Religious Fanaticism - Part 26:It's Cure:
Instead of Frittering Away, Do Something Good for the Society

Karanee (ਕਰਣੀ-ਆਚਰਨ, Way of life, conduct, practice, actions etc. of individuals) are like the
paper, and the mind is like the ink-pot (ਮਸਵਾਣੀ-ਦਵਾਤ; (inspired by latent tendencies
or ਸੰਸਕਾਰ) anything good and bad one is doing are recorded upon it (on the paper of
Karanee ਕਰਣੀ), giving rise to both (good and bad Sanskaar - ਸੰਸਕਾਰ). (This way) As
individuals past actions (ਕਿਰਤ - one's nature developed by latent tendencies - ਸੰਸਕਾਰ) drive
them, so are mortals driven. O Lord! There is no end to Your Glorious Virtues ||1|| (sggs 990).

Karanee (ਕਰਣੀ) can literally be translated as conduct, practice (ਘਾਲ, ਮਿਹਨਤ, ਕਮਾਈ), Kartoot (ਕਰਤੂਤ), Aacharn (ਆਚਰਨ), Aachaar (ਆਚਾਰ), behavior, performance, action or deed (ਕਿ੍ਯਾ, ਕਰਮ, ਕੰਮ), practice (to act upon: ਕਾਰਜ ਦੀ ਕਿਰਿਆ), something worth doing (ਕਰਨ ਯੋਗ) and so on. In other context, for example, Karanee (ਕਰਨੀ) also indicates "through ears or ਕੰਨੀ " etc.

  • ਕਰਣੀ ਕਾਗਦੁ ਮਨੁ ਮਸਵਾਣੀ ਬੁਰਾ ਭਲਾ ਦੁਇ ਲੇਖ ਪਏ ॥ ਜਿਉ ਜਿਉ ਕਿਰਤੁ ਚਲਾਏ ਤਿਉ ਚਲੀਐ ਤਉ ਗੁਣ ਨਾਹੀ ਅੰਤੁ ਹਰੇ ॥੧॥: Karanee kaagad manu masavaanee buraa bhalaa dui lekh paye. Jiou jiou kirat chalaaye tiou chaleeai taou gun naahee ant hare ||1||: (see meaning above below the title) (sggs 990).
  • ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਦਇਆ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਏਹ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰ ॥ ਆਪੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਸਭ ਹੋਇ ਰੇਣਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਦੇਇ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ ॥੩॥: Sat santokh daiaa kamaavai ih karanee saar. Aap chod sabh hoi renaa jis dei prabh nirankaar ||3||: Practice truth, contentment and kindness; this is the most excellent way of life: Karanee . One who is so blessed by the Formless Lord God renounces selfishness, and becomes the dust of all ||3|| (sggs 51).

There is an another term that is essentially similar in essence: Amal (ਅਮਲ or ਅਮਲੁ). It can literally be translated as deeds (ਕਰਮ, ਆਚਾਰ), to act upon, application, pure conduct (i.e., clean, sinless or stainless), abidance, intoxication, and so on. During his journey of the Middle-East (Mecca etc.), it's said that once Qazis, Maulvis, pilgrims got together and began discussing religion with Baabaa Nanak. They specifically inquired as to who is great, the Hindu or the Muslim? Baabaa Nanak simply stated, "Without Amal (good deeds etc.) both will have to weep and wail. Only by being a Hindu or a Muslim one can not get accepted in the court of the Lord. As the color of safflower is impermanent and is washed away in water, likewise colors of religiosity are also temporary" (Bhai Gurdaas Jee, Vaar 1).

