FALSE ASSOCIATION: KUSANG

ਕੁਸੰਗਤਿ ਬਹਹਿ ਸਦਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਦੁਖੋ ਦੁਖੁ ਕਮਾਇਆ ॥੧੧॥:
Kusangati bahahi sadaa dukhu paavahi dukho dukhu kamaaiaa ||11||(sggs 1068).
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By Maya's own way, Mayaic activities are a source of perplexity for all mortals. These perplexities are like wild forest fire that somehow blazes without being set by anyone! In many Gur-Shabad, we have the Gurbani's account describing the pathetic condition of living entities caught in the vertex of material perplexities. The good news is that the Gurbani also guides us as to how to get Free from such perplexed mindset.

People in material perplexities are called in Gurbani by different names. Some of these names are Kusang (bad company), Saakat or Sakat ( pronounced Saakat ), Manmukh (self-willed, material being...), Aatam-Ghaatee (self-murderer), Chor (thief), Mayadhaaree (Maya-stricken or mammon worshipper), Bimukhan (nonbeliever), Jhooth or Koor (false or fake), Pasoo (beast), non-devotee, mind-centered, demon, idiot, fool, animal, and so on.

Before we go further, please note that the Gurbani's fundamental Teaching is that all human beings at the soul-level (Aatmic level) are equal — nobody is bad...

Simply put: Gurmat Teaches there is but One Absolute Reality. This one Supreme Essence is the substratum (support or “Aadhaar“) of all. It is this Infinite Reality, the Homogeneous Oneness, the highest plane of Pure Consciousness, which runs in and through all beings.

  • ਏਕ ਨੂਰ ਤੇ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਉਪਜਿਆ ਕਉਨ ਭਲੇ ਕੋ ਮੰਦੇ ॥੧॥: Ek noor te sabhu jagu upjiaa kaoun bhale ko mande ||1||: From this One Light, the entire universe has welled up. So who is good, and who is bad? ||1|| (sggs 1349).

Which means we become good or bad due to the quality of our our minds; due to the quality of our thinking (Soch), and so on. For example, the Manmukh mentality, the Manmukh habits, the Manmukh nature, the Manmukh qualities, the Manmukh conduct, the Manmukh character, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed...) and so on. Similarly, the Saakat or Mayadhaaree mentality, the Saakat or Mayadhaaree habits, the Saakat or Mayadhaaree nature, the Saakat or Mayadhaaree qualities, the Saakat or Mayadhaaree conduct, the Saakat or Mayadhaaree character, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed...), and so on.

Therefore, when the Gurbani advises not to associate with the Manmukh, Saakat, Mayadhaaree, etc., it does not indicate to hate or dislike someone, for the Gurbani has already told us "ਏਕ ਨੂਰ ਤੇ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਉਪਜਿਆ ਕਉਨ ਭਲੇ ਕੋ ਮੰਦੇ ॥੧॥: Ek noor te sabhu jagu upjiaa kaoun bhale ko mande ||1||".

In nutshell, the Gurbani simply indicates not to associate or identify with the Manmukh or Saakat or Mayadhaaree mentality, the Manmukh or Saakat or Mayadhaaree habits, the Manmukh or Saakat or Mayadhaaree nature, the Manmukh or Saakat or Mayadhaaree qualities, the Manmukh or Saakat or Mayadhaaree conduct, the Manmukh or Saakat or Mayadhaaree character, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed...), and so on.

  • ਸਾਕਤ ਮੂੜ ਮਾਇਆ ਕੇ ਬਧਿਕ ਵਿਚਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਫਿਰੰਦੇ ॥: Saakath moorr Maya ke badhik vichi Maya firahi firande: The foolish Saakat are held captive by Maya; in Maya, they continue wandering, wandering around (sggs 800).
  • ਠਾਕੁਰੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਦਾਸੀ ਕਉ ਸਿਮਰਹਿ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅੰਧ ਅਗਿਆਨਾ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਤਿਨ ਨਿੰਦਹਿ ਨਿਗੁਰੇ ਪਸੂ ਸਮਾਨਾ ॥੨॥: Thaakur shodi daasee kaou simarahi manmukh andh agiaanaa. Hari kee bhagti karahi tin nindahi nigure pasoo samaanaa ||2||: The blind, ignorant Manmukhs (self-willed, material beings...) forsake their God (Mool), and dwell on His slave Maya. They slander those who perform Bhagti (i.e., trying to understand the Gurbani...); they are like beasts ||2|| (sggs 1138).
Unlike the minds of the mortals, the Lord remains unaffected by the Maya's perplexities. Similarly, the Gurmukhs (or the Gurmukhs minds) are also beyond the reach of Maya's far reaching tentacles. Other than that, everything else is Maya-stricken, hence untruth or false. Apart from the association of the Satt within (ਸਤ- Truth) or the Gurmukh; everything is Kusang: False or bad association.
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਸੇਤੀ ਸੰਗੁ ਕਰੇ ਮੁਹਿ ਕਾਲਖ ਦਾਗੁ ਲਗਾਇ ॥: Manmukh setee sangu kare muhi kaalakh daagu lagaai: Whoever associates with the self-willed Manmukhs (i.e., Kusang), will have his face blackened (stigma, ਬਦਨਾਮੀ ਦਾ, he will lose his Giaan and Bibek-Budhi...). (sggs 1417).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖਾ ਕੇਰੀ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਸਨਬੰਧੁ ॥: Manmukhaa keree dosatee Maya kaa sanabandhu: Friendship with the material beings (Manmukhs-self-willed...) is an alliance with Maya—illusion, ignorance, and so on (sggs 959).

