PUT KNOWLEDGE TO WORKO mortal, let your love for the Supreme Lord blossom forth. Practice
spiritual wisdom, and consult the humble servants of the Lord (sggs 1180).
That Pandit is said to be well-educated, if he contemplates knowledge with Sahaj
(natural state of being, intuitive ease, etc.). Considering his knowledge, he finds the
essence of Reality, and lovingly focuses his attention on the God's Name. The Manmukh
(unenlightened being) sells his knowledge; he earns poison, and eats poison. The fool does
not think of the Shabad. He has no understanding, no comprehension ||53|| (sggs 938).
Knowledge refers to understanding of spirit and matter and the distinction between the two. It's the understanding of oneself in God Consciousness, God being the All-pervading Universal Consciousness ("Sabh Gobind Hai Sabh Gobind Hai"). In other words, it's to know the difference between the right (Sat, real, eternal, permanent etc.) and the wrong (Asat, falsehood, ephemeral, etc.).
The SGGS is the source of Infinite Wisdom that has immediate and eternal relevance. Other sources of knowledge include many religious scriptures, books, periodicals, tapes and videos, Internet, Mahaatamaas, and so on. As we can see, there is no scarcity of spiritual literature today, but the sad fact remains that the highest ideals are confined to mere words, and not found in people's lives.
The Gurbani puts tremendous emphasis on "ਕਰਣੀ" - Karanee (right practice or efforts, implementation, application, practice, performance, living the Gurmat, Good Deeds, ਅਮਲ, ਕਰਣੀ, ਗੁਰੂ ਦਾ ਦੱਸਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ ਆਚਰਨ, ਕਰਨ-ਜੋਗ ਕੰਮ, ਸੁਚੱਜਾ ਜੀਵਨ, etc.) — it has made the declaration of "ਕਰਣੀ ਪਰਧਾਨੁ" (Karanee Pardhaan) meaning practice or implementation is supreme. Because, to eradicate our defilements and negative tendencies and to awaken the inner Truth, correct and constant practice is needed. Simply put, the Gurbani wants us to imbibe in the Essence of the Divine Knowledge ("ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ").
- ਕਰਣੀ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਘਟੇ ਘਟਿ ॥: Karanee baajhahu ghate ghati: Without "Karanee", (Understanding, ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ...) remains deficient (ਨੀਵੀਂ , ਥੋੜੀ...). (sggs 25).
- ਰਾਹੁ ਦਸਾਇ ਓਥੈ ਕੋ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਕਰਣੀ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਭਿਸਤਿ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥: Raah dasaai othai ko jaai. Karnee baajhahu bhisti na paai: Many ask the way (to the heaven); but very few walk on that path. Without the correct efforts (ਨੇਕ ਅਮਲਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਬਿਨਾ, ਕਰਣੀ ਤੋਂ ਬਿਨਾ, without the practice of the good deeds, etc.), heaven is not gained (sggs 952).
- ਕਰਣੀ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਤਰੈ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: Karanee baajhahu tarai na koi: Without "Karanee", no one crosses over ("terrifying world-ocean" or Sansaar) (sggs 952).
- ਹਰਿ ਸਜਣੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵਦਾ ਗੁਰ ਕਰਣੀ ਪਰਧਾਨੁ ॥: Har sajan gur sevadaa gur karanee paradhaan: The Guru serves His Intimate Friend God. The Guru's this "Karanee" is supreme (sggs 21).
