God's Aartee is the Kirtan of His Praises,
which brings lasting Bliss (sggs 393). <><><><>

In the Vedic Dharma, as a religious ritual, Aartee (also spelt Arati - waving of the lighted lamps at the end of worship) is performed in front of deities several times a day; specifically at the conclusion of a religious ceremony (conclusion of worship etc.). It is accompanied by the singing of a special compositions called "Aartee". Sometime Aartee is also performed in front of a so called holy man. Generally, the ingredients of the Aartee include lamps (Deepak or Devaas), wicks, bowl (Thaal or plate), incense, flowers, fan (Chavar), Ghee (clarified butter), camphor, jingle bells, sandalwood paste, saffron, and so on.

Sometime, Aartee of this sort being performed in front of the SGGS (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) can also be witnessed at the conclusion of the so called "Akhand Paath" (uninterrupted page to page reading of the SGGS). Also, as indicated at the official web site of the Shiromani Gurdawaaraa Parbandhak Committee (s.g.p.c.), one of the the Shabad-Chowkies (music or Kirtan sessions) performed at the Harmandir Sahib is called Aaratee.

What was Baabaa Nanak's ਆਰਤੀ - Aartee? He did not perform Aartee in front of any religious text, deity or human body. His Aartee is by the Infinite, of the Infinite and for the Infinite. The lamps of his Aartee are the Sun and the Moon, placed on the Thaal (bowl or plate) of the sky. The Stars in the constellations are the pearls placed on this Thaal. The fragrance of the sandalwood is the incense, the wind is the fan, and all the vegetation are flowers in offering. Transcendental vibratory sound current of the Shabad is the sounding of the bells. Then, Baabaa Nanak exclaims, "What a beautiful Aartee this is! O Destroyer of fear, this is Your Aartee, Your worship service."

  • ਗਗਨ ਮੈ ਥਾਲੁ ਰਵਿ ਚੰਦੁ ਦੀਪਕ ਬਨੇ ਤਾਰਿਕਾ ਮੰਡਲ ਜਨਕ ਮੋਤੀ ॥ ਧੂਪੁ ਮਲਆਨਲੋ ਪਵਣੁ ਚਵਰੋ ਕਰੇ ਸਗਲ ਬਨਰਾਇ ਫੂਲੰਤ ਜੋਤੀ ॥੧॥ ਕੈਸੀ ਆਰਤੀ ਹੋਇ ਭਵ ਖੰਡਨਾ ਤੇਰੀ ਆਰਤੀ ॥ ਅਨਹਤਾ ਸਬਦ ਵਾਜੰਤ ਭੇਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਸਹਸ ਤਵ ਨੈਨ ਨਨ ਨੈਨ ਹੈ ਤੋਹਿ ਕਉ ਸਹਸ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਨਨਾ ਏਕ ਤੋਹੀ ॥ ਸਹਸ ਪਦ ਬਿਮਲ ਨਨ ਏਕ ਪਦ ਗੰਧ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਹਸ ਤਵ ਗੰਧ ਇਵ ਚਲਤ ਮੋਹੀ ॥੨॥ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਹੈ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਤਿਸ ਕੈ ਚਾਨਣਿ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਸਾਖੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਜੋ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਸੁ ਆਰਤੀ ਹੋਇ ॥੩॥ ਹਰਿ ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਮਕਰੰਦ ਲੋਭਿਤ ਮਨੋ ਅਨਦਿਨੋ ਮੋਹਿ ਆਹੀ ਪਿਆਸਾ ॥ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਜਲੁ ਦੇਹਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਰਿੰਗ ਕਉ ਹੋਇ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਤੇਰੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਵਾਸਾ ॥੪॥੧॥੭॥੯॥: Gagan mai thaal ravi chand deepak bane taarikaa mandal janak motee. Dhoop malaaanalo pavan chavro kare sagal banraae phoolant joti. Kaisee aartee hoi bhav khandanaa teree aartee. Anhataa sabad vaajant bheree ...: In the bowl of the sky, the sun and moon are the lamps; the stars in the constellations are the pearls. The fragrance of sandalwood is the incense, the wind is the fan, and all the vegetation are flowers in offering to You, O Luminous Being. || 1 || What a beautiful lamp-lit worship service this is! O Destroyer of fear, this is Your Aartee, Your worship service. The Transcendental vibratory sound current of the Shabad is the sounding of the temple drums. || 1 || Pause || (For you pervade all beings) Thousands are Your eyes, and yet You have no eyes (Because your are Transcendent). Thousands are Your forms, and yet You have not even one form. Thousands are Your lotus feet, and yet You have no feet. Thousands are Your noses, yet you are without a nose. I am enchanted with Your play! || 2 || You are that One Divine Light which pervades within everyone. Yours is that Light which shines within everyone (as consciousness). (But) by the Guru's Teachings, this Divine Light is revealed. To accept the Divine Will (Bhaanaa) and live accordingly is the true Aartee. || 3 || O Divine, my soul is enticed by Your honey-sweet lotus feet (i.e., Divine Name); night and day, I thirst for them. Bless Nanak, the thirsty song-bird, with the water of Your Mercy, that he may come to dwell in Your Name (sggs 663).

