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Amrita (Sanskrit: अमृत; IAST: amṛta) is a Sanskrit word that literally means "immortality", and is often referred to in texts as nectar. The word's earliest occurrence is in the Rigveda, where it is one of several synonyms of "soma" as the drink which confers immortality upon the gods. It is related etymologically to the Greek "ambrosia", and it carries the same meaning. It has various significances in different dharmic traditions. "Amrit" or "Amrut" is also a common Hindu first name for men; the feminine form is "Amritā" or "Amruta".
Amrita features in the "ocean-churning" Samudra manthan legend, which describes how the devas, because of a curse from the sage Durvasa, begin to lose their immortality. Assisted by their mortal enemies, the asuras, they churn the ocean and create (among other wonderful things) amrita, the nectar of immortality.
In yogic philosophy (see yoga, Hindu philosophy) amrita is a fluid that can flow from the pituitary gland down the throat in deep states of meditation. It is considered quite a boon: some yogic texts say that one drop is enough to conquer death and achieve immortality.
Amrita is sometimes said to miraculously form on, or flow from, statues of Hindu gods. The substance so formed is consumed by worshippers and is alleged to be sweet-tasting and not at all similar to honey or sugar water.
Amrit (Punjabi: ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ) is the name of the holy water used in the baptism ceremony (known as Amrit Sanskar or Amrit Chakhna by the Sikhs). This ceremony is observed to initiate the Sikhs into the Khalsa brotherhood. The ceremony requires the drinking of the Amrit. This water is created by mixing a number of soluble ingredients, including sugar, and is then rolled with a khanda (a double edged straight sword) with the accompaniment of scriptural recitation of five sacred Banis (chants). This Amrit is also referred to God's name as a nectar which is obtained through Guru's word, as in the following example of page 119 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Chanting God's name during Amrit Sanskar or Amrit Chakna uplifts a persons' physical and spiritual consciousness to a state of immortality.
ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਬਦੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਹਰਿ ਬਾਣੀ ॥ अम्रित सबदु अम्रित हरि बाणी ॥ Amriṯ sabaḏ amriṯ har baṇī. The Shabd is Amrit; the Lord's Bani is Amrit.
ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਸੇਵਿਐ ਰਿਦੈ ਸਮਾਣੀ ॥ सतिगुरि सेविऐ रिदै समाणी ॥ Saṯgur sevi▫ai riḏai samāṇī. Serving the True Guru, it permeates the heart.
ਨਾਨਕ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਖਦਾਤਾ ਪੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਸਭ ਭੁਖ ਲਹਿ ਜਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੮॥੧੫॥੧੬॥ नानक अम्रित नामु सदा सुखदाता पी अम्रितु सभ भुख लहि जावणिआ ॥८॥१५॥१६॥ Nānak amriṯ nām saḏā sukẖ▫ḏāṯa pī amriṯ sabẖ bẖukẖ lėh jāvaṇi▫ā. ||8||15||16|| O Nanak, the Ambrosial Naam is forever the Giver of peace; drinking in this Amrit, all hunger is satisfied. ||8||15||16||
Amrit (Tibetan: bDud.rTsi, pronounced "dutsi"), also plays a significant role in Vajrayana Buddhism as a sacramental drink which is consumed at the beginning of all important rituals (e.g. abhisheka, ganachakra, Homa). In the Tibetan tradition, 'dutsi' is made during drubchens - lengthy ceremonies involving many high lamas. It usually takes the form of small, dark-brown grains that are taken with water, or dissolved in very weak solutions of alcohol, and is said to improve physical and spiritual well-being.
A Vajrayana text called Dri.Med. Zhal.Ph'reng ("the immaculate crystal garland") describes the origin of amrita in a version of the Hindu "ocean-churning" legend re-told in Buddhist terms. In this Vajrayana version, the monster Rahu steals the amrita and is blasted by Vajrapani's thunderbolt. As Rahu has already drunk the amrita he cannot die but his blood, dripping onto the surface of this earth, causes all kinds of medicinal plants to grow. At the behest of all the Buddhas, Vajrapani reassembles Rahu who eventually becomes a protector of Buddhism (according to the Tibetan "Nyingma" tradition).
Chinese Buddhism describes Amrita (Chinese: 甘露 gān lù) as blessed water, food, or other consumable objects often produced through merits of chanting mantras.
- All pages beginning with "Amrit", for other pages using the name "Amrit" or "Amrita"
- All pages beginning with "Amrut", for other pages using the name "Amrut"
References and sources
- Dallapiccola, Anna L. Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend. ISBN 0-500-51088-1
|Look up Amrita in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Ayurvedic Rasayana - Amrit
- Immortal Boons of Amrit and Five Kakars
- Depictions in stone at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom (Cambodia) of how the gods dredged amrit from the bottom of the ocean