THE GURBANI'S BELIEF PATTERNS ON THE NATURE OF GOD

ਜਿਉ ਆਕਾਸੈ ਪੰਖੀਅਲੋ ਖੋਜੁ ਨਿਰਖਿਓ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥ ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਮਾਝੈ ਮਾਛਲੋ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਪੇਖਣੋ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥੨॥ ਜਿਉ ਆਕਾਸੈ ਘੜੂਅਲੋ ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਭਰਿਆ ॥
ਨਾਮੇ ਚੇ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਬੀਠਲੋ ਜਿਨਿ ਤੀਨੈ ਜਰਿਆ ॥੩॥੨॥: As the path of a bird’s flight across the sky cannot be seen. As the path of a fish
through the water cannot be seen. ||2|| As the mirage leads one to mistake the sky for a pitcher filled with water
(more we move towards the mirage-water, we never find its limit or end) — so is God, says Naam Dev,
who fits these three comparisons (i.e., He cannot be completely described; He is Infinite -
His Limits cannot be found; etc.) ||3||2|| (sggs 525).
<><><><>

The SGGS (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) places great emphasis on direct and personal experience of God, within..

As indicated in the SGGS, the personal experience of God is not to be accomplished through intellectual or clever devices but through truthfully living Spiritual Life (the Gurmukh Lifestyle), devoid of intellectual corruption of the Haume (false ego-sense).

  • ਅਕਲ ਕਲਾ ਨਹ ਪਾਈਐ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਅਲਖ ਅਲੇਖੰ ॥: Akal kalaa nah paaeeai prabh alakh alekham: God is not found by intellectual or clever devices; He is Unseeable and Incalculable (sggs 1098).

Religions and people have all sorts of concepts regarding the form of God (Akaar-ਅਕਾਰ, shape, structure, appearance, figure ...). Many of these concepts are not only weird, but also laughable (ਹਾਸੇਹੀਣ).

The words of the Gurbani are abrupt, concise, direct, immensely profound but simple, terse yet potent — cutting to the core and wasting no effort on nonessentials (e.g., rituals, external robes...).

These deep yet plain words are able to trigger shifts in our egocentric mind, producing pointed and fine intellect (Viveka Budhi) coupled with conviction and faith about our Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...), leading to intense and direct abidance in our Jot-Saroop right here where we are. The Truth revealed in the Gurbani is thus meant to annihilate our outgoing senses or body-consciousness (Haumai, Manmukh lifestyle, Mayadhaaree lifestyle, Saakat lifestyle, deluded lifestyle ...) and jolt us into Awareness of our Mool, within.

The Gurbani seems to have the most realistic and commonsense definition of the form of God, which, in nutshell, is Formless — without form-shape-color (without "Roopu - ਰੂਪੁ", "Raekh - ਰੇਖ", and "Rangu - ਰੰਗੁ"). Out of many verses, a few verses are cited below:

  • ਰੂਪੁ ਨ ਰੇਖ ਨ ਰੰਗੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਗੁਣ ਤੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਭਿੰਨ ॥: ("Prabh") has no form, no shape, no color; "Prabh" is beyond the three qualities (sggs 283).
  • ਪਰਮ ਤੰਤ ਮਹਿ ਰੇਖ ਨ ਰੂਪੁ ॥: The Supreme Essence of the Reality has no shape or form (sggs 952).
  • ਤਿਸੁ ਰੂਪੁ ਨ ਰੇਖ ਅਦਿਸਟੁ ਅਗੋਚਰੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਅਲਖੁ ਲਖਾਇਆ ॥: He has no form or shape; He is unseen and imperceptible (to the senses). The Gurmukh inscribes (delineate, realizes...) the Invisible (sggs 448).
  • ਵਰਨਾ ਚਿਹਨਾ ਬਾਹਰਾ ਲੇਖੇ ਬਾਝੁ ਅਲਖੁ ॥: The Invisible (Principle) is without color, mark, and beyond calculation (sggs 1289).
  • ਆਦਿ ਮਧਿ ਅੰਤਿ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੰ ॥: “Nirankaar” was in the beginning, (who) is in the middle, and (who) will be in the end (sggs 250).
  • ਆਪਿ ਅਲੇਪਾ ਨਿਰਗੁਨੁ ਰਹਤਾ ॥੩॥: (He) Himself remains unattached, and without attributes (i.e., Jot, the state of Sunn Smaadh - beyond the influence of the three qualities of Maya, ਅਕਾਰ ਰਹਿਤ ...). ||3|| (sggs 387).

