Nitnem is a specific set of prayers bound together in a Gutka prayer book which are read, or recited, as daily devotions by Sikhs. Nitnem morning prayers are read at daybreak, evening prayers are read at sunset, and bedtime prayers last thing before sleeping. What are the top ten reasons for reading daily prayers in Sikhism?
- Required every day.
Every Sikh is advised by the Sikhism code of conduct that the five Nitnem prayers panj bania (banis), are to be read or recited each and every day. Initiated Amritdhari Sikhs are instructed, and vow, to perform Nitnem daily without fail. When, for any reason, it is not possible to read, or recite, prayers, one may listen to daily devotionals either live, or recorded which are read, or recited, even sung aloud by another. Nitnem devotionals may be done alone or as group worship. For convenience, Nitnem prayer-books, and DVD recordings, as well as audio cassettes and CDs, are available in original Gurmukhi, Romanized English, and English translation.
- Strengthen Sikh Identity.
One who adheres to Sikh code of conduct complies with daily Nitnem. The practice reinforces the bond with sangat and fortifies self identification with the distinct practice of Sikhism, and its unique way of life which focuses on meditation of Gurbani as the means to enlightenment.
- Renew the Spirit of Initiation Vows.
Performing, as a part of Nitnem, the five Amrit banis recited at the time of the Amrit baptism ceremony, recreates the zealous passion of oaths taken, and stirs the soul to recommit on a daily basis.
- Improve pronunciation.
With daily repetition, the tongue, and throat, master the ability to produce proper inflection needed to pronounce individual Gurmukhi characters so as to accurately enunciate the words of Nitnem scripture. Listening to Nitnem recited aloud, both live and audio recordings while reading along is an excellent way to learn proper pronunciation of naad stimulation of pressure points by the tongue on the palette to produce sublime sound.
- Aid Gurmukhi Fluency.
Over time, the habitual reader of Nitnem banis, in original the Gurmukhi script, gains an ease and fluency which comes only with repeated practice. Subsequently, daily prayers require much less time to complete for the experienced practitioner, than for the novice.
- Commit Banis to Memory.
Regular review of Nitnem banis enables the practitioner to memorize individual prayers by heart with a goal of total recall and ability to recite silently, or audibly, when traveling, during times that other resources are unavailable, or while performing tasks such as making prashad or cooking langar.
- Gain Insight to Gurus.
Nitnem scripture gives the reader a glimpse into the life, mind and heart, of the authors to ultimately gain a deeper understanding of the message imparted by the Gurus.
- Discover Depth of Meaning.
Many Gursikhs, who regularly practice reading Nitnem as a daily devotional, express the sentiment that it is possible to learn something new and fresh each time prayers are performed, which serves to enhance spiritual knowledge and understanding.
- Overcome Ego
As a daily prescription to overcome ego reading Nitnem banis, helps reduce the volume of ego's five voices, lust, greed, anger, pride and attachment. Nitnem is considered by Sikhs to be medicine which treats the disease of ego responsible for the soul's sense of separation from the divine keeping the soul bound in a cycle of endless transmigration.
Reading, or reciting, Nitnem banis at the specified time of day, or night, imparts a sense of sublime bliss that instils the spirit with a lasting kind of calm confidence that ever increases, with regular practice, to inspire and uplift the soul.
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