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Ardaas - The Sikh Prayer

Jun 1, 2004
Ardas - The Sikh Prayer
The word Ardās ( ਅਰਦਾਸ ) is derived from Persian word 'Arazdashat', meaning a request, a supplication, a prayer, a petition or an address to a superior authority. It is a Sikh prayers that is a done before performing or after undertaking any significant task; after reciting the daily Banis (prayers); or completion of a service like the Paath, kirtan (hymn-singing) program or any other religious program. In Sikhism, these prayers are also said before and after eating. The prayer is a plea to God to support and help the devotee with whatever he or she is about to undertake or has done.

The Ardas is usually always done standing up with folded hands. The beginning of the Ardas is strictly set by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. When it comes to conclusion of this prayer, the devotee uses word like "Waheguru please bless me in the task that I am about to undertake" when starting a new task or "Akal Purakh, having completed the hymn-singing, we ask for your continued blessings so that we can continue with your memory and remember you at all times", etc.

Ardas is a unique prayer based on the fact that it is one of the few, well-known prayers in the Sikh religion that was not written in its entirety by the Gurus. The Ardas cannot be found within the pages of the Guru Granth Sahib due to the fact that it is a continually changing devotional text that has evolved over time in order for it to encompass the feats, accomplishments, and feelings of all generations of Sikhs within its lines. Taking the various derivation of the word, Ardas into account, the basic purpose of this prayer is an appeal to Waheguru for his protection and care, a plea for the welfare and prosperity of all mankind, and a means for the Sikhs to thank Waheguru for all that he has done.

The power that this single prayer possesses is astonishing. Starting with "pritham bhagautee simar kai, Gur Nanak laee dhiaa-e phir Angad gur tay Amardaas, Raamdaasai hoee sahaee and ending with Naanak naam charhdee kalaa, tayray bhaanay Sarbaht dah Phahla. The ardas encompasses so many Sikh and Humanistic values. It is more than just a prayer; it is a new concept of therapy for the elevation of the human spirit, mind and body. Following are the main features and benefits of Ardas

* It is a petition to God, the merciful creator of the universe
* It lowers ones ego and brings calmness to the mental state
* Teaches one Nimrata Humility, Daya Compassion, fearlessness, Chardi Kala
* One is reminded of the level of dedication required to become a better human being
* Gives one inner strength and energy
* Links the mind with the pure ones from human history
* Elevates ones spiritual state; builds ones confidence
* Brings a sense of "community" to the person.

In a congregational setting, the ardas is recited by one member of the assemblage with everyone standing reverentially, hands in prayer pose (see photos for example), facing the Guru Granth Sahib. Periodically throughout the recitation, the assembly as a whole repeats the word Waheguru in order to support the idea that God, the Wondrous Guru, is the Supreme Being capable of anything. At the completion of ardas, the congregation bows down as one and places their foreheads on the floor to symbolize the fact that they will go as low as necessary to support Waheguru and all that He stands for; in essence, they are placing themselves as the servants of God. Upon rising, the Sangat (congregation) proclaims Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji ki Fateh, "the Khalsa belongs to the Lord to whom [also] belongs the Victory" (Singh, Inderjit). Immediately after uttering these words, one member of the assembly states the phrase, Bole So Nihal, "he who pronounces these words shall be fulfilled" (Singh, Inderjit). In response to this statement, the entire Sangat heartily shouts, Sat Sri Akal or "True is the Timeless Lord". As one can see, the combination of the way that ardas is performed as well as the content of the prayer lends itself to the power of the supplication.

First Section

Ardas is composed of three sections:

The Ardas is often adorned with various passages from the Guru Granth Sahib. Here we shall give the basic structure.The recitation of ardas commences with the opening stanza of Var Sri Bhagauti Ji written by Guru Gobind Singh Ji (The Var Sri Bhagauti Ji is contained with the Dasam Granth). This smoothly written ode begins by going through the order of meditation by placing Waheguru foremost above all else, and then systematically referring to each of the other Gurus in turn entreating them for aid and protection.

After first contemplating the Primal Power of the Almighty, call to mind Guru Nanak. Then let your mind dwell on Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das, may they watch over us. Meditate in remembrance upon Guru Arjan, Guru Hargobind and Sri Har Rai. Dwell upon Guru Har Krishan, seeing whom all sufferings shall depart. Meditate in remembrance upon Guru Tegh Bahadar, and the nine treasures shall hasten to your home. May they protect and help us everywhere. And the Tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh Jee, father of the Khalsa who has blessed us with the gift of Amrit – may we enjoy his protection everywhere…

Second Section

The second portion of ardas discusses the sacrifices made by various Sikhs throughout history. The sacrifices made by these noble individuals range from sacrificing children to being placed onto rotating wheels of torture.

Let us remember all those Sikh men and women who, for the sake of the Dharma, and the religious and spiritual freedom of all people, gave their heads, and allowed themselves to be cut apart, limb by limb, joint by joint; who had their scalps torn from their heads; who were stretched and broken upon the wheels of torture; who were beaten and sawn apart, but never gave up their faith, and their determination to live according to Sikh rehat, with all their hair to their last breath'. Let us always remember those Gursikhs who, in the service of our holy Gurdwaras, in the spirit of non-violence allowed themselves to be brutally beaten, burnt and boiled alive, and yet still uttered no words of protest, but instead, placed their trust, and their lives, in the Hands of God, in sweet surrender to His Will. Remembering their sacrifice and their glorious victory…

Third Section

The third section’s composition varies from one oration to the next. It is in this section that the Sikhs specify what they are reciting ardas for, make their supplications to Waheguru, and ask for forgiveness for any mistakes made during the recitation of any and all prayers.

Please bless this Prashaad and Guru ka Langar, which have been prepared in the Guru’s Kitchen. Bless those who have prepared it, those who serve it, and those who partake of it. Bless us with the Holy Word of your Hukam. Inspire us to walk on the path of Gurmat shown to us by You through the Holy Word of Gurbani. Please forgive us our many sins, our errors and omissions, and help us, that we may keep ourselves pure, in the face of the challenges and temptations of the world. Bless us with company of only people of love, that we may remember Your Naam in their presence. (Singh, Mohan Inder)

These three sections together constitute ardas, and in conjunction with one another contribute to making it a powerful piece of work capable of evoking a multitude of feelings within the Sikh people.

As one of the most universal prayers in the Sikh religion, ardas maintains its uniqueness due to the fact that rather than trying to read or recite the Guru’s prayers, it is an example of a mortal offering up his/her own prayer to Waheguru asking for forgiveness and guidance. Ardas is read when the Guru Granth Sahib is moved and before the Guru Granth Sahib is opened. Ardas is read at a very specific time during the full reading of the Guru Granth Sahib as is done at an Akhand Path. During the Akhand Path, ardas is recited after Anand Sahib, a prayer in which the entire congregation stands and recites as one, and the distribution of Kara Parshad, a blessed offering made of wheat flour, butter, and sugar; but prior to the sangat taking Hukam (listening to a randomly chosen passage from the Guru Granth Sahib).

Ardas is read at the end of naming ceremonies, engagements, and the beginning of the Anand Karaj marriage ceremony. During the funeral ceremonies, ardas is said as the body is being taken away, while consigning the body to fire, when the pyre is fully aflame, upon returning to the gurdwara, and after Anand Sahib is recited. Aside from all of the above occasions, Ardas is also recited during special circumstances in order to pray to Waheguru for good luck and help in ones future endeavors such as at the beginning of school or before setting off on a journey. One of the most momentous occasions that ardas is recited at occurs during the ceremony where Sikhs take amrit in order to become amritdhari Sikhs or members of the Khalsa Panth. During this ceremony, the "five beloved ones" or panj piare perform ardas, the prayer is repeated after the Amritdhari Sikhs take amrit, and then once more after all the expectations for an Amritdhari Sikh is revealed. Based on the fact that ardas is said so often within the course of such a significant ceremony, amrit, as well as with such frequency within such a large variety of ceremonies, one is able to understand how significant ardas is within the Sikh culture.

Research done by Bhai Amrit Pal Singh 'Amrit'. Read more of his works at

The prayer is at the center of worship. It is the natural result of religion. It is a ritual form designed to bring one into closer relation to the God. In simple words, we can say that to request something of a divine being is a prayer.

First duty of any human being is to meditate on the God. According to Guru Granth Sahib Ji, "Sarab Dharam meh shreshat Dharam. Har ko Naam jap nirmal karam". (Of all religions, the best religion is to chant the Name of the Lord and maintain pure conduct). (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, page 266). So, first of all, we remember the God in Sikh prayer. In the beginning, the Sikh Prayer says, "Ik Onkar, Waheguru ji ki fateh". (One Absolute manifest. Victory belongs to the Waheguru).

If we pray before the God, it is obvious we ask for something. Though we pray before the God for something we need, we do not abandon our efforts to get it. When we get it, we think that it has been gotten by our efforts. We start to think that we are victorious. The Sikh prayer makes us remember that the victory we got actually belongs to the God. That is why the Sikh prayer says that the victory belongs to the God, 'Waheguru ji ki fateh'.