A few terms in the foregoing verses are pretty significant:

"Roopu - ਰੂਪੁ" ~ Form, Akaar-ਅਕਾਰ, shape, structure, appearance, figure, look, etc.
"Raekh - ਰੇਖ" ~ Shape, line, mark, feature, etc.
"Rangu - ਰੰਗੁ" ~ Color, mode, complexion, etc.
"Adistu - ਅਦਿਸਟੁ" ~ Invisible, unseen, etc.
"Agocharu -ਅਗੋਚਰੁ" ~ Imperceptible to the senses, perceivable, etc.
"Alakhu - ਅਲਖੁ" ~ Invisible, not perceived by the senses, etc.
"Chihanaa - ਚਿਹਨਾ" ~ Mark, symbol, etc.
"Nirankaaram - ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੰ” ~ Formless Principle, Attributeless Spiritual Factor, ਅਕਾਰ ਰਹਿਤ, etc.
"Nirgunu - ਨਿਰਗੁਨੁ” ~ Without attributes (i.e., Jot or Light, the state of Sunn Smaadh — both Jot and Sunn Samaadh are beyond the influence of the three qualities of Maya, ਅਕਾਰ ਰਹਿਤ, etc.

Furthermore, this Eternal Essence is mentioned throughout the Gurbani to be Unmanifest, Timeless, Undying, Unborn, Changeless, Formless, Inaccessible (by the physical senses), Unreachable or Unapproachable (by the physical senses), Unrivaled or Incomparable, Imperceptible, Unconquerable, Invisible, Inscrutable, Infinite, Unfathomable , Immaculate, Limitless, Unbounded, Unattired, Impalpable, Inimitable, Immovable, Uncreated, Detached, and so on.

The Gurbani thus time and again elaborates on the term "Akaal Moorti-ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ" (the Timeless or Undying Form) that appears in the very first line of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) which encapsulates the Essence of the Divine Message.

Clearly, as defined by the Gurbani, the Eternal Principle is subtler than the subtle, smaller than the smallest, near than the nearest, and also the most vast, beyond the reach of our bodily or Mayaic senses (including our conditioned or doubt-ridden mind).

Simply put: Since God is beyond form-shape-color (i.e., "Roopu - ਰੂਪੁ", "Raekh - ਰੇਖ", and "Rangu - ਰੰਗੁ"), He is beyond religions. Thus, there is no such thing as an exclusive God of each religion, "there yonder" or "up there"!

To say it otherwise, there is no separate God of Sikhs, or a separate God of Muslims, or a separate God of Hindus, or a separate God of Christians...

In other words, there is no such thing as a separate Sikh Soul, a separate Christian Soul, a separate Muslim Soul, a separate Hindu Soul, a young Soul, an old Soul, a rich Soul, a poor Soul, a higher Soul or a lower Soul, religious Soul or an atheist Soul, and so on. The Gurbani believes in "Oneness" Gobind In Me Is Gobind In All.

Now, the question is: Where is this Timeless and Formless Subject located?

We humans can see a shape with our physical eyes ONLY if that shape has these qualities: form-shape-color (i.e., "Roopu - ਰੂਪੁ", "Raekh - ਰੇਖ", and "Rangu - ਰੰਗੁ") .

Since, for example, "Roopu - ਰੂਪੁ" is under the influence of the three qualities of Maya, it is time bound (ਕਾਲ ਰੂਪ) thus perishable.

  • ਬਿਨਸੈਗੋ ਰੂਪੁ ਦੇਖੈ ਸਭ ਦੁਨੀਆ ॥: (Your) beauty will vanish, as the whole world watches (sggs 325).

However the Spiritual Factor mentioned in the Gurbani is not perishable because He is without form-shape-color (i.e., without "Roopu - ਰੂਪੁ", "Raekh - ਰੇਖ", and "Rangu - ਰੰਗੁ") or Maya, thus unbounded by time — Timeless. This is also the reason we humans cannot see Him outside with our physical eyes which are inflicted with the cataract of Maya. Accordging to the Gurbani, if not Alert, man being the slave to the senses, he is lured by them towards the gross objects of their liking.

  • ਉਰਝਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਇੰਦ੍ਰੀ ਰਸ ਪ੍ਰੇਰਿਓ ਬਿਖੈ ਠਗਉਰੀ ਖਾਵਤ ਹੇ ॥੧॥: (Man) lured in the pleasures of the senses is eating poison (of Bikaars, sense-objects, etc., ||1|| (sggs 821).
  • ਰਤਨੁ ਰਾਮੁ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਕੇ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਓ ॥: The Jewel (of Raam) is deep within the Heart, (but the mind entangled in Maya) does not have any Knowledge of Him (sggs 703).
  • ਭੂਲਿਓ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਉਰਝਾਇਓ ॥ ... ਰਤਨੁ ਰਾਮੁ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਕੇ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਓ ॥: The mind strayed (from true spiritual way) is entangled in Maya. The Jewel (of Raam) is deep within the Heart, (but the mind entangled in Maya) does not have any Knowledge of Him (sggs 703).
  • ਮਨੁ ਚੰਚਲੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਜਾਣੈ ॥: The fickle mind does not know the way (process, method, sacred precept...). (sggs 415).

Understandably, the Gurbani time and again reminds us not to look for Him outside, because our eyes cannot perceive something that has no form-shape-color (i.e., without "Roopu - ਰੂਪੁ", "Raekh - ਰੇਖ", and "Rangu - ਰੰਗੁ"). Instead, the Gurbani teaches us to search within — not just look within but search within! Thus, the Gurbani frees us from the outer domination

