Nitnem - A Step Towards God

Nitnem is an everyday tool for spiritual connection

"Nitnem" is combination of two words NIT means every day and NEM means regularly.

Simply it just says: “that everyday habit,” “that daily practise.” This word is most commonly heard in Sikh preaching. Everyone can be heard discussing about it. There are different meanings and teachings related to this strong word in the Sikh religion.

According to our religion, this habit consists of daily banis (verses,) that are each to be recited at different times of day by Sikhs every morning, evening and before going to sleep. Morning nitnem banis are Japji sahib, Jaap sahib, Amrit savaiye, Chaupai sahib and Anand sahib. In the evening Rehras Sahib, and at night (before going to bed) Kirtan Sohila.

Each of the banis carries the energy of a particular tattva (element.)

  • Ether - Japji Sahib and Shabd Hazaaray (Amrit Vela) Balances your natural earth energy with the etheric energy
  • Air - Jaap Sahib and Tav Prasaad Swayaas (Morning) Tunes your mind to the Power of the Infinite
  • Fire - Anand Sahib (Morning) Energizes and empowers you
  • Water - Rehiras Sahib with Bentee Chaupaee (Sundown) Moves you gracefully from the male sun energy of the day into the female moon energy of the night
  • Earth - Kirtan Sohilaa (bedtime) Prepares you to leave the earthIn this regard we may look at the five Nitnem Banis thus:

Japji Sahib

This is in the form of Updesh or instruction to the mind from the soul. It is meant to be recited to the self and is not primarily meant for others to hear, but it can certainly be done in a group as well. If this is kept in mind it should be possible to identify ego or any other distraction. Japji Sahib conditions the mind to be receptive.

Jaap Sahib

This Bani of the tenth Guru is entirely in praise of Akal Purakh either in second or third person. In the former portions, it should be possible to detect whether the speaker is talking to the Master or not. Sometimes negative ideas tend to come to mind during Paath. These pertain to something that has happened or is to be done. If such a thing happens one may tell the self, "so this is how you talk to the Lord?” The course may then be corrected. Of course this is applicable in respect of all Banis.

Swayyay

These ten Swayyas are the last composition before we take on the mundane activities for the day. They tell us not to get too engrossed in making money, unjust exercise of authority and the like. The ninth Swayya tells us to avoid pretense and act in love (Jin prem keeo tin hi Prabh paaio). Understanding them as such makes them relevant and helps in concentration.

Rehras Sahib

Rehras is recited at sunset after the day's work is over. One may be tired, elated or not so happy because of what happened during the day. The compositions forming the parts of Rehras are meant to thank the Lord for enabling us to do our duties that day. It is mostly in second person addressed to God. The day's distraction and fatigue may make concentration difficult but it helps if the mind is motivated that it is going to talk to the Master. Its beginning lends itself well for the purpose. It starts with "Sodar tayra kihaa --". Later "Vaday mayaray Saahiba --", Tu ghat ghat antar --"Tu karta sachiaar maidaa saaee", "Na hau jatti satti nahi --" all in second person. These are only representative examples. Similarly in the Chaupaee the tenth Guru enables us to talk to Akal Purakh in large part e.g. "Hamri karahu haath day rachhaa", "Tumhay chaad koee na dhiaaoo", "Raakh lahu mohay raakhanhaaray" and so on.

Sohila

Sohila which is normally recited at bed time is a short Bani reminding us about the end of life and preparing us to leave the earth. Every time one goes to sleep, it is a “little death,” and so this bani is a “rehearsal” so to speak for the final leaving. If recited in that spirit, it brings humility and concentration followed by good sleep.

Guru ji named them under one heading as nitnem banis and asked each sikh to read them every day, with proper attention and concentration. This requires experiencing the sound of each bani.

Gurbani cleans one inside. When one does paath of Gurbani and listens attentively to the

sound of Gurbani, it has an enchanting and life-changing effect on the seeker. Just by listening to Gurbani one's sorrows and pains are removed.

"Dukh daaroo sukh rog bhaiaa jaa sukh taam na hoee||

In this way, the mind becomes trained to feel close to, and remember, Vaheguru. The strength of the Nitnem Banis is unlimited. It energises you, and you will feel the powerful effect as you keep on doing day by day. Your inner soul will find peace, harmony, clarity and decisiveness. Fear will be gone. Your powerful ego, anger, restlessness and mental madness will become silent and contentment will start residing in you. You will feel motivated and inspired all the time. You will develop inner sight to every aspect of life. You will want to do more work for the upliftment of the society. You will develop an attitude of expressing gratitude for every little thing in your life.

As you keep up with this spiritual routine, your intuition will deepen and you will always feel guided. Your hurdles and problems are not yours anymore, they are taken care of by the One.

Each person’s experience will be different and special. The living example of creating this spiritual habit to me is my father in law, who does Nitnem every day without being affected by any situation in his life. The tasks he has been able to accomplish cannot be achieved without divine blessings. Even I feel that he gets all his strength, energy, calmness and vision from God. He always tells me that doing Nitnem not only gives you power, but also restrains you from doing wrong deeds by keeping you alert in your day to day activities.

But there are people who will question this. “What's the need of this? I don't understand it. So first we will be learning the deep meaning and then follow it?”

To me these are just excuses. Because it's not easy to follow this, you need full determination and God’s grace to recite these banis. Without doing Naam Simran, the meaning and depth of Gurbani becomes much harder. Our minds are pitch black due to the deeds of many lifetimes. Naam Simran helps remove this blackness, and when the blackness is removed, the mind more easily soaks in the meaning of Gurbani which is pure light. Each time you do Nitnem, you will feel that you are enlightened in a different way. Every time you will see anew the meaning of your life.

Guru Har Rai ji was once asked whether there was any benefit gained by reading the Guru’s Bani without understanding it. "Yes," he replied, "Just as grease sticks to the pot even when it is emptied, so does the Guru’s Word stick to the heart. Whether you understand it or not, the Word bears the Seed of Salvation. Perfume persists in the broken pieces even after the vase that contained it has been shattered."

In today's world, when our homes are controlled by all sort of other entertainment gadgets, which are in full power to divert us from our main path of life. It's very important, as parents, that we should inspire our children to do Nitnem daily. I know they can't do all the banis, but if you start them at early age, then they create the habit for their whole life. I still don't remember when my mom made me learn Japji Sahib by heart. She used to make us learn even while bathing and still now, whenever I take a bath, the path starts automatically because it became my habit.

It's important to inculcate these habits in ours kids because our habits form our character. Take care of your character because it will lead you to your destiny, and your destiny will be your life.

I feel that reading Gurbani is our spiritual habit, just as brushing our teeth is our health habit and eating breakfast is our daily routine. We all follow our other routines without questioning them, similarly we should implement this one.

Just do your duty first and leave the rest in God’s hands. "SARAB  DHARAm meh srshth dharam, har ko naam jap Nirmal karam." READING Gurbani is the 1st STEP, UNDERSTANDING Gurbani is the 2nd STEP, and IMPLEMENTING Gurbani is the 3rd STEP. One cannot get to step 2 or 3 without achieving step 1.

Only those can do Nitnem, who have Guru Ji’s blessings. "Jis nu kirpa kareh tin naam rattan payia." We should always do ardaas that Guru Ji gives us that power that we are able to recite banis with more dedication, engrossment, faith and conviction. Reciting Nitnem banis imparts a sense of sublime bliss that instils the spirit with a lasting kind of calm confidence that ever increases, with regular practice, to inspire and uplift the soul.

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