Why Baabaa Nanak's Aartee was unique and different from the traditional Aartee? Understanding the meaning of the word "Aartee" and the symbolism of the paraphernalia used in the act, may help us understand this.

The Sanskrit word Aartee literally means "cessation" or "coming to an end". Thus, Aartee symbolizes surrender (Sharnaagati) - the final end of ego (Haume) or the the final relinquishment of ego to God within. Just as the camphor used in the ritual dissolves into nothingness without leaving any residue (camphor burns without leaving any residue), so too should the individual merge in the Divine Hukam (Will), so too should we make an offering of the only thing that is truly ours to give - the ego (Haume). Only when we give up our erroneous concepts of "I-ness" and "mine, mine" will our worship truly be complete and will we receive the ultimate Prasaad (Grace or Kirpaa) - the awakening of Divine Love in our heart and realization of the Absolute, Pure Consciousness that is everyone's True Nature ("Joti-Svaroopa"). Accordingly, The SGGS calls God's Name as His Aartee, which brings lasting Bliss (Anand).

  • ਆਰਤੀ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦ ॥: Aaratee keertan sadaa anand: God's Aartee is the Kirtan of His Praises, which brings lasting Bliss (sggs 393).
  • ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਆਰਤੀ ਮਜਨੁ ਮੁਰਾਰੇ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨੁ ਝੂਠੇ ਸਗਲ ਪਾਸਾਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਆਸਨੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਉਰਸਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਕੇਸਰੋ ਲੇ ਛਿਟਕਾਰੇ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਅੰਭੁਲਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਚੰਦਨੋ ਘਸਿ ਜਪੇ ਨਾਮੁ ਲੇ ਤੁਝਹਿ ਕਉ ਚਾਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਦੀਵਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਬਾਤੀ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਤੇਲੁ ਲੇ ਮਾਹਿ ਪਸਾਰੇ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ ਭਇਓ ਉਜਿਆਰੋ ਭਵਨ ਸਗਲਾਰੇ ॥੨॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਤਾਗਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਫੂਲ ਮਾਲਾ ਭਾਰ ਅਠਾਰਹ ਸਗਲ ਜੂਠਾਰੇ ॥ ਤੇਰੋ ਕੀਆ ਤੁਝਹਿ ਕਿਆ ਅਰਪਉ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਤੁਹੀ ਚਵਰ ਢੋਲਾਰੇ ॥੩॥ ਦਸ ਅਠਾ ਅਠਸਠੇ ਚਾਰੇ ਖਾਣੀ ਇਹੈ ਵਰਤਣਿ ਹੈ ਸਗਲ ਸੰਸਾਰੇ ॥ ਕਹੈ ਰਵਿਦਾਸੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਆਰਤੀ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਭੋਗ ਤੁਹਾਰੇ ॥੪॥੩॥: Naam tero aartee majan muraare. Har ke naam bin jhoothe sagal paasaare ||1|| Rahaaou ||....: Your Name, Lord, is my Aartee and cleansing bath (at the sacred shrines of pilgrimage). Without Your Name, Lord, all ostentatious displays are useless. ||1||Pause|| Your Name is my prayer mat (sitting on which thw priest worship the diety), and Your Name is the stone to grind the sandalwood. Your Name is the saffron which I take and sprinkle in offering to You. Your Name is the water, and Your Name is the sandalwood. The chanting of Your Name is the grinding of the sandalwood (of Your Name with the water of Your Name). I take this (Sadlwood of Your Naam-Simran) and offer it to You. ||1|| Your Name is the lamp, and Your Name is the wick. Your Name is the oil I pour into it. Your Name is the light applied to this lamp, which enlightens and illuminates the entire world. ||2|| Your Name is the thread, and Your Name is the garland of flowers. The eighteen loads of vegetation are all impure (in comparison to Your Name) to offer to You. Why should I offer to You, that which You Yourself created? Your Name is the fan, which I wave over You. ||3|| The whole world (forgetting Your Name) is engrossed in the eighteen Puraanas, the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage, and the four sources of creation (born of eggs, wombs, sweat and earth ). Says Ravi Daas, Your Name is my Aartee. Also, Your True (eternal) Name, Sat Naam, is the food which I offer to You. ||4||3|| (sggs 694).
