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The 5 Steps to Nitnem
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The reading and/or listening to 'Paath' is the beginning of Nitnem, but Paath that does not lead to 'Arth' is ultimately worthless for it has not reached fruition. Why read that which is not understood? The little worth it has is that as one does Paath, something through ‘Guru Kirpa’ (Guru’s blessing) may ‘click’ which then leads one onto path of Arth. In this context, Paath, even if one does not understand it, is acceptable rather than to do no Paath at all.

Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj
An 18th century painting of the tenth Sikh Guru, flanked by the
'Panj Piyarey' (5 Beloved Ones) all dressed in traditional Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa 'Baana' (uniform)

Here an age-old analogy is given of how a vessel, full of clarified butter is emptied yet some of it still sticks to vessel. In similar manner, some wording of Paath may remain within the mind to trigger a person further on the ‘Atmak Marg’ (spiritual path).

Amongst Sanatan Sikhs, it is suggested that the best form of Paath (either done or listened to), is in form of ‘Kirtan’ done according to the Guru-specified ‘Raags’ {classical Indian music modes). Kirtan done without Raag is considered as going against ‘Hukam’ (command) of Guru as stipulated in Adi Guru Durbar. Such Kirtan, in reality is named ‘Pakhand’ (false/fake) Kirtan as opposed to Kirtan done in Raag which is ‘Akhand’ (unbroken and spiritually enlightening). Should anyone wish to learn classical Sikh Raag, information can be made available with regards to traditional Naamdhari ‘Gurus’ (teachers) of ‘Gurmat Sangeet Vidiya’ (knowledge of correct musical compositions).

One of the classical stringed instruments employed by muscians versed in classical 'Raag' Kirtan

In turn Arth that does not lead to Vichaar is also worthless. Yet, practicing Arth is still preferable to no Arth at all, for that should in theory lead to Vichaar through effort. Vichaar only realizes its full potential as it leads to Vistaar. Finally, what is for certain, is that without the final aspect of Nitnem, i.e. Amal, all Paath - Arth, Vichar and Vistaar, is worthless. Akali Guru Arjan Dev Ji stated:

‘The master that is all knowing is complete.
He cannot be pleased by hypocrisy.
Others he [the preacher] teaches, but, does not practice himself.
Coming, going [in transmigration] he is born and dies.
In whom resides ‘Nirankar’, by his teachings all find salvation.’
‘Adi Guru Durbar’, Raag Gauri Sukhmani, Pa.269

Pakhand Kirtan
Many modern mainstream Sikhs, such as those pictured, today practice 'Kirtan'
that may be termed 'Pakhand' (false/fake), - as it is not played according to the 'Hukam' as stipulated in Adi Guru Durbar

Sanatan Sikhs the consider the five practical steps of Nitnem, as taught by ‘Gurdevs’ (teachers) such as Sanatan Sikh Shastar Vidiya Gurdev Akali Nihang Baba Mohinder Singh, are Paath, Arth, Vichaar, Vistaar and Amal.

On our two websites (www.sarbloh.info and www.shastarvidiya.org) , what is being practiced with our limited intellect is 'Vistaar'.

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