Ardās | Sikh Prayer
Ardās, supplication and recollection, is the ritual prayer which Sikhs, individually or in congregation, recite morning and evening and in fact whenever they perform a religious service and at the beginning and conclusion of family, public or religious functions.
Ardās is not inscribed in the Guru Granth Sāhib. It is an evolute of the community's heart in prayer over the centuries.
Broadly, Ardās consists of 3 parts:
It starts with the remembrance of the Ten Masters and the Eternal Gurū, Sri Gurū Granth Sāhib, in which resides the spirit of all the Ten Gurus (Prophet-Teacher).
The second part is a recital of Sikhs’ deeds of dedication and sacrifice. Thus, Ardas encapsulates the Sikh history, but transcending the rime and space setting.
The third part comprises words improvised to suit any given occasion.
After the initial invocation, Ardās goes on to recount and reflect upon the memorable acts of the community’s martyrs and heroes - men of unswerving resolution and fortitude, who upheld their faith with their sacred hair unto their last breath.
History has been continually contributing to Ardās with the result that, along with the martyrs of the Gurus period and of the periods of persecution following,
it recalls those of the Gurdwara reform movement of the 1920‘s and those who laid down their lives for the sake of their faith at the time of the partition of the country in 1947.
The prayer for the privilege of a dip in the sacred pool at Amritsar as well as for the preservation of the Panth’s choirs, banners and mansions has historical echoes. These lines in Ardās bear witness to the Sikh’s deep attachment to their places of worship.
It also asks for the specific boons of holy discipleship, a life of restraint, fine judgement and faith and a firm and confident attitude of mind aspired by the holy Name.
Ardās enshrines in its text the community’s aspirations at various periods of its history and enables the devotees to unite in a brotherhood of faith over the centuries, transcending time.
After recounting the deeds of faith and sacrifice over the expanse of time, the congregation recounts Sikh places of worship over the expanse of space.
Thereafter, prayer is made for and on behalf of the whole community, seeking the Lord’s protection and grace for the entire Khālsā, ending with a supplication for universal well-being.
Ek Ongkār Wāhigurū jī kī fateh.
There is one God. All Victory belongs to God.
Srī Bhagautī jī sahāi.
May the might of the All-powerful help!
Vār Srī Bhagautī jī kī pātshāhī dasvīn.
Ode to God's might1 by the 10th Lord (Guru Gobind Singh).
Pritham bhagautī simari kai
Gur Nānak laī dhiāi.
Having first thought of the Almighty’s prowess,
let us think of Guru Nanak.
Phir Aṅgad Gur te
Amardāsu Rāmdāsai hoī sahāi.
Then of Guru Angad, Amar Das and Rām Dās
- may they ever protect us!
Arjan Harigobind no simarau Srī Harirāi.
Remember then, Guru Arjan, Hargobind and Sri Har Rai.
Sri Harikrishan dhiāīai
jis ḍiṭhe sabhi dukh jāi.
Meditate then on revered Sri Harkrishan
remembering whom all the suffering vanishes.
Tegh Bahādar simariai
ghar nau nidhi āvai dhāi.
Sabh thai hoi sahāi.
Think then of Guru Tegh Bahādur,
remembrance of whom brings all nine treasures2.
He comes to rescue everywhere.
Dasvāi pātashāh Srī Gurū Gobind Singh Sāhib ji!
Sabh thāī hoi sahāi.
Then of the 10th Lord,
revered Guru Gobind Singh Ji
who comes to rescue everywhere.
Dasā pātshāhīā dī joti
Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib jī de
pāṭh dīdār dā dhiān dhar ke
bolo jī Wāhigurū!
The embodiment of the light of all ten sovereign lordships,
the Gurū Granth Sāhib
think of its reading and teachings,
and say, 'Wāhigurū'!3
haṭhīā, japīā, tapīā,
jinhā nām japiā, vanḍ chhakiā,
constant repeaters of the Divine Name,
those given to sincere devotion,
those who repeated the Nām,
shared their fare with others,
degh chalāī, tegh vāhī,
dekh ke aṇḍiṭh kītā,
tinhā piāriā, sachiāriā
dī kamāī dā dhiān dhar ke
Khālsā jī ! bolo jī Wāhigurū!
ran free kitchen, wielded the sword, overlooked faults and shortcomings
- meditating on the achievement of such dear and truthful ones,
say - O' Khālsā, Wāhigurū!
