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A Sikh Prayer

A Sikh Prayer SWAMI SWAROOPANANDA The following excerpt is from a new book ‘ Tu Thakur


The following excerpt is from a new book ‘Tu Thakur Tum Pe Ardaas: Lord, Receive My Prayer’ that has not yet been published. We are very grateful to Swamiji for allowing us to reproduce this excerpt in Tapovan Prasad.

The Editor

A prayer is a submission. It is an offering in humility,

gentleness, and complete surrender, expressing servitude and love. It is verily a whisper from the soul. It reaches out in confidence, with faith – the faith of a child who puts his little hand into that of his parent and wills himself to be led. A prayer must therefore ‘know’ the One Being prayed to. We want to know who it is in whose hand we are placing ours, who it is whom we trust to lead us. Our prayers, worship, and our conversations with the Lord are quite often requests for something – be it an object, a feeling, or resolution of a confusion within. We go to Him with a petition.

Tapovan Prasad

Generally, our attention is focussed on defining very carefully what we want, than in visualising, knowing, and establishing the One to whom we are offering our prayers. This is verily like taking great pains to write a long letter, but not knowing well the recipient of the letter or his address. More important than the content, our prayer needs to be woven with the fabric of faith. In short, we need to know how to pray. And this we learn through a beautiful, spontaneous out- pouring of Guru Arjan Dev, Tü öhäkuru tuma pagi aradäsi, which forms the last part of the fourth stanza of his famed composition, the Sukhmani Sahib.


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Tü öhäkuru is an ardäs, a submission that is done after worship and kértan at the gurudwärä. The moment of ardäs is also when we submit ourselves to the Lord, when after the earlier worship through ritual or chant, we prepare to unite with the Lord in surrender. This beautifully simple ardäs constructs an inner environment with the bricks of prayer, gratitude and surren- der, founded on the faith that He is the giver, the provider, the parent, and that we need work only as instruments do, with unconditional trust and devotion. Ardäs means prayer, or prärthanä. Prayer is always directed to someone higher or greater than ourselves. Prayer is to connect with that Higher Power. The saints and sages point out that Higher Power to us in many different ways. We pray in order to achieve through that Higher Power

Tapovan Prasad

what we cannot achieve by ourselves, the limited beings we imagine ourselves to be. Each of us is born with certain abilities and also with some limitations. Over and above this, we manage to impose other limitations upon ourselves. We then become bound by these self-imposed concepts, for example, the thought that “I am the body.” Prayer is the way to remove these misconceptions and their hold over us. It is the means by which we grow out of limi- tations; it is the direct route to tap into the Higher Power. Thus what we cannot achieve by ourselves, the Higher Power achieves through us. However, for most of us prayer is often nothing more than a shopping list of things we want. Or, if we don’t get them, a charge sheet. In fact, prayer is not some form of beggary, but a way of tuning ourselves to the Higher Power


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who has provided us with all that we do have. It is an offer- ing of our gratitude to the Lord for all that we have received. When we forget the very source of all, then ego, pride and arrogance come into our lives and create the sense of separateness. From the sense of separateness arises the feeling of incompleteness, then desire, then hatred, and from hatred are born all our sorrows. When we remember in gratitude that everything we have has come from the Lord, there will be no ego. Where there is no ego, there is no sorrow. Even at a moment of crisis, we should remember and rejoice at all the blessings we have received. We should feel happy at not having to face difficulties that perhaps others have had to face. We should always remember the times when we received happiness. If some things are taken away now, we must remember that we still have a lot left. If we

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constantly look at the blessings in our life, there will be only happiness, and no sorrow. What can you do for the Lord who provides you with everything? You can only love the Lord. Love manifests in remembrance and expresses itself in service or sevä. People go to saints in difficult times, seeking help and solutions for their problems. Many ask for a mantra, and some for know- ledge too. At the end of the meeting, when it is suggested that they spend five minutes chanting the mantra, or ten or fifteen minutes performing püjä or worship, the seeker gets restless, and his invariable response is, “There is no time.” When we remember the Lord daily, and offer our prayers from the innermost depths of our hearts, it is ardäs. There is no better method of expressing our love for the Lord. The real power of prayer is when it is done with the right attitude and with the

