by Harnaak Singh 12-Jan-2017
Gur Sikh Jio. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.
This article discusses a question regarding the timing of “Amrit Vela ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ” posed to lay-preacher Karminder Singh who responses by claiming, that Amrit Vela is essentially any time the Sikh chooses.
We first study the dictionary meaning of Amrit Vela and show that Amrit Vela is the hours before sunrise.
We also look at general reference sources and scientific findings which likewise indicate that early morning meditation is beneficial for us.
Study of Vaaran Bhai Gurdas also show Amrit Vela is the last quarter of the night meaning the hours before sunrise.
Finally delving into Gurbani we find that one should meditate and worship God during the hours before sunrise (Amrit Vela).
The conclusion from the analysis is that Amrit Vela ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ is last few hours of the night before sunrise. This is the time when there is minimum possibility of distraction and would be the most ideal to meditate and recite the morning prayers.
The claim by Karminder is shown to be a GROSS MISLEADING of the Sangat, in the VERY BASIC CONCEPT of AMRIT VELA prescribed in GURBANI and SIKH REHAT MARYADA.
This article will commence by stating the Question and Answer that was shared via WhatsApp. The question and the response are listed below. This correspondence is included in the attachment.
Question: Dear Dr Karminder Singh ji could you please elaborate on the concept of Amrit Vella based on this “Amrit vela sach nao vadiayi vichar karmi avey kapda nadir mokh duar”. Does this truly refers to a time frame i.e. 2 or 3 hours before sunrise etc. Thanks.
Answer: Pyareo. In Gurmat there is no such thing as an auspicious time (shubh vela) or a bad (asubh vela) time. No such thing as a good day, bad day, good hour good month etc. Time, ON ITS OWN is neutral. What makes time safal or wasted depends on WHAT WE DO during a particular time frame. Banee says SAFAL MOORAT SAFLA GHAREE JIT SACHEY NAAL PYAAR.
Meaning all moments that r spent developing or building our love for God and Guru is Safal – auspicious, good and successfully spent. So no vela is Amrit on its own. IF 2am till 6 am was AUTOMATICALLY good then no one would steal or rob during this period of time. In fact most thefts and break ins happen during this early morning hours. The verse AMRIT VELA SACH NAO is actually deﬁning AMRIT VELA in Gurmat. It means Amrit vela is THAT time during which a Sikh sings, discusses or discourses (VICHAR) d virtues and greatness (VEDIAYAN) of God. In other words a Sikh MAKES his own AMRIT VELA. Hope this helps Ji.
The question regarding the timing of “Amrit Vela ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ” was to lay-preacher Karminder Singh. The response by Karminder Singh was, essentially, that this is any time the Sikh chooses. This is shown to be A GROSS MISLEADING of the VERY BASIC CONCEPT of AMRIT VELA in GURBANI and SIKH REHAT MARYADA.
This preaching by Karminder rhymes very well with the excommunicated Kala Afghana who also questions “how you call a particular time of the day Amrit-Vela when so many evil things happen around the world at that time”. See highlighted parts in the attached PDF file “170111 Kala Afghana – SikhiWiki”. (reference: http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Kala_Afghana)
This article analyses “Amrit Vela ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ” and discusses the validity of the Karminder’s response to the question.
ANALYSIS OF AMRIT VELA ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ
We commence with the analysis by studying the meaning of the word as given in the Mahan Kosh and Punjabi-English Dictionary University Patiala. The Mahan Kosh Punjabi meaning is also given in English. Then we look at what other general sources have to say on this matter. Next we will study what Vaaran Bhai Gurdas and Gurbani states on this matter. Finally we will analyse the “answer” in the light of what we have learnt from the above sources.
(Note: Readers who do not read Gurmukhi can skip the Gurmukhi part without loss in understanding of the article.)
Dictionary meaning of Amrit Vela ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ
Mahan Kosh :
Amrit Vela ਅੰਮਰਿਤ (ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ) – (1) ਰਾਤ ਦੇ ਪਿਛਲੇ ਹਿੱਸੇ ਦੀਆਂ ਪਹੁ ਫੁਟਣ ਤੋਂ ਪਹਿਲੇ ਚਾਰ ਘੜੀਆਂ (90 minutes of the last part of the night just before sunrise; note: 1 ਘੜੀ = 22.5 minutes as defined by Dictionary Punjabi University Patiala) (2) ਮੋਕ ਦਾਇਕ ਵੇਲਾ, ਮੁਕਤਿ ਵੇਲਾ (the time to attain salvation)
Dictionary Punjabi University Patiala:
Amrit Vela ਅੰਮਰਿਤ (ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ) ਵੇਲਾ – ambrosial hours, early morning, wee hours of the morning
Other general sources on Amrit Vela ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ
There are some general reference sources and scientific findings that indicate early morning meditation is beneficial for us. These are summarised below.
