s Sikhs, we often ask why read the same Bani every day? Isn’t it enough to read and understand it once? Within this article, we will answer these questions and explore different perspectives on the importance of doing Nitnem (Sikh Daily Prayers) every day.
Nitnem is a Daily Spiritual Cleanse
When you read Gurbani first thing in the morning, you're having a big bath of truth. As you start to progress spiritually, your soul begins to like hearing this beautiful truth that Gurbani is full of. Having a bath first thing in the morning, makes you feel nice and clean. Similarly, having a bath of truth makes you strong. Throughout the day, we become influenced by our surroundings and society. After this, you do Rehras Sahib (Evening Daily Sikh Prayer) and are brought back into what you were thinking of in the morning. Then, before you go to sleep, you do Kirtan Sohila (Bedtime daily Sikh Prayer) to remind yourself of the truth again. Doing Kirtan Sohila is a way of washing the filth of the world that falls upon us during the day while engaging in worldly matters.
Nitnem is Food for the Soul
We eat three meals a day every day, similarly, our soul needs the food of Giaan (divine wisdom). Guru Arjan Dev Ji say in Sukhmani Sahib (Prayer of Peace),
ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕਾ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਗਿਆਨ ॥
The person who is spiritually enlightened eats (lives off) divine wisdom.
Paatth (Recitation of Gurbani) is a way of filling ourselves up with truth and love, it keeps us strong and healthy. Nitnem prepares us for any obstacles we may come across and helps us react in the best way. It is the food that sustains us throughout the day. If we have a big meal in the morning by doing our Nitnem, we will feel strong throughout the day. Then by the evening, when we're getting a bit hungry again, we have another big meal by doing Rehraas Sahib. At nighttime, Kirtan Sohila keeps us going until the morning. Every day, this routine repeats.
Nitnem is an Expression of Love for the Guru
Guru Sahib uses the analogy of a bride and her husband, to reaffirm that love is a very important part of any relationship. If somebody loves Vaheguru and their Guru, then they wake up every morning and express that love by singing Paatth (Reciting Gurbani). Gurbani is not simply teaching us about the way, it is the way! By singing Gurbani with love, we can look through Guru Nanak Dev Ji's eyes and see our Guru.
ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਬਾਣੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਸਾਰੇ ॥
The Word, the Bani is Guru, and Guru is the Bani. Within the Bani, the Ambrosial Nectar is contained.
Reading Gurbani with love and devotion becomes a spiritual act in itself and an act of love. Imagine you are in love and hug your beloved, you would receive a lot of joy from doing this. Similarly, doing Paatth becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. It's a joy to be able to do Paatth. In the following quote from Benti Chaupai Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh Ji says, “let me be thirsty to do your praises, to sing your praises.” We can only ask our Guru to give us the thirst for this,
ਤੋਰਿ ਭਜਨ ਕੀ ਰਹੈ ਪਿਯਾਸਾ ॥੩੭੯॥
Let my thirst for Thy Name remain afresh.379.
Nitnem is Deep and Condensed
Paatth is deep and condensed, we must contemplate it daily in order to understand it. For example, when one studies philosophy, they spend a lot of time reading one concept multiple times. This is because within a paragraph, they go through many different concepts, and have to read it multiple times to understand what it is trying to say. This concept applies to Gurbani as well, but Gurbani is far more densely packed. One Shabad is enough to teach you how to live a beautiful life. Sri JapJi Sahib is so deep that it takes a long time to unpack and take on that wisdom. You need to contemplate it daily. You can't just read it once and hope to completely understand that meaning. Every day you're going to be getting only a certain percentage of that density.
Nitnem is a Conversation with your Guru
Doing your Nitnem is like having a conversation with your Guru every day. It is hearing and seeing things that Guru Sahib Ji wants you to know. Guru Sahib Ji is telling you all of these valuable things through Paatth because Gurbani is the Guru.
ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਮੇਰਾ ਨੀਤ ਨਵਾ ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਦਾਤਾਰੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
My Lord and Master is forever new; He is the Giver, forever and ever. ||1||Pause||
This Shabad means my Lord is new to me every day and never gets old. Every day is a new day, so if you are committed to following Gursikhi and Gurmat (the Guru’s way), then reading Paatth every morning is reaffirming your commitment to Guru Sahib Ji.
Paatth is Unique to Sikhi
Sikhs’ read Japji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Anand Sahib, and more every day, some people even read Sukhmani Sahib, Asa di Vaar, and other Banis daily. All of these Paatths are written by our Gurus, who also read these Paatths every day. We know from history when Bhai Lehna Ji (Name of Guru Angad Dev Ji before becoming Guru (Second Sikh Guru)) met Guru Nanak Dev Ji, he read Jap Ji Sahib daily. Reading Paatth is reaffirming the things that the Gurus’ have done themselves. It means that we place our trust in them, and this transforms us from the inside.
Guru Sahib Ji is an alchemist. The highest art of alchemy is to convert the human being into something higher. The following Gurbani pangti (line) from Asa Di Vaar says that I'm a sacrifice to my Guru, who made demigods out of mere mortals.
ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ਗੁਰ ਆਪਣੇ ਦਿਉਹਾੜੀ ਸਦ ਵਾਰ ॥ਜਿਨਿ ਮਾਣਸ ਤੇ ਦੇਵਤੇ ਕੀਏ ਕਰਤ ਨ ਲਾਗੀ ਵਾਰ ॥੧॥
A hundred times a day, I am a sacrifice to my Guru; He made angels out of men, without delay.
Earn The Wealth of Naam
Kamaee means to earn. When something is difficult, we require a lot of hard work and effort to achieve it. If you want to be a great Kirtani (Devotional Music Singer), or to learn Tabla (Classical Indian Percussion Instrument), it will take you a lot of time and dedication to become a master. You won't be able to get it straight away, this is the same with Paatth. To get a real appreciation of the flavour of this Paatth, you have to do it every day. Then, at some point, you will truly appreciate how beautiful it is.
Guru Sahib Ji wrote Nitnem for a reason. If you feel that it's worth testing your Guru on this, I suggest that you choose a Paatth you would like to learn, a Nitnem Paatth or any other Paatth. Do it every day for 40 days or two/three months and see how much flavour you get from that Paatth. This is the Kamaee (spiritual earning) of Naam.
We should always start our Paatth by doing Ardaas. Do an Ardaas to Guru Sahib Ji saying, please help me to appreciate this Paatth and understand it. Please help me to appreciate your Naam, Jap Naam (chant God’s Name) and value it. Then, when you start doing it, Guru Sahib Ji automatically helps you. That's the beauty of our Guru, he's here right now and not going anywhere.
Nitnem Builds a Sense of Community
Guru Sahib came on Earth not only to give us the beautiful wisdom that they had, but also to change the world. Guru Sahib Ji say in their Bani (writings) that I've come to spread Dharam (righteousness). Khalsa being Akaal Purakh Ki Fauj (The Army of the Timeless Being), along with all Sikhs, effectively become Guru's hands and fingers on this planet. We are trying to achieve Guru Sahib Ji's aim of running the world based on compassion. If we are going to achieve that, we need to have a community that can work together. Nitnem helps build that community. For example, it is amazing to see that all Muslims bow down towards the Kaaba. Similarly, Guru Granth Sahib Ji and Nitnem bind us together. We also have to memorize the Panj Bania (five morning daily Sikh prayers) to become part of the Panj Piaare (five beloved ones). We cannot memorize these Banis unless we start doing Paatth every day. It is difficult to memorize Paatth sometimes, but doing Nitnem makes this much easier. Memorizing these Banis also makes reading Nitnem even more beautiful.
Gurparsad - Guru’s Grace
Nitnem is prescribed in the Rehit (daily code of conduct). It is Guru Sahib Ji's hukam (order) that we do our Nitnem every day. Gurparsad (Guru’s Grace) is a very important part of being a Sikh. One gets Gurparsad by pleasing their Guru. This Gurbani Pangti from Sukhmani Sahib says, the Guru gives their Sikh the treasure of the Naam.
ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸਿਖ ਕਉ ਨਾਮ ਧਨੁ ਦੇਇ ॥
The True Guru gives His Sikh the wealth of the Naam.
Guru Sahib Ji can give us Gurparsad, but we also have to follow what our Guru says to get Gurparsad. We see the example of Bhai Lehna Ji in Sikh history, Bhai Lehna Ji followed Guru Nanak Dev Ji with his entire mind, body and soul. Guru Nanak Dev Ji then blessed Bhai Lehna Ji with Guruship. Another example is the Panj Piaare (five beloved ones) who gave their lives and heads to Guru Gobind Singh Ji. With Guru Sahib Ji’s Grace, they became the Guru Khalsa Panth. The question now becomes, why not do Nitnem every day to please your Guru?
This article is a transcribed version of the video