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right means. Guru Arjan Dev shows us how.

tU Qak…é tum pig Ardais, jI% ip<fusÉuterI rais.

tum mat

tumrI i³pa mih sUo ¸anere.

kae# n janEtumra A<tu, ^ce te ^ca Égv<t. sgl sm¢I tumrEsUiÇ xarI, tum te hae# su AaigAakarI.


nank das sda k…rbanI.

tü öhäkuru tuma pagi aradäsi, jéu piëòu sabhu teré räsi. tuma mäta pitä hama bärika tere, tumaré kripä mahi sükha ghanere. koi na jänai tumarä antu, üce te ücä bhagavanta. sagala samagré tumarai sütri dhäré, tuma te hoi su ägiäkäré. tumaré gati miti tuma hé jäné, nänaka däsa sadä kurabäné. (Sukhamani Sahib, Astapadi, 4.8.4)

Let us look at the ardäs line by line for its simple meaning.

ipta hm bairk tere,



tum hI janI,

Tapovan Prasad

Note the use of the pronoun in the familiar sense ‘tü’, rather than the formal and respectful ‘tüsi’ or ‘äp’. It is the common usage in the bhakti tradition and the süfé tradition. It expresses familiarity and closeness with the loved one.

Tü öhäkuru: It is a straight- forward statement of fact. “You are the Lord, the Master.” Everything else flows from that fact. It is only the Master who is in a position to grant, therefore, ‘tum peh aradäs’ – we address our prayer, our request, our supplication, to Him.

Jéu piëòu sabhu teré räsi: “The spark of life (jéu) and the body (piëòu) constituted of the five elements, are both mysteries for which you alone are responsible.” They are both His play, His sport, His creation.

Tuma mäta pitä hama bärika tere: “You are the mother and


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the father, and we are your children (bärika).” God is the very source of our being. Tumaré kripä mahi sükha ghanere: “Your grace, wisdom and compassion (kripä) encom- passes great (ghanere) comfort, pleasure and happiness (sükha).” Koi na jänai tumarä antu:

“You are the Infinite. No one knows your totality.” ‘Antu’ literally means ‘end’ or ‘bound- ary’, or ‘limit’, but in this con- text it means ‘totality’. Üce te ücä bhagavanta: Higher than the highest, greater than the greatest, the ultimate, is personalised here as Bhagavan. Sagala samagré tumarai sütri dhäré: “All of Creation (sagala samagré) is held together by you, just as a string (sütra) holds together the pearls strung on it.” Tuma te hoi su ägiäkäré: “Ev- erything has come from you (tuma te hoi). Therefore every- thing is subservient to you and functions in accordance with the laws you yourself have established.” Ägiäkäré literally means ‘obedience’. Tumaré gati miti tuma hé jäné:

“Those laws (gati miti - state, conditions) are known and understood by you alone.

Tapovan Prasad

Nänaka däsa sadä kurabäné:

“Nanak is your slave uncondi-

tionally and offers himself ever in your service. You are his Master, his Lord.”

It should be noted that in

the Gurbäné the compositions of the Gurus follow the style set by the first Guru, Guru Nanak Devji, who spoke of himself in the third person. We know that the Sukhmani Sahib was com- posed by Guru Arjan Dev, yet the last line is ‘Nänaka däsa…’ This could be interpreted as Guru Arjan Dev, paying homage to Guru Nanak Devji

himself as the first Guru. Or, more likely, it indicates a com- plete lack of ego or separate- ness from the lineage, and the homage is to the tradition of the Guru, the Guru-paramparä, through which the disciple ac- knowledges his indebtedness to his Guru and to the source of all wisdom. That source is none other than the Master (Tü öhäkuru) acknowledged in the first line.

A disciple is one who has

merged himself with the Guru. He acknowledges he is noth- ing and the Guru is all. It is in that state of surrender that it

is possible to receive the grace and wisdom of the Guru.


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