The following Shabad of Baabaa Nanak is listed in Rag Aasaa on page (Pannaa or Ank) 472 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). The accompanied English translation of this Shabad is one of the translations available in the market or on the internet. There seems to be a much deeper message than the one that initially appears in this worldly or dictionary sense translation.
The foregoing Gur-Shabad highlights some important points to ponder over, such as:
Let's try reflecting on these through the Gur-Shabad, which showcases these points in many subtle ways.
First, the Gurmat (Aatam Giaan of the Universal Teaching of the Gurbani) disapproves rituals outrightly. This Gur-Shabad is an indication of how the crux of rituals are absolutely repudiated (Khandan) in the Gurmat from which Baabaa Nanak got us out of.
ਜੇ ਮੋਹਾਕਾ ਘਰੁ ਮੁਹੈ ਘਰੁ ਮੁਹਿ ਪਿਤਰੀ ਦੇਇ ॥: Je mohaakaa gharu muhai gharu muhi pitaree dei:
Briefly, the fake and empty ritual of making offerings (food, etc.) to "Pitaree" (ancestors, dead family members, generations, etc.) is also known as Shraadh, shradh, Siraadh, etc. It is performed after the death of one’s family members or at their death aniversary. Although this practice is mainly prevalent in Hindus, but, strangely enough, Sikhs can also be seen taking part in it and practicing it!.
Owing to our foolishness, selfishness, greed, desires, Trishnaa, cravings, Kaam, etc., many of us don't hesitate to steal, plunder, or take what rightfully belongs to another. Further, the majority of us give or make offerings in hope for sanctifying corrupt living, ill-gotten wealth, or to show off our superficial religiosity.
For example, first some of us may amass wealth with dishonest means, then — in a futile bid to sanctify it — we may utilize some of the ill-gotten wealth in making offerings to the dead family members, giving to the religious institutions, building temples, building hospitals, Langar distribution (free common kitchen); and so on. Bigger the offering or donation, bigger the corruption behind it! This is an indication of one trapped in the mode of ignorance-passion (Taamas-Raajas), which covers the Truth and Wisdom. In this mode whatever one does is neither good for him nor for anyone else.
According to the Gurmat, this all is refutable. Why? The answer lies in the fundamental instructions of the Gurmat. First of all, stealing, plundering or taking what rightfully belongs to another is revoked in the Gurmat. Second, offering made to dead family memebers, worshipping them or their tombs is also revoked in the SGGS. So, if someone so acts it would constitute acting contrary to the the Gurmat.
ਅਗੈ ਵਸਤੁ ਸਿਞਾਣੀਐ ਪਿਤਰੀ ਚੋਰ ਕਰੇਇ ॥: Agai vasatu sinjaaneeai pitaree chor karei:
The Gurbani indicates here that when one offers plunder to others, he also makes them plunderers — he also makes them partners in his act of plundering. As an English idiom goes, he is simply "robbing Peter to pay Paul"! According to Gurmat, it's not right.
In other words, the Gurbani is telling us to give or make offerings intelligently. Otherwise — if the act of giving is performed unintelligently, ignorantly or foolishly — the effects will come back to haunt one! None can escape; for we reap as we sow. When performed unintelligently, the act of giving inflates one's false ego-sense or Haume (false pride, stubborn mindedness, envy, attachment, lust, greed, anger etc.). It is this false ego-sense which then begins to think that by giving it has become noble or virtuous. So the Gurbani wants us to use intelligence in giving as well as in reading (Bani):
Clearly, the Gurbani does not support the notion that while giving one should not be concerned too much about whether it was utilized only by the deserving. The Gurbani urges us to live intelligently (Bibek Budhi) when we response to worldly situations. Also, the Gurbani hints us here that whatever may be one's offering, what matters is the attitude of one's heart.
But how can such a life of Truth be followed? The Gurbani tells us that we must become the Gurmukhs (followers of the Truth and truthful living...). For only the Gurmukh possesses a real discerning intellect or Bibek Budhi! Without becoming the Gurmukh, one would not know how to live, or read (Bani), or give intelligently.