At the time of birth, an infant's mind is more Intact, selfless, etc. But, with the passage of time, it loses all that on account of all sorts of bad association (Kusang). Just as a rain drop which does not have any impurity of its own, but when it comes in contact with the ground or dirt, it becomes contaminated. Also, a piece of paper does not have any smell of its own, however, when the same paper is used to wrap fish or fragrant flowers, gets the smell of the object it is associated with. Similarly, man is affected by the association he keeps.

How can we turn away from associating with Kusang or Saakat? And how can we retrace our steps back to link with the Mool within (Source, Origin...), the True Association? In this context, this Gurbani Reflection will attempt to reflect on the following aspects of Kusang:

  • Definition of Kusang
  • Mental condition of Kusang
  • Attributes of Kusang
  • Activities of Kusang
  • Turning away from Kusang
Kusang Defined

A Saakat or a Manmukh is separated from Naam or Shabad (Aatam-Giaan...) or Mool (Source, Jot...). Also, they don't understand the Shabad, Hukam (Divine Order), purpose of life, relationship with the Mool within (Source, Jot...), and the Way of the spiritual life. Consequently, the deluded mind of a Saakat or Manmukh acts in cynicism.

  • ਸੇ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਜੋ ਸਬਦ ਨ ਪਛਾਨਹਿ ॥: Se manmukh jo Sabad n pachhaanahi: They alone are Manmukhs who do not realize the Shabad (sggs 1054).
  • ਤੇ ਸਾਕਤ ਚੋਰ ਜਿਨਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਆ ਮਨ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਨ ਭਿਟੀਐ ॥੪॥: Te saakat chor jinaa Naamu visaariaa man tin kai nikati n bhiteeai ||4||: Saakat who have forgotten the Naam are thieves. O (my) mind! Do not draw near them ||4|| (sggs 170).
According to the Gurbani, thus, anyone who has not realized the Shabad or Naam (Aatam-Giaan of the Gurbani...) alone is Manmukh or Saakat. Opposite to Manmukh is Gurmukh.

A Manmukh, regardless how advanced he may be in material qualifications by education and culture, lacks in the Divine Qualities; lacks in the Divine Knowledge, lacks in abidance in Hukam, etc. On the contrary, any person who practices true Bhagti through the Shabad-Vichaar has all the Good Qualities which are found in the Gurmukh.

Each mind is either a servant of Maya or a servant of Parameshar. Those who serve Maya are called Manmukh or demons, and those who serves Parameshar are called Gurmukh or Divine.

We will now look deeper into mental condition, attributes, and actions of such individuals. We can use this insight as a tool for self-analysis; to determine to what degree a "Kusang", "Saakat" or "Manmukh" is present in us.

Mental Condition Of Kusang

Because of Manmukh's cynicism, his existence fosters demoniac activities in the society such as cheating, swindling, larceny, untruthfulness, bribery, lies, quarrel, disagreement, deceit, cynicism, hypocrisy, duplicity, misinformation, hatred, conflicts, fanaticism, communalism, differences, animosity, destruction, killing, and so on. According to the Gurbani, the mind's disease is its duality (Doojaa Bhaav). A Manmukh is a burning example of such mind.

A Manmukh's life is dominated by his strong bondage to material consciousness, far away from the Spiritual discipline (Aatam-Maarag). Due to his physical-consciousness, his mind becomes flickering, turbulent, restless, obstinating, and very difficult to control. Consequently, it falls pray to mental diseases which are subtle, thereby invisible to our material eyes. The foremost of these diseases is the ignorance-born false ego (Haumai). The projection of this false ego are diseases like lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride, jealousy, enviousness, hatred, animosity, duality, fear, selfishness, quarrel, slandering of others, lower quality thoughts, aggressiveness, cruelty and unfeeling to other beings, wickedness, prejudices, cheating, lie, corruption, fraud, hypocrisy, deceptiveness, etc. And we are tormented by these diseases, day and night.

Mental ailments, in turn, give rise to many bodily diseases. Fortunately, the bodily diseases finish with the death of our physical body, but no the mental diseases. This is how the Jeeva (individual beings) get caught in the vicious cycle of repeated suffering.

