It is our delight and blessing as a Sangat to stand together, hands folded and offer our group mind and soul in prayer, with Ardas. Just like everything else we do, we first experience the ecstasy with our kirtan, meditation, whatever we are engaged in. Then, we stand and offer that ecstasy in gratitude, and to energetically and with spirit, stand in the present moment, strong as steel, steady as stone, soft as wax in love.
Our Ardas is an elevation and a standing to our Khalsa values, and victory of the spirit. Ardas offers a deep sense of continuity of these values, of honoring the past, standing together in the present, and facing the future with confidence in and calling upon God and Guru. Just like Guru Gobind Singh offered Ardas, the Sadh Sangat through history has done.
The person reciting the Ardas is representing the Sadh Sangat. The content of the Ardas can be put into ones own words, but within a certain structure, and needs to include and bring into the psyche certain themes which honor our great past, acknowledge the present, and move forward with God and Guru leading us into the future.
Part 1: Praising the Infinite
The opening words of Ardas are from the Chandi Ki Vaar of Guru Gobind Singh ji and call first upon and acknowledge the Infinite Almighty of all! Then it calls upon Siri Bhagauti, the Adi Shakti, the Primal Power as Sword! Then Guru Gobind Singh bows to the Mastery and blessing of the nine Gurus whose light he represents. This ends with Sabh Thaa-ee Ho-e Sahaa-eh. It is best to recite this invocation in Gurmukhi. The rest of the Ardas (including a translation of this segment) can be recited in the language most understood by the majority of the sangat. It is appropriate to add to this section praise of Guru Gobind Singh and of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, to complete the invocation.
Part 2: Remembering and Honoring Our Past
The next part can be put into ones’ own words, and here there is flexibility. But it needs to be contained within a certain structure, and needs to include and bring into the psyche honoring of the great people and events of our great history to inspire, elevate us and re-confirm our values. You can make this as long or short as you need or are inspired to.
It can be in poetic form or prose (is there anything quite as beautiful as Guru Kirn Kaur’s poetic Ardas in English?) This section should include: Panj Piare, 40 liberated ones, 4 Saahibzadas, the great men and women throughout our history whose known and unknown prayers, sacrifices, acts of kindness, discipline, devotion and love brought the Panth into the future. The Takhats and sacred places, asking for the experience of the Hari Mandir Sahib (the Golden Temple) glory of the Panth, sustenance of the Panth, May Truth prevail. These are some of the themes that fulfill our Ardas.
Part 3: The Present Moment
Offering our present lives unto God and Guru in gratitude, deep humility, and for blessing. Here is the opportunity for the personalized part of the Ardas when the speaker calls forth the particular purpose of the Ardas, the particular blessing of an individual, event, undertaking, or need of the Sadh Sangat.
Part 4: Blessing All Unto the Future
Then the unchangeable, expansive blessing for all, which reflects the Sikh spirit:
Nanak Naam Chardhi Kalaa Tayray Bhaanay Sarbat da Bhalaa!
Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!
Bole So Nihal! Saaaaaat Siri Akaaal!