Jinhā singhā singhaṇīā ne
dharam het sīs dite,
bañd bañd kaṭāe,
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 bit7,
khoparīā luhāīa, charkhaṛīā te chaṛhe, āriā nāl chirāe gae,
guruduāriā dī sevā laī kurbānīā kītīā,
made sacrifices in the service of the shrines (Gurdwaras),
dharam nahī hāriā,
sikhī kesā suāsā nāl nibāhī,
tinhā dī kamāī dā dhiān dhar ke,
Khālsā jī ! bolo jī Wāhigurū!
did not betray their faith,
sustained their adherence to the Sikh faith
with sacred unshorn hair up till their last breath
meditate on their deeds and say: O Khalsa Ji, Waheguru!.
Pañjā takhtā. sarbatt gurduāriā dā
dhiān dhar ke bolo jī Wāhigurū!
Thinking of the Five Thrones11 (seats of religious authority) and all Gurdwaras,
say: O Khalsa, Waheguru!
Prithme sarbatt ķhālsā jī kī ardās hai jī
sarbatt ķhālsā jī ko
Wāhigurū, Wāhigurū, Wāhigurū chit āve
chit āvan kā sadkā sarab sukh hove.
Now it is the prayer of the whole Khālsā12.
May the conscience of the whole Khālsā
remembers Wāhigurū, Wāhigurū, Wāhigurū
and in consequence of such remembrance,
may total well-being be bestowed.
Jahā jahā khālsā jī sāhib,
tahā tahā rachhiā riāit,
Wherever there are communities of the Khālsā13,
may there be Divine protection and grace,
degh tegh fateh,
birad kī paij
May the pot and sword never fail14;
Maintain the honour of your devotees;
pañth kī jīt,
srī sāhib jī sahāi,
Khālse jī ke bol bāle,
bolo jī Wāhigurū!
let the Panth be ever victorious,
let the sword be ever our protector.
May the Khālsā community ever prosper!
Say: O Khalsa, Vaheguru!
Sikhā nū sikhī dān, kes dān,
rahit dān, bibek dān,
May God grant to the Sikhs, the gift of faith, the gift of uncut hair, the Keshas,
the gift of discipline, the gift of wisdom,
visāh dān, bharosā dān,
dānā sir dān nām dān,
the gift of trust, the gift of confidence
and the supreme gift - the Divine Name,
Sri Amritsar jī de ishnān,
chaunkīā, jhanḍe, buņge jugo jug aṭal,
dharam kā jaikār, bolo jī Vāhigurū!!!
and the gift of bathing in Amritsar,
May the shrines, banners, the cantonments of Khalsa ever remain inviolate,
May the cause of truth and justice prevail everywhere at all times,
Say: O Khalsa, Vaheguru!
Sikhā dā man nīvā, mat uchchī, mat dā rākhā āp Wāhigurū!
May the minds of Sikhs remain humble, and their wisdom exalted.
Waheguru! You are the protector of wisdom.
Hei akāl purakh āpaṇe pañth de sadā sahāī dātār jīo!
Srī Nankāṇā Sāhib te hor gurduāriā gurdhāmā de,
jinhā ton pañth nū vichhoṛiā giā hai,
khullhe darshan dīdār te sevā sambhāl dā dān
Khālsā jī nū bakhsho.
Immortal Lord! Our helper and protector ever,
restore to us the right and privilege
of unhindered and free service and access to Nankana Sahib
and other centres of Sikh religion from which we have been separated.
Hei nimāṇiā de māṇ, nitāṇiā de tāṇ,
nioṭiā dī oaṭ, sachche pitā, Wāhigurū !
Āp de hazūr dī Ardās hai jī.
God, the honour of the humble, the Strength of the weak,
the Supporter of the fallen, the true father of all, ... ...
