Experiences Doing Nitnem Banis

Over the past years my practice of reciting the nitnem banis has been sporadic. It’s like any spiritual practice, it takes commitment and discipline to continue day in and day out. Sometimes I am on solid, and sometimes not. My challenge is to be stable all the time. In the past I had my daily routine of kundalini yoga, meditation/simran and Japji Sahib. I would sometimes do Rehiras and Kirtan Sohila, but that wasn’t always regular. 

In my school days in India we used to have Gurdwara in the morning and evening and we would recite Japji & Rehiras. So I did not get familiar with the other Nitnem Banis till later in my life. We used to practice Gatka to an audio version of Prof. Sat Nam Singh Sethi reciting Jaap Sahib, so I knew a bit of that bani, but had never really practiced it. I remember reading Jaap Sahib, and it taking a long time since the words/language used was very different than what I was used to. Then after practicing Jaap Sahib it became much easier and I moved on to, Shabad Hazare. This is a short bani so was easy to add on to my daily routine. Then came Tav Prasad Swaya, and finally Anand Sahib.  

While learning the new banis I found it very helpful to listen to audio recordings of someone else reciting the banis. This gave me a sort of "sound memory" of the banis and pronunciation, so that when I actually sat down and read the bani I would remember some of the parts and words. Definitely try this out if you are learning a new bani! (Sukhmani Sahib is next for me!)

I took Amrit when I was really young (5 yrs), but didn’t really remember it, and felt that I needed to reaffirm my commitment to the Guru, so I took Amrit again in 2007 (You can read my story about the experience). I often hear from people who say that "One Day" they want to take Amrit, when they can recite all the banis and they are good enough. The issue I see with this is that for many people there is a need to make a commitment to START, to achieve towards that goal. For me taking Amrit was like a promise to live the path laid down by Guru Gobind Singh. I don’t look at this as some ritual that if I fail to do this or that, then I have "sinned" or done something wrong. I see it as a commitment to constantly striving to live a disciplined life. The banis are tools to empower the Sikh and keep him/her in the vibration of waheguru! So, if you don’t practice all of them, I don’t see it as a sin, but a loss of a valuable "tool". It’s kind of like re-chargeable batteries for your soul. If you don’t take the time to fully charge them, then you won’t have the full connection/energy. Or another analogy is that If your cup is empty then you cannot give to others.

Too often these days the practice of Sikhi has become negative, where guilt and judgment are passed onto people in relation to their practice of Sikhi (or lack of). I don’t look at Sikhi in this way as some ritualistic and fixed practice. So many of the practices of Sikhs have evolved over the past 400 years and I expect this to continue in many ways as the world changes.

So, from my perspective if you didn’t know all the banis, I think it is still ok to take Amrit and build your daily practice over time (rather then waiting till that "perfect day" which doesn’t come for most). To me the point of taking Amrit is to give your head to the Guru and basically say that your life is going to be focused on spiritual discipline. You are giving your ego/self to the Guru and letting the Guru guide you. The decision to take Amrit shouldn’t be taken lightly, but one should be kind to themself and not get mired in guilt.

I think I got way off the actual point that I was planning to write about, which was to share how I have been really enjoying doing my banis every morning. It’s one of those things that can be easy to forget in the motion of every day life, but when I sit down and read the banis I’m "buzzing" all over. During the experience I wonder why I haven’t always done the banis???

The past week I have been sitting by the window reciting the banis on the floor as the sun streams down on to my body. Normally by this time we have gotten my son Narayan Singh off to school and my daughter  Charanjeet Kaur is sitting nearby me playing on her own. Once I start doing the banis she becomes very self contained. I think she must sense that this is a special time and just soaks it in through the sound.

During the past few days it’s been a different kind of experience as lots of negative thoughts float in my mind related to people and various things going on in my life. I’m a very positive person, so don’t like to feel this way. As this happens I try to just let it flow and not get into the thoughts. By the time I have recited the last morning Bani (Anand Sahib) it feels like my mind has been put through the washing machine and scrubbed good for the day.

