THE MOST SUBLIME PRAYERS

ਅਵਲਿ ਸਿਫਤਿ ਦੂਜੀ ਸਾਬੂਰੀ ॥ ਤੀਜੈ ਹਲੇਮੀ ਚਉਥੈ ਖੈਰੀ ॥
ਪੰਜਵੈ ਪੰਜੇ ਇਕਤੁ ਮੁਕਾਮੈ ਏਹਿ ਪੰਜਿ ਵਖਤ ਤੇਰੇ ਅਪਰਪਰਾ ॥੯॥:
Awali sifati doojee saabooree. teejai halemee chauthai khairee.
Panjvai panje ikatu mukaamai ehi panji bakhat tere aaparpraa ||9||:
First, is God’s Praise; second, contentment; third, humility,
and fourth, charity. Fifth is to hold one’s desires in restraint.
These are the five most sublime daily prayers (sggs 1084).
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According to Gurbani, what are the most sublime daily prayers - ਅਰਦਾਸ ( Ardas pronounced as Ardaas ; also seen spelt as Aradas or Aradaas etc.) - that will invoke God's Grace and help freeing oneself from the spell of the overpowering delusion or illusion of Maya? For the benefit of the entire mankind, outlined in the Gurbani are the following sublime, daily prayers:

1. God's praise
2. Contentment
3. Humility
4. Charity
5. Restraining of desires

Although, in the foregoing verse, the Gurbani apparently appears to have a discussion with a Muslim person, but the Teachings are Universal, thus, applicable to everybody. These prayers are of the Aatmic Jeevan (ਆਤਮਿਕ ਜੀਵਨ - Spiritual or Divine Life), which can improve one's Spiritual Life (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ).

As we can see, none of the prayers recommended by the Gur-Shabad includes asking for material favors from God. As the the Gurbani indicates, it is the attachment to "gifts" or material vision that separates one from his Mool (Source, Origin...), thereby, disconnecting him from his True Being (Joti-Svaroopa). On the other hand, attachment to the "Giver" connects him back to the Original Source within, his Mool.

The purpose of human life is to love and Realize one's Pure Self within (Mool-Source, Origin...). For achieving this Ultimate Goal (Self-realization), the Gurbani teaches us focusing our mind on the Giver rather than His gifts. This is why when a true seeker prays for Divine Communion, he does not hope in the background of his mind for the bestowal of material favors (Maya). But, those who are Pure in Heart (the Gurmukh), all the Giver's gifts are automatically added unto them! They only Reflect on the Name (Aatam-Giaan, Divine Knowledge...).

Also, as repeatedly indicated in the Gurbani, ritualistic prayers or prayers performed in hypocricy or in hunger for Maya (ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀ ਭੁਖ) are useless. Because the aim of the Gurbani is to destroy our hunger for Maya, not to increase it!

God's Praise

First in the order among all prayers is God's Praise (Glorification of the Divine Name-Giaan,Divine Knowledge...). This is particularly said to be essential for the mind that is characterized by quarrel, disagreement, cheating, deceit, cynicism, hypocrisy, duplicity, misinformation, etc. Further, we are short-lived, not very intelligent or fortunate, and we are perpetually disturbed and agitated by anxieties. In addition, our mind is ever tossing, flickering, turbulent, swift, restless, obstinate, and so strong that it often overcomes even one's own intelligence. In such unfavorable circumstances and conditions, Reflecting on the Divine Name (Giaan, Divine Knowledge...) is mentioned to be the Elixir. By drinking in it, one becomes free from the disease of ignorance of his Mool (Source, Origin...).

Although God's Praise is on the top of the list, it is followed by four additional sublime prayers as a means for a complete and sustained Spiritual Unfoldment. God's Praises through the Shabad-Vichaar (Aatam-Giaan...) prepare a seeker to embark on and Realize the remaining four essentials prayers.