  • ਤਿਸੁ ਸਿਉ ਬੇਮੁਖੁ ਜਿਨਿ ਜੀਉ ਪਿੰਡੁ ਦੀਨਾ ॥ ਕੋਟਿ ਜਨਮ ਭਰਮਹਿ ਬਹੁ ਜੂਨਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਕੀ ਐਸੀ ਹੈ ਰੀਤਿ ॥ ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰੈ ਸਗਲ ਬਿਪਰੀਤਿ ॥੨॥ ਜੀਉ ਪ੍ਰਾਣ ਜਿਨਿ ਮਨੁ ਤਨੁ ਧਾਰਿਆ ॥ ਸੋਈ ਠਾਕੁਰੁ ਮਨਹੁ ਬਿਸਾਰਿਆ ॥੩॥ : Tisu siou bemukhu jini jeeou pindu deenaa...: They are unfaithful to the One, who has given them body and soul. He wanders through millions of incarnations. ||1||Rahaaou|| Such is the lifestyle of the Saakat; everything they do is evil.  ||2|| Within their minds, they have forgotten that Lord, who created the soul, breath of life, mind and body ||3|| (sggs 195).
  • ਰਾਮਕਲੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥ ਕਉਡੀ ਬਦਲੈ ਤਿਆਗੈ ਰਤਨੁ ॥ ਛੋਡਿ ਜਾਇ ਤਾਹੂ ਕਾ ਜਤਨੁ ॥ ਸੋ ਸੰਚੈ ਜੋ ਹੋਛੀ ਬਾਤ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਿਆ ਟੇਢਉ ਜਾਤ ॥੧॥ ਅਭਾਗੇ ਤੈ ਲਾਜ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ ਸੁਖ ਸਾਗਰ ਪੂਰਨ ਪਰਮੇਸਰੁ ਹਰਿ ਨ ਚੇਤਿਓ ਮਨ ਮਾਹੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਕਉਰਾ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਮੀਠੀ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਕੀ ਬਿਧਿ ਨੈਨਹੁ ਡੀਠੀ ॥ ਕੂੜਿ ਕਪਟਿ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਿ ਰੀਝਾਨਾ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੁਨਤ ਜਨੁ ਬਿਛੂਅ ਡਸਾਨਾ ॥੨॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਸਦ ਹੀ ਝੂਰੈ ॥ ਮਨਿ ਮੁਖਿ ਕਬਹਿ ਨ ਉਸਤਤਿ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਦਾਤਾਰੁ ॥ ਤਿਸੁ ਸਿਉ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਨ ਕਰੈ ਗਵਾਰੁ ॥੩॥ ਸਭ ਸਾਹਾ ਸਿਰਿ ਸਾਚਾ ਸਾਹੁ ॥ ਵੇਮੁਹਤਾਜੁ ਪੂਰਾ ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੁ ॥ ਮੋਹ ਮਗਨ ਲਪਟਿਓ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਗਿਰਹ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਰੀਐ ਤੇਰੀ ਮਿਹਰ ॥੪॥੨੧॥੩੨॥: Ramkalee Mahalaa 5 || kouddee badalai tiaagai ratan ...: Ramkalee Mahalaa 5. In exchange for a shell, (Saakat) gives up a Jewel (of the Lord's Name). He tries to get what he must give up. He collects those things which are worthless. Enticed by Maya, he takes the crooked path ||1||.  You unfortunate man — have you no shame? You do not remember in your mind the Ocean of peace Pooran Parameshar ||1||rahaaou||. Amrit (Naam) seems bitter, and poison sweet. Such is the Saakat's condition, which I have seen with my own eyes. He is fond of falsehood, fraud and egotism. If he hears Naam, he feels like he ahs been stung by a scorpion ||2||. He continually yearns for Maya, and he never chants God's Praises in his mind (and/or) with his mouth. The Lord is fearless and formless; He is the Great Giver. But you do not love Him, you fool! ||3|| God, the True King, is above the heads of all kings. People are intoxicated by emotional attachment, entangled in doubt and family life. Nanak: they are saved only by Your Mercy, Lord. ||4||21||32|| (sggs 892).
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਮੁਠੇ ਦੁਰਮਤੀ ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਨ ਜਾਣੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ॥ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਭਰਮਿ ਲੁਟਾਇਆ ਬਿਖੁ ਸਿਉ ਰਚਹਿ ਰਚੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ॥ ਦੁਸਟਾ ਸੇਤੀ ਪਿਰਹੜੀ ਜਨ ਸਿਉ ਵਾਦੁ ਕਰੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ॥: Saakat muthe durmati Hari ras na jaanann. Jini amrit bharam lutaayaa bikh siyu rachahi rachann. Dusta setee pirharee jan siyu vaad karann: The Saakat are defrauded by their own evil-mindedness; they do not know the sublime essence of God. Those who lose the Ambrosial Nectar or Amrit (Naam), through doubt, remain engrossed and entangled in corruption. They make friends with the wicked, and argue with the humble servants of the Lord (sggs 854).
Attributes Of Kusang

The attributes of liquor include intoxication. It ruins the user by destroying his brain through its addiction. The quality of bad company (Kusang) is no less deadlier than the liquor. The liquor or drugs effect one's mind in a subtle way. Because of its subtlety, the user in the beginning does not realize its damaging potential. Nonetheless, ultimately he comes to a point where he feels "dead" without it. In other words, the liquor and the addict become one and the same. Similar to liquor and drugs, the attributes of bad company also influence one's mind in a very subtle way. The effects of bad company are so subtle and deadly that one can not even judge that he has fallen into its influence. Why is it so? Because of unwise or deluded mind, one is unable to admit that the bad company has changed his mind and that he is fallen as a result of that. As the saying goes: One becomes the company he keeps." To make us recognize Kusang and beware of it, we are provided with its numerous attributers throughout the Gurbani. Some of these attributes include: disliking for Truth; mental delusion due to doubts; identification with the feeling of "I, me, mine, your"; lust, anger, greed, attachment, and self pride; jealousy and enviousness; hatred; selfishness; lack of contentment and satisfaction; material hankering and lamentation; lack of mental control; restlessness; falsehood; self-centeredness; spiritual ignorance; life full of quarrel and contentions; dividing nature; lack of faith; extrovertedness; engrossment in rituals; unhappiness; attitude of "taking" instead of "giving"; affinity for unholy actions; lack of self-discipline; duality (Doojaa Bhaav); mental agitation; rat-race; always begging for material things from God; complaining nature; finding faults in others; unable to bear pains and sorrows of life; love worldliness instead of God; corruption; engaged in larceny, swindling, bribery, cheating, plundering, stealing, mental speculations, material logic, atheist thinking, deceitful and cynical nature; and so on. Opposite to these are the attributes of a Gurmukh (godly Being).

  • ਸਾਕਤ ਸਚੁ ਨ ਭਾਵਈ ਕੂੜੈ ਕੂੜੀ ਪਾਂਇ ॥: Saakat sachu n bhaavaee koorrai koorree paani: The Saakat do not like the Truth; false is the footing of the false (sggs 22).
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਨਰ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੀ ਕਹੀਅਹਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਜੀਵੀਜੈ ॥੭॥: Saakat nar ahankaaree kaheeahi binu naavai dhrigu jeeveejai ||7||: Saakat are called egotistical; their living is disdainfull (for they live) without the Naam. ||7|| (sggs 1325).
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਮੂੜ ਮਾਇਆ ਕੇ ਬਧਿਕ ਵਿਚਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਫਿਰੰਦੇ ॥: Saakath moorr Maya ke badhik vich Maya firahi firande: The foolish Saakat are held captive by Maya; in Maya, they continue wandering, wandering around (sggs 800).
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਹਰਿ ਰਸ ਸਾਦੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਿਆ ਤਿਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਕੰਡਾ ਹੇ ॥: Saakat har ras saad na jaaniaa tin antar houmai kanddaa he: The Saakatdo not know the Taste of the Sublime Essence of the Divinity; because the thorn of egotism is embedded deep within them (sggs 13).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਸਿਮਰਨ ਜੈਸੇ ਸਰਪ ਆਰਜਾਰੀ ॥ ਤਿਉ ਜੀਵਹਿ ਸਾਕਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਬਿਸਾਰੀ ॥੧॥: Bin simran jaise sarap arjaaree. Tiou jeevahi saakat naam bisaaree ||1||: Without God's meditation, (mortal's life is) like that of a snake. This is how the Saakat lives forgetting the Naam (Giaan) ||1|| (sggs 239).

Because of his egotistical mentality, the Gurbani compares a Manmukh with a bamboo tree. For instance, a bamboo tree growing near a sandalwood does not pick up sandalwood's fragrance; it is too tall and proud. As Kabeer Sahib puts it, the bamboo gets drowned in its egotistical pride. No one should get drown like this. In other words, even though the bamboo dwells near the sandalwood tree, but it does not take up its fragrance or humbleness and gets ruined.

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਬਾਂਸੁ ਬਡਾਈ ਬੂਡਿਆ ਇਉ ਮਤ ਡੂਬਹੁ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਚੰਦਨ ਕੈ ਨਿਕਟੇ ਬਸੈ ਬਾਂਸੁ ਸੁਗੰਧੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੧੨॥: Kabeer baans badaaee boodiaa iou matt doobahu koi. Chandan kai nikate basai baans sugandh na hoi ||12||: Kabeer, the bamboo is drowned in its egotistical pride. No one should drown like this. Bamboo also dwells near the sandalwood tree, but it does not take up its fragrance ||12|| (sggs 1365).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਬੈਸਨਉ ਕੀ ਕੂਕਰਿ ਭਲੀ ਸਾਕਤ ਕੀ ਬੁਰੀ ਮਾਇ ॥ ਓਹ ਨਿਤ ਸੁਨੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮ ਜਸੁ ਉਹ ਪਾਪ ਬਿਸਾਹਨ ਜਾਇ ॥੫੨॥: Kabeer baisnou kee kookar bhalee saakat kee buree maai. Oh nit sunai Hari naam jas oh paap bisaahan jaai ||52||: Kabeer, even the dog of a devotee is good, while the mother of the Saakat is bad. The dog hears the Praises of the Divine Name, while the other is engaged in sin ||52|| (sggs 1367).

Activities Of Kusang

The Gurbani affirms that the lifestyle of material beings is such that everything they do is evil or ungodly. In other words, individuals with Manmukh mentality do only that, by which filth or material pollution stick to their mind. As mentioned in the Gurbani, a few of their activities are briefly summarized as follows.