Some mornings like today I was feeling the pull of lots of things I needed to do, and was only going to do Japji Sahib. The cool thing though is once I get in the flow of reciting Gurbani it’s like I just want more, and want to continue. It was like I got a "taste" of something really good and wanted to eat more! So once I start Japji Sahib and come to the end….I just had to continue on (even if I wasn’t planning to go past Japji Sahib). I don’t remember ever feeling this way about Nitnem banis when I was only reciting the Japji Sahib alone. Maybe I have gotten better at pronunciation and am now better reaping the benefits of Gurbani Recitation?

Recitation of banis is like a tune-up and balance of your whole system. Guruka Singh explains this well in an older video titled "Banis and the time of day". Anyways, it’s a nice feeling benefiting from Gurbani and experiencing first hand that it is NOT  some ritualistic recitation that is for no beneficial purpose.

Hopefully those of you who haven’t yet experienced the power of Gurus Bani, start taking some time to practice the recitation of the Guru’s words and reap the benefits. Don’t take my word for it! Practice it for yourself with full focus and see how Gurbani supports you!

Related Notes of Interest

    Nit Nem in Gurbani gives you a very powerful meditative mind. It gives you the balance required. Energy comes to a person from the head, and the head is the distributing center through the spine. When one reads Gurbani; it must be done in the correct harmony and rhythm.

    It is compulsory for Khalsa to read all the five Banis daily. They were given so that a person’s incarnated personality may elevate itself to defend through any negativity or misfortune.

    Guru Har Rai was once asked whether there was any benefit gained by reading the Guru’s Bani without understanding it. "Yes," he replied, "as grease sticks to the pot even when it is emptied, so does the Guru’s Word stick to the heart. Whether you understand it or not, the Word bears the Seed of Salvation. Perfume persists in the broken pieces even after the vase that contained it has been shattered."  – Excerpt from Victory and Virtue

    16 Responses to “Experiences Doing Nitnem Banis”

    1. AJ says:

      wjkk wjkf, that happens to me aswell, when i get chaupi sahib i feel like not doing anand sahib but i try to stop, something happens and i start it and then my mind tells me if u start a bani u hav to finish it , if  u dnt its not good or its disrespect to guru, then i juz get into it and enjoy it. If one day i dnt do 1 bani from the nitnem something goes wrong, if i dnt do amritvela i dont feel tough, if i don't do any bani, i mess around soo much if i dnt do rehras i cnt wake up amritvela. i think its true but i duno. it juz happens everytime and i kind of belive it now. Beliveing it also makes me do all bani and meditation aswel

    2. Satnam ji,

      Great sharing GM ji. Thank you for this topic. People are always asking how to “fit this in” their day.  I learned  that when Yogi Bhajan was alive he used to do Sada Sampuran Path which meant that he did all his entire nitnem at one sitting in Amrit Vela.
       I have found this very helpful to do as a jump start into doing nitnem when I have stopped or just doing Jap Ji. Then there are the periods when I feel overwhelmed or upset and this reciting all the nitnem first thing in morning transforms my day. Even not first thing works.
      Thanks for the opportunity to share experiences.

    3. Harinder Singh says:

      Waheguru Jee Ka Khalsa
      Waheguru Jee Kee Fateh

      Great article! Please keep up the good work.  There is a rehitnama by a Gursikh (I don’t remember the name) where a Gursikh should recite Nitnem (5 Baniis) before eating anything.  I have found that by adopting this rehat, I am forced to read my baniis regardless to how I am feeling that day.  If by chance, I do skip my morning Nitnem and have breakfast  – I end up having a really bad day.  I end up indulging in wrong foods and I feel real guilty.  Also at work, things go bad where everything takes twice as long to get done and I may get in touble by my supervisors. 
      In conclusion, if I do my Nitnem baniis plus Simran and/or read other Baniis before I start my day – I end up having a more productive and positive day.  I have also found that reading Bani and doing Simran before starting my day gives me better control to resist my day to day temptations.  It is almost like, I have a force field around me which helps me tackle my day.  Otherwise I have no will power to combat temptations.  Without Bani, Simran and Guruji we are indeed powerless.

      Waheguru Jee Ka Khalsa
      Waheguru Jee Kee Fateh


    4. Santa Singh says:

      wjkk wjkf

      Interesting blog post brother Gurmustak Singh ji.

      My heart really hurts when I read certain parts of this post.

