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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:

The method of imparting Khalsa Baptism

The method of imparting Khalsa Baptism

AUTHOR: You, Bhai Kartar Singh, are a baptised Sikh. You have joined the Panj Pyaras: Five Elect, to baptise others. Yet, how sad it is that you have not understood the spiritual mystery of baptism. For Khalsa baptism the following things are essential:

1. For administering the Amrit (Sikh baptism) you require five Sikhs who are competent to administer the baptism by having lived according to the Khalsa Code of Conduct. Besides these five, there should be one Granthi, (Reader of the Guru Granth) to preside over the ceremony by reading from the Guru Granth at appropriate moments; (before and after the ceremony). All these six persons should be contemplatives of divine Name, well versed in Gurbani, and they should be regular in their prayers. None of them should have committed any act transgressing the Khalsa Code of Conduct. They must not only be morally sound but also physically complete.

2. Although the Sikh Sangat elects the Panj Pyaras, but still they are asked to tell the truth about their inner life on oath of secrecy. Those who have committed any moral offence which are not permitted by the Sikh Code of Conduct are rejected and replaced. If there is a minor transgression he is given some corrective punishment, and prayer is said seeking forgiveness for him. (Punishment is generally in the form of obligatory duties for a fixed period in the form of public service or special prayers to be recited daily for a certain period). This is like testing the wires, plugs and the sources of electric power.

3. Then those who seek baptism are put to test. Only sincere seekers competent to live according to the Khalsa Code are accepted. The rest are asked to continue as novices till their preparations are complete. This is like testing the bulbs. Just as useless bulbs are rejected, so also those who are not fit for baptism are rejected. Just as one accepts only those bulbs which can receive electricity, so also the Five Elect (Panj Pyaras) select only those people for baptism who are mentally and spiritually prepared for it.

4. Then all those selected for baptism stand before the Holy Guru Granth, behind the Panj Pyaras. They are told by the Jathedar (leader) of the Panj Pyaras the Cardinal beliefs of the Khalsa Code of Conduct. They are also warned about the difficulties of the Path and the ordeals they might have to face. They take an oath from them that they would be prepared to sacrifice their life for their Faith and for righteousness.

If you yearn to play the game of Love with me,
Carry your head on your palm in humble dedication.1
Then enter the path of my Faith
If on this path you wish to tread
Hesitate not to sacrifice your head.2
Those who commit themselves to this spirit of dedication are given baptism. Those who hesitate to do so are rejected. They are considered unfit for baptism and are turned out. They should either prepare themselves as novices for a longer period or give up the idea.

5. According to the unwritten laws laid down for the ceremony, an iron bowl, a double edged sword, sugar-pellets (Patashas) are brought for the ceremony.

6. Even before the ceremony starts the Panj Pyaras come after taking bath and washing their hair. They wear clean clothes and if possible ceremonial robes and sword. The novices also come prepared similarly with five Symbols and clean clothes. The Invocation prayer (ardasa) is first offered by the Panj Pyaras seeking grace and forgiveness for all, praying that they all should courageously tread the Path of dharma and keep away from the life of evil and sin. Then they sit concentrating their mind on the divine Presence of God. The sweet pellets (patashas) are then poured into the iron bowl filled with water, and then sitting around it in Vir-asana: an archer's pose, the Panj Pyaras hold the bowl with both their hands. It is through this contact that they impart their magnetism to the bowl of baptismal water.

7. The Panj Pyaras recite the five morning prayers (Japji, Jap, Anand Sahib, the Swaiyias and Kabiobach Benti Chaupai of Guru Gobind Singh), one each by turn, clockwise.

He who recites the prayers holds the double-edged sword in his hands and moves it in baptismal water in slow grinding motion. From the hearts of the Panj Pyaras divine power sheds its light through their eyes on the baptismal water, and their magnetic touch and recitation of the Sacred Hymns impart certain mesmeric divine powers to water. There is also a spiritual communication between all the Five Pyaras through this communion. In the presence of Guru Granth the spiritual and mystic power of the Panj Pyaras manifests itself as the collective divine power of Guru Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, embodied in the Guru Granth.

When the recitations of the five prayers are over, the Panj Pyaras lift the bowl and then say the Invocational Prayer (Ardasa). After the Ardasa, the Panj Pyaras offer the baptismal water to every novice and impart to him the gurumantram. According to their spiritual competence and sincerity in devotion and faith, they receive the grace and illumination in this spiritual rebirth.

KARTAR SINGH: You have said something about mesmeric powers, but I have not understood it clearly.

