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Amrit Velaa

Discussion in 'Spiritual' started by arshi, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. arshi

    arshi United Kingdom
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    Aug 20, 2009
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    by Rajinder Singh ‘Arshi’

    Literally translated ‘amrit’ means nectar (elixir) and ‘velaa’ equates to time, the ‘nectar time’ or more precisely the time to bathe and swim in ambrosial nectar, the time to unlock the fountain of nectar, to let it trickle down and permeate into our body, mind and soul while concentrating on shabad and Naam either by normal recital or through kirtan (shabad based on musical notes – dhun). It is also often translated as the 'The Ambrosial Hour'.

    The meaning of term ‘amrit velaa’ has not always been equated to its literal translation.

    In the context of the Sikh Initiation Ceremony ‘amrit’ means ‘Pahul’ or ‘khandey dee pahul’ i.e. amrit prepared in a bowl of water sweetened with sugar cakes (patashaa) stirred with the double edged sword while the Five Banis are recited.

    The human birth is also referred to as amrit velaa by some – the attainment of the human form is considered a reward for past karmas to redress our earlier transgressions and work towards jeevan mukti (liberation) in this lifetime. If we submit ourselves to His Hukam in this lifetime the Lord may be forgiving and merciful. But there are no guarantees as forgiveness can only be obtained though His Grace. Guru Arjan states:

    Gur ke charan hirai vasaae mûrre pichhley gunah sabh bakkas lai-eaa. SGGS 435

    Let your heart and mind reside at the lotus feet of the Guru and all your past indiscretions will be forgiven.

    One must be sincere in his approach and seek constant and continual guidance from his Guru (Guru Granth Sahib) and direct his life according to the Guru’s teachings based on the three cornerstones (the three pillars) of a devotee’s life, briefly, Naam japna (meditate and reflect on Naam), kirat karni (earn a living by honest sweat and toil) and wand shakna (share the rewards, both material and spiritual, with others). Again, Guru Arjan sayst:

    Pichhley aougun bakhas lae prabh aagai maarag paavai. (SGGS 624)

    (O Lord) Please overlook my previous transgressions and direct and place me on the true marg (spiritual path).

    In this article, however, we are not dealing with the latter interpretations but with the former, i.e. amrit velaa observed by devotees in their current lifetime to stay on the straight and narrow path of their spiritual quest through meditation and application of the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib. When the conscious mind is attuned to the Shabad Guru the soul is elevated and both the mind and the body experience a tingling vibration as the nectar trickles down the ‘spine’ of the body, mind and soul. Gradually the flight takes off to a higher spiritual plane, wherein the soul experiences a stillness which we normally describe as anand (Bliss) – the prani relinquishes his/her will to the Supreme Will.

    Is there a special time and place to experience (to taste) this sublime essence of the Ambrosial Naam (amrit naam ras - ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁਨਾਮੁਰਸੁ)?

    Not really, since amrit velaa can also be state of mind in the case of more advanced spiritual seekers. It all depends on the spiritual level of the devotee. Guru Ram Das says that the Sublime Essence of the Lord is everywhere, in the forests, in the fields, but the unfortunate ones cannot taste it (ih har ras van tin sabhat hai bhaagheen nahee khaa-e – M 4: SGGS 41-13).

    Guru Ram Das in Jaisari Mehalla 4 adds:

    Merai man an amri meeth lagaanaa (SGGS 698).
    His Ambrosial Amrit is so sweet to my mind and body.

    How can I get to taste this most sublime essence of the Ambrosial Naam? Asks Guru Ram Das - ras amrit naam ras at bhalaa kit bidh milai ras khaa-ay. (SGGS 41-9). Guru Ji answers his own question: ”Go and ask the happy soul-brides as to how they come to meet God (SGGS 41-9). But they are care-free and do not speak; I wash and massage their feet.”

    Guru Ji carries on and utters “I must follow in the footsteps of the Gurmukhs who enjoy His Love. I implore them: O my Siblings of Destiny, I have this intense yearning to meet the Lord; please unite me with Him” (SGGS 41-2).

