The Gurbani indicates that each Jeeva’s life (each individual life) in itself is a game (“ਖੇਲ” =Khel, “ਖੇਡ” = Khed…).
We have come into this world to play this game of life. And, we may not remeber, this is not the first time we are playing this game!
- ਖੇਲਤ ਖੇਲਤ ਆਇਓ ਅਨਿਕ ਜੋਨਿ ਦੁਖ ਪਾਇ ॥: Khelat khrlat aaio anik joni dukh paai: Playing and playing (ਫਿਰਦਾ ਫਿਰਦਾ, ਖੇਡਦਾ ਮਲ੍ਹਦਾ…) through countless lives and suffering, I have come (into this present human life). (sggs 261).
Now in this life we have another chance to win this game by defeating our competition.
Who are the players of the contending team in this game of life? That is, who is our competition?
- ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਮੋਹੁ ਜੀਤਹੁ ਐਸੀ ਖੇਲ ਹਰਿ ਪਿਆਰੀ ॥੨॥: Kaamu krodhu lobhu mohu jeetahu aisee khel hari piaaree: Conquer lust, anger, greed and worldly attachment (i.e., all Bikaars…); only such a game as this is dear to Hari. ||2|| (sggs 1185).
As the Gurbani indicates, the players of the opposing team are lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride (and countless variations such as stubbornness, enviousness, selfishness, and so on).
Also called Bikaars (the wicked impulsive mental and material tendencies…), these players of the contending or the opposing teams are fierce fighters. They are the formidable soldiers of the false ego-sense (Haumai, Mayaic-Budhi…), Maya…
In nutshell, competing in this game of life are two opposing forces: Bibek Budhi (discerning intelligence, soul-Consciousness, Soul’s faculties…) and the sense-conscious mind (Mayaic-mind…). The playground of these contending teams or forces is the human life. In this playground, the game is waged between the players (or soldiers) of the Soul’s Pure Nature (Pure Giaan, Virtues-ਗੁਣ…) and the uncontrolled activities of the ignoble or wisdom-blind mind. Thus, every moment in one’s life, there is a Spiritual and psychological game going on between the Soul-nature and the sense-infatuated mind under the delusive influence of the false ego-sense (Haumai).
In order to win the game of life, the Gurbani asks us to defeat the contending team (i.e., lust, anger, greed, etc.). The Gurbani indicates that one wins this game only if he becomes the Gurmukh (i.e., only if he sides with Wisdom or Aatam-Giaan of the Gurbani…). By living the the Gurmukh Lifestyle (Divine Life), one makes sure it’s the Jeeva not the Bikaars that wins the game of life.
- ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜੋ ਨਰੁ ਖੇਲੈ ਸੋ ਜਿਣਿ ਬਾਜੀ ਘਰਿ ਆਇਆ ॥੪॥੧॥੧੯॥: Jan Nanak gurmukhi jo naru khelai so jini baajee ghari aaiaa: O servant Nanak! That person who by becoming the Gurmukh plays this game (of life) wins this game (of life – ਮਨੁਖਾ ਜਨਮ ਸਫਲ ਕਰਕੇ), and returns to his True Home (within: Eternal dwelling, “ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਗੋਵਿਦ ਧਾਮ”…). ||4||1||19|| (sggs 1185).
Otherwise, one will remain a Manmukh (opposite of the Gurmukh) and looses the game of life. The function of Bikaars or Maya’s mighty soldiers is to cover the mind-mirror by placing the “dust” of material contamination on it. As this “dust” thickens, the effulgence of the Divine Light (Mool, Jot…) within dims. The Gurbani reminds us that Bhagti can not be cultivated with a mind covered with “dust” or “filth” of false ego-sense (Haumai), etc.
- ਮਨਮੁਖੀ ਮਨਹਠਿ ਹਾਰਿਆ ਕੂੜੁ ਕੁਸਤੁ ਕਮਾਇ ॥: Manmukhee mannhathi haariaa koorhu kusatu kamaai: The Manmukhs (the self-willed, materialistic, etc.), through stubborn mindedness and the practice of falsehood, lose (the game of life). (sggs 87).
- ਮਨਿ ਮੈਲੈ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥: Mani mailai bhagti na hovaee naamu n paaiaa jaai: With a filthy mind (filth of Haumai…), Bhagti cannot be performed, and the Naam cannot be obtained (sggs 39).
Players are ridiculed who “talk” a good game, but who cannot deliver on the field of play. In other words, one who can only “talk the talk,” and cannot “walk the walk” cannot deliver on the field of play . The Gurbani challenges us to backup our words with action (i.e., live the Gurbani by becoming the Gurmukh…). If we can, then, as the Gurbani promises, we are Home Free.
- ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਤਾ ਕਉ ਪੁਨਰਪਿ ਜਨਮੁ ਨਹੀ ਖੇਲਿ ਗਇਓ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ॥੪॥੨॥੫੩॥: Kahu Kabeer taakaou punarapi janamu nahee kheli gaio bairaagee. (sggs 335).
But, as the Gurbani alerts us, it is a “difficult game” to play. It’s like chewing steel-balls with teeth of wax! Only a Gurmukh can walk on this razor’s edge! The Gurbani says that a Gurmukh who assiduously tries to win this game is very “rare” (i.e., one amongst millions-”ਕੋਟਨ ਮੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਕੋਊ”).
- ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹੁ ਖੇਲੁ ਕਠਨੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਨਹੂੰ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਨਾ ॥੨॥੧॥: Jan Nanak ihu khel kathanu hai kinahoon gurmukhi jaanaa ||2||1||: O servant Nanak! This is such a difficult game; only a rare Gurmukh understands it! ||2||1|| (sggs 219).
However, if willing to abandon “talk the talk,” and instead if willing to “walk the walk” (the Way of the Gurmukh - the Way of the Aatm Giaan or Bibek Budhi of the Gurbani…), then the Gurbani assures us that anybody can become one of those “rare” Gurmukhs. It all depends whether one has the burning desire (ਸਚ ਬੁੱਝਣ ਦੀ ਭੁੱਖ…) to win the game of life!
- ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਨਿਰਾਲਮੁ ਮੁਰਗਾਈ ਨੈ ਸਾਣੇ ॥ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਤਰੀਐ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਣੇ ॥: Jaise jal mahi kamalu niraalamu muragaaee nai saane... (sggs 938).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਜਲਾਏ ॥: Gurmukh hovai su giaanu tatu beechaarai haoumai sabadi jalaaye (sggs 946).