THE BEGGAR

Says Nanak, all are beggars of God ||4||2||7|| (sggs803).
MAMMA: The beggar is so ignorant (sggs 258).
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Here the Gurbani does not want us to stand at the street-corner and literally become beggars. That's not what the Gurbani means. The term "beggar" symbolizes the noble quality of "humility" ("Gareebee" etc.) in a person, which, according to Baabaa Nanak, is the essence of all noble qualities. This means Baabaa Nanak would like very much to see this virtue in all his followers to take root and blossom. When one good quality is developed, all other good qualities automatically well up within.

  • ਮਿਠਤੁ ਨੀਵੀ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਗੁਣ ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਤਤੁ ॥: Mithat neevee Naanakaa gun changiaaeeaa tatt: Sweetness of humility, O Nanak, is the essence of all good virtues (sggs 470).
  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਸਮਾਹਾ ॥: Braham giaanee kai gareebee samaahaa: The Braham Giaanee (the God-Realized being) is steeped in humility (sggs 273).
  • ਬੁਧਿ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਖਰਚੁ ਲੈਹੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਜਾਰਹੁ ॥: Budh gareebee kharach laihu houmai bikh jaarahu: Take wisdom and humility as your supplies, and burn away the poison of ego or Haume (sggs 399).
  • ਖਿਮਾ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਅਨਦ ਸਹਜ ਜਪਤ ਰਹਹਿ ਗੁਣਤਾਸ ॥: Khimaa gareebee anad sahaj japat rahahi gunataas: With tolerance, humility, bliss, and natural state of Being (Sahaj), they continue to meditate on God, the Treasure of excellence (sggs 253).
  • ਗਰੀਬੀ ਗਦਾ ਹਮਾਰੀ ॥ ਖੰਨਾ ਸਗਲ ਰੇਨੁ ਛਾਰੀ ॥ ਇਸੁ ਆਗੈ ਕੋ ਨ ਟਿਕੈ ਵੇਕਾਰੀ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪੂਰੇ ਏਹ ਗਲ ਸਾਰੀ ॥੧॥: Gareebee gadaa hamaaree. Khanna sagal ren saaree. Is aagai ko na tikai vekaaree. Gur poorai ih gal saaree ||1||: Humility is my spiked club. My dagger is to be the dust of all men's feet. No evil-doer can withstand these weapons. The Perfect Guru has given me this understanding ||1|| (sggs 628).

Thus the attitude of an actual beggar can teach us a thing or two, provided we are conscious observant. Although there are many humorous jokes about the modern beggars in India and elsewhere, but the aim here is not to reflect on that aspect. So let's keep our focus on the Gurbani's spiritual message here. Through this example of "beggar", the Gurbani is revealing to us the secret of living life properly or happily.

If a beggar goes to somebody's house or someone for begging (Bhikhiaa or Bhikshaa), he does not grieve if nothing is given to him at one place. He simply goes to the next house or person, hoping to get something there. He knows he is a beggar, therefore, whether he receives bountiful or nothing, or weather he receives scowling or foul language, to him it's all part of life and God's Will (Hukam, Bhaanaa etc.). So he keeps his cool without feeling throe, anxiety, envy and anger. If others become annoyed and heated with him and insult him, he just walks away in silence, without complaint. He does not try explaining his sorrows to each and every house or person he visits. He knows if he did, the people would not understand it anyway. He tolerates situations and everything he hears, without losing his peace of mind.

The Gurbani wants us to adopt the attitude of a beggar (humility). When we assume the attitude of a true beggars, we look upon everything as God's Hukam (Will). Baabaa Nanak never called himself "Giaanee or Brahm Giaanee", (Sri 108"), "Sant", "Gurmukh", so on and so forth. Instead, he always called himself "Neech" (lowly), "meek", "Servant" ("Janu", "Sevak", etc.), "Gareeb", "meritless", "slave" ("Daasan Daas") etc. Because he knew that by becoming humble you become the greatest, by assuming the attitude of a "servant" of everyone you "conquer the world", or by cultivating humility you become egoless, fearless and patient.

