The Low-Down on Amrit Vela

Why we should really care about Amrit Vela in the first place.

Jun 29, 2018: In this post, we’re covering the low-down on Amrit Vela: the importance, the definition, what we’re supposed to do, and tips for waking up on time.

Before we actually define what Amrit Vela is, let’s first try to understand just why we should really care about Amrit Vela in the first place.

Just how important IS Amrit Vela?

The importance of Amrit Vela can be easily understood through a short Sakhi from Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s time. When Guru Gobind Singh Ji left Anandpur Sahib, it was raining hard and the Sikhs with Guru Sahib Jee were attacked from behind by Mughal forces. The battle raged on even until the early hours of the morning, and when it was 3/3:30am, Guru Gobind Singh Ji announced it was Amrit Vela and time to start Asa Di Vaar. Mughal forces were still closing in from behind. Guru Jee said to divide the warriors: 250 were placed on guard, and 250 were to participate in Amrit Vela Saadh Sangat. Of the 250 that were placed on guard, ALL became Shaheed. Bhai Daya Singh Ji, the first panj pyaara, told Guru Ji this with tears in His eyes and asked was it really THAT important to do Asa Di Vaar and observe Amrit Vela, when the conditions were so harsh (raining, under attack, outnumbered, etc.). Guru Ji replied that even if all 500 of them had become Shaheed that morning, along with Guru Gobind Singh Ji and Bhai Daya Singh Jee, even then, it was a such good deal (i.e. they earned a profit). Even then, it would have been MORE THAN WORTH IT.

I can’t think of any other Sakhi that illustrates just how important Amrit Vela is for Sikhs. So… how important is Amrit Vela, then?

Amrit Vela is basically really REALLY super SUPER important… to the MAX!

What is Amrit Vela?

According to Bani it’s defined as pichhle pahar (the last 3-hour slot of the day, with a day starting at 6am). This means the last time slot of the day, 3:00am-5:59am, is Amrit Vela. However, it’s generally recognized that anytime between 12:00am to 5:59am is considered Amrit Vela.

Why is it important for Sikhs?

The following analogy will help us to understand. If Guru is a teacher and we Sikhs are students, then Amrit Vela is our class everyday.

It is our uninterrupted, dedicated time to Connect with Guru Ji and Vaheguru Jee. Again, our purpose in life is to Connect, so it’s actually a perfect system that Guru Ji set up to help us achieve our life’s purpose.

Furthermore, Bhai Surjit Singh Jee says that Amrit Vela is a Sikh’s Life force. If we don’t have Amrit Vela, we have nothing. He says that if we don’t observe Amrit Vela, we are essentially dead. This rings true with what Guru Gobind Singh Jee taught us through the Amrit Vela Sakhi at Sarsa Nadi (opening Sakhi, above) and what Bhagat Sheikh Fareed Ji says in Baani:

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How to practice Amrit Vela?

We can look to Baani for the answer to this question:

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The definition of Ishnaan is a bath between 12:00am – 5:59am (in other words, a bath during Amrit Vela).

So the practice of Amrit Vela looks like this:

  • Wake up between 12:00am – 5:59am (probably a bit sooner than 5:59am because we want to actually start Naam Jap during Amrit Vela hours!)
  • Shower/Bathe
  • Naam Jap (Connect with God). This can be with:
    1. Waheguru-Waheguru Jaap
    2. Mool Mantar Jaap
    3. 5 Bania Nitnem
    4. Asa Di Vaar
    5. Sukhmani Sahib, etc.
    6. Basically, do something and be consistent (do it daily!)

Methods for waking up early

It isn’t easy to wake up early, especially if you aren’t used to it or in the habit of it. It’s something that for many of us, is a constant struggle or battle, even after YEARS (yes, YEARS) of observing (yes, I’m admit, it’s STILL difficult for me too).

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Bhai Sukha Singh Jee uses this pangti from Gurbani to reinforce that it IS a fight for many of us to practice Amrit Vela. But it’s a fight worth fighting! Here are some tools (or weapons, if I may) that might help in this battle (until it’s no longer a battle because waking becomes easy):

  • Do ardaas for the gift of Amrit Vela. Ask Guru Ji for help in waking you up. Ask Guru Ji to give you a wake up call.
     
  • Go to sleep early. If you’re aiming to wake up anywhere between 3-5:45am, ensure you’re asleep by 10 at the LATEST. It would be even better to be in bed by 9:30 (which just so happens to be my target bedtime, by the way). Set an alarm on your phone that reminds you its time to get ready for bed now. I do this, and my alarm is set at 9pm currently and it works wonderfully!
     
  • Slowly move your bedtime down, and your wake time up. It’s more sustainable this way in the long term. So, if you are used to sleeping at 11pm, try moving your sleep time down by increments of 15 minutes. Try sleeping at 10:45pm for a few nights and then 10:30pm the next few nights, etc. This will allow your body clock to adjust to the new sleep time and to a new rhythm. Additionally, move your wake up time slowly up by 15 minutes. So, if you normally wake up at 8am, then go back 15 minutes at a time: 7:45am (for a few days), 7:30am (for a few days), etc. until you reach your ideal Amrit Vela wake up time!
     
  • Be consistent – NO ‘CHEAT’ DAYS. Don’t allow yourself to sleep in one day or to take a break from Amrit Vela for a day. Doing so can really set you back in your journey towards an ideal wake up time! Additionally, if Sikhs weren’t allowed to miss during the middle of an attack in the middle of pouring rain, the fact that it’s a weekend will probably not serve as a good excuse to miss Amrit Vela. Instead, consider taking a nap later on in the day or going back to sleep AFTER Amrit Vela is over. In fact, my husband and I do this on the weekends – “sleep-in Saturdays” or “sleep-in Sundays” where we sleep AFTER Amrit Vela is over, typically after a yummy breakfast.
     
  • DON’T hit snooze. It’s one way to lose valuable hours of Amrit Vela and maybe even completely miss it. Five minutes easily becomes five hours(!), especially when first starting to adopt Amrit Vela regularly. Even for those who have been regularly waking up for years, snooze can be deadly! Personally, I think I could probably finish all my Nitnem or most (like 75%-90%) of my Nitnem during Amrit Vela if I didn’t hit snooze!

 

Remember…

Sikhi is practical. We actually have to practice Sikhi to be considered a Sikh. And as we’ve seen, one of the most important aspects of being a Sikh is observing Amrit Vela. In fact, Guru Ram Das Ji said that only THAT person can call themselves a Sikh if s/he wakes up for Amrit Vela:

Gur.PNG

I suppose then it makes perfect sense as to why Guru Gobind Singh Jee said that even if He and all 500 Singhs died at that time, it still would’ve been worth it to observe Amrit Vela. Because to a Sikh, Sikhi is everything. Above family, above friends, above worldly, material, and bodily comforts. Above life. Above EVERYTHING! That’s why so many Shaheeds in our Panth chose Shaheedi over giving up their Sikhi. And if in order to call oneself a Sikh, we must practice Amrit Vela, then we should all strive to make an earnest attempt, every day, to wake up and choose Sikhi. For the alternative (not practicing Amrit Vela) means that we cannot call ourselves Sikh. And for a Sikh to not to remain in Sikhi, well… hundreds of years of history demonstrates to us that death is preferable.

Sant Baba Attar Singh Ji Mastuane Vale did Bachan about Chardi Kala in the Khalsa. Baba Ji said that Chardi Kala will come to the Sikh Panth once the Sikh Panth starts waking up at 2 am, doing ishnaan, and starting their Nitnem Abiyaas (practice of Connection). Basically, once the Sikh Panth starts to practice Amrit Vela, we will be blessed with Chardi Kala.

Now… Let’s set some alarms! Who’s with me?

Resources

Bhai Surjit Singh Jee on the Importance of Amrit Vela (Punjabi)
Bhai Baljit Singh Jee on What Time is Amrit Vela (Basics of Sikhi, English)
Basics of Sikhi Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s 52 Hukams – Hukam #4 Wake up Amrit Vela
Bhai Sukha Singh on Waking up Amrit Vela (English & Punjabi)
Sant Isher Singh Ji Rarre Vale Amrit Vela Bachan – Guru Nanak Dev Ji & Kaljug Sakhi (Punjabi)
Bhai Pinderpal Singh Ji – Gurmat Veechar about Amrit Vela and Effort (Punjabi)

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