AM I ON THE RIGHT TRACK? SEEKING ANSWERS FROM GURBANI
The unclean soul vessel
(SGGS 728 Rag Suhi M :1)
ਭਾਡਾ ਧੋਇ ਬੈਸਿ ਧੂਪੁ ਦੇਵਹੁ ਤਉ ਦੂਧੈ ਕਉ ਜਾਵਹੁ ॥ Bhanda Dhoy Bes Dhoop Devo Tau Dhodhey Ko Javoh ||
Cleanse the vessel (mind), sun it; only then set the milk for yoghurt.
ਦੂਧੁ ਕਰਮ ਫੁਨਿ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਮਾਇਣੁ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਰਾਸ ਜਮਾਵਹੁ ॥੧॥ Dhoodhh Karam Fun Surath Samaaein Hoe Niraas Jamaavahu ||1||
Add the starter of good consciousness to the purity of good deeds, and it will surely curdle. |1||
ਜਪਹੁ ਤ ਏਕੋ ਨਾਮਾ ॥ Japahu Th Eaeko Naamaa ||
Realize the virtue of the One Lord.
ਅਵਰਿ ਨਿਰਾਫਲ ਕਾਮਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ Avar Niraafal Kaamaa ||1|| Rehaao ||
All other (spiritual) actions are fruitless. ||1||Rahao||
This shabad started my train of thought. Am I a clean vessel as Guru Nanak Sahib ji wanted me to be? Am I truly on the path of Tatt Gurmatt (Authentic Sikhi) or have I wandered away? Have I allowed those around me to ‘follow the crowd?’ Do as ‘they’ do and not what my guru says?
A local Parcharak (preacher) told me that the ONE way to seek the answers is to do vichar (discourse & contemplate) on SGGS ji with my bibek budhi (discerning intellect) and quoted two verses from Gurbani.
(SGGS 317 Rag Gauri M : 3)
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਬਿਬੇਕ ਬੁਧਿ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵੈ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਹਾਰੁ ਪਰੋਇ ॥
The messages that emanate from within the shabad result in spiritual wisdom and a discerning intellect leading to the internalization of Godly virtues.
(SGGS 1276 Rag Malar M : 5)
ਅਚਰੁ ਚਰੈ ਬਿਬੇਕ ਬੁਧਿ ਪਾਏ ਪੁਰਖੈ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਮਿਲਾਇ ॥੪॥
The mortal – through the use of the discriminating intellect that he is blessed with – can realize the Creator
He then showed me how to Google and access Gurbani online. I was excited as it seemed easy enough as I consider myself moderately computer-savvy.
Thus began the search for the many questions shifting in my mind.
Question 1: I have been told that a local “Mahapurakh”, called a Babaji can show me the spirituality that I seek. Many people are his devotees and regularly consult him for solutions to all sorts of problems for body and soul. Do I need this Babaji’s help?
Answer from Gurbani : Your journey is your own. Only your own effort is fruitful.
(SGGS 44 Sri Rag M : 5)
ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨ ਏਕਸ ਸਿਉ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਏਕਸ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਭ ਧੰਧੁ ਹੈ ਸਭ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਮਾਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥:
Mere man ekas siou chit laai || Ekas bin sabh dhand hai sabh mithiaa mohu maai ||1|| rahaaou ||:
O my mind, focus your consciousness on the One. All others entanglements are worthless; for they are emotional attachment to Maya.
(SGGS 6 Jup Pauree 28)
ਆਈ ਪੰਥੀ ਸਗਲ ਜਮਾਤੀ ਮਨਿ ਜੀਤੈ ਜਗੁ ਜੀਤੁ ॥
Aaee Panthhee Sagal Jamaathee Man Jeethai Jag Jeeth ||
Seeing the brotherhood of all mankind is the highest order of spirituality –
Conquer your own mind, and conquer the world.
(SGGS 468 Rag Asa M : 1)
ਫਲੁ ਤੇਵੇਹੋ ਪਾਈਐ ਜੇਵੇਹੀ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਈਐ ॥ Fal Thaevaeho Paaeeai Jaevaehee Kaar
As are the actions we commit, so are the rewards we receive.
(SGGS 1245 Rag Sarang Salok M : 1)
ਅਕਲੀ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ Aklee Sahib Sayveay Aklee Payea
Use your (God given) intellect when serving God (realize He is within).
ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ Aklee Parh Kay Bhujeay Aklee Keechai
Doing spiritual activities with a discerning intellect is the way to realize Him
ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥ Nanak Akhey Rah Eh Hor Gullan
Says Nanak; this is indeed the way, all other practices are meaningless.
Question 2 : If not the Babaji, then who is my real mentor? Is it the local Gyaniji or the visiting Parcharak from India? Or do I need someone close to me to guide me? Who will lead me on my personal journey?
Answer from Gurbani : Neither. Your real Guru is the Shabad/ Gurbani.
(SGGS 943 Rag Ramkali M : 1)
ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਧੁਨਿ ਚੇਲਾ ॥ Sabadh Guroo Surath Dhhun Chaelaa ||
The Shabad is the Guru, upon whom I lovingly focus my consciousness;
my mind is the chaylaa, the disciple.
(SGGS 664 Rag Thanasree M: 3)
ਸਬਦੁ ਦੀਪਕੁ ਵਰਤੈ ਤਿਹੁ ਲੋਇ ॥ ਜੋ ਚਾਖੈ ਸੋ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ Shabad Deepak Vartey Tey
Shabad is a lamp that illuminates my spiritual world. My life will become
pure if I realise the message of the shabad guru.
(SGGS 936 Rag Ramkali Dakhni M:1)
ਰੂੜੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ Roori Banee Har Paiya Gur Shabdee
I realize the Creator when I contemplate on the beauteous message of the
Question 3 : I am told that I can achieve spirituality by chanting selected words like Waheguru and also repeatedly reading some Gurbani verses. Certain breathing exercises and rhythmic beats too are sometimes incorporated in the chanting led by the local and visiting Kirtanees. Should I experiment by chanting in tandem with their notes?
Answer from Gurbani : Chanting and repetition is mere sound. Spirituality is when Godly virtues are emulated and practiced in our lives.
(SGGS 1420 Salok Vaaraan Thay Vadheek M : 3)
ਹਰਹਟ ਭੀ ਤੂੰ ਤੂੰ ਕਰਹਿ ਬੋਲਹਿ ਭਲੀ ਬਾਣਿ ॥ Harehatt Bhee Thoon Thoon Karehi Bolehi Bhalee Baan ||
The Persian wheel also cries out, “Tu! Tu!” with sweet and sublime sounds.
(SGGS 555 Rag Bihagra M : 3)
ਰਾਮੁ ਰਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਰਾਮੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥ Raam Raam Karathaa Sabh Jag Firai Raam N Paaeiaa Jaae ||
The entire world goes about chanting, “Raam, Raam, Lord, Lord,” but the Lord cannot be obtained like this.
ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਭੇਦਿਆ ਇਨ ਬਿਧਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥ Gur Kai Sabadh Bhaedhiaa Ein Bidhh Vasiaa Man Aae ||
Through the messages within the Guru’s Shabad, His realization is obtained and He comes to dwell within the mind.
Question 4 : I have heard our local Gyaniji say in his Ardas that Sikhs need ‘Sri Amritsar jee dey darshan ishnan’ (we need to bathe at Amritsar); also I have seen posters for zatras to Nankana Sahib and Hemkunt Sahib. Does that mean that Sikhs need to make pilgrimages at special shrines?
Answer from Gurbani : Sikhism frowns on such a practice.
(SGGS 687 Rag Thanasree M : 5 )
ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਣ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ॥ Teerath Navan Jaao Teerath Naam Hai ||
The Naam is the sacred shrine of pilgrimage. Acquire the Naam (Godly Virtues) to cleanse yourself.
(SGGS 484 Rag Asa Bhagat Kabir)
ਜਲ ਕੈ ਮਜਨਿ ਜੇ ਗਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਮੇਡੁਕ ਨਾਵਹਿ ॥ Jal Kae Majan Jae Gath Hovai Nit Nit Menduk Naveh ||
If salvation could be obtained by bathing in water, then what about the frog, which is always bathing in water?
(SGGS 1142 Rag Bhairo M : 5)
ਤੀਰਥੁ ਹਮਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ Teerath Hamra Har Ko Naam ||
My sacred shrine of pilgrimage is the Naam (Godly Virtues).
Question 5 : One of my friends tells me that true spirituality lies in practising austerity; give up eating meat, wake up at dawn to read prayers, dress only in white etc. He attends all the Rahensabhai Kirtan and Nam Simran chanting sessions that are conducted in the neighborhood gurdwara where he is often reminded that this is meditation. He also mentions that yoga is meditation. I am unsure how this is beneficial as I feel it is only a physical exercise. Am I wrong in my assumption?
Answer from Gurbani : You are correct in your assumption. True spirituality as explained by Guru Nanak lies WITHIN you.
(SGGS 1289 Rag Malar M : 1)
ਮਾਸੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਰਿ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਝਗੜੇ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੈ ॥ Maas Maas Kar Moorakh Jhagarrae Giaan Dhhiaan Nehee Jaanai ||
The fools argue about consuming flesh and meat; they have no spiritual wisdom. (spirituality is not dependent on eating or not eating meat or vegetables).
ਕਉਣੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਉਣੁ ਸਾਗੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ਕਿਸੁ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਪ ਸਮਾਣੇ ॥ Koun Maas Koun Saag Kehaavai Kis Mehi Paap Samaanae ||
What is meat, and what is green vegetables? Eating which leads to sin? (Eating or not eating either is not sin in itself).
(SGGS 75 Sri Rag M : 1)
ਤੀਰਥ ਵਰਤ ਸੁਚਿ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਰਮੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਨਹੀ ਪੂਜਾ ॥ Theerathh Varath Such Sanjam Naahee Karam Dhharam Nehee Poojaa ||
Pilgrimages, fasts, purification and self-discipline are of no use, nor are rituals, religious ceremonies or empty worship.
(SGGS 337 Rag Gauri Bhagat Kabir)
ਕਿਆ ਜਪੁ ਕਿਆ ਤਪੁ ਸੰਜਮੋ ਕਿਆ ਬਰਤੁ ਕਿਆ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥ Kiaa Jap Kiaa Thap Sanjamo Kiaa Barath Kiaa Eisanaan ||
What good is chanting, penance or self-mortification? What good is fasting or cleansing baths?
(SGGS 674 Raag Thanasree M : 5)
ਜਾਪ ਤਾਪ ਭ੍ਰਮਨ ਬਸੁਧਾ ਕਰਿ ਉਰਧ ਤਾਪ ਲੈ ਗੈਨ ॥ ਇਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਨਹ ਪਤੀਆਨੋ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਜੈਨ ॥੨॥ Jaap Thaap Bhraman Basudhhaa Kar Ouradhh Thaap Lai Gain || Eih Bidhh Neh Patheeaano Thaakur Jog Jugath Kar Jain ||2||
Chanting, deep meditation and penance, wandering over the face of the earth, the performance of austerities with the arms stretched up to the sky
– the Lord is not pleased by any of these means, though the Yogis and Jains partake in it. ||2||
Question 6 : At the recent demise of a family member, my cousin was reminded by his elders to make certain donations (pillow blanket etc). Are this and other rituals mandatory? Is that what I too should be doing in a similar situation? Will it be a sacrilege if certain practices like the Madh (middle part) Ardas is not done during an Akhand Path? Must there be a Path da Bhog for the departed soul before a year has passed? Must I donate an expensive Rumala for the SGGS ji? Must there be a langgar with sweets if the departed soul was of advanced age?
Answer from Gurbani : All these are empty rituals bereft (devoid) of meaning. Believing in such rituals, superstitions or fads will not bring one closer to God1 or make one a better human being, let alone be beneficial for the departed soul!
(SGGS 355 Rag Asa M : 1)
ਆਚਾਰੀ ਨਹੀ ਜੀਤਿਆ ਜਾਇ ॥ Aachaaree Nehee Jeethiaa Jaae ||
Through ritual actions, God cannot be realized.
ਪਾਠ ਪੜੈ ਨਹੀ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਪਾਇ ॥ Paath Parrai Nehee Keemath Paae ||
By reciting sacred scriptures; God cannot be valued (realized).
(SGGS 127 Rag Maajh M : 3)
ਬਹੁ ਕਰਮ ਕਰੈ ਕਿਛੁ ਥਾਇ ਨ ਪਾਏ ॥ Bahu Karam Karai Kishh Thhaae N Paaeae ||
One may perform all sorts of rituals, none are accepted.
Question 7 : What about showing respect and getting blessings from so called ‘holy objects’ that are shown periodically in our gurdwaras? I recall a jug with holes being taken around ; also some ‘robe’ or other article of our Guru as well. Is bowing to such objects a spiritual deed? Some say this is sharda (faith). And in the same manner, is placing the nonexistant dust (from the entrance to the Darbar Sahib) on my forehead a sign of my subjugation to unseen ‘mahapurakh’ souls?
Answer from Gurbani : A Sikh worships the Creator, NOT Creation. Intellect, rather than blind faith, should be applied when faced with such objects, people or thoughts. The Gurmat way towards Godly realization is through the emulation of Godly virtues. What matters in Sikhi is our deeds. Sikhi is not about the “magical touch or sight” of an object or person.
(SGGS 7 Jup Pauree 34)
ਕਰਮੀ ਕਰਮੀ ਹੋਇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ Karamee Karamee Hoe Veechaar ||
By our deeds and actions is our spirituality judged (as successful or failed).
(SGGS 154 Rag Chaytee M : 1)
ਸੁਕ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਕੀਤਾ ਰਹਸੀ ਮੇਰੇ ਜੀਅੜੇ ਬਹੁੜਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਵਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ Sukirath Keethaa Rehasee Maerae Jeearrae Bahurr N Aavai Vaaree ||1|| Rehaao ||
Only the good deeds which one has done remain, O mind. This opportunity (doing good as human beings) shall not come again! ||1||Rahao||
(SGGS 24 Sri Rag M : 1)
ਅਮਲੁ ਕਰਿ ਧਰਤੀ ਬੀਜੁ ਸਬਦੋ ਕਰਿ ਸਚ ਕੀ ਆਬ ਨਿਤ ਦੇਹਿ ਪਾਣੀ ॥ Amal Kar Dhharathee Beej Sabadho Kar Sach Kee Aab Nith Dhaehi Paanee ||
Good deeds are akin to the field of life. The messages of the Shabad are the seeds. Irrigate this field of life with the water of Godly virtues.
ਹੋਇ ਕਿਰਸਾਣੁ ਈਮਾਨੁ ਜੰਮਾਇ ਲੈ ਭਿਸਤੁ ਦੋਜਕੁ ਮੂੜੇ ਏਵ ਜਾਣੀ ॥੧॥
Hoe Kirasaan Eemaan Janmaae Lai Bhisath Dhojak Moorrae Eaev Jaanee ||1||
Become such a farmer, and one’s spirituality will flourish. In such flourishing the foolishness of heaven and hell will dissipate ||1||
(SGGS 772 Rag Suhi M : 3)
ਬਿਬੇਕ ਬੁਧੀ ਸੁਖਿ ਰੈਣਿ ਵਿਹਾਣੀ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸਾ ॥ Bibaek Budhhee Sukh Rain Vihaanee Guramath Naam Pragaasaa ||
With such discerning intellect spirituality progresses; allowing the Guru’s enlightening messages to bring about inculcation of Godly virtues.
Question 8 : Recently I heard a rumour that another ‘Granth’ has been found. My mamaji (maternal uncle) has advised me to stay away from such claims and not be misled so easily by kachey (untrue) leaders who are using kachee (not authenticated by our Guru ji) scripts to lead us on a kacha (incorrect) path. Should I accept any other ‘holy book’ as authentically written by my Guru and bow to it?
Answer from Gurbani : The determination of the SGGS as our ONE and ONLY Guru has been done by our Gurus. The order that the SGGS is our ONE and ONLY Guru since 1708 too has been ordained by our Guru. It is the ONE and ONLY Granth in the entire spiritual universe that has been given Guru-ship status by our Guru. No other Granth has Dhur Kee Banee contained within it.
(SGGS 722 Rag Tilang M : 1)
ਜੈਸੀ ਮੈ ਆਵੈ ਖਸਮ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਤੈਸੜਾ ਕਰੀ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥ Jaisee Mai Aavai Khasam Kee Bani Thaisarraa Karee Giaan Vae Laalo ||
As the Bani of the Creator comes to me, so do I express it to you, O beloved Sikhs.
(SGGS 628 Rag Sorath M : 5)
ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਆਈ ॥ Dhhur Kee Baanee Aaee ||
The Bani emanated from Creator.
My guru has answered my question ‘Where is the Divine I am seeking?’
with his answer : The Divine Creator, Ek Oangkar , is within me.
(SGGS 102 Rag Maajh M : 5)
ਸਭ ਕਿਛੁ ਘਰ ਮਹਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ Sabh Kichh Ghar Mehi Baahar Naahee ||
Everything is within the self; there is nothing beyond.
ਬਾਹਰਿ ਟੋਲੈ ਸੋ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਹੀ ॥ Baahar Ttolai So Bharam Bhulaahee ||
One who searches outside is deluded by doubt.
ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਜਿਨੀ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਸੋ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਸੁਹੇਲਾ ਜੀਉ ॥੧॥ Gur Parasaadhee
Jinee Anthar Paaeiaa So Anthar Baahar Suhaelaa Jeeo ||1||
One who realizes the Lord within through enlightenment of the shabad Guru, is blissfull in the complete sense ||1||
(SGGS 754 Raag Suhi M : 3)
ਕਾਇਆ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਆਪੇ ਵਸੈ ਅਲਖੁ ਨ ਲਖਿਆ ਜਾਈ ॥ Kaaeiaa Andhar Aapae Vasai
Alakh N Lakhiaa Jaaee ||
The Creator dwells within me; even if He is beyond fathom.
(SGGS 1121 Rag Keydara M : 5)
ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਬਸਤ ਰਿਦ ਮਹਿ ਖੋਰ ॥ Preetham Basath Ridh Mehi Khor ||
My Beloved is invisible; yet dwells in the depths of my mind.
ਭਰਮ ਭੀਤਿ ਨਿਵਾਰਿ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਗਹਿ ਲੇਹੁ ਅਪਨੀ ਓਰ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ Bharam Bheeth
Nivaar Thaakur Gehi Laehu Apanee Our ||1|| Rehaao ||
My Creator within me has shattered the wall of doubt (that He is
somewhere OUTSIDE there); and thus provided me with His realization
Do I still need to seek Him outside there? The easy way of course will be to simply continue with all the practices and rituals that Gurbani explains as unnecessary. But wouldn’t that mean I am guilty of being a Manmukh? That my soul vessel is still unclean?
I am finally beginning to realise that in effect, real Sikhi is the easiest spiritual path. Hence I intend to continue my journey in understanding Gurbani; unlearn and relearn accordingly (clean my soul vessel) and endeavour to be a Gurmukh with solid belief in only Tatt Gurmatt (Authentic Sikhi) that the Guru preaches. All within the confines of the Divine’s Hukm, of course!
(SGGS 1237 Rag Sarang M : 2)
ਗੁਰੁ ਕੁੰਜੀ ਪਾਹੂ ਨਿਵਲੁ ਮਨੁ ਕੋਠਾ ਤਨੁ ਛਤਿ ॥ Gur Kunjee Paahoo Nival Man Kothaa Than Shhath ||
The key of the Guru opens the lock of attachment, in the house of the mind, under the roof of the body.
ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਤਾਕੁ ਨ ਉਘੜੈ ਅਵਰ ਨ ਕੁੰਜੀ ਹਥਿ ॥੧॥ Naanak Gur Bin Man Kaa Thaak N Ougharrai Avar N Kunjee Hathh ||1||
O Nanak, without the Guru, the door of the mind cannot be opened; for no one else holds the key. ||1||
(SGGS 859 Rag Gond M : 4)
ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨ ਆਸਾ ਕਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਸਾਚੇ ਕੀ ਜੋ ਤੇਰਾ ਘਾਲਿਆ ਸਭੁ ਥਾਇ ਪਾਈ ॥੩॥ Maerae Man Aasaa Kar Har Preetham Saachae Kee Jo Thaeraa Ghaaliaa Sabh Thhaae Paaee ||3||
O my mind, place your hope in the Creator, such shall make all your spiritual efforts worthy. ||3||