By Amarjit S. Gulati | Opinon |
What is ‘Amrit Vela’? When is ‘Amrit Vela’? What does Gurmat say about ‘Amrit Vela’?
Most practicing Sikhs (Amritdharees) and even the Sikh clergy will tell you that ‘Amrit Vela’ is a special auspicious time of the day in the early wee hours of the morning before dawn. There are contradicting answers, depending on whom you ask.
AMRIT VELA INTERPRETED BY SGPC & AKAAL TAKHAT
According to Sikh Rehat Maryada (SRM), it is written as such: an act to arise 3-hours before dawn, shower and meditate on the divine Naam (through Simran and Naam Japna). They have defined Amrit Vela as “three hours before dawn”, which is supposedly 3am.
In fact, the entire line “….shower and meditate on the divine Naam (through Simran and Naam Japna)”, is in the gray. What if one is unable to take a shower or how if one is unwell and bed-ridden or how if we’re in a plane crossing the equator? Secondly, what do they mean by ‘meditate’? How exactly does a Sikh of the Guru Granth Sahib meditate? There is NO detailed explanation about these concepts in the SRM either.
Then, they’ve made it even more confusing by using the words Simran and Naam Japna. What do these words actually mean? According to Gurmat, these two are NOT a physical action. Simran is to remember. It’s a conscious effort of the mind to be aware of the Creator (Hukm, Laws of Nature). Simran is not a continuous repetition of a single or multiple words.
Naam Japna has also been misinterpreted. Naam means Divine virtues. Japna comes from the word Jap, meaning to know, to realize, to become aware. It does NOT mean ‘chanting’, as most Gurbani-English translator have acclaimed.
It’s okay if you wish to wake up early, it’s a great feeling – you’ll be able to do more in a day (more time to spend) compared to others who don’t wake up as early as you. But to put it as a religious fact, that is wishful thinking!
According to Gurmat, there is NO spiritual significance or benefit whatsoever if one wakes up at 3am in the morning. Gurbani does NOT accept an auspicious time of the day or a special time to remember the Creator.
Guru Amardas Ji (3rd Gurus) says:
ਵੇਲਾ ਵਖਤ ਸਭਿ ਸੁਹਾਇਆ ॥ ਜਿਤੁ ਸਚਾ ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਇਆ ॥
Vela Vakhat Sabh Suhaiyaa. Jit Sachaa Mere Man Bhaiya (SGGS 115)
Meaning: That time (anytime, all times) is considered special, when I think, contemplate, afix my mind towards the Creator’s laws and divine virtues.
Many will even argue, saying that Guru Nanak has placed importance of ‘Amrit Vela’ because He mentioned it in Jup bani. True! Guru Nanak mentioned it, but we got the interpretation wrong!
Guru Nanak says:
ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥
Amrit Vela Sach Nao, Vedeayii Vichaar || (SGGS 1)
Here is another MAJOR problem. Almost every Gurbani app translates the above line as such:
In the Amrit Vaylaa, the ambrosial hours before dawn, chant the True Name, and contemplate His Glorious Greatness.
I copy pasted the above translation from a desktop app. You’ll find similar translations in almost all Gurbani apps out there.
Actually, what I’m about to suggest can be difficult for many but I would strongly urge everyone to STOP referring to Gurbani-English translations in phone apps.
Why? Because, 90-95% of the translations are wrong as they are not only direct literal translations, they’re also NOT in-line with Gurmat and Guru Granth Sahib’s ideology. The translations have a strong Brahmanical influence.
It’s a long story, but briefly, in 1880, the Fareedkot rulers gathered a group of Nirmala Hindu priests and created the very first Gurbani translation. They called it Fareedkoti Teeka.
THIS TALK IS CONNECTED TO THE ISSUE OF AMRIT VELA. CLICK HERE. (Starts at 33:00)
They knew there was no way they could make any changes, additions of even a single word or line within Sri Guru Granth Sahib. So, the only way to infiltrate and penetrate the minds of the Sikhs was by placing their own Brahmanical concepts and ideas to explain Gurbani.
In short, ALL Gurbani-English translations in the world today derive from this very first translation work and the irony is, it wasn’t even prepared by Sikhs! They presented it, and the authorities accepted it.
Ok. So coming back to what ‘Amrit Vela’ means according to Gurmat.
IT’S VELA NOT VELEY
Guru Nanak Used the Word ‘Vela’ and not ‘Veley’. Guru Nanak said ‘Amrit Vela Sach Nau’.
The word ‘Vela’ is a redefined Gurmat concept. It means period in time, which can mean anytime throughout the day, month or year. It does not specifically mean an auspicious time of the day based on ‘pehers’ (8 cycles of night and day).
‘Veley’ on the other hand can be referred to as a particular time of the day. For example, 3am.
In the next part of the same line, Guru Nanak says, “…Sach Nau, Vedeayii Vichaar”.
“Nau” (comes from the word Naam) – meaning Divine virtues. “Vedeayii Vichaar” – to ponder upon, to contemplate, to discuss the Creators greatness (literal); (Metaphor: to live ones life virtuously).
So, the correct translation of this verse would then be: That moment, is the greatest moment when one ponders upon, discusses, contemplates and lives their lifes based on the Creator’s Divine virtues.
Guru Nanak or even the entire Guru Granth Sahib does NOT mention anything about dawn, wee hours of the morning, ambrosial hours, Naam Japna, etc. So, where did these ideas come from? You know where from now. Don’t you think if a special auspicious time was important for Sikhs, our Gurus would have mentioned it at least once in SGGS?
DON’T FEEL GUILTY
Now that you know what is the Gurmat meaning of ‘Amrit Vela’, you don’t need to feel guilty if you’re unable to wake up at 3am. Remember! Amrit Vela can happen anytime throughout the day and not necessarily at 3am. If you feel like waking up at 3am, go ahead! If you don’t or can’t, its OK too!
About the Author: Amarjit Singh Gulati, who runs a Malaysian-based blockchain academy and manages a software solutions company, blogs on Sikhi at JeevanJach.com. This is an abridged version of the original article entitled What Is Amrit Vela According To Gurmat?
Gurbani vs Sacred Shrine. Who wins? (Asia Samachar, 6 May 2022)
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There is not a single sentence “against waking up early” in the write up and the video. Para 7 of the article reads: “It’s okay if you wish to wake up early, it’s a great feeling – you’ll be able to do more in a day (more time to spend) compared to others who don’t wake up as early as you.
So please read the article and watch the video, Dya Singh, and then comment.
There is however plenty in the article against trying to make “getting up early” an exercise in spirituality.
You write that you “know there are numerous pangatis which promote getting up pehlay peher.” Well, Pehlay peher is 6 am to 9 am. So if there are numerous pangatis that tell us to wake up between 6am till 9 am – then aren’t these pangatis “escape” routes as well?
So please read your pangatis with a little care, and then comment ji.
Btw, what do you have to say of the countless pangatis that are presented in the video that say there is nothing spiritual about dawn?
Though it is nice to provide ‘escape’ routes in getting out of waking up early, I know that there are numerous gurbani pangatis which promote getting up pehlay peher.