ਸਚੁ ਵਰਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥ ਦਇਆ ਦੇਵਤਾ ਖਿਮਾ ਜਪਮਾਲੀ ਤੇ ਮਾਣਸ ਪਰਧਾਨ ॥:
Sachu varatu santokhu teerathu giaanu dhianu isnaanu.
Daiaa devataa khimaa japamaalee te maanas pardhaan
(sggs 1245).

The word Pardhan (pronounced as Pardhaan) has a general meaning as understood by most of the people (a leader, Aagoo, chief, a distinguished person, etc.), and also a special meaning as indicated by the Gurbani. This Gurbani Reflection will try to understand the significance of this term. Secondly, the discussion is limited to a Spiritual standpoint only. However, the fundamental principles can be applied to other situations as well.

The nuances of right morality or conduct have been nurtured and passed on from generation to generation in practice. The scriptures not only provide us with the guidelines for the proper conduct, they also indicate that the leaders and elders in the society must set an example by their righteous behavior. If they do not conduct themselves righteously or truthfully, then they cannot expect others, especially the young generation, to be virtuous. Therefore, the elderly or the leaders who occupy important positions in the society have to be conscious of their behavior; so they must hold upright conduct. Does this happen? Very rarely! To the contrary, we all routinely hear and read stories or witness scenes such as:

  • Corruption at all levels of the society, including religious places and institutions.
  • Religion, religious places and organizations run and managed by ex-convicts, accused murderers, criminals, crook politicians, corrupt clergy, and so on.
  • Use of violence, guns and swords at religious places.
  • Killing and hurting of fellow devotees by the different factions or groups in the name of religion and God.
  • Stealing of donation money or inappropriate use of funds by Pardhaan and his associates .
  • Use of religious corporations by Pardhaan and his associates to smuggle or bring people (in the garb of Giaanees, Raagees, Granthees, Parchaarak, etc.) from other countries for making money.
  • Money laundering scandals involving Pardhaan and his associates; purchasing personal businesses with the Gurdawaaraa funds — leaving Gurdawaaraa in financial chaos (or any religious place for that matter).
  • Religious places being closed by the Government agencies due to violence, larceny, and swindling charges, resulting in civil and criminal litigation.
  • Religious premises used for inappropriate and vulgar activities by the leaders, Giaanees, Raagees, etc.
  • Sex scandals at religious places.
  • Use of religious places by Pardhaans to promote personal interest, egotistic agenda (i.e., falsehood), power politics, etc.
  • Total disrespect and disregard for the teachings of the scriptures.
  • Struggle for gaining absolute power to control the huge funds, cash donations and assets.
  • Unethical practices to retain control of leadership.
  • Total disregard for dissemination of the scriptures and Dharma in its true perspective.