    In His Kindness, He blesses me with the Ambrosial Nectar which trickles down my soul’s spine. The body and mind begin to blossom forth and flourish. The Lord comes to dwell within the mind (SGGS 41-16). I am a sacrifice to the Perfect Guru, who has shown me the Lord and in deep humility I lay my head on the feet of the Perfect True Guru: SGGS 41-3/4).

    Although there is no set place or time for Amrit Velaa as discussed, by tradition, the recommended time are the early hours of the dawn. These are considered, again by tradition and past experience of devotees, ideal for most people, especially for the beginners.

    Getting up early (most devout people do so at about 3-4 am) is considered a great way of paying one’s tribute to the Lord (kar isnaan simar parabh apnaa man tan bha-ay arogaa- After your cleansing bath praise the Lord, and your body and mind will become free of (physical, mental and spiritual) ailments – SGGS 611). However, with changing lifestyles and values many question the validity of this tradition and the interpretation of the term ‘Amrit Velaa’.

    The first parman that come to mind are:
    Amri velaa sach naa▫o vadi-aa-ee veechaa (Japji Sahib Pauri 4).

    In the Amrit Velaa (ambrosial hours) chant the True Name, and contemplate His Glorious Greatness (japji sahib). The meaning of Amrit Velaa in its wider context may be taken as that special time when the elixir flows, as described above (or even the great privilege of attaining the human form). Many would argue that this could be any time of the day depending on the individual, but such a privilege is only accorded to those who are highly elevated on the spiritual ladder. Most writers and speakers take the traditional interpretation and use the term as synonymous with early morning, as dawn is considered to be free from worldly activities, noise and pressures. Such a time is seen as conducive for uninterrupted simran, enabling the devotee to experiences flights of ecstasy as he or she bathes in the elixir of ambrosial Naam. The hectic environment and commitments of the day would render this impossible for the vast majority of us unless the individual has an unusual time frame of operation (i.e. a night worker) or is vastly advanced on the spiritual ladder.

    For those who are on the initial stages of spiritual quest and keep regular hours, should have no problems with Guru Ji’s recommendation:

    Gur sagur kaa jo sikh akhaaey so bhalke uth har naam dhe-aavai.
    One who calls himself a Sikh of the True Guru should rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the His Name (SGGS 305).

    The Sikh Gurus recognised the need of pratkal meditation despite their awesome spiritual prowess and led by example. Guru Amar Das Ji used to rise early in the morning to bring water from the Beas River for Guru Angad Dev Ji's bath.

    The biggest advantage of rising early is that at this time there are the least distractions, and whilst there may be some evil/wicked atmaa-vaas (e.g. thieves, murderers) about, they are outweighed by the pious atmaa-vaas (souls). The pure outbalance the evil. However, as the morning develops, the world comes into its full swing and all the atmaa-vaas (including ourselves) are sucked into the vicious circle of worldly maya. It now gets a little more difficult to concentrate on Naam for the less disciplined, although it is no issue for the more attuned Gursikh who can meditate on Lord’s Name anytime.

    Rising early and conversing with the Guru and the Lord offers a great psychological advantage – the uplifting feeling of being ahead of schedule and others helps. However, this feat has always been more difficult to achieve but has become increasingly difficult in recent times due to TV, late social events, internet, mobile phones and other man-made distractions. Man is becoming increasingly entrapped in his own ingenuity. It is therefore, important, in my humble opinion, that we focus on our life styles and what we really require from life. Look at our demands and see whether they are commensurate with our spiritual needs, i.e. the pros and cons of the ‘rat race’.

    Whilst amrit velaa as viewed by most, is considered an ideal time for prayers, it is also for many, ironically the most difficult time to get up. Therefore, to rise early it is essential to go to bed early and whether we sleep well or not will again depend on our life styles, e.g. the company we keep, our work, our priorities, what we listen to, what we watch and what and when we eat etc. All these factors have a great impact on our mindsets and subsequently our routine.

    On a personal basis, observing amrit velaa is a great spiritual booster but it has not always been possible, I must admit. Here, the author is not preaching (one who does not practice what he preaches shall remain in the cycle of birth and death - SGGS 269) but only sharing his thoughts with fellow seekers.The wiser and advanced practitioners recommend that we adjust our daily routine and set aside special sessions of meditation – e.g. cutting down on TV, internet, visiting friends and relatives and idle gossip, to name a few.