(here the specific purpose and the occasion for the supplication is stated
by the person leading in the supplication
and the blessings and aid of God are beseeched)
Akhar vādhā ghāṭā bhull chukk māf karnī.
Sarbatt de kāraj rās karne.
Pardon any impermissible additions,
omissions, errors, mistakes.
Fulfil the purposes of all.
Seī piāre mel,
jinā miliā terā nām chitt āve.
Grant us the association of those dear ones,
on meeting whom one is
reminded of Your Name.
Nānak nām chaṛhdī kalā,
tere bhāṇe sarbatt dā bhalā.
Nānak, may Your Name be exalted
and may all of mankind prosper according to your Will
Wāhegurū Jī Kā Khālsā Wāhegurū Jī Kī Fateh
The Khalsa belongs to God; all victory is the victory of God.
When the Ardās prayer is offered, everybody stands up with folded hands facing towards the Holy Book or (when it is absent) towards the person who prays,
"Stand up in His presence, Nānak, when you pray." - Guru Angad.
Ode to the Deity
This heading belongs to the first 1-6 lines only, which are taken from the beginning of Vār Srī Bhagautī By Guru Gobind Singh, who is called the Tenth King.
The piece is in praise of Bhagautī (Bhagavatī) or God and not Goddess Durga, as some suppose.
In Guru Granth Sahib, wherever the word Bhagautī occurs, it means God, the Creator of Durgā, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Rāma, Krishna, etc. It could not be Durga, therefore.
In the story of Chaṇḍī, the goddess is not once named Bhagautī.
In the writings of Guru Gobind Singh, the word Bhagautī means sword or God, and God is often addressed as the sword.
Guru Gobind Singh is very clearly against the worship of gods and goddesses, He says,
"I do not worship any creature. I worship only the Creator” - Hazare-de-Śabad.
"I do not propitiate Ganesh;
I never meditate on Krishna or Vishnu;
I have heard of them, but I know them not;
It is His feet I love.”
In the six lines quoted in the Prayer, the Guru wanted to show that all the Gurus are One in spirit. He says:
All take them as different from one another:
Very few recognise them as one in spirit.
But only those realise perfection,
who do recognise them as one.
Without understanding this no success can be gained.
The nine treasures;
This means - untold wealth or prosperity. In the Hindu scriptures these treasures are specifically mentioned.
... and say, 'Wāhigurū'!
Waheguru or Wonderful Lord –
these are exclamations, responses made by the audience in moments of religious fervour, when each item of the past experiences is described to them, when the examples of their brave ancestors are recounted one by one before them.
The Five Beloved Ones; or Panj Pyare
1. Bhai Dayā Singh Ji,
2. Bhai Dharam Singh Ji,
3. Bhai Himmat Singh Ji,
4. Bhai Mohkam Singh Ji and
5. Bhai Sāhib Singh Ji
- they had offered themselves when Guru Gobind Singh, in a big meeting at Kesgarh, had demanded their lives. They were the first to be baptised as the Khalsa.
The Guru himself received baptism from them.
Four Sons of the Tenth Gurū or 4 Princes or 4 Sahibzada
1. Sahibzada Ajit Singh (26 January 1687 – 7 December 1705)
2. Sahibzada Jujhar Singh, (14 March 1691 – 7 December 1705)
3. Sahibzada Zorawar Singh (17 November 1696 – 12 December 1705)
4. Sahibzada Fateh Singh (25 February 1699 – 12 December 1705)
- The Master’s four sons: Guru Gobind Singh's children:
Baba Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh, who were killed in the battle of Chamkaur;
and Baba Fateh Singh and Zorawar Singh, who were put to death by the orders of the Governor of Sirhind. They were buried alive under the foundation of a wall.
Forty Liberated Ones:
When Guru Gobind Singh was besieged in Anandpur in 1701, and the provisions had run short 40 of his Sikhs deserted him and went away to their villages.
When they reached home, their women made them repent and they came back under the leadership of a woman named Mai Bhago.
The Guru by that time had come out of Anandpur and was at Muktsar.
