The Truth About Amrit Ceremony

Amrit Sanchar is the ceremony of the Sikhs for initiation or baptism. This practice has been in existence since the times of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Each of the nine Sikh Gurus, from Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji performed the service of administrating Amrit upon their followers through Charan Pahul Amrit. The Gurus touched a container of water with their lotus feet and upon doing so; the Sikhs took the blessed water and were baptized from it. Khande di Pahul (Amrit Ceremony) was initiated during the time of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, when he established the Order of Khalsa at Sri Anandpur Sahib on the day of Baisakhi in 1699. Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru, presented a new form of Amrit by authorizing five accomplished and baptized Sikhs to perform the Amrit ceremony. Guru Sahib changed the preparation of holy Amrit from the initiation by the living Gurus personally (through Charan Pahul) to a new initiation method, this time done by the Five Elect Khalsa (Panj Pyaras). Centuries later, this principle of Amrit remains the same. There is a commonly told story regarding the original ceremony regarding the initiation of Amrit by the Panj Pyaras and how it was first administered. Some say that Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji kneeled down before the five beloveds (Panj Pyaras) and ‘begged’ them to initiate him into the new order of Khalsa. According to this story, the Amrit was thus prepared by the Panj Pyaras and after initiation; Gobind Rai became (Guru) Gobind Singh. It is from here that people say, he became a Guru and disciple in one, both at the same time. Before we agree to this version, we must answer some big questions: 1. If Guru Sahib was not baptized yet, how could He initiate the Amrit ceremony and give Amrit to the Panj Pyaras? 2. Is it possible for a non-Amritdhari to initiate the Amrit ceremony? 3. Did Sahib Guru Gobind Singh Ji Himself go against his own strict rule that only baptized Sikhs can initiate this ceremony? 4. Is it an honor, or a dishonor to mention that He was Gobind Rai and then became Gobind Singh after He kneeled before the Panj Pyaras and received Amrit from them? 5. Is this all not the same thing as mentioned by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji?

qU sulqwnu khw hau mIAw qyrI kvn vfweI ] ( Ang 795 )?
You are the Emperor, and I call You an ordinary person - how does this add to Your greatness? Let us look into this incident, if it is true or not: Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji was a humble servant of Guru Sahib and was blessed with the darshan of four Gurus: Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji, Sri Guru Harkrishan Sahib Ji, Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Ji and Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

When Guru Gobind Singh Ji was born, Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji was appointed Guru Sahib’s male-nurse. Working as his caregiver, Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji witnessed many childhood amusements of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s youth. Later in life, through his sewa and attained wisdom, Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji became a Hazoori Sikh (main attendant) of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji compiled an accomplished code of conduct, which is mostly known as Rahitnaama Bhai Chaupa Singh. When the need of a written ‘Rahitnaama’ (book of code of conduct) was felt, it was Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji, who was ordered by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji to write the ‘Rahitnaama’. The probable date of its writing is May 1700, before the siege of Anandpur. The day Guru Ji asked Chaupa Singh to write a detailed code of conduct for the Sikhs, Bhai Chaupa Singh, in his utmost humility showed his inability to produce such an important work. He said that he did not have knowledge or skills to take the task bestowed upon him by Guru Sahib. However, Guru Ji gave him the required assurance that he would bless him with the required competence to complete the work. Thus Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji wrote ‘Rahitnaama Bhai Chaupa Singh’. According to Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, “Rahitnaamas are countless in number, which have been written by devoted Sikhs according to their intellect and belief. So only those sayings of the Rahitnaamas are acceptable which are not opposed to Gurbani and Bhai Gurdas Ji’s writing.” From Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha’s writings (as well as from the inner evidence of the Rahitnaama), it is an established fact that Chaupa Singh was a devoted Sikh of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and was in close contact with Guru Sahib from the earliest of ages. Looking into the facts provided by Chaupa Singh’s Rahitnaama, one can easily conclude that he was an eye-witness to the events taking place at Anandpur Sahib and was unquestionably well-acquainted with all of the Sikh tenets. Bhai Chaupa Singh dutifully produced a Rahitnaama, the scribe of which was a person named Sital Singh Bahrupia. Guru Sahib duly certified this copy. Many copies of this Rahitnama were produced later on. Piara Singh Padam explains the writing of Bhai Chaupa Singh Rahitnaama as follows: “After Bhai Chaupa Singh, assisted by faithful Sikhs, had prepared the first Rahitnaama, Bhai Sital Singh Bahrupia wrote a fair copy and had it approved by Guru Sahib on 7 Jeth S. 1757 [1700 A.D.]. Bhai Chaupa Singh himself mentions this. There may be certain things where the writer's personal views figure, but by far this is the oldest Rahitanama as it was written around 1700 AD. When we read any historical text, we should be aware of the fact that there is always the possibility of later interpolations. This was very normal in those times as modern technology was not available.” Bhai Chaupa Singh Rahitnaama was prepared before Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Joti Jot year of 1708 A.D. In this Rahitnaama, Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji gives his eye witness account of what happened with the Panj Pyaras at Sri Anandpur Sahib in 1699.

