Taking Amrit: Initiation

When a SikhSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... woman or man comes of age, she or he is eligible to join the KhalsaGuru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, created the Khalsa, the “alliance of the pure” in 1699. When a Sikh comes of age or is ready for a greater level of commitment, he or she joins the Khalsa through the special initiation known as “taking amrit...., or the “alliance of the pure.” The rite of initiation is called “taking amritAmrit means “immortal nectar,” and “taking amrit” is a term used for initiation into the Khalsa, the order of fully committed Sikhs. A bowl of water with sugar crystals is stirred with a double-edged sword, while sacred hymns are recited, infusing....” It is expected that sometime within the life of a Sikh he or she will undergo this initiation, and all SikhsSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... aspire to do so. It is not necessarily for the young, though young people are often inspired to commitment to the Khalsa. As a writer for the American Sikh Review put it, “A Sikh should only take amrit when he is mature enough to realise the nature of the obligations which full membership of the Khalsa demands.”

Today in the U.S., taking amrit is one of the most important ceremonies in the life of a Sikh. The name refers to the drinking of immortal nectar (amrit), an essential part of the ceremony of commitment. The proper name of the rite is khande di pahul, the “nectar of the double-edged sword.” A bowl of water with sugar crystals is stirred with a double edged sword, while sacred hymns are recited, infusing the nectar with the power of the Divine Word. It is this water, which has now become the amrit, that is sipped by those who become members of the Khalsa.

The Khalsa was established by the great Guru Gobind SinghGuru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) was the tenth Guru of the Sikh tradition. He is primarily known for establishing the community of Sikh initiates called the Khalsa and for installing the Adi Granth as his successor, thereby closing the line of Gurus. in 1699. According to tradition, Guru Gobind SinghGuru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) was the tenth Guru of the Sikh tradition. He is primarily known for establishing the community of Sikh initiates called the Khalsa and for installing the Adi Granth as his successor, thereby closing the line of Gurus. gathered the entire Sikh community on the day of BaisakhiBaisakhi is held on the first day of the lunar month of Baisakh, which falls in the month of April. One of the main events of the day is the raising of a new Nishan Sahib, the Sikh flag. Baisakhi also marks the anniversary of the first initiations into th.... He stood with sword drawn and asked for five Sikhs who would offer their heads to him. Five devout Sikhs came forward, prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. From this courageous core, Guru Gobind SinghUpon initiation into the Khalsa, Sikh men assume the name Singh, “Lion.” created the Khalsa, a new Sikh order. He gave them all the name Singh, “lion,” and gave them the five signs of their new identity: the sword, the steel bracelet, the comb, the undershorts, and the uncut hair. Finally, he gave them nectar, amrit, from a common bowl, stirred with his sword. From the time of Guru Gobind Singh on, Sikhs have greeted one another saying, “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa”— “The Khalsa belongs to God”—and responded saying, “Waheguru ji ki Fateh”—“The Victory belongs to GodGod is a term used to refer to the Divine, the Supreme being, Transcendent deity, or Ultimate reality..”

Five Sikhs are required to act as initiators in the rite of taking amrit. They represent the panj piaras, the “five beloved ones” who were the first to come forward and join the Khalsa. They should be observant Khalsa members themselves. Both men and women serve as panj piaras. The first step in the ceremony is to prepare the amrit. One by one, the five beloved ones stir the amrit, each reciting in turn one of the five main prayersPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not.. However, all five initiators kneel together around the iron bowl of amrit for the entire recitation, which may take two hours.

Next, each of the initiates comes forward and kneels. Each drinks from the iron bowl and is sprinkled on the hair and eyes with some of the amrit. Each affirms the salutation, “The Khalsa belongs to GodThe term god with a small “g” is used to refer to a deity or class of deities whose power is understood to be circumscribed or localized rather than universal, or to refer to a plurality of deities.! The Victory belongs to God!” One of the five initiators explains the seriousness of taking the step into the Khalsa. From this day forward, they must offer all the daily prayers, from morning to evening, and lead an exemplary life of Sikh discipline. “From this day on, your existence as an ordinary individual has ceased. You are members of the Khalsa. Your religious father is Guru Gobind Singh and Sahib KaurAll Sikh women who have joined the Khalsa assume the name Kaur, “Princess.” is your mother. Your common spiritual parentage makes you all brothers and sisters.” The initiates take a new name—Singh for the men and Kaur for the women. Far from being a renunciation of the world, joining the Khalsa is a full-time commitment to a new family of Sikhs.


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