Then the Sikh prayer says, "Sri Bhagauti ji sahaaye". (May the might of the All-powerful help!).

Both of the lines, (Ik Onkar, Waheguru ji ki fateh' and 'Sri Bhagauti ji sahaaye'), are 'mangals' (ecstasy). In Sri Dasam Granth Sahib, these lines have been used in the beginning of many 'banis' (holy hymns). Many Sikh poets have also used these lines in the beginning of their poetic works. Thus, these lines are used as blessings. The first stanza of the prayer: -

Then, we say these words in the Sikh prayer, "Vaar Sri Bhagauti Ji ki, Paatshaahee 10". 'Vaar Sri Bhagauti Ji kee' is a part of 'Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji'. In most of copies of 'Sri Dasam Granth Sahib', it is named as 'Vaar Sri Durga Ji ki' instead of 'Vaar Sri Bhagauti Ji kee'. 'Vaar Sri Bhagauti Ji kee' is mostly known as 'Chandi di vaar'. Thus, this 'vaar' has three names, (1) 'Vaar Sri Bhagauti Ji kee', (2) 'Vaar Sri Durga Ji ki', and (3) 'Chandi di vaar'.

Word 'vaar' belongs to Punjabi language. The 'vaar' is a long poem (ballad), which narrates a story of battle. In 'Vaar Sri Bhagauti Ji kee', there has been given a story of goddess Durga. In the story, she fights against devils, to help the gods.

So, "Vaar Sri Bhagauti Ji ki" means 'story (ballad) of Durga's battle'. And 'Paatshaahee 10' means the 10th master, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, has written this 'Vaar'. [number '10' has to be pronounced as 'dasvee{n}]. Thus 'Paatshaahee 10' can be translated as 'the composition of the tenth king'. In first stanza of 'Vaar Sri Bhagauti Ji kee', the poet (Guru Gobind Singh Ji) remembers all of his nine Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. This first stanza of 'Vaar Sri Bhagauti ji ki' is also the first stanza of the Sikh prayer.

Here is the first stanza: "Pritham Bhagautee simar kai (Having first thought of the God), Gur Nanak layee{n} dhyaaye (think of Guru Nanak). Phir Angand Gur, te Amardaas, Ramdaasai hoyee sahaaye (Then, (think of) Guru Angad, (Guru) Amardas, (Guru) Ramdas- may they be our rescuers!). Arjan, Hargobind no, simrau Sri Har Rai (Remember, then, (Guru) Arjan, (Guru) Hargobind and (Guru) Har Rai). Sri Har Krishan dhiyaaeeye, jis dithhey sab dukh jaaye (Meditate then on revered (Guru) Har Krishan, on seeing whom all suffering vanishes). Tegh Bahadur simariye, ghar nau nidh aavai dhaaye (Think then of (Guru) Tegh Bahadur, remembrance of whom brings all nice treasures). Sab thaayee(n) hoye sahaaye (He comes to rescue everywhere)."

"Having first thought of the 'Bhagauti' (the God), think of Guru Nanak. Then, (think of) Guru Angad, (Guru) Amardas, (Guru) Ramdas- may they be our rescuers! Remember, then, (Guru) Arjan, (Guru) Hargobind and (Guru) Har Rai. Meditate then on revered (Guru) Har Krishan, on seeing whom all suffering vanishes. Think then of (Guru) Tegh Bahadur, remembrance of whom brings all nice treasures. He comes to rescue everywhere."

Because this part of Sikh prayer is taken from Sri Dasam Granth Sahib, no one has right to make changes in its text. In 'Sikh Reht Maryada', published by SGPC (www.sgpc.net), there has been given a footnote, which says, "…the initial composition with "Pritham Bhagauti…" and the concluding phrases commemcing "Nanak Naam…" must not be altered.

The Khalsa Panth added theses lines in first stanza of the Sikh prayer to remember the 10th Guru, "Daswaa{n} Paatshaah, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji! Sabh thaayee{n} hoye sahaaye" (The tenth lord, revered Guru Gobind Singh, who comes to rescue everywhere).

These were the ten Gurus of Sikhs. They showed us the right path. They had left their physical bodies, but their holy spirits are still near us. They are still very close to us. We can feel their holy light in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. That is why we say, in the last line of first stanza of Sikh prayer, "Dasaa{n} Paatshaaheeyaa{n} dee jot, Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji de path deedar da dhyaan dhar ke, bolo ji Waheguru" (The embodiment of the light of all ten sovereign lordships, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji- think of the sight and reading of it and say, Waheguru). The second stanza of the prayer: -

"Panjaa{n} piyaareyaa{n} (five beloved ones) , chauhaa{n} sahibzaadiyaa{n} (four princes), chaaliyaa{n} mukteyaa{n} (forty liberated ones), hathhiyaa{n} (steadfast ones), japiyaa{n} (the constant repearters of the Divine Name), tapiyaa{n} (those given to assiduous devotion), jinha Naam japiyaa (those who repeated the Name), vandd chhakiyaa (shared their fare with others), degh chalaayee (ran free kitchen) , tegh vaahee (wielded the sword), dekh ke ann-dithh keeta (overlooked faults), tinha piyaareyaa{n}, sachiyaariyaa{n} dee kamaayee daa dhyaan dhar ke (meditating on the achievement of the dear and truthful ones), Khalsa ji (O Khalsa), bolo ji Waheguru! (say Waheguru!)"

"Meditating on the achievement of the dear and truthful ones, including the five beloved ones, the four sons of the tenth Guru, forty liberated ones, steadfast ones, constant repeaters of the Divine Name, those given to assiduous devotion, those who repeated the Name, shared their fare with others, ran free kitchen, wielded the sword and overlooked faults and shortcomings, say 'Waheguru', O Khalsa".

This is the second stanza of the Sikh prayer. In this stanza, we remember some of ancient Sikh personalities. First, we remember 'the five beloved ones', who offered their heads to Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Here are their names:
  1. Bhai Dya Singh Ji
  2. Bhai Dharam Singh Ji
  3. Bhai Himmamt Singh Ji
  4. Bhai Mohakam Singh Ji
  5. Bhai Sahib Singh Ji
It was 'Vaisaakhi' festival of the year 1699, when Guru Gobind Singh said in a huge gathering that he needed a head. It was amazing. Who wants to die! But a Sikh came forward and offered his head. His name was 'Dya Ram'. Guru ji took him inside a tent. In a moment, Guru ji came out of the tent and demanded for another head. This time a man named 'Dharam Chand' offered his head. Thus, Guru ji asked for five heads.

Guru ji took all of them into the same tent. When he came out of the tent finally, those five men accompanied him. Guru ji baptized them and gave new names. Now, they were 'Singhs' (lions). In Sikh history, these five men are known as 'Panj Piyaarey', or 'the five beloved ones'. They got the right to baptize anyone into the religion. Till now, only 'the five beloved ones' have right to baptize.

After remembering the five beloved ones, we remember the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh. Two of them sacrificed their lives in the battlefield of 'Chamkaur', a village (now town) in Punjab state of India. The others two were killed brutally by the order of the governor of 'Sirhind' (now a district of Punjab state).

Here is the list of names of Guru Gobind Singh's four sons:
  1. Baba Ajit Singh Ji
  2. Baba Jujhaar Singh Ji
  3. Baba Zoraawar Singh Ji
  4. Baba Fateh Singh Ji
[Word 'Baba' in names is used to show respect. Pronounced as 'baabaa']

Then, we remember 'Chaali Muktey' (the forty liberated ones). These forty liberated ones were the men who sacrificed their lives in the battlefield of 'Mukatsar', now a city in Punjab. Literary, 'Mukatsar' means 'the pond of salvation'

In the second stanza of the Sikh prayer, we also remember 'hathheeyaa{n}' (steadfast ones), 'japeeyaa{n}' (constant repeaters of the Divine Name), 'tapeeyaa{n}' (those given to assiduous devotion).

Without dedication, we cannot meditate. It is not so easy to give up our bad habits. We need to be steadfast enough to follow the religious code of conduct. Great were those people, who could follow the religious code of conduct successfully. They are our role models. We have to follow them, so we remember them.

It the materialistic world, it is hard to find the people who chant the Divine Name. Such people were there in this world in the past. They are here even right now living in this so-called black age. We have to follow them, so we remember them.

To achieve the goal of unification with the God is not a joke. Though it is possible only by the grace of Guru, too much hard working is needed. Those given to assiduous devotion can get the goal, with the grace of Guru. We have to follow such a people, so we remember them.

We remember those, 'Jinha Naam japeyaa' (who repeated the Name). The Name is a sacred thing. The sacred thing makes us sacred. Only the Name of the God can purify our souls. Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first Guru, has said, "When a cloth is soiled and stained by urine, with a soap it can be washed clean. But when the intellect is stained and polluted by sins, it can only be cleansed by the Name." (Jap, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, page 4). Because we have to repeat the Name, so people who repeated the Name can be helpful to us. We need their blessings, so we remember them.