  • ਧੂਪ ਦੀਪ ਘ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਾਜਿ ਆਰਤੀ ॥ ਵਾਰਨੇ ਜਾਉ ਕਮਲਾ ਪਤੀ ॥੧॥ ਮੰਗਲਾ ਹਰਿ ਮੰਗਲਾ ॥ ਨਿਤ ਮੰਗਲੁ ਰਾਜਾ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਇ ਕੋ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਊਤਮੁ ਦੀਅਰਾ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਬਾਤੀ ॥ ਤੁਹਂ‍ੀ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਕਮਲਾ ਪਾਤੀ ॥੨॥ ਰਾਮਾ ਭਗਤਿ ਰਾਮਾਨੰਦੁ ਜਾਨੈ ॥ ਪੂਰਨ ਪਰਮਾਨੰਦੁ ਬਖਾਨੈ ॥੩॥ ਮਦਨ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਭੈ ਤਾਰਿ ਗੋਬਿੰਦੇ ॥ ਸੈਨੁ ਭਣੈ ਭਜੁ ਪਰਮਾਨੰਦੇ ॥੪॥੨॥: Dhoop deep ghrit saaj aaratee ...: , O Lord of Maya, I am a sacrifice to You, (to be sacrifice to You) is offering the Aartee to You with incense, lamps, Ghee (etc.) ||1|| O Lord, O King, with your kindness I am always in Bliss (with the Simran of your Name)! ||1||Pause|| (O Lord of Maya, You for me are) the sublime lamp and pure wick. ||2|| One who sings the praises of the Lord of supreme Joy, enjoys Him with the His devotion. ||3|| Says Sain (O my mind), remember the Beautiful Lord who carries across the terrifying world-ocean and who takes care of the universe ||4||2|| (sggs 695).
  • ਪ੍ਰਭਾਤੀ ॥ ਸੁੰਨ ਸੰਧਿਆ ਤੇਰੀ ਦੇਵ ਦੇਵਾਕਰ ਅਧਪਤਿ ਆਦਿ ਸਮਾਈ ॥ ਸਿਧ ਸਮਾਧਿ ਅੰਤੁ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਇਆ ਲਾਗਿ ਰਹੇ ਸਰਨਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਲੇਹੁ ਆਰਤੀ ਹੋ ਪੁਰਖ ਨਿਰੰਜਨ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪੂਜਹੁ ਭਾਈ ॥ ਠਾਢਾ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਨਿਗਮ ਬੀਚਾਰੈ ਅਲਖੁ ਨ ਲਖਿਆ ਜਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਤਤੁ ਤੇਲੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਕੀਆ ਬਾਤੀ ਦੀਪਕੁ ਦੇਹ ਉਜ੍ਯ੍ਯਾਰਾ ॥ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਾਇ ਜਗਦੀਸ ਜਗਾਇਆ ਬੂਝੈ ਬੂਝਨਹਾਰਾ ॥੨॥ ਪੰਚੇ ਸਬਦ ਅਨਾਹਦ ਬਾਜੇ ਸੰਗੇ ਸਾਰਿੰਗਪਾਨੀ ॥ ਕਬੀਰ ਦਾਸ ਤੇਰੀ ਆਰਤੀ ਕੀਨੀ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਨਿਰਬਾਨੀ ॥੩॥੫॥: Prabhaatee || Sunn sandhiaa teree dev devaakar adhapati aadi samaaee ...: Prabhaatee. O Lord, You are the Divine Light, the lord of the universe, the Primal, All-pervading. The Siddhas in Samaadhi have not found Your limits. They (finally) seek Your Sanctuary. (You are untainted by Maya) To keep the mind (Sunn) free from the taint of Maya (and staying attached to you) is performing Your Aaratee ||1||. O Brother, walk on the path shown by the True Guru. Perform Aaratee of that Lord who is unaffected by Maya, all-pervading, without any marks, indescribable, and standing at whose Door, Brahma studies the Vedas. ||1||Pause|| (Whoever understands the secret of real Aaratee) makes the knowledge about the Essence of Reality the oil, the Divine Name (Naam) the wick and the body the illluminated lamp (of the Naam). He has illumined this Lamp by linking himself with the Lord. (Only a rare person) of Knowledge (Wisdom, Giaan, ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ, etc.) understands this (secret). ||2|| O Formless Lord of the universe, this slave of Yours, Kabeer, has also performed Your (similar) Aartee (as a result of which) I see You with me (Ang-Sang) and hear the sounding of the Unstruck Melody of the Panch Shabad. ||3||5|| (sggs 1350).

