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Kirtan Sohila Sahib

In Sikh history, there are two events which show the importance of Sohila Sahib Ji’s Bani:

1st Event

After traveling for many years and showing the people of the world the path to God, Guru Nanak Dev Ji came to a land near the banks of the Ravi River. This Land belonged to a wealthy man named Krori Mal who donated this entire land to Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The land was renamed to Kartarpur. Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent the later years of his life here in Kartarpur along with Bhai Lehna Ji. One afternoon, while staying in Kartarpur, Bhai Lehna Ji was giving Guru Nanak Dev Ji a massage. What did Bhai Lehna Ji see?

When he first started the massage Guru Nanak Sahib Ji was fine. He had no marks or cuts on his body, but now out of nowhere Guru Ji’s feet were bleeding. There were cuts in the feet as if they had walked over some prickles or something sharp.

Bhai Lehna Ji was shocked! He asked, “Guru Ji, you are sitting here yet how come your feet have started to bleed? How come there are cuts in your feet as if you have walked over something sharp?”

Guru Nanak Dev Ji said that there is a Sikh who is milking goats out in the field. Call that Sikh here and then I will give you the answer to your question. Guru Ji sent another Sikh to call the Sikh in the fields. When the messenger reached the fields the Sikh was reading the Bani of Kirtan Sohila while he was milking the goats. The messenger told the Sikh that Guru Ji was calling him.

The Sikh came and bowed to Guru Ji. Guru Nanak Dev Ji then told the Sikh, “Whenever anybody reads the Bani that you were reciting (Kirtan Sohila), I am always present there. While you were walking around in the fields reading Kirtan Sohila, I was walking behind you listening to the Bani. I didn’t let a single cut come on to your body; instead I took the cuts for you.”

The Sikh asked Guru Ji for forgiveness and asked what he should do now.

Guru Ji told him that Kirtan Sohila Bani should be read at night time before going to sleep. First you should wash your hands, feet, and face and then read the Bani with full concentration. If you do this, then I will sit by that person’s side and listen.

From this moment on, Kirtan Sohila started to be read at night time. Kirtan Sohila is a very short Bani, but some people are so lazy that they go to sleep without reading it. It’s not like Sukhmani Saheb which is very long. It is only a few small shabads.

If someone reads this Bani before going to sleep then they will not have any nightmares during the night. If you die during your sleep you will not become a ghost or evil spirit in your next life. Guru Ji will look after you.

This is Guru Ji’s Hukam, “That person who reads Kirtan Sohila before going to sleep will be close to me.”

While reading this Bani with concentration you should think in your mind that Guru Ji is sitting by listening to me reading the Bani. This Bani is comprised of 5 shabads; 3 from Guru Nanak Dev Ji and one each by the fourth and fifth Gurus.

Even Bhai Gurdas Ji writes that we should read Kirtan Sohila before going to sleep:

"They sing the Sodar in the evening and heartily associate with one another. Having recited the Sohila and made supplication at night they distribute sacred food (prasad)."

2nd Event

During the time that Guru Arjun Dev Ji was writing the Aad Granth Saheb, there was a Sikh who use to trade horses. He would buy horses and then sell them for a higher price to make a profit. However, some crooks started to bother this Sikh. When he would buy new horses, these crooks would come and steal the horses from the Sikh.

The Sikh came to Guru Arjun Dev Ji and said, “Guru Ji, I sell horses for a living, but crooks have started to steal my horses and I am losing a lot of money. I don’t know what to do. Please tell me some shabads that will help me.”

Guru Ji said that before you go to sleep, read the following four shabads before you read Kirtan Sohila Ji’s Bani:

1) ਸੋਰਠਿ ਮਹਲਾ ੫॥ ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਰਖਵਾਰੇ॥ ਚਉਕੀ ਚਉਗਿਰਦ ਹਮਾਰੇ॥

sorat(h) mahalaa 5 || gur kaa sabadh rakhavaarae ||choukee chougiradh hamaarae ||

Translation:Sorat'h, Fifth Mehl: The Word of the Guru's Shabad is my Saving Grace. It is a guardian posted on all four sides around me.

2) ਬਿਲਾਵਲੁ ਮਹਲਾ ੫॥ ਤਾਤੀ ਵਾਉ ਨ ਲਗਈ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਸਰਣਾਈ॥ ਚਉਗਿਰਦ ਹਮਾਰੈ ਰਾਮ ਕਾਰ ਦੁਖੁ ਲਗੈ ਨ ਭਾਈ॥੧॥

bilaaval mahalaa 5 || thaathee vaao n lagee paarabreham saranaaee || chougiradh hamaarai raam kaar dhukh lagai n bhaaee ||1||

Translation:Bilaaval, Fifth Mehl: The hot wind does not even touch one who is under the Protection of the Supreme Lord God. On all four sides I am surrounded by the Lord's Circle of Protection; pain does not afflict me, O Siblings of Destiny. ||1||

