TWO PATHS AVAILABLE TO MANParavirti (ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ: ਜਗਤ ਦੇ ਧੰਧਿਆਂ ਵਿਚ ਖਚਿਤ ਹੋਣਾ, worldly ways or activities,
attachment or obsession with Maya, possesiveness, etc.) and Niravirati (ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ: ਦੁਨੀਆ ਤੋਂ ਉਪਰਾਮ ਰਹਿਣਾ,
ਜਗਤ ਤੋਂ ਨਿਰਲੇਪ ਰਹਿਣਾ, to remain detached from the world or Maya, etc.) are the two paths (ways, etc.);
Dharma is the Guide between the two. (But) the foolish Manmukhs deal only
with the filth (of Parvirti); they surely end up losing the Spiritual Realm. (sggs 1280)..
The man is said to be the crown of creation. Because only human beings among the countless living entities are endowed with a highly evolved intellect to exercise the choice to evolve further and thereby realize their potential Spiritual Nature. While animals can follow only their natural instincts, the man is blessed with the faculty of Bibek-Budhi — the power to discriminate between truth and false or right and wrong — to choose between the two paths available to him.
The first is the path of "ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ - Paravirti" (from the Sanskrit word "Pravrtti") which indicates possessiveness or worldly attachment: man's natural inclination (worldliness, tendency, addiction, trend, etc.) to engross in the worldly pursuits (ਜਗਤ ਦੇ ਧੰਧਿਆਂ ਵਿਚ ਖਚਿਤ ਹੋਣਾ) and activities by remaining centered in his ego-sense ("I-am-ness") and obsession with his involvements in Maya. This thought-condition promotes in man acquisitive tendency which is responsible for fueling his material desires, sensuousness, grief, fears, greed, selfishness, impulse, restlessness, indolence, inertia, dullness, negligence, forgetfulness, unenlightened existence, inactivity, headlessness, lethargicness, stormy behavior, agitation, fierce competition, power struggle, rat-race, hunger for status etc. The rise of the psychological ego — relative nature; the seat of "Pravrtti" — is the first misapprehension projected by ignorance, resulting in the non-apprehension of Reality. "Paravirti" keeps us in bondage by the chain of desire-action-goals of life.
The other path is termed as "ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ - Niravirati" (or ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ - from the Sanskrit word "Nivritti"). It literally means renunciation of the worldly attachment — true detachment from the fleeting world and its gross objects (ਜਗਤ ਤੋਂ ਨਿਰਲੇਪ ਰਹਿਣਾ), including one's kith and kin. It is the abstraction or withdrawal of the senses from sensory pursuits, without which transcending of Maya (illusion, conditioned consciousness etc.) is not possible. Simply put, it is abandoning one's lesser self or relativist consciousness to actualize his Higher or Spiritual Self (Aatmaan or "Joti-Svaroopa"). Accordingly, the state of "Niravirati" gives rise to inner peace, balanced joy or happiness, humility, contentment, selflessness, tranquility, inner purity, intuitive wisdom or pure intelligence, noble activity, goodness, enlightenment, tolerance, forgiveness, insight, empathy, inner peace, expanded creativity, reverence, compassion, universal love, reflection, serenity, poise, meditation, contemplation, understanding etc. It makes us introspective and discriminative (Viveka Budhi), leading to virtues and righteous conduct. The state of "Niravirati", thus, is the mental strength which leads to complete obliteration of the ignorance and misunderstanding, resulting in Divine Knowledge (Aatam Giaan) or Mool-abidance.
Clearly, it is up to us as to how we exercise our freedom of choice — to better ourselves through liberation from ignorance or wallow in the quagmire of bondage. Those established in the thought-condition of "Paravirti" are sometimes called Manmukh (material being), and those soaked in the state of "Niravirati" are sometimes called Gurmukh (Spiritual Being) in the Gurbani. Manmukhs live in forgetfulness of their spiritual nature, whilst Gurmukhs ever abide in it. Without knowing the true blissful nature of the Self, the majority of humanity (more than 99.9 percent) out of ignorance is said to be caught in "Paravirti": the whirlpool of worldly or unenlightened existence.
- ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਹਾਠਾ ਦੋਵੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਧਰਮੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਰੈਬਾਰਿਆ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਕਚੇ ਕੂੜਿਆਰ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਨਿਹਚਉ ਦਰਗਹ ਹਾਰਿਆ ॥: Paravirti (ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ: ਜਗਤ ਦੇ ਧੰਧਿਆਂ ਵਿਚ ਖਚਿਤ ਹੋਣਾ, worldly ways or activities, attachment or obsession with Maya, possesiveness, etc.) and Niravirati (ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ: ਦੁਨੀਆ ਤੋਂ ਉਪਰਾਮ ਰਹਿਣਾ, ਜਗਤ ਤੋਂ ਨਿਰਲੇਪ ਰਹਿਣਾ, to remain detached from the world or Maya, etc.) are the two paths (ways, etc.); Dharma is the Guide between the two. (But) the foolish Manmukhs deal only with the filth (of Parvirti); they surely end up losing the Spiritual Realm. (sggs 1280).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਨਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਪਛਾਣੈ ॥: Guramukh paravirati naravirati pashaanai: By becoimg the Gurmukh, (one) knows Paravirti and Niravirti - ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ (sggs 941).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੋਈ ਸਚੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥: Gurmukh koee sach kamaavai: How rare are those who, as Gurmukh, live the Truth (sggs 1344).
- ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਅੰਧੇ ਸੁਧਿ ਨ ਕਾਈ ॥: Manmukh andhe sudh na kaaee: The blind Manmukh have no understanding at all (sggs 118).
- ਕੋਟਨ ਮੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਕੋਊ ਨਾਰਾਇਨੁ ਜਿਹ ਚੀਤਿ ॥: Kotan mai Nanak kou narain jih cheet: Rare is the one amongst millions, who enshrines Divine in his mind, O Nanak (sggs 1427).
The relativist consciousness (Haume) is saturated with illusion (Maya): absence of knowledge of the all-encompassing. The Gurbani says everything knowable or seen is unreal: transient, ephemeral, perishable, fleeting or illusion. But, on account of man's persistent wrong thinking, the erroneous notion that this gross universe is real has become deep-rooted. Due to this wrong idea we, the sentient beings, take Mool (Source, Origin, Jot...) to be the objective world. In other words, owing to our incorrect vision, we take the unreal to be real. Thus, in persistent mistaken identity we create the knowable — subject-object relationship — and gets involved in sorrows (Dukha). According to our scriptures, whosoever is so deluded is said to be in the state of "Paravirti": obsession with involvement in Maya, illusion or worldly ways. Man's this perception of the world is termed his beginningless ignorance. On account of this ignorance the worldly joys and sorrows are experienced as real by us as we fail to see the truth of our relative nature. In other words, we miss the wood for the trees in the short-lived pleasures of the ephemeral world.
- ਪ੍ਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਮਾਰਗੰ ਵਰਤੰਤਿ ਬਿਨਾਸਨੰ ॥: Pravirati maaragam varatanti binaasanam: Engrossed in worldly ways (ਪ੍ਰਵਿਰਤਿ), one is ruined (sggs 1355).
- ਨਹ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਮਾਤ ਪਿਤ ਭ੍ਰਾਤਹ ਨਹ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਕਛੁ ਲੋਕ ਕਹ ॥ ਨਹ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਬਨਿਤਾ ਸੁਤ ਮੀਤਹ ਪ੍ਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਸਨਬੰਧਨਹ ॥: Do not worry so much about your Mother, father, siblings, spouse, children, friends, and all those people who are related (to us) because of the possession with involvements in Maya (ਪ੍ਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਸਨਬੰਧਨਹ), do not worry about them (i.e., to worry about all and any is useless) (sggs 1355).
- ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿਮਾਨ ਹੈ ਸਗਲ ਮਿਥੇਨਾ ॥: Dristimaan hai sagal mithnaa: All that is seen is an illusion (sggs 1083).
- ਮਿਲਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਗਵਾਈ ॥: Mil Maya surti gavaayee: By associating with the Maya (illusion), the mortal loses Divine Understanding (sggs 989).
How does the delusion of the dreamlike world-existence attains expansion? According to the scriptures, the hallucination of the mirage-like world-appearance attains expansion by its repeated affirmation — "Paravirti" lifestyle. From the very childhood, our breeding is such that the majority of us live in this deluded state. Due to the repeated affirmation, the idea that what we see is real and everlasting gets permanently nailed in our heads. Consequently, our minds become unsteady and stubborn with time. Once a groove is established in the instinctive mind, like a locomotive, it does not want to leave the track on which it is set. To better understand it, consider this analogy of an ice block. When water is frozen into a block of ice, it serves at a seat. Also, the frozen block can be used to make an ice sculpture or a home (igloo). But if inquired into, we know the block of ice is nothing but water, which is fluid. Just so, due to the repeated affirmation, the world phenomena gets frozen in our psychological construct self-image on account of ignorance. Once ignorance and resulting misunderstanding get established in the mind, then come desires, fears, greed, selfishness, corruption, pretending, obsession with acquisition and possessiveness etc.
- ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਜੇਤਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਹੋਈਐ ਤੇਤਾ ਲੋਗ ਪਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਲਉ ਰਿਦੈ ਨਹੀ ਪਰਗਾਸਾ ਤਉ ਲਉ ਅੰਧ ਅੰਧਾਰਾ ॥: Paravirati maaragu jetaa kishu hoeeai tetaa log pachaaraa. Lou ridai nahee paragaasaa taou laou andh andhaaraa: As much as (one lives) the way of the world (ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਮਾਰਗ); this is all about attracting people. So long the Heart is not Enlightened (with Naam, Shabad, Brahm-Giaan...), until then the pitch-darkness (of spiritual ignorance pervades). (sggs 1205).
- ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਝੂਠੋ ਝੂਠੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥: Manmukh jhootho jhooth kamaavai: The Manmukh practices falsehood, only falsehood (sggs 363).
- ਕੂੜਿ ਮੁਠੀ ਚਾਲੈ ਬਹੁ ਰਾਹੀ ॥: Koorr muthee chaalai bahu raahee: Cheated by falsehood, Manmukh (material being) walks along many paths (sggs 1029).
- ਝੂਠੀ ਮਾਇਆ ਦੇਖਿ ਕੈ ਭੂਲਾ ਰੇ ਮਨਾ ॥: Jhoothee maya dhekhi kai bhoolaa re manaa: Gazing upon the falseness of Maya, you have gone astray, O my mind (sggs 486).
To further understand it, let us consider the example of firebrand — even when a firebrand is whirled fast a fiery circle appears. But when the same firebrand is held steady or motionless, the circle vanishes. When there is movement or restlessness (i.e. rise of ego-sense) at the surface of the Pure Awareness, the phenomenal world appears to emerge. When this vibration of the ego is absent, the world of names and shapes (time and space) appears to submerge. Steady or unsteady, it is the same Reality everywhere at all times. In other words, "Paravirti" or "Niravirati", it is all within, just as the uncarved image is forever present in a block of rock. Not realizing this Truth, one is subject to delusion and doubts. When this Truth is realized, all cravings and anxieties (the state of "Paravirti") vanish. But the predicament of human beings is: "to be"' or "not to be".
- ਆਪਿ ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਆਪਿ ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤੀ ਆਪੇ ਅਕਥੁ ਕਥੀਜੈ ॥: Aapi paravirati aapi niraviratee aape akathu katheejai: He Himself is a mundaner, and He Himself is a renunciate; He Himself utters the Unutterable (sggs 551).
- ਲਾਗੀ ਭੂਖ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਗੁ ਜੋਹੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਮੋਹਿ ਖਰੇ ॥: Laagee bhookh maya magu johai mukti padaarauth mohi khare: Driven by hunger (of craving and passions), man sees the path of Maya's riches; this emotional attachment takes away the treasure of liberation (sggs 1014).
Fittingly, the Gurbani does not ask us to abandon the world. For there is nowhere to go! Wherever we go, we will find the same Mool (Source, Origin, Jot...) everywhere. So the Gurbani asks us to stay where we are; but bring about the cessation of the mere awareness of the involvement of the ego-sense in this material world. Because the notion that the worldly objects are the real source of permanent peace and happiness is as deceptive as the blueness of the sky. Without the cessation of the vibration of the ego-mind, one's attention cannot be turned inward. Detachment from the craving of the worldly pleasure is the key to live in constant remembrance of one's spiritual nature. Firmly established in the conviction that this world and its objects are illusion (transient) like the blueness of the sky, one becomes free of attraction and repulsion. What exists is only the undifferentiated and unmodified Awareness. When the false notion of a knowable apart from the knower ceases, the ego-awareness disappears and Jeeva (conditioned individuality) regains its equilibrium.
- ਵਿਚਹੁ ਆਪੁ ਮੁਆ ਤਿਥੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਨ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Vichahu aap muaa tithai mohu na maya: When selfishness and conceit (false "I") are eradicated from within, then there is no attachment to Maya (sggs 121).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਕਾਇਆ ਖੋਜੈ ਹੋਰ ਸਭ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਈ ॥: Gurmukh hovai su kaaiaa khojai hor sbh bharami bhulaaee: One who becomes Gurmukh (Spiritual Being) searches within his body; all others just wander around in confusion (sggs 754).
- ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਮੁਗਧੁ ਬੂਝੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭਾਲਣਿ ਜਾਈ ॥: Manmukh mugadh boojhai naahee baahar bhaalan jaaee: The foolish Manmukh (material being) does not understand; he goes out searching for the Divine externally (sggs 754).
- ਬਿਨੁ ਬੈਰਾਗ ਨ ਛੂਟਸਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Bin bairaag na shootas maya ||1||: Without detachment, Maya cannot be gotten rid of (cannot be liberated from Maya, etc.) ||1|| (sggs 329).
When the cause of water in the mirage is unproven, then unreality of the effect (of the cause) is exposed. When ocean is seen as water, waves cease to be. Similarly, when the perception of plurality is attenuated, this material world of repeated suffering ceases to be experienced, and one shines in his own Original Glory: "Joti-Svaroopa". In other words, only when ignorance and misunderstanding of one's True Nature is dispelled, does one realize the Truth; only then the Original state manifests itself. Living in the mindset of "Niravirati" helps shift the flow of attention from knowable or seen (time and space) toward that Unseen and Unknowable (Timeless Awareness), then there is real fulfillment (Anand) and one goes beyond repeated suffering.
- ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੰਭੌ ਮਨ ਸਿਮਰਤ ਠੰਢਾ ਥੀਵਾਂ ਜੀਉ ॥: Akaal moorati ajoonee sanbho mann simarat thandaa theevaan jeeou: By meditating the Timeless, Unborn and Self-illumined Principle, the mind gets filled with a profound peace (sggs 99).
- ਪਰਹਰੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਅਰੁ ਲੋਕਾਚਾਰੁ ॥: Parahar lobh aru lokaachaar: Set aside your greed and worldly ways (sggs 324).
Therefore, the Gurbani stresses that the Truth can be realized only if one is firmly established in the unreality of the gross universe that we have come to regard as real. In other words, without the cessation of the thought-condition of "Paravirti", once attention cannot be fully turned away from his lesser self to actualize his Mool (Source, Origin, Jot...). That is to say, without one's instinctual obliteration of the phenomenal world (or "Paravirti"), one's Mool-abidance is not possible in spite of habitual study of the scriptures and instruction from the higher.
- ਜਗ ਰਚਨਾ ਸਭ ਝੂਠ ਹੈ ਜਾਨਿ ਲੇਹੁ ਰੇ ਮੀਤ ॥ ਕਹਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਥਿਰੁ ਨਾ ਰਹੈ ਜਿਉ ਬਾਲੂ ਕੀ ਭੀਤਿ ॥੪੯॥: Jag rachnaa sabh jhooth hai jaan lehu re meet. Kahi Nanak thir naa rahe jiyu baaloo kee bheet ||49||: The world-appearance is totally false; know this well, my friend. Says Nanak, it is like a wall of sand; it will not endure ||49|| (sggs 1429).
- ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਜਿਉ ਜਗ ਰਚਨਾ ਯਹ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਬਿਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਭਜੁ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਨਿਤ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਹੋਤ ਉਧਾਰ ॥: Reflect in your Heart and see that this world creation (Maya) is like a deer's illusion, a mirage. Says Nanak, vibrate forever on God's Name, which will deliver you (sggs 536).
- ਜਾਗ ਲੇਹੁ ਰੇ ਮਨਾ ਜਾਗ ਲੇਹੁ ਕਹਾ ਗਾਫਲ ਸੋਇਆ ॥: Jaag laehu rae manaa jaag laehu kahaa gaafal soeiaa: Wake up, O mind! Wake up! Why are you sleeping unaware? (sggs 726).
The wrong notion in which we accept the body as our Mool (Source, Origin, Jot...) can be removed when we resort to Shabad-Vichaar. Which helps cultivate the lifestyle of "Niravirati": liberation in the midst of Maya or living like the lotus flower, which grows in mud but ever remains untouched.
When the mistaken identity is dispelled and the Truth is realized, that experience so thoroughly saturates that one lives by it — one thinks of it, speaks of it, rejoices in it and shares it with others. Whatever that person does in life is significant for the entire mankind. He does nothing useless and foolish. Such people are called in the Gurbani as Gurmukh and Jeevanmukta. While living a normal life, they experience the universe as temporary. They are awake but enjoy the eternal Peace within. They are unaffected by the pairs of opposites (pain and happiness etc.); their wisdom stands unclouded by the latent tendencies (Vaasnaas); they are as free as the space; they are liberated from the cage of false ego-sense and volition; they remain detached whether in action or inaction; they fear none and do not make others fearful; they are neither "I" nor the "other"; and they are the Cosmic Awareness which is the very essence of all beings. In waves they see only water; in air they see only movement; in space they see only emptiness; in ornaments they see only gold; and in mirage they see only rising hot air. Similarly, they see only Pure Consciousness the Absolute, not the names and shapes.
- ਪਰਵਿਰਤੀ ਨਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਪਛਾਣੈ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਘਰੁ ਜਾਣੈ ॥: Paravirtee naravirti pashaanai. Gur kai sangi sabadi gharu jaanai: (While living in the midst of this world or Maya) one who realizes Parvirti (ਪਰਵਿਰਤੀ: ਜਗਤ ਦੇ ਧੰਧਿਆਂ ਵਿਚ ਖਚਿਤ ਹੋਣਾ, worldly ways or activities, attachment or obsession with Maya, possesiveness, etc.), and Narvirti (ਨਰਵਿਰਤਿ: ਦੁਨੀਆ ਤੋਂ ਉਪਰਾਮ ਰਹਿਣਾ, ਜਗਤ ਤੋਂ ਨਿਰਲੇਪ ਰਹਿਣਾ, to remain detached from the world or Maya, etc.), knows the Home (of his own self within, Nij Ghar...) through the Gur-Shabad (sggs 1027).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੋ ਮੁਕਤੁ ਕਹੀਐ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਬੰਧ ਵਿਚਾਰੇ ॥: Gurmukh hovai so mukat kaheeai manmukh bandh vichaare: Who becomes Spiritual being (Gurmukh) is said to be liberated, while the poor materialists (Manmukhs) are in bondage (sggs 796).
- ਹਉਮੈ ਬਾਧਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਛੂਟਾ ॥: Houmai baadhaa garmukhi shootaa: Egotism is bondage; by becoming a Gurmukh, one is emancipated (sggs 131).
- ਜੀਵਨ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਸੋ ਆਖੀਐ ਮਰਿ ਜੀਵੈ ਮਰੀਆ ॥: Jivanmukata so aakheeye mar jeevai mariya: He who effaces his ownself (false ego) and is so dead in life, is said to have been liberated while alive (sggs 449).
— T. Singh