  • ਤੂ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਗੁਪਤੁ ਵਸਹਿ ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤੀ ਤੇਰਾ ਭਾਉ ਨ ਬੁਝਹਿ ਗਵਾਰੀ ॥: (O Lord!) You dwell, hidden, within the Heart day and night; but the fools do not understand how to Love You. (sggs 607).
  • ਜਾਤਿ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਮਹਿ ਜਾਤਾ ਅਕਲ ਕਲਾ ਭਰਪੂਰਿ ਰਹਿਆ ॥: Your Light ("Joti") fully and incessantly permeates bodies, and (You) are seen (known, realized...) in that Light (sggs 469).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਵਸੈ ਨ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਜਾਇ ॥: (God) abides within; do not go outside looking for Him (sggs 728).
  • ਪੁਹਪ ਮਧਿ ਜਿਉ ਬਾਸੁ ਬਸਤੁ ਹੈ ਮੁਕਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਜੈਸੇ ਛਾਈ ॥ ਤੈਸੇ ਹੀ ਹਰਿ ਬਸੇ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਖੋਜਹੁ ਭਾਈ ॥੧॥: Like the fragrance which remains in the flower, and like the reflection in the mirror,"Hari" dwells deep within. (Therefore) search for Him within your own heart, O brother. ||1|| (sggs 684).
  • ਸਭ ਕਿਛੁ ਘਰ ਮਹਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਟੋਲੈ ਸੋ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਹੀ ॥: (The Divine Virtues, Wisdom, Spiritual tranquility, Naam, Shabad, Amrit, Prabh, ਆਤਮਕ ਸੁਖ…) all that is within the Heart-Home; not outside. Who searches outside is deluded by doubts (sggs 102).
  • ਕਾਇਆ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਆਪੇ ਵਸੈ ਅਲਖੁ ਨ ਲਖਿਆ ਜਾਈ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਮੁਗਧੁ ਬੂਝੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭਾਲਣਿ ਜਾਈ ॥: (Prabhoo) Himself dwells within the (Inner) body; (but) He is Invisible and cannot be seen. The foolish Manmukh does not understand (this mystery), (consequently) he goes out searching outside (sggs 754).
  • ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਖੋਜਤ ਹਮ ਫਿਰੇ ਮੇਰੇ ਲਾਲ ਜੀਉ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਅੜਾ ਘਰਿ ਆਏ ਰਾਮ ॥: I wandered around, searching in the ten directions, O my dear beloveds, but I came to find "Hari" within my own body (sggs 542).
  • ਵਿਚਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਨਗਰ ਲਧਾ ਹਰਿ ਭਾਲੀ ॥: Searching within the (Inner) body-village, I have found "Hari" (sggs 1134).
  • ਖੋਜਤ ਖੋਜਤ ਨਿਜ ਘਰੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: Seeking and searching, I have found (God) deep within the Home of my own Being (sggs 181).
  • ਮਨ ਮੇਰਿਆ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਤੇਰੈ ਨਿਧਾਨੁ ਹੈ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਵਸਤੁ ਨ ਭਾਲਿ ॥: O my mind, the Treasure is within you; do not search for it on the outside (sggs 569).
  • ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਖੋਜਿ ਘਰੈ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: Searching my body and mind, I found Divine within the Home of my own Heart (sggs 1129).
  • ਆਪੁ ਖੋਜਿ ਖੋਜਿ ਮਿਲੇ ਕਬੀਰਾ ॥: By searching and searching (his Mool within), Kabeer merged (in his Mool). (sggs 1159).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਵਸਤੁ ਮੂੜਾ ਬਾਹਰੁ ਭਾਲੇ ॥: Deep within (the body) is the secret (the Lord and His Naam), but the fool looks for it outside (sggs 117).
  • ਬਾਹਰੁ ਭਾਲੇ ਸੁ ਕਿਆ ਲਹੈ ਵਥੁ ਘਰੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਭਾਈ ॥: Baahar bhaale su kiaa lahai vathu gharai andar bhaaee: Searching outwardly, what can anyone find? O brother, the Commodity is deep within the body (sggs 425).
  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਢੂਢਤ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਘਰਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਘਟ ਮਾਹੀ ਜੀੳ ॥: By searching around on the outside, you will only suffer great pain; Amrit (Immortality) is found within the Home of your own Being (sggs 598).
  • ਹਉ ਢੂੰਢੇਂਦੀ ਸਜਣਾ ਸਜਣੁ ਮੈਡੈ ਨਾਲਿ ॥: I was seeking and searching for my Friend-God, but my Friend-God is right here with me (sggs 1318).
  • ਜਿਸੁ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਹੰਉ ਢੂੰਢਿ ਢੂਢੇਦੀ ਸੋ ਸਜਣੁ ਹਰਿ ਘਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: That God I was seeking and searching without, I have found Him within my body (sggs 572).
  • ਮੈ ਖੋਜਤ ਖੋਜਤ ਜੀ ਹਰਿ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਸੁ ਘਰੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: I searched and searched, and found the Immovable and Unchanging Reality within my body (sggs 785).
  • ਵਿਣੁ ਕਾਇਆ ਜਿ ਹੋਰ ਥੈ ਧਨੁ ਖੋਜਦੇ ਸੇ ਮੂੜ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥: Vinu kaaiaa ...| (sggs 309).

Not only that, the Gurbani tells us it's also difficult ("Akath-ਅਕਥ") to explain Truth (Sach-ਸਚ) because of the fact that the Truth is without form-shape-color (i.e., without "Roopu - ਰੂਪੁ", "Raekh - ਰੇਖ", and "Rangu - ਰੰਗੁ")

  • ਆਖਣਿ ਅਉਖਾ ਸੁਨਣਿ ਅਉਖਾ ਆਖਿ ਨ ਜਾਪੀ ਆਖਿ ॥: It is difficult to explain (Truth, Naam...); it is difficult to listen to it. It cannot be explained with the mouth (sggs 1239).

The outgoing senses will affect us so long we identify with the form-shape-color-name (i.e., Maya, I-am-the-body-idea, body-consciousness, I-am-ness, "Roopu - ਰੂਪੁ", "Raekh - ਰੇਖ", and "Rangu - ਰੰਗੁ" …). As a result, it will be difficult to break out of the shell of doubt (Bharam).