  • ਹੁਕਮਿ ਮੰਨਿਐ ਹੋਵੈ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ਤਾ ਖਸਮੈ ਕਾ ਮਹਲੁ ਪਾਇਸੀ ॥: Hukam manniai hovai paravaan taa khasamai kaa mahal paaisee: Obeying God's Hukam (Will), one becomes acceptable, and then, he reaches the court of the Lord's Presence (sggs 471).
  • ਸਚਾ ਤੇਰਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਣਿਆ ॥: Sachaa taeraa hukam Gurmukh jaaniaa: True is the Divine Hukam, and it is known to the Gurmukh (sggs 144).
  • ਨਾਨਕੁ ਨੀਚੁ ਭਿਖਿਆ ਦਰਿ ਜਾਚੈ ਮੈ ਦੀਜੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਡਾਈ ਹੇ ॥: Nanak neech bhikhiaa dar jaachai mai deejai naam vadaaee hay: Nanak, the lowly, begs for charity at Your Door, O God; please, bless him with the glorious greatness of Your Name (sggs 1021).
  • ਹਮ ਦਾਸਨ ਕੇ ਦਾਸ ਪਿਆਰੇ ॥: Hamm daasan ke daas piaarae: I am the slave of Your slaves, O my Beloved God (sggs 1035).
  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮ ਧਨੁ ਰਾਸਿ ॥: Janu Nanak har naam dhhan raas: The Name of the Lord is the wealth and capital of servant Nanak (sggs 796).
  • ਸੁਖੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੋਨੋ ਸਮ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਨੈ ਅਉਰੁ ਮਾਨੁ ਅਪਮਾਨਾ ॥ ਹਰਖ ਸੋਗ ਤੇ ਰਹੈ ਅਤੀਤਾ ਤਿਨਿ ਜਗਿ ਤਤੁ ਪਛਾਨਾ ॥੧॥ ਉਸਤਤਿ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਦੋਊ ਤਿਆਗੈ ਖੋਜੈ ਪਦੁ ਨਿਰਬਾਨਾ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹੁ ਖੇਲੁ ਕਠਨੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਨਹੂੰ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਨਾ ॥੨॥੧॥ : Sukh dukh dono sam kari jaanai aour maanu apamaanaa. Harakh sog te rahai ateetaa tini jagi tatu pashaanaa. Usatat nindaa do-oo tiaagai khojai padu nirabaanaa. Jan Nanak ihu khel kathan hai kinahoon gurmukhi jaanaa ||2||1||: One who knows that pain and pleasure are both the same, and honor and dishonor as well, who remains detached from joy and sorrow, realizes the true essence in the world ||1||. Renounce both praise and blame; seek instead the state of Nirvaanaa (Aatmic Avasthaa devoid of Vaasnaa). O servant Nanak, this is such a difficult game; only a rare Gurmukh understands it! ||2||1|| (sggs 219).

The Gurbani declares that we all are beggars at the Door of God. With this beggar-like attitude, we can make spiritual progress and gain inner strength. But we are ignorant, doubt-ridden and deluded beggars. Because, we beg for worldly things. In other words, instead of begging for the eternal God and His Name, we beg for wrong or ephemeral things. The Gurbani tells us that the purpose of life is to link with God not with the "Sansaar" (the place of repeated death). Worldly things can only lead one to suffering or sorrows in the end. Then we complain and cry, because we find ourselves unable to experience lasting happiness and peace from the worldly objects. Furthermore, in the process, we forget the "Giver" (God) of all the "Gifts" we receive in the life. Thus, we are reminded by the Gurbani that we are "ignorant" beggars for we lack the right attitude.

  • ਮਮਾ ਮਾਗਨਹਾਰ ਇਆਨਾ ॥ ਦੇਨਹਾਰ ਦੇ ਰਹਿਓ ਸੁਜਾਨਾ ॥ ਜੋ ਦੀਨੋ ਸੋ ਏਕਹਿ ਬਾਰ ॥ ਮਨ ਮੂਰਖ ਕਹ ਕਰਹਿ ਪੁਕਾਰ ॥ ਜਉ ਮਾਗਹਿ ਤਉ ਮਾਗਹਿ ਬੀਆ ॥ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਕੁਸਲ ਨ ਕਾਹੂ ਥੀਆ ॥ ਮਾਗਨਿ ਮਾਗ ਤ ਏਕਹਿ ਮਾਗ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਪਰਹਿ ਪਰਾਗ ॥੪੧॥: Mamaa maaganehaar iaanaa.....: MAMMA: The beggar is so ignorant. The Great Giver continues to give. He is All-knowing. Whatever He gives, He gives once and for all. O foolish mind, why do you complain, and cry out so loud? Whenever you ask for something, you ask for worldly things; no one has obtained happiness from these. If you must ask for a gift, then ask for the One Lord Himself. O Nanak, by Him, you will be saved ||41|| (sggs 258).
  • ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੈ ਭਾਇ ਭਵੈ ਭੇਖਧਾਰੀ ॥: Bhram kai bhaai bhavai bhekhadhaaree: Wearing the robes of a beggar, he wanders around, deluded by doubt (sggs 856).
  • ਤੂ ਦਾਤੌ ਹਮ ਜਾਚਿਕਾ ਹਰਿ ਦਰਸਨੁ ਦੀਜੈ ॥: Too daata hamm jaachikaa har darasan deejai: You are the Giver, and I am a mere beggar. Lord, please grant me the Blessed Vision of Your Darshan (sggs 419).
  • ਜਾਚਿਕੁ ਮੰਗੈ ਨਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਕਰੇ ਕਬੂਲੁ ॥: Jaachik mangai nith naam saahib kare kabool: If the beggar begs for the Lord's Name every day, God will grant his request (sggs 323).
  • ਹਮ ਜਾਚਿਕ ਦੀਨ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤੇਰਿਆ ਮੁਖਿ ਦੀਜੈ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਬਾਣੀ ॥: Hamm jaachik deen prabh teriaa mukh deejai amrit bani: I am just a meek beggar at Your Door, God; please, place the Ambrosial Word of Your Bani in my mouth (sggs 997).

We also learn from this example of the "beggar" not to increase baser desires. Because, when full of desires, we submit to the world and become subservient (Muhataaj) to Maya , begging from people. On the other hand, when desires are reduced, then one lives like a king!

  • ਅੰਤਰ ਆਤਮੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਨ ਚੀਨ੍‍ਆਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਮੁਹਤਾਜੁ ਭਇਆ ॥: Antar aatamai braham na cheenihaaa Maya kaa muhataaj bhaiaa: Within your innermost Self, you do not recognize God, and you thus become subservient to Maya (sggs 435).
  • ਕਿਆ ਮੁਹਤਾਜੀ ਕਿਆ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥: Kiaa muhathaajee kiaa sansaar: Why should I submit to the world? (sggs 349).

Before a seed can become a mature tree, it has to be buried beneath the ground! Also, before the seed or sapling is planted, the ground has to be prepared and the weeds need to be cleared in the area. After that, it has to be cared for by regularly watering and fertilizing it, and guarding it by putting up the fence around to protect the sapling from being eaten by animals, birds, etc., until it becomes a strong tree. Similarly, spiritual life needs to be cared for if we intend it to fully grow and become mature. Until than, among other things, the Gurbani says it needs to be fenced with humility.

  • ਮਨੁ ਹਾਲੀ ਕਿਰਸਾਣੀ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਰਮੁ ਪਾਣੀ ਤਨੁ ਖੇਤੁ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਬੀਜੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸੁਹਾਗਾ ਰਖੁ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਵੇਸੁ ॥ ਭਾਉ ਕਰਮ ਕਰਿ ਜੰਮਸੀ ਸੇ ਘਰ ਭਾਗਠ ਦੇਖੁ ॥: Mann haalee kirsaanee karnee saram paanee tann khet. Naam beej santokh suhaagaa rakh greebee ves. Bhaayu karm kari jamsee se ghar bhaagath dekh: The body is the field, the mind the ploughman, self-efort the irrigation channel, contentment (to protect the Naam-seed from from being eaten by the birds of desires) the leveler (farmers use leveler or Suhaagaa to (1) protect the seeds sown in the field from birds by burying it beneath the ground and (2) to pulverize the crusty soil lumps, pulverization of crusty soil lumps represents pulverization of Haume), humble life the protective fence. Sow the seed of love (in the field of the body) - the seed of Bhagti - and thus it will flourish (sggs 595).

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org