Our Ardas

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

The word Ardas is derived from Persian word 'Arazdashat', meaning a request, a supplication, a prayer, a petition or an address to a superior authority

In a congregational setting, the ardas is recited by one member of the assemblage with everyone standing reverentially, hands in prayer pose, 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" . Immediately after uttering these words, one member of the assembly states the phrase, Bole So Nihal, "he who pronounces these words shall be fulfilled". 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.

In the Sikh religion, Ardas is a series of three formal prayers recited before the congregation of a gurudwara.

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 Ė may we enjoy his protection everywhere.

God is One. All victory is of the Wondrous Guru (God).

May the respected sword (God in the form of the Destroyer of evil doers) help us! Ode of the respected sword recited by the Tenth Guru.

First remember the sword (God in the form of Destroyer of evil doers); then remember and meditate upon Guru Nanak.

Then remember and meditate upon Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das: May they help us!

Remember and meditate upon Guru Arjan, Guru Hargobind and Respected Guru Har Rai.

Remember and meditate upon respected Guru Har Krishan, by having the sight of whom, all pains vanish.

Remember and meditate upon Guru Tegh Bahadur; and then nine sources of wealth will come hastening to your home. Oh Respected Gurus!

May the kind, the respected Tenth Guru Gobind Singh assist us everywhere.

Think and meditate upon the divine light of the Ten Kings contained in the respected Guru Granth Sahib and turn your thoughts to the divine teachings of and
Get pleasure by the sight of Guru Granth Sahib; Utter Wahe Guru (Wondrous God)!

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.

Think of the deeds of the Five Beloved Ones, of the four sons (of Guru Gobind Singh)...

...of the Forty Emancipated ones...

...of the brave Sikhs of indomitable determination;

Of the devotees steeped in the colour of the Name; of those who were absorbed in the Name; of those who remembered the Name and shared their food in companionship; of those who started free kitchens...

...of those who wielded their swords (for preserving truth); of those who overlooked others shortcomings; All the aforesaid were pure and truly devoted ones...

...Utter Wahe Guru (Wondrous God)! Think of and remember the unique service rendered by those brave Sikh men as well as women,

... 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...

...who got their scalps removed; Who were tied and rotated on the wheels and broken into pieces...

...who were cut by saws; Who were flayed alive; Who sacrificed themselves to upkeep the dignity of the Gurdwaras...

...who did not abandon their Sikh faith; Who kept their Sikh Religion and saved their long hair till their last breath; Utter Wahe Guru (Wondrous God)!

Third Section

The third sectionís 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 Guruís 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.

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.

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 endeavours 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.

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 Guruís 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).