In his Rahitnaama, he says that after Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji prepared Amrit, Guru Ji took a handful of Amrit out in His right hand and poured it on his left hand and took it. He repeated this process five times. Next, He sprinkled Amrit from the bowl (bataa) he prepared, five times into both his eyes and his kesh (hair.) In this way, Guru Sahib baptized Himself and it was at this point that his name changed from Gobind Rai to Gobind Singh. With this said, we can take Bhai Gurdas Ji’s verse and state how it clearly makes sense, when he states about Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji that: “Waho Waho Gobind Singh Aape gur Chela”. He Himself was Guru and He himself became a Chela, when He initiated Himself. He became a Guru and disciple in one and the same time. After Guru Ji initiated himself, he administered Amrit to the five Beloved ones (Panj Pyaras). Bhai Sarup Das Bhalla also mentions in his Granth Mehma Parkash that Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji took Amrit first of all and then gave it to Panj Pyaras. (Sakhi Patshahi 10 Sakhi # 18). Let us repeat the wording of Bhai Kahn Singh Ji: “According to Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, Rahitnamas are countless in number, which have been written by devoted Sikhs according to their intellect and belief. So only those sayings of the Rahitnaamas are acceptable which are not opposed to Gurbani and Bhai Gurdas’s writing.” It is an established fact in Sikh history that our Guru Sahibaan had their meals first and then gave the “Seet Parshad” (holy food) to their Sikhs through distributing it equally. This maryada still exists in the same form even today as can be seen, when Karah Prashad is first offered to Guru Sahib and then given to the Sangat. In Sikh tradition, Karah Prashad is covered by a clean cloth and placed on a low clean platform in front of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Then, a Sikh removes his kirpan (a ceremonial short sword) from its sheath and stands facing the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and holds the handle of the kirpan between each of his folded hands. After this, the Sikh touches the kirpan to the prashad and passes the steel through it (at a specific moment during Ardas when Guru Sahib is requested to taste the Prashad, just prior to conclusion of Ardas). In this manner, it is clear that the parshad is first offered to Guru Sahib and then to the sangat without any discrimination or regard to social rank, a person’s status, a person’s caste, color or creed. In Sikh history we cannot find even a single instance, where Prashad was first offered to the sangat and then to Guru Sahib. So, tying this example back to Amrit and the foundation which is in place throughout Sikh history, it is important to note that Karah Prashad is offered to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji before it is distributed among the sangat. Similarly, it makes sense that Amrit was first taken by Guru Sahib Himself and then given to the five beloved ones.

In this way it is acceptable to see how the events occurred, but the other way around, it is not logical to believe that Amrit was first offered to five Sikhs and then to Guru Sahib (who then changed His name from Gobind Rai to Gobind Singh). This is contrary to the Maryada (code of conduct) in place and a great dishonor to Guru Sahib as no father bows before his sons and asks for a gift, instead, it is the other way around as all blessings and gifts are bestowed upon a child by his or her father. To conclude, looking again at the writings by Bhai Kahn Singh, only those incidents which are acceptable from the Rahitnaamas that are not opposed to Gurbani or Bhai Gurdas Ji’s writings can be considered truthful. Therefore, by ignoring Bhai Chaupa Singh’s eye witness account in his Rahitnaama and believing that Guru Sahib kneeled before his Five Sikhs, we are not honoring our Guru Sahib, but instead are dishonoring our spiritual father by seeing him as a mere mortal and not a heavenly being and possessor of eternal gifts which he so clearly possesses. Please excuse me for any shortcoming. (Inserted by Balbir Singh M.A. humble servant of Dhan Dhan Baba Isher Singh Ji of Nanaksar)