What is the Sikh initiation – Amrit?

Initiation is necessary before joining the Khalsa Panth. Guru Gobind Singh Ji initiated the practice with the establishment of the order of the Khalsa in 1699.

Prayers being recited whilst the iron Khanda is used to stir the Holy Water

The Amrit ceremony (initiation) is held in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Five initiated Sikhs known for their piety are called Panj Piyaaray, all wearing the five articles of faith – the Kesh (unshorn hair) which is covered with a keski (turban), Kanga (wooden comb), Kachhera (special tailored shorts), Karha (iron bangle), and Kirpan (sheathed sword) which is worn in gatra (strap worn across the body) sit in front of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. One of the five explains the principles of Sikhism to those who want to be initiated. After the candidates have signified their acceptance, one of the five offers Ardaas. Then all the five sit round an iron-vessel containing fresh water an a quantity of sweets – Pataasay. They recite the five Banis (sacred prayers): the Japji, Jaap, ten Swaiyyas, Benti Chaupai and full Anand Sahib. The reciter, whilst concentrating his eyesight on the water in the bowl, stirs the water with a double-edged sword, a Khanda, which he holds in his right hand. One by one, each of Panj Pyaaray recite a sacred prayer and stir nectar with the double-edged sword.

Amrit and Nitnem Banis are documented by eye-accounts written in the Bhatt Vahees, and Bhai Jaita Ji (Bhai Jeevan Singh Ji) writes his eye-witness account as:

ਪਾਂਚ ਕਕਾਰ ਸੰਪੂਰਣ ਦੇਖਿ ਕੈ ਯਾਚਕ ਸਿਖਹਿ ਸੰਮੁਖ ਬੈਠੀਜੈ।
ਜਲੋ ਬਤਾਸੇ ਲੋਹ ਪਾਤਰ ਮਹਿਂ ਡਾਰਿ ਕੈ ਛਹਿ ਸਿਖ ਆਸਨ ਬੀਰ ਲਵੀਜੈ।
ਹਾਥ ਪ੍ਰਥਮ ਸਿੰਘ ਖੰਡੇ ਕਉ ਲੇਕਰ ਜਲੋ ਪਤਾਸੋ ਕਉ ਖੂਬ ਮਿਲੀਜੈ।
ਜਪੁ ਕੋ ਪਾਠ ਕਰਹਿ ਸੰਗ ਤਿਹ ਸਿਖ ਪਾਤਰਿ ਦੂਸਰ ਹਾਥ ਧਰੀਜੈ ॥੧੧੨॥
ਪਾਚਹੁੰ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਰ ਸੁ ਹੋਵਹਿਂ ਅਵਰ ਜੋਇ ਪਾਤਰ ਊਪਰ ਹਾਥ ਰਖੀਜੈ।
ਆਪਨ ਆਪਨ ਬਾਰ ਯੇ ਪਾਂਚਹੁੰ ਪਾਂਚ ਹੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਕੋ ਪਾਠ ਪੜ੍ਹੀਜੈ।
ਜਪੁ, ਜਾਪ, ਸਵੈਯੇ, ਚੌਪਈ, ਅਨੰਦ ਕੋ, ਪਾਠ ਸੋਂ ਪਾਹੁਲ ਤਿਆਰ ਕਰੀਜੈ।
ਪਾਂਚਓ ਚੁਲੇ ਮੁਖ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਸੁ ਯਾਜਕ ਏਤ ਹੀ ਨੇਤਰ ਕੇਸ ਪਵੀਜੈ ॥੧੧੩॥
ਪ੍ਰਤਿ ਏਕ ਚੁਲੇ ਸੰਗ ਯਾਚਕ ਮੁਖ ਤੇ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਕੀ ਫਤਿਹਿ ਗਜਾਵੈ।
ਯਾਚਕ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੋ ਅਵਰ ਭਿ ਹੋਇ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਏਕੁ ਹੀ ਪਾਤਰ ਪਾਵੈ।
ਰਹਿਤ ਕੁਰਹਿਤ ਬਤਾਇ ਕੈ ਸਬਹਿਨ ਅਰਦਾਸ ਕਰਹਿ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਦਵਾਵੈ।
ਪੁਨ ਸਬ ਏਕੁ ਹੀ ਬਰਤਨ ਮਾਹਿਂ ਏਕਠਿ ਖਾਨ ਔ ਪਾਨ ਕਰਾਵੈ ॥੧੧੪॥
(Baba Jeevan Singh – ‘ਭਾਈ ਜੈਤ ਰਾਮ-ਜੀਵਨ ਤੇ ਰਚਨਾ’, S. Gurmukh Singh, Punjabi University, 1994)

Each of the Panj Pyaaray, turn by turn, give Amrit (the divine nectar) to each spiritual seeker. Each time time the candidate receives a handful of Amrit (holy water) to drink, he shouts “Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!”. The Amrit is put five times in his eyes, by each of the Panj Pyaaray, and five times on his hair (over the Dasam Duaar, the Tenth Spiritual Gate) while he repeats the above greeting each time. The seed of Naam is sowed into the heart of the seeker through the Panj Pyaaray, the physical representation of the Guru, giving the candidate the Gur Mantar which he or she is to meditate upon with each and every breath. The Amrit that remains from the ceremony is sipped by all candidates to remove caste and social prejudice.

The Panj Pyaaray repeat the Mool Mantar five times, this is then repeated by all the candidates. Then one of the five explains the code of Sikh discipline – Rehat. The candidates are to regard themselves as sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and Mata Sahib Kaur Ji. Their home is Anandpur Sahib. They are to abstain from the four misdeeds: dishonoring the hair (cutting, waxing, plucking, or dyeing anywhere on the body), eating Kuthha (slaughtered being, i.e. any form of meat, fish or egg), intimate relationship outside of wedlock and using tabacoo (or any other intoxicants). If a Sikh has done any of the four main misdeeds – “Bajjar Kurehats” – mentioned above, he has to be re-initiated after due confession and penance.

One of the Panj Piyaaray then offers Ardaas (standing prayer) and reads a Hukamnama (edict taken from a random reading) from Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Those who adopt Sikhism for the first time receive a new name adding the suffix of “Singh” (meaning ‘lion’) for a male and “Kaur” (meaning ‘princess’) for a female. All the initiated Sikhs then receive Karhah Parshad (sacred pudding) to eat.

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