WORSHIPING TOMBS OF THE DEAD


Do not read regarding duality (or do not be stuck on duality or fancy it),
do not worship any other than the Lord; do not visit
tombs or crematoriums (sggs 634).
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These divine words of the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) are spoken by Baabaa Nanak. As also indicated in other verses, Gurmat (divine Teaching of the Gurbani) does not counsel worshiping, serving or visiting tombs (Samaadh, Marree etc.) of the dead. But how many abide by this instruction of the Gurmat? Instead, many customarily engage in celebrating days of the dead; building memorials (Yaadgaars) at places of the dead; and then worshiping, serving or visiting them! What's more, elaborate fairs (Melaa), processions or celebrations are organized at many such places!

  • ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਨ ਪੜਉ ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਹੋਰੁ ਨ ਪੂਜਉ ਮੜੈ ਮਸਾਣਿ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥: Dubidhaa na parrou har bin hor na poojou marrai masaan na jaaee: Do not read regarding duality (or do not be stuck on duality or fancy it), do not worship any other than the Lord; do not visit tombs or crematoriums (sggs 634).

Why does the Gurbani ask us not to engage in worshiping, serving or visiting tombs of the dead (or observing celebrations there)? First, such activities are working of the duality (Doojaa Bhaav). What we call Maya is nothing but the dualistic principle. In other words, all dualistic activities (of our ego-mind) are in Maya. In nutshell, the school of duality postulates God, soul and the world as distinct and separate realities. Thus, according to the philosophy of dualism the reality is composed of two irreducible principles, entities, truths etc., which are fixed or not transcendable. The Gurbani ardently rejects such conclusions of the pluralistic realism or non-monism. This notion of duality (division in consciousness etc.) between the seer and the seen is termed "darkness" or "ignorance" in the Gurbani. Only after cessation of duality, the Pure Consciousness awakens within. Those of us wedged in the consciousness of duality are called Manmukhs (material, ego or unenlightened beings) in the Gurbani.

  • ਗਿਆਨ ਹੀਣੰ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਪੂਜਾ ॥ ਅੰਧ ਵਰਤਾਵਾ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ॥: Giaan heenan agiaan poojaa. Andh vrtaavaa bhaayu doojaa: Bereft of Spiritual Wisdom, (people) worship ignorance. In the love of duality (in love of Maya, their) conduct or behavior (keeps them mentally blind or ignorant of their spiritual life). (sggs 1412).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਅੰਧਾ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਲਾਗੈ ॥: Manmukh andhaa doojai bhaae laagai: The blind Manmukh are attached to the love of duality (sggs 113).
  • ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਬੁਝਈ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਹੋਇ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥: Trisnaa kade na bujhaee dubidhaa hoi khuaar: (Those who inflict their hatred upon the Saints, their) ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ (desire craving, thirst, hunger, greed, avrice, ambition, etc.) is never ceased, and they are ruined by duality (sggs 649).
  • ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਨ ਹੋਵੀ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਦੂਜੀ ਰਾਈ ॥: Dubidhaa vichi bairaagu na hovee jabb lagu doojee raaee: There cannot be detachment in delusion, as long as there is even a particle of duality (sggs 634).
  • ਮੂਰਖਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ॥ ਬਹੁ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਦੁਖੁ ਸਬਾਇਆ ॥: Moorkh parh parh doojaa bhaav driraayaa. Bahu karak kamaavai dukh samaayaa: The fool reads and reads, but holds tight to duality. He performs all sorts of rituals, but still suffers terrible pain (sggs 424).
  • ਜਗਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਮਲੁ ਲਾਗੀ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ॥: Jagg haumai mailu dukh paaiaa mall laagee doojai bhaai: Because of the love of duality, the world is polluted with the filth of egotism, and suffering in pain (sggs 39).
  • ਦੂਜੀ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਗਤ ਚਿਤ ਵਾਸੁ ॥: Doojee maya jagat chit vaas: The duality of Maya dwells in the consciousness of the people of this material world (sggs 223).

