Ardaas – What Are The Rules?

We’ve all sat through it before…or…stood through it, that is.AI_04260901_May._07_23.51.gif

As Anand Sahib ends, we stand for Ardaas and collectively reflect on the lives and accomplishments of the Gurus and the 18th century martyrs who gave their lives to preserve our Sikh way of life. Somewhere in between this reflection, and wishing for “Sarbat da Bhala“, we take a bizarre detour in to the “ins and outs” of our community.” Yes…I am referring to the lengthy list of births, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and other milestones we find in the middle of our Ardaas.

I’m not sure when this practice started; where a member of the sangat would make an offering to the Gurdwara so an “Ardaas” can be done on their behalf. Birthdays are most common week to week, but I have heard more creative ones – celebrating a new job, new car, first mother’s day, wishing someone well on an upcoming exam, or safe travels for someone’s trip to India. Some even taken advantage of this process, by doing an “Ardaas” on behalf of their business week after week – essentially advertising their local store, while they have the entire community’s ear. I’ve raised this issue to the committee that perhaps there needs to be a better way to handle these “community announcements” rather than during Ardaas…I mean, seconds after we recount the martyrs who were cut limb by limb and scalped, we collectively thank Waheguru for Tinku’s new Benz? It just doesn’t seem right.

So what should we do an Ardaas for? What should be allowed? What rules need put be put in place? Looking at the Guru for guidance, there are many references to Ardaas, but to quote a few:

In Guru Raam Daas Patshah’s Ardaas, he asks to be in the company of those who praise/seek Naam:

thin kee sangath dhaehi prabh mai jaachik kee aradhaas
Grant me their company, God – I am a beggar; this is my prayer.

Bhagat Ravidas Ji, a cobbler and tanner who at the time was considered of low social status only had one request in his Ardaas…His darshan:

sagal bhavan kae naaeikaa eik shhin dharas dhikhaae jee ||1|| rehaao ||
O Lord of all worlds: reveal to me, even for an instant, the Blessed Vision of Your
Darshan.

Guru Angad Patshah explicitly states in Asa Ki Vaar:

naanak hukam n chalee naal khasam chalai aradhaas |22|
O Nanak, no one can issue commands to the Lord Master; let us offer prayers instead. ||22||

So what does this tell us? Should we really be doing an Ardaas for mundane issues, material things, or trivial matters?

Rather than asking for a bigger house, should we be asking for compassion instead? Rather than asking to ace an exam, should we not be asking for humility? And instead of asking for our problems to go away, should we be asking for the strength and courage to deal with our problems?

Even with such “academic understanding of all this…in my most troubling of times, I too have asked for such mundane and worldly things in my Ardaas.

Is this a measure of how little I’ve progressed on the Guru’s path? Perhaps.

But then there’s another perspective to all this

One of the many things I love about being a Sikh is there is no priest, intermediary, or holy man that stands between me and the Guru. Although there is a community element to that Sikh-Guru relationship (through Sangat), there is also a deeply personal and individual relationship a Sikh has with the Guru…and I for one, do not like to place any restrictions on that.

I do not belong to a God-fearing religion, but instead, a God-loving religion – and I feel my Guru accepts me for who I am, with all my strengths and weaknesses. Andso mydialogue with the Guru should be open, honest, and unapologetic. So if that means in my Ardaas I ask for help in achieving a personal milestone, or for a sick friend to feel better, or for a prisoner of conscience in Rwanda to be released, or offer thanks for a new car…so be it.

Furthermore, I should be able to ask anything and seek guidance for whatever question or challenge I have…as long as I’m willing to seek his Shabad for answers.

To some extent, I still feel my Ardaas is indicative of my relationship with the Guru. And perhaps through seva, simran, and reflection, that connection will become stronger, the gaps in understanding will dissipate, and my Ardaas will no longer be filled with requests, but merely an expression of what my Guru has given me…Love.


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26 Responses to “Ardaas – What Are The Rules?”