  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਵਸੈ ਨ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਜਾਇ ॥: God abides within; do not go outside looking for Him (sggs 728).
  • ਘਟ ਹੀ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਤੇਰੈ ਤੈ ਖੋਜਤ ਉਦਿਆਨਾ ॥: The Immaculate Lord is within your Heart, and yet you search for Him in the wilderness (sggs 632).
  • ਕਾਇਆ ਮਹਲੁ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਘਰੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਮਹਿ ਰਾਖੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਅਪਾਰ ॥: The (Inner) body is Hari’s Mansion, Hari’s Temple, and Hari’s Home; Hari has infused His Infinite "Joti" or Light into it (sggs 1256).
  • ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਬਸਤ ਰਿਦ ਮਹਿ ਖੋਰ ॥: My Beloved lives in the cave of my Heart (sggs 1121).
  • ਆਤਮ ਮਹਿ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਾਮ ਮਹਿ ਆਤਮੁ ਚੀਨਸਿ ਗੁਰ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ॥: Aatam mahi Raamu … (sggs 1153).

Hence the Gurbani teaches that there is nowhere to go but inside step within, and search inside. Understandably, the Gurbani's edict is that those who have become Gurmukhs search Him within, while Manmukhs just wander around perplexed by delusion, doubt, insanity ...:

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਕਾਇਆ ਖੋਜੈ ਹੋਰ ਸਭ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਈ ॥: One who becomes the Gurmukh searches within his body; all others just wander around in confusion (sggs 754).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅੰਦਰੁ ਨ ਭਾਲਨੀ ਮੁਠੇ ਅਹੰਮਤੇ ॥ ਚਾਰੇ ਕੁੰਡਾਂ ਭਵਿ ਥਕੇ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਤਿਖ ਤਤੇ ॥: Deluded (cheated, etc.) by self-conceit, the Manmukhs do not search within their own selves. (Due to) burnt by desire (of Maya...) within, they grow weary wandering in the four directions (sggs 1093).
  • ਹਉ ਵਾਰੀ ਜੀਉ ਵਾਰੀ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੀ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵਣਿਆ ॥ ਤਿਸੁ ਰੂਪੁ ਨ ਰੇਖਿਆ ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਦੇਖਿਆ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਅਲਖੁ ਲਖਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: I am a sacrifice, my soul is a sacrifice, to those who meditate on the Naam of the Formless. He has no form or shape; (But) He is seen within each and every Heart. That Invisible (Parmaatam) can only be seen by becoming the Gurmukh. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 130).

Now, how can such Dynamic Spiritual Energy which is without form-shape-color (i.e., without "Roopu - ਰੂਪੁ", "Raekh - ਰੇਖ", and "Rangu - ਰੰਗੁ") be realized? The Gurbani tells us that this task — the purpose of human life — can be to accomplished through the Shabad, here and now:

  • ਹਰਿ ਜੀ ਸੂਖਮੁ ਅਗਮੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਤੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਕਟੀਐ ਅਚਿੰਤੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥੧॥: "Hari" is subtle and inaccessible (unfathomable, etc.); by what process (we) can met (Him)? When the doubt is dispelled (from within the mind) through the Gur-Shabad, "Achint" (Hari, Parmaatam) always remains (remembered) in the mind. ||1|| (sggs 756).
  • ਰੂਪੁ ਨ ਰੇਖਿਆ ਮਿਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਭੇਦਿ ਪਤੀਆਇਦਾ ॥੯॥: (Parmaatam) has no form, no shape, no limit, no price. (Who gets his mind) pierced through the Shabad, believes (trusts). ||9|| (sggs 1034).
  • ਨਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਰੂਪ ਵਰਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਰੇਖਿਆ ਸਾਚੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਨੀਸਾਣੁ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: (Parmaatam) has no form, no color and no shape; He is realized through the Shabad. ||Pause|| (sggs 597).
  • ਦਿਨਸੁ ਨ ਰੈਨਿ ਬੇਦੁ ਨਹੀ ਸਾਸਤ੍ਰ ਤਹਾ ਬਸੈ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰਾ ॥ ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਨਰ ਤਿਸਹਿ ਧਿਆਵਹੁ ਬਾਵਰਿਆ ਸੰਸਾਰਾ ॥੪॥੪॥੩੭॥: Says Kabeer! O crazy-men of the world, reflect on the Formless ("Hari") which dwells where there is neither day nor night, and neither Vedas nor Shaastras (i.e., He is Realized in that Spiritual State which is beyond Maya; beyond scriptures ...). ||4||4||37||(sggs 484).

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org