  • ਪੁਛਨ ਗਲ ਈਮਾਨ ਦੀ ...: Pushhan gal eemaan dee kaazee mulaan ikathe hoee...: Qaazi and Maulvees got together and began discussing religion. A great fantasy has been created ( by the Lord) 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 Haajees, that, without Amal (good deeds etc.) both will have to weep and wail. Only by being a Hindu or a Muslim one can not get accepted in the court of the Lord. As the color of safflower is impermanent and is washed away in water, likewise colours 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 Jee, Vaar 1).
  • ਅਮਲੁ ਕਰਿ ਧਰਤੀ ਬੀਜੁ ਸਬਦੋ ਕਰਿ ਸਚ ਕੀ ਆਬ ਨਿਤ ਦੇਹਿ ਪਾਣੀ ॥: Amal kar dharatee beej sabado kar sach kee aab nit dehi paanee: Make good deeds the soil, and let the Shabad be the seed; irrigate it continually with the water of Truth (i.e., become such a farmer, sggs 24).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਉ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਕਾ ਦਿਲਿ ਹਛੈ ਮੁਖਿ ਲੇਹੁ ॥ ਅਵਰਿ ਦਿਵਾਜੇ ਦੁਨੀ ਕੇ ਝੂਠੇ ਅਮਲ ਕਰੇਹੁ ॥: Nanak Naayu Khudaayi kaa dil hachhai mukh lehu. Awar divaaje dunee ke jhoothe amal karahu: O Nanak, chant the Name of God, with heart-felt devotion. Everything else is just a pompous worldly show, and the practice of false deeds (sggs 140).
  • ਫਰੀਦਾ ਵੇਖੁ ਕਪਾਹੈ ਜਿ ਥੀਆ ਜਿ ਸਿਰਿ ਥੀਆ ਤਿਲਾਹ ॥ ਕਮਾਦੈ ਅਰੁ ਕਾਗਦੈ ਕੁੰਨੇ ਕੋਇਲਿਆਹ ॥ ਮੰਦੇ ਅਮਲ ਕਰੇਦਿਆ ਏਹ ਸਜਾਇ ਤਿਨਾਹ ॥੪੯॥: Fareedaa vekh kapaahai ji theeaa ji sir theeaa tilaah. Kamaadai ar kaagadai kunne koiliaah. Mande amal karediaa eh sajaai tinaah ||49||: Fareed, look at what has happened to the cotton and the sesame seed (in the mill), the sugar cane and paper, the clay pots and the charcoal. This is the punishment for those (who frittter their life away chasing worldly objects) who do evil deeds for them ||49|| (sggs 1380).
  • ਅਮਲ ਜਿ ਕੀਤਿਆ ਦੁਨੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੇ ਦਰਗਹ ਓਗਾਹਾ ॥: Amal ji keetiaa dunee vich say dargah ogaahaa: Those actions which are done in this world, will be examined in the Court of the Lord (sggs 1383).
  • ਜੇਵੇਹੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵਦਾ ਤੇਵੇਹੇ ਫਲਤੇ ॥ ਚਬੇ ਤਤਾ ਲੋਹ ਸਾਰੁ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੰਘੈ ਪਲਤੇ ॥ ਘਤਿ ਗਲਾਵਾਂ ਚਾਲਿਆ ਤਿਨਿ ਦੂਤਿ ਅਮਲ ਤੇ ॥ ਕਾਈ ਆਸ ਨ ਪੁੰਨੀਆ ਨਿਤ ਪਰ ਮਲੁ ਹਿਰਤੇ ॥: Jevehe karma kamaavadaa tavehe falate...: According to the deeds which one does, so are the fruits one obtains. If someone chews on red-hot iron, his throat will be burned. (The Jamadoot) puts the halter around his neck and he is led away, because of the evil deeds (bad Amal) he has done. (As he thus) continually steals the filth of others, none of his desires are fulfilled (in other words he loses all) (sggs 317).

In the SGGS, the terms Karanee and Amal generally appear to indicate good deeds or actions (performed in an enlightened consciousness without the intervention of Haume or ego), good conduct or good practice (ਘਾਲ, ਮਿਹਨਾ, ਕਾਰ, ਕਮਾਈ). It's with this spirit these terms are viewed in this Gurbani Reflection as well. Depending upon the quality of our actions, the Law of Karma distributes their results as joy and sorrow. The irony is that in spite of the desire for joy and dislike for misery, there is apparently not much eagerness to align oneself to the true Karanee and Amal ("ਸਚ ਕਰਣੀ", "ਛੁਭ ਅਮਲਾਂ", good deeds etc.), while it is easier to fall into bad Karanee and bad Amal or bad ways of life and wicked deeds ("ਝੂਠੇ ਅਮਲ", "ਮੰਦੇ ਅਮਲ", "ਦੂਤਿ ਅਮਲ", etc.). For example some in their selfishness don't care for the well being and feelings of others. Apparently, such bad conduct cannot be called good "Karanee" and good "Amal". Conversely, some in God-consciousness constantly do good to others (Bhalaa), without expecting anything in return. Such conduct obviously qualified as a good "Karanee" and a good "Amal".

Evidently, the aim of "religiosity" is to awaken spirituality within. In other words, the religious teachings are like the quiver, the bow and the arrow. The real target is spirituality. When this target is missed, religions are reduced to nothing but "Adammbar" (ostentatious displays, etc.), resulting in becoming the vehicles for protecting individual interests (outside forces, etc.), giving rise to problems. However, when the aim is spirituality, Peace and the spirit of Oneness automatically prevail. Thus if one wanders away from the aim, everything fall apart.