    For a suitable schedule we must first nurture contentment within ourselves, because without it there can be no effective schedule. Generally, it is recommended meals should be taken early, at about 7 pm, and the latest bed time, about 10 pm. A good six hours sleep, for most individuals, ought to be sufficient for a sound body and mind. Where living in a large family, it is important that he (she) does not disturb other members of the family. Imposing our will on others cannot be right, in my opinion.I recall seeing on TV a yogi narrating that a Sikh lady approached him once and complained of her husband waking up at 3 am, doing his Nitnem loudly and in the process disturbing everyone else. Amrit velaa observance is a personal thing but consideration for others is also part and parcel of observing one’s faith.

    The term ‘amrit velaa’, at least in general terms, can be a debatable issue with some individuals. We use this term so often in conversation and its ‘early morning’ meaning is widely accepted and has never been questioned in my long experience (and I have kept good company), written or spoken. The current cohort of young scholars (bless them) are increasingly asking questions. There is no harm in that; having an inquisitive mind is a good thing, but that does not mean we reject things just on the basis of these being ‘old’ or traditional. Some of our traditions are good for discipline and ought to be retained. For the more enlightened, the term has little importance as they can elevate their conscious to higher levels at will, i.e. they can unlock the fountain of nectar anytime.

    There is little doubt about what we mean by the term ‘amrit velaa’, in terms of discipline when the term is usedon stages and in general conversation andunnecessary controversy ought to be avoided. A study of holy men and women (bhaktas) will reveal that they all got up very early and paid their tribute to the Lord whilst most of the world was asleep – that is what, I think, most of us understand by the term amrit velaa. This of course does not mean that one cannot do the same at any other time of the day (as acknowledged above). Provided there is sincerity and good intention in our invocations, it does not matter what term we use. In practice one must meditate and remember the Lord at all times:

    oothat baithat sovat jaagat har dhiaaeeai sagal avradaa jeeo (SGGS 11).

    Guru Arjan Dev Ji blesses us by saying that a Gursikh should meditate on the Lord at all times, the same message that Guru Nanak gave when he said – “O Lord, bless my soul, lest these worldly distractions lead me astray and I forget Thy Name” (SGGS 14). Spiritually advanced seekers have no problem in attuning to Lord’s Name at will.

    One should make an effort to observe amrit vela but where one’s work pattern dictates otherwise, different times can also be quite effective. Where there is a will there is a way.

    Author's notes:

    1 This is the first draft of a topic the author has been pondering over for a while. Differences of opinion in interpretation are inevitable and the author’s thoughts/opinions must not be interpreted as cast in stone. the article may, therefore, undergo changes for quality and accuracy.

    2 For simplicity, throughout this article, I have referred to the masculine gender but, wherever appropriate, this should be read as including the female gender.

    3 The author most humbly regrets any inaccuracy or errors in quoting or interpreting Gurbani and prays Sat Guru grants him the boon of greater insight into understanding the Guru’s word.
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  3. OP

    arshi United Kingdom
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    When writing essays on spirituality, an author invariably feels a sense of uncertainty and doubts as to his (her) understanding of the underlying interpretation of the scriptures and in our case Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). Sometimes this may also turn into a feeling of a quaint insecurity, as views held by Sikhs these days are far more diverse, in my opinion, than they used to be. No amount of time spent on a translation of Gurbani is sufficient even for the advanced spiritual seeker. It is, therefore, useful to seek the views and interpretation of renowned scholars, e.g. Bhai Gurdas ji, Bhai Vir Singh ji, Gyani Maskin ji, to name a few.

    Just after a few days of writing the final draft of the above article I watched a telecast of one of Maskin’s ji’s discourses. I came across the tuk:

    ਹਰਿ ਧਨੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੈ ਵਤੈ ਕਾ ਬੀਜਿਆ ਭਗਤ ਖਾਇ ਖਰਚਿ ਰਹੇ ਨਿਖੁਟੈ ਨਾਹੀSGGS 734
    har dhan amrit veylai vatai kaa beeji-aa bhagat khaa-ey kharach rahay nikhutai naahee.

    In the ambrosial hours (Amrit Velaa) the seekers (devotees) sow the seed of Lord’s Naam and reap the benefits as they taste the nectar freely, despite sharing with others, the source never runs out.