  1. Miss Kaur says:

    An interesting topic to write about. I have always felt we must be thankful to Maharaj for every big/small thing in our lives.

    It does get very commercial for people to have an Ardaas done for them. As you have said it does get mundane. However I would like to think that theses individuals are asking a Giani to do the Ardaas out of respect and because they are (in most cases)humble servants of Maharaj. They are more likely to have their prayers heard or accepted.

    At the end of the day we shouldnt judge on what people ask for in their Ardaas however I personally feel that Ardaas is extremely private. I am lucky enough to always have my Ardaas accepted but in the case it wasnt perhaps a bit more perseverance on my behalf.

  2. Miss Kaur says:

    An interesting topic to write about. I have always felt we must be thankful to Maharaj for every big/small thing in our lives.

    It does get very commercial for people to have an Ardaas done for them. As you have said it does get mundane. However I would like to think that theses individuals are asking a Giani to do the Ardaas out of respect and because they are (in most cases)humble servants of Maharaj. They are more likely to have their prayers heard or accepted.

    At the end of the day we shouldnt judge on what people ask for in their Ardaas however I personally feel that Ardaas is extremely private. I am lucky enough to always have my Ardaas accepted but in the case it wasnt perhaps a bit more perseverance on my behalf.

  3. Ravinder Singh (Aust says:

    I feel that the Ardas has turned into a shopping list, and this is somewhat encouraged by Gurudwara's so as to increase revenue. When one person does it then everyone else feels they should do it to.

    It's a waste of my time to stand through it, so i protest by lowering my hands during this part of the Ardas. Instead of asking for our families & kids to walk on the path of Sikhi we are instead asking for good marks in an exam, a beautiful car, a house, etc. I have no qualms if folks do this in their own Ardas but why do i have to stand through it?

    If we truly are Sikh's and believe that there is no intermediary between us & God then there is no need to request the Gyani / Granthi to make a prayer on our behalf instead we should be doing an Ardas / Prayers ourselves. We've got to put a stop to this madness, it's just plain laziness…

  4. Ravinder Singh (Australia) says:

    I feel that the Ardas has turned into a shopping list, and this is somewhat encouraged by Gurudwara’s so as to increase revenue. When one person does it then everyone else feels they should do it to.

    It’s a waste of my time to stand through it, so i protest by lowering my hands during this part of the Ardas. Instead of asking for our families & kids to walk on the path of Sikhi we are instead asking for good marks in an exam, a beautiful car, a house, etc. I have no qualms if folks do this in their own Ardas but why do i have to stand through it?

    If we truly are Sikh’s and believe that there is no intermediary between us & God then there is no need to request the Gyani / Granthi to make a prayer on our behalf instead we should be doing an Ardas / Prayers ourselves. We’ve got to put a stop to this madness, it’s just plain laziness…

  5. Harman Singh says:

    I must admit that i have drifted off when the Ardaas turns into a "shopping list", then again my family has done it for ourselves as well. After doing the Ardaas for my family i wondered if this was an express prayer for us that would outweigh that of a man/ woman in the sangat, who didn’t pay the extra to get her name on the paper, obviously not. I remember one particular time when the Giani was rushed a second piece of paper to read of that once done with the first. I'm fine when someone’s new child is born, but asking for divine intervention for aceing a test, advertising business, or doing Ardaas for a new car is a command to God, rather than offering a prayer. Unless people themselves realise that, it seems this tradition found a place between the work and sacrifices of the Gurus. Finally, if in the above quotes the Gurus asked only for humility, strength, compassion…, who are we to command the Almighty to bless ___jot's purchase of a new Camry?