Also we remember those, 'vand chhakeyaa' (who shared their fare with others). Wherever we see, we find people busy in money making. They do not want to do something else. Though they have enough money, even then they are trying to collect more money. One need only one house to live in, but people are not satisfied with one house. They want many houses. One in the center of a busy city, one in the countryside, one on the mountain and one near the beach. An owner of many houses has no sympathy for a homeless poor. He is not ready to share one of his houses. A business-minded man is ready to throw his wheat into the sea to control market rates, but he will not distribute it into the poor. Such a people have forgotten their duties. They have forgotten the religion. They have forgotten their parents. They have forgotten their children. They have forgotten even themselves.

Such a people are living in this world. They were there in the past too. But there lived such a people too, who shared their fare with others. They were real human. We need to follow them. Such a people are much needed in this era of selfishness. They can be our role models, so we remember them in the Sikh prayer.

Food is major requirement for living beings. We see people dying without food. Great are those people, who provide the needy with food. They are nice people. We remember them, because they could see the God in the needy people.

If needy are not getting even proper food, they are insecure too. A big fish eats small one. A powerful nation attacks on a weaker one and impose a government of his choice. Great are those, who took up the arms in order to defend the weak people. They are respectable to us, so we remember them.

Then, we remember those, who "dekh ke ann-dithh keeta" (overlooked others faults and shortcomings).

So, remembering all of them (the five beloved ones, the four sons of the tenth Guru, the forty librated ones, the steadfast ones, constant repeaters of the Divine Name, those given to assiduous devotion, those who repeated the Name, shared their fare with others, ran free kitchen, wielded the sword and overlooked faults and shortcomings), the Khalsa is asked to say 'Waheguru'. The third stanza of the prayer: -

"Jinha Singhaa{n}, Singhaneeyaa{n} ne" (the male and female members of the Khalsa), Dharam het sees dittey (laid down their lives in the cause of dharma), bandd-bandd kataaye (got their bodies dismemebered bit by bit), khopriyaa{n} luhaayeeyaa{n} (got their skull sawn off), charakhiyaa{n} te charhey (got mounted on spiked wheels), aariyaa{n} naal chiraaye gaye (got their body sawn), Gurdwariyaa{n} dee sewa layee Qurbaaniyaa{n} keeteeyaa{n} (made sacrifices in the service of the Sikh shrines), Dharam nahee{n} haariyaa (did not betray their faith), Sikhi kesaa{n} suaasaa{n} naal nibaahee (sustained their adherence to the Sikh faith with hair up till their last breath), tinha dee kamaayee daa dhayaan dhar ke (meditating on their achievement), Khalsa ji bolo ji 'Waheguru'! (O Khalsa, say Waheguru!)".

"Meditating on the achievement of the male and female members of the Khalsa who laid down their lives in the cause of dharma (religion and righteousness), got their bodies dismembered bit by bit, got their skulls sawn off, got mounted on spiked wheels, got their bodies sawn, made sacrifices in the service of the shrines (gurduwaras), did not betray their faith, sustained their adherence to the Sikh faith with hair up till their last breath, say, "Wondrous destroyer of darkness", O Khalsa."

'Dharam' is Punjabi form of Sanskrit word 'dharma'. Often, English word 'religion' is used to translate it, but 'dharma' (or 'dharam') is not just 'religion'. In Sanskrit/Punjabi, it means: (1) the nature of the world, (2) social order, (3) cosmic law, (4) social law, (5) good deed, (6) religion etc. So, when we use word 'religion', we should remember all the meanings of Punjabi/Sanskrit word 'dharma'.

In the third stanza of the Sikh prayer, first of all we remember those 'Singhs' (the male members of the 'Khalsa') and 'Singhanis' (the female members of the 'Khalsa'), who laid down their lives in the cause of dharma. Literally, 'Singh' means lion and 'Singhni' means lioness.

One can lay down his/her life fighting 'dharam-yudh' (religious-war). The Sikh concept of 'dharam-yudh' is entirely different from that of Islamic concept of 'Jihad'. Jihad is the duty of the Muslims. 'Dharam-yudh' is duty of all human beings. Jihad is a war to defend the Islam; the 'dharam-yudh' is a war to defend the humanity.

The dharam-yudh is different from the crusade too. The crusade is the war by Christians for the Christianity.

To fight for freedom of own religion and others' religion is neither Jihad, nor crusade; it is the dharam-yudh. One who fights for his or other religions is called 'dharam-vir' (religious warrior). It does not matter whether a 'dharam-vir' sacrificed himself in a battlefield or he was killed in the imprisonment of the enemy. Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs, sacrificed himself in the imprisonment, for others. So, he was the 'dharam-vir'.

We remember those Sikhs, who sacrificed themselves for the 'dharam'. Some of them were killed brutally. Bhai Mani Singh, a courtier of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, got his body dismembered bit by bit in the city of Lahore (now in Pakistan), when he refused to embrace Islam. He refused to abandon his own religion, the Sikhism, so he is the 'dharam-vir'. When we say 'bandd-bandd kataaye' (got their bodies dismembered bit by bit) in the Sikh prayer, we remember Bhai Mani Singh.

The next words of the prayer are "khopariyaan luhaaiyaan" (got their skulls sawn off). Bhai Taaru Singh got his skull sawn off, when he refused to cut his hair and embrace Islam. We remember the sacrifice of Bhai Taaru Singh, when we say these words "khopariyaan luhaaiyaan" (got their skulls sawn off).

We remember Bhai Subeg Singh and Shahbaaz Singh, when we say these words "charkhiyaan te charhey" (got mounted on spiked wheels). Both of them were got mounted on spiked wheels, when they did not agree to accept Islam.

Bhai Mati Daas got his body sawn, so we remember him by these words "aareyaan naal chiraaye gaye" (got their bodies sawn). Bhai Mati Daas was a minister in the holy court of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, the ninth Guru. He got his body sawn before the eyes of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib in the city of Delhi, when he refused to abandon the Sikhism. When he was asked his last wish, he said that he wanted to die seeing Guru Tegh Bahadur's holy face. His wish was fulfilled. We remember him using these words "aareyaan naal chiraaye gaye" (got their bodies sawn).

Then we remember those, who "Gurdwareyaan di sewa layee Qurbaaniyaa{n} keetiyaa{n}" (made sacrifices in the service of Sikh religious places). While British rule in India, Many Gurdwaras were under control of corrupt 'mahants' (Monks). Sikhs agitated to take control of the Gurdwaras in their hands. Many Sikhs were killed in the agitation. At last Sikhs succeeded and the SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee) came into the existence. We remember those who sacrificed their lives during the agitation by these words "Gurdwareyaan di sewa layee Qurbaaniyaan keetiyaan" (made sacrifices in the service of Sikh religious places).

We also remember those, who "dharam nahi haareyaa" (did not betray their faith) and "Sikhi kesaan suaasaan naal nibaahee" (sustained their adherence to the Sikh faith with sacred unshorn hair up till their last breath).

And in the last line of the third stanza of the Sikh prayer, the Khalsa is asked to say 'Waheguru', meditating on the achievement of the martyrs in these words "tina di kamaayee da dhyaan dhar ke, Khalsa ji, bolo ji 'Waheguru' (meditating on their achievement, say 'Waheguru', O Khalsa!). The fourth stanza of the prayer: -

"Panjaa{n} takhtaa{n}, sarbat Gurdwareyaa{n} da dhyaan dhar ke bolo ji 'Waheguru'."

(Thinking of the five thrones (seats of religious authority) and all Gurdwaras, say 'Waheguru', O Khalsa).

The word 'takht' belongs to Persian and Arabic language. It means a 'throne', a royal seat. 'Takhtaa{n}' is plural form of word 'takht'.

The Guru is a king of religion, and his seat is considered a throne for his Sikhs. According to the 'Sikh Reht Maryada', there are five 'takhts' or thrones of the Sikh: -
  1. Sri Akaal Takht Sahib, (in the city of Amritsar, in Punjab state of India)
  2. Takhat Sri Patna Sahib, (in the city of Patna Sahib, in Bihar State)
  3. Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib, (in the city of Anandpur Sahib, in Punjab)
  4. Takhat Sri Hazoor Sahib, (in the city of Nanded, in Maharashtra state)
  5. Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib, (in Talwandi Sabo, Punjab).
Before the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, there were only four 'takhts'. Sri Damdama Sahib was declared a 'takht' by the SGPC after the partition. Takht Sri Patna Sahib and Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib did not, officially, recognize Sri Damdama Sahib as the fifth takht of the Sikh till now.

Many old 'gutkas' (the booklets containing the holy hymns) mention only the four 'takhts'. In his 'Mahaan Kosh', Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha describes 'the Khalsa congregation in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib' as the fifth 'takht' (see entry of word

'Panj takht' in 'Mahaan Kosh'). If we see the third entry of word 'takht' in his 'Mahaan Kosh', we find that only four 'takhts' have been mentioned.

Thus, we come to know that the fifth takht, 'Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib', was declared a 'takht' after the partition of India and Pakistan. So, according to the 'Sikh Reht Maryada', now there are five 'takhts'.

The five 'takhts' have right to punish any Sikh, who committed any default in the observance of the Sikh discipline. Sri Akaal Takht is considered supreme authority in the Sikhism.

In the fourth stanza of the Sikh prayer, we remember all of these five takhts and other Gurdwaras all over the world. The fifth stanza of the prayer: -

"Prithmey sarbat Khalsa ji kee ardaas hai ji (Now it is the prayer of the whole Khalsa), sarbat Khalsa jee ko Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru chitt aavey (May the whole Khalsa remember the God), chitt aavan kaa sadkaa (and in consequence of such remembrance), sarab such hovey (may total well-being obtain). Jahaa{n}-jahaa{n} Khalsa ji sahib (Wherever there are communities of the Khalsa), tahaa{n}-tahaa{n} rachhchhiya riyaayat (may there be Divine protection and grace), Degh tegh fateh (the victory in 'the community kitchen' and in 'the sword'), Bird kee paij (save the honor of your nature), Panth kee jeet (victory of the Panth), Sri Sahib ji sahaaye (Sri Sahib, the God is helpful), Khalsa ji ke bol baaley (ascendance of the Khalsa), bolo ji 'Waheguru' (say Waheguru)."

The English translation by the SGPC has translated it as, "Now it is the prayer of the whole Khalsa, May the conscience of the whole Khalsa be informed by Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru, and in consequence of such remembrance, may total well-being obtain. Wherever there are communities of the Khalsa, may there be Divine protection and grace, the ascendance of the supply of needs and of the holy sword, protection of the tradition of grace, victory of the Panth, the succor of the holy sword, ascendance of the Khalsa. Say, O Khalsa 'Waheguru'."

In first four stanzas of the Sikh prayer, there is no demand. We only remember our Gurus, martyrs, lovers of the God, our holy religious places etc.

Now, we have some demands. "Prithmey sarbat Khalsa ji kee ardaas hai ji" (first of all, this is the prayer of the whole Khalsa) that "Sarbat Khalsa jee ko Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru chitt aavey" (May the whole Khalsa remember the God). We want to remember Waheguru. The Khalsa should always remember the God. Our first duty is to worship the Almighty. That is why we are here in this world.

Next thing we want is "chitt aavan ka sadka (in consequence of remembrance of the God), sarab sukhkh hovey" (May there be total well-being). We want total well-being of the Khalsa, all the comforts for the society. We can obtain 'total well-being' only through the worship of the God. We can obtain all the comforts for the society if the Almighty informs the conscience of the whole Khalsa.

What is the comfort? What is the happiness? What is the pleasure? What is the joy?

It is a state of mind.

How can we achieve this state of mind?

The Guru Granth Sahib has its answer. The holy book says, "Jau sukh ko chaahai sada, saran Ram kee leh" (If you desire for pleasure forever, then seek the Sanctuary of the Lord). [Guru Granth Sahib, page 1427].

So, the Khalsa seeks the Sanctuary of the God, and in consequence of the Sanctuary, the total well-being can be obtained.

Then, we pray, "jahaa{n} jahaa{n} Khalsa ji sahib, tahaa{n} tahaa{n} rachhchheyaa riyayat" (Wherever there are communities of the Khalsa, may there be Divine protection and grace).

The Khalsa is not limited in the Punjab or India now. It is everywhere all over the world. We want every member of the Khalsa in the Divine protection. We want the grace of the God for every member of the Khalsa.

Next thing demanded is "degh tegh fateh" (the victory in 'the community kitchen' and in 'the sword').

'Degh tegh fateh' is a very famous slogan of the Khalsa. The word 'degh' stands for a big cooking pot. 'Degh' is a symbol of the community kitchen. The word 'Tegh' means the 'sword'. A sword represents all the weapons. A sword is a symbol of war of weapons. 'Fateh' means the victory. Thus, the Khalsa wants to be successful when it makes arrangements for the community kitchen and when it goes into the battlefield.

Food is basic necessity of living beings. No one can live without food. To provide everyone with food is the duty of whole of the society. The Khalsa is a society itself, so the Khalsa runs free kitchen for all.

If we know the reason for creation of the Khalsa, we will be able to understand why the Sikh prayer wants 'the victory in the battlefield'. What the Khalsa was created for? What was the aim of its creation?

Poet 'Sainapati' tells the reason. He was one of the poets in the holy court of Guru Gobind Singh ji, the tenth Guru. In his biography of Guru Gobind Singh ji, he tells that: -

"Asur sanghaarbey ko, durjan ke maarbey ko, Sankat nivaarbey ko Khalsa banaayo hai".
(Khalsa has been created to wipe out the devils, to kill the bad ones, and to put aside the crises).
(Sri Gur Sobha, stanza 130)

If the Khalsa has been created to kill the bad ones, then it is obvious that a Sikh prays for victory. It is not his victory; it is God's victory, as mentioned in the beginning of the Sikh prayer 'Waheguru ji ki fateh' (victory belongs to the God).

The next words of the prayer are "Bird ki paij". These lines have been translated as 'protection of the tradition of grace', in the English version of 'Sikh Reht Maryada', published by the SGPC.

'Bird' means 'nature'. 'Ki' means 'of'. And 'paij' means 'honor' or 'reputation' or 'fame'.

The word 'bird' has been used in the Guru Granth Sahib: - "Jo saran aavai, tis kanthh laavai, eh BIRD suaami sanda" (He lovingly embraces whoever comes to His Sanctuary - this is the NATURE of the Master).
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, page 544).

Thus, by using the words 'Bird ki paij', we pray, 'O God! Save the honor of your nature'. What is His nature? 'Jo saran aavai, tis kanthh laavai' (He lovingly embraces whoever comes to His sanctuary); it is His nature. So, actually we are praying, "O God! Do embrace whoever comes to your sanctuary".

The next words are 'Panth ki jeet' (the victory of Panth). 'Panth' means the path and this word has been used for the Khalsa, in the Sikh literature.

The victory belongs to the God (Waheguru ji ki fateh), according to the beginning words of the Sikh prayer. The Sikh slogan says that the Khalsa belongs to the God (Waheguru ji ka Khalsa). So, it is understandable that a victory by the Khalsa is actually a victory of the God. Thus, 'Panth ki jeet' (the victory of Panth/Khalsa) is actually 'Waheguru ji ki fateh' (the victory of the God). If 'A' belongs to 'B', and 'B' belongs to 'C', then we can say that 'A' belongs to 'C'. The word 'jeet' is Hindi word and 'fateh' belongs to Arabic language. Both of the words have same meaning, 'victory'.

Then we say next words in the prayer, "Sri Sahib ji sahaaye" (the God is helpful).

The words 'Sri Sahib ji' have been used for both, the sword and the God, same as word 'Bhagauti'. 'Sahaaye' is Brijbhasha's word. It is synonymous of Hindi/Punjabi word 'sahaayak' (helpful). 'Sri Sahib ji sahaaye' means 'Sri sahib ji mere sahaayak hain' (the God is my helper) or (the God is helpful to me).

Then we pray for "Khalsa ji ke bol baley" (dominance of the Khalsa). And at last, in this fifth stanza, we say, "Bolo ji, Waheguru" (say 'Waheguru'). The sixth stanza of the prayer: -

"Sikhaa{n} noo Sikhee daan (Grant to Sikhs; the gift of discipleship), kes daan (the gift of hair), reht daan (the gift of discipline), bibek daan (the gift of sense of discrimination), visaah daan (the gift of trust), bharosa daan (the gift of confidence), daanaa{n} sir daan (the supreme gift of all gifts), Naam daan (the gift of the Name), Sri Amritsar jee ke ishnaan (bath in the holy pond of Amritsar), chaukiyaa{n} (Hymns-singing parties), jhandey (the flags), bungey (the boarding schools), jugo-jug atal (indestructible for the ages), Dharam kaa jaikaar (May the Dharma prevail!), bolo ji Waheguru (say Waheguru)".

"Grant to Sikhs; the gift of discipleship, the gift of hair, the gift of discipline, the gift of sense of discrimination, the gift of trust, the gift of confidence and the supreme gift of all gifts, the gift of the Name. (May Sikhs) bath in the holy pond of Amritsar. Hymns-singing parties, the flags, and the boarding schools remain indestructible for the ages. May the Dharma prevail! Say 'Waheguru'."

We want some other gifts to all the Sikh people. We want the gift of 'discipleship'. It is not easy to be a Sikh.

We want the gift of hair. It means that we want to keep our hair uncut. Many Sikhs were killed because they refused to cut their cut.