    Maskeen ji recommends the early dawn hours (2-4) as the most conducive for meditation - the time (uninterrupted by worldly chores) the mind has the best chance of attuning to the His Name.

    The same shabad earlier blessed us with the pankti:

    ਹਰਿ ਧਨੁ ਰਤਨੁ ਜਵੇਹਰੁ ਮਾਣਕੁ ਹਰਿ ਧਨੈ ਨਾਲਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੈ ਵਤੈ ਹਰਿ ਭਗਤੀ ਹਰਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਈSGGS 734

    har dhan ratan javeyhar maanak har dhanai naal amrit veylai vatai har bhagtee har liv laa-ee.

    The wealth of Lord’s Name is invaluable like the rarest of gems and pearls and His devotees rise during the ambrosial hours to attune their minds to the wealth of Har Naam.

    In a similar vein Bhai Raghbir Singh Bir in Bandgi Nama writes as follows:

    The hour of Nam
    “The ‘ambrosial period’ of early morning is believed to be the best time for Nam. A mahatma suggested to me that in summer the hours between 2 am and 4 am, and in the winter, between 3 am and 5 am constituted the ‘ambrosial period’. All these years since then I have risen to practice Nam during these hours. One spiritual gain from this practice is that after this spiritual exercise we can sleep for almost two hours. After the fatigue of the spiritual exercise, two hours rest recuperates us and refreshes us for the day’s work. Again, during these hours there is perfect silence and calm in nature, and the attuned mind is in raptures in his Unity effortlessly, without disturbance. This period is called the Brahm hour, or Heavenly time. At this time the transcendental or absolute spirit of God predominates us. We must try to wake up at this hour, but should this not be possible, then the early morning hours and dusk are the next best.”

    He goes on to write:
    “When we have sufficiently advanced in simran we become accustomed to it at all hours, and no rigid schedule is necessary.”

    These are interesting points for the spiritually orientated to ponder over.

    Great minds think alike - I thought.

    Rajinder Singh ‘Arshi’
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  4. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Jul 4, 2004
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    Arshi ji wrote:<<<<<<<<< Great minds think alike - I thought.<<<<<<<<<<<


    But once..a very long time ago when i was just a novice Teacher in Training and was teaching a class of Sixth Formers Shakespaeares writing style... on my very first day..an Inspector from the Education dept sat at the back of the class..observing every move...suddenly one smarty pants said something..and then a second one agreed..and I blurted out..Yes..Great Minds think alike...and instantly the smirk was wiped off my face by a timid little girl who stood up and announced..Fools never differ !!! There was pin drop silence for a while..and then everyone burst out laughing..

    My point though is different...in English language..sayings may be contradictory..BUT in GURBANI..every TUK is eternal truth and is never contradictory. In fact Gurbani is all encompassing...whether its Sheikh farid ji in ealry 13th century..or Guru Teg bahadur Ji 300 years later...the Central Line/Thread is ONE....

    Amrit Vela is that moment in which we CONNECT with the Creator...something like when our Modem connects to the Internet..and remains connected...is worthwhile..rest of the time..just a blinking light which is of no consequence..worthwhile "work" can only be done while the Modem is connected...rest of time can also be worthwhile...preparing..researching..writing....BUT its all only at the level of our own laptop...UNTIL the connection blinks and we can send it out..."Amrit vela"..and "AMRIT VELA"...BOTH these are mentioned in Gurbani and are VALID.

    Thank you for a thoughtful article..worth much more than it looks. Please do keep writing and Keep in Chardeekalla.
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  5. OP

