MY PRAYER TIME
AUTHOR: A RESPECTED MEMBER OF SIKHI VICHAR FORUM WATTSAPP GROUP
Time is a man-made construct. In Sanskrit time is termed KAAL. So we call the Creator as AKAAL, since God is beyond time.
It follows then that everything that flows out of this man-made construct is also man-made. Things like 24 hours, 7 days a week, 12 months, 365 days per year are all man-made and are different across periods of time and cultures. As an example, when Guru Nanak Ji wrote the Banee, it was 8 Peher, Gharees, and 13 months in a year.
Things such as names of days, months, seasons, which month to start the year etc are also man-made and vary across civilizations. Because today the dominant culture is western we have accepted 1st January as beginning of the New Year.
The majority of us get stuck in the superficial words instead of going deeper and rising higher spiritually. The ONE we aim to MEET is beyond time – days, months, years new or not.
Because we are Indian we have also accepted the Lunar Calendar with a different new year (1st Vesakh). Now some Sikhs have come out with a Sikh Calender – Nanakshahi – which states that Chet is the new year.
(SGGS 133 Rag Maajh M:5)
ਚੇਤਿ ਗੋਵਿੰਦੁ ਅਰਾਧੀਐ ਹੋਵੈ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਘਣਾ ॥
Chet Govind Aradheay Hovey Anand Ghana.
When meditating on the Lord of the Universe, a deep and profound joy arises.
When Guru ji mentioned CHET he was drawing on the name of the month, but NOT referring to the month of Chet. He was referring to cheta as in remembrance.
If we take CHET to mean the month of Chet then we can ask- what about the other months? No need to do ARADHEAY of GOVIND?
The point remains that all these things are man-made. When we start to claim that one particular calendar year is superior to the other, then it is a pointless argument. And it becomes a bigger issue when we claim that Gurbani says a particular beginning of a new year or a particular month or date is the real one.
Gurbani makes no claim about a particular hour, day, month or year being superior. For those who are into Gurbani VICHAR this is the only thing that matters.
Claims about Guru Nanak’s banee being too tough, Baba Buddha ji complaining about it to Guru Arjun ji and the 5th Guru rewriting it, Sikhs being asked to celebrate Chet, Sangrand etc – are all problematic.
Also defective are claims that KUDRAT started in spring and a new year cannot begin in January because it is winter and too cold. But consider that when it is summer in the northern hemisphere isn’t it winter in the south? Thus half the world has no winter in January.
Forcing Chet to be the beginning of a new year is as bad as forcing January. Surely we have done enough VICHAR to be able to rise above this?
(SGGS 305 Rag Gauree M : 4)
ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਜੋ ਸਿਖੁ ਅਖਾਏ ਸੁ ਭਲਕੇ ਉਠਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥
ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰੇ ਭਲਕੇ ਪਰਭਾਤੀ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰਿ ਨਾਵੈ ॥
Gur Satgur Ka Jo Sikh Akhaey So Bhalkey Uth Har Naam Dhiaveh
Udam Karey Bhalkey Parbhatee Isnan Karey Amrit Sar Naveh
(One who calls himself a Sikh of the Guru the True Guru shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord’s Name.
Upon arising early in the morning, he is to bathe, and cleanse himself in the pool of nectar).
The word UTH refers to “awaken”. When AWAKEN is used, then the state of “sleep, slumber, ” etc is assumed as a given. Only someone asleep or in slumber is asked to awaken.
Given that life is short, the more important concern is WHEN to awaken. There is such a thing as awakening late and too late. Gurbani stresses timely awakening.
An example is in this verse.
(SGGS 418 Rag Thithee Gauri M :1)
ਜਾਗਹੁ ਜਾਗਹੁ ਸੂਤਿਹੋ ਚਲਿਆ ਵਣਜਾਰਾ ॥੧॥
Jago Jago Suteyo Chaleya Vanjara.
The illustration is that of a caravan (VANJARA). They sleep the night and leave very early in the morning. Those who don’t awaken on a timely basis will miss the caravan and never catch up.
So BHALKEY gives us the context of “early” or “timely” awakening.
The linguistic meaning of BHALKEY is “Morning”. The Punjabi equivalent is SAWERA – the start of the day. Hence the translation of BHALKEY to mean at the earliest opportunity (without delay) in one’s lifespan.