Contentment

True Contentment (Sat Santokh) means not to desire anything for sense gratification. To put it otherwise, contentment is the absence of those material desires that drive the mind run in ten directions. A big part of Spiritual Awakening is contentment — righteous and truthful living. Desires bind us to the material plane. The way it works is that desires draw us to objects of senses, the senses overwhelm the mind, the sense-blind mind enslaves the soul, then the mind goes on creating sinful actions entangling the Jeeva or beings in the web of repeated suffering.

A man of no want (the Gurmukh) has everything! Therefore, the true contentment is gained by eradicating all desires and related fears; worldly as well as celestial. Thus, the true contentment is rejoicing in every situation and adversity. The Gurbani emphasizes that our ਬੇਨਤੀ / ਅਰਦਾਸ / ਜੋਦੜੀ / ਅਰਜੋਈ (prayer) has to be offered with true contentment ("ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ"). In other words, if the prayer is not offered with true contentment ("ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ"), then there can be no abidance with the Lord.

Humility

The Gurbani declares that egoism is the most dangerous disease a man can be afflicted with. Humility is the antidote to man's false ego. It puts us in a right relation to God and His creation. It brings good will to all. Therefore, it is God's Will for us to acquire humility. Accordingly, scriptures urge all beings to pursue humility as a duty.

True humility is one of the essential qualifications of a Transcendentally situated person (the Gurmukh). Divine Grace, strength, and forgiveness are promised to the humble. As the foundation for Spiritual Development, humility disposes people to live by Lord's Name (Divine Knowledge, Giaan...).

Absence Haume (egotism) means absence of its menacing Bikaars or faults such as lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride (alongwith their countless variations).

Humility has extensively been covered in a separate Gurbani article.

Charity

From material standpoint, the charity is giving Daan (to offer charitable relief, donations, alms, etc.). There is nothing wrong in giving material charities as long as it does not become an obstacle to Spiritual Progress. In this context, here is the Gurbani's word of caution: "Those who make pilgrimages to sacred shrines, observe ritualistic fasts and make donations to charity while still taking pride in their minds — O Nanak, their actions are useless, like the elephant, who takes a bath, and then rolls in the dust" (sggs 1428).

There is something else, the most sublime donation that can be given in charity — the Divine Name (Giaan, Divine Knowledge...). The Gurbani says that all Happiness is to be found in the love of the True Name. Meditating on the Divine Name within the Heart, Mayaic mentality is erased, and the person becomes the purest of the Pure, blessed with the merits of millions of ritualistic cleansing baths and donations to charity.

The way to give the charity of the Divine Name (Giaan or Divine Knowledge of the Gurbani) is through selfless sharing of the Shabad-Vichaar with others. By doing so, we not only help others but strengthen our own Giaan, confidence, convictions and faith as well. Restraining Of Desires

The man is accompanied by one dog and two bitches — greed is the dog, material and celestial desires are two bitches. In the morning, they (Maya) wake up with the man and start barking falsehood and deception.

All desires can be lumped in four types namely Dharma, Artha, Kaam, and Moksha or Mokha. The first three types of desires — Dharma, Artha, and Kaam — relate to the material realm, and are also referred to as "Bhugti" or "Bhukti" in the scriptures. The fourth desire called Moksha, also referred to as "Mukti", relates to the celestial realm. Thus, it amounts to only two types of desires, Bhugti and Mukti. These two desires are also likened to two witches. As long as these two witches (Bhugti and Mukti) reside in one's mind, until then Bhagti will not manifest in him. Since birth, we keep increasing our love for the worldly objects (Maya). Once a desire to enjoy an object springs up in the mind, it becomes agitated. It can not sit still until the desire is fulfilled. Unfortunately, in the process of filling one desire, many more desires spring up! Thus, an agitated mind ends up becoming the locus of unhappiness. Accordingly, the Gurbani puts tremendous importance and emphasis on restraining of all kinds of desires. The ultimate goal is to become desireless — not to desire anything for sense pleasures. Because Desirelessness is Godhood.

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org


Updated on Monday, February 13, 2012 1:09 PM (PST)

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