  6. Harman Singh says:

    I must admit that i have drifted off when the Ardaas turns into a “shopping list”, then again my family has done it for ourselves as well. After doing the Ardaas for my family i wondered if this was an express prayer for us that would outweigh that of a man/ woman in the sangat, who didnt pay the extra to get her name on the paper, obviously not. I remember one particular time when the Giani was rushed a second piece of paper to read of that once done with the first. I’m fine when someones new child is born, but asking for divine intervention for aceing a test, advertising business, or doing Ardaas for a new car is a command to God, rather than offering a prayer. Unless people themselves realise that, it seems this tradition found a place between the work and sacrifices of the Gurus. Finally, if in the above quotes the Gurus asked only for humility, strength, compassion…, who are we to command the Almighty to bless ___jot’s purchase of a new Camry?

  7. Manjot says:

    Appreciate the article virji. Nicely expressed.

    Since ardas is essentially our arj, or request; our humble personal prayer integrated with and inspired by our collective history; when done in the sangat, shouldn't it be about the collective welfare so that it resonates with each person? Like you stated, we have every right to make our individual requests, but shouldn't they be left for our individual ardas'?

    Sikhi is all about cutting out a middle-man who practices religion for a person (i.e. the brahmin pandit and exclusive language), so why would we create a middle-man to pray for us when we can pray for ourselves?

  8. Manjot says:

    Appreciate the article virji. Nicely expressed.

    Since ardas is essentially our arj, or request; our humble personal prayer integrated with and inspired by our collective history; when done in the sangat, shouldn’t it be about the collective welfare so that it resonates with each person? Like you stated, we have every right to make our individual requests, but shouldn’t they be left for our individual ardas’?

    Sikhi is all about cutting out a middle-man who practices religion for a person (i.e. the brahmin pandit and exclusive language), so why would we create a middle-man to pray for us when we can pray for ourselves?

  9. RP Singh says:

    Sorry for taking so long to circle back on this. Miss Kaur, I agree that we should be thankful to Guru Sahib for every big or small thing in our lives, however, I'm a bit troubled by your comment:

    However I would like to think that theses individuals are asking a Giani to do the Ardaas out of respect and because they are (in most cases)humble servants of Maharaj. They are more likely to have their prayers heard or accepted.

    To the best of my knowledge, Gianis or Granthis are trained to read and explain Gurbani, and ensure maryada of the Guru Granth Sahib is maintained. This does not automatically make them any more "holier" than anyone else. I guess there is nothing "wrong" for asking someone to do an Ardaas "on your behalf" but I think the need for an intermediary is missing the point of the gift Guru Sahib has gifted us…a direct line to Him. In my opinion, shouldn’t we be striving to become closer to the Guru rather than creating barriers in between? And if so, shouldn't our Ardaas reflect this?

  10. RP Singh says:

    Sorry for taking so long to circle back on this. Miss Kaur, I agree that we should be thankful to Guru Sahib for every big or small thing in our lives, however, I’m a bit troubled by your comment:

    However I would like to think that theses individuals are asking a Giani to do the Ardaas out of respect and because they are (in most cases)humble servants of Maharaj. They are more likely to have their prayers heard or accepted.

    To the best of my knowledge, Gianis or Granthis are trained to read and explain Gurbani, and ensure maryada of the Guru Granth Sahib is maintained. This does not automatically make them any more “holier” than anyone else. I guess there is nothing “wrong” for asking someone to do an Ardaas “on your behalf” but I think the need for an intermediary is missing the point of the gift Guru Sahib has gifted us…a direct line to Him. In my opinion, shouldnt we be striving to become closer to the Guru rather than creating barriers in between? And if so, shouldn’t our Ardaas reflect this?

  11. Gurmeeth says:

    It is a pity that the Ardas today has been reduced to a joke. I say that without any intend to hurt or make fun on this important matter. If you consider the text of the ardas , it is evident that there is no need to have individual names and amounts paid and things desired to be listed unless you feel God needs to be reminded just in case he overlooks you in the crowd!
    I am 65 years old and I have never followed the crowd, yet I am in no way wanting than any of the many who have their names mentioned every week.

