehah rabb unah nu milda
    Oh Mian Bullehah only those find Rabb

    Ateh dilhian schian acchian num
    Who are truly good hearted

    The second ode is also wonderful. It is about the futility of gaining knowledge by shedding wisdom, the same thing Guru Nanak talks in Jap's 2nd Pauri.

    If someone wants me also to interpret the second ode, please let me know.

    Following is the YouTube version of the many odes of Bulleh Shah enchantingly sung by Abida Parveen, a very well known Pakistani Sufi singer. There are English subtitles on all of them.

    Enjoy Bulleh Shah with Abida's great voice:

    Abida Parveen Sings Bulleh Shah - YouTube

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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    #17 Tejwant Singh, Jun 29, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2013
  19. Inderjeet Kaur

    Inderjeet Kaur
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    I'm not certain what Hinduism teaches, there are so many forms, that I'm sure some don't, but most do consider menstruation as unclean.

    Sikhi does not. Unfortunately, here as in every other problem with the Sikh religion, many Sikhs follow the Punjabi culture instead of the Sikh teachings. If Sikhi fails, this will be the reason. It is fine to hold onto that in the Punjabi culture that does not conflict with Sikhi, but the patriarchal-misogynistic, provincial, narrow-minded aspects of the culture have got to go, if we want to survive, especially on a world-wide scale.

    I think I'm off on a tangent here...

    Back to Amrit Vela. Remember that most Punjabis were farmers and getting up early is a part of farming life, especially when most people didn't have electricity to turn night into day. Go to bed when it gets dark, up with the crowing of the cock was the natural rhythm of life. Amrit vela was not that much earlier than the usual time of rising. Life is not that simple for us now. I believe keeping these hours is best in lots of ways. It demands self-discipline and sets us apart from the people around us, plus those hours have a sort of spiritual magic to them that you'll only discover by doing it, a bit like keeping kesh. However for some people, it is impossible. We need to make a living, which sometimes means working hours incompatible with keeping the prescribed times. Also, I lived in Alaska for a time and, in the summer, there is virtually no night; the sun is either above or just below the horizon, so there are no hours before sunrise.

    In short, I think, in some cases, it is necessary to adapt, as long as we are not just making excuses and choosing the easy way out. The Nitnem is important, as is naam simran and all the rest. I believe that doing these daily is more important than the times they are done.
     
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  20. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    And Sikhi is about common sense. Yet one more gift of Guru Nanak when he threw water to the west at Haridwar to make a practical point for the benefit, not only of the Brahmins, but the entire world. Thanks Inderjeet Kaur ji for bringing us to our senses as you so often do.
     
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  21. Ishna

    Ishna
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    On the menstrual tangent, I read this a while ago, in a research paper by Kristina Myrvold called Inside the Guru's gate : ritual uses of texts among the Sikhs in Varanasi.

    Long paper, available here: http://www.anpere.net/2008/3.pdf

    Refer page 242



    These deeply ingrained cultural attitudes are what pollute Sikhi, not a woman's natural cycle.

     
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