AMRIT VELĀ, lit. ambrosial hour (velā=time or hour), the last quarter of night or predawn morning hours, is reckoned in Sikh spirituality as period of time most conducive to concentration and appropriate for meditation and practising nām, i. e. repetition of God's Name. Says Gurū Nānak in the Japu : amrit velā sachu nāu vaḍiāī vīchāru (early morning is the time for practising nām, God's Name synonymous with God Himself, and for contemplating His greatness - GG, 2). Gurū Aṅgad, Nānak II, says: chauthai pahari sabāh kai surtiā upajai chāu/ tinā darīāvā siu dostī mani mukhi sachā nāu (during fourth quarter of night, joy sprouts forth in the hearts of awakened ones; they go, befriend the rivers and brooks (for ablution) and have the True Name in their minds and on their lips - GG, 146). Shaikh Farīd, the Muslim saint, whose compositions are also included in the Sikh Scripture, is more forthright. Says he, "If you lose the last part of night to sleep, O Farīd! count yourself as dead even as you live. (Remember that) if you have forgotten God, He has not forgotten thee (GG, 1383). Gurū Rām Dās, laying down the daily regimen for a Sikh accorded primacy to early rising to contemplate God's Name, "Let him who calls himself a Sikh of the Gurū, rise early and meditate on God" (GG, 305). And, Gurū Arjan, Nānak V, says : "Rise early in the morning and repeat God's Name" (GG, 255). To quote Bhāī Gurdās: "The Gurū's Sikh rises early in the morning, performs ablutions at amrit velā and recites the Gurū's word" (Vārāṅ, 40:11)
Amrit velā in Sikhism is the prime hour not for its own sake, but because of its suitability for practising nām, i. e. for remembering God and contemplating His greatness. No special auspiciousness attaches to amrit velā. Every moment of one's life is meant for the remembrance of God. As Gurū Arjan says, "Blessed is the hour (velā) when one gets absorbed in contemplation of Him" (GG, 562).
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)