AUTHOR: Those who are accepting Amrit (baptism) should keep their eyes open. Baptismal water is sprinkled in the eyes. The Panj Pyaras cast their divine spell through inner power. The novice keeps his eyes open till all the five have sprinkled Amrit (baptismal water) in the eyes. With each sprinkling of Amrit, the Name of God is imparted and recited loudly. If the novice receives the Amrit and the Name with eyes and ears open he feels transfigured by the mesmeric powers of the divine Name from the Panj Pyaras. He forgets his body and becomes unconscious of physical joys and sorrows. The mind is absorbed in the Name of God. Some pass into ecstasy as soon as they receive the Guru-mantram and become unconscious of their body. Some are deeply absorbed in the contemplation of His Name. Now I think, I should answer the first question: How do we define Amrit (Nectar) in Gurmat: Sikh philosophy. I have already explained how this Amrit (Nectar) is formally acquired by a Sikh. People all over the world have different views about Amrit (Ambrosia) but it should be made clear what it means in the Guru Granth Sahib.

"He who drinks Amrit (Nectar) become immortal."3 Says Nanak, there is but One Amrit. Nothing else can be Amrit."4 The first quotation convinces us that whoever drinks Amrit becomes immortal. The second quotation makes it clear that there is only One Amrit in Essence. Nothing besides it is Amrit. The third quotation: "The Word of God is the only Amrit"5 makes it clear that in the religious and mystical field, the Word of God alone is the Amrit in Essence and Substance.

"The Name of God is the Amrit. It is the panacea of all ills."6 "The Hymns of the divine Master are Amrit brimming with the flavour of nectar and in it the Name of God is Amrit drinking which all thirst is slaked."8 Remembering and repeating the Name of God one drinks Amrit and nectar fills the heart."9 The Name of God is Amrit and one can contemplate the Name only under the love and inspiration of the true Guru."10 The ambrosial Name of God is the treasure of life. Join in the communion of drinking it O Brother." "O my darling soul, the Name of God is Amrit and one acquires it from the Guru's Path."12

KARTAR SINGH: Where does Amrit really dwell, and through what kind of devotion can it be found?

AUTHOR: Listen with concentrated attention to what the scriptures say in answer to these questions: "Says Nanak, Amrit dwells within your own heart and mind, but it is revealed by the true Guru. They alone drink it with intoxicating joy, who have been blessed by the Primal Being.13 "Within the heart resides the Amrit rasa (ambrosial drink); one enjoys it when one sings the Name of God and meditates on it with aesthetic contemplation (ras bicara). Those who by the Guru's grace have experienced and known the Amrit they drink it and become immortal, thus achieving the door of liberation."14

"Nine are the doors (aperture of the body) insipid are the joys of these sense doors. At the tenth door of superconsciousness one experiences the tasting of Amrit (Elixir).15 "Infinite and precious is the name of God. It is the one supreme treasure. All happiness, peace, and bliss, "says Guru Nanak, can be acquired only from the true Guru."16 "Drink and enjoy this Amrit within your mind. Wonderful and Inexpressible are its tastes and experiences. They cannot be described."18 "Within your own being is a brimming fountain of Amrit. You can know how it tastes and what its significance are only if one drinks it."19

"The Name of God is the Amrit and the Treasure of all treasures. You will find it within your body "20 "The true Guru has given me God's Name as the Amrita. It lights the path in the life and death "21 "The true Name of God is the fruit of immortality. Through the inspiration of the Guru one takes it to one's fill and achieves peace and enlightenment."22 "God has placed the Amrita within the very centre of man's being, but only few God illumined souls drink it." "God's Name as Amrita is the real inner treasure which one acquires only from the true Guru."24 "Within ones own heart is the hidden spring of Amrit. Those who search for it outside their own self suffer greatly in wilderness."25

It is clear from all these quotations from Gurbani that the ambrosial Name of God is acquired from within one's own Self. But it can be achieved only by the grace of the true prophet (Satguru). It cannot be acquired from any shop of false prophets at any price. The true Lord is the custodian of this immortalising treasure. From the true Guru and by God's grace can it be attained." We quote from the scriptures again:

"So precious is the Name of God,
It cannot be bought for any price.
It cannot be acquired from any shop.
Perfect it is in its value which never becomes less or is reduced.26
The precious Water for which
you have come to the world,
Can be acquired only from the Guru.27
The Name of God is the Amrita:
The remembrance of His Name pleases God.
On achieving spiritual communion with the Guru
You can drink Amrit to your satisfaction.28
My mind, live in obedience to God's Will.
You will then dwell in Your inner Mansion.
You will attain peace and Presence of God.29
Truth is the Amrita (Ambrosia);
Speak and utter the Ambrosial Word.
You can acquire this Amrit,
from the perfect Apostle of God.30
The ambrosial Name of God
is ever the source of peace and happiness.
By the grace and wisdom of the Guru
It dwells in the heart and the mind.31
Men and gods, seers and ascetics
all seek the Elixir of immortality.
This Amrita can be acquired
only from the true Apostle.
The true Apostle showed compassion and grace,
and gave Elixir to the true seeker.32
The seekers and the adept,
all seek the Name and Presence of God.
They have exhausted their efforts
by concentration and meditations.
Without the true Enlightener
No one can attain His Presence,
On meeting the Guru,
true communion with God is achieved.33
Who has ever crossed the Ocean of life,
Without contemplating His Name?
Without the grace of the Guru
how can one reach the shore of safety.34
How can one acquire divine knowledge
without being initiated into mystical experiences.
How can one achieve perfect contemplation
Without seeing His Light.
Without reverence all talk of religion is evil
These, O Nanak, are reflections on the
Door to His Presence.35
The treasure of glorification of the Most High
is a gift of God's grace.
He whom He graciously gives
tastes it and disseminates it.
One cannot achieve it
without the grace of the true Lord.
Many have exhausted themselves in vain efforts.36
It is quite clear from the quotations given above that the true ambrosial Name cannot be acquired from anyone except the true Apostle of God, and without attaining this divine gift, illumination and liberation is not possible. Siddhas, Yogis, ascetics, monks have tried hard to attain illumination but without the grace of the true prophet it cannot be attained. Guru Granth is the Embodiment of the Spirit of the Gurus. The Eternal Light and Presence of Guru Nanak is described thus in the Sikh scriptures:
Greatest of all is the true Guru Nanak
Who has been my Saviour in the dark age.37
Nanak is my Guru
My Guru is the true Guru,
I have achieved the Presence of the true Guru.38
Nanak is my Guru,
He is the perfect Guru
meeting whom I contemplate His Name.39
In the Kaliyuga Guru Nanak has liberated mankind.
He has imparted the true Name to his disciples.
Guru Nanak has come to the world
to liberate mankind.40
Guru Nanak is the very image
of the Supreme Being, the Perfect Lord.41
Guru Nanak Dev, the true Guru
was made the prefect prophet by God Himself.42
The true Guru Nanak is the true Sovereign
He is Fearless and infinite in Spirit.
He is the world teacher and the perfect image of God
visible to the naked eye of the adept.43
Guru Nanak, the true Guru,
is the Guru of all Gurus.44
1. Adi Guru Granth: Guru Nanak, Shloka Vadhik page. 1412
2. ibid
3. ibid : Guru Arjan : Sukhmani Ashtpa 12:8 page. 289
4. ibid : Guru Angad: Var Sarang page. 1238
5. ibid : Guru Amar Das: Var Sorath page. 644
6. ibid : Guru Amar Das: Var Bihagda p. 554
7. ibid : Guru Arjan Var Ramkall, p. 963
8. ibid : Guru Ram Das Var Malar p. 1283
9. ibid : Guru Ram Das : Var Kanada page. 1314
10. ibid : Guru Ram Das : Var Kanada page. 1316
11. ibid : Guru Arjan: Var Gaudi p. 318
12. ibid : Guru Ram Das: Var Bihagda p. 538
13. ibid : Guru Angad : Var Sarang p. 1238
14. ibid : Guru Ram Das: Var Sarang p. 1199
15. ibid : Guru Ram Das Ashtpa p. 1323
16. ibid : Guru Arjan: Dhanasari p. 672
17. ibid : Guru Arjan; Var Gujari p. 523
18. ibid : Guru Arjan: Suhi, p. 742
19. ibid : Guru Amar Das: Var Marti p. 1092
20. ibid : Guru Arjan : Sukhmani, Gaudi, page. 293
21. ibid: Guru Arjan, Sri Rag p. 49
22. ibid : Guru Nanak: Var Majh p. 150
23. ibid : Guru Amar Das, Var Ramkali p. 951
24. ibid : Guru Arjan Var Ramkali p. 961
25. ibid : Guru Nanak: Sorath p. 598
26. ibid : Guru Nanak: Var Maru p. 1087
27. ibid : Guru Nanak, Sorath p. 598
28. ibid : Guru Ram Das, Majh p. 95
29. ibid : Guru Amar Das, Sri Rag p. 37
30. ibid : Guru Ram Das, Majh p. 96
31 ibid : Guru Nanak, Majh Asht p. 109
32. ibid : Guru Amar Das, Ramkali Anand p. 918
33. ibid : Guru Amar Das, Var Sorath p. 650
34. ibid : Guru Arjan, Bhairon p. 1140
35. ibid : Guru Arjan, Bhairon p. 1140
36. ibid : Guru Ram Das, Var Bihagda p. 548
37. ibid : Guru Arjan, Suhi p. 750
38. ibid : Guru Ram Das, Kanada p. 1310
39. ibid : Guru Ram Das, Ramkali p. 882
40. Bhai Gurdas : Var, Pauri,
41. Bhai Gurdas : Var, Pauri
42. ibid Var, Pauri
43. ibid Var, Pauri
44. ibid Var, Pauri
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