Home > Theology > Sukhasan Sleep and Slumber
  • Sukhasan Ceremony Ardas

    At the end of the day, SGGS is closed, draped with the rumala (coverlet) and put to bed as the Sohila prayer is recited. (Photo Credit: Photo © S Khalsa)

  • Granthi carrying SGGS atop his head

    With a clean cloth over his turban, the Granthi places the SGGS on his head to begin the ceremony. (Photo Credit: Photo © S Khalsa)

  • Panj Pyare join the Sukhasan Ceremony

    Granthi is joined by the Panj Pyare of which four walk ahead with one following behind. (Photo Credit: Photo © S Khalsa)

  • Chaur Sahib in use!

    Chaur sahib seva is performed and waved over the SGGS. (Photo Credit: Photo © S Khalsa)

  • Climbing the Stairway to Sachkhand

    The Sangat proceed to mount the steps on the stairway to Sachkhand where the SGGS will be laid to rest. (Photo Credit: Photo © S Khalsa)

  • Sachkhand Sukhasan

    Sachkhand - a room reserved for Sukhasan with a bed upon which rest copies of the SGGS not in use. Before exiting, everyone bows to the Granth as it's transferred to the bed to be left in Sukhasan - at rest beneath sheets until the morning where it is then awoken via the Prakash ceremony. (Photo Credit: Photo © S Khalsa)

  • Doorway to Sachkhand

    The doorway to Sachkhand, or realm of "truth", beyond which slumbers the "Living Guru" of the Sikhs. (Photo Credit: Photo © S Khalsa)

Sukhasan Sleep and Slumber

Allah! None has the right to be worshipped except He, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsisting. Neither sleep nor slumber can overtake Him. (Qur’an 2:255)

INTRODUCTION

Sikhs show great reverence towards their holy book, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). In fact, such is their reverence that since the SGGS is considered the embodiment of the teachings of their 10 gurus, the embodiment of divine light, and the eternal word of God, they refer to it as the “Living Guru”!

The Sikhs have conferred to SGGS their reverence, hope, fear, love, devotion, etc.

However, in our estimation, the term “Living Guru” could be taken in the literal sense when one observes the daily ceremony carried out by the Granthi (Sikh priest), both in the morning and in the evening, in a ritual known as Sukhasan.

In fact, upon closer inspection, this ceremony and its subtle nuances literally catapults the term “Living Guru” into a whole new light.

SUKHASAN CEREMONY

Sikhs have a tendency of accusing other religions of performing empty rituals. This accusation essentially stems from the founder himself Guru Nanak who dismissively cast aside the actions of worship in other religions as empty and false displays of piety. Hence, actions such as salaah (praying), sawm (fasting), circumcision, were haughtily discarded as either superstitious or irrelevant in accordance to Nanak’s world view.

However, when observing Sukhasan, one wonders why this particular ceremony too has not been placed in the category of empty rituals.

WHAT IS SUKHASAN?

Sukh (peace) Asan (position) is the ritual of taking SGGS to ‘Sach Khand‘ – the Guru’s resting place for the night – where, according to the following account, it’s “put to rest”:

“Sukhaasan” means “easy pose” or posture of rest, peace and tranquillity. At night after Sodar Rehraas, Guru Ji’s Saroop (Volume) is put to rest (i.e. ceremoniously closed and placed) in a special room or place, but before being moved, Guru Ji is put into Sukhaasan. In essence, it is the reverse of the Prakaash ceremony. Sukhaasan takes place after the sun goes down, or at any time before Guru Ji’s Saroop is moved, such as at the completion of Gurdwara ceremony when Guru Ji is to be moved. [1]

The following is a summary of the Sukhasan ceremony followed by a video to really get a better understanding of this:

