ਗਿਆਨ ਹੀਣੰ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਪੂਜਾ ॥ ਅੰਧ ਵਰਤਾਵਾ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ॥:
Giaan heenam agiaan poojaa. Andh vrtaavaa bhaaou doojaa (sggs 1412).

The Gurbani time and again reminds us that false (perishable) are body, wealth, and all worldly relations; false are ego-sense, possessiveness and Maya; false are power, youth, wealth and property; false are lust, anger, greed, emotional attachment, pride, deception, self-conceit, enviousness and stubborn mindedness; false are clothes, the love of gathering wealth, and reveling in the sight of it. False are the ears which listen to the slander of others; false are the hands which steal the wealth of others; false are the eyes which gaze upon the beauty of another’s wife; false is the tongue which enjoys delicacies and external tastes; false are the feet which run to do evil to others; false is the mind which covets the wealth of others; and false is the nose which inhales corruption.

The Gurbani further tells us that without the Intuitive Understanding of the Gur-Shabad (Spiritual Wisdom, Aatam Giaan), even one's own body and life is false, hence useless. In essence, as indicated in the Gurbani, any worship devoid of Intuitive Wisdom (throrough Understanding of the Gurmat or the Gurbani) would constitute the worship of ignorance or duality (Maya) only.

  • ਗਿਆਨ ਹੀਣੰ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਪੂਜਾ ॥ ਅੰਧ ਵਰਤਾਵਾ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ॥: Giaan heenam agiaan poojaa. Andh vrtaavaa bhaaou doojaa: Bereft of Spiritual Wisdom, (people) worship ignorance. In the love of duality (in love of Maya, their) conduct or behavior (keeps them mentally blind or ignorant of their spiritual life). (sggs 1412).
  • ਬਿਰਥਾ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨਾ ਤਨੁ ਅੰਧ ॥ ਮੁਖਿ ਆਵਤ ਤਾ ਕੈ ਦੁਰਗੰਧ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਿਮਰਨ ਦਿਨੁ ਰੈਨਿ ਬ੍ਰਿਥਾ ਬਿਹਾਇ ॥ ਮੇਘ ਬਿਨਾ ਜਿਉ ਖੇਤੀ ਜਾਇ ॥: Birthaa naam binaa tanu andh ...: Useless is the body of the spiritually blind, without the Name of the Lord (Naam: Giaan). From his mouth, a foul smell (of ignorance, Bikaar, falsehood...) issues forth. Without the Simran (of the Naam, his), day and night pass in vain, like the crop which withers without rain (sggs 269).
Among all that we see, there is only one thing True (Permanent or Imperishable) - our Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...). Accordingly, His loving devotional worship (Prema-Bhagti) is also True. In this context, this Gurbani Reflection will attempt to reflect on the following:
  • What's worship?
  • Who's fit to be worshipped?
  • What's the Samaggree (ingredients or articles) of worship?
  • How's this worship performed?
  • Why worship at all?
Worship Defined

First, let's find out what is not worship. Worship is not what we generally understand by this word, for our perception of worship is only that which we have collected from the complex ritualistic displays witnessed all along in the various religious places and ceremonies. This is a business or beggary at an altar! It is not in this sense that the term "worship" is used in the Gurbani. Due to misunderstanding or due to understanding only worldly meaning of the Gur-Shabad, thus, the worship has lost its meaning and significance, and has become, as a great one puts it: "synonym for a kind of soul-killing, character-running, and impotency-breeding."

Under the spell of Cosmic delusion (ignorance, false ego, Maya, etc.), a conditioned mind believes that the worship is in just reciting Gurbani in a mechanical way, visiting sacred shrines of pilgrimage, performing unmeaning ritual services with great pomp and ceremonies, wearing ceremonial religious marks on the perishable body, taking ritual cleansing baths at sacred shrines, wearing religious robes, saying prayers, engaging in debates and arguments, worshiping idles, sitting like a stork pretending to be in Samaadhi, wearing rosary around the neck, covering head, wearing two loin cloths or special shorts, making sacred Mudras (ritualistic hand gestures), wearing saffron robes, abandoning home and family, wandering in foreign lands, splitting ears, begging from door to door, cooking own food in fanaticism, making pompous shows in all sorts of religious undertakings, visiting tombs or crematoriums, self-mortification, and so on. Is this the true worship? No, emphatically says the Gurbani.