- ਖਾਂਡ ਖਾਂਡ ਕਹੈ ਜਿਹਬਾ ਨ ਸ੍ਵਾਦੁ ਮੀਠੋ ਆਵੈ ॥ ਅਗਨਿ ਅਗਨਿ ਕਹੈ ਸੀਤ ਨ ਬਿਨਾਸ ਹੈ ॥ ਬੈਦ ਬੈਦ ਕਹੈ ਰੋਗ ਮਿਟਤ ਨ ਕਾਹੂ ਕੋ॥ ਦਰਬ ਦਰਬ ਕਹੈ ਕੋਊ ਦਰਬਹਿ ਨ ਬਿਲਾਸ ਹੈ ॥ ਚੰਦਨ ਚੰਦਨ ਕਹਤ ਪ੍ਰਗਟੈ ਨ ਸੁਬਾਸੁ ਬਾਸੁ ॥ ਤੈਸੇ ਗਿਆਨ ਗੋਸਟਿ ਕਹਤ ਨ ਰਹਤ ਪਾਵੈ॥ ਕਰਨੀ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਭਾਨ ਉਦਤਿ ਅਕਾਸ ਹੈ ॥: Kaand khaand kahai jihabaa n svaad meetho aavai|| Agani agani kahai seet n binaas hai || Baid baid kahai rog mittat n kaahoo ko|| Dharab darab kahai kooo darabahi n bilaas hai || Chandan chandan kahat pragattai n subaas baasu chandar chandar kahai oujeeaaro n pragaas hai || Taisae giaan gosati kahat n rahat paavai|| Karanee pradhaan bhaan oudati akaas hai ||437||: By merely uttering the word "sugar, sugar" one cannot taste the sweetness of sugar. By merely uttering the word "fire, fire" one cannot drive the cold away. By merely uttering the word "doctor, doctor" one cannot cure the illness. By merely uttering the word "money, money" one cannot have money (or enjoy it). By merely uttering the word "Chandan, Chandan" one cannot make its fragrance appear (i.e., cannot manifest or experience sandalwood's fragrance). Similarly, by merely uttering the word "Knowledge" one cannot live it. "Karanee" is supreme (practice, implementation, ਅਮਲ, ਕਮਾਈ, Putting the Shabad Giaan - Knowledge / Wisdom - to work, live it, do it, etc.), like the rising sun in the sky (Kabitt Bhai Gurdaas Ji).
During Baabaa Nanak's tour of the middle-east, Kaazi and Maulvis got together and began discussing religion with him. Specifically, they asked whether Hindu is great or the Muslim. According to Bhai Gurdaas Ji, Baabaa Nanak's response was as fellows:
- ਪੁਛਨ ਗਲ ਈਮਾਨ ਦੀ ...: Pushhan gall eemaan dee kaazee mulaan ikathe hoei ...: Qazi and maulvis got together and began discussing religion. God has created fantasy and no one could understood its mystery. They asked Baabaa Nanak to open and search in his book whether Hindu is great or the Muslim. Baabaa replied to the pilgrim haajis, that, without good deeds both will have to weep and wail. Only by being a Hindu or a Muslim one can not get accepted in the realm of the Lord. As the color of safflower is impermanent and is washed away in water, likewise the colors of religiosity are also temporary. (Followers of both the religions) In their expositions, denounce Raam and Rahim. The whole of the world is following the ways of Satan (Bhai Gurdaas Ji Vaars, page 1).
Upon gaining knowledge, the next important step — which is normally ignored — is to put it to work. Then it leads one to real devotion (Bhagti), which is beyond the limitations of time and space. This is why it's said that knowledge without Bhagti is incomplete and that perfect knowledge is only understood by a true devotee (Gurmukh). If the knowledge is not lived or assimilated, it becomes like a stagnant pond of water that only invites the build up of unwanted algae and foul smell with time. It's of no use to just stuff the intellect with knowledge. The Heart has to expand with it and become loving and compassionate (Gurmukh).
- ਸਲੋਕੁ ਮਃ ੧ ॥ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਗਡੀ ਲਦੀਅਹਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਭਰੀਅਹਿ ਸਾਥ ॥ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਬੇੜੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਗਡੀਅਹਿ ਖਾਤ ॥ ਪੜੀਅਹਿ ਜੇਤੇ ਬਰਸ ਬਰਸ ਪੜੀਅਹਿ ਜੇਤੇ ਮਾਸ ॥ ਪੜੀਐ ਜੇਤੀ ਆਰਜਾ ਪੜੀਅਹਿ ਜੇਤੇ ਸਾਸ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਲੇਖੈ ਇਕ ਗਲ ਹੋਰੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਝਖਣਾ ਝਾਖ ॥੧॥: Slok M: 1 || Parri parri gaddee laddeeahi parri parri bhareeahi saath ...: Slok M: 1. You may read and read loads of books; you may read and study vast multitudes of books. You may read and read boat-loads of books; you may read and read and fill pits with them (ਕਈ ਖਾਤੇ ਪੂਰੇ ਜਾ ਸਕਣ). You may read them year after year; you may read them as many months are there. You may read them all your life; you may read them with every breath. O Nanak, only one thing is of any account (the Truth, etc.), everything else is useless babbling and idle talk in ego ||1|| (sggs 467).
- ਮੂਰਖਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ॥ ਬਹੁ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਦੁਖੁ ਸਬਾਇਆ ॥: The fool reads and reads, but holds tight to duality. He performs all sorts of rituals, but still suffers terrible pain (sggs 424).
- ਅਖਰ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਭੁਲੀਐ ਭੇਖੀ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਅਭਿਮਾਨੁ ॥ Akhar parr parr bhuleeai bhekhee bahutu abhimaan: (In spite of) Reading books over and over again, people make mistakes (due the pride of this reading); wearing of religious robes also gives rise to much pride (in the mind). (sggs 61).
- ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੋਥੀ ਸਿੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਪਾਠਾ ॥ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਣ ਪੜੈ ਸੁਣਿ ਥਾਟਾ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਰਸ ਰਾਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਬਹੁ ਨਾਟਾ ॥: You may read, recite and study the scriptures, the Simritees, Vedas and Puraanas; but without being imbued with the Divine Essence, the mind wanders endlessly (sggs 226).
- ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਪੜੈ ਨਹੀ ਬੂਝੈ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਬਿਧਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਲੂਝੈ ॥: One who reads, while attached to duality, does not understand. He yearns for the three-qualitied Maya (sggs 127).
The science of knowledge include three items: the knower, the knowable, and the process of knowing. All these three become one when we realizes that One God has become everything . Then the real knowledge dawns on us, bestowing on us the vision of seeing the entire universe within the Aatmaan (Self) and the Aatmaan within the universe ("Sabh Gobind Hai Sabh Gobind Hai"). To put it otherwise, knowledge is nothing but the preliminary stage of understanding Bhagti perfectly. To put it in other words, basically, the true knowledge consists in realizing that existence in this world is temporary, and that freeing one's soul from the cycle of repeated suffering (of the "terrifying world-ocean" or Sansaar) is the ultimate goal. It is said that to be born as a human being is a unique privilege and an opportunity. Therefore, the Gurbani tells that wisdom lies in not frittering it away acting in ignorance but making the best use of this advantage.
- ਗਿਆਨੁ ਕਮਾਈਐ ਪੂਛਿ ਜਨਾਂ ॥: Giaan kamaaeeai poosh janaan: Practice spiritual wisdom, and consult the humble servants of the Lord (sggs 1180).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਤਿਸੁ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਸੂਝੈ ਅਗਿਆਨੀ ਅੰਧੁ ਕਮਾਈ ਹੇ ॥: Guramukh giaan tis sabh kishh soojhai agiaanee a(n)dh kamaaee hay: By becoming a Gurmukh (Self realized person) and understands everything through wisdom. The ignorant ones act blindly (sggs 1047).
Normally we give talks, lectures and discourses, write books etc., wanting others to apply the knowledge but not ourselves. Because assimilating the knowledge requires disciplining the mind, selflessness, commitment and sacrifice. Our ego (Haume) shows aversion for all this. If we have attained knowledge and do not translate it into our lives then it's likely that either we will end up just preaching others or selling it or both. Such people are like a recorded cassette, a tape recorder will play back what others have already said. Similarly these people will just spit out the words of knowledge someone else has said before, but they themselves cannot put the same knowledge to work in their own lives. Owing to the slavery to our Haume (false ego-sense), we are unable to become and act as Gurmukhs. Then what is the use of such empty knowledge? The Gurbani says:
- ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾਰਨ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਬੇਚਹੁ ਜਨਮੁ ਅਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਾਈ ॥੩॥: Maya kaaran bidiya bechahu janamu abirthaa jaaee ||3||: (O mentally blind! You) sell knowledge (learning, etc.) for the sake of Maya; your life is totally worthless (sggs 1103).
- ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਬਿਕ੍ਰਦਾ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਟੇ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਚੀਨਈ ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ ਨਹ ਕਾਇ ॥ ॥੫੩॥: Manmukhu bidiaa bikradaa bikhu khate bikhu khaai. Moorakhu sabadu na cheenayee soojh boojh nah kaai ||53||: The Manmukh sells his knowledge (learning, etc.); he earns poison (of Maya), and eats this poison (that brings him spiritual death). The fool does not Reflect on the Shabad. He has no understanding, no comprehension ||53|| (sggs 938).
- ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਤਿਨਾ ਕਾ ਜੀਵਿਆ ਜਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਵੇਚਹਿ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਖੇਤੀ ਜਿਨ ਕੀ ਉਜੜੈ ਖਲਵਾੜੇ ਕਿਆ ਥਾਉ ॥: Dhrig tinaa kaa jeeviaa ji likh likh vechahi naaou. Hhetee jin kee oujarrai khalavaarre kiaa thaaou: (sggs 1245).
- ਅਵਰ ਉਪਦੇਸੈ ਆਪਿ ਨ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਆਵਤ ਜਾਵਤ ਜਨਮੈ ਮਰੈ ॥: Avar oupadesai aap na karai. Aavat jaavat janamai marai: (sggs 269).
- ਪੜਿ ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਅਵਰਾ ਸਮਝਾਏ ॥ ਘਰ ਜਲਤੇ ਕੀ ਖਬਰਿ ਨ ਪਾਏ ॥: Parh Pandit avraa samjhaae. Ghar jalte
kee khabar na paae: (sggs 1046).
The use of the word "Pandit" in the foregoing verse (and many more verses in the Gurbani) does not mean the Gurbani is only preaching the "Pandits" here as to what to do and what not to do. In fact, we are all included in it — Sikhs as well! Embedded in our lives and in the world are many conflicts caused by subtle gaps between the theory and practice of knowledge. Books are meant to be read and understood and not just wrapped up in designer's wrappings and worshipped; for they enshrine codes of conduct for human behavior rather than works of mythology or fiction. It's good to hear Kirtan (devotional singing), but more importantly it should make us to comprehend what's being heard. In turn, that knowledge must be applied to life situations, not just crammed as a burden into the head or confined to the tongue and the lips. When the life is lived in the true light of the received knowledge; then there is no more delusion. Thus, seeing life in the light of wisdom will amount to a change of lifestyle — habits, attitudes, latent tendencies (Vaasnaas), qualities, dispositions (Sanskaaras) etc.
Many give speeches just from book knowledge, many may read SGGS (or any other spiritual text for that matter) aloud mechanically or heedlessly or as a livelihood. Many may become a "Sunday Sikh" (or Sunday devotee) who go through some rituals in the Gurdawaaraa (or at any other religious places for that matter), and then think done for the week. Also, as repeatedly made clear in the Gurbani, the Divine Union (Yoga) does not come about by keeping certain external appearance or look of the physical body, or by visiting the places of pilgrimage, or by wandering around the world, etc. Such people cannot experience the Divine and save themselves, how they can save others? Read the SGGS diligently and open-mindedly and find out for yourself that the SGGS is not interested in all this circus of our Haume-mind. True Dharma is not a part-time job, it's a way of life — living a life of continuous remembrance of God, seeing One God in everything, meditation, selfless service, love, humility (absence of ego or Haume), compassion, grace, detachment, inner renunciation, and so on.
- ਗਲੀ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥: Gallee yoga na hoyee: Yoga is not obtained by mere words (sggs 730).
- ਪਉੜੀ ॥ ਙੰਙਾ ਙਿਆਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਮੁਖ ਬਾਤਉ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਸਾਸਤ੍ਰ ਕਰਿ ਭਾਤਉ ॥ ਙਿਆਨੀ ਸੋਇ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਦ੍ਰਿੜ ਸੋਊ ॥ ਕਹਤ ਸੁਨਤ ਕਛੁ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਹੋਊ ॥ ਙਿਆਨੀ ਰਹਤ ਆਗਿਆ ਦ੍ਰਿੜੁ ਜਾ ਕੈ ॥ ਉਸਨ ਸੀਤ ਸਮਸਰਿ ਸਭ ਤਾ ਕੈ ॥ ਙਿਆਨੀ ਤਤੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਾ ਕਉ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਧਾਰੀ ॥੫॥: Paurree || Nangaa giaan nahee mukh baatayu. anik jugat sastar kari bhaatayu ...: Paurree. Nangaa (a letter of the Gurmukhi alphabet), spiritual wisdom (experience of God-Consciousness) is not obtained by mere words of mouth. It is not obtained through the various debates of the Shaastras and scriptures. They alone are spiritually wise, whose minds are firmly fixed on the Self. By just hearing and telling stories, no one attains Yoga or Union with God. Spiritually wise lives God's Will. Heat and cold (or likes and dislikes) are all the same to them. Unto whom God bestows His Grace, he, by becoming the Gurmukh, contemplates the essence of Reality ||5|| (sggs 251).
- ਗਲਂੀ ਅਸੀ ਚੰਗੀਆ ਆਚਾਰੀ ਬੁਰੀਆਹ ॥ ਮਨਹੁ ਕੁਸੁਧਾ ਕਾਲੀਆ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਚਿਟਵੀਆਹ ॥ ਰੀਸਾ ਕਰਿਹ ਤਿਨਾੜੀਆ ਜੋ ਸੇਵਹਿ ਦਰੁ ਖੜੀਆਹ ॥: Galleen asee changeeaa aachaaree bureeaah. Manahu kusudhaa kaaleeaa baahari chittaveeaah. Reesaa karahi tinaarheeaa jo sevahi dar kharheeaah: We are good at talking, but our conduct is bad (ਮਾੜਾ ਚਾਲ-ਚਲਣ ਜਾਂ ਆਚਰਨ...). Mentally, we are impure and filthy, but outwardly, we appear pure and clean. (However) We imitate those (Bhagat) who are established at the (Divine) Door. (sggs 85).
Knowledge without practice is like trying to taste honey from a bottle shown in a picture of a newspaper advertisement! Spirituality is the practical (not theoretical) science of life. Therefore, if we put knowledge to work in our daily living, we will not be overwhelmed by any situation in our life. Because, the real knowledge teaches us the real nature of the spirit and matter, how to understand the life, and live fully in the best way possible. Thus, knowledge is not a load to be carried around, it must be brought into the heart and constantly practiced by the mind. Ordinary knowledge obtained by a school or college education pertains only to matter, thus incomplete for there is no knowledge about spirit. Accordingly, the majority of us have a completely materialistic view of the life. As a result, we give more importance to the material wealth than the spiritual Wealth, thus wasting energy looking for external pleasures or sensuousness.
Suppose we want to take a train to go to some place. First we need to know the basic information such as the train schedule, the platform number it departs from etc. After attaining that knowledge, the next step is to put that knowledge to work — purchase the ticket and board the train. If we just stand there with that information in our head, we will never get to our destination. One may have architectural drawing of his house, but he cannot live in the drawing. In order to live in that house, one needs to first build it. Also, we know that honey is sweet. But to know its sweetness we must taste it. Similarly, to directly experience or perceive God, we need correct and constant practice. Gurmat is a principle to be adopted in our lives.
- ਉਧਰਹਿ ਆਪਿ ਤਰੈ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਜਪਿ ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ ॥ਆਪਿ ਕਮਾਉ ਅਵਰਾ ਉਪਦੇਸ ॥ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਪਰਵੇਸ ॥੩॥: Oudharahi aap tarai sansaar. Raam naam jap ekankaar. Aap kamaaou avaraa oupades. Raam naam hiradai paraves ||3||: You will be redeemed, and through you, the whole world will be saved, if you chant the Name of the One and Only Lord. Practice this yourself, and teach others; instill the Lord's Name in your heart ||3|| (sggs 185).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਾਚੀ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਇ ॥: Gurmukh saachee kaar kamaai: The Gurmukh practices Truth in action (sggs 942).
- ਸੋਰਠਿ ਮਹਲਾ ੯ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ਕਉਨੁ ਉਪਾਉ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਭਗਤਿ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਪਾਵੈ ਜਮ ਕੋ ਤ੍ਰਾਸੁ ਹਰੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਕਉਨੁ ਕਰਮ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਕਹੁ ਕੈਸੀ ਧਰਮੁ ਕਉਨੁ ਫੁਨਿ ਕਰਈ ॥ ਕਉਨੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਗੁਰ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਸਿਮਰੈ ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰ ਕਉ ਤਰਈ ॥੧॥ ਕਲ ਮੈ ਏਕੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਨਿਧਿ ਜਾਹਿ ਜਪੈ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ ਅਉਰ ਧਰਮ ਤਾ ਕੈ ਸਮ ਨਾਹਨਿ ਇਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਬੇਦੁ ਬਤਾਵੈ ॥੨॥ ਸੁਖੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਰਹਤ ਸਦਾ ਨਿਰਲੇਪੀ ਜਾ ਕਉ ਕਹਤ ਗੁਸਾਈ ॥ ਸੋ ਤੁਮ ਹੀ ਮਹਿ ਬਸੈ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਦਰਪਨਿ ਨਿਆਈ ॥੩॥੫॥: Praanee koun oupaaou karai...: Sorath Mahalaa 9. What efforts should the mortal make, to attain devotion of the Lord, and eradicate the fear of death? ||1||Pause|| Which actions, what sort of knowledge, and what Dharma should one practice? What Name of the Guru should one remember in meditation, to cross over the terrifying world-ocean? ||1|| In this Dark Age of Kali Yuga, the Name of the One Lord is the treasure of mercy; chanting it, one obtains salvation. No other Dharma is comparable to this; so speak the Vedas. ||2|| He is beyond pain and pleasure, forever unattached; He is called the Lord of the world. He dwells deep within your inner self, O Nanak, like the image in a mirror ||3||5|| (sggs 632).
— T. Singh