  1. The Granthi folds clean, white sheets (rumalas) around the SGGS with great respect while reciting ‘Sohila’, the night/ bed time prayer.
  2. Then the Granthi stands facing the SGGS and recites Ardas (prayer).
    The congregation also stands and joins with folded hands and utmost reverence.
  3. Ardas is said to offer thanks to the SGGS for the day’s benevolence and a humble request for permission to take Guru Sahib to ‘Sach Khand’ – Gurus resting place for the night.
    At the end of Ardas, everyone bows to the SGGS.
  4. The Granthi carries the SGGS very respectfully on his head, after covering it with a clean towel or (cotton) cloth, and carries it to ‘Sach Khand’ where “Guru Ji will spend the night”.
    The Granthi is followed by a devotee respectfully waving ‘Chauri Sahib’ (sacred whisk) over the SGGS.
    The Sangat (congregation) follows, traditionally joining together to sing:
    Wherever my True Guru goes and sits, that place is beautiful, O Lord King. The Guru’s Sikhs seek out that place; they take the dust and apply it to their faces. The works of the Guru’s Sikhs, Who meditate on Vaheguru’s Name, are approved. Those who worship the True Guru, O Nanak – Vaheguru causes them to be worshipped in turn. (Ang 450, SGGS)
  5. The SGGS is placed in ‘Sach Khand’, an upstairs room, for its nightly rest.
    It is placed on a manji/ bed.
  6. On completion, the Sach Khand lights are switched off and the congregation bows respectfully and takes leave of the SGGS.

This ceremony is further delineated in the following Rehat Maryada (the Sikh Code of Conduct):

An awning should be erected above. The Guru Granth Sahib should be placed on a cot measuring up to its size and overlaid with absolutely clean mattress and sheets. For proper installation and opening of the Guru Granth, there should be cushions/pillows of appropriate kind etc. and, for covering it, romalas (sheet covers of appropriate size). When the Guru Granth is not being read, it should remain covered with a romal. A whisk, too, should be there. [2]

The above gives a whole new meaning to the term “Living”.

With rituals that include reciting ‘Sohila’, the night/ bed time prayer (incidentally, this is the same prayer usually recited during the ceremony of cremation); placing SGGS on a manji (bed) with pillows and blankets (romalas); transporting SGGS to Sach Khand – the Gurus resting place for the night; devotees waving a ‘Chauri Sahib’ (sacred whisk) over SGGS; and requests for seeking permission in transporting SGGS, one is forced to ask the question whether this book is treated as just created matter or a real living entity?
When one has a specific locality for this book to be transported to for the night after having wrapped it up meticulously, tenderly and cosily in seemingly white blanket sheets, carrying it to a bed (manji) whilst waving a so-called ‘sacred whisk’ over it; then turning off the lights after bidding it farewell by saying “Wahe Guru ji da Khalsa Wahe Guru ji da Fateh“, the pertinent question one should ask is:

If this is not idol worship then what is?

A SLEEPING DEITY

For the Muslims, this type of ritualism is nothing more than deifying a created thing and elevating it to an object of worship. In Islam, this is the greatest crime one could commit against the Creator – to take worship, which is an exclusive right of the Creator, and direct it to other than Him. It is known as Shirk (associating partners in the worship of Allah) and it is so severe that Allah has warned in no uncertain terms:

Truly Allah will NEVER forgive Shirk, but He shall forgive whatsoever is lesser than that to whomsoever He Wills. And whoever commits Shirk with Allah has invented a tremendous sin. (Qur’an 4:48)

Truly he who commits Shirk, then Paradise will be forbidden for Him and Hell-Fire shall be his abode, wherein he shall find no helpers. (Qur’an 5:72)

And indeed it has been revealed to you (O Muhammad) just as it was to those who came before you: ‘If you commit Shirk, indeed (all) your deeds will be negated and you will be from among the losers (in the hereafter)’. (Qur’an 39:65)

However, the Sukhasan ceremony is not unique to Sikhism. There are millions of Hindus and thousands of mandirs (temples) who have been practicing a similar ceremony of waking up and putting to sleep their false deities for thousands of years. 

THE HINDU SUKHASAN CEREMONY

Early in the morning and late at night, the Hindus, like the Sikhs, sing hymns of devotion, as they open up the doors to the sanctuary where their idols have been put to rest for the night, and transport them out into the open for the beginning of another day of idol-worship. The same process is repeated when the idol is put back to rest.