We also want the gift of the discipline of the faith. It means we want to follow the code of conduct. Guru Granth Sahib is the main source of the Sikh code of conduct. Here the word 'reht' means 'living according to Gurus' instructions'. Guru Granth Sahib itself is a collection of Guru's instructions. Thus, when we want the gift of 'reht', actually we are demanding the gift of living according to Guru's instructions.

Then we ask for 'bibek daan' (the gift of sense of discrimination). In our daily life, we need the sense of discrimination. We must have the sense to judge the things whether they are good or bad. We must have the sense of discrimination so that we could know what we are going to do is good or not. To follow the Guru's instructions is the Sikhi (discipleship), and knowing what is good or bad according to the Sikhi is 'bibek'. 'Bibek' is much-needed gift to remain a true Sikh.

We need 'visaah daan' (the gift of trust). We need 'bharosa daan' (the gift of confidence).

Then we ask for 'daanaa{n} sir daan Naam daan' (the gift of the gifts, the Name). The Name of the God is perfect donation one can get. Guru Granth Sahib says, "Naam hamaarai pooran DAAN" (The Name is my perfect DONATION of charity) (Guru Granth Sahib, page 1145).

Gurbani says, "Dhanwantey seyee pardhaan. Nanak jaa kai Naam nidhaan" (Only those are wealthy and supreme, O Nanak, who have the treasure of the Name). (Guru Granth Sahib, page 1144).

So, for a Sikh the Name of the God is the biggest donation or gift; that is why he asks the God to donate it.

'Amritsar' is considered a sacred pond of the Sikh people. It is situated in the city of Amritsar. In the Sikh prayer, we say, "Sri Amritsar ji de ishnaan" (bath in Amritsar).

Sometime people ask why the Sikh prayer demands for a bath in Amritsar, when the Gurbani criticizes those who go to sacred bath in religious places.

That is true. The Guru Granth Sahib says, "Naavan challey tirathhee{n}, mann khotey tann chor. Ik bhao lathee naateyaa{n} duyee bha charhiyas hor". (Guru Granth Sahib, page 789).

But the lines given in the Sikh prayer ("Sri Amritsar ji de ishnaan", bath in Amritsar) have historical value. There was the time, when Sikhs were not allowed to take bath into the holy pond, especially when 'Massa Rangharh' was the local ruler of 'pargana' (sub-division) of Amritsar. He started to stay in Sri Darbar Sahib, a beautiful shrine constructed in the center of the holy pond of Amritsar. Prostitutes used to dance in the holy shrine. Sikhs wanted to visit their holy shrine, but they were not allowed. It was then this words were added into the Sikh prayer. These words remained in the prayer, because they make us remember the bad time, when we were not allowed even to see our holy shrine.

(Bhai Sukh Singh and Mehtab Singh, two Sikh warriors, killed Massa Rangharh, the local ruler of Amritsar, in near about 1720).

Words 'chaukiyaa{n}' indicate the hymns-singing parties, especially in the holy shrine of Amritsar. The word 'chaukee' (singular form of 'chaukiyaa{n}') was used to indicate a hymns-singing party. 'Chau' means four. Because there were traditionally four people in a party, so it was called 'chaukee' (the group of four). It will be interesting to know that a police post was also called 'chaukee', because there were, often, four people in a police post. In Punjab, people still call it 'chaukee'.

The fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev ji, started the tradition of 'chaukiyaa{n}'. There were four 'chaukees' (singular: -'chaukee'). Here is the list of four 'chaukees': -
  1. 'Chaukee vaar Aasa', before the sunrise
  2. 'Charan kawal dee chaukee' after the sunrise
  3. 'Sodar dee chaukee', after the sunset
  4. 'Kalyaan dee chaukee', in night.
We also remember 'jhandey' (the flags). A flag is a sign of sovereignty. A flag declares the freedom of its nation. Khalsa is not ready to live under others rule. It means Khalsa cannot be made slave. The Khalsa is either a free, or a rebel. In the Guru Granth Sahib, we find these words, "Fareeda, baar praayeai baisna, Saanyee mujhey na deh. Je too eivai rakhsee, jio sareeroh leh" (Fareed says, O Lord, do not make me sit at another's door. If this is the way you are going to keep me, then go ahead and take the life out of my body). (Guru Granth Sahib, page 1380).

The word 'bungey' in the Sikh prayer has been used for traditional boarding schools. 'Bungey' is the plural form. Its singular form is 'bungaa'. Bungaas were traditional boarding schools, where the Sikh students used to get their religious as well as other education. 'Ramgarhiyaa{n} daa bungaa' (boarding school of Ramgarh-people) is still there near Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. [Though word Ramgarhiya now is used for a particular caste in Punjab, but actually it indicated a person living in Ramgarh, an old fortress near Amritsar].

"Jugo-jugo atal" (indestructible for the ages), these are next words of our prayer. The Khalsa wants 'chaukiyaa{n}' (the hymns-singing parties), 'jhandey' (flags) and 'bungey' (boarding schools) to be indestructible for the ages.

Next words are 'Dharam kaa jaikaar' (May the dharma prevail!). 'Dharma' is righteousness. 'Dharma' is goodness. Thus, we pray that the 'dharma' prevail over 'adharma' (what is wrong).

Once again, we say in the prayer, 'Bolo ji Waheguru' (say Waheguru)'. The seventh stanza of the prayer: -

There is one more demand for whole of the Sikh people, "Sikhaa{n} da mann neeva{n}, matt uchchee, matt daa raakhaa aap Waheguru" (May the Khalsa be imbued with humility and high wisdom! May the God be protector of its wisdom!). The eighth stanza of the prayer: -

"Hey Akaal Purkh (O Immortal being), apney Panth dey sada shaayee daataar jeeo! (always helpful to your Panth!) Sri Nankaana Sahib te hor Gurdwareyaa{n} Gurdhaamaa{n} dey (Sri Nankaana Sahib and other Gurdwaras and places of the Guru), jinhaa{n} to{n} Panth noo vichhorheyaa gya hai (from which the Panth has been separated), khulley darshan deedaar te sewa sambhaal daa daan Khalsa ji noo bakhsho (bestow on the Khalsa the beneficence of unobstructed visit to and free management)".

(O Immortal being, always helpful to your Panth [the Khalsa]! bestow on the Khalsa the beneficence of unobstructed visit to and free management of Sri Nankaana Sahib and other Gurdwaras and places of the Guru from which the Panth has been separated).

After the partition of India and Pakistan in the year of 1947, most of the Sikh people decided to live in India. Many Sikhs living in Pakistan came to India in and after 1947. But the Sikh people could not forget their holy places, like Gurdwara Sri Nankaana Sahib, in Pakistan. So, after 1947, this eighth stanza was added in the Sikh prayer.

Sikhs living in Pakistan do not use this stanza in their prayer, because they have not been separated from Gurdwara Nankaana Sahib etc. They feel that they have been separated from Gurdwaras in India instead.

Now, the Khalsa Panth is not limited only in Punjab or India. Sikhs live in every corner of the world. To visit any Gurdwara in India is as difficult/easy as visiting any Gurdwara in Pakistan for a British or an American Sikh.

Only Sikhs living in Punjab or India are not the Panth. They are a part of it. The concluding part of the prayer: -

"Hey nimaaneyaa{n} dey maan (O the honor of the humble), nitaaneyaa{n} dey taan (the strength of the weak), nioteyaa{n} dee ot (aid unto whose who have none to rely on), sachchey pita (True Father), Waheguru! (The God!) Aap dey huzoor ………… dee ardaas hai ji (we humbly render to you…………..)".

(O the honor of the humble, the strength of the weak, aid unto whose who have none to rely on, True Father, The God! we humbly render to you…………..).

In the blank space given above, we mention the name of the scriptural composition that has been recited or, in appropriate terms, the object for which the congregation has been held.

"Akhkhar vaadha ghaata bhul chuk maaf karnee". (Pardon any impermissible accretions, omissions, errors, and mistakes).

"Sarbat dey kaaraj raas karney". (Fulfill the purposes of all).

"Seyee piyaarey mel" (Grant us the association of those dear ones), "jinha mileyaa{n} tera Naam chitt aavey" (on meeting whom one is reminded of Your Name).

(Grant us the association of those dear ones, on meeting whom one is reminded of Your Name).

"Nanak Naam charhdee kala. Tere bhaaney sarbat da bhala".

(O Nanak, may the Name be ever in ascendance! In Your will may the good of all prevail!).

On the conclusion of the Prayer, the entire congregation participating in the Prayer genuflects before the revered Guru Granth Sahib. Then it again stands up and calls out "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa. Waheguru ji kee fateh" (the Khalsa is of the God. The victory is of the God).

Then the man doing prayer raises the slogan "Boley so nihaal" (whosoever says will be blessed). In reply the congregation says loudly "Sat Sri Akaal" (The Immortal is the reality).

(Whosoever says will be blessed; 'The Immortal is the reality'). Once again, the whole of the congregation says "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa. Waheguru ji kee fateh" (the Khalsa is of the God. The victory is of the God).


Jun 1, 2004
Historical Account
Panj Pyare

Through the course of ardas, there are many references made to historical events that helped to shape and strengthen the Sikhs as a people. The first historical reference made by ardas is to the panj pyare or Five Beloved Ones. These five men constituted the beginning of what was to become the Khalsa. At the baisakhi festival on April 13, 1699, Guru Gobind Singh Ji sat before a huge assembly of Sikhs dressed completely in saffron and blue, and delivered one of the most rousing and spiritual speeches in Sikh history. In this speech, the Guru instituted one of the most predominant slogans in the Sikh religion, Bole So Nihal: Sat Sri Akal, and began to discuss the need for action in order to strengthen the Sikh community and rise against the Moghuls.

At the conclusion of his speech, the Guru stared out onto the crowd, and asked for the ultimate sacrifice--any member of the Sangat who was willing to lay down their life for their beliefs. Through the absolute silence of the crowd, one man, Bhai Daya Ram, arose and declared his devotion to both Guru Gobind Singh Ji and Sikhism. After he was taken into a separate tent, and blood was seen flowing from the bottom, the Guru returned, sword dripping with blood and asked for more sacrifices. Four more men Bhai Dharam Das, Bhai Sahib Chand, Bhai Himmat Chand, and Bhai Mokham Chand professed their piety, and met the same fate as Bhai Daya Ram. Shocked, the Sikhs in the crowd sat in silence, while Guru Gobind Singh Ji removed the five beloved men completely unharmed from the tent and presented them to the sangat, dressed entirely in saffron and blue. Amazed, the Sikhs shouted a chorus of the new slogan, Bole so Nihal and were met with a resounding Sat Sri Akal. The following day, the Guru proceeded to give the five beloved ones amrit, and induct them into the new following of Sikhs or the Khalsa.

the Four Sahibzada

The four sons or "chaar sahibjade" referred to in the same line of ardas as the panj pyare are the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji who were martyred at such an early age by the mughals. During one of the wars against the mughal army, the two youngest sons were forced to flee with their grandmother, and consequently were separated from Guru Gobind Singh Ji. While seeking refuge in a small town, the three weary travelers were turned in by an underhanded thief to the mughal leader, Wazir Khan, where the two young boys were given the option to convert to Islam, or face death.

The boys at barely six and eight years of age bravely retorted that they would not abandon their faith even under the threat of death; they would rather follow in the footsteps of Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur. Furious, the emperor ordered the two young boys be bricked into a wall alive. From the first brick to the last, the boys neither cringed nor smiled, but remained completely devoid of all emotion, secure in the fact that they had made the correct choice.

The Guru’s older two sons died in battle fighting for the beliefs of Sikhism. So secure was Guru Gobind Singh Ji in his beliefs and position, he was willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for the Khalsa, his own children. Upon hearing of these heinous acts, the Guru responded, "I have sacrificed four sons for the survival of the thousands of my sons who are still alive" (Singh, Harban). This quote is the essence of the Guru’s feelings toward his Khalsa. He placed nothing above it, including the lives of his own children.

Did not abandon their faith

An undeniable pattern of martyrdom can be traced as one tracks the path of Sikhs throughout history. The Sikhs "did not abandon their Sikh faith; [they] kept their Sikh Religion and saved their long hair until their last breath" (Ardas) in an attempt to keep their heads unshorn as well as maintain their allegiance to the Gurus and Sikhism. This exemplifies the ways in which Sikhs have repeatedly chosen to die for those beliefs that they have chosen to base their lives on. Ardas mentions forty of these martyrs within its context, the first of which is Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Guru Arjan Dev Ji was tortured for five long days at Lahore when he refused to convert to Islam. He was brought to Lahore based on the false accusations that he had compiled hurtful information about both Hinduism and Islam. The Guru allowed himself to be jailed, but when faced with the option of death or Islam; he chose death. After refusing to convert, the Mughals placed him on a red, hot iron sheet, poured burning sand on him, and dipped him into boiling water. The crowd witnessing these horrific sites reported afterward that not once did the Guru appear to regret his decision, but rather appeared to be at peace with himself and Waheguru through the entire ordeal. Many of the onlookers reported feeling almost perturbed at the strange calm that overcame Guru Arjan Dev Ji.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji, unfortunately, was not the only Guru that was forced to die for his beliefs. Guru Tegh Bahadur and his three followers Bhai Dyal Das, Bhai Mati Das, and Bhai Sati Das were also made to perform the ultimate sacrifice at the hands of the Mugals. Guru Tegh Bahadur decided of his own free will to make himself a martyr for the entire population fo India that was being forciblly converted to Islam by the Mughals. In order to show other religions and groups of people that the Sikhs were serious and sincere about their religion, Guru Tegh Bahadur offered himself as the sacrificial lamb that would show the extent of the Sikh’s feelings. Upon making this decision, Guru Tegh Bahadur and his three closest followers set off on their quest. Once they reached Delhi, the Emperor Aurungzeb gave them the option of switching to the Muslim religion, but the Guru and his three followers defied the emperor and responded by saying that their "religion was as good as Islam" (Gupta, Hari Ram).

In order to teach the Guru as well as other non-converts a lesson, Aurungzeb chose to lock the Guru up in an iron cage and torture his three followers before his eyes. Each of these three tortures is specifically mentioned within the text of ardas -- "remember all those Sikh men and women who…allowed themselves to be cut up limb for limb…sawn apart…burnt and boiled alive, and yet still uttered no words of protest" (Singh, Inder Mohan). First, Aurungzeb sawed Bhai Mati Das from head to loins; he then proceeded to tie Bhai Dyal Das up with an iron chain and put him into a cauldron of boiling oil where he was roasted alive into a block of charcoal. Finally, Bhai Sati Das was hacked to pieces limb by limb. After witnessing the above horrors, Guru Tegh Bahadur had yet to bat an eye. Enraged, the emperor ordered his execution by beheading. Throughout it all, the Guru, Bhai Sati Das, Bhia Mati Das, and Bhai Dyal Das’ resolve remained as strong as ever, and they died as they lived--Sikhs.

Bhai Taru Singh

Bhai Taru Singh was yet another Sikh who had the grit to stick by his beliefs, and ended his life a martyr for the Sikhs. Bhai Taru Singh was a very influential Sikh, and Governor Zakr Kahn felt that it would be very good for his campaign if he could obtain Bhai Taru Singh’s conversion to Islam. When asked to cut his hair, Bhai Taru Singh simply replied that he would keep his faith with his hair, and there was no need asking again. In response to this statement, Bhai Taru Singh was placed on a rotating wheel of torture. Periodically, he would be pulled off and asked to reconsider and each time Bhai Taru Singh met the Mughals’ request with silence. Finally, the executioner pulled Bhai Taru Singh off of the wheel of torture, and proceeded to scalp him. He was then thrown into a ditch where he was left for dead, but Bhai Taru Singh managed to hold on to life until the Governor mysteriously died two days later. The strength with which Bhai Taru Singh managed to hold onto his beliefs is characteristic of the martyred Sikhs mentioned in ardas.

Ardas also refers to two men who were tortured by being "tied and rotated on the wheels [of torture] and broken into pieces (Ardas). Bhai Subej Singh was one of the Sikhs that accompanied Bhai Taru Singh to Lahore. After Bhai Taru Singh was tortured and killed by the Muslims, Bhai Subej Singh remained in custody, and was constantly asked to change his beliefs to those of Islam. Upon his captivity, a Muslim man asked his son, Bhai Shahbhaz Singh to abandon his Sikh religion, become a Muslim, and marry his daughter. Bhai Shahbhaz Singh refused and was taken to Lahore to be placed in jail alongside his father. There the two men were placed on two rotating wheels facing one another and were tortured. The entire time they were tortured, they were given the opportunity to end all the torture by accepting Islam, but neither man succumbed to this option. They stood steadfastly beside their beliefs, secure in their position with Waheguru, while the Mughals attempted to end their devotion by beheading them.
Ultimate Sacrifice by Sikh Women

Sikh men were not the only members of the Sikh community who were tormented by the Mughals. Sikh women who refused to change their beliefs were also tortured at the hands of Meer Mannu, a mughal leader in 1748 AD in the city of Lahore. They were rounded up like cattle during the purges and placed into jails where they were forced to live under atrocious conditions. While living among the dirt and debris, each woman was expected to grind 60kg of flour daily regardless of their age and physical ability. While performing this hard labor, the women were faced with the option of choosing between Sikhism and Islam fully aware of the fact that if they refused to choose Islam, their children would be murdered before their very eyes. As harsh as this punishment was, none of the women would succumb to this temptation, and they were forced to watch their children being mutilated and barbarically murdered and the bodies returned to them. The children were cut into pieces and made into garlands to place around the mothers’ necks. In no way could the devotion of a mother be tested to any other extreme, and yet the entire group of women remained steadfast in their beliefs and unwaveringly remained with the Gurus and Sikhism.
Bhai Mani Singh

The Mughals often staged different situations in order to provide themselves with the opportunity to persecute the Sikhs. One of these instances occurred with Bhai Mani Singh during the time of Baisakhi. Bhai Mani Singh yearned to organize a Baisakhi festival, and was given permission by the mughal leader of that time provided he pay 5,000 rupees in taxes for the celebration. Bhai Mani Singh discovered that the mughal army planned to ambush the Baisakhi celebration and attempt to forcefully convert all the Sikhs that were present to Islam. In an effort to save the Sikhs from this fate, Bhai Mani Singh sent warnings out to prevent them from attending the celebration; due to this fact, Bhai Mani Singh did not raise enough money to pay the Mughal taxes. The Mughal leader changed his plan and decided to use Bhai Mani Singh as an example for the remainder of the Sikh community. This courageous Sikh martyr was arrested by the Mughals, and after refusing to convert to Islam, cut joint by joint and allowed to bleed to death. This reprehensible act was referred to specifically within ardas; "brave Sikh men…who sacrificed their heads but did not surrender their Sikh Religion; Who got themselves cut to pieces from each of the joints of the body" (Ardas).