  • ਜੇ ਧਨ ਕੰਤਿ ਨ ਭਾਵਈ ਤ ਸਭਿ ਅਡੰਬਰ ਕੂੜੁ ॥: Je dhan kant na bhaavee ta sabh addambar koorr: If (the soul-bride) is not pleasing to her Husband Lord, then all (her) ostentatious displays are false (sggs 19).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਹਭਿ ਅਡੰਬਰ ਕੂੜਿਆ ਸੁਣਿ ਜੀਵਾ ਸਚੀ ਸੋਇ ॥: Nanak habh addambar koorriaa suni jeevaa sachee soi: O Nanak, all ostentatious displays are false; I live hearing the Praises of the True Lord (sggs 707).
  • ਮੈ ਪਤਿ ਕੀ ਪੰਦਿ ਨ ਕਰਣੀ ਕੀ ਕਾਰ ॥ ਹਉ ਬਿਗੜੈ ਰੂਪਿ ਰਹਾ ਬਿਕਰਾਲ ॥: Mai pati kee pand na karanee kee kaar. Haou bigarrai roop rahaa bikaraal (sggs 24).
  • ਜਿਹ ਕਰਣੀ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਸਰਮਿੰਦਾ ਇਹਾ ਕਮਾਨੀ ਰੀਤਿ ॥: Jih karnee hovahi sarmindaa ih kamaanee reeti: You have made it your habit to practice those deeds which will bring you shame (sggs 673).

Apparently, without the good Karanee and good Amal, we are in a great trouble! To save ourselves from troubles, the SGGS advises us to purify our Karanee and Amal by following the Guru's Word with intense love and concentration. The SGGS also indicates the Guru's Karanee ( ਗੁਰ ਕਰਣੀ ਪਰਧਾਨ) to be Pardhaan (supreme, exalted,ਉਤਮ, ਮੁਖੀ, ਸ੍ਰੋਮਣੀ, ect.). In this context, the SGGS says:

  • ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਤ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਜੀਅਹੁ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਕਰਣੀ ਕਮਾਣੀ ॥: Baaharahu taa nirmal jeeahu nirmal satgur te karnee kamaanee: Those who are outwardly pure and also pure within, through the Satguru (Shabad), perform good deeds (sggs 919).
  • ਹਰਿ ਸਜਣੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵਦਾ ਗੁਰ ਕਰਣੀ ਪਰਧਾਨੁ ॥: Har sajan gur sevadaa gur karanee pradhaan: The Guru serves the Lord, His Intimate Friend. The Guru's (this) Karanee is supremely exalted (sggs 21).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵੇ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰੀ ॥: Satgur seve karanee saaree: Serve the True Guru; this is the most excellent (or sublime) action (sggs 842).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪਿਛੈ ਭਜਿ ਪਵਹਿ ਏਹਾ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Satgur pishai bhaj pavahi ehaa karanee saar: Surrender to the Satguru, this is the most excellent action (sggs 143).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਭੇਟੈ ਤਾ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਏ ਸਚੁ ਕਰਣੀ ਸੁਖ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Satgur bhetai taa fal paaye sach karanee sukh saar: (Naam-Simran) is the real action, this is the excellent Sukha, but this fruitful reward is obtained upon meeting the Satguru (sggs 1131).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਕਰਣੀ ਭਉ ਕਟੀਐ ਨਾਨਕ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਪਾਰੁ ॥: Gur kee karanee bhaou katteeai Nanak paavahi paar: Acting in accordance with the Guru, fear is cut away; O Nanak, (if you do the Guru's "Karanee" then you will be) carried across (the ocean of the worldliness or Bhavasaagar) (sggs 1248).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕਰਣੀ ਬਿਨੁ ਭਰਮੁ ਨ ਭਾਗੈ ॥: Gur karanee bin bharam an bhaagai: Doubt is not dispelled without "Karanee" (Way of life) based on the Gur (Giaan, Wisdom). (sggs 1190).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਕਰਣੀ ਹੈ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Gur kaa sabad karanee hai saar: "Karanee" (Way of life based on) the Gur-Shabad is the most excellent (sggs 1345).
  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Gurmat maaniaa karanee saar: Following the Gurmat, "Karanee" (Way of life) becomes the most excellent (sggs 833).
  • ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਭਉ ਊਪਜੈ ਭਾਈ ਭਉ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਚੁ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Gurmatee bhaou oopajai bhaaee bhaou karanee sach saar: O Brother, Under Guru's Teaching, the Fear of God is produced; true and excellent are the deeds done in the Fear of God (sggs 638).
  • ਊਤਮ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥੩॥: Ootam karanee sabad beechaar ||3||: The ultimate action is Reflections on the Shabad - Shabad Vichaar ||3|| (sggs 158).

