Poetic Ardas


The Sixth Body, the Arc Line, is characterized as the Person at Prayer and according to Tantric Numerology as taught by Yogi Bhajan represents the balance between the physical and cosmic realms as embodied by Guru Hargobind Ji. SS Guru Kirn Kaur shares her experience with the Ardas, the Sikh prayer.

For five summers during the 1980s, I worked as a guide at Khalsa Youth Camp. I also spent one summer at Ram Das Puri while I was pregnant. I felt deeply connected to that sacred land and wanted my children to experience that connection as well. We gave the campers the experience of performing all parts of the Gurdwara service. The English translation of the Ardas was difficult for the children to recite and I thought I could write a poetic Ardas that would be simpler for them.

For many years, Siri Singh Sahib had encouraged many of us to write poetry. He described poetry as “the expression of ecstasy between man and God.” Rhythm and rhyme condition the mind to receive the Divine. It was with this intent that I began the work of translating the Ardas into poetry.

For me, poetry has the unique ability to collapse the boundaries of time and space, creating a sense of timelessness. The historical events described in the Ardas became a living experience for me, as if they were happening in the present, rather than hundreds of years ago:

Bless those who meditate upon His Name,
Let us give our praise to the same,
To all the masters, warriors, saints, and sages,
To all those who sacrificed throughout the ages.

That elasticity, where individual experience joins with universal experience, influenced several passages. My experience as a mother is reflected below:

Remember those who were cut up limb by limb,
Who offered their very lives to Him,
And each woman who uttered no cry of complaint,
As she quietly sacrificed her own small saint,
Keeping all their hair to the very last breath,
They gave life to Sikh Dharma with the power of their death.

During the time, I read stories of the Gurus’ lives in Macauliffe’s The Sikh Religion which I used to create felt board stories for the children. The story of Guru Amar Das and the Weaver is the basis for the last stanza before the open prayer:

O Honor of those who are stained with shame,
O Home of those who live in pain,
O Hope of the hopeless to live again,
O Guru, the shelter from sorrow’s rain,
We stand before Thee to offer our prayers,
So that Thy divine love will ease our cares.

In that story, Guru Angad declared that Amar Das would be the “Home of the homeless,” giving us hope that even in the darkest hours we may yet experience chardi kala.

In the final stanza, I incorporated Siri Singh Sahib’s prayer “Please bless this earth with peace:”

Through Nanak may Thy Name forever increase,
So that our spirits may finally gain their release,
And this earth and mankind be blessed with peace.

Siri Singh Sahib said poetry was “a state of mind in which the expression of the pure and conscious is infinite.” Translating the Ardas into poetry was my effort to enter into that pure and conscious state of mind.

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