Bhai Deep Singh

Baba Deep Singh attained martyrdom during his attacks on Abdali, the leader of a band of looters from Afghanistan, during the mid 1700s. The Afghanistan bandits looted Punjab, and the Sikhs in turn freed all of the women and children that the Afghanistan thieves took to place in their harems and use as slaves. Angry, Abdali ordered his son, the Governor of Lahore, to kill all the Sikhs. Baba Deep Singh Ji organized an army of 500 and marched on Amritsar. As the Sikhs marched, their army continued to grow until it reached 5,000. While marching in November 1757, the Sikhs were assaulted by a mughal army 20,000 strong during which Baba Deep Singh Ji was injured in the neck. Due to his determination to lead his Sikhs to the Harimander Sahib, Baba Deep Singh Ji continued onwards holding his head up with one hand and fighting with the other. This courageousness is what has lead Baba Deep Singh to be revered as a martyr in the Sikh community.
Banda Singh Bahadur

After Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s death, Banda Singh Bahadur, one of the Guru’s military advisors attempted to avenge the Sahibzada’s death. Banda Singh assembled an army of Sikhs, which then trekked through India, taking over villages that had in any way wronged either Hindus or Sikhs. Any loot that the army confiscated from the villages, they then proceeded to allot to anyone who needed it. Banda Singh managed to kill Wazir Khan, and was then forced to go into hiding. Banda Singh lived the next few years of his life in hiding amid the mountains of India until the fateful day when he was caught by the mughals. He and his Sikh army were tortured and beheaded; the mughal army carried the Sikh heads around on spikes, long hair flowing behind them, as a lesson to all other Sikhs. Banda Singh was taken to the city where as a form of torture the mughals forced him to witness his son’s murder and then proceed to eat his liver. After this heinous act, the mughals furthered their torture by poking both of Banda Singh’s eyes out, chopping off his hands and feet, tearing off his flesh with red hot pincers, and beheading him. Such extreme forms of torture represent the types of acts that ardas’ words prevent the Sikh people from forgetting.
Five Takhats

The five seats of the Sikh religion referred to in ardas are known in gurmukhi as the Akal Takhat, and are located in Amritsar, Patna, Anandpur, Nanded, and Talwandi Sabo. Guru Hargobind established the Akal Takhat or centers of all Sikh activity as he attempted to transform the Sikh people from saints to saint-soldiers to serve as a place to conduct all secular affairs of the community. The word Akal implies timelessness, whereas takhat refers to a royal throne or chair of state. The principal and oldest Akal Takhat is found in Amritsar, which is similar to the state capital. The Akal Takhat offers both guidance and clarification to the Sikh community in the form of hukamnamas, edicts, and writs; punishment for those who violate the reht mariyada; and praise for those Sikhs who have done much for the community. The first of these hukamnamas from the Akal Takhat was issued by Guru Hargobind entreating the Sikh people to give gifts of weapons and horses in order to strengthen the army. From this point onward in Sikh history, the Akal Takhat serves the Sikh people as a source of direction in their campaigns as well as their everyday lives.

Ardas incorporates a variety of images and ideas within its folds. It acts as a bridge that transgresses time to report the cruelties that have been inflicted upon the Sikh people while at the same time serving as a way for the Sikh people to seek guidance from Waheguru' and thank him for the blessings that he has bestowed upon them. These events as they are portrayed in ardas provide the Sikh people with a sense of pride for their heritage and culture. They are able to take strength from the martyrs and continue to support their faith secure in the knowledge that nothing could befall them that would be any worse than those crimes, which befell the martyrs. The dignity and courage that each of the persecuted people possessed through all of their suffering serves as an example for the Sikh people as a community. The rich and pure history that envelops ardas also serves as a means of educating the Sikh people. It is this quiet fervor that helped to shape the Sikhs as a people and mould them into what they are today.

The power that one single prayer possesses is astonishing. Within a few pages of gurmukhi beginning with:

* "pritham bhagautee simar kai, Gur Nanak laee dhiaa-e phir Angad gur tay Amardaas, Raamdaasai hoee sahaee [and ending with] Naanak naam charhdee kalaa, tayray bhaanay Sarbaht dah Phahla. waahay guroo jee kaa khaalsaa, waahay guroo jee kee fateh!!!" (Ardas), a composition is established that is so important and all encompassing as to be appropriate at an overwhelming number of religious and non-religious functions.

The legendary stories and images from the past that it refers to within its context are perturbing yet at the same time evoke a sense of pride and courage within the Sikh community at large. Ardas not only accomplishes all of the above goals, but does so with a beauty and grace that is astonishing.

The above adapted from: Monique Sandhu


ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
Jul 14, 2007
The Miraculous Power of Ardas (Part I)

Ardas (Prayer) has been used to seek divine assistance during problems, difficulties and for healing since ages. While miraculous results have been recorded, it is also true that many prayers go unanswered. But when Guru Sahibji declares that


The prayer of the Lord's humble servant is never goes vain.
-SGGS 819

When it is declared that “No prayer goes unanswered” then we have to check whether the prayer conforms to the prayer preconditions. When done properly a prayer never goes unanswered.

All thoughts we have are in a way prayers as these create our reality. The all pervading creative force is ever creating our reality, the world, the universe. The reality that we are experiencing is in accordance to our present thoughts and belief pattern. These patterns are crystallized thought energy which acts on our body’s physiology and has produced pathological changes and result in diseases. These thought patterns activate universal forces and create our circumstances and situations.

Prayer is a method to go across and submit our intention to the creative force to initiate the changes at spiritual level that percolate and bring about healingin the body and change in the circumstances.Prayer is done before God, the lord. To be effective we must have a belief in the existence of the almighty. This belief is the first condition.HE before whom we address our prayer is to be understood, first at least intellectually.

Here is how Guru Nanak describes HIM. The words are in Gurmukhi script and cannot be properly translated so I have given brief explanations.


ik-oNkaar sat naam kartaa purakh nirbha-o nirvair akaal moorat ajoonee saibhaN gur parsaad.

ik-oNkaar - Ek ongkar symbolizes HIM. The EK which means one symbolizes oneness. There is only HE in the entire universe. Everything is HIM including us and the material world.
The Ongkar symbolizes HIS created universe. From the formless has come the form. From eternal void and the silence has come the creative sound (known as shabad), the vibration which is everywhere and in everything and so is universal consciousness. The created world is a maya – which means it appears real but is not real.

Sat naam – Sat means truth. Truth is that which does not change. Eternal Truth is His Name (identity).He is also our real identity. Our individual consciousness is simply HIS consciousness intermingled with (an illusionary) ego – that creates experience of separateness.

kartaa purakh - He is the Doer of everything. Karta Purakh means that HIS presence is the real creative force. Everything in the world including the physical laws work because of HIS presence .HE is the real karta ( the doer) the invisible creative force.

Nirbha-o - Without fear. Fear is not a part of HIM. Fear is an illusionary part of creation. A work of maya (the grand illusion).

Nirvair - Without vengeance or anger. These again do not symbolize HIM but is maya. These exist in the created world. The caste, creed, status, shortcomings, evil or good nature etc has no consideration before HIM.

Akaal moorat - Undying form (deathless).HE is eternal. Ever same. Has timeless existence. Death is there in the created world.ajoonee - Unborn. Birth and death is in the created word. He is ‘Akaal’ – meaning ever living and has not been born.

SaibhaN - Not begotten, being of His own Being. ‘Saibangh’ means exists as such and self-created. There is no other only HIM.

Gur parsaad. - By the Grace of the Guru, made known to mankind. We are so much in an illusion of separateness and our own identity that HIS knowledge can come only through Guru’s grace. Only a real guru in one with HIM can impart this knowledge and show the path of self- realization. This realization is of what our true origin is.We deep within our beings are one with HIM. All HIS creative force is available to HIS. The GODS or Avatars’ are those who while living in the physical body are ONE with HIM. They do not have the illusion of separateness and are the messengers. The saints are ONE with HIM but do not have the purpose which Avatars have.

