AMRIT, derived from Sanskritamṛtadefined variously as not dead, immortal, imperishable; beautiful, beloved; world of immortality, heaven; immortality, eternity; final emancipation; nectar, ambrosia; nectar-like food; antidote against poison; or anything sweet, commonly means a liquid or drink by consuming which one attains everlasting life or immortality. It is in this sense that the word was first used in the Vedic hymns. According to Hindu mythology, amrit was extracted by the gods by churning the ocean with the assistance of the demons and it was by drinking it that the gods became immortal. A similar concept of an immortalizing drink also exists in Greek and Semitic mythologies wherein it is variously called ambrosia, nectar or āb-i-hayāt. In the Sikh tradition, amrit is not some magical potion that would confer upon the consumer an unending span of life or bring about automatic release from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The term is however retained figuratively to signify what leads to such release. In this sense, amrit is not something external to man "but is within him and is received by God's grace" (GG, 1056, 1238). In the holy hymns, amrit is repeatedly equated with nām , the Name, or Śabda , the Word (e. g. GG, 729, 644, 538, 394). It is amrit of the True Name which when imbibed quenches and satiates all appetites (GG, 594).
Amrit is also used in gurbāṇī in the adjectival sense of sweet, delicious, good, sweet-sounding, etc. in phrases such as amritu bhojanu nāmu harī - God's Name is delicious food (GG, 556), amrit kathā - dulcet discourse (GG, 255), amrit drisṭi-immortalizing glance (GG, 191), amritā pria bachan tuhāre - sweet are Thy words, O Dear One (GG, 534). Gurū Amar Dās in an aṣṭpadī (eight-stanza hymn) in Mājh measure describes different characteristics of amrit such as eradicator of egoity, producer of amrit effect, a means to liv (concentration, ) and giver of happiness (GG, 118-19).
This amrit of God's Name is realized from within the self and can be realized at any hour of day or night, but the best time conducive to realization is the last quarter of night or the early morning to which Gurū Nānak refers as amrit velā when the devotee may contemplate the greatness of God (GG, 2). Gurū Aṅgad says that during early morning, the last quarter of night, the awakened ones develop a fondness for cultivating the True Name (GG, 146). Historically, amrit in the Sikh tradition refers to the baptismal water Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, Nānak X, consecrated for the initiatory rites promulgated in supersession of charan-amrit at the time of the creation of the Khālsā brotherhood. This is called Khaṇḍe dā Amrit or nectar touched with the double-edged sword.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)