  • Promotion of blind ritualism, fanaticism, hatred, conflicts, animosity, Jaat-Paat, differences, and communal madness.
  • Cheating and misleading of Sangat or devotees by Pardhaans and their associates.
  • Honoring and glorification of swindlers in the garb of Raagees, Saints, Parchaaraks, etc., by Pardhaans in the presence of Holy Scriptures.
  • If a Pardhaan and his group loose control of a particular Gurdawaaraa (or any other religious place), they split and open up another one, based on their ill feelings and ill intentions rather than a genuine Spiritual cause.
  • Very rarely we hear of some rare individuals performing righteously; but, unfortunately, not too many people want to support such righteous beings.
Clearly, it appears that the people in control of religious places are able to impose their personal agenda or will on others not by the virtue of their Spiritual Wisdom, credibility, ethics, or moral character but because they have behind them some sort of material power or influence (money!). Apparently, such people only want power and recognition without any responsibility such as dissemination of the Gurbani and Dharma in their true sense. They seem to have no genuine interest in the aspirations of the people they represent. Baabaa Nanak thunders:
  • ਅੰਧਾ ਆਗੂ ਜੇ ਥੀਐ ਕਿਉ ਪਾਧਰੁ ਜਾਣੈ ॥ ਆਪਿ ਮੁਸੈ ਮਤਿ ਹੋਛੀਐ ਕਿਉ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ॥: Andhaa aagoo je theeai kiou paadharu jaanai. Aap musai mati hochheeai kiou raahu pachhaanai: If a blind man (blinded by the love of Maya, etc.) is made the leader, how will he know the Way (right Path - ਜੀਵਨ-ਸਫਰ ਦਾ ਸਿੱਧਾ ਰਸਤਾ - etc.). Due to his inadequate understanding (ਹੋਛੀ ਅਕਲ ਦੇ ਕਾਰਨ, lack of Wisdom, etc.), he himself is being plundered (by Maya, evil inclinations - ਵਿਕਾਰਾਂ ਦੇ ਹੱਥੋਂ - etc.); how will (those who follow such a blind or Mayadhaaree leader - ਉਸ ਦੀ ਅਗਵਾਈ ਵਿਚ ਤੁਰਨ ਵਾਲਾ ਵੀ) know the Way? (sggs 767).
  • ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਮੁਰਦਾਰੁ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਅਵਰੀ ਨੋ ਸਮਝਾਵਣਿ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਮੁਠਾ ਆਪਿ ਮੁਹਾਏ ਸਾਥੈ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਐਸਾ ਆਗੂ ਜਾਪੈ ॥੧॥: Koorh boli murdaar khaai. Avree ko samjhaavani jaai. Muthaa aapi suhaae saathai. Nanak esaa aagoo jaapai ||1|| (sggs 140).
What may be the source of such immorality, unrighteousness, untruthfulness, corruption, falsehood, selfishness and degradation of individual beings in the society? Proper understanding of this falsehood-contaminated behavior can be attained if one tries to examine its root cause.
  • ਆਪਿ ਨ ਬੁਝਾ ਲੋਕ ਬੁਝਾਈ ਐਸਾ ਆਗੂ ਹੋਵਾਂ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਅੰਧਾ ਹੋਇ ਕੈ ਦਸੇ ਰਾਹੈ ਸਭਸੁ ਮੁਹਾਏ ਸਾਥੈ ॥ ਅਗੈ ਗਇਆ ਮੁਹੇ ਮੁਹਿ ਪਾਹਿ ਸੁ ਐਸਾ ਆਗੂ ਜਾਪੈ ॥੨॥: Aapi n bujhaa lok bujhaaee esaa aagoo hovaan. Nanak andhaa hoi dase raahai sabhasu muhaae saathai. Agai gaiaa muhe muhi paahi su esaa aagoo jaapai ||2|| (sggs 140).
Defects Of A Conditioned Soul