Thus, the main purpose of the Aartee is self-purification. It reminds us of the greatness of the Lord. The flame of the lamp that people wave cylindrically is symbolic of the revolving of Sun, Moon, Stars, etc. The Sun and the Moon are likened to the lamp: the Sun as the lamp of Intuitive Knowledge, and the Moon as the lamp of Intuitive Peace. Their all-reaching light, free nature, and even-vision reminds us of the One Transcendental Reality dwelling in everyone and everyplace evenly and ceaselessly. The light of the flame represents the spiritual wisdom that dispels the darkness of ignorance, and steadfastness or one-pointedness of the mind - analogous to a flame that is steady or unwavering. It also reminds us that we should lit the oil lamps of selflessness and divine love in our hearts so that they can become the light of the world. Camphor represents our ego. Traditional Aartee contains five wicks on the lamp representing our five senses. In other words, along with our ego, the Aartee consists of offering of our five senses to God (their demands, desires, coverings or colors). It's praying to God that all our negativities and defilements get burnt out just as the camphor, which burns without leaving any trace like the bird that flies in the sky without leaving any trace or the fish that swims in the water without leaving any mark. During Aartee, people also close their eyes. This signifies looking within. As God is said to be within, He can only be realized within. The rising up of the Dhoop or incense stick signifies our loving devotion rising up towards God. The sound of the bells represents the wish that the Transcendental vibratory sound of the primordial Word may resonate within and invoke good tendencies, replacing all Bikaars (mind's negative propensities).