  12. Gurmeeth says:

    It is a pity that the Ardas today has been reduced to a joke. I say that without any intend to hurt or make fun on this important matter. If you consider the text of the ardas , it is evident that there is no need to have individual names and amounts paid and things desired to be listed unless you feel God needs to be reminded just in case he overlooks you in the crowd!
    I am 65 years old and I have never followed the crowd, yet I am in no way wanting than any of the many who have their names mentioned every week.

  13. Gurmeeth says:

    Maybe you can tell that to the poor non-Sikh clerk who recorded my birth – my father did not know any English. I live with my name as it is recorded and thank you for your understanding and kind words. Sikhi is going to need many kinds to progress and I am sure there is a place for all of us. Just so you may be informed I have a very close friend who lives with the name BALDEU! he is probably a better Sikh than most but I guess by your yard stick he must be a Nazi or ….?

    And by the way , why are you ashamed of giving you name?

  14. Gurmeeth says:

    Maybe you can tell that to the poor non-Sikh clerk who recorded my birth – my father did not know any English. I live with my name as it is recorded and thank you for your understanding and kind words. Sikhi is going to need many kinds to progress and I am sure there is a place for all of us. Just so you may be informed I have a very close friend who lives with the name BALDEU! he is probably a better Sikh than most but I guess by your yard stick he must be a Nazi or ….?

    And by the way , why are you ashamed of giving you name?

  15. G Singh says:

    This was an interesting piece. The long list of information mentioned during the end of the Ardas does appear to be misused by those who wish to make announcements.

    Ardas is an expression of our love and connection with Akal Purakh or it is an expression of yearning for that connection.

    Ardas can be both personal and in Sangat. As is obvious, during personal Ardas one makes personal communication. Then, would it not make sense that during Sangati Ardas the communication is on behalf of the Sangat. I certainly see that personal matters can be pressing enough to be shared with the Sangat. But use of such announcements should be judicious and not a "laundry list".

    I agree with the author that there is no intermediary between us and the one to whom we are offering our Ardas. But I want to make a distinction regarding to whom we offer our Ardas.

    We offer our Ardas to Akal Purakh and not to Guru Granth Sahib or both, as many suppose we do.

    It is a little complicated when we say that we offer our Ardas to Guru. Since, Guru and Akal Purak are not different. Perhaps we should be clear about who Guru is. If we do not do that, then we may simply allow another layer between ourselves and the One. Some may think the difference is small, but I would humbly disagree.

    A question that comes to mind after listening to Guru Sahib say "Vin bolian sab kichh janda, kis agai kichai Ardas?" We are praying to One who knows All, as if S/He would not already know what we want?

    Therefore, perhaps the purpose of Ardas is different from announcing a long list of our wishes and desires.

    Also, in the line above Guru Sahib is asking us a question. Should we think about it? Perhaps Guru Sahib is hinting at a different kind of a relationship with Akal Purakh.

    On a side note – Has anyone noticed that people in the Langar Hall and around the Gurduara will stand in attention during Ardas. But as soon as that is complete, everyone goes on with their conversation as if the important part is over. When, in fact, the important part is yet to come – the Hukam.

    We are too busy to listen to the Hukam. And most Granthis do not explain the Hukam. But thank God we let Him know of all that is on our mind!

    Many Granthis, strangely enough, say "Vin bolian sab kichh janda, kis…?" or Tusi jani jan ho…BUT…anyway, here is our list…

  16. G Singh says:

    This was an interesting piece. The long list of information mentioned during the end of the Ardas does appear to be misused by those who wish to make announcements.

    Ardas is an expression of our love and connection with Akal Purakh or it is an expression of yearning for that connection.

    Ardas can be both personal and in Sangat. As is obvious, during personal Ardas one makes personal communication. Then, would it not make sense that during Sangati Ardas the communication is on behalf of the Sangat. I certainly see that personal matters can be pressing enough to be shared with the Sangat. But use of such announcements should be judicious and not a "laundry list".

