The Sikh Arti Video with Background Write-up

Originally posted on 14 July 2010 :

This has come to me from Lt Gen Gaur. It gives an interesting background to the Aarti performed in the Gurdwara after the last prayer.

The beauty of this ‘forward’ is that you can play the aarti, read the text and also see a video clip. This is true multi-media, the future of communication. It appeals to several senses. I expect more such pieces will be produced by the G-next.

(Please Swith on Speakers to Listen to the Rendition)


Once, the well known actor, Balraj Sahni asked the late Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore, “You have written the national anthem for India. Can you write an international anthem for the whole world?”

“It has already been written, not only international but for the entire universe, in the 16th century by Nanak,” replied Tagore. He referred to the Sikh Aarti (Ceremony of Light). Gurudev Tagore was so enamoured of the Aarti that he translated it into Bangla himself.

Ritual of Aarti in Gurudwaras

Every evening in all Gurudwaras, after the recitation of Rehraas Sahib (the Day’s Last Prayer) , we can hear a melodious rendition of the Aarti sung by the Raagis in Raga Dhanashri.

Guru Arjan Dev has written on Aang (Page 393 of Guru Granth) – Aarti Kirtan Sada Anand ,ie, Singing God’s Praises is His Aarti, Brings Boundless Bliss.

As the legend has it, in 1508 CE Guru Nanak Dev visited the famous temple of Jagannath at Puri in Orrisa, which was very well known for its Aarti for Lord Krishna. In the evening, priests brought a platter full of lighted lamps, flowers, incense and pearls and began the Aarti. Guru Nanak Sahib meanwhile spontaneously gave words to the wonderful Aarti:

Gagan mein thaal ravi chand dipak bane,

tarika mandal janak moti,

dhoop malyanlo pavan chavro kare

saal banray phulant joti,

kaisi arti hoye bhav khandna teri aarti.

(Guru Granth Aang/Page 663)

‘The sky is puja thaal (platter used for the Aartis),

in which sun and moon are the diyas (lamps)

The stars in the constellations are the jewels

The wind, laden with sandal-wood fragrance,

is the celestial fan.

All the flowering fields, forests are radiance!

What wonderful worship this is, oh! Destroyer of fear

THIS is your Aarti!’

However, the Aarti that is sung daily in the Gurudwaras is only partly composed by Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

The Second Stanza onwards has been composed by Bhagat Ravi Das, who was a cobbler.

Naam tero aarti majan muraare

Har ke Naam bin jhoothey sagal pasaarey

(Guru Granth Aang/Page 695)

‘O Lord, Thy name to me is the Aarti and holy ablutions.

Everything else is false . . ………………..’.

The Third Stanza onwards  was composed by Sant Sain, a barber in the court of Raja Ram, King of Rewa:

‘Dhoop deep ghrit saaji arti vaarne jaau kamalapati” (May I be a sacrifice unto the Lord: that for me is the Aarti performed with lamps, ghee and incense…………………..’ 

(Guru Granth Aang/Page 695) .

The fourth stanza onwards was composed in the same vein by Sant Kabir, the Muslim Julaha (The Weaver).

“Sun sandha teri dev devaakar adhpat aad samaayi………………………….”,

(Guru Granth Aang/Page 1350)

‘Let Divine essence be the oil, the Lord’s Name the wick and the enlightened self, the lamp. By lighting this lamp we invoke the Lord……………………………..’.


“Gopal tera aarta jo jan tumhri bhagat karante tin ke kaaj sanvaarta”, (Guru Granth Aang / Page 695) onwards, was composed by Bhagat Dhanna, a simple Jat farmer from Rajasthan.

‘O Gopala, accept your Aarti! You grant the wishes of those who worship you………..!’

The final part was composed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, 

“Ya te… maha mun devar ke tap mein sukh pave jag kare ik ved rarey…………”.

‘The Lord is pleased by penance, prayers, rituals, recitation of scriptures, meditation music and dance of celestial beings and the melody of the arti. The cosmic worlds rejoice and chant the Divine Name …………..’.