      In 1699 Bhai Daya Singh ji stood up when Guru Gobind Singh ji asked for a head. When Guru ji asked for a head they meant a head. It should us what we had to give to become members of the Khalsa. And I agree with you that honestly, many of us will never be ready to ever fully give every single thought and every single dime to our Guru. But there are certain things that we are told in the Amrit Sanchaar that are not negotiable. The Panj Pyare (a form of Guru Gobind Singh ji) tell us some basic things we have to do, as you know these are:

      7 Nitnem Bani’s (5 in the morning, Rehraas at evening time and Kirtan Sohila just before bed)
      Don’t commit the 4 Cardinal Sins
      and maintain the 5 K’s on your person at all times.

      There things are the bare minimum to be done everyday, I don’t see how someone who gives their head can then ‘choose’ to not do these. Ofcourse, there are certain things we are told to do but they are the things that we are to work towards:

      24/7 remembrance/simran
      Amritvela etc

      I hope this makes sense. I’ve tried to explain it as best I could but fear I may have caused somebody hurt.

      If you speak to anyone, no matter what background or sect they claim to be from (AKJ, Damdami Taksal, Nihang Singh Jatha’s) they agree that a baptised Gursikh must do the 7 bani’s every single day.

      I don’t know why this hurt me so much but Amrit is a huge thing, not to be taken lightly quite rightly as you said – but if we can’t dedicate 90 minutes of our day to bani (bani is our Guru right) then I don’t think we can say we’re ready for amrit. I’m not saying someone who doesn’t do 7 banis is not a baptized Sikh . Ofcourse not. If your unable to do the 7 banis then the 5 Pyare will tell you to do Simran of Vaheguru or Mool Mantar for a certain period of time that is equal to the time it would take to do the bani’s. The same way we are told to give Daswandh of money (10% to charity) we should give Daswandh of the breaths we get, everyday we should dedicate a bare minimum of time to singing the praises of our beloved.

      When Guru Gobind Singh ji would not leave the battle of Chamkaur, even after individuals came and begged them to – they only listened to the Sangat when 5 Singhs came to them and in the form of the Khalsa they could not refuse to 5 Singh’s. Those 5 Singh’s today tell us certain things at the Amrit Sanchaar that we have to adhere to, otherwise we shouldn’t be stepping up just yet.

      I also believe that if for one day you miss a bani because you fell asleep before you did your sohila  for example, then it’s not the end of the world and it’s no major sin. your intention was to do your bani but you weren’t able to. but the next day we should still do 2 kirtan sohila sahibs and Ardaas to Guru ji to help us not make the same mistake again and try live the life of a Khalsa as ordained by them.

      I really like what Guruka Singh said about ‘if you miss a morning … no big deal’ I would totally agree with them. We can’t beat ourselves up over little stuff but we should strive for discipline, without discipline theres no difference between us and animals. What I’m trying to say is if you miss your morning scheduled wake up routine, you should still do your bani’s during the day if you have taken Amrit.

      I hope this makes sense and look forward to your replies dear Sangat ji.

      you said brother, “The issue I see with this is that for many people there is a need to make a commitment to START, to achieve towards that goal.” then we should do Ardaas infront of Guru Granth Sahib ji begging them to help us. It’s like signing up to the US Marines and not adhering to the basic discipline. Taking Amrit doesn’t make a person a baptized Sikh forever, living the lifestyle given by the 5 Pyare makes a person baptized with the Amrit they create within themselves everyday by their good actions and remembrance of Vaheguru.

      The reason i felt the need to post this is there may be people reading your blog who might actually go ahead and take amrit but not do their bani’s. before we take amrit the best thing is to actually live the lifestyle, start wearing the 5 k’s as preparation, practice reading your banis beforehand.

      Let the crown on your head be your commitment to yourself and the world that your going to take Amrit and give your head one day with Guru ji’s grace. and when your able to do the very least that Guru ji asks of His Sikhs then give your head.

      In your post you said

      “So, from my perspective if you didn’t know all the banis, I think it is still ok to take Amrit”

      but in the excerpt you posted underneath, it says:

      “It is compulsory for Khalsa to read all the five Banis daily.”

      As a respected Sikh worldwide I would humbly ask you please write very carefully, especially with regards to the basic tenets of Sikhi, as certain things you say could effect people who look up to you, and if these things are contrary to Sikhi then it’s almost an injustice to the person who’s been led astray. I’m not saying close down your blog and don’t talk, ofcourse not, but to make statements like the one above are possibly going to the confuse people.

      please forgive me for the many mistakes in this posting. keep up the blog posts and I’m very glad your enjoying reading your banis! i check your blog often and it is inspirational to read how you and your family are prospering.        

    5. Prabhmeet Singh says:

      Totally agree with Santa Singh….

      @ Gurmustak Singh….Please re think 10 times before writing anything on the basic tenets of sikhisim.

    6. Sikh guy says:

      I like what you said about bani’s are for our own good, it’s our own tool. That’s not to say if we don’t do our banis we will be punished!

      It’s so ordinary to see people do banis, they live the concept but not the conception as yogi bhajan says! It’s important to experience the banis to the potential and have genuine love and not turn them into ritualised practices!

      Thanks Mrsikhnet again for a wonderful article

    7. Sardar Simran Jeet Singh(Oceanside)San Diego Vale aka Sim says:

      Gurumustuk Veerjee,
      Thank you for your inspirational article!  Where can I find :audio version of Prof. Sat Nam Singh Sethi reciting Jaap Sahib?  I am looking for some beats to recite Jaap Sahib with and  make a personal CD to keep me more intuned.
      Something that helped me with nitnem is my friend Akal Sahai Singh Khalsa’s presence.  He would come over to my place couple of times a week at 5 AM time to recite Nitnem together.  I feel very fortunate for his presence.

      My comment for Prabhmeet Singh ji,
      Gurumustuk Singh veerjee’s blog is like a personal diary except we all read it.  I don’t see a need for him to re-think anything 10 times.  I haven’t seen any good come out of hard core or “kattar” attitude of our Sikh elders.  I am glad he wrote every word the way he wrote it…we should be open to discussing things more openly and this blog is a great venue for it.

    8. PJ says:

      Actually, there is very thin line like “Khande Di Dhaar” between actual Sikh lifestyle and being a fanatic.  This is not just as easy as it sounds.. get baptised, read banis and do the yoga alone.  Sikhi is much more than that. Remember a sakhi… in which sewadars ask Guru Gobing Singh ji about the effect and the way of reading bani in a right way.  Then Guru ji handed over bowl of “Bhang” to all and ask them NOT to cosume it but just gargle and spit it away.  After some time Guruji asked if anyone gets intoxicated.. and there was NONE. 
      So, Instead of commercializing the Sikh life style.. we need to put more concrete in Sikh foundation again.

    9. Devakaur Khalsa says:

      Thanks for writing about this Guru Mustuk.  I can relate to your human experience with your bani’s practice and appreciate you sharing with candor.

      I am sporadic with my recitation of the bani’s, but do have a deep love for it and can say that they have been absolutely life transformng for me when I’ve read them regularly. 

      The first one  learned was shabad hazaray which I recited faithfully for 1000 days without missing a day,  as was suggested to me by a Sikh brother who counceled me at my first Summer Solstice.  He knew that I’d been severaly heart broken– and said it would mend my broken heart. 

      I learned proper pronunciation of several bani’s by listening to Bibi ji recite them very slowly. I did this through head phones on a casset tape while sitting on jump seats during very long international night flights when working as a flight attendant.

      I am now brushing up on my pronunciation of some of the ones I haven’t learned well by listening to Huri Dharm’s banis on CD which I purchased thorugh Ancient Healing Ways.  Her’s are done at a moderate speed– perfect for me to learn from nowdays.

      Also, they are the only ones out there which have All the pauri’s intact! Arill is included in this from Rehirass.  It is a passage from Guru Gobind Singh for ultimate protection which was forbidden from being printed in nitnems by the British government at one point. 

      Arill: Listening to this, the  mute regains his tongue. Listening to this even fools become wise.

      Sorrow, pain and fear cannot even approach that person who reads thiws Chaaopa-aa even just one time. 

      I loved the Jaspal bani’s which were sold on tape some years back.  He sounds supremely devotional while reciting the banis in a rich clear voice. If anyone knows of those being sold on CD please let us know.

      Here is a sweet exerpt from a Siri SIngh Sahib, yogi Bhajan lecture on the topic:

      ” The guru’s word gurbani is what the guru spoke. It is an imprint of the essence of God.  It is the pathway to God. If the ordianry human speaks it, it will always elevate him to the state of consciousness of the guru. The guru’s consciousness is untied with god, so the person will automatically get united with God, if he speaks the same words…when your mind is freaking out the shabad has the power to change your mind… Shabad brings inner balance…it stops the negative cycle of the mind.

    10. J KAUR says:

      Great Article ! One thing I must say is that like Santa Singh, I believe that Amrit should not be taken lightly. However I greatly disagree with his opinion that you have to wait until you know all the Bani’s before you take this step. Does any mortal have a clue how long they are going to be in this world ? If you wait to be “perfect” before you take Amrit then you might just miss the boat! That’s not to say you can take Amrit and still eat meat etc until you are ready – these things must be done beforehand. However Sikhi is all about purifying the soul and that is a long and arduous process, even if you cannot read Gurmukhi or even if you do not know the mool mantar, you must still commit yourself to taking Amrit because just by reciting Waheguru you are obeying the word of our Guru’s. It is imperative that we should all strive to take Amrit and once baptized to further our spirituality – whether it is to learn Japji Sahib or whether it is to actually recite from Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Let not ignorance hold you back – You can take amrit and if you don’t know all the Bani’s then you can listen to them (there’s no excuse) and at the same time educate yourself to achieve the goal of completing the Nitnem yourself.

    11. Santa Singh says:

      I totally agree with you sister ‘J Kaur’

      Just to clarify I did not mean that we should know how to read our banis, but we should do them – whether by listening, following or by doing the required amount of vaheguru simran if we cant do the former. what I meant to say was that we cannot not do anything, like dont do bani OR simran and still call ourselves Amrit Dhari’s as the Shabd is our Guru right. with no connection to the word we will become lost very quickly

      sorry for any offence or misunderstanding caused.   

    12. J KAUR says:

      No offence taken ! I just feel very passionate about Sikhi and amrit and I feel that people make too many excuses to commit. You have to take the first step and then with the Grace of God you will progress as fast as you can deal with it. It may take time for us to commit to our Guru’s but it doesn’t take a split second for God to bless us. All you have to do is read about the lives of our Guru’s to understand and somehow appreciate the enormity of their sacrifices for our freedom’s – their love for us is immense – Sikhi is sooooo easy, yet people are scared to even give up the most frivolous things in return. For all of those out there who are undecided or worried about the rules and disciplines – just believe that taking  Amrit is the beginning of a whole new and infinately better life. The main support you need to guide you along is love of God – everything else will fall into place.

    13. Gurjeet Kaur says:

      “When Guru Gobind Singh ji would not leave the battle of Chamkaur, even after individuals came and begged them to – they only listened to the Sangat when 5 Singhs came to them and in the form of the Khalsa they could not refuse to 5 Singh’s. Those 5 Singh’s today tell us certain things at the Amrit Sanchaar that we have to adhere to, otherwise we shouldn’t be stepping up just yet.”

      Wholeheartedly agree with the above statement.

    14. GURPREET SINGH says:

      Please let me know how can i get up at amritvela .

    15. Gurpreet Veer,

      Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vaheguru Ji Ki Fathe

      Ardas can do a miracle, BHai Sahib Bhai Talwara ji once said, people normally asks how can I get up at Amritvela. He said .. If we’ll not sleep early, how will we wake up early. Guru Sahib has made sikhi very simple. He is not telling us to sleep at 12:00 in the night and wake up at 4:00 AM in the morning. If we’ll go to bed at 9:00, we can definitely wake up at 4:00AM?

      So veer ji, do Ardas in front of Guru Sahib that you can sleep early in the night and Guru Sahib will definitely give you a “daat” of Amritvela.


    16. Harsimran Singh says:


      I dont know , what to say after reading this , But i think This is a special letter for me ,from some_one who love me verry verry verry much(Guru_Ji) , BUT
      I dont think that i am able or deserve to take this love
      I dont know why i am writing and what it mean , but i want to thank you ,
      if this letter is written from heart , so i think the writter(who has written this) can help me to solve my problem , from giving the answer of my questions and telling me what to do .
      So please contact me at
      [email protected]
      i am also on facebook .