ਵਢੀਅਹਿ ਹਥ ਦਲਾਲ ਕੇ ਮੁਸਫੀ ਏਹ ਕਰੇਇ ॥: Vadheeahi hath dalaal ke musafee eh karei:
The dictionary meaning — "The hands of the go-between are cut off; this is the Lord's justice" — does not bring out the gist of this Shabad. To the contrary, it gives rise to the impression that the Lord is having a strong desire for revenge! "Is the Gurbani's God vengeful?", one may ask.
In this context, let's review the Gurmat's instructions. As time and again indicated in the SGGS, the Gurbani's God is not vengeful. The very first line of the SGGS indicates that God is Nirvair — without animosity or vengeance.
Not only that, He is indicated to be the Primal Energy as opposed to being a person or an individual. Further, as repeatedly stated in the SGGS, the Gurbani's God dwells within all of us, equally, and that we are His True Image. That is, in essence, He is us and we are Him ("Soham"). In other words, the Gurbani's God sees Himself as a part of the Whole, and we are also part of This Whole, not separate entities. In nutshell, the Gurbani sees the connection that God and all of us share.
Also, as a matter of fact, hatred and vengefulness exist only in the mind ridden with the false ego-sense (Haume) or duality (Maya). But the Supreme or the state of the mind that has realized the Mool (Source, Origin, Jot...) godhood is indicated to be absolutely beyond Haume. Then how there can be any hatred and vengefulness in it?
Now, just pause for a moment and think how such God who is Formless, Sameness, Absolute Truth, and devoid of animosity or vengeance can cut off someone's hands who is His own True Image! Him cutting off somebody's hands would be same as He is cutting of His own hands! Hence, to suggest that the Gurbani's God is hateful and vengeful doesn't make any sense.
In some traditions, God is generally projected and presented as a vengeful, quick to get angry, judgmental, jealous, capricious, and so on. But that's not the Gurbani's God. Let's make sure we are clear on this. If not, we will further confuse ourselves with regard to the broad, Universal Teaching of the SGGS.
Then what is indicated by this statement: "The hands of the go-between are cut off; this is the Lord's justice"? Simply put, we inflict sufferings upon ourselves through our own actions. How so? When induldged in Mayaic efforts, every individual is answerable to his actions, both good and bad. By this it is understood that each one will have to face the consequences of all Mayaic efforts — the mind punishes itself by its own latent tendencies.
Accordingly, the SGGS time and again tells us that we reap as we sow. In fact this life or the body is likened to a field ("Khet"), in which, our Karma is the seed. We harvest exactly as we sow, no less no more. Whatever seeds of Karma we sow, some sprout tomorrow, some the day after, others only years later. But they will sprout for sure.
This is how we all are held responsible. For further clarification, consider the law of physics, which states that the action and reaction are equal and act in the opposite direction. This law of the physics is a universal fact. Similarly, if there is a cause, there is an effect. In other words, if there is a Karma or action (cause), there is a reaction or result (effect). This is the underlying principle. This is the Order that brings back the results of one's own actions to him. There is no escape from it. Baabaa Nanak says:
Obviously, sooner or later, our Mayaic efforts are bound to catchup with us and bring their rewards to us (i.e., sufferings, misfortunes, etc.). We cannot blame others for it. We are free to blame others or an outside agency as much we want for our sufferings, but that will not change anything.
The Gurbani teaches us personal responsibility. It is easier to throw our responsibility on somebody else. The Gurbani indicates that life is ours and the responsibility is also ours. This is Sanjam — the discipline beyond discipline.