These Forty came without his Knowledge and fought with his enemies until all of them were killed. A dying Sikh was visited by the Guru, who at his request not only forgave the deserters, but honoured them with the title of the Forty Liberated Ones.
... got their bodies dismembered bit by bit
- Cut up limb by limb, like Bhai Mani Singh,
He was the most learned man of his time. He had received baptism from the tenth Guru's own hand.
When quarrels arose between the true Sikhs, called the Tat Khalsa and the Bandai Khalsa, he was sent by the widow of Guru Gobind Singh to take charge of the Golden Temple.
At that time persecution of the Sikhs was going on and in the neighbourhood of Amritsar soldiers were posted to prevent the Sikhs from visiting the temple.
Bhai Mani Singh, who was held in great esteem by the Mohammedan officials of Amritsar, applied for leave to hold the Diwali fair in Amritsar.
The matter being referred to Lahore the permission was granted on the condition that Bhai Mani Singh should pay Rs. 5,000 after the fair.
Bhai Mani Singh invited Sikhs from far and near in 1738.
But the Governor of Lahore sent a force to Amritsar under the pretext of keeping order during the fair, but really it was designed to fall upon the approaching Sikhs and destroy them.
The Sikhs were apprised of the trap and the fair was not held.
Bhai Mani Singh was arrested for not paying the fixed sum and was condemned to death. He was offered the usual alternative of Islam. But be stoutly refused to barter his religion. His body was cut to pieces limb by limb.
... skulls sawn off
Scalps scraped off, as was done in the case of Bhai Taru Singh.
... got mounted on spiked wheels
Broken on the Wheel:
A Sikh boy named Sabhās Singh used to read in Mohammedan school under a Quazi, who wanted to convert him. The boy refused. Then it was tried to put pressure on him through his father named Bhai Subeg Singh. But he too refused.
Both father and son were broken on the wheel. This was in 1743.
... got their bodies sawn
Bhai Mati Dass was sawn alive at the same time when Guru Teg Bahadur was martyred (1675)
Five Thrones (seats of religious authority) or Panj Takht
1. Akal Takht Sahib - situated opposite to the main gate of the Golden Temple at Amritsar.
2. Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib - Anandpur where the first ceremony of the Sikh baptism was held by Guru Gobind Singh
3. Takht Sri Damdama Sahib - in the village of Talwandi Sabo near Bhatinda. Guru Gobind Singh stayed here for about a year and compiled the final edition of Guru Granth Sahib also known as the Damdama Sahib Bir in 1705.
4. Takht Sri Patna Sahib - where Guru Gobind Singh was born
5. Takht Sri Hazur Sahib - at Hander in Hyderabad (Deccan), where Guru Gobind Singh died.
They are five temples from where religious edicts, called Hukamnāma are issued to the Sikh community, wherever the interpretation of a doctrine or a rule of conduct is in question.
Of these the Akal Takht is the most important. It was built in 1609 by Guru Hargobind, the 6th Guru who used to receive his Sikhs here and discuss with them important matters connected with the welfare of the community.
It was here that he put on the sword symbolising a new phase in the development of the Sikh character. It was here that the weak and the oppressed came from far and near to seek help against tyranny and oppression.
Once a Brahmin of Kasur came and laid his complaint before the assembled Khalsa that his bride had been taken away from him by the local Nawab.
The Sikhs stood up and vowed that they would not take rest until they had restored the Brahmin's wife to him, and they did it.
Now it is the prayer of the whole Khālsā.
Form this line up to line 25 the prayer is addressed on behalf of the whole Sikh community, and the blessings invited are general, concerning the Panth as a whole.
From line 26 onwards the prayer is from a particular congregation and the gifts demanded are of immediate concern.
Wherever there are communities of the Khālsā
This reminds us of the time when the sikhs were persecuted and could not reside, in towns or cities, they
moved about in batches in deserts and forests and they used to think of the different scattered associations of the Sikh and to bless them wherever they were.
May the pot and sword never fail
The Sikhs were warriors, but they never lost sight of the accompanying virtue of Charity. The sword and the pot (in which they cooked food for distribution) always went together.