Suprabhatam, literally an auspicious dawn, is a name given to Sanskrit hymns recited in the morning to awaken the Lord. [3]
In the morning before sunrise, the murtis (idols) that are dressed in their nightwear are woken up by the Sadhus (priests) and the shrine doors are opened for the first [Mangala arti] of five ‘arti‘ prayers during that day.

The shrines are then opened a final time for the Shayan arti, with the lights dimmed and lower music, the devotees then recite a few hymns, gently sending the deities to sleep, and the shrines are then closed for the night. [4]

And similar to the Sikhs, they too display great reverence and show meticulous care in their ritual ceremony. As with the Sikhs who seek permission from the SGGS before transporting it, the Hindus too inquire about the welfare of the deity by welcoming it, asking about its journey and whether it faced any problem coming to the place of puja (worship). This is known as svagata. Similar to the manji, asana involves offering the deity a seat. And like the chauri sahib waved over the SGGS, pushpanjali – flowers are offered to the idol, dhupa – incense is lit, and dipa – a lamp too is lit.

CONCLUSION

We can only conclude that the Sikh’s sukhasan ceremony is nothing more than a classic display of idol-worship.

We feel there is nothing more to say here other than to seek refuge in Allah and ask Him to guide us towards the Truth and His correct worship and away from the darkness of idol-worship. How true are Allah’s words when He says:

And whoever worships along with Allah any other object of worship [like the SGGS], have NO PROOFS for that. His judgment will be with his Lord. Indeed the disbelievers will never succeed. (Qur’an 23:117)

We leave you with the account of a scholar from Yemen, Shaykh Yahyaa al-Haajooree, who visited England in 1998. There he was taken to a Hindu temple in London to see for himself idol-worship being practiced in the flesh:

We also went to the Hindu place of worship, which is called a Temple, and it was very big. They said that it was the second largest temple and that there couldn’t be found a temple bigger than this one except in India. A person who claimed to be from ‘Aden took us for a tour in it. He told us that they also had a temple in ‘Aden but it was small. Then he brought us to a cow in the temple, which the people were going to. The men would prostrate with their hands stretched out in front of it. A man would throw his hands out as far as he could and then prostrate to it five times in that condition of extending his hands out. Then he would stand. As for the woman, then she would sit in front of it and move her cheek from the right to the left. And they had a number of statues in that place of worship. When we first came to enter inside, they told us to wait for a while. We asked why. They responded because their god was sleeping and that we had to wait until he woke up and then we could enter! So we waited until he woke up and then we entered to look. And behold their god was a rock in the shape of a statue!  So we said: “Where is the god that woke up.” One of the brothers named Hasan Turkee asked them. They pointed to a cow and male and female private parts. [5]

[1] http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php?title=Sukhasan
[2] http://www.sikhs.org/reht3.htm
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suprabhatam
[4] http://neasdentemple.quickseek.com
[5] From the book: Mushaahadaatee fee Britaaniyah – My Experiences in Great Britain, of Abu ‘Abdir-Rahmaan Yahyaa bin ‘Alee al-Haajooree, p. 32.

2 comments

  1. You spend your time trying to undermine and ridicule Sikhi instead of learning more about your own faith, your own religion and taking time away from yourself to pray. The Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the 11th Guru, we treat the “GGSJ” as a living being because it contains the true word of God. This isn’t idol worshipping if we believe this is the word of God and therefore the 11th Guru.
    I just don’t understand that if you are so secure in your own religion, why are you trying to undermine others? My fear and love for God stops me from bringing up “criticisms” in Islam… I pray your soul has the same love and fear.

    • Love, true love of something requires that you stand up for the truth in regards to that object you truly claim to love. True love of something does not and cannot entail remaining silent when you know that the rights of the object you claim to truly love are being violated.

      This is the biggest difference between us and you Jeni.

      You undermine your claim of loving God by turning a blind eye to those who accuse Him of evil, or undermine His absolute perfection, or violate His truth, or lie against Him.

      And since Islam and Sikhism can never agree on God’s essential nature, then we as Muslims, those Muslims who truly love Allah, cannot sit idly by as Sikhs accuse Him of falsehoods and propagate Him in a way that violates His truth and His rights upon His creation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *