What Is Amrit Vela According To Gurmat?

What Is Amrit Vela

What is ‘Amrit Vela’? When is ‘Amrit Vela’? What does Gurmat say about ‘Amrit Vela’?

Most Amritdharis (Initiated Sikhs) and Sikh clergy will tell you that ‘Amrit Vela’ is a special auspicious time of the day in the early wee hours of the morning before dawn. There are contradicting answers, depending on whom you ask.

Amrit Vela Interpreted by SGPC and Akaal Takhat

According to the Sikh Rehat Maryada (SRM), it is written as such,

an act to arise 3-hours before dawn, shower and meditate on the divine Naam (through Simran and Naam Japna).

They have defined Amrit Vela as “three hours before dawn”, which is supposedly 3am.

In fact, the entire line “….shower and meditate on the divine Naam (through Simran and Naam Japna)”, is in the gray. What if one is unable to take a shower or how if one is unwell and bed-ridden or how if we’re in a plane crossing the equator? Secondly, what do they mean by ‘meditate’? How exactly does a Sikh of the Guru Granth Sahib meditate? There is NO detailed explanation about these concepts in the SRM either.

Then, they’ve made it even more confusing by using the words Simran and Naam Japna. What do these words actually mean? According to Gurmat, these two are NOT a physical action. Simran is to remember. It’s a conscious effort of the mind to be aware of the Creator (Hukm, Laws of Nature). Simran is not a continuous repetition of a single or multiple words.

Naam Japna has also been misinterpreted. Naam means Divine virtues. Japna comes from the word Jap, meaning to know, to realize, to become aware. It does NOT mean ‘chanting’, as most Gurbani-English translator have acclaimed.

It’s okay if you wish to wake up early, it’s a great feeling – you’ll be able to do more in a day (more time to spend) compared to others who don’t wake up as early as you. But to put it as a religious fact, that is wishful thinking!

According to Gurmat, there is NO spiritual significance or benefit whatsoever if one wakes up at 3am in the morning. Gurbani does NOT accept an auspicious time of the day or a special time to remember the Creator.

Guru Amardas Ji (3rd Gurus) says:

ਵੇਲਾ ਵਖਤ ਸਭਿ ਸੁਹਾਇਆ ॥ ਜਿਤੁ ਸਚਾ ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਇਆ ॥
Vela Vakhat Sabh Suhaiyaa. Jit Sachaa Mere Man Bhaiya (SGGS 115)

That time (anytime, all times) is considered special, when I think, contemplate, afix my mind towards the Creator’s laws and divine virtues.

Secondly, if the correct interpretation of ‘Amrit Vela’ meant early wee hours of the morning as a special time to pray, then how about those who are working at that hour? I know a few friends who work 12-hours shifts that start at 11pm and ends at 11am the next day. How are they able to live up to this requirement?

It would also seem unfair to say, only blessed Sikhs wake up at 3am. Which means the Creator favors some and doesn’t care for the rest? He protects and blesses a handful but discards and punishes the rest. If that is the case, what use is there to even pray or try to be good or in this case make an effort to wake up at 3am? Since the majority are already doomed and the Creator has already pre-determined who gets blessings and who don’t?

This concept of favoritism and biasness are not the Creators traits. He loves and blesses EVERYONE equally. Just like the rays of the Sun shinning upon everyone, everyday. The Sun cannot go against the Laws of the Creator and decide tomorrow it won’t shine on Malaysia.

Many will even argue, saying that Guru Nanak has placed importance of ‘Amrit Vela’ because He mentioned it in Jup bani. True! Guru Nanak mentioned it, but we got the interpretation wrong!

Guru Nanak says:

ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥
Amrit Vela Sach Nao, Vedeayii Vichaar || (SGGS 1)

Here is another MAJOR problem. Almost every Gurbani app translates the above line as such:

In the Amrit Vaylaa, the ambrosial hours before dawn, chant the True Name, and contemplate His Glorious Greatness.

I copy pasted the above translation from a desktop app. You’ll find similar translation in almost all Gurbani apps out there. Don’t have to believe me. Pull our your phone now and if you already have a favorite Gurbani app you normally use, look up for the translation of the above verse.

Gurbani-English Translations

Actually, what I’m about to suggest can be difficult for many but I would strongly urge everyone to STOP referring to Gurbani-English translations in phone apps.

Why? Because, 90-95% of the translations are wrong as they are not only direct literal translations, they’re also NOT in-line with Gurmat and Guru Granth Sahib’s ideology. The translations have a strong Brahmanical influence.

Its a long story, but briefly, in 1880, the Fareedkot rulers gathered a group of Nirmala Hindu priests and created the very first Gurbani translation. They called it Fareedkoti Teeka.

They knew there was no way they could make any changes, additions of even a single word or line within Sri Guru Granth Sahib. So, the only way to infiltrate and penetrate the minds of the Sikhs was by placing their own Brahmanical concepts and ideas to explain Gurbani.

In short, ALL Gurbani-English translations in the world today derive from this very first translation work and the irony is, it wasn’t even prepared by Sikhs! They presented it, and the authorities accepted it.

Ok. So coming back to what ‘Amrit Vela’ means according to Gurmat.

It’s Vela Not Veley

Guru Nanak Used the Word ‘Vela’ and not ‘Veley’. Guru Nanak said ‘Amrit Vela Sach Nau’.

The word ‘Vela’ is a redefined Gurmat concept.

It means period in time, which can mean anytime throughout the day, month or year. It does not specifically mean an auspicious time of the day based on ‘pehers’ (8 cycles of night and day).

‘Veley’ on the other hand can be referred to as a particular time of the day. For example, 3am.

A Short Story

Recently, I was invited to a friends house for tea. We chatted the usual stuff, worldly, temporal matters, about our children’s studies, job, government, politics, etc.

But as time went by, we started talking about the Creator and how one needs to be a good human being, what are the Creator’s virtues, helping one another, stuff like that.

Now, I would consider that moment to be ‘Amrit Vela’, even though the time showed 5.37pm.

In the next part of the same line, Guru Nanak says, “…Sach Nau, Vedeayii Vichaar”.

“Nau” (comes from the word Naam) – meaning Divine virtues. “Vedeayii Vichaar” – to ponder upon, to contemplate, to discuss the Creators greatness (literal); (Metaphor: to live ones life virtuously).

So, the correct translation of this verse would then be:

That moment, is the greatest moment when one ponders upon, discusses, contemplates and lives their lifes based on the Creator’s Divine virtues.

Guru Nanak or even the entire Guru Granth Sahib does NOT mention anything about dawn, wee hours of the morning, ambrosial hours, Naam Japna, etc. So, where did these ideas come from? You know where from now. Don’t you think if a special auspicious time was important for Sikhs, our Gurus would have mentioned it at least once in SGGS?

Don’t Feel Guilty

Now that you know what is the Gurmat meaning of ‘Amrit Vela’, you don’t need to feel guilty if you’re unable to wake up at 3am. Remember! Amrit Vela can happen anytime throughout the day and not necessarily at 3am.

Sadly, many Sikhs today have deviated from their ‘true spiritual center’ and are subscribed to various schools of thought. Its OK. I get it. Gurus and the Bhagats too had to deal with various challenges and schools of thought back then. But, the Gurus NEVER proclaimed their path (Sikhi) or their way of life to be the ONLY true path and the rest to be doomed for eternity.

Our Gurus never enforced upon their ideologies, belittling others in a egotistical manner. Yes! They were strict and stern but more so, they were kind and compassionate. Afterall, aren’t the latter the very traits and virtues of the Creator?

Everywhere the Gurus went, throughout their whole human lives, they emanated love, unity and harmony.

If you feel like waking up at 3am, go ahead! If you don’t or can’t, its OK too!

In my opinion, our entire life should be a reflection of ‘Amrit Vela’. One receives blessings by ones deeds and actions. It is learning and embracing Divine virtues in ones life that will make all the difference. If we cannot discard our vices and adopt virtues, then what good is it in waking up at 3am in the morning?

Further Reading

Gurbani Translations in Phone Apps Deeply Flawed


Sikh Rehat Maryada (SRM) – https://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/SGPC_Rehat_Maryada

Rehat – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rehat

Amrit Vela – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amrit_Vel%C4%81#:~:text=In%20the%20SPGC%20Sikh%20Rehat,morning%20Nitnem%20during%20Amrit%20vela

Kidon Hunda Hai Amritvela – Giani Jaspal Singh Pandhi, Ludhiana  – https://youtu.be/BOmg2iOaF38

Definition of Amrit Vela – Dr. Karminder Singh – SikhiVicharForum.org – https://youtu.be/rMgf_2bAXSU
(Kindly forward the video up to the 30th minute then watch.)


  • Amarjit S. Gulati

    Amarjit says, the Sikhi that is being practiced today & preached by most clergy (Gianis, Parcharaks, Kirtaniyas) is NOT aligned with Guru Nanak's teachings. As a researcher and a student of Nanakian philosophy, he attempts to share his utmost honest opinions and findings based on Gurmat and real-life experiences.

    View all posts

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