Amrit: The Path of the Soldier Saint
The most powerful vows on the path of Sikh Dharma are known as Amrit. Amrit is often translated as “nectar” into English. But the root sounds of the word literally mean, “Deathless Blood.”
Amrit is a state of consciousness where a person knows in the very marrow of their bones that they are beyond the power of death; that the physical body and the mind are temporary – and that the eternal, undying Spirit within each one of us is who we truly are.
The story behind the Amrit vows is a very powerful one. To understand the historical background of Amrit, read The First Baisakhi, 1699.
Description of the Amrit Ceremony
The Amrit Ceremony re-creates this experience from 1699. It gives a chance for the Sikhs of any time, and in any country, to give themselves to the Light of the Guru in a complete and absolute way. Those who take Amrit commit to becoming protectors and custodians of the Universal Truths held within the Siri Guru Granth Sahib and, in fact, of all living beings. They also embody the spiritual way of life that the Sikh Masters created. Those who take Amrit commit to surrender everything – body, mind, property and life – to preserve this tradition and wisdom.
The Amrit Ceremony takes place during the Amrit Vela – the hours before sunrise. Five people who have already taken Amrit serve as the Panj Piaray. They represent the original five Beloved Ones who gave their heads to Guru Gobind Singh. Collectively the Panj Piaray is the channel of the Guru’s Light for the ceremony. Gathering together in the Gurdwara, the people who will be taking Amrit meditate while the Panj Piaray stir water and sugar in an iron bowl, each one reciting one of the five Banis (daily prayers of the Sikhs). The power of the sacred vibrations infuse the water and, it is said, impact its molecular structure. The frequency of the Shabad enters the water and transforms it. When this process is complete, those receiving the Amrit come forward and participate in a beautiful and powerful ceremony of transformation – charged with the power of the Shabad Guru through the prayers of the Panj Piaray, the Amrit Sanchar (ceremony) opens the door for a person to manifest their purity and light in every aspect of their lives. This is the inner experience of Khalsa.
After taking Amrit, men commit to taking the surname of Singh (Lion), representing that their new identity is fearlessness. Women take the surname of Kaur (Princess), representing that their new identity is one of grace and fearlessness. Many men and women will also add the family name of Khalsa.
At the first Amrit ceremony, Guru Gobind Singh gave the Rehit, or self-discipline, which was recorded and passed down through the generations: The Rehit includes not cutting your hair; refraining from meat, alcohol and other stimulants; remaining celibate until married and maintaining a monogamous relationship with your spouse; wearing the Five Kakar’s (5 K’s); and chanting specific prayers each day. (The Daily Nitnem Banis.)
People who have taken Amrit also commit to wearing a specific dress – what is called Bana – also given by Guru Gobind Singh. Through Bana, a Sikh projects the power and light of the Guru. Bana bestows physical, mental and spiritual strength. Traditionally, Bana includes:
- Kurta: a loose-fitting tunic
- Churidar: pants that are loose-fitting around the thighs and buttocks, and tight around the ankles
- Cummerbund: a cloth wrapped around the mid-torso region
- Turban: a cotton cloth wrapped around the long, uncut hair of the head
- Five Kakar’s
- Kesh: uncut hair.
- Kangha: a wooden comb worn in the hair under the turban.
- Kirpan: literally means “kindness.” The kirpan is a small sword.
- Kara: a steel or iron bangle worn on the left wrist for women and the right wrist for men.
- Kachhera: cotton shorts.
The person who has taken Amrit also commits to :
- Amrit Vela: Rising before the sun to praise the Divine
- Accepting the Siri Guru Granth Sahib as your Teacher and Guide
- Das Vandh: Giving one-tenth of your earnings to the community
- Seva: Doing service selflessly, without thought of reward
- Vand Chako: sharing your earnings with those in need
- Naam Japo: Meditating on the Divine Identity within yourself and within all creation.
- Kirat Karo: Earning your money righteously, honestly and through your own hard work.
These technologies, when practiced, maintain the transforming power of the Amrit, and support a person to live in the purity of his or her Divine Identity.
Sikh Dharma International sponsors an Amrit Ceremony three times a year in the United States in three different locations.
- Every April, around Baisakhi, in Los Angeles, California
- Every June during the 3HO Summer Solstice Sadhana in Espanola, New Mexico
- Every December during the 3HO Winter Solstice Sadhana in Florida
All Sikh Gurdwaras around the world also have their own schedules for giving Amrit.
For more information about taking Amrit, contact Sarb Nam Kaur at the Ministry Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Many people take their Amrit Vows at Summer Solstice. Click Here for more information about the Summer Solstice Celebration