Ardas, Prayer, prayer request

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Ardas is a humble prayer to God with Guru Granth as witness. It is the instrument of expressing faith in the Lord, surrendering to Him and putting oneself to His care. It is the projection of the hope of the man.
The natural forces scared primitive man and his feelings were labeled as a fear. He adjusted to them in time and his fear was replaced be awe. It gave him the realization of a Higher Manifestation responsible for controlling the natural forces having unlimited power. This made his mind to set into the frame of a total submission to that manifestation - Supreme Being, the Lord. His submission changed into reverence for Him and it transformed into love - obverse of his fear. Fear, passing through all these stages changed into love and it produced sense of security for him. He started looking to Him for his protection, preservation and continuity. This was the birth of his invocation. The supplication from the primitive man, came down to various religions as their prayer and to the Sikhs, as their Ardas.

Ardas (Request), is modification of a Persian word "Arz-dasht' and in Urdu, it means a petition, an appeal, "Arz Karna"- a humble submission. Apparently, it has nothing to do with the Sanskrit, but Gursabd Ratnakar (Bhai Kahn Singh), gives its meanings as Ard - to ask for (Beg), Aas - desired thing. The word prayer is insufficient to express the sentiment of Ardas because in the Sikhs, it will denote reading or recitation of the scriptures, meditation on the Holy Name of the Lord or Simran.


This prayer of a few minutes has in it about 530 years of the development of the Sikh history. Its main motives are -

1) To keep reviving the Sikh heritage, history, sacrifices and achievements. It is a recognition of and "Thanks-giving" to those who struggled and sacrificed themselves for the Sikh-Faith.

2) To get courage for High morale, from the sacrifices of the Gurus and the Sikhs.

3) To inculcate self-respect and fearlessness from the examples of martyrdoms, for remaining firm in the faith, fighting for rights, freedom of the religion, its practices and places, and to stand by the truth.

4) To develop universal love and a desire to help the week and the needy by seeking good for all - a quality to live selflessly for others.

5) It is an expression of faith in God. It keeps attached to the Lord. In itself, an Ardas is a kind of Simran (remembering God) and there is no doubt that Simran is a modified Ardas.

6) It means total surrender to His will and a request for strength to accept it.

7) Living according to the Sikh-tenets. To lead a life of a high order free from every thing base and freedom from attachments to keep evolving.

8) A promise. not to show back to a decision once made. (Maharaja Ranjit Singh said Ardas and did not fear to cross the raging river Attock. Akali Phula Singh, after performing it, did not stop to attack an outnumbered enemy-buildup at Naushehra).

As a set tradition, it is performed at the culmination of the morning and evening prayer and at the start or end of any religious function or program in the Gurdwara, house or anywhere else and at every occasion of joy or sorrow in a family. Every congregational invocation and one after completing a Paath (Prayer) out of Nitnem (Daily routine) and before starting or after completing recitation of Guru Granth Sahib, is always a Panthic one (Institutional). A personal or a Sampardaik (Of a sect) supplication may or may not be exactly so.

The Sikh religion started with the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji who emphasized devotion to one God. All the succeeding Gurus promoted this belief. Sikhs often pay homage to God through meditation (Naam Japna), reading Sri Guru Granth Sahib and by singing of the hymns. At the end Ardaas is recited. The first five lines of the present Ardaas were composed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in poetry (up to 'Teg Bahader Simariae'). It is said that Bhai Mani Singh Ji made many additions including the names of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Panj Piare (the five loved ones), Char Sahibzade (the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji), and Chali Mukte (the forty who attained salvation) and gave it the basic form of modern Ardaas. Further additions were made by various Sikh scholars at different times and are reflective of Sikh struggles. Thus every time Ardaas is recited a thought is reflected upon of all those Sikhs who laid down their lives for the sake of the community. The martyrs are not remembered by name, but by the tortures they suffered and the bravery they showed in sticking to the principles of their religion. They became an example for the generations to follow. The contents of Ardaas and its final format were approved by the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

Ardaas is mainly composed of three parts. It begins in poetry by describing the role of the first nine Gurus in relation to God, then about Guru Gobind Singh Ji, followed by the important milestones in Sikh history. Thereafter it includes a plea to God for grace on whole of the humanity and the Khalsa and ends with the purpose of the gathering. Although on most of the occasions the whole of Ardaas is recited, at certain occasions a shorter version is recited instead. In the shorter version of Ardaas the names of martyrs are omitted. This type of Ardaas is usually recited after Sohila, before the beginning or at the end of a meal at a function.
The Book titled "ARDAAS" , In Punjabi Language by Sr. Jaswant Singh Neki, Published by M/s Singh Bros., Mai Sewa, Amritsar India, is the best one to understand all the aspects and word to word meanings of ARDAS.

To get this book you may write to the publisher or ask us for a free copy.
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