Don’t Take Anything At Face Value

The Giaan (Divine Knowledge or Wisdom) of the Gurbani protects us from deceit and trickery. Consider the following verse of the Gurbani:

  • ਪਹਿਲਾ ਵਸਤੁ ਸਿਞਾਣਿ ਕੈ ਤਾਂ ਕੀਚੈ ਵਾਪਾਰੁ ॥: First, examine the article, and then, do the trading (sggs 1410).

Three words are very significant in the above verse: “ਵਸਤੁ” (Vasatu), “ਸਿਞਾਣਿ” (Sijhaani) and “ਵਾਪਾਰੁ” (Vaapaaru).

ਵਸਤ (Vasat) => An item, an article, an object, a substance, stuff, material, thing, truth, ਪਦਾਰਥ, ਵਸਤੂ, ਚੀਜ, etc.
ਸਿਞਾਣਾ (Sijhaanaa) => To examine, to verify, ਪਰਖਣਾਂ, ਪਛਾਣਨਾ, ਵਿਚਾਰ ਕਰਨਾ, etc.
ਵਾਪਾਰ (Vaapaar) => Business, trade, endeavor, operation, function, ਵਣਜ, ਸੌਦਾਗਰੀ, and so on.

There is also an idiom in English: Not to take anything at face value. It’s a metaphor. For example, the face value of something is its apparent worth; but its real value may not be the same as its face value. In other words, what something might appear to mean – it’s “face value” – is not exactly what it may actually mean.

Applying this expression from a worldly standpoint, for example, if someone takes something at face value, he is not questioning its apparent worth.

Being street smart from a worldly standpoint is good. However, being street smart from a Spiritual standpoint is also as important (if not more)! So, speaking at the Spiritual level (at the level of Aatmaa-ਆਤਮਾ), the Gurbani says: ਪਹਿਲਾ ਵਸਤੁ ਸਿਞਾਣਿ ਕੈ ਤਾਂ ਕੀਚੈ ਵਾਪਾਰੁ ॥: Pahilaa vasatu sijhaani kai taan keechai vaapaaru (sggs 1410).

The Gurbani is telling this to prompt us to verify for ourselves that what we are being told, taught, or preached is correct.

If we don’t, then we put ourselves in a position to be cheated by the religious con artists, who are pullulating the world for the sake of their hunger for Maya.

For example, professional Pujaaree-Group (Mayadhaaree or Maya worshippers) have different agenda: Greed, money (Golak), revenue, securing return business, bending backward to please the host, etc.!

  • ਅਖੀ ਤ ਮੀਟਹਿ ਨਾਕ ਪਕੜਹਿ ਠਗਣ ਕਉ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: (Cheats, ਪਖੰਡੀ) Close their eyes and hold their nostrils (they do such trickery only) to dupe the world. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 662).
  • ਰੋਟੀਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਪੂਰਹਿ ਤਾਲ ॥: Roteeaa karani poorahi taal (sggs 465).
  • ਅੰਦਰਹੁ ਅੰਨਾ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਅੰਨਾ ਕੂੜੀ ਕੂੜੀ ਗਾਵੈ ॥: Andarahu annaa baharahu annaa koorree koorree gaavai (sggs 960).
  • ਭੁਖੇ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਘਰੇ ਮਸੀਤਿ ॥: Bhuke mulaan ghare maseeti (sggs 1245).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਮੁਹਤਾਜੁ ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥: Maya kaa muhataaju panditu kahaavai (sggs 231).
  • ਕਹਿ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਸਭੈ ਜਗੁ ਲੂਟਿਆ ॥: Kahi Ravidaas sabhai jagu lootiaaa (sggs 794).

Therefore, on account of their greed and love of Maya, the fraudulent Pujaaree-Group will say exactly what people want to hear, not necessarily but the Gurbani wants us to understand-remember-and-observe.

Because of our mind’s own hunger or love for Maya (ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀ ਭੁੱਖ), its pretty easy for the greedy and crafty Pujaaree-Group to deceive or defraud us (ਛਲ-ਕਪਟ), and mislead us further from the Truth of the Gurbani. The Gurbani attest to this as follows:

  • ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਠਗਿਓ ਠਗਿ ਆਈਐ ਜਾਈਐ ॥: The whole world is