Second, the Gurbani says that any efforts (i.e., worshiping, serving or visiting tombs of the dead etc.) carried out in duality are useless. Usually, caught in Dubidhaa, people go to these places to get their worldly wishes or passions fulfilled. Baabaa Nanak says "useless is the birth of those who are lured by duality." Because, there is no Yoga (union or linking with God) — the purpose of life — to be attained there.

  • ਨਿਰਜੀਉ ਪੂਜਹਿ ਮੜਾ ਸਰੇਵਹਿ ਸਭ ਬਿਰਥੀ ਘਾਲ ਗਵਾਵੈ ॥: Nirajeeo poojahi marraa sarevahi sabh birathee ghaal gavaavai: Those who worship lifeless stones and serve the tombs of the dead; all their efforts are useless (sggs 1264).
  • ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਮੜੀ ਮਸਾਣੀ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਤਾੜੀ ਲਾਈਐ ॥: Yog na baahar marree masaanee yog na taarree laaeeai: Yoga is not wandering to the tombs of the dead; Yoga is not sitting in trances (sggs 730).
  • ਪੂਰਨ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਪ੍ਰਤੀਤ ਸਜੈ ਬ੍ਰਤ ਗੋਰ ਮੜ੍ਹੀ ਮਟ ਭੂਲ ਨ ਮਾਨੈ ॥: Pooran praem pratheeth sajai brath gor marrhee matt bhool na maanai: He decorates himself with perfect love and faith, and believed not in fasts, tombs, crematoriums and hermit cells, even by mistake (Guru Gobind Singh Jee).
  • ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਦੂਜੈ ਲੋਭਾਇ ॥: Birathaa janam doojai lobhaai: Useless is the birth of those who are lured by duality (sggs 362).

So cautions us the Gurbani. Further, we are urged to become Gurmukhs (Self-realized or spiritual beings); seek and keep the Holy Company (Saadh-Sangat) of the Gurmukhs, embrace love for the One (i.e., non-duality); and burn away duality and doubt by the divine Shabab or the Name. In the Saadh-Sangat, the love of duality vanishes.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਇਕਸੁ ਸਿਉ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਏ ॥ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਰਮੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਜਲਾਏ ॥: Gurmukhi hovai su ekasu siou liv laaye. Doojaa bharamu gur sabadi jalaaye: One who becomes the Gurmukh contemplates the One (Lord - ਇਕ ਮਨ ਇਕ ਚਿਤ ਹੋ ਕੇ). (He) burns away duality (ਮਾਇਆ ਵਾਲੀ ਭੁੱਖ/ਭਟਕਣਾ) through the Gur-Shabad (Aatam-Giaan...). (sggs 115).
  • ਜਪਿ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਸਤਰੀਐ ਹੋਰੁ ਦੁਤੀਆ ਬਿਰਥੀ ਸਾਖੀ ॥: Jsp raam naam Nanak nisatareeai hor duteeaa birathee saakhee: Chanting the Lord's Name, O Nanak, I am emancipated; other teachings of duality are useless (sggs 1227).
  • ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਕਟੀਐ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਿ ਦੁਤੀਆ ਭਾਉ ਮਿਟਾਇ ॥: Bhram katteeai Nanak saadhasang duteeaa bhaaou mitaai: O Nanak, in the Company of the Holy, doubt is eradicated and the love of duality is eliminated (sggs 296).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਬਿਨਸਿ ਜਾਇ ਸਹਜੇ ਸੁਖਿ ਸਮਾਈਐ ॥: Hayumai dubidhaa binas jaayi sahje sukh samaayeeai: When egotism and duality are eradicated, one merges in Intuitive Peace, or Sahaj Avasthaa (sggs 163).
  • ਕੂੜ ਗਏ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਨਸੀ ਪੂਰਨ ਸਚਿ ਭਰੇ ॥: Koorr gaye dubidhaa nasee pooran sach bhare: (Those who meditate on the Lord's Name, Naam, their) falsehood vanishes; their duality is erased, and they become completely filled with (ਸਦਾ-ਥਿਰ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ) Truth (sggs 136).

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org