    arshi United Kingdom
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    Absolutely right ji. The contradiction is always in our understanding. Guru Granth Sahib Ji is a fathomless ocean. Each person will take from it according to the capacity of their spiritual ware (‘bhanda’) – to borrow another of Maskin ji’s analogy. Your own analogy of a computer and modem is excellent and a timely one – we had the electricians in today (my day off work) and for a couple of hours he turned off the sockets – there was no power and even the modem was of little use. I agree with you, without inner prakash, all else is of no avail. Many thanks for the wise words – :) after all great minds do think alike (me excluded).
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  6. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Jun 30, 2004
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    Arshi ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    First of all I want to thank you for your great effort and a wonderful essay with a very important topic which has been discussed many times in this forum as in others but Sikhi is always about the new perspective of this beautiful Gurbani of ours, that is why Sikhi is the only way of life that did not stop in time with its founders like most of the other religions in the world did. The Gurbani was compiled by our visionary Gurus in such a futuristic manner that, we, as the followers of our only Guru, SGGS, have the opportunity to see the different angles presented by the same lyrical poetry with time. This is the reason Gurbani urges us at every single page to read, read, study, study, understand, understand and practice, practice daily, so that we can widen our horizons rather than living in some religious cocoons built by their respective founders.

    One thing Guru Nanak and all our Gurus were, “The Devil’s Advocates” and I want to emulate that rather than the other famous terms that some scholars use before they tend to disagree or scold someone,” Malice against none,” “With all my humility” etc. etc. because for me as a person these are just charades, nothing more, the disdain and anger is quite apparently seeping out of these terms.

    Allow me to expand about it a bit further what I mean by why our Gurus were, “The Devil’s Advocates”. They were never afraid to ask questions. If Guru Nanak had not asked any questions to the Pandit about the utility of the Janeiu, then all of us would be still wearing it. This is just one example out of many and our Sikh history is full of them and they are known to all the Sikh Literati, hence no need for other examples.

    Questioning is the cornerstone of Sikhi. This is the reason we are told to study Gurbani everyday. Nitnem is the same we do everyday. It is like the gem miner who is mining the same mine daily and finds nuggets of gems and precious metals. Same thing is required of us by our Gurus. By learning,unlearning and relearning daily as a Sikh, one questions all the aspects. This is the only way shown to us by our Gurus to relearn. Gurbani helps us make this our second nature. This is the true meaning of the word Sikh.

    Let’s talk about the often used word Ambrosial hour/time which is a very common word mentioned to explain Amrit Vela which has also been penned by you many times in your excellent essay.

    I will give you the dictionary meaning of it which I am sure you are aware of.

    1.ambrosial - extremely pleasing to the taste; sweet and fragrant; "a nectarous drink"; "ambrosial food"
    nectarous, ambrosian
    tasty - pleasing to the sense of taste; "a tasty morsel"
    2.ambrosial - worthy of the gods
    heavenly - of or belonging to heaven or god
    ambrosial - definition of ambrosial by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

    Main Entry: am·bro·sia
    Pronunciation: \am-ˈbrō-zh(ē-)ə\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Latin, from Greek, literally, immortality, from ambrotos immortal, from a- + -mbrotos (akin to brotos mortal) — more at murder
    Date: 15th century
    1 a : the food of the Greek and Roman gods b : the ointment or perfume of the gods
    am·bro·sial \-zh(ē-)əl\ adjective
    Ambrosial - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    Once again, the reason for me giving all these meanings from different resources is because of the importance of this word in English emphasised by the Sikh scholars and used frequently by them including by you in your essay. In fact that is the whole idea behind your missive.

    The interesting part is that when we Google “Ambrosial Hours”, it only gives the Sikh sites explaining that it is Amrit Vela, which shows that this phrase was concocted by the Sikh literati and has nothing to do with the English language per se nor with its roots which come from Latin and Greek.

    Arshi ji:

    You write:

    But the fact is that majority of your excellent essay is not based on your above statement but to the contrary.

    Your above statement goes totally against the founder of Sikhi, our visionary Guru, Guru Nanak whom we are supposed to emulate rather than idolize, as many do, with his picture on the mantel piece with other Sants, Brahamgyanis that they idolize as well. Please share with us why are you going against the grain of Sikhi?

    Was Guru Nanak wrong when he asked the meaning of Janieo at the tender age of 8 to the learned, more enlightened, and who kept good company- using your words-?

    You further write:

    Once again you are saying not in those words, that Guru Nanak was wrong as are many people today because they ask and challenge people with the questions of their status quo thought process rather than accepting their traditions. Can you please give us the reason behind your reasoning?

    I can only talk about myself and as mentioned before, I am not a Sikh scholar, an intellect, a historian nor am I of any kind who belongs to any literati. And nor do I intend to pretend to be anything like that either. I am just a seeker, a learner, an inquisitive. In other words, I am a Sikh, thanks to my Gurus and my present and only Guru, SGGS..