Essentially, there are two kinds of living beings: (a) Liberated Beings (the Gurmukhs), and (b) conditioned beings (the Manmukhs). Liberated souls are those who have realized the Mool (ਮੂਲ-Source, Origin...), and, hence, have freed themselves from the bondage of the material world. The Gurbani calls such Self-realized souls "Gurmukhs". By becoming Gurmukhs, they have ascended themselves to be situated in their True Nature as Unconditioned Consciousness.

Conditioned souls are those who have their senses, mind, intellect and consciousness contaminated by their emotional attachment to this material  world. To put it otherwise, conditioned souls try to dominate the material nature and become subjected to its effects in the process — lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride, enviousness, stubborn mindedness and suffering from repeated birth and death, etc. The Gurbani calls such bonded beings "Manmukhs", or self-willed, etc.

  • ਇਹੁ ਤਨੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਾਹਿਆ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਲੀਤੜਾ ਲਬਿ ਰੰਗਾਏ ॥: Ihu tanu maya pahiya piaare leetraa labi rangaaye (sggs 721).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜੋਤੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਮਿਲਾਈ ॥: Gurmukhi Jotee joti milaaee (sggs 362).
  • ਅਪਤੁ ਪਸੂ ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਬੇਤਾਲਾ ॥: Aapatu pasoo manmukhu betaalaa (sggs 1029).
A Wise Man always aspires for higher values in life. The assets of such person are: Self-knowledge (Aatam-Giaan, Bibek-Budhi...), exertion, forbearance, steadiness in virtue, detachment from the unreal, righteousness, truthful living, true contentment, compassion, and so on. A conditioned soul, on the other hand, is subjected to defects such as:
  • He is diseased with the propensity to cheat others.
  • He is illusioned he does not know his true position in relation to his Mool (Source, Origin, Reality...). He has taken his physical body as his real Self; consequently, he lives unwisely to fulfill the ever ending demands of his physical body.
  • His senses are contaminated with such imperfect senses, he renders himself unfit to gain Divine Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan...), for the Divine Knowledge is beyond the activities of the defiled senses.
  • Due to such conditioning, he commits mistakes...
It is clear that material conditioning (our love of Maya, ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀ ਭੁਖ...) is the root cause of our problems. Under the spell of such mental delusion, one conditioned being elects another conditioned being as a Pardhaan of Gurdawaaraa, or any other religious/social organization for that matter! The unfailing outcome is chaos, widespread corruption, immorality, selfishness, falsehood and unrighteousness. Unfortunately, these are the very individuals who consider themselves to be the torchbearers of righteousness, truth, spirituality, religion, and morality; as well as the guides for other in the society! Also, such individuals with their instinctive and wisdom-blind mind interpret the Gurbani, and make edicts or decrees for others to follow.
  • ਅੰਧੇ ਕਾ ਨਾਉ ਪਾਰਖੂ ਏਵੈ ਕਰੇ ਗੁਆਉ ॥: Andhe kaa naaou paarakhoo evai kare guaaou (sggs 1288).
  • ਸਰਮੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਦੁਇ ਛਪਿ ਖਲੋਏ ਕੂੜੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਪਰਧਾਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥: Saramu dharamu dui chhapi khaloye koorru phirai Pardhaanu ve laalo (sggs 722).
  • ਜਿਤਨੇ ਸਾਹ ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹ ਉਮਰਾਵ ਸਿਕਦਾਰ ਚਉਧਰੀ ਸਭਿ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਝੂਠੁ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ਜਾਣੁ ॥: Jitne sah paatsah umraav sikdaar chaudharee sabhi mithiaa jhoothu bhaaou doojaa jaanu (sggs 861).
True Qualification Of A Pardhaan

"What is then expected of a Pardhaan?", one may ask. The Gurbani provides us with true and essential qualifications of a Pardhaan. Some of these qualifications include, but not limited to, truthful living, true contentment, Spiritual Wisdom (Aatam-Giaan, Bibek-Budhi...), compassion, righteousness, selflessness, desirelessness, egolessness, forgiveness, constant abidance in God-Consciousness, mind fixed in Shabad-Surti (Aatam-Giaan...), well-conducted, thorough understanding of Gurbani and remembering it with every breath and morsel, obeying Hukam (God's Will...), having true love for the only One, sweet-natured, the Gurmukh, and so on.