Another important word in this verse is "Dalaal" meaning the paid middleman or the go-between — an agent who is paid a fee or commission for providing a service. Here the SGGS gives a strong admonition not only to plunderers but also to the Pujaaree group (priests: Bhais, Brahmins, Pandits, etc.) who officiate (on behalf of hosts who hire them) and conduct empty religious rituals such as making offerings to the dead. As indicated here in the Gur-Shabad, by conducting such nonsensesical religious rituals and accepting offerings or fees from the host, Pujaarees also become equal partners in the plunder and corruption. But, to the contrary, it is generally witnessed that Pujaarees will do and say anything (e.g., listen to the Ardaas in Gurdwaraa!) to please their hosts in hope for securing return business from them!!
Another point highlighted in the last two verses of the shabad is that whenever imprudent form of giving or offering is made, chances are receivers (Pujaarees, freeloaders, politicians, etc.) will utilize it for nefarious activities to spread trouble in the society or the world. Thus, an unintelligently or imperfectly motivated giving or offering gives encouragement to "satanic life". Wealth in the hands of a fool is worse than the poverty of the learned. There is the saying to the affect that "easy comes easy goes". It's like casting pearls before a frog or a crow!
ਨਾਨਕ ਅਗੈ ਸੋ ਮਿਲੈ ਜਿ ਖਟੇ ਘਾਲੇ ਦੇਇ ॥੧॥: Nanak agai so milai ji khatte ghaale dei ||1||:
This verse highlights the importance of Truth and the truthful living (Gurmukh Lifestyle). Sikhism is a way of life. Therefore, Baabaa Nanak urges us to remember and emphasize three practices in our individual and corporate life: (1) Kirat Karnee, (2) Vand Shaknaa, and (3) Naam Japnaa. First, "Kirat Karnee" is the right way of living which includes honest or truthful way of labor and work side by side with the search of the Truth. Second, "Vand Shaknaa" is giving or sharing. And third is "Naam Japnaa", which is to engage in unbroken Understanding of the Gur-Shabad and living it.
If one so lives a Divine Life, Baabaa Nanak says, "he knows the path". Implication is that if a person does not engage in righteous labor (Kirat Kamaaee) to earn his own living, he is basically a thief. If he does not work to earn his honest living (Kirat Kamaaee) then their is no question of him sharing with others! One can share only what he has! In other words, if one is devoid of "Dharma Dee Kirat Kamaaee", he will remain devoid of the practice of "Vand Shaknaa"! In turn, in the absence of both "Dharma Dee Kirat Kamaaee" and "Vand Shaknaa", he cannot honestly practice Naam Japnaa!
However, we see so many people pullulating all over the world collecting money, etc., in the name of poor and destitute, politics, building this project or that project, and so on. This last verse the SGGS appears to strongly disapprove their actions. It says that giving, sharing, making charity or offerings implies we contribute to the society out of our own truthful earnings (also called Dasaan Nohaan Dee Kirat Kamaaee), not out of money collected or plundered from others.
The person who does not work and make honest earning will have to depend upon others (freeloader!) for basic needs of life like food, clothing, and shelter (ਉੱਲੀ, ਗੁੱਲੀ, ਜੁੱਲੀ) . Consequently, he will compromise his integrity and principles. This is why some easily misappropriate money if they themselves have not worked and earned it. Consider many well known international charities who generally spend over 95 percent of the charity funds on the so called administration cost. Which means only less than 5 pennies out of 100 pennies actually go to the intended recipients (big IF!!).
When the truthful living (Kirat Kamaaee) as recommended in the Gurmat is applied to all our activities (at home, work, etc.), it makes for a more harmonious relation with the external world — society, home, workplace, and so on. Now perhaps we can appreciate as to why Baabaa Nanak thunders forth the following declaration:
As the Gurbani indicates, those who Understand the Gurmat and act accordingly are close or near the Truth, and those who don't Understand are far away from the Truth. For those who don't Understand are confused and cannot act properly. We are here to live in the world, and the Gurbani Guides us how we should live truthfully and intelligently as the Gurmukh (i.e., the Divine Life) and not allow the world to get into us! If we want to emancipate ourselves and "Pitaree", the Gurbanni suggests:
— T. Singh
Updated on Saturday, March 17, 2012 7:34 PM (PST)
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