    Secondly, thanks for calling me young at this age of mine. It is a compliment indeed. I hope I never grow up which will give me more chance to be inquisitive and challenge myself by questioning.

    Your Ambrosial hour has changed from 4 am to 2 to 4am when you mentioned “like minds think alike”. Do you think our Gurus were against the nature or for it? Did they know what the body clock meant and how the body needs rests? After all we all know the writer of Jap went to so many places with different time zones.

    What is the benefit of doing Nitnem at 2 am then going off to sleep? What good does it bring?

    Next, I would like to discuss about the literal translations that you have posted which are incorrect as you, yourself may be aware of. As requested by me to you in my earlier posts that yourself as a scholar, to share your own wisdom about Gurbani in English in your own words, which is important not only for what you share with us through your great writings but also it is beneficial to the readers of your great essays and also please have the whole Shabad posted with your own words because one liners do not do any justice, neither to our Gurus nor to this gorgeous Gurbani.

    Let me just take one as an example which I would like you to post the whole Shabad of:

    This Shabad by our 4th Guru starts on page 733 and we should never forget when there is the Rahao in the Shabad because that is the central idea of the whole Shabad.
    ਸੂਹੀ ਮਹਲਾ
    Sūhī mėhlā 4.
    Soohee, Fourth Mehl:

    Let’s talk about the Rahao in this Shabad before we get to your one liner out of three from the verse number 3. You only took one third of the whole verse and then later on you used the other one third to prove your point.

    The interpretation is mine.

    ਹਰਿ ਧਨੁ ਸੰਚੀਐ ਭਾਈ ਜਿ ਹਲਤਿ ਪਲਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਹੋਇ ਸਖਾਈ ੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ

    Har ḏẖan sancẖī▫ai bẖā▫ī. Jė halaṯ palaṯ har ho▫e sakẖā▫ī. ||1|| rahā▫o.

    Let’s breed goodness within, oh friend,

    So that we can find the eternal connection with Ik Ong Kaar.ll1ll Rahao- Pause to get the central idea of the whole Shabad.

    ਹਰਿ ਧਨੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੈ ਵਤੈ ਕਾ ਬੀਜਿਆ ਭਗਤ ਖਾਇ ਖਰਚਿ ਰਹੇ ਨਿਖੁਟੈ ਨਾਹੀ ੩॥
    Har ḏẖan amriṯ velai vaṯai kā bīji▫ā bẖagaṯ kẖā▫e kẖaracẖ rahe nikẖutai nāhī. ||3||

    The earlier in life one sows the seeds of goodness within through Gurbani, the sooner one can reap its fruits and hence share this priceless, endless treasure with others.

    Following is your interpretation.

    Please allow me to explain why I disagree with your interpretation which I am sure is not yours as it is copied and pasted from the net but you seem to agree with it because it is part and parcel of your own thought process which helped you write this essay.

    The metaphor of sowing the seeds which Guru Sahib has used is very important to consider. He could have used other words if he wanted to but the fact is that he used this particular one has a lot of significance.

    The seed can not germinate and give its fruit instantly. It is a long term process that Guru Sahib is talking about and we should focus on that. So here sowing the seeds during Amrit Vela can not mean between 2am to 4 am but earlier in one’s life, so one can reap its fruit with time, meaning later on in one's life.

    I respect the Sikh Scholars of yesteryears from whom I have learnt a lot like Maskeen Singh ji etc etc. But as Sikhs, it is our duty to make them as our spring boards so we can dive into Gurbani by ourselves and hence catch the gems from the same mine in our own way rather than wearing the necklaces of the gems discovered by them. Those necklaces are theirs to keep but they become our motivation to dig our own from this wonderful poetry called Gurbani in the SGGS, our only Guru.

    Lastly, I would like to add that one is not born a Sikh whether one is born with a silver spoon or with the wooden one, but becomes one. The best example of the latter is in Narayanjot Kaur ji’s quest.

    Please keep on sharing this treasure you have been bestowed with.

    Thanks and regards

    Tejwant Singh
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    #5 Tejwant Singh, Apr 28, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2010
  7. OP

    arshi United Kingdom
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    Aug 20, 2009
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    Tejwant Singh ji


    First let me thank you for your long post which is an essay itself. My response will be even longer but I may have to do so in several posts but I do know that one of your virtues is patience.

    For you to take such an interest in what I write is high praise in itself but praise is not what I seek, and as you say Sikhi is a way of life and Gurbani teaches us new perspectives to enrich this way of life. Reading and interpreting Gurbani, researching, listening to learned Gursikhs, reading their works on their bhavnaas and experiences is part and parcel of discovering these perspectives.

    Again you bestow too much praise on me; I am no scholar and am really devoid of any spiritual wisdom. This is not false humility as I mean every word of it. What I write is what I feel from reading and singing Gurbani and listening to others. When I wrote this particular article there were doubts in my mind and that is why the footnote which reads:

    “This is the first draft of a topic the author has been pondering over for a while. Differences of opinion in interpretation are inevitable and the author’s thoughts/opinions must not be interpreted as cast in stone; the article may, therefore, undergo changes for quality and accuracy”:

    I hope you read it.

    With further wisdom gleaned from Gursikhs (like the few I mentioned in my earlier post and others on this site including your good self) I hope to update and improve the article. I do not like to talk about myself(and in the past have declined offers to post info about myself – I may do so at some point on my website. However, because of our dialogue in an earlier thread I wish to clarify a few points, and I hope you don’t mind me doing so. I have no scholarly skills in spirituality and like you I am a mere seeker. I have no doctorate in psychology, metaphysics or other arts of the mind or soul. I, currently, make a living from training undergraduates and post-graduates in accounting and finance in universities and financial institutions (this is my second career, the first being Cartography). I do not seek spiritual guidance from a ‘sant’, ‘baba’ or a ‘brahmgyani’ and have never done so. I do not belong to any ashram, sect, group or cult but do visit any place where full respect and reverence is bestowed on the Living Light SGGS.

    I do respect those Gursikhs who believe in the teachings of SGGS and enlighten others and amongst them I mentioned in my previous writing Baba Puran Singh ji of Kericho wale.Although my parents and in laws knew him well I never went to his sharan either and only admire the work he has done. I am not involved with the organisation formed after his departure but, again, do appreciate the work they are doing.How the organization will shape out in the future will have to be seen.Perhaps it is a defect in my character that I tend to look at the good in people more than looking at their defects. Is it too late to change? I do not know. I never invite sants, reknowned kirtanyas cum sants to my house. I have never felt the need for it because I saw a puran Gursikh in my late father late highly respected Balwant Singh ji who served the panth for nearly seventy years doing nishkam kirtan sewa - he made a living through hard work (kirat) just like any ordinary householder – all his spare time went into kirtan and serving others, without financial gains. With a blessed Gursikh in the form of my father l felt no deed for ‘sants’ and ‘babas’. With both my parents departed, I may, perhaps, meet someone in the future who may assist me in understanding spirituality through Gurbani - I cannot rule that out. But no one will ever replace SGGS as my Guru.

    Apologies for some digression but hope to return to the topic later.


    Rajinder Singh ‘Arshi’
  8. OP

    arshi United Kingdom
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    Writer SPNer

    Aug 20, 2009
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    Tejwant Singh ji


    When writing the article I tried to give as wide a definition of the term (i.e. various interpretations) as possible at the time and then expanded on the one most commonly used and understood by Sikhs. But this by no means the only version or ‘the last word’ on the topic and where appropriate I stand corrected.

    You wrote:
    I entirely agree and have said many times that there is no limit to the translation and interpretation of Gurbani. In my response to Gyani Jarnail Singh ji above I wrote “Guru Granth Sahib Ji is a fathomless ocean. Each person will take from it according to the capacity of their spiritual ware (‘bhanda’)”. It all depends on the devotee’s spiritual level and attainment. The treasure of Gurbani may also be likened to a well (but only in a limited sense). One draws from it according to the size of their buckets but the water never runs out as the mother earth pumps more water upwards – however, while it is possible for a well to dry up the elixir of Gurbani is ever flowing to eternity.

    Again, I agree. False humility does not benefit anyone. I have personally never used the term “Malice against none”. You are not confusing me with someone else? If it is only a general observation, I understand. However, some individuals may genuinely project humility in their deed, speech and writing – we cannot rule that out.