(SGGS 2 Jup Banee M: 1)
ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥
Amrit Vela Sach Nao Vadeayee Vichar
This verse is a definition of Amrit Vela in the spirituality of Guru Nanak. It comes on page 2 of the SGGS and will apply across the 1429 pages.
Amrit Vela is defined as that time during which a Sikh contemplates on the Vadeayee (glory) of Naam (Godly virtues), and undertakes discourse of the vichar (shabad). The neutral vela (time) is being turned into AMRIT as an outcome of our activities.
An important point to note in this verse (Amrit Vela Sach Nao Vadeayee Vichar) is that the word VELA makes it clear that it is a definition of AMRIT VELA. So in Guru Nanak’s Sikhi – there is no such thing as a READY MADE Amrit Vela from 3-6 am or whatever.
The translation is therefore : AMRIT VELA is that moment when Godly praise and GODLY VICHAR takes place.
If the verse was referring to the READY MADE Amrit Vela of 3 am, then the verse would have been AMRIT (VEYLEY) SACH NAON and the translation would thus be that (DURING) THE AMRIT VELA – ready made and existing from 3-6 am, DO Godly praise and VICHAR.
There is a world of difference between VELA and VEYLEY.
The second verse is on page1285.
(SGGS 1285 Rag Malar M : 3 )
ਬਾਬੀਹਾ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੈ ਬੋਲਿਆ ਤਾਂ ਦਰਿ ਸੁਣੀ ਪੁਕਾਰ ॥
Babeeha Amrit Veley Boleya Ta Dar Sunee Pukaar
The literal meaning is that the papeeha bird chirps at a fixed time (2am till 4 6am) and its chirping is thus heard by God. Are we to believe that God does not hear the chirping of the bird at other times?
But Gurbani is NOT for birds and not about birds either. So the word BABEEHA has to be understood using GURBANI (and NOT any university research report).
There are many other verses, some are shared here.
(SGGS 1262 Rag Malar M : 3)
ਬਾਬੀਹਾ ਖਿਨੁ ਖਿਨੁ ਬਿਲਲਾਇ ॥
Babeeha Khin Khin Bil Laye.
The bird keeps chirping every second.
(SGGS 1283 Rag Malar M : 3)
ਬਾਬੀਹਾ ਭਿੰਨੀ ਰੈਣਿ ਬੋਲਿਆ ਸਹਜੇ ਸਚਿ ਸੁਭਾਇ ॥
Babeeha Bhinee Raen Boleya Sahejey Sach Subhaey
The bird chirps even in the night.
(SGGS 1285 Rag Malar M : 3)
ਬਾਬੀਹਾ ਇਵ ਤੇਰੀ ਤਿਖਾ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਜੇ ਸਉ ਕਰਹਿ ਪੁਕਾਰ ॥
ਨਦਰੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਨਦਰੀ ਉਪਜੈ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥
Babeeha Ev Teri Tikha Na Uttrey Jay Sao Karee Pukaar.
Nadree Satgur Paiyeh Nadree Upjey Pyaar.
Your thirst will not be quenched even if you chirped over a hundred times. God is attained through His blessings and through love (not empty chirping)
(SGGS 1283 Rag Malar M : 3)
ਬਾਬੀਹਾ ਏਹੁ ਜਗਤੁ ਹੈ ਮਤ ਕੋ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇ ॥
Babeeha Eh Jagat Hai Mut Ko Bhram Bhulaye.
Have no qualms, our world (meaning all of us) are babeehas.
When we put all these verses (and another 20 more regarding BABEEHA) together we understand that Babeeha refers to a desirous human mind – one deeply desirous to meet God.
So Gurbani is telling our babeeha (mind) to stop unnecessary chirping, and seek His blessings through love. Make your life into Amrit Vela (by doing Vadeayee VICHAR) and O babeeha mind, your pleas to satisfy your desire will be achieved.
Charey Divas (literally at day break when the sun rises) refers to the awakened / alert (the Bhalkey Uth) state of the mind. Gurbani Gavey (literally singing) actually refers to the contemplation / understanding of the Gurbani MESSAGES. Not just singing musically.
