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Amrit Ki Hain - The Meaning of Sikh Baptism
Amrit Ki Hain - The Meaning of Sikh Baptism

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: Amrit Ki Hain:

Definition of Amrita: Nectar of Life

Definition of Amrita: Nectar of Life

KARTAR SINGH: Please explain to me: (1) What is Amrita: Nectar of Life in Sikhism? (2) How is it obtained through baptism (3) From where can one acquire Amrita? (4) How does one feel when tasting and drinking Amrita and what are its spiritual attributes ?

AUTHOR: In world history people have given many names to Amrita. In English it is called Nectar and in Persian they call it Abe-hyat. In Sikhism it is called Amrit. Amrit is that which brings the dead to life, and makes human beings immortal. These are also the attributes of Amrit in Sikhism. Seekers of many faiths have sought ways and means of becoming immortal, but the path shown by Guru Nanak based on moral and spiritual discipline to achieve Amrita is at once simple, convincing and ennobling. Everyone can put the Sikh ideals to practice. You do not have to perform any penance or self-mortification. You do not have to go to the forests or mountain caves. You can stay within the society as a householder and become spiritually immortal by taking Amrita. In the Kaliyuga-the age of moral and spiritual darkness, spiritual sovereignty of Guru Nanak is an accepted fact by the spiritually enlightened.

Guru Nanak's advent in this world
was to liberate the world. 1
Greatest of all prophets is Guru Nanak
who has illumined me. 2
The first three successors of Guru Nanak, (1469-1539) namely, Guru Angad (1504-1552 A.D.), Guru Amar Das (1552-1574), Guru Ram Das (1574-1581) had to face considerable physical suffering at the hands of the opponents and rivals for guruship. They remained unconcerned about the oppressive behaviour of the opponents, but they carried on the Dispensation of Amrit through baptism. Guru Arjan's brother sought the support of the Mughal rulers of Lahore to harass him and created many difficulties for him. Jahangir tortured Guru Arjan (1563-1606) to death and thus tried to put an end to Guru Arjan's dispensation of the Amrita, through dissemination of Sikh Faith. Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) suffered imprisonment. He fought four battles with the Mughal rulers. There was also a vigorous struggle and campaign by the impostor gurus (Minas and Dhirmallas) to replace the true Guru, but did no succeed. When Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1644) was declared the true successor by Guru Hari Krishan (1656-1657) and was found at Bakala, 22 impostor gurus and fake Sodhis set themselves as rival gurus. The Sikhs selected the true one because the real amrit (Nectar) of baptism and true divine inspiration comes from the true Guru. At Bakala, where all impostor gurus were put to test by the disciples, Guru Tegh Bahadur was accepted as the only true Guru. All other pretenders were rejected by the Sikh Sangat.

Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) changed the whole pattern of dispensation of Amrit and unlike all other prophets, he authorised every five accomplished and authentic Sikhs to give Amrit through baptism. The struggle for guruship by ambitious individuals ended once for all. All Sikh and non-Sikh historians have unanimously reported how the first five Sikhs authorised to baptise according to the New Order of the Khalsa were selected. It is also recorded that Guru Gobind Singh gave such importance to the New Dispensation that he asked them to give this baptism to him also. Thus Guru Gobind Singh did what perhaps no prophet or Apostle of God had done. He thus instituted the collective leadership of the Khalsa Elect as his successors. Some non-Sikh chroniclers were also eye witness to this.

From Guru Nanak to the middle of the life of Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikh Gurus initiated disciples according to the rites of charan-pahul amrit. In this ceremony the Gurus personally prepared the baptismal water with the sanctifying touch of his lotus feet. Guru Gobind Singh changed only the formal rites of preparation of Amrit from the initiation by the living Gurus personally to initiation by the Five Elect Khalsa. The basic principle of Amrit remained the same. It is scientific in the sense mesmerism and other such phenomenon are scientific on a different plane. There is hardly any better form of imparting Amrit, (the immortalising Nectar).

KARTAR SINGH: I have not as yet clearly understood how Guru Gobind Singh's baptism of the double edged sword is the same Amrit as that of the earlier Charan-pahul ceremony? How and why was the technique changed? What do you mean by saying it is scientific?

AUTHOR: I have already made it clear in my answer to the last question that only the formal methods of imparting Amrit changed. Instead of the Guru personally initiating the novice, the five Enlightened Elect, the Khalsa, who stand the test of living strictly according to the Code of Sikhism initiated the novices. This was done to save the Sikh community from the impostor gurus. There was to be no human guru after Guru Gobind Singh. The new baptism was in letter and spirit the same. You have certain scientific principles governing the laws of nature behind electricity and mesmerism. Similar principles are there in these ceremonies and the baptismal Water seen from the purely mental and spiritual planes.

KARTAR SINGH: Do you mean to say that the technique of electricity and mesmerism were used during the period of Guru Gobind Singh. I have travelled in Canada and U.S.A. I have seen many shows depicting the powers of mesmerism and electricity (before 1914) but I have not seen any of these powers being used by the Sikhs who have been baptised according to Khalsa baptism rites. Mesmerism has its own technique of acquiring inner power and sometimes one who practices mesmerism fails to achieve what he wishes to achieve. With the power he acquires, he can influence only a certain type of people and not everyone. Electricity with all its wires, plugs and bulbs can give light and if anything goes wrong anywhere the bulb will not give light.

[Discussion continued in Chapter 5]

1. Bhai Gurdas Var, Var 1, pauri.
2. Adi Guru Granth: G. Arjan, Suhi p 750

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