Divine Life Society (http://sivanandaonline.org/public_html/?cmd=displaysection §ion_id=1411)
The divine life society states that the BEST TIME FOR MEDITATION IS 3:30 TO 5:30 AM.
Religiosity/Spirituality and Health, A Critical Review of the Evidence for Biological Pathways (T E Seeman et al, University of California; American Psychologist January 2003)
The journal performed a study of papers related to the topic. A number of the studies included, performed the measurements during MORNING MEDITATION. This journal showed that generally, available evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that religiosity/spirituality is linked to health-related physiological processes – including cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and immune function – although more solid evidence is needed. They found better health outcomes but at the same time indicated that more research was necessary.
Adapting eastern spiritual teachings to western culture: A discussion with Shinzen Young (Charles T Tart; The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 1990 Vol 22 No. 2)
The author found that early MORNING MEDITATION WAS THE HIGH POINT. He found himself looking forward to getting up at 5:30 each morning for meditation. Finally he was told that “… only your body leaves the cushion in the morning, not your consciousness. It seems as though you are literally meditating all day. The events of life are surrounded by a tremendous sense of peace, presence and focus. In addition to that, you carry with you a basic beneficence that comes through the pores of your being. It influences the people around you, in subtle, if not overt, ways. You feel that every single thing you do, even the most casual activity, is in some way purifying the environment around you”
Mindfulness meditation for every day life, Jon Kabat-Zin; Piaktus Books – London, 28 June 2001
The author in his book extols the BENEFITS OF MORNING MEDITATION and quotes a stanza by Kabir (we believe this refers to Bhagat Kabir).
My inside, listen to me, the greatest spirit, the Teacher, is near, wake up, wake up! Run to his feet – HE is standing close to your head right now. You have slept for millions and millions of years. Why not wake up this morning?
He states that one becomes a centre of kindness which benefits not only him but others.
The Miracle of Mindfulness: Practicing Awareness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
The author who is a Zen Buddhist has been practicing morning meditation as a discipline. He says that this leads to fullness of living.
What meditation can do for your mind, mood, and health, Havard Health Publications (http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-meditation-can-do-for-your-mind-mood-and-health-)
This publication states that meditation can reduce stress, pain, depression and more and goes on to state “Preferably meditate at the same time every morning”.
Vaaran Bhai Gurdas on Amrit Vela ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ
We will study what the Vaaran teach us about amrit vela. The English translation (blue text) is by Jodh Singh.
Vaar 6 Paurdi 3 Whole Paurdi and Verse 1 in particular: Daily routine of Gurmukhs
In this Paurdi Bhai Gurdas outlines the routine practice of a Gurmukh.
ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੇ ਉਠਿ ਕੈ ਜਾਇ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਦਰੀਆਇ ਨ੍ਹਵੰਦੇ
Getting up at the ambrosial hour of morning the Sikhs bathe in the river.
The whole Paurdi:
- Getting up at the ambrosial hour of morning the Sikhs bathe in the river.
- By putting their mind in the unfathomable God through deep concentration, they remember Guru, the God by reciting Japu (Ji).
- Getting fully activated then they go to join the holy congregation of the saints.
- Becoming absorbed in remembering and loving the shabad they sing and hear the Guru’s hymns.
- They love to spend their time in meditation, service and fear of God and they serve the Guru by observing his anniversaries.
- They sing the Sodar in the evening and heartily associate with one another.
- Having recited the Sohila and made supplication at night they distribute sacred food (prasad).
- Thus gurmukhs gladly taste the fruit of happiness.
Considering the sequence of activities it can be concluded without doubt that ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ Amrit Vela means in the morning before sunrise. It is worth considering that the morning activities are most likely individual activities, though they may be performed by many at the same time. The reason for this is because the evening activities are sung. Singing is most beneficial when performed in a group. The evening activities are most likely congregational (Sangat) activities. Also we take note line 3 which states that they get fully activated after reciting the morning prayers.
With this we look at a few other verses related to ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ Amrit Vela.
Vaar 3 Paurdi 9 Verse 5: Characteristics of Gurmukh
ਨ੍ਹਾਵਣ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲ ਵਸਨ ਸੁਦੇਸਿਆ
Taking bath in the ambrosial hours he remains enrapt in the region of the Lord
Vaar 12 Paurdi 2 Verse 1 and 2: Daily Routine of Gursikhs
ਕੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਤਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਗੁਰਸਿਖਾਂ ਪਿਛਲ ਰਾਤੀ ਉਠਿ ਬਹੰਦੇ
I am sacrifice unto those Gursikhs who get up in the last quarter of night.
ਕੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਤਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਗੁਰਸਿਖਾਂ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੈ ਸਰਿ ਨਾਵੰਦੇ
I am sacrifice unto those Gursikhs who getting up in the ambrosial hours, and bathe in the holy tank.
Vaar 3 Paurdi 9 gives an overview indicating the need to get up at Amrit Vela and Vaar 12 Paurdi 2 gives the details that is, Amrti Vela is before sunrise when the Gursikh takes a bath.
Gurbani on Amrit Vela ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ
There is only one verse on amrit vela in Gurbani. That is the verse referred to in the Question. Note that the English translation (blue text) is by Sant Singh Khalsa.
ਮੁਹੌ ਕਿ ਬੋਲਣੁ ਬੋਲੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਸੁਣਿ ਧਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ SGGS 2, M:1 JapJi Sahib
What words can we speak to evoke His Love? In the Amrit Vaylaa, the ambrosial hours before dawn, chant the True Name, and contemplate His Glorious Greatness
In these verses the question is “what can we speak” not “what can we sing”. This implies the question is related to ਜਪ meditation which is also the name of the bani in which the verses are. GuruJi then states, the best time to meditate is ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ Amrit Vela, that is, early morning before sunrise (as we have seen above).
Further the following verses state time related activities
ਝਾਲਾਘੇ ਉਠਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਨਿਸਿ ਬਾਸੁਰ ਆਰਾਧਿ ॥ ਕਾਰ੍ਹਾ ਤੁਝੈ ਨ ਬਿਆਪਈ ਨਾਨਕ ਮਿਟੈ ਉਪਾਧਿ ॥੧॥
SGGS 255, M:5 Gaurdi
Rise early in the morning, and chant the Naam; worship and adore the Lord, night and day. Anxiety shall not afflict you, O Nanak, and your misfortune shall vanish. ||1||
The word ਝਾਲਾਘੇ means ਰੌਸ਼ਨੀ ਤੋਂ ਪਹਿਲਾਂ before light comes up i.e. before sunrise (Mahan Kosh).
ਪ੍ਰਾਤਹਕਾਲਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਉਚਾਰੀ ॥ ਈਤ ਊਤ ਕੀ ਓਟ ਸਵਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ SGGS 743, M:5 Soohee
In the early hours of the morning, I chant the Lord’s Name. I have fashioned a shelter for myself, here and hereafter. ||1||
The word ਪ੍ਰਾਤਹਕਾਲਿ means ਸੂਰਜ (sun) ਦੇ ਉਦਯ (rise) ਹੋਣ ਤੌਂ ਪਹਿਲਾ ਵੇਲਾ before the sun rises (Mahan Kosh).
ਉਠਿ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰਹੁ ਪਰਭਾਤੇ ਸੋਏ ਹਰਿ ਆਰਾਧੇ ॥ SGGS 1185, M:5 Basant Hindool
Rise in the early hours of the morning, and take your cleansing bath. Before you go to bed at night, remember to worship the Lord.
The word ਪਰਭਾਤੇ means early morning, at dawn. Essentially the verse most likely states that one must worship God at dawn (JapJi Sahib and morning prayers) and before going to bed at night (Kirtan Sohila).
ਫਰੀਦਾ ਪਿਛਲ ਰਾਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਗਿਓਹਿ ਜੀਵਦੜੋ ਮੁਇਓਹਿ ॥ ਜੇ ਤੈ ਰਬੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਆ ਤ ਰਬਿ ਨ ਵਿਸਰਿਓਹਿ ॥੧੦੭॥ SGGS 1383, Farid Slok
Fareed, if you do not awaken in the early hours before dawn, you are dead while yet alive. Although you have forgotten God, God has not forgotten you. ||107||
The word ਪਿਛਲ ਰਾਤਿ means ਪਿਛਲੀ ਰਾਤੇ, ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੇ last part of night before sunrise (reference Prof Sahib Singh’s teeka).
ਪਹਿਲੈ ਪਹਰੈ ਫੁਲੜਾ ਫਲੁ ਭੀ ਪਛਾ ਰਾਤਿ ॥ ਜੋ ਜਾਗੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਲਹੰਨਿ ਸੇ ਸਾਈ ਕੰਨੋ ਦਾਤਿ ॥੧੧੨॥ SGGS 1384, Farid Slok
The first watch of the night brings flowers, and the later watches of the night bring fruit. Those who remain awake and aware, receive the gifts from the Lord. ||112||
This word ਪਛਾ ਰਾਤਿ means ਪਿਛਲੀ ਰਾਤੇ, ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੇ last part of night before sunrise (reference Prof Sahib Singh).
