Opinion Op Ed 12 May 2016 Mystic Mantra: Nitne ...
Kulbir Kaur teaches sociology at Shyama Prasad Mukherji College, Delhi University

Mystic Mantra: Nitnem-The five prayers

Published May 12, 2016, 2:33 am IST
Updated May 12, 2016, 2:34 am IST
Ardas or prayer follows the recitation of the banis.
Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjan, is the late-evening prayer to be recited before going to sleep. (Photo: AP)
 Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjan, is the late-evening prayer to be recited before going to sleep. (Photo: AP)

“He who calls himself a Sikh of the true
Guru
He must get up in the morning and say his prayers
He must rise in the early hours and bathe in the holy tank
He must meditate on God as advised by the Guru
And rid himself of the afflictions of sins and evil
As the day dawns, he should recite scriptures
And repeat God’s
name in every
activity”
— Guru Ram Das

Nitnem or daily regimen is an integral part of the life of a Sikh. “Nit” means daily and “nem” means rule or practice. The word “nem” also stands for “nam” or the sacred word that exists in the form of bani. Nitnem is a collection of prayers that every Sikh is commanded to say daily. It includes Gurbani which is recited by Sikhs in the morning, evening and at night.

 

The nitnem banis are the five daily prayers of Sikhism. In the morning, after taking bath, a Sikh says Japuji Sahib, Jaap Sahib and 10 Savaiyye, Sodar Rahras Sahib in the evening and Kirtan Sohila at bedtime. These five banis are known as panj (five) banis. Ardas or prayer follows the recitation of the banis.

Japuji Sahib, compiled by Guru Nanak, is the beginning of the Guru Granth Sahib. Japuji Sahib is preceded by mul mantra, which represents the core of Sikh philosophy. Most of the Sikhs can recite Japuji Sahib orally. Jaap Sahib, composed by Guru Gobind Singh, forms the first part of the Dasam Granth. It has 199 verses, proclaiming the attributes of the supreme truth, Satnam. The third morning prayer is Savaiyye, 10 in number. This bani originally forms a part of Akal Ustat, praise of the timeless, also composed by Guru Gobind Singh. In addition to these three morning banis, Sikhs combine the morning prayers with the Anand (bliss) Sahib, Shabad Hazare and the Sukhmani Sahib.

 

The evening prayer, Sodar Rahras, recited soon after sunset, consists of hymns from Guru Granth Sahib followed by compositions Benati Chaupai and Savaiyye by Guru Gobind Singh and hymns from Anand Sahib composed by Guru Amar Das. Kirtan Sohila, comprising banis of Guru Nanak, Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjan, is the late-evening prayer to be recited before going to sleep.

Amritvela or the ambrosial hours (3 am to 6 am) is considered the perfect time for morning prayers. There are no prescribed rules regarding the posture or direction. A simple bath is sufficient. Nitnem can be recited while sitting, standing or walking. It can be read, recited or listened.

 

Every Sikh is advised to follow nitnem. It is a nourishment for soul. Guru Arjan says, “Twenty-four hours a day, O Nanak, meditate on the Guru (word), the path to enlightenment.” The nitnem banis are read while preparing the nectar (amrit) during the baptism ceremony. Nitnem is the amrit, which purifies the body as well as the soul. It offers us a chance to realise the sacred and ultimate truth.

Nitnem is a way of remembering the divine “word” which not only helps the person to get rid of ego, pride, lust, sin and other attachments, but also acts as a way of acquiring peace and supreme bliss. Nitnem is the only way to salvation.

 

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