Manmukhs take great pleasure in finding faults about other people. Our ego or ignorance never let us admit that our faults are no less than others. As a result, we never see any weakness in ourselves, but we never stop finding faults in others. As oppose to a Manmukh, a Gurmukh always picks on his own faults and, by recognizing his own faults, he then tries to eradicate them. On the contrary, by contemplating on the faults of other people, a Manmukh brings about his own downfall by (1) increasing his own anger, jealousy, enviousness, ego, vanity, bigotry, self-assertion, etc., and (2) thus rendering his own intellect and actions faulty. In essence, a Manmukh is critical of other people's faults, where as a Gurmukh is critical of his own faults. The Gurbani reminds us that there is no need to look for faults in others because we ourselves are full of them!

  • ਹਮਰੇ ਅਵਗੁਣ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਹੈ ਬਹੁ ਬਾਰ ਬਾਰ ਹਰਿ ਗਣਤ ਨ ਆਵੈ ॥: Hamare avagun bahut bahut hai bahu baar baar Hari ganat n aavai: My demerits are so many and numerous. I have sinned so many times, over and over again. O God, they cannot be counted (sggs 167).
  • ਆਪਸ ਕਉ ਬਹੁ ਭਲਾ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਮਤਿ ਨ ਕਾਈ ॥ ਸਾਧੂ ਜਨ ਕੀ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਵਿਆਪੇ ਜਾਸਨਿ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਈ ॥ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਦੇ ਚੇਤਹਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਅੰਤਿ ਗਏ ਪਛੁਤਾਈ ॥੩॥: Aapas kaou bahu bhalaa kar jaanahi Manmukh mati n kaaee ..: The Manmukhs see themselves as being very virtuous; they have absolutely no Understanding (Aatam-Giaan...) at all. They indulge in slander of the humble spiritual being; they waste their lives away (without Giaan...), and then they have to depart. They never meditate on the Lord's Naam, and in the end, they depart, regretting and repenting ||3|| (sggs 601).
Manmukhs like to blow their own horns to show to the world that they are the most spiritual or religious persons in the town or community. To this end, such Saakat likes to boast about his devotion and, thus, he likes to make a show of his piety at organized religious places. Also, he loves to perform religious rituals in public; he will do anything to hold titles in the religious organizations; he wants the whole world to know if he gives any charity, etc. Thus, he makes himself a stinky reservoir of self-pride.
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਜਾਇ ਨਿਵਹਿ ਗੁਰ ਆਗੈ ਮਨਿ ਖੋਟੇ ਕੂੜਿ ਕੂੜਿਆਰੇ ॥: Saakat jaai nivahi gur aagai man khote koor kooiaare: The Saakat go and bow before the Gur, but their minds are corrupt and utterly false (sggs 312).
  • ਹਰਿ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਅਤਿ ਊਜਲਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਾਇਆ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਪਾਠੁ ਪੜੈ ਨਾ ਬੂਝਈ ਭੇਖੀ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇ ॥ ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਹਰਿ ਸਦਾ ਪਾਇਆ ਰਸਨਾ ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੩॥: Hari Nirmal ati oojalaa binu gur paya n jaai. Paathu parrai n boojhaee bhekhee bharami bhulaai. Gurmatee hari paya rasanaa hari rasu samaai ||3||: The Lord is Pure and Luminous; without the Gur (the Gur-Giaan, Aatm-Giaan, Wisdom, etc.), He cannot be Realized. (Those who merely) read (scriptures - ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਪੁਸਤਕਾਂ ਦਾ ਨਿਰਾ ਪਾਠ) cannot understand (this secret); the "Bhekhee" (those who thus merely read disguised in religious garbs, deceitful pretenders, sham, false, impersonator, etc.) become more deluded by doubts. Through the Gurmat (Guru's Teachings, Shabad-Giaan, Gur-Giaan, Aatm-Giaan, etc.), the Lord is always Realized, and (one's) tongue remains permeated with the Sublime Essence of the Lord (Naam: Aatm-Giaan, Wisdom...). ||3|| (sggs 66).
As the saying goes: like attracts like. Similarly, Manmukhs attract Manmukhs. One with Manmukh mentality has no genuine interest in associating with the Gurmukh.
  • ਮਿਰਤਕ ਕਹੀਅਹਿ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਹ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਭਗਵੰਤ ॥: Miratak kaheeahi Nanakaa jih preet nahee bhagavant: He is likened to a corpse, O Nanak, if one does not Love of the Divine (sggs 253).
  • ਸੰਤਾ ਸੇਤੀ ਰੰਗੁ ਨ ਲਾਏ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗਿ ਵਿਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਏ ॥ ਦੁਲਭ ਦੇਹ ਖੋਈ ਅਗਿਆਨੀ ਜੜ ਅਪੁਣੀ ਆਪਿ ਉਪਾੜੀ ਜੀਉ ॥੩॥: Santaa setee rang n laae. Saakat sang vikarm kamaae. Dulabh deh khoee agiaanee jarr apanee aap upaarree jeeou ||3||: (sggs 105).
  • ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਦੁਸਟਾ ਕਾ ਵਾਸਾ ॥ ਭਉਦੇ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਬਹੁ ਮੋਹ ਪਿਆਸਾ ॥ ਕੁਸੰਗਤਿ ਬਹਹਿ ਸਦਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਦੁਖੋ ਦੁਖੁ ਕਮਾਇਆ ॥੧੧॥: Doojai bhaai dhusataa kaa vaasaa. Bhoude firahi bahu moh piaasaa. Kusangati bahahi sadaa dukhu paavahi dukho dukhu kamaaiaa ||11||: The evil people live in the love of duality. They wander around, totally attached and thirsty (of Maya). They sit in Kusang and suffer forever |11|| (sggs 1068).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਮਾਰੀ ਮਰਉ ਕੁਸੰਗ ਕੀ ਕੇਲੇ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਜੁ ਬੇਰਿ ॥: Kabeer, I have been ruined and destroyed by bad company, like the banana plant near the thorn bush. (sggs 1369).
A Manmukh misuses his senses by engaging them in activities harmful to Spiritual progress. For example, he uses is eyes to see objects and read subjects that are adverse to Spirituality; he uses is ears to listen to subjects that are also adverse to Spirituality; he uses his speech to talk about such subjects; then he uses is mind to think and brood over these subjects that are impediments to devotion. Brooding over such things infatuates his intellect and mentality.
  • ਮੂਰਖ ਪੜਹਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਬੂਝਹਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਵਿਰਲੈ ਜਾਤਾ ਹੇ ॥੧੫॥: Moorakh parrahi Sabad nahee boojhahi Gurmukh virlai jaataa he ||15||: The fools read (e.g., Gurbani), but do not understand the Shabad. How rare are those who, as Gurmukh, understand it ||15|| (sggs 1053).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬੋਲਹਿ ਸੋ ਥਾਇ ਪਾਏ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਕਿਛੁ ਥਾਇ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥੨੬॥: Gurmukh bolahi so thaai paae. Manmukh kishu thaai n paaee ||26|: One who has become the Gurmukh, what he speaks is approved (by the Guru/God). What the Manmukh says is not approved (ਪਰਵਾਨ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੁੰਦਾ). ||26|| (sgss 758).
  • ਮਨੁ ਮੈਗਲੁ ਸਾਕਤੁ ਦੇਵਾਨਾ ॥: Manu maigal saakat devaanaa: The mind of the Saakat is like a crazy elephant (sggs 415).
Engaging in Spiritual discussion and argument with a non-devotee is also a Kusang. There is a tendency on part of Manmukhs to get engaged in such discussions and arguments with sincere aspirants. However, the scriptures advice the seekers to refrain from such temptation. The danger here is that, due to the stubbornness or fanaticism of the Manmukh, an immature aspirant may become agitated and loose his mental calmness in the process. In the 19th Paurree of the Bani popularly know as Asa Di Var - pronounced Aasaa Dee Vaar - Baabaa Nanak says:
  • ਮੂਰਖੈ ਨਾਲਿ ਨ ਲੁਝੀਐ ॥੧੯॥: Moorkhai naal na lujheeai ||19||: Don’t argue with a fool ||19|| (sggs 473).
The Gurbani compares Manmukh's activities at religious places with that of a stork and a crow. For example, a Manmukh goes to a religious place for his own selfish and greedy agenda. Therefore, his sitting at a religious place is no different than the stork's phony Samaadhi (meditational stance).
  • ਇਕਿ ਅਪਣੈ ਸੁਆਇ ਆਇ ਬਹਹਿ ਗੁਰ ਆਗੈ ਜਿਉ ਬਗੁਲ ਸਮਾਧਿ ਲਗਾਈਐ ॥੩॥ ਬਗੁਲਾ ਕਾਗ ਨੀਚ ਕੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਜਾਇ ਕਰੰਗ ਬਿਖੂ ਮੁਖਿ ਲਾਈਐ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਮੇਲਿ ਮੇਲਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਹੰਸੁ ਕਰਾਈਐ ॥੪॥੪॥: Ik apanai suaai aai bahahi Gur aagai jiou bagul samaadhi lagaaeeai. ||3|| Bagulaa kaag neech kee sangat jaai karang bikhu mukh laaeeai. Nanak mel mel prabh sangat mil sangat hans karaaeeai ||4||4||: Some come for their own selfish purposes (motives), and sit before the Gur; they pretend to be in Samaadhi, like storks with their eyes closed.  The stork and the crow like the lowly association. (Even if some come for their own selfish purposes to the Gur) but after leaving they feed on a carcass of poison (Maya). Pray Nanak: O God, unite me with the Sangat (True Association...), United with the Sangat, (from stork and the crow) I will become a swan - Hans ||4||4|| (sggs 881).
The pastime of a Saakat is to create troubles in the family, organization, group, religion, community, etc. The thorn of egotism has punctured his heart so deep that he perpetually burns himself in anger and envy, and becomes like a half-burnt wooden log!

In order to gain power or recognition, a Manmukh will pretend to be the real friend of people. In truth, he is friend of nobody. His mentality is such that he likes to keep the society torn apart. Because of his demoniac activities, a Manmukh has no time for True Sangat, Naam Simran, or Jap (Understanding of the Gurbani...). Instead, he loves gossip, slandering, hurting those who are Good, feeling good about stealing from others, and so on. A Manmukh likes to be served by others all the time; for he believes only in "taking" rather then "giving".

A Manmukh is a stubborn fanatic. Due to his mental ailment of duality, he creates frightening concepts such as a separate God of Muslims, a separate God of Christian, a separate God of Sikhs, a separate God of Hindus, so on and so forth. To him a Sikh soul is different than a Christian soul or a Hindu soul or a Muslim soul, etc. Thus, a Manmukh sows the seeds of hatred, animosity, and dissatisfaction in the human society. Accordingly, the world history is soaked with wars, holocaust, innocent blood; all in the name of religion and God. In this fallen condition, the Manmukh commit mistakes through their Mann (mind or thought), Bachan (speech or word), and Karma (body or deeds).

  • ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕ੍ਰਮ ਰਸ ਕਸਹਿ ਲੁਭਾਨਾ ॥: Man bach kram ras kasahi lubhaanaa.: In thought, word and deed, he (the puppet of Maya) is attached to the sweet and tangy flavors. (sggs 487).
  • ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕ੍ਰਮ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਨ ਨਹੀ ਗਾਏ ਯਹ ਜੀਅ ਸੋਚ ਧਰਉ ॥੧॥ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਕਛੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਪਸੁ ਜਿਉ ਉਦਰੁ ਭਰਉ ॥: Man bach kram Hari gun nahee gaae yah jeea soch dharaou ||1|| Gurmati suni kashu giaan n upjio pasu jiou udar bharaou: In thought, word and deed, I have not sung the Lord’s Praises; this thought worries my mind. ||1|| Despite listening to the Gurmati (Shabad-Giaan, Divine Teaching of the Gur-Shabad, etc.), (if) no spiritual wisdom (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਕੁਝ ਭੀ ਸੂਝ) wells up within (me); (then it would be) like a beast (routinely) filling its belly (sggs 685).
Turning Away From Kusang

Why do we need to turn away from Kusang? Based on the Gurbani's Wisdom, it is clear that the Kusang causes perversion of the intellect. In turn, the perverted intellect brings Spiritual downfall of the individual being. Accordingly, the first thing a seeker needs to do is to set his intellect or vision right. For that he needs to turn away from the bad association (Kusang). As indicated in the Gurbani, the one who keeps the company of the Kusang is like feeding himself on the carcass of poison (Maya)!

We are warned by theGurbani that even a few moments of Kusang can mean an irreparable Spiritual loss to an aspirant. However, in spite of such stark reminder, most of us keep living all our lives with Kusang; thus inflicting an unimaginable amount of Spiritual damage on to us! Therefore, the Gurbani reminds us that every moment passed in God's forgetfulness (i.e., Kusang or Manmukh life) should be felt like Soul's death and, hence regretted.

Therefore, the Gurbani reminds us that Kusang (on'e own Mamukh lifestyle or otherwise) is responsible for man's Spiritual downfall (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਬਰਬਾਦੀ). Having said that, it should not come surprising to us as to why the Gurbani has laid so much emphasis on avoiding as well taking "roundabout turn" from Kusang.

  • ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਕੀਜਈ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਜੇ ਕਾ ਪਾਰਿ ਵਸਾਇ ॥: Saakat Sang na keejaee piaare je kaa paari vasaai. O Dear! As far as it is in your power, do not associate with the Saakat. (sggs 641).
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਸਿਉ ਮੁਖਿ ਜੋਰਿਐ ਅਧ ਵੀਚਹੁ ਟੂਟੈ ॥: Saakat siou mukh joreeai adhveechahu tootai: Friendship with the Saakat is false-dissolved half-way (ਤੋਵ ਨਹੀ ਨਿਭਦੀ) (sggs 811).
In order to make us appreciate the damaging potency of Kusang, the Gurbani has compared it with common worldly objects such as soot, garlic, and a black blanket. For example, if we touch a vessel stained with soot, some of the soot is bound to stick to us. Similarly, if we come in contact with garlic, we can not avoid its smell. By washing a black blanket, can we make it white?
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਦੂਰਹਿ ਜਾਈਐ ਭਾਗਿ ॥ ਬਾਸਨੁ ਕਾਰੋ ਪਰਸੀਐ ਤਉ ਕਛੁ ਲਾਗੈ ਦਾਗੁ ॥੧੩੧॥: Kabeer saakat sang na keejeeai doorahi jaaeeai bhaag. Baasan kaaro parseeai taou kish laagai daag ||131||: Kabeer, do not associate with the Saakat; run far away from them. If you touch a vessel stained with soot, some of the soot will stick to you ||131|| (sggs 1371).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਕਰੀਐ ਸਾਧ ਕੀ ਅੰਤਿ ਕਰੈ ਨਿਰਬਾਹੁ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਹੋਇ ਬਿਨਾਹੁ ॥੯੩॥: Kabeer sangati kareeai saadh kee anti karai nirabaahu. Saakat sa(n)g na keejeeai jaa te hoi binaahu ||93||: Kabeer, associate with the Holy (within), who will take you to Nirvaana in the end. Do not associate with the Saakat; that would ruin (your Spiritual Life and peace) ||93|| (sggs 1369).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਸਾਕਤੁ ਐਸਾ ਹੈ ਜੈਸੀ ਲਸਨ ਕੀ ਖਾਨਿ ॥ ਕੋਨੇ ਬੈਠੇ ਖਾਈਐ ਪਰਗਟ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਦਾਨਿ ॥੧੭॥: Kabeer saakat esaa hai jaise lasan kee khaan. Kone baithe khaayeeyai pragat hoyi nidaan ||17||: Kabeer, the Saakat is like a piece of garlic. Even if you eat it sitting in a corner, it becomes obvious to all ||17|| (sggs 1365).
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਕਾਰੀ ਕਾਂਬਰੀ ਧੋਏ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਸੇਤੁ ॥੧੦੦॥: Saakat kaaree kaambaree dhoi hoi n setu ||100||: The Saakat is like a black blanket, which does not become white by being washed ||100|| (sggs 1369).

We all are making mistakes from the time immemorial. In addition, we are overpowered by the charming Maya. This is the pathetic state of conditioned Jeeva (individual being). Can we escape from it? Yes. By abiding constantly in the Divine Teaching (Aatam-Giaan...), we can escape it. In other words, if we are sincere in our pursuit of the Truth, then there is a way — take a roundabout turn from all types of Kusang. Are we willing to bite the bullet? Choice is ours.

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਜਗੁ ਕਾਜਲ ਕੀ ਕੋਠਰੀ ਅੰਧ ਪਰੇ ਤਿਸ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਹਉ ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ਤਿਨ ਕਉ ਪੈਸਿ ਜੁ ਨੀਕਸਿ ਜਾਹਿ ॥੨੬॥: Kabeer jag kaajal kee kotharee andh pare tis maahi. Haou balihaaree tin kaou paisi ju neekas jaahi ||26||: Kabeer, the world is a room filled with black soot (ignorance, Maya...); the blind fall into its trap. I am a sacrifice to those who are thrown in, and still escape ||26|| (sggs 1365).
  • ਉਲਟੀ ਰੇ ਮਨ ਉਲਟੀ ਰੇ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਸਿਉ ਕਰਿ ਉਲਟੀ ਰੇ ॥: Ulatee re man ulatee re. Saakat siou kar ulaee re ..: Turn away, O my mind, turn away. Turn away from the Saakat. (sggs 535).
  • ਛਾਡਿ ਮਨ ਹਰਿ ਬਿਮੁਖਨ ਕੋ ਸੰਗੁ ॥: Shaad mann har bimukhan ko sang: O mind, do not even associate with those who have turned their backs on the Lord (sggs 1253).
  • O Lord, you may send me to hell if you like, but never let me have association with an evil person (Tulsi Daas).
After taking a roundabout turn from the Kusang, where do we go? According to the Gurbani, we must go and join the Satsang, the True Association. That's where the inner transformation from Manmukh to Gurmukh takes place.
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਪਲਟਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਤੀ ਸਾਜਿ ਸੀਗਾਰਿ ॥: Gurmukh hovai su paltiaa Hari raatee saaj seegaar: The one who has become the Gurmukh, turns away (from Maya...), and makes the decoration of being imbued with the love of the Lord (Aatam-Giaan...). (sggs 785).
  • ਸੁਰਤੀ ਕੈ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਚਲਿ ਕੈ ਉਲਟੀ ਨਦਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸੀ ॥: Suratee kai maaragi chali kai oulatee nadari pragaasee: Following the path of Intuitive Awareness, one turns away from the world (Maya), and one's vision is Enlightened (sggs 1329).
  • ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਉਲਟੀ ਹੋਵੈ ਗਿਆਨ ਰਤਨੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਤਾਹਾ ਹੇ ॥੨॥: Gur parasaadee ulatee hovai giaaan ratan Sabad taahaa he ||2||: By Grace of the Gur-Giaan, one turns away from the world (Maya), and attains the Jewel of Shabad (Naam) ||2|| (sggs 1056).
  • ਐਸੋ ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਬਰਨਿ ਨ ਸਾਕਉ ਗੁਰਿ ਪੂਰੈ ਮੇਰੀ ਉਲਟਿ ਧਰੀ ॥੧॥: Eso Hari ras baran n saakaou Gur poorai meree ulat dharee ||1||: Such is the sublime Essence of the Lord, that I cannot describe. The Perfect Gur (Giaan...) has turned me away from the world (Maya) ||1|| (sggs 823).
  • ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਮਨੁ ਉਲਟੋ ਮਰੈ ਜੇ ਗੁਣ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਨਾਲਿ ॥: Man mahi man ulto marai je gun hovahi naal: The (lower) mind turns inward, and merges with the (Higher) Mind, when it is with Virtue (sggs 935).

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org