  • ਨਿਰਜੀਉ ਪੂਜਹਿ ਮੜਾ ਸਰੇਵਹਿ ਸਭ ਬਿਰਥੀ ਘਾਲ ਗਵਾਵੈ ॥: Nirajeeo poojahi marraa sarevahi sabh birathee ghaal gavaavai: Those who worship lifeless stones and serve the tombs of the dead; all their efforts are useless (sggs 1264).
  • ਪੜਿ ਪੁਸਤਕ ਸੰਧਿਆ ਬਾਦੰ ॥ ਸਿਲ ਪੂਜਸਿ ਬਗੁਲ ਸਮਾਧੰ ॥ ਮੁਖਿ ਝੂਠ ਬਿਭੂਖਣ ਸਾਰੰ ॥ ਤ੍ਰੈਪਾਲ ਤਿਹਾਲ ਬਿਚਾਰੰ ॥ ਗਲਿ ਮਾਲਾ ਤਿਲਕੁ ਲਿਲਾਟੰ ॥ ਦੁਇ ਧੋਤੀ ਬਸਤ੍ਰ ਕਪਾਟੰ ॥ ਜੇ ਜਾਣਸਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰ ਕਰਮੰ ॥ ਸਭਿ ਫੋਕਟ ਨਿਸਚਉ ਕਰਮੰ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਹਚਉ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਬਾਟ ਨ ਪਾਵੈ ॥੧॥: Parri pusatak sandhiaa baadam ...: (Brahmin) reads (religious) books, say his prayers, and then engage in debate (with others); He worships stones and sit like a stork, pretending to be in Samaadhi. With his mouth he utters falsehood, but he presents (that falsehood) like precious ornaments; he recites the three lines of the Gayatri (a Mantra located in the Rig Veda) three times a day. Around his neck is a rosary, and on his forehead is a sacred mark; he keeps two loin cloths, (and at the time of prayer) he (covers) his head with a cloth. If (this Brahmin) knew the nature of God, you would know that all (his) beliefs and rituals are in vain. Says Nanak, meditate with deep faith (only this Way is beneficial); without the Satgur (ਸਚ ਦਾ ਗਿਆਨ, Knowledge of Truth...), no one finds (this) Way. ||2|| (sggs 1353).
  • ਸਾਸਤ ਸਿੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਬੇਦ ਚਾਰਿ ਮੁਖਾਗਰ ਬਿਚਰੇ ॥ ਤਪੇ ਤਪੀਸਰ ਜੋਗੀਆ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਗਵਨੁ ਕਰੇ ॥ ਖਟੁ ਕਰਮਾ ਤੇ ਦੁਗੁਣੇ ਪੂਜਾ ਕਰਤਾ ਨਾਇ ॥ ਰੰਗੁ ਨ ਲਗੀ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਤਾ ਸਰਪਰ ਨਰਕੇ ਜਾਇ ॥੫॥: Saasat Simrit bed chaar mukhaabar bichaare ...: People may recite by heart the Shaastras, the Simritees and the four Vedas; they may be ascetics, great, self-disciplined Yogis; they may visit sacred shrines of pilgrimage and perform the six ceremonial rituals, over and over again, performing worship services and ritual bathings. Even so, if they have not embraced love for the Supreme Lord, then they will surely go to hell || 5|| (sggs 70).
  • ਵਰਤੁ ਨੇਮੁ ਨਿਤਾਪ੍ਰਤਿ ਪੂਜਾ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਸਭੁ ਭਾਉ ਹੈ ਦੂਜਾ ॥੭॥: Varat nem nitaaparti poojaa. Bin boojhai sabh bhaaou hai doojaa ||7||: Without genuine understanding of the Divine, all fasts, religious rituals and daily worship services are just love of duality ||7|| (sggs 841).
  • ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ ਸ੍ਵਾਂਗੁ ਧਰਿ ਭੂਲੇ ਭਟਕਾ ਖਾਹਿ ॥੧੩੫॥: Dekhaa dekhee swaang dhar bhoole bhatakaa khaahi: (People) look at one another (ਸਾਂਗ ਬਣਾ ਕੇ, ਨਕਲ ਕਰ ਕੇ...), and wear religious robes, but they are deluded and lost (from the true Way of life-ਸਹੀ ਰਾਹ ਤੋਂ ਖੁੰਝੇ ਹੋਏ ਇਹ ਲੋਕ ਭਟਕਦੇ ਹਨ). ||135|| (sggs 1371).
In the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS), the worship is defined as the expression of selfless Love (Bhagti) for the One Truth. In nut shell, for a Sikh, Bhagti (also spelt Bhakti ) is to recieve the Gur-Giaan (Gurmat....).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਮਤਿ ਤੂੰ ਲੇਹਿ ਇਆਨੇ ॥ ਭਗਤਿ ਬਿਨਾ ਬਹੁ ਡੂਬੇ ਸਿਆਨੇ ॥: Gur kee mati toon lehi iaane. Bhagti binaa bahu doobe siaane: You ignorant fool, take the Gurmat (Aatmic-Giaan, Gur-Giaan, Shabad-Vichaar...); without Bhagti, even many clever have drowned. (sggs 288).
  • ਏਕਾ ਭਗਤਿ ਏਕੋ ਹੈ ਭਾਉ ॥: Ekaa bhagti eko hai naaou: Devotional worship of the One Lord is the expression of lovefor the One Lord. (sggs 1188).
  • ਅਨਿਕ ਪੂਜਾ ਮੈ ਬਹੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਖੋਜੀ ਸਾ ਪੂਜਾ ਜਿ ਹਰਿ ਭਾਵਾਸਿ ॥: Anik poojaa mai bahu bidhi khojee saa poojaa ji hari bhaavaasi: I have studied countless ways of worship in all sorts of ways, but that alone is the real (ਸ੍ਰੇਸਟ) Bhagti, which is pleasing to the Lord (i.e. Gurmat-Aaatam-Giaan...). (sggs 1304).
Worship of the Supreme is an ocean of Intuitive Peace, which rises from the selfless Naam-Simran (Shabad-Vichaar, Aatmic-Giaan, etc.) performed and lived constantly. In other words, by the constant and earnest contemplation on the Gurmat (Aatam Giaan...), when we, from our lower nature (false-ego), uplift ourselves to a Higher Consciousness is worship. Thus, it is sublime!
  • ਸਹਜ ਸਿਫਤਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨਾ ॥ ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਸਚੁ ਥਾਨਾ ॥: Sahaj siphat bhagti tat giaanaa. Sadaa anand nihchalu sachu thaanaa: Through the Praises (performed in Sahaj-ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ), Bhagti, and the Essence of Giaan, Eternal Bliss and the Imperishable True Place (ਉੱਚੀ ਆਤਮਕ ਅਵਸਥਾ) are obtained (sggs 237).
Who Is Fit To Be Worshipped?
  • ਜਪਿ ਮਨ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਅਰਧਾਂਭਾ ॥: Jap man raam naam ardhaanbhaa : O mind! understand the Raam Name; (this) Naam alone is worthy of adoration (sggs 1337).

