Ardas is the prayer/address to God that we can do any time, but is typically done after reciting our daily Banis, after a service at the Gurdwara, important events, and before and after completing something important in our lives. The Ardas can be done in Sangat or as an individual, it can be done out loud, or silently. The Ardas is included in gutkas but is not a part of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. We have added onto it over the years in memory of significant parts of our history. In western culture we often talk about the importance of remembering the past so that it is not repeated in the future, which is why we have days like remembrance day. In our daily Ardas we remember all the sacrifices that Sikhs made before us to get to where we are today. Most importantly, we remember God, who created us, and re-center on the purpose of our lives. Towards the end of the Ardas is where you say what specifically you are doing the Ardas for. Then, as Gyani Ji pointed out at the Gurdwara a few weeks ago, we say a prayer for the well-being for everyone in the world. I would encourage everyone, next time we stand in Ardas to pay attention closely to what is being said. I didn’t understand parts of the Ardas until this year when I began to understand the historical events like Saka Nankana Sahib which led us to where we are today. Here is an English translation of the Ardas:
One universal creator God; Victory belongs to the Wondrous Destroyer of darkness. May the might of the All-powerful help! Ode to his might by the 10th Lord (Guru Gobind Singh).
Having first thought of the almighty’s prowess, let us think of Guru Nanak. Then of Guru Angad, Amar Das and Ram Das- may they be our rescuers! Remember then, Guru Arjan, Hargobind and Sri Har Rai. Meditate then on revered Sri Harkrishan remembering whom all the suffering vanishes.Think then of Guru Tegh Bahadur, remembrance of whom brings all nine treasures*. He comes to rescue everywhere. Then of the tenth Lord, revered Guru Gobind Singh Ji! Who comes to the rescue everywhere. The embodiment of the light of all ten sovereign lordships, the Guru Granth- think of its reading and teachings, and say ‘Vahiguru (Wondrous Destroyer of darkness)’!
The Five Beloved Ones [These are our Panj Pyare Bhai Daya Singh Ji, Bhai Dharam Singh Ji, Bhai Himmat Singh Ji, Bhai Mohkam Singh Ji, and Bhai Sahib Singh Ji. For more information see our post from Vaisakhi last year], Four Sons of the Tenth Guru [the Sahibzaade], Forty Liberated Ones [see the post below about Mai Bhago], determined ones, constant repeaters of the Divine Name, those given to sincere devotion, those who repeated the Nam, shared their fare with others, ran free kitchen, wielded the sword, overlooked faults and shortcomings- meditating on the achievement of such dear and truthful ones, say O Khalsa, ‘Vahiguru (Wondrous Destroyer of darkness)’!
The male and female members of the Khalsa who laid down their lives in the cause of dharma (religion and righteousness), got their bodies dismembered bit by bit, got their skulls sawn off, got mounted on spiked wheels, got their bodies sawn, made sacrifices in the service of the shrines (Gurdwaras), did not betray their faith, sustained their adherence to the Sikh faith with sacred unshorn hair uptill their last breath, mediate on their achievement and say, O’ Khalsa, ‘Vahiguru (Wondrous Destroyer of darkness)’!
Thinking of the 5 thrones (seats of religious authority) [this refers to the 5 Takhts: Akal Takht Sahib, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Takht Sri Patna Sahib, and Takht Sri Hazur Sahib] and all Gurdwara, say, ‘Vahiguru Wondrous destroyer of darkness)’!
Now it is the prayer of the whole Khalsa. May the conscience of the whole Khasla, remembers Vahiguru, Vahiguru, Vahiguru and in consequence of such remembrance may total well-being be bestowed. Wherever there are communities of the Khalsa may there be divine protection and grace. The prevalence of the basic needs and of the holy sword, protection of the tradition of grace, victory of the panth, the protection of the holy sword, the rise of the Khalsa, say ‘Vahiguru (Wondrous destroyer of darkness)’!
Unto the Sikhs the gift of the Sikh faith, the gift of the untrimmed hair, the gift of the discipline of their faith, the gift of sense of wisdom. The gift of trust, the gift of confidence and above all the gift of meditation of the Divine Bath in Sri Amritsar (holy tank at Amritsar) [this refers to the Amrit produced in the mind when we reach God and not physical location], many hymns-singing missionary parties, the flags, the mansions, abide from age to age; may righteousness reign supreme, say ‘Vahiguru (wondrous Destroyer of darkness)’!!!
May the Sikhs be imbued with humility and high wisdom, may Vahiguru guard its understanding! O’ Immortal Being, eternal helper of His Panth, benevolent Lord! Bestow on the Khalsa the beneficence of unobstructed visit to and free management of Nankana sahib and other shrines and places of the Guru from which the panth has been separated [this is in memory of Saka Nankana Sahib. See my recent post for more history]. O’ Lord, the honour of the humble, the strength of the weak, aid unto those who have none to rely on, True Father, Wondrous Destroyer of darkness! We humbly render to you…… Pardon any impermissible additions, omissions, errors, mistakes. Fulfill the purposes of all. Grant us the association of those dear ones on meeting whom one is reminded of your Name. O Nanak may the Nam (holy) be ever in ascendance! In His will may the good of all prevail.
This translation has been slightly modified from the second reference below.
*Nau Nidh means 9 Treasures of Wealth.
Traditional thought in India used to be that there was 9 worldy treasures: Padam Nidhi (attainment of children, precious metals, etc.), Mahaan Padam (precious jewels), Sankh (delicious things to eat), Makar (training to rule over others), Kachhap (clothes, food), Kund (trading gold), Neel (trading in precious stones), Mukhand (mastery of fine arts/music), Kharab (all kinds of riches). The 9 spiritual treasures which are referred to in Gurbani, however, are Bharosa (faith), Leenta (absolute absorption in God), Santokh (contentment), detachment, Hukam (accepting God’s Will), Sehaj (equilibrium of the mind), Anand (permanent bliss), Vismaad (ecstacy), Nadar (awakened soul considers God as primary reason of attainments and his own efforts mean nothing).