The following is an excerpt from the book Heroes, Saints and Yogis: Tales of Self Discovery and the Path of Sikh Dharma, compiled by Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa and Guruka Singh Khalsa.
The Siri Singh Sahib used to say that the only real power a human has is the power of his or her prayer. What is prayer? It is when the finite being speaks to the Infinite from the heart and soul, asking for help, guidance, or healing. And the Infinite listens.
Meditation is where the Infinite can speak to the finite through the sixth chakra, or center of consciousness—the intuition, and the finite listens deeply. There is a two-way communication. When we chant and pray in a group, with a focused collective consciousness, we get that exponential effect which makes our prayer that much more powerful.
Yogi Bhajan also often said, “In order to reach Universal Consciousness, you have to go from individual consciousness through group consciousness.”
A friend of Yogi Bhajan’s who visited Guru Ram Das Ashram told us about some of his harrowing mountain climbing experiences. He said that he always started each climb by reciting the traditional Sikh prayer, Ardas — including a personal prayer for protection. In all his years of rough terrain and extremely hazardous expeditions, he had never had an accident.
The Ardas is a vital part of every Sikh’s life. It is a perfect formula of prayer of the heart, and can be done any time, anywhere, whether at home, at a board meeting, or in the Gurdwara—where it is always recited just before the Hukam is taken.
Ardas is always done out loud, and Sikhs always offer an Ardas to begin any major event, and even some minor ones. The Ardas has a standard format, including, but not limited to, remembering the Sikh Gurus and recalling the courage of all those who sacrificed to preserve this path. It always ends with a phrase that wishes good and blessings to everyone in the world.
Though the beginning (up through the mention of Guru Teg Bahadur) and ending of the Ardas (…O Nanak, those who know their True Identity ever live in ecstasy and excellence…) were given by Guru Gobind Singh, space is provided in the middle for the spoken and unspoken prayers of everyone gathered to flow through the ardasee, the one whose voice is speaking the prayer aloud.
The prayer is the collective prayer of everyone gathered together at that moment in time and space. In this way, specific blessings such as healing and protection can be invoked. Usually there is a piece of paper on which people can write their
requests for special prayers for healing, or birthday blessings, or on the occasion of a death—in which latter
case the everyone chants “AKAAL” several times to speed the departed soul on its way to God.
An English Translation of the Ardas: Sikh Prayer
In the book Heroes, Saints and Yogis: Tales of Self Discovery and the Path of Sikh Dharma, compiled by Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa and Guruka Singh Khalsa:
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Sikandar raja says: