Bondage results due to man's mistaken self-identity. And this mistaken identity
results due to ignorance of one's True Nature as Unconditioned Consciousness.
Man is constituted of Spirit (Aatmaan) and matter (non-self or
Maya). The Spirit is eternal, whilst the matter is constantly in flux. Although
the Pure Spirit is man's Essential Nature, but in ignorance he generally continues
to identify himself with the matter — body, mind and intellect personality (false
ego) — in all his experiences in which there is the underlying "I"
consciousness. This ignorance and superimposition of the non-self on the Real
Self or Mool with (Source, Origin, Jot....) is the root of man's so-called bondage. In other words, man's not understanding
this consciousness itself is the bondage. The Gurbani (SGGS) explains it in
very simple words as follows:
You see this false body as true; thus you have
Egoism binds people in bondage, and causes them
around lost (sggs 227). (sggs 729).
- ਮਿਥਿਆ ਤਨੁ ਸਾਚੋ ਕਰਿ ਮਾਨਿਓ ਇਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਆਪੁ ਬੰਧਾਵੈ ॥:
Mithiaa tann saacho kar maanio ih bidh aap bandhaavai: O man, you see this
false body as true; in this way, you have placed yourself in bondage (sggs
- ਤ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਗੁਣ ਬੰਧੀ ਦੇਹੁਰੀ ਜੋ ਆਇਆ ਜਗਿ ਸੋ ਖੇਲੁ ॥:
Trihu gun banddhee dehuree jo aaiaa jagi so khel: The three qualities of Maya
hold the body in bondage; whoever comes into the world is subject to their
play (sggs 21).
- ਹਉਮੈ ਬੰਧਨ ਬੰਧਿ ਭਵਾਵੈ ॥: Houmai bandhan
bandh bhavaavai: Egoism binds people in bondage, and causes them to wander
around lost (sggs 227).
- ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਿ ਸਭੋ ਜਗੁ ਬਾਧਾ ॥: Maya mohi
sabho jagu baadhaa: Attached to Maya, the whole world is in bondage (sggs
One has landed himself in bondage by identifying with a body or name and form.
This mistaken identity is the root of our sorrows (Dukha) faced by each
one of us in our respective worldly life. All the afflictions that pertain to
the body-mind-intellect individuality — which is ephemeral in nature — are transposed
on the Mool with (Source, Origin, Jot....) and thus the
person suffers because of this ignorance. The limitations created in the expression
of our individuality due to the ceaseless demands of our body (senses), the
countless agitations of the mind and the painful restlessness of the intellect
is what we call philosophically as the bondage. So long we are in this bondage
of the worldliness, the Truth remains hidden from us. We remain in bondage until
the ego-idea is not removed.
- ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਤਾ ਉਬਰਹਿ ਨਾਹਿ ਤ ਬਧੇ ਦੁਖ ਸਹਾਹਿ ॥੧॥: Nanak gurmukh hovahi taa ubarahi naahi ta badhe dukh sahaahi ||1||: O Nanak! If (the Msnmukh person - mind-willed...) becomes the Gurmukh, then he is emancipated; otherwise, he remains in bondage, and suffers in pain ||1|| (sggs 591).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੋ ਮੁਕਤੁ ਕਹੀਐ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਬੰਧ ਵਿਚਾਰੇ ॥:
Gurmukh hovai so mukat kaheeai manmukh bandh vichaare: One who becomes Spiritual
being (Gurmukh) is said to be liberated, while the poor materialists (Manmukhs)
are in bondage (sggs 796).
- ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਿ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਆ ਸਚੁ ਮਰਣਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਧੰਧਾ ਕਰਤਿਆ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਇਆ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਦੁਖੁ ਸਹਾਮੁ ॥: Maya
moh visaariaa sach marnaa Harinaam. Dhandaa kartiyaa janam gayiaa andar dukh
sahaam: Emotionally attached to Maya, the mortal forgets Truth, death and
God's Name. Engaged in worldly affairs (Maya), his life wastes away; and deep within himself,
he suffers in pain (sggs 1248).
- ਹੋਂਦਾ ਫੜੀਅਗੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਾਣੁ ॥: Hodaa farreeyag
Nanak jaan: O Nanak, know this: egoism leads to bondage (sggs 1289).
Based on the foregoing verses, we can divide all human beings in two categories:
materialists and Spiritual Beings. The people with materialistic outlook or
conditioned consciousness — referred as Manmukh in the Gurbani — assert
that everlasting happiness is attainable only in acquisition of sense-objects.
They endure body-identity and feel like perpetuating it eternally. The true
scriptures and the masters however tell us to the contrary. The pleasure that's
experienced upon fulfillment of any craving is fleeting. Such temporary experience
of happiness attained from the enjoyment of material objects can be compared
to a person suffering from scabies who upon scratching experiences transitory
relief; but this scratching only worsens later. Whenever a desire for material
objects is fulfilled, the inevitable result is greed and more. On the other
hand, if a desire remains unfulfilled, it manifests in fear and anger. This
is attachment, which leads to bondage. Hence, the disease of craving for sense
objects is such that even if a man acquires all the wealth and possessions of
the world, his disease of worldly craving will go on multiplying.
- ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੈਲੇ ਮਲੁ ਭਰੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਵਿਕਾਰੁ ॥: Manmukh maile mal bhare haumai trisanaa vikaar:
The Manmukhs are polluted. They are filled with the pollution
of egotism, cravings and evil passions (sggs 29).
We can look at it from an another angle. Due to the rise of objectivity in
our consciousness, the consciousness becomes conditioned and limited: that is
bondage. Materialists in bondage fritter away their efforts chasing the vanishing
pleasures, not realizing that the same, in the long run will result in mental
agony, distress and physical discomfort. Their materialistic existence in life
can be compared to a lobster floating in cold water in a container of a restaurant.
Upon demand, as the container is heated from below, the lobster will enjoy the
stay there initially because of the warmth. But that joy is only temporary,
because as the water reaches boiling point, it will be unable to withstand the
temperature and ultimately perish. Similarly, bondage to worldly objects may
fetch temporary peace and happiness but it will push man into an bottomless
pit of passion and sin.
- ਨਾਨਕ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੰਧੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਕਰਾਏ ॥੪॥੩॥: Nanak manmukh bandh hai gurmukh mukati karaae ||4||3||:
O Nanak, the Manmukhs remain in bondage (with hopes, desires, etc. They become hurdles on his Way); the Gurmukhs are liberated (From these) ||4||3|| (sggs
- ਅੰਧ ਕੂਪ ਮਹਿ ਪਰਿਓ ਪਰਾਨੀ ਭਰਮ ਗੁਬਾਰ ਮੋਹ ਬੰਧਿ ਪਰੇ ॥: Andh koop mahi pario paraanee bharam gubaar moh bandh pare: The
mortal has fallen into the deep, dark pit, and is entangled in the darkness
of doubt, and the bondage of emotional attachment (sggs 823).
- ਪਾਪ ਬੰਧਨ ਨਿਤ ਪਉਤ ਜਾਹਿ ॥: Paap bandhan
nit paut jaahi: The bondage of sin continues to hold man (sggs 1192).
Emotional attachment to worldly relationships or sense objects clouds one's
subtle sense of discrimination (Bibek Budhi), which leads to his bondage.
Man in bondage cries out "I, me, mine, you". He exclusively thinks
about his body, spouse, children, comforts, money, sex, name and power. Overtaken
by passions — lust, greed, anger, sense-attachment, self-conceit, enviousness
and stubborn mindedness (and their numerous variations) — he loses Divine Virtues.
He becomes irreligious and comes down to the level of animals. He does havoc
and corruption in selfishness. He gives up the path of compassion and truth,
and adopts the path of error and violent destruction. Religious rituals or deeds
done in bondage result in calamities. In bondage one sees body, Jaat-Paat (caste),
differences, good and bad, likes and dislikes, and so on. A man in bondage is
neither concerned about bondage, nor deliverance, nor his conduct. His reading
of the scriptures, worship, or religious practices become a chain of bondage
around his neck. Every act performed in such obscured consciousness becomes
suffering in disguise for him.
- ਮੇਰਾ ਤੇਰਾ ਜਾਨਤਾ ਤਬ ਹੀ ਤੇ ਬੰਧਾ ॥: Meraa
teraa jaanataa tabb hee te bandhaa: He is concerned with "mine and yours",
and so he is held in bondage (sggs 400).
- ਮੇਰੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਧਾਰਿ ਬੰਧਨਿ ਬੰਧਿਆ ॥: Meree
meree dhaar bandhan bandhiaa: Crying out, "Mine, Mine!", man is
bound in bondage (sggs 761).
- ਮਮਤਾ ਮੋਹ ਧ੍ਰੋਹ ਮਦਿ ਮਾਤਾ ਬੰਧਨਿ ਬਾਧਿਆ ਅਤਿ ਬਿਕਰਾਲ ॥:
Mamataa moh dharoh madi maataa bandhan baadhiaa ati bikaraal: Intoxicated
with the wine of attachment, love of worldly possessions and deceit, and so
bound in bondage, man is wild and hideous (sggs 806).
- ਬੰਧਨ ਮਾਤ ਪਿਤਾ ਸੁਤ ਬਨਿਤਾ ॥ ਬੰਧਨ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਹਉ ਕਰਤਾ ॥: Bandhan maat pitaa sut banitaa. Bandhan karam dharma hau karataa:
Mother, father, children and spouse - all place the mortal in bondage. Religious
rituals and actions done in ego place the mortal in bondage (sggs 1147).
- ਬਿਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੇਵੇ ਜੀਅ ਕੇ ਬੰਧਨਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਹਿ ॥: Bin satgur seve jeea ke banndhanaa vich houmai karam kamaahi:
Without serving the True Guru (Self, Truth, Spirit, etc.), the soul is in
the bondage of deeds done in ego (sggs 589).
- ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਪੜੈ ਬੰਧਨ ਮੋਹ ਬਾਧਾ ਨਹ ਬੂਝੈ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਪਿਆਰਿ ॥:
Pandit parrai bbandhan moh baadhaa nah boojhai bikhiaa piaar: The Pandits
read the scriptures, but they are trapped in the bondage of emotional attachment.
In love with evil, they do not understand (sggs 33).
- ਬੰਧਨਿ ਬੰਧਿ ਭਵਾਈਅਨੁ ਕਰਣਾ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥:
Bandhan bandhi bhavaaeean karanaa kashhoo na jaai: Bound in bondage, people
are made to wander, and they cannot do anything about it (sggs 1414).
- ਬੰਧਨ ਮੁਕਤਾ ਜਾਤੁ ਨ ਦੀਸੈ ॥: Bandhan mukataa
jaat na deesai: One liberated from bondage does not recognize Jaat (sggs
- ਇਕਨਾ ਗਲੀਂ ਜੰਜੀਰ ਬੰਦਿ ਰਬਾਣੀਐ ॥ ਬਧੇ ਛੁਟਹਿ ਸਚਿ ਸਚੁ ਪਛਾਣੀਐ ॥: Ikanaa galleen janjeer bandh rabaaneeai. Badhe shuttahi
sachi sachu pashhaaneeai: Some have chains around their necks, in bondage
to the Lord. They are released from bondage, realizing the True Lord as True
In conclusion, bondage is Maya; fruitive or causative Karma; and the
veil of duality (Doojaa Bhaav) or the source of ignorance which separates
the Jeeva (individual being) from the Divine. Simply put, bondage is
the conditioned mind attached to any of the sensory perceptions. Other expressions
for bondage include physical ego or false self; movement in consciousness; desires
or craving for sense-objects; dense coloring of the sense-bent mind caught in
the activity of the manifest state; an individual's subjugation to pleasure
and pain; illusion or imagination that never ends and never exists; delusion;
emotional attachment; mortality; finitude; Sansaar; birth-death cycle;
separation from Truth; foolishness which adorns the head of all Dukha
and calamities; modified and differentiated being; mistaken identity, non-recognition
of "Joti Svaroop", or ignorance of the soul's Oneness with
the Pure Spirit; and so on.
- ਮਨ ਕਾ ਅੰਧੁਲਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਬੰਧੁ ॥: Mann
kaa andhulaa maya kaa bandhu: Mentally blind is in Maya's bondage (sggs 354).
- ਅਨਿਕ ਕਰਮ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਕਿਆ ਭਾਈ ਫਿਰਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਬੰਧਨ ਪਾਇ ॥:
Anik karam kar thaakiaa bhaaee fir fir bandhun paai: People are so tired of
performing their many causative Karma, O brother, but they fall into bondage
again and again (sggs 608).
- ਜੋ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਸਾਕਤ ਕਾਮਨਾ ਅਰਥਿ ਦੁਰਗੰਧ ਸਰੇਵਦੇ ਸੋ ਨਿਹਫਲ ਸਭੁ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ॥੨॥: Jo doojai bhaai saakat kaamanaa arath duragandh sarevade so nihafal sabh agiaan ||2||: The faithless cynics (Maya stricken - ਮਾਇਆ-ਵੇੜ੍ਹੇ) in their love of duality (or Maya) and sensual desires, harbor foul-smelling urges (ਵਿਸ਼ੇ ਵਿਕਾਰਾਂ ਵਿਚ ਲੱਗਣਾਂ - to be engrossed in passions). They are totally useless and ignorant (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਲੋਂ ਬੇ-ਸਮਝ) ||2|| (sggs 734).
- ਹਉਮੈ ਏਈ ਬੰਧਨਾ ਫਿਰਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਜੋਨੀ ਪਾਹਿ ॥:
Houmai eaeee bandhanaa fir fir jonee paahi: This is the bondage of ego, that
time and time again, they are reborn (sggs 466).
Based on the aforesaid facts, it can be concluded that it is impossible to
purify the mind while in material bondage. Since the intuitive peace and happiness
is internal; the goal of satisfying desires by external progress in materialism
cannot bring about inner joy. The search for eternal peace and happiness is
not a matter of choice. It is a universal quest. But, as indicated in the scriptures,
without self-purification (removal of the ego-idea) it is foolishness to hope
for such Anand (Bliss). The aim of all Spiritual endeavor is to remove
our ignorance by which we can gain insight into our essential status as the
Intact Consciousness, which is eternally Blissful.
- ਧਰਣੀਧਰੁ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਨੀਚ ਕੁਲ ਸੇਵਹਿ ਹਉ ਹਉ ਕਰਤ ਬਿਹਾਵਥ ॥: Dharneedhar tiaag neech kul sevahi hayu hayu karat bihaavat:
Abandoning the Divine, man serves lowly Maya, and thus he passes his life
acting egotistically (sggs 1001).
This brings us to the second category of human beings: the Spiritual Beings
referred as Gurmukh in the Gurbani. They lead Spiritual Life (also called
Divine or Eternal Life) of non-attachment, purity and contentment; for they
know that only by knowing one's True Nature one can overcome material afflictions,
and become eternally blissful. Hence, people with Spiritual outlook spend their
time and energy on the Spiritual path (Aatam-Maarag) practicing dispassion,
resorting to acquisition of Self-knowledge (Aatam-Giaan), practicing love
and devotion, doing selfless service, meditating on Divine Name, and associating
with Sat (Truth) within and outside; without however sacrificing the
household duties and responsibilities.
- ਹਉਮੈ ਬਾਧਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਛੂਟਾ ॥: Houmai baadhaa
garmukhi shootaa: Egotism is bondage; by becoming a Gurmukh,
one is emancipated (sggs 131).
- ਬੰਧਨਿ ਬਾਧਿਆ ਇਨ ਬਿਧਿ ਛੂਟੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸੇਵੈ ਨਰਹਰੇ ॥੧॥: Bandhan baadhiaa in bidh shootai gurmukhi sevai narahare ||1||:
Bound in bondage, the man is released only by this method: by becoming a Gurmukh,
serve God ||1|| (sggs 1112).
- ਬਿਖੈ ਰੋਗ ਭੈ ਬੰਧਨ ਭਾਗੇ ਮਨ ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਜਾਨਾਨਾ ॥:
Bikhai rog bhai bandhan bhaage mann nij ghar sukh jaanaanaa: The diseases
of corruption, fear and bondage have run away; my mind has come to know peace
in its own true home within (sggs 339).
- ਜਗੁ ਬੰਦੀ ਮੁਕਤੇ ਹਉ ਮਾਰੀ ॥: Jag bandee
mukate hau maaree: The world is held in bondage; he alone is emancipated,
who conquers his ego (sggs 413).
- ਮੁਹਬਤੇ ਮਨਿ ਤਨਿ ਬਸੈ ਸਚੁ ਸਾਹ ਬੰਦੀ ਮੋਚ ॥:
Muhabatte mani tani basai sach saah bandee moch: Enshrine love for the True
Divine in your mind and body; the Liberator from bondage (sggs 724).
- ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਮਾਲਿ ਤੂੰ ਬਧਾ ਛੁਟਹਿ ਜਿਤੁ ॥:
Nanak naam samaal toon badhaa shuttahi jit: O Nanak, contemplate the Divine
Name, and it will release you from bondage (sggs 729).
- ਹਕੁ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਸਚੁ ਖੁਦਾਇਆ ਬੁਝਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਬੰਦਿ ਖਲਾਸ ਤਰਾ ॥: Hak hukam sach khudaaiaa bujhi Nanak bandi khalaas taraa: Realize
the True Hukam (Divine Will, Eternal Law, or Command), O Nanak; you will be
released from bondage, and carried across (sggs 1084).
— T. Singh
Tuesday, May 1, 2012 3:07 PM