  • ਰਵਿ ਸਸਿ ਦੇਖਉ ਦੀਪਕ ਉਜਿਆਲਾ॥ਸਰਬ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮੁ ਬਾਲਾ ॥: Ravi sasi Dekho deepak oujiaalaa. Sarab nirantar preetam baalaa: In the lamps of the sun and the moon, I see the Divine Light. Dwelling among all is my ever-youthful Beloved (sggs 223).
  • ਰਵਿ ਸਸਿ ਦੀਪਕ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਦੁਆਰੈ ਮਨਿ ਸਾਚਾ ਮੁਖਿ ਧਿਆਵਏ ॥: Ravi sasi deepak gurmati duaarai mani saachaa mukhi dhiaavae: The person who always meditates on the Divine Name, in the mind and with the mouth, through the Divine Teaching the lamp of Knowledge ("sun") and the lamp of Peace ("moon") ever reamin lit within him (sggs 1110 ).
  • ਰਵਿ ਸਸਿ ਦੀਪਕ ਜਾ ਕੇ ਤ੍ਰਿਭਵਣਿ ਏਕਾ ਜੋਤਿ ਮੁਰਾਰਿ ॥: Ravi sasi deepak jaa ke tribhavan ekaa joti muraari: His lamps are the sun and the moon; the One Light of the Destroyer of ego fills the three worlds (sggs 489).
  • ਭਾਈ ਰੇ ਮੈਲੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਜਲਿ ਨਾਇ ॥ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਸਾਚਾ ਏਕੁ ਤੂ ਹੋਰ ਮੈਲੁ ਭਰੀ ਸਭ ਜਾਇ ॥1॥ਰਹਾਉ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਸੋਹਣਾ ਕੀਆ ਕਰਣੈਹਾਰਿ ॥ ਰਵਿ ਸਸਿ ਦੀਪ ਅਨੂਪ ਜੋਤਿ, ਤ੍ਰਿਭਵਣਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਅਪਾਰ ॥: Bhaaee re mail naahee niramal jali naai...: O Siblings of Destiny, the mental filth is washed away by bathing in the Pure Water of the Name. You alone are Perfectly Pure, O True Lord; all other places are filled with filth (of Maya). By applying the Pure water of the Divine Name, the body temple (senses) is made pure and beutiful. The "sun" of Knowledge and the "moon" of Peace shine become lit within, and the Infinite Light of the Lord of the three worlds shines forth (sggs 57).
  • ਜਿਉ ਆਕਾਸੈ ਪੰਖੀਅਲੋ ਖੋਜੁ ਨਿਰਖਿਓ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥ ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਮਾਝੈ ਮਾਛਲੋ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਪੇਖਣੋ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥੨॥ ਜਿਉ ਆਕਾਸੈ ਘੜੂਅਲੋ ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਭਰਿਆ ॥ ਨਾਮੇ ਚੇ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਬੀਠਲੋ ਜਿਨਿ ਤੀਨੈ ਜਰਿਆ ॥੩॥੨॥: Jiou aakaasai pankheealo khoj nirkhio n jaaee. Jiou jal maajhai maashalo maarag pekhano n jaaee. ||2|| Jiou aakaasai gharhooalo mrig trisanaa bhariaa. Naame che suaamee beethalo jin teenai jariaa ||3||2||: As the path of a bird’s flight across the sky cannot be seen. As the path of a fish through the water cannot be seen. ||2|| As the mirage leads one to mistake the sky for a pitcher filled with water ( more we move towards the mirage-water, we never find its limit or end)— so is God, says Naam Dev, who fits these three comparisons (i.e., He cannot be completely described; He is Infinite - His Limits cannot be found; etc.) ||3||2|| (sggs 525).

Now, just pause for a moment and think cool-headedly as to how useless it would be to keep performing or singing ritualistic Aartee if ultimately it does not lead one to self-purification through self-observation! If self-purification has taken place, then the Aartee becomes that of Baabaa Nanak, which transcends the ritualistic Aartee. The purpose of reading or hearing the Gurbani (SGGS) is to become Nanak-like (or Godlike). This is the state in which the "rare" Gurmukh (enlightened being) ever abides. Rest of us just keep groping in Maya (the principle of relativity and duality).

— T. Singh