    Absolutely no harm in asking questions – it is a natural learning process. But I must qualify this with some comments of a general nature with no reflection on you. Raising questions are constructive providing this is done in good faith and not deliberately intended to be argumentative or negative in approach. I remember participating, briefly, on a thread on another site, when after months, the originator of the question had not changed his position one little bit - in the duration I had to and back from India. There could be several reasons for this:

    1. No one had satisfactorily answered his question.

    2. The individual had a hidden agenda and had no intention to change his views at the outset.

    3. Prolonging the argument may help the site’s rating.

    4. The person has a mind-set which is impossible to change (at least in the short term).

    There may be several other reasons but the point is that we must aim to learn together and show both goodwill and courtesy to each other. May I stress that these are not aimed at any one in particular. Having said all that it still does not mean questions must not be asked but the equally the other party has a right to respond or not respond to a question.

    You also quoted the following lines from my article:

    We use this term so often in conversation and its ‘early morning’ meaning is widely accepted and has never been questioned in my long experience (and I have kept good company), written or spoken.”

    To which you responded:
    Your above statement goes totally against the founder of Sikhi, our visionary Guru, Guru Nanak whom we are supposed to emulate rather than idolize, as many do, with his picture on the mantel piece with other Sants, Brahamgyanis that they idolize as well. Please share with us why are you going against the grain of Sikhi?

    I do not recall talking about ‘pictures on the mantel piece’.When I wrote the above referred statement, I was merely reflecting my own experience on the use of the term ‘Amrit Velaa’ by Kirtanyas, Katha Vaachaks, Parbandhak, individuals in every day conversation, and the meaning they implied. I am certainly not suggesting we must not question things.How you reached the conclusion that I was “going against the grain of Sikh” escapes me! However, that does not mean I do not err. Every day in Ardas I seek forgiveness for my transgressions and behaviour which goes against the grain of Sikhi.

    I wrote:
    “The current cohort of young scholars (bless them) are increasingly asking questions. There is no harm in that; having an inquisitive mind is a good thing, but that does not mean we reject things just on the basis of these being ‘old’ or traditional. Some of our traditions are good for discipline and ought to be retained.”

    You responded:
    Once again you are saying not in those words, that Guru Nanak was wrong as are many people today because they ask and challenge people with the questions of their status quo thought process rather than accepting their traditions. Can you please give us the reason behind your reasoning?

    Again, I cannot see how you reached this conclusion. I was suggesting that we preserve our good traditions and not change for the sake of changing – please do not read more into things or stretch your imagination (forgive me) beyond the expanse of the point in question. GURU NANAK CAN NEVER BE WRONG - only we are fallible.

    Neither am I. Elsewhere in the post you refer to me as a scholar – I am no such thing just a learner who endeavors to learn from those who have more experience and wisdom then me and are attuned to Gurbani 24/7 and it is in this respect I referred to Gursikhs such as Maskin ji and Raghbir Singh Bir. I was only stating their experiences and understanding of Gurbani and terminology and not necessarily rubber stamping what they said as absolute truth.

    Again, I am surprised at your conclusion. Please allow me to explain:

    I participated in a thread under a similar title on another website and some of the essay is based on the notes compiled at the time and the reference to “current cohort of young scholars” emanates from there and was not aimed at you in any way. However, notwithstanding that I would be pleased to refer to you as young and certainly mean it as a compliment. My youngest brother (baby of the family) is not much older than you.

    If you read my second post, earlier, I only quoted from Bhai Raghbir Singh Bir’s Bandagi Nama his experiences with meditation. The idea was to share his thoughts and invoke others’ experiences - just a learning gesture on my part. I personally do not practice his technique and with my working life style and my back spasms, I have problems rising at 4 am. I agree there is not much to be gained by mere recital of Bani unless one connects with its meaning and adopt its teaching and values in daily living.

    My comments are made in good faith and not aimed at belittling anyone or deliberately intended at distorting Gurbani or misrepresenting terminology.

    Please forgive if I have overlooked any errors in the long post. Time permitting I may return to the topic of translation later.

    Kind regards and chardhi kala

    Rajinder Singh ‘Arshi’
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