This verse states that worship (ਬੰਦਗੀ) in the first pehar of the night (generally 6 – 9 pm) brings flowers as rewards while worship during the last part of the night (3 – 6 am) bears fruits as reward. (reference Prof Sahib Singh’s teeka)
Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, in Gurmat Martand, on this matter has the following to say.
“Before sunrise, during the last part of the night, when there is no noisy clamour (ਸ਼ੋਰ ਸ਼ਰਾਬਾ) with an empty and light digestive system, the mind is clear and can concentrate. This is the ideal time to awake and take a bath and then with concentration on God, perform meditation and recite Gurbani with understanding. This is the principle of the Sikh faith.”
We must be clear that though amrit vela is the most ideal time to meditate, Naam Japna (ਨਾਮ ਜਪਨਾ), especially reciting the morning prayers, it does not mean that we forget about God at other times or that we cannot recite our morning prayers if we miss the amrit vela. It is stressed that most benefit is derived by meditating in the early morning before sunrise, following a good night’s rest, after which the “hustle and bustle” of daily life commences.
Considering the above, we should meditate when there is minimum possibility of distraction and for most of us, early morning before sunrise is the most ideal time.
ON KARMINDER’s RESPONSE TO AMRIT VELA ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ
The question was clearly related to the verse
ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ SGGS 2, M:1 JapJi Sahib
which we have discussed above.
Karminder quotes the following in support of his conclusion that is ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ Amrit Vela is any time and is the time the Sikh chooses.
- in Gurmat there is no auspicious time because
ਸਫਲ ਮੂਰਤੁ ਸਫਲਾ ਘੜੀ ਜਿਤੁ ਸਚੇ ਨਾਲਿ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥ SGGS 44, M:5 SriRag
Fruitful is that moment, and fruitful is that time, when one is in love with the True Lord.
- If 2 am to 6 am was “AUTOMATICALLY good” then no one would steal or rob during this early morning hours.
The first dot point does not answer the question “what is the ideal time for meditation”. The verse makes a statement that the time when one is TRULY IN LOVE WITH GOD is beneficial. It DOES NOT STATE ANY TIME but a SPECIFIC TIME which is when one has “attained it” so to speak.
As to the second dot point, the author clearly contradicts the intended meaning in the first dot point. Here the question is “the best” time to perform “an activity”. In the case of the robber or thief, the best time (SUBH VELA) is early morning hours when everybody is asleep so that there is no interference in their intended activity and the activity (of robbing) will be successful (SAFAL).
Likewise for one who wants to meditate (the activity) the best time (SUBH VELA) is early morning hours before sunrise when everybody is asleep so that there is no interference in their intended activity and the activity (meditation) will be successful (SAFAL).
In fact, on the lighter side, IT IS BETTER TO GET UP AT AMRIT VELA to do the morning prayers. This will keep the robbers away since somebody in the house is AWAKE.
The questioner should be learning from the robbers/thieves, not Karminder, and would then be most successful in the activity the questioner wants to perform i.e. meditate and recite the morning prayers.
This is GROSS MISLEADING by Karminder of the Sangat related to the VERY BASIC CONCEPT of AMRIT VELA prescribed in GURBANI and SIKH REHAT MARYADA.
The dictionaries clearly identify Amrit Vela as being before sunrise.
General reference sources and scientific findings also indicate that early morning meditation is beneficial for us.
Vaaran Bhai Gurdas show by example as well as timing that Amrit Vela is the last quarter of the night meaning the hours before sunrise.
Finally Gurbani confirms that one should meditate and worship God during the hours before sunrise (Amrit Vela). Bhai Kahn Singh Naba clearly points out the reason for performing worship at Amrit Vela.
From the above analysis, it is unequivocally stated that is Amrit Vela ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ is last few hours of the night before sunrise.
Therefore AMRIT VELA ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ is the FEW HOURS IN MORNING BEFORE SUNRISE, after a good night’s rest, and before the “hustle and bustle” of daily life commences. This is the time when there is minimum possibility of distraction and would be most ideal to meditate and recite the morning prayers.
The claim by Karminder is a GROSS MISLEADING of the Sangat related to the VERY BASIC CONCEPT of AMRIT VELA in GURBANI and SIKH REHAT MARYADA.
Thank You for reading/listening. ਗਲਤੀਆਂ ਦੀ ਖਿਮਾ.
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.
Please click to download PDF
Record of Q&A: 170111-amrit-vela-karminder-misleading-preaching-a
From SikhiWiki: 170111-kala-afghana-sikhiwiki