  • ਸਚੁ ਵਰਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥ ਦਇਆ ਦੇਵਤਾ ਖਿਮਾ ਜਪਮਾਲੀ ਤੇ ਮਾਣਸ ਪਰਧਾਨ ॥: Sachu varatu santokhu teerathu giaanu dhianu isnaanu. Daiaa devataa khimaa japamaalee te maanas pardhaan (sggs 1245).
  • ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਸੁ ਗਾਇਆ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਤੇ ਊਤਮ ਜਨ ਪਰਧਾਨ ਜੀਉ ॥: Hari hari jasu gaya param padu paya te ootam jan pardhaan jeeou (sggs 446).
  • ਜਿਨਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸਿਉ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇਆ ਸੇ ਪੂਰੇ ਪਰਧਾਨ ॥: Jinaa satigur siou chitu laya se poore pardhaan(sggs 45).
  • ਜਿਨ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਸੇ ਪੂਰੇ ਪਰਧਾਨ ॥: Jin mani vasiaa paarbrahm se poore pardhaan (sggs 45).
  • ਅਚਾਰਵੰਤਿ ਸਾਈ ਪਰਧਾਨੇ ॥: Achaarvant seyee pardhaane (sggs 97).
  • ਪੰਚਮਿ ਪੰਚ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਤੇ ਜਿਹ ਜਾਨਿਓ ਪਰਪੰਚੁ ॥: Panchami panch pardhaan te jih jaanio parpanchu (sggs 297).
  • ਜਿਨਾ ਸਾਸਿ ਗਿਰਾਸਿ ਨ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਸੇ ਪੂਰੇ ਪੁਰਖ ਪਰਧਾਨ ॥: Jin saasi giraasi n visarai se poore purukh pardhaan (sggs 313).
  • ਪੂਰੇ ਤੇ ਪਰਧਾਨ ਨਿਵਾਵਹਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਮਥਾ ॥: Poore te pardhaan nivavahi prabh mathaa (sggs 709).
  • ਸੀਲਵੰਤਿ ਪਰਧਾਨਿ ਰਿਦੈ ਸਚਾਵੀਆ ॥: Seelvanti pardhaan ridai sachaaveeaa (sggs 964).
  • ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਮੁਹਬਤਿ ਇਕ ਸਿਉ ਤੇ ਮਾਣਸ ਪਰਧਾਨ ॥੨॥: Jinhaa muhabati ik siou te manas pardhaan ||22|| (sggs 1102).
  • ਧਨਵੰਤੇ ਸੇਈ ਪਰਧਾਨ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਨਿਧਾਨ ॥੪॥੧੭॥੩੦॥: Dhanavante seyee pardhaan. Nanak ja kai naamu nidhaan ||4||17||30|| (sggs 1144).
  • ਪੰਚ ਪਰਵਾਣ ਪੰਚ ਪਰਧਾਨੁ ॥: Panch paravaan panch pardhaanu (sggs 3).
  • ਜੋ ਜਨ ਲੂਝਹਿ ਮਨੈ ਸਿਉ ਸੇ ਸੂਰੇ ਪਰਧਾਨਾ ॥: Jo jan loojhi manai siou se soore Pardhaanaa (sggs 1089).
Thus, a Pardhaan is a person who has the sense of Oneness. He is a man of character, generosity of heart, mercy, Spiritual Wisdom (Aatam-Giaan, Bibek-Budhi...), true contentment, humility, universal love, moral well-being, valor, eminence, fortitude, efficiency and sense of responsibility, etc. He is free of false ego (Haume), and, thereby, does not get disturbed by criticism, praise, insult, failures, success, likes and dislikes. Without greed and selfishness or any material ambitions, he knows the importance of selfless service (Sevaa) thundered by the Gurbani. He is concerned about responsibility and principles, not about recognition. He is a man of Inner Happiness, who feels he has all he needs.

Therefore, a true, upright, and honest Pardhaan will distinguish himself by exemplary Spiritual Wisdom he will act with vision, righteousness and truth under all circumstances; he is straight forward; he never resorts to falsehood even when compelled by inescapable situations; he keeps the senses under his strict control; he shows restraint and patience; he is kind and charitable; he enshrines the One in his Heart; he observes detachment from all that is unreal; he masters the true meanings of the Gurbani; he does not show jealousy or malice; he feels guilty to do any prohibited act; he refrains from injuring the sentiments of others; he keeps a constant vigil over his mind; he pardons those who attempt to cause him injury, and so on. Anyone who sticks to these rules can be termed as a true Pardhaan or Gurmukh (Spiritual Being)!

Without these true and essential qualities as outlined in the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS), a person is not qualified to be called a Pardhaan. On the contrary, a person lacking such divine qualities is identified in the Gurbani as Manmukh (self-willed, ignorant, material-being...), Saakat (faithless cynics), Kusang (bad company), Aatam-Ghaatee (soul-murderer), Chor (thief), Mayadhaaree (in love with Maya only), Bemukh (nonbeliever), Jhooth or Koorh (false or fake), non-devotee, selfish, demon, beast, idiot, fool, animal, and so on.

  • ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕਉ ਸਿਮਰਹਿ ਸੇ ਪੁਰਖ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ॥: Prabh kaou simarahi se purakh pardhaan (sggs 263).
— T. Singh