The highest form of prayer is to address the prayer directly to HIM – the creator.

The prayer can be addressed before an avatar or saint’s image or without an image with a clear knowledge that it is actually directed at the creator.We keep the conscious awareness WITHIN during prayer. HE is within us too.

The conditions for a prayer are as under:

First – Belief in the existence of creator and HIS presence within us.

Second – Belief that the creative power acts and the material forces are aligned towards fulfillment of the intention in the prayer.

Third – Belief that the intention or purpose is right and we are actually ready to accept the outcome.

Fourth – Faith and belief that the prayers outcome would be positive. It would be fulfilled. We do not harbor any doubt.

Fifth – We express full faith and do not have a divided faith. Like we pray but at the same time are expecting that the result can or would be by so and so human means. His creative force is actually acting in whatsoever manner and through whomsoever as is right for the result.

The reliance on man is futile.
Others are in similar fear .
Our reality creation is due to our thoughts and collective consciousness.
The source of result is within where we approach the creator of the universe.

Naam Aukhad ( Naam Medicine )


ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
Jul 14, 2007
Miracle of Ardas (prayer) --Part II

Ardas ( prayer) is an important spiritual tool in the life of a Sikh. A Sikh is a house holder. He works honestly for living and in this world he faces problems like any other individual. An Ardas not only solves his daily life problems but brings him nearer to Waheguru. An Ardas is also a simran. Waheguru ji is ‘antaryami’ meaning already knowing our inner thoughts. HE does not need a prayer with a concentration to know our needs or desires but we need to do Ardas to be nearer to HIM.
An Ardas of a Sikh for his needs is heard and universal forces are activated for the fulfillment.
An Ardas which benefits many is heard.
An Ardas without involving ‘I’ or ego is heard.
An Ardas that reduces ego or haume and is spiritually uplifting is heard.

The life that we are to live as per guru’s guidance is that of living in the presence of Waheguruji. We know and are aware that HE the creator is ever present everywhere. HE is within and without. HE is the Guru within. HE is the only presence. The world is a maya and our separateness is an illusion. The ego perpetrates this separateness. The relationships with, other persons and objects in the world perpetrates this separateness.

A person who lives life as per Guru's given wisdom and understanding is a Sikh (Disciple). The Sikh moulds his mind to Guru's teachings.A Sikh lives life in such a way that the element of separation is gradually reduced and in this way the Sikh gets nearer and nearer to HIM. The Sikh is not a renouncer of the world and its objects but ever lives enjoying the world in a non-attachment way. It is like travelling in a train and knowing all the time that the seat does not belong to him at the same time during the journey it is for his sitting comfort. The Sikh’s relationship with the worldly relations and objects should be like that.

A Sikh also is an ever acceptance state of mind. He knows that what is happening in the world is a result of HIS Will. This WILL is creative force acting in accordance with thoughts and beliefs in collective consciousness. This world is ever changing one. There is cycle of life and death. There are many such cycles. A Sikh does not resists or feels angry at what has happened or is happening but knows that HIS prayer would be heard and the same forces would shift and bring about the desired change. The change brought about is within the ambit if creative pattern of the universe. The change is in accordance with the universal laws.
Take for example, a person who prays to heal the body from a disease .His body has become diseased because of his own karma consisting of negative thinking, emotions and behavior which affect the physiology and creates pathological changes in the body over some time. A prayer would not immediately change the body to a healthy state. The change initiated by prayer is in accordance with the universal laws. Regeneration and recovery is initiated through the removal of cause of disease. At mind level the proximity of divine and the state of surrender dissolves the mental blocks which are now positive emotions. At the ethric level the negative energy is disintegrated. At the physical level the body’s regeneration mechanism becomes operational. The external situations change and the medical intervention where needed is appropriate and effective with right persons involved.
For even such a desired change to occur, the prayer has to be in the right way.
The first requirement is the state of mind that stops struggles and surrenders. There is no resistance of the type ‘Why me?’ There is also no dependence on external sources like a medical system or medication. The medical systems and the medicines work in accordance with the universal forces of change and have nothing absolute about them. Fear and doubt about the effectiveness of the Creator or the divine towards whom the prayer is directed only results in that very fear being manifested. Here we are not allowing the Creator. In this world the rule is ‘what one sows so one reaps’. When we sow the confidence of effectiveness of creative forces then what we reap is the result of a successful prayer outcome. This is perceived as a miracle but in fact not a miracle but a manifestation as per laws. All that happens is within the Hukam (God’s will) .
Prayer is a method of moving forces of creation in a more powerful way than we do in the daily life. When we pray and allow the initiation of action by the higher creative forces without any doubt and fear in the mind and in full confidence and so it happens. The mechanism of ardas is a part and parcel of the design of this world created by Waheguru.It is part of path towards knowing our origin of being same as the creator. In prayer our awareness is focused within at a level of consciousness closer to subtle spiritual dimensions.
Way of the prayer is one of Love. We are in communion with the divine. We are in present eternal time of NOW without any anxiety towards outcome or failure. We pray and remain in a state of confidence.
After the prayer we should recite shabads only and should avoid repeating the prayer as it shows our lack of faith in the prayer and giving of appropriate result by the Karta (creator).The recitation of shabads when any doubt comes would keep us in a positive frame of mind.
Ardas shold be done preferably during amrit vela ( before 6.00 AM early morning) and if possible before SGGSji.During ardas keep eyes closed and the focus of awareness deep within. Feel the presence of Karta within. HE is ever present wether we are aware or not. The purpose of prayer should be genuine and for the benefit . The purpose which has element of raising the ego ( ahankar) or is harmful is less likely to be fulfilled. We can also put forward an arrangement whereby an assertion is made that as thankfulness a spiritually uplifting activity would be undertaken. Here thankfulness which is ritualistic or donation that does not raise ones spiritual level is less likely to be acceptable. In a prayer love relationship and spiritual advancementis of paramount importance.



Everyone begs from You, and all offer prayers to You each day. Those, unto whom You give, receive everything. You are far away from some, and You are close to others.
SGGS 86​


So offer your prayers to Him, the Giver of Peace, the Destroyer of fear.
Showing His kindness, the Kind Master shall resolve your affairs.
SGGS 44​

He is the Presence Ever-present; offer your prayers to Him. Pain and pleasure are in the Hands of Karta (creative aspect), the True Creator.
SGGS 352​


When your soul is feeling sad, offer your prayers to the Guru. Renounce all your cleverness, and surrender your mind and body to Him. Worship the Feet of the Guru (touch of divine within), and your evil-mindedness shall be burnt away.
SGGS 519​

You are our Lord and Master; to You, I offer this prayer. This body and soul are all Your property. You are our mother and father; we are Your children.
SGGS 268​

DHANAASAREE, FIFTH MEHL: He has extended His power in all four directions, and placed His hand upon my head. Gazing upon me with his Eye of compassion, He has dispelled the pains of His devotee. 1 The Guru, the Lord of the Universe, has saved the Lord's humble servant. Hugging me close in His embrace, the kind, forgiving Lord has erased all my sins. Pause whatever I ask for from my Lord and Master, he gives that to me. Whatever the Lord's slave Nanak utters with his mouth proves to be true, here and hereafter. 2 14 45
SGGS 681​



Feb 25, 2008
namjap ji and Aman singh ji

Very beautiful posts. While doing ardas we keep in our minds the memory of those who built a platform by going through brutal tortures to death for us to live in peace. Who does that other than Sikhs? To forget the sacrifices of our ancestors is like being ungrateful.It is a tribute to The Creator who staged all that. I also feel strongly that Sikhs while doing ardas, are truly in surrender to HIM always as per Guru - waak, quoted by namjap


You are our Lord and Master; to You, I offer this prayer. This body and soul are all Your property. You are our our Mother and father and we are your children .
Obviously after being in love with HIM and with our unconditional surrender, do we need any thing?​



Nov 1, 2009
FANTASTIC explanation of ARDAAS! i'm a 40 yo woman sikh woman raised in the US (parents from india) and my mom is, and dad was, very religious but us kids never really learned punjabi. my mom always does paght and ardaas for all big events (when we started the school years, etc.) and all holidays. she always says my dad (who is now gone) always wanted us to learn ardaas and i can recite some of it - but b/c of this article i now understand what it is all about.

while reading this i was crying - it was so moving. and i find it wonderful that most of the prayer is to remember all the good saints and people who have come before, and then to finally ask for continued strength and devotion.

great - just great. god bless you for writing this.

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
Such heart warming messages make it worthwhile all resources spent on SPN !! Even if just ONE person is helped daily..out of thousands..its more than worth it all. Lucky Kaur jis post made this Gurpurab of Guru nanak ji even more poignant for me...SPN is pulling its weight in spreading the warmth and glow of Gurmatt. Wadhaiyeean folks...Sarbatt Da Bhalla .
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