In the above verse, the word "ਅਰਧਾਂਭਾ" (Ardhaanbhaa) is very significant. It simply means "worthy of worship or fit to be worshipped". Thus, according to this verse, Divine Name (Naam: Aatam Giaan of the Gurbani...) alone is worthy of worship.

  •  ਪੂਜਾ ਕੀਚੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਈਐ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਪੂਜ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Poojaa keechai naam dhiaaeeai bin naavai pooj n hoi ||1||Rahaaou||: Contemplate on the Naam. This is the Poojaa that should be performed. For without the Naam, there is no Poojaa ||1||Pause|| (sggs 489).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਹੋਰ ਪੂਜ ਨ ਹੋਵੀ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲੀ ਲੋਕਾਈ ॥੭॥: Bin naavai hor pooj na hovee bharami bhulee lokaaee ||7||: Without the Naam, there can be no other "Pooj". (Without Naam) the world wanders or goes in stray in doubt. ||7|| (sggs 910).
The Samaggree Of Worship

After reflecting on the true worship and worshipped, now the question is: what Samaggree or ingredients He is to be worshipped with? Is He to be worshipped with external articles such as flowers, incense, water, food, fire, lamps, useless religious rituals and garbs, designer's Rumaalaas (cloths), fancy bed (Manjee) or Chowar (fan), mechanical and insincere recitation of the Gurbani, precious decorations, selfish chanting, temple buildings (full of corruption and falsehood...), Yogic postures, etc.? No, says the Gurbani.

  • ਕਾਲੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਜੋਗੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਸਤ ਕਾ ਢਬੁ ॥ ਥਾਨਸਟ ਜਗ ਭਰਿਸਟ ਹੋਏ ਡੂਬਤਾ ਇਵ ਜਗੁ ॥: Kaal naahee jog naahee naahee sat kaa dhab. Thaanasatt jag bharisat hoy doobahaaiv jag: No, no, this is not the time, when people know the way to Yoga and Truth. The holy places of worship in the world are polluted, and so the world is drowning. (sggs 662).
  • ਬਧੇ ਕਰਨਿ ਸਲਾਮ ਖਸਮ ਨ ਭਾਣਿਆ ॥: Badhe karan salaam khasam na bhaaniyaa: Those who merely perform rituals of worship are not pleasing to their God (sggs 143).
  • ਧੂਪ ਦੀਪ ਨਈਬੇਦਹਿ ਬਾਸਾ ॥ ਕੈਸੇ ਪੂਜ ਕਰਹਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਦਾਸਾ ॥੩॥ ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਅਰਪਉ ਪੂਜ ਚਰਾਵਉ ॥: Dhoop deep naeebedahi baasaa. Kaise pooj karahi teree daasaa. Tan man arpaou pooj charaavaou: Even with incense, lamps, offerings of food and fragrant flowers, how are Your Bhagt to perform Your Pooj (with these contaminated stuff)? ||3|| (sggs 525).
One filthy or gross object cleanses another similar object. For example, soap can remove dirt from clothes. In the same way, only the subtle works on the subtle. As the our Mool is subtle, his true worship is also subtle; hence, the Samaggree has to be subtle as well. Therefore, the foremost among the ingredients of worship include Aatam Giaan (ਆਤਮ ਗਿਆਨ) attained from thoroughly Understanding the Gurbani (Shabad-Vichaar).
  • ਥਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਤਿੰਨਿ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੋ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕਾ ਪਇਓ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਸਭਸੁ ਅਧਾਰੋ ॥ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਖਾਵੈ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਭੁੰਚੈ ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਹੋਇ ਉਧਾਰੋ ॥: Thaal vich tin vastoo paeeio sat santokh veechaaro. Amrit Naam Thaakur kaa paio jis kaa sabsu adhaaro. Je ko Khaavai je ko bhunchai tiskaa hoi udhaaro (sggs 1429).
The Way Of Worship

After reflecting on the worship, worshipped, and the instrument of worship, now let's attempt reflecting on the way in which God is to be worshipped. In general, the worship is of two types: external and internal.

The example of external worship may include paying money in a business like manner to Gurdawaaraa (or other houses of God), Paathees (professional readers), professional priests, and so on, for the page to page reading of the scriptures; occasional attending of congregation here and there; counting beads or meditating for few minutes a day; occasional bringing of hired Bhais, Granthees, Raagees or Gianis into one's house for Kirtan or reading of the scriptures; going on pilgrimage; performing ritual rites and ceremonies; praying for material objects; giving alms in selfishness or pride; and so on. Such worship has only limited value if any; for it only increases the fire of false ego — corruption, falsehood, ignorance, and duality.