    I agree with the author that there is no intermediary between us and the one to whom we are offering our Ardas. But I want to make a distinction regarding to whom we offer our Ardas.

    We offer our Ardas to Akal Purakh and not to Guru Granth Sahib or both, as many suppose we do.

    It is a little complicated when we say that we offer our Ardas to Guru. Since, Guru and Akal Purak are not different. Perhaps we should be clear about who Guru is. If we do not do that, then we may simply allow another layer between ourselves and the One. Some may think the difference is small, but I would humbly disagree.

    A question that comes to mind after listening to Guru Sahib say "Vin bolian sab kichh janda, kis agai kichai Ardas?" We are praying to One who knows All, as if S/He would not already know what we want?

    Therefore, perhaps the purpose of Ardas is different from announcing a long list of our wishes and desires.

    Also, in the line above Guru Sahib is asking us a question. Should we think about it? Perhaps Guru Sahib is hinting at a different kind of a relationship with Akal Purakh.

    On a side note – Has anyone noticed that people in the Langar Hall and around the Gurduara will stand in attention during Ardas. But as soon as that is complete, everyone goes on with their conversation as if the important part is over. When, in fact, the important part is yet to come – the Hukam.

    We are too busy to listen to the Hukam. And most Granthis do not explain the Hukam. But thank God we let Him know of all that is on our mind!

    Many Granthis, strangely enough, say "Vin bolian sab kichh janda, kis…?" or Tusi jani jan ho…BUT…anyway, here is our list…

  17. iqbal says:

    Gurmeeth, your reflections on the ardas have crystallised much of what i have only hazily felt, or perhaps not given thought to. Thank you so much for your insightful ruminations.I agree with your perceptions that ardas can be both personal and with the 'sangat'; personally, this dilemma of the personal prayer and the that said in the sangat, remains unresolved for me. When the material 'need' is strong– for example, for my son's exams/job, or parent/sister's health, i find myself requesting that the appeal be made in the sangat, with the belief in the power of 'sadh sangat', that everyone's collective energies will ensure that the prayer is answered.on the other hand, I find myself fervently expressing gratitude or asking for blessings to remain on the path of 'sikhi' in silent communion with God.
    i remember a learned elder once saying that the core concept in the ardas is 'dhyan' .. to pay attention, to meditate on the lives of the gurus, the martyrs…

  18. iqbal says:

    Gurmeeth, your reflections on the ardas have crystallised much of what i have only hazily felt, or perhaps not given thought to. Thank you so much for your insightful ruminations.I agree with your perceptions that ardas can be both personal and with the 'sangat'; personally, this dilemma of the personal prayer and the that said in the sangat, remains unresolved for me. When the material 'need' is strong– for example, for my son's exams/job, or parent/sister's health, i find myself requesting that the appeal be made in the sangat, with the belief in the power of 'sadh sangat', that everyone's collective energies will ensure that the prayer is answered.on the other hand, I find myself fervently expressing gratitude or asking for blessings to remain on the path of 'sikhi' in silent communion with God.
    i remember a learned elder once saying that the core concept in the ardas is 'dhyan' .. to pay attention, to meditate on the lives of the gurus, the martyrs…

  19. uhyu says:

    ardaas is something to rember god

  20. Lena says:

    Dawn in Africa is yet several things that happen in some
    functions and a one thing and yet all at once. There is the
    awesome stillness that will be cracked every on occasion by the crow of the rooster, or perhaps the
    contact to desires by way of a sheik, then you can find the sounds in the wild if your near a
    playground or a woodland, the audio of birds slowly getting out of bed, the trumpet of an elephant, the roar of a lion in a
    range, or the hurry of the stream and roaring of the waterfall.

    Light slowly fails the night and the sun exists from behind the clouds, as all this is occurs.

  21. sant singh says:

    waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh .
    In the month of November there is (AKHAND PATH) at my home and after that (langar) , so this time i've to do ardass. please anyone tell me how to spell it out.