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Japji Sahib : This prayer was composed by Guru Nanak ji sometime between 1500-1507. It is recorded at the start of the Guru Granth Sahib. It explains how the barriers of deceit and falsehood can be broken in life and how to become one with God. To relate and connect with your soul. Recite in the early morning or when your being is endangered, when the radiance of your soul is weak, when your soul feels sad. All wisdom of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib is contained in this Bani. Related to ether element; it is read to attain Brahm Gyan (Knowledge of God).
Jaap Sahib: This prayer was composed by Guru Gobind Singh ji during the period 1682-1686, when he was residing at Paonta Sahib. It contains 199 stanzas about the praise and description of God. To bring grace, self-command and to inspire your greatness. This Bani brings royalty, divinity, ecstasy, bliss, bountifulness and beauty. It will increase your vitality, courage, power, strength and self-esteem. Recite when your dignity is threatened, to overcome fear and to arouse and increase your flow of spirit. Related to air element.
Sawaya : This is a short hymn of 10 stanzas. It is a part of Guru Gobind Singh ji's classic composition 'Akal Ustat' which means 'The praise of God'. In the last line of the 9th stanza, Guruji has declared that 'only those who love sincerely and honestly, realise God' To bring satisfaction in life when nothing seems to satisfy you. It brings energy, vitality and expansion. Related to air element. The Svaye are read to attain worldly detachment and abolish false practices.
Chaupai Sahib: this is recited for protection, having 29 verses in the numerical order as in Sri Dasam Granth Sahib.
Anand Sahib of Guru Amardas is a literary masterpiece of devotional poetry; its aesthetic and symbolic elements will please the literary critic.
Its theme is of man’s true goal and his spiritual illumination. The word ‘Anand’ means bliss, so it is a song of man’s spiritual achievement, or of being in tune with the Infinite. In a metaphysical sense, this stage is known as harmony, equipoise or Sahaj.
Every man desires happiness and joy, but he tends to seek it in things either apart from himself or which pertain to his sense organs. He does not realise that these things at best can only give him temporary or unstable happiness. Firstly, man seeks to do better than his neighbour or colleague. He wants more wealth, power and position. The human rat-race increases both avarice and greed, it inflates the ego and often leads to domination and exploitation. Even after gaining what he has set his mind to, he is afraid of losing what he has obtained. This fear of a possible loss creates tensions in his mind, so that he becomes unable to enjoy that which he already has. Additionally there is the fear of some one doing better, so he tries to keep others at bay. All this destroys his peace of mind sad sense of achievement, so that in spite of his power and position, he inwardly feels dissatisfied and sullen
Man’s desires and doubts cast a shadow on his efforts to gain joy. Even if some joy is experienced, the spectre of its short duration haunts the mind and creates anxiety and neurosis. After a while, this condition appears openly when his friends and relatives feel that he is mentally disturbed and unhappy.
The Anand is both inspirational and philosophical in its content. It details the pilgrim’s progress and the obstacles that lie on the way. The ultimate goal is for union with the Supreme Reality. It is called Sahaj, Nirvana, Mukti, Sangham. Sahaj is a mental state which encourages the living of a normal family-life and a concern for social commitment. The requirement is one of detachment; all that one possesses, is to be regarded a kind of trust and used for good and altruistic purposes. Similarly, one’s senses directed to higher goals and not only to worldly enjoyment. Regard your body as a chariot, your mind the charioteer, your soul, the owner of the chariot, while your senses are the horses and desire is their road. The soul symbolises divinity; man cannot realise his divine element without seeing through the veil of Maya. Normally he regards himself as separate from God, it is this obvious duality or fallacy that the Guru removes. Through the Guru man may realise his divine nature, then he becomes Gurmukh or Sunmukh. Those who remain worldly-wise and follow their own ego, they are called Munmukh or Bemukh. Their senses—eyes, ears, tongue etc. lead them to mundane and evil pursuits, not towards spiritual effort (Sadhana). So self-discipline and obeying of the Guru’s directions is the way to spiritual progress.
The obstacles on any spiritual path are many and difficult. They include human cleverness, intellectual hair-splitting, family attachments, the taboos and rituals of traditional religion, conformity to custom and convention, the unending chain of desire, hypocrisy and ‘ad hoc means’ for the purpose of compromises with ideals and principles for personal gain, and the many other compulsions of expediency. The disciple in to overcome such obstacles by obeying the instructions of the Guru. The blessing of the Guru will support and enable him to progress, on his spiritual path. Any association with godly people or of doing of acts for the public good and social welfare, also help on the spiritual journey.
The pattern of the Anand projects a development of thought. Stanzas one to five mention that Bliss obtained through the Guru, after his instructions are followed. Stanzas six to twenty deal with the various obstacles and difficulties that one may face on the spiritual path. Stanzas twenty-one to twenty-five tell us about the two types of human beings: the ego-oriented and the God-oriented. Stanzas twenty-six to thirty-four mention the various desires that hold man back from his inner quest. Stanzas thirty-five to thirty-nine deal with the correct functioning of the human body and its senses. Stanza forty deals with the benefits of sincere recitation and singing in particular of the Anand. These benefits are enlightenment, a realisation of the blissful state and the ultimate union with Divinity. In short, Bliss may be attained through self-discipline and the development of one’s own personality through purity, morality, contentment, poise, compassion, wisdom, a loving understanding of others and spiritual harmony.
The Anand belongs to the sixteenth century and contains words from “sant-bhasa” (saint-lore). It represents the idealism of the Guru and his vision for man’s ultimate achievement. Its large canvas covers the realities of contemporary life.—including a description of the paraphernalia of organised religion, which ironically disguises the hypocrisy and egoism of its practitioners, under the veneer of outer correctness and cleanliness. The diction of the Anand suited to its theme and musical from—Ramkali raga.—leaves a subtle and powerful impression on the mind of the disciple. The diction is powerful, with ‘winged’ words and ‘felt’ phrases, which make a great impact on the listener. The ‘loaded’ text deals with some of the basic concepts of Sikh religion like Sahaj, Karma, Hukam, Shabad and Maya, words which in addition to their semantic nuances, also reflect the spiritual states of the Third Guru. Consider the polarised juxtapositions, like Sahaj and Sansa (18),u Sach and Koor (19),Nirmal and Maila (19), Sanmukh and Bemukh (21&22), Sachibani and Kachi-bani (23&24),Punn and Paap (27),Har-ras and Un-ras (32). These contents all add to the beauty of the composition.
The Anand reassures every one that they can experience both joy and bliss, without sacrificing the normal comfort and pleasures of life. Bliss is the destiny of man, Pain and suffering, though unavoidable, do not disturb the inner peace of that person who leads a purposeful and pious life, by obeying the Guru’s discipline.
Evening / Dusk time Prayers
Rehras Sahib : It is collection of hymns of five different Gurus. The Rehras as recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib contains hymns of only Guru Nanakji, Guru Amardas ji, Guru Ramdas ji and Guru Arjan Dev j. The compositions of Guru Gobind Singh ji were added in Rehras Sahib in the late 19th century. This was later ratified by the supreme Sikh religious body - the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) Recite after you've worked hard and feel tired. It adds energy to your being. It covers your business actions and living environments. It helps you when you are physically weak, weak in money, property and earthly matters; when you feel hopeless, unsuccessful or worthless. Bayntee Chaopaee is Guru Gobind Singh's personal prayer for protection and is to liberate the soul. Related to water element. Its recited so that one does not have to leave Sach Khand (highest spiritual plane.
Kirtan Sohilla : It is a collection of hymns of Guru Nanakji, Guru Amardas ji and Guru Arjan Dev ji. These hymns underline the pains of parting of human beings from god and the bliss to be achieved when one unites with god again. To remove the fear of death. Good to recite when your life feels boring, and you are uninspired. It multiplies your aura, eliminates negativity in you and around you, and protects you. Excellent before you sleep at night to bring restful sleep, prevent nightmares and create a shield of protection. This Bani protects the soul on its journey after it leaves the body at death. Related to earth element. Panj Ishnana (washing feet, hands and face) is performed before going to sleep. After this, one is to sit upon their bed cross-legged, facing their pillow and recite the prayer. Satguru is with us at all times and protects us from the Angel of Death and demons. If one unexpectedly dies in their sleep, they will not enter lower lifeforms. Bad thoughts or dreams do not occur if Kirtan Sohela has been recited. Satguru places an iron fortress around him/her so nothing can hurt or scare the individual.
Sukhmani Sahib: This is a prayer in the form of a song to bring everlasting peace and comfort to the mind. Its sound is tranquilising and removes stress. Sukhmani Sahib opens your heart to live in gratitude, steadies your spiritual discipline, and connects you with your strength, endurance, courage and Infinite consciousness to overcome every obstacle. Listening to or reciting Sukhmani Sahib once a day can change your destiny from misery to prosperity and give you inner balance, grace, radiance, energy and the power to sacrifice.
The Sukhmani is probably the greatest composition of Guru Arjan. It is said that he wrote it in response to request from a devotee who was suffering form physical pain and mental anguish; it restored him to calm and health. The word ‘Sukhmani’ means the psalm of equipoise or jewel of bliss. it is reported that Wazir Khaq, the Governor of Lahore, whose real name was Hakim Alleem-ud-din Ansari, was suffering from a chronic stomach disease. He came to Amritsar for treatment and also visited the Harmandar Sahib. As Baba Buddha pressed his stomach, his condition became normal. When he met Guru Arjan, the latter told him to listen to a recitation of the “Sukhmani Sahib” daily, to gain inner peace. Wazir Khan then engaged a Sikh to recite this to him every day. By and by, he memorised the text and became a healthy and happy man.
The Sukhmani Sahib has structural unity. It has 24 staves (Salokas), one of which begins each canto. There are 24 cantos, each containing 8 stanzas. Each stanza has ten lines, that is five couplets. There is also the unity of theme: the perfection of man mentally. morally and spiritually. The stave of each canto gives the gist of the stanzas that follow.
Let us now examine the thought and contents of each canto briefly.
The first canto sums up the benefits of contemplation and meditation. It tells that all physical pain and sorrow may vanish through the sincere remembrance of God’s Holy Name and that man becomes physically healthy and morally strong. Such people find the inner strength to devote themselves to the public good and develop the endurance to overcome all worldly obstacles.
The second canto tells us that “practising holiness” reduces man’s propensity to sin. It also provides an escape from the hardships of life. He comes to inner peace and spiritual joy.
In the third canto, the Guru states that any study of holy texts, the performance of austerities and various religious practices as giving away much in charity, cannot compare with the benefits obtainable by reading or listening to the Sacred Word. Meditation and nobility of conduct can provide a passport to the Divine Court.
Canto four stresses the need for good behaviour, Man is a thinking animal and should think ahead to consequences of his actions. Learning and cleverness can not hide a filthy mind. Keep away form stealing and slander. Give up greed in all its forms and remember that all worldly things come to an end.
In canto five, we learn to thank God for all his various gifts and treasures which He gives us. Man should compare himself to the less fortunate.
Canto six examples God’s gifts to man: a healthy body, delicacies to eat, silks and jewels to wear and pleasant music to hear. Should we not thank the Lord for all His gifts by singing of His glory?
Canto seven dwells on the attributes of the saints: their self control, their love and compassion, their solicitude for the welfare of other people. Joining their company brings hope and peace, they never turn any one away empty-handed. Similarly an appreciation of the God-oriented man—the Brahm-giani—is found in canto eight. He is kind, patient, humble and care-free. He offers help and support to all without any inhibition. He is the refuge of the forsaken and the lost whom he accepts and treats like the members of his family.
In canto nine, Guru Arjan defines the various types of holy persons like the Pandit, Vaishnav, Bhagwati and touch-me-not, of these the best is the Jivanmuki, the liberated one who has acquired immortality while still alive.
Canto ten deals with the various types of people and substances, both good and bad. How the conceited men blindly follow their basic nature, while the seekers and seers who win God’s grace, attain the goal of this life. Man’s powers are limited; the more he knows, the less he knows.
In canto eleven the Guru tells us that the meek and the humble win God’s love, while the haughty and the vain find no peace or joy. Man’s desires are limitless as his cravings are beyond appeasement. It is only when his time comes that he may join the company of the holy and then he gets a glimpse of his light, within. Such a man knows True happiness for such a vision is powerfully blessed.
Canto twelve dwells on the lot of the boastful and the arrogant. Self-indulgent money-grabbers waste away their lives in eating and sleeping. If an egoist performs good deeds, he all too often only inflates his conceit. Pride and mental peace never go together.
Canto thirteen tells us of the need to associate with saintly people and of avoiding their slander. A slanderer is spiritually insolvent and a corruptor of all. However, if the saint blesses him, he will get peace of mind and benediction.
Canto fourteen points out that mortals, by their very nature, are fickle and way-ward; so no reliance can be placed on them. On the other hand, the holy ones are extremely helpful and convey to their disciples a true understanding of life and its goal.
Canto fifteen tells us that just as darkness is dispelled by light, and a track in the wilderness is illuminated by a flash of lightning, so the Guru’s instruction opens up our inner consciousness and reveals the hidden mysteries of spiritual life. This enables the seeker to throw away the garbage of worldliness and gather specially good merchandise which will bring both profit and honour.
In canto sixteen, the Guru refers to God as the Director, Playwright and Actor in His own plays, who assumes any role at any time and at any place. He also assigns parts in His play for individuals to act out.
In canto seventeen, the Guru emphasises the qualities of a true servant of God, namely obedience and humility. A good master is pleased with a person who obeys him and is loyal to him. So a good and sincere disciple will be able to win the grace of God.
Canto eighteen stresses the characteristics of a Seeker of Truth. He must give up his ego and surrender his mind to the Guru. The Guru will then enrich his mind with compassion and spirituality. The Guru will remove his tensions and sorrows and give him wisdom and joy.
In canto nineteen, Guru Arjan warns of the distractions of life. Why one spends all of one’s life amassing wealth, which will ultimately be of no use? Or worldly knowledge and possessions which will be left-here on death. People should think of the things that will be helpful to them in the hereafter.
Canto twenty deals with the need of efforts for spiritual progress. Meditation is a progressive step on the road to Divinity. A love of virtue, goodness and a remembrance of the qualities that we associate with God, will make one noble and blissful.
In canto twenty-one, the Guru tells of the pre-creation state. Before creation, there was a great void. Then God by His own will manifested Himself in His own creation. So the Universe came into existence, where different peoples play out their various roles.
In canto twenty-two, there is a short list of God’s attributes. He is the fountain of generosity and goodness. He selects people according to what he wants from them. He gives special protection to some but those who turn away from Him come to harm and grief.
Canto twenty-three tells us of the omnipotence of God. He created the fabric of the universe; He controls the stellar bodies. Mankind will be forever unable to understand their complexities, as he gropes for clues to their unravelment. True Seekers stand lost in wonder at God’s power and excellence.
In canto twenty four, the benefits of the Sukhmani are expounded. The true devotee will be rewarded with health, culture, wisdom, peace and enlightenment through the sincere recitation and understanding of this Psalm of Peace. He will be crowned with glory both in this world and in God’s Court
The Sukhmani is a gem of spiritual wisdom. Many philosophers and eminent writers have expressed their great admiration for it and Prof.Puran Singh was much influenced by it. He wrote: “I had no sleep for many nights. I thought I was going mad. Such was my condition. The clouds came, the cold wind from the north came. I laughed. My eyes closed. I took up the hymn of Sukhmani and began reading it. I went on, it gave its own lilt to my soul. It lent a sweetness to my voice. My face that had been overcast by the dark stain of the sin of untunement began to glow. The stains disappeared. I felt light and gay like a bird, as I realised the singing of the Sukhmani was a great cure for human falling out. That insane mind into which business worries had driven me also comes to nations; they lose their tempers and go to war, killing millions. Before they lose their temper, were they to bathe in this lyrical river of Guru Arjan Dev, the world could be set right. .. . The whole psalm flows in an ambrosial stream of hope and light from the bosom of the Guru. The glory of the day-break symbolises the great illumination that like a holy nimbus, pervades this hymn.”
The Community Prayers
The Community Prayer is performed in a gurudwara or in a house where the community (sangat) gathers to recite prayers collectively.
Community Prayers are recited in the gurudwaras every morning and evening. The congregation is known as 'Sadh Sangat' i.e. 'a group of saints'. The recitations are known as 'Kirtanias'. However, the Sadh Sangat can even recite the prayers together as a group in the absence of the Kirtanias.
It was composed by Guru Nanakji with many 'shaloks' of Guru Angad ji later inserted by Guru Arjan Dev ji . It's theme focuses on how a man can elevate himself for union with God.
Asa-di-var----means “A ballad of hope;” it is one of the basic sacred compositions for the Sikhs and is sung every morning in congregation in gurdwaras. The Var is an heroic ode which describes the brave deeds of a hero. It is generally sung to inspire armies going to battle or to inspire people with martial spirit. The Asa-di-var is normally sung in the Ass raga. It consists of 24 stanzas (Pauris) and 44 Staves (Salokas) and was originated by Guru Nanak later, Guru Angad added another 15 staves of his own. In congregation, the musicians sing this var along with Chhants (quatrains) of Guru Ramdas. The stanzas express the ideas in general, while the staves clarify them by example and detail. Social and religious issues are then related, to ordinary life.
The Asa-di-var does not tell a story, its theme is: “How to become a spiritual person”—a devta. In it, Guru Nanak also warns us against the rituals and tricks of priests and monks. The most important thing is how to build up one’s character and how to remove the obstacles that lay in the path of a disciple, the most important of which is the ego, selfishness or conceit. Even holy persons, who are outwardly very good and kind, often suffer from religious pride. Sometimes so-called religious people, commit heinous crimes through self-righteousness and bigotry. It should be remembered that Ego in its pure essence is self-awareness or identity which when regulated is an essential, for it is the basis of one’s character or moral nature. When regulated by right motivation and active service, it is positive and beneficial. But if uncontrolled through self pride of position or riches, it becomes selfish and mean. The effects of the Ego are particularly contemptible and disastrous when disguised by the apparent holiness or tradition, which exploits ordinary people’s ignorance and credulity. The practice of humility and love are the most effective qualities for keeping people away from sin, far better than all recitations and rituals of religion.
Initially, it is the fear of God’s wrath or displeasure which inspires the seeker to offer worship and prayer. Over the years this fear should become gradually replaced by love and self surrender, so that he loses his Impatience with those who are imperfect; he is in sympathy with them, for they are like strayed sheep. Only by self-discipline and serving other people, can one become worthy of divine grace. Associate with holy persons and learn from them, the secrets of spiritual wisdom.
The Asa-di-var also deals with concepts like Guru, Grace, Egoism, pollution (Sutak) and falsehood. The Guru’s personality and message transform the life of the disciple. Guru Nanak says:
“By meeting the Guru, The Truth, is realised;
He banishes Ego from the mind of man;
He gives insight in to supreme Reality.
Only The Guru can grant the gift of “The Holy Name.” (AG,
The Guru sets a course of life for his disciple, that of plain living and high thinking. Following this, the seeker’s life-style begins to change:
“The good ones, who are absorbed in “The Truth,” do service;
They do no evil;
They travel on the right path and do what is just;
They break worldly bonds. They eat and drink, little.” (AG, 467)
There is also the concept of ‘Self.’ Our individual self is only a minuscule part of Universal Reality. It is only by understanding our own self-limits that we achieve the highest goals of our own existence.
Through ignorance, we engage ourselves in selfishness and enjoyment, this will frustrate our hopes of a higher life. Man starts this life coupled to the background of his previous life. His past and present mould his future. We have self-will with which we can modify our own conduct. It is only when we attune our own will to the Supreme Will, that we can become super-men.
Now to a summary of the Asa-di-var in serial order. After explaining the role of a spiritual teacher (Guru) Nanak goes to tell us that divine wisdom is acquired through intellect. The Guru offers us a vision of a God whose whole presence in made manifest in Nature. The world is not a dream, but an impermanent reality. If people really observe God’s creation, they will be filled with wonder. The entire Cosmos, follows Divine Ordinance or law; so should we. The Lord is not pleased by the theatrics of the so-called ncarnates, but only by acts of love and devotion.
The religious teacher instructs his disciples to distinguish good from bad, true from false. However, the assertion of individual ego, is the great obstacle to the process of moral law. So that our self-assertiveness should be replaced by self-surrender. By submission to His Divine Will, one may win the favour of the Lord.
Secular knowledge or scholarship does not prevent us from sinning. Ultimately we will be judged not by our learning or status, but by our conduct. Arguing, hair-splitting over sacred texts, the performance of rituals and traditional offerings or the wearing of symbols or other marks of holiness, are of no avail. What counts is self-control, purity and compassion. God knows our inner selves and cannot be cheated by any so-called holy practice. He reads our hearts and is not affected by only recitations of holy texts, markings on the fore-head with sandal-wood paste, cooking food within plastered squares, offering of choice dishes and libations of water, or by the barley-rolls and leafy platters, served to priests for the benefit of the dead. These things are done to win popular acclaim or to appease priests.
Guru Nanak exposed the maladies of his time. Both Hindu and Muslim have strayed from the path of their religious preceptors and practised greed, falsehood, extortion and tyranny. The Guru rejected the ‘Transfer-theory’ of Brahmins, that offerings given to them, were of benefit to the ancestors of the donors. God will ultimately punish them for deceiving and exploiting ordinary people. Guru Nanak also exposed any idea of pollution, being connected with the events of birth and death. These two are natural events being ordained by God. Real pollution is self incurred; it comes from greed, lust, lying and slander, all of which corrupt the mind. There is nothing wrong with food and drink. Impurity does not exist in matter, but in one’s ego, indifference to God and other people.
Guru Nanak also warned us against lust in sex. In his age, women were neglected and held in contempt by men. Both Hindus and Muslims, ill-treated their women. The Guru praised the role of woman in family life. Prof. Puran Singh wrote in this connection:
“The Guru transcends sex through sex. Women, says the Guru, are
the centre of life here on earth and in heaven. Man is born of woman; he is wedded to women. How can woman be outside the spiritual court, she who gives birth to the geniuses of this world?
Talking slander, as is done of woman, is to slander one’s soul.”
Women are equally responsible to God for their actions There is no reason why we should conduct ourselves so foolishly towards each other. If we are learned, we should not call any one low or inferior. Let there be no rudeness or discourtesy between one person and another. People who are over-bearing and haughty only harden their own hearts. All people are equal and human. It is not right for any one to pass judgment on or vilify others.
The True seeker of “The Truth” welcomes all that comes from God—both good or ill—as a blessing. He does not criticise Him or rail at Him. A love of God cannot live in the heart that loves only itself. Servants of God must content themselves by only obeying God’s will and ask for no reward or bonus. If they abide by His will, they will be content and filled with compassion of others. They will not feel disturbed, if others appear to be more fortunate. They constantly endeavor to put their wills in harmony with Divine Will.
Summing up the Asa-di-var’s message we can summarise it under three headings ethical, social and metaphysical. Under ethical teaching, we find the Guru’s emphasis is on over comings one’s ego by humility, truth, virtue, holy living and keeping the company of saints. Even though the Guru also puts a premium on discrimination—Bibek-Budhi—-leaming to sort good from bad, he emphatically refutes any belief that austerities like fasting, bathing, ritual worship have spiritual merit. The social teaching of the Guru relates to the current trends of the age; caste pride and prejudice, bribery, greed, hypocrisy, the tyranny of kings and rulers and priestly class as all of which were accepted as a matter of course. The Guru pointed to the need of improving of the conditions of the poor and under-privileged. The metaphysical aspect of the Asa-di-var emphasises Divine Ordinance (Hukum), God’s grace, the wonders of Nature and the pervading spirit of God in all His creation.
The style of the language of the Asa-di-var is crisp, and pithy. Some of the lines form proverbs which need to be treasured. A few are given below:
“Suffering is a remedy, pleasure a disease (for in pleasure God is
“Sweetness of speech and humility are the essence of virtues.”
“Ego is a deep-rooted disease, but in it lies its own cure as well.”
“Learned fools are those in love with scepticism and doubt.”
Closing of Prayers
All the prayers i.e. Individual or Collective and Morning or Evening, end with the 'Anand Sahib' prayer. It consists of the first 5 stanzas and the last stanza out of a hymn total of 40 stanzas composed by Guru Amar das ji . Its theme is that God is the only giver and the rest of us are all beggars. He is full of mercy and gives to those who qualify for and honestly deserve his bounties.
The 'Anand Sahib' prayer is followed by an 'Ardaas' and a 'Waak'
Basic Requirement of a Prayer
A Sikh is required to rise in the early hours of the morning which is called as Amrit Vela i.e. 'The time of receiving Nectar from God'. Typically, this should be between 4:30 and 5:30 AM.
He must take a bath and wear clean clothes.
He should then recite the prayers with his full concentration on God.