  • ਕਿਆ ਜਪੁ ਕਿਆ ਤਪੁ ਸੰਜਮੋ ਕਿਆ ਬਰਤੁ ਕਿਆ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਨੀਐ ਭਾਉ ਭਗਤਿ ਭਗਵਾਨ ॥੨॥: Kiaa japu kiaa tapu sanjmo kiaa barat kiaa isnaanu || Jab lagu jugti n jaaneeai bhaaou bhagti bhagwaan ||2||: Jap, Tap, Sanjam, fasting, and cleansing bath are of no use until the Way of the Lord's Loving Bhagti is known (or understood). ||2|| (sggs 337).
  • ਭਗਤਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਮੂਰਖ ਆਪੁ ਜਣਾਵਹਿ ॥: Bhagati karahi moorakh aap jnaavahi: The fools perform devotional worship by showing off (sggs 159).
As the Lord dwells within as the Mool (Source, Origin, Jot...), the Gurbani indicates that it is the internal worship (or Intuitive Bhagti) which is the most sublime; for it purifies the mind by destroying all ignorance completely. The nature of internal worship include undivided Reflections o the Gur-Shabad to Realize the true Aatam Giaan (Divine Knowledge ).
  • ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਖੋਜੇ ਤਾ ਨਾਉ ਪਾਏ ॥ ਧਾਵਤੁ ਰਾਖੈ ਠਾਕਿ ਰਹਾਏ ॥: Tan man khoje taa naaou paae. Dhaavat raakhe thaak rahaae: Search your body and mind, and find the Name. Restrain your wandering mind, and keep it in check. Night and day, sing the the Gurbani; worship God with Intuitive Devotion (sggs 110).
  • ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਆਤਮ ਮਹਿ ਸੋਧੈ ॥: Raam Naamu aatam mahi sodhai (sggs 274).
Performed within, by dedicating the body (physical senses) and the mind (ego-sense), the internal worship is sewing the Pure Love of the Mool into the mind. If the Divine Love does not get sewed to the mind, then that worship will not do much good; hence useless.
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਤਾਗੇ ਬਿਨੁ ਸੂਈ ਆਨੀ ਮਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਭਗਤੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਸੀਵਨਾ ॥੫॥ ਮਾਤਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਰਸ ਮਹਿ ਰਾਤੇ ਤਿਸੁ ਬਹੁੜਿ ਨ ਕਬਹੂ ਅਉਖੀਵਨਾ ॥੬॥: Bin taage bin sooyee aanee amn har bhagti sang seevnaa ||5||.: Sew devotional worship to the Lord into the mind, without any needle or thread. ||5|| Imbued and intoxicated with the sublime essence of the Divinity, this experience will never wear off again |6|| (sggs 1019).
Clearly, the main actor in this internal worship is none other than the mind (Antahakaran or internal subtle equipment).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਮਨ ਮੂਏ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: Bin man mooye bhagti na hoyi: Without subduing the mind, devotional worship cannot be practiced. (sggs 1277).
Why Worship?

Does God care if one worship Him or not? Not at all; for it does not make a least difference to His greatness! The sun is self-illumined, it does not need light of a lamp to illumine itself!

Those who have experienced the true nature of the Divine Essence intuitively feel thrilling, vibrating, ecstatic, awe-striking, wonder-striking, and intoxicating with the Divine Love and Grace. Their Teaching tries to convince us that the same Mool can be realized by anybody in this very life, "here" and "now". Therefore, the Gurbani explains that the human life is a rare opportunity for finding the answer to the riddle "Who Am I?". Therefore, it should not be wasted meaninglessly. If we take a chance to pass on this supreme opportunity, we surely face the danger of gliding down again into the repeated suffering.

There is no oil in a piece of rock. Similarly, there is no meaning to human life without making sincere efforts for Spiritual Realization. The ultimate aim of human life is to link to the Mool within, which, according to theGurbani, is attained through the Intuitive Devotion (Understanding of thr Gurmat -Aatam Giaan).

As revealed by the Gurbani, the benefit of the Intuitive Worship performed within the Heart are: Enlightenment, liberation from material bondage (Maya), one remains Jeevanmukta or dead while yet alive.

  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਸਦਾ ਹਰਿ ਧਿਆਏ ਏਹਾ ਭਗਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਭਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੭॥: Gur kai Shabad sadaa hari dhiaae ehaa bhagti Hari bhavaniaa ||7||: Through the Shabad, meditate forever on the Lord. This devotional worship is pleasing to the Lord ||7|| (sggs 122)

— T. Singh