In addition to doing the Guru's Karanee, other good Karanee or actions indicated in the SGGS include Saadh-Sangat (Holy Company), meditation (Naam-Simran, Jap etc.) eradicating the false ego-sense (Haume), Sevaa (selfless service), praising the Lord, truthfulness, letting the Lord abide in the mind, becoming the Gurmukh (Spiritual Being, Self-realized etc.), and so on. Once we do the Gurmat (to follow the Guru's Teaching), all other virtues such as good Karanee and Amal follow.

  • ਜਿਸੁ ਸਾਧੂ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਤਿਸੁ ਸਭ ਸੁਕਰਣੀ ਜੀਉ ॥: Jis saadhoo sangat tis sabh sukaranee jeeou: Sublime are all the actions of those who join the Saadh-Sangat (sggs 217).
  • ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਉਤਮੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਕਲਿਜੁਗ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Har keerat outam naam hai vich kalijug karanee saar: To chant the Lord's Praise and His Name is sublime and exalted. This is the most excellent deed in this Age of Kali Yuga (sggs 1314).
  • ਜਾਪ ਤਾਪ ਅਨੇਕ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਫਲ ਸਿਮਰਤ ਨਾਮ ॥: Jaap taap anek karanee safal simarat naam: Jap, Tap and various rituals become successful (only) with Naam-Simran, (sggs 502).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੇ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Houmai maare karanee saar: Killing of the ego; this is the most excellent Karanee (sggs 223).
  • ਨਾਮੁ ਹਮਾਰੈ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵ ॥੧॥: Naamu hamaarai Gur kee sev ||1|| (sggs 1145).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਚੇ ਸੇਵਹਿ ਸਾਚੇ ਜਾਇ ਸਮਾਵਣਿਆ ॥: Gurmukh karanee sache sevahi saachae jaai samaavaniaa: By becoming the Gurmukh, one serves the True Lord and blends with Him (i.e., develops Attributes of God) (sggs 113).
  • ਸਚੁ ਕਰਣੀ ਅਭ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਸੇਵਾ ॥: Sach karanee abh antar sevaa: True are my actions, and deep within my being, I serve Him (sggs 224).
  • ਸਾਚੀ ਕਰਣੀ ਪਤਿ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥: Saachee karanee pat paravaan: Those who practice Truth are honored and accepted (sggs 1188).
  • ਸਾਚਾ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਮਨਿ ਵਸੈ ਭਾਈ ਏਹਾ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰ ॥: Saachaa saahib mani vasai bhaaee ehaa karanee saar: Let the True Lord abide in your mind, O brother; this is the most excellent Karanee (sggs 608).
  • ਕਲਜੁਗ ਮਹਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਪਰਧਾਨਾ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਪੀਐ ਲਾਇ ਧਿਆਨਾ ॥: Kalyug mahi kirtan pardhaana. Gurmukh japiai laayi dhiaanaa: The most exalted is the Kirtan in this Kal Yuga. Therefore, Spiritual Beings (Gurmukhs) meditate through it with full atention (sggs 1075).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਰਣੀ ਕਾਰ ਕਰਾਏ ॥: Gurmukh karanee kaar karaaye: By becoming the Gurmukh, (he) does good deeds, an inspires others to do so (sggs 942).

The SGGS urges us to to "blend" with God ("merge" or "obtain" God etc.). This essentially means to develop godly Attributes such as love, compassion, truthfulness, humility, Understanding, Wisdom, and so on, followed by actually living them in daily life — good (Shubh) Karanee and Amal. Mere talking or discussing about Karanee and Amal are empty and leads only to "Adammbar" (ostentatious, etc.) life. Good Karanee and Amal (performed in an enlightened consciousness without the intervention of Haume or ego) gives one the power to smile at death; neutralizes the law of Karma and determines one's future. Evidently, before death overpowers us, we have great things to accomplish by leading the life with good Karanee and Amal, only then will the life become meaningful, full of Bliss (Anand) and Joy.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਗਲੀ ਕੂੜੀਈ ਕੂੜੋ ਪਲੈ ਪਾਇ ॥: Nanak galee koorreeyee koorro palai paai: O Nanak, from false talk, only falsehood is obtained (sggs 141).
  • ਮਤੁ ਜਾਣ ਸਹਿ ਗਲੀ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: Matu jaan sahi galee paaiaa (sggs 24).

Apparently, the message of the Gurmat seems to be that instead of wasting and rusting away without doing good for the society, it's better to wear oneself away in the pursuit of good Karanee and Amal. The Beauty of an individual and of society lies in it. In other words, instead of merely telling or advising others, the SGGS seems to emphasize living the life of good "Karanee" and "Amal" for oneself!

— T. Singh