True GAVEYA is defined in this verse.
(SGG 669 Rag Thanasree M : 4)
ਗਾਵਿਆ ਸੁਣਿਆ ਤਿਨ ਕਾ ਹਰਿ ਥਾਇ ਪਾਵੈ ਜਿਨ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਆਗਿਆ ਸਤਿ ਸਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਮਾਨੀ ॥੧॥
Gaveya Suneya Tin Ka Har Thaey Pavey, Jin Satgur Kee Agiya Sat Sat Kar Manee
The listening and singing that is accepted and of value towards Godly realization is one that leads to internalization of the AGIYA (message) of the Guru.
Such GAVEY can only take place in the CHAREY DIVAS state of mind or an awakened /alert state of mind.
Gurbani Principles on Time
What then are the GURBANI principles regarding VELA or TIME? Here are the basic ones.
1) Time on its own is NEUTRAL. Because time is a man-made concept, there cannot be a set or fixed time that is good or bad. Hence there is no such thing as an auromatically good (auspicious) amrit time or a bad time.
2) TIME is good or bad depending on what we DO during that particular time.
(SGGS 99 Rag Maajh M : 5)
ਧੰਨੁ ਸੁ ਵੇਲਾ ਜਿਤੁ ਮੈ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਮਿਲਿਆ ॥
Dhan So Vela Jit Meh Satgur Mileya ||
Greatly auspicious is all that time within which I meet with my Guru.
(SGGS 115 Rag Maajh M : 3)
ਵੇਲਾ ਵਖਤ ਸਭਿ ਸੁਹਾਇਆ ॥ ਜਿਤੁ ਸਚਾ ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਇਆ ॥
Vela Vakat Sab Suhaya || Jit Sacha Merey Man Bhaeya ||
ALL of time and period during which Godly love blossoms in my mind is auspicious.
(SGGS 540 Rag Bihagra M : 4)
ਸਾ ਵੇਲਾ ਸੋ ਮੂਰਤੁ ਸਾ ਘੜੀ ਸੋ ਮੁਹਤੁ ਸਫਲੁ ਹੈ ਮੇਰੀ ਜਿੰਦੁੜੀਏ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਮੇਰਾ ਚਿਤਿ ਆਵੈ ਰਾਮ ॥
Sa Vela So Moorat Sa Gharee So Muhet Safal Hai Meri Jindereeye Jit Har Mera Chit Avey Raam
That time, that period, that hour, that month is indeed blessed O mind of mine – within which remembrance of God is undertaken.
3) A Sikh CREATES his Amrit Vela by doing Amrit actions. The aim is to make his or her entire life span into an unending Amrit Vela.
(SGGS 35 Sri Rag M : 3)
ਜੇ ਵੇਲਾ ਵਖਤੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੀਐ ਤਾ ਕਿਤੁ ਵੇਲਾ ਭਗਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥
Ja Vela Vakat Vichareeai Ta Kit Vela Bhagatee Hoey ||
Consider the time and the moment-when should we worship the Lord?
(SGGS 44 Sri Rag M : 5)
ਸਭੇ ਥੋਕ ਪਰਾਪਤੇ ਜੇ ਆਵੈ ਇਕੁ ਹਥਿ ॥
Sabhay Thok Parapatey Jaye Aveh Ek Hath ||
All things are received if the One is obtained.
(SGGS 55 Sri Rag M : 1)
ਤਿਥੈ ਕਾਲੁ ਨ ਸੰਚਰੈ ਜੋਤੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੬॥
Titheh Kaal Na Sanchreh Jotee Jot Samaey
Death does not go there; your light shall merge with the Light.
(SGGS 622 Rag Sorath M : 5)
ਸਾਸਿ ਸਾਸਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਧਿਆਈਐ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਮੰਗਲੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਗਾਈਐ ॥
Sas Sas Prab Dhiaeeh || Har Mangal Nanak Gaeeh |
With each and every breath, meditate on God;
O Nanak, sing the songs of joy to the Lord.
There is no denying that the morning hours render us fresh and alert and the period is thus good for any kind of activity – including Vadeayee VICHAR.
But the claim that a certain time period is better or superior for spiritual activity is NOT supported by Gurbani and gurmat.