In Conclusion

This is the Aarti which we sing daily at the end of last prayer in Gurudwaras which is composed by two Gurus, a cobbler, a barber, a weaver and a farmer –a proof that Sikhism believes in the equality of all human being in the spirit of ‘Ek Pita Ekas Ke Hum Barik’.

And now, here is the link to the aarti

  1. Amarjeet Kaur (Ruby) says:

    Thanks, for sharing the history behind it and the uniqueness of Sikhism that believes in the equality of all human beings in the spirit of ‘Ek Pita Ekas Ke Hum Barik’.

    Hearing the melodious rendition of the Aarti sure brings ‘Boundless Bliss’. It has always been one of the favorite part of my prayers!

    Thanks for sharing it with us! :)

  2. Ritu Bhanot says:

    Thanks for your e-mail and the link.

    In fact, I prefer reading the original text i.e. in gurmukhi. It’s just like Vedas… I’m reading original in Sanskrit because translations are often a sort of interpretation and I like understanding what was actually said rather than reading interpretations.
    Of course, I’d be grateful if you could guide me… and I can also get that from my parents (my mother used to read it every morning when she was a kid).

    I hope that it is available somewhere in Punjabi.

    My translation work is going quite well. I’m also one of the founding members of Euro India Economic and Business Group (East of France/ Strasbourg region) and these days I’m involved in working with an NGO in France. I’ll tell you about that later because right now, I’ve to rush and do a few things outside.

    Please keep in touch and even if I don’t say this often I really enjoy reading the e-mails that you send.

  3. Amarjit Singh Behl says:


  4. Ram Gulrajani says:

    You have sent me one of the most precious pieces from Guru Granth Sahib. I did not know the history of this piece, which is so heartening.

    My mother was from a Sindhi Sikh family and I grew up with the daily rendering of this Aarti (in the evenings) along with other ritualistic daily renderings like Japji Sahib, Anand Sahib, Sukhmani Sahib and many other verses like Guru Teg Bahadur’s: Guna Gobind Gayo NahiN, Janama Akyarth Kino …(on certain specific occasions or at the end of Akhand Path). We had Guru Granth Sahib at home, which was ritualistically opened and closed everyday with normal everyday Kirtans. All this came to the end with the passing away of my mother in 1957. As per tradition, one of the sons had to be designated a Sikh and this mantle came to me. In all my documents I was recorded as a Sikh. My first posting on being commissioned was in a Sikh Regiment. Before my arrival everyone was wondering what kind of a Sikh had been posted to them who did not have ‘Singh’ in his name. More surprises when they found I was a mona Sikh. To prove that I was really a Sikh, they asked me to recite Japji Sahib, which I did in my Sindhi accent. Everyone laughed till in the unit Gurdwara I recited verbatim Anand Sahib, Arti and many portions from Granth Sahib, which other Sikh officers did not know. The unit granthi used to sometime distort Sikh history, which I used to correct later by calling him alone. This became known to all Sikh officers. The final acceptance came when after two years I was nominated (on the recommendations of Subedar Major) as the officer to look after the affairs of unit Gurdwara. The first thing on assuming this responsibility was to stop reciting of kirtans on Hindi film tunes.

    I have not received the video clip with your mail. Its only a winamp audio clip. Please do send me video clip … I would love to hear it every night before closing down my computer. Any such material on gurbani, I will be happy to receive it. And thank you very much for this mail.

    Incidentally, the following part of the background is not correct:

    Tagore died on 7 Aug 1941, much before India became Independent and no one had ever thought of Independence for India (it II World War time).

    Many regards

    Ram Gulrajani

  5. Ritu Bhanot says:

    Do you know if Guru Granth Sahib is available on line?

  6. Ritu Bhanot says:

    This is one of the most beautiful Krishna bhajan that I’ve ever heard. Really touches the soul. Evidently we call them Gurus…

    No words to describe thanks.

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