3) ਸਲੋਕੁ॥ ਜਹ ਸਾਧੂ ਗੋਬਿਦ ਭਜਨੁ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਨੀਤ॥

ਣਾ ਹਉ ਣਾ ਤੂੰ ਣਹ ਛੁਟਹਿ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਨ ਜਾਈਅਹੁ ਦੂਤ॥੧॥

salok || jeh saadhhoo gobidh bhajan keerathan naanak neeth || naa ho naa thoo(n) neh shhuttehi nikatt n jaaeeahu dhooth ||1||

Translation:Shalok: Where the Holy people constantly vibrate the Kirtan of the Praises of the Lord of the Universe, O Nanak - the Righteous Judge says, "Do not approach that place, O Messenger of Death, or else neither you nor I shall escape!""||1|| 

4) ਸਲੋਕ ਮਃ ੫॥ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਿਤਵਉ ਚਿਤਵਨੀ ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰਉ ਉਠਿ ਨੀਤ॥

ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨ ਕਾ ਆਹਰੋ ਹਰਿ ਦੇਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਕੇ ਮੀਤ॥੧॥

salok mahalaa 5 || man mehi chithavo chithavanee oudham karo out(h) neeth ||
har keerathan kaa aaharo har dhaehu naanak kae meeth ||1||

Translation: Shalok, Fifth Mehl: Within my mind, I think thoughts of always rising early, and making the effort. O Lord, my Friend, please bless Nanak with the habit of singing the Kirtan of the Lord's Praises. ||1||

Guru Ji said that if you do this and then do an ardas, then a steel fort will be made around you and nobody will be able to enter or leave from that area. This fortress will stay around you up to the time that you wake up, take a bath, and read Jap Ji Saheb Ji’s Bani.

The Sikh thanked Guru Ji for the help and left. He bought new horses and took them to another village to sell. When it became dark, the Sikh decided to rest for the night. The thieves also were following the Sikh. They waited for the Sikh to fall asleep. Before going to sleep, the Sikh did exactly what Guru Ji told him to do. As soon as he finished reading Kirtan Sohila Ji and did the ardas a steel fort was put around the Sikh.

The thieves tried to come in and steal the horses, but they could not enter. They tried this for many nights, but failed to enter each time. One day the Sikh was reading Kirtan Sohila Ji’s Bani and fell asleep halfway through, so the fort was not full erected around him. The thieves quickly entered the building and tied up the horses, but at the same time the Sikh woke up. He did the entire Kirtan Sohila’s Bani and did an ardas and the steel fort was put into place.

The thieves tried to leave the building, but could not leave because of the fort. Finally, morning came and the Sikh woke up, took a bath, and then read Jap Ji Saheb and the Fort opened. The thieves were so surprised that they actually went up to the Sikh and asked him what special Mantra he reads that makes this special fort around him.

The Sikh told them that this is a Bani of the Satguru. He took the thieves to meet Guru Arjun Dev Ji. Guru Ji made those thieves into Sikhs and showed them the path to salvation.

Kirtan Sohila’s Bani controls our lustful thoughts and anger during the night. The five evils can’t come and rob us of our good deeds. The Singhs of the past all use to first read the 4 shabads, followed by Kirtan Sohila, followed by an ardas.

Before this same routine was also followed at Sri Harmandir Saheb Ji. However, after the Shromani Committee took power, they changed the routine. They stopped reading the 4 shabads in the beginning. They only read the following shabads.

ਬਿਲਾਵਲੁ ਮਹਲਾ ੫॥ ਤਾਤੀ ਵਾਉ ਨ ਲਗਈ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਸਰਣਾਈ॥ ਚਉਗਿਰਦ ਹਮਾਰੈ ਰਾਮ ਕਾਰ ਦੁਖੁ ਲਗੈ ਨ ਭਾਈ॥੧॥

bilaaval mehalaa 5 ||
thaathee vaao n lagee paarabreham saranaaee ||
chougiradh hamaarai raam kaar dhukh lagai n bhaaee ||1||

and

ਸਿਰ ਮਸਕ ਰਖ੍ਹਾ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੰ ਹਸੋ ਕਾਯਾ ਰਖ੍ਹਾ ਪਰਮੇਸ੍ਵਰਹ॥

sir masok rakhyaa paarabrehama(n) haso kaayaa rakhyaa paramaesvareh ||

However, they stopped reading the other shabads. They did not realize that this is a Maryada started by Guru Ji themselves and we do not have the right to stop reading the 4 shabads at the beginning. Many people have also stopped reading the shabads just by seeing the change in routine at Sri Harmandir Saheb.

If we stop reading Bani according to the instructions of our Guru, then how can we expect to gain anything out of it. When we read all four shabads followed by the Kirtan Sohila and Ardas, only then will the fortress be made around us. When we have stopped reading the Bani according to the Guru’s maryada, then how can we expect to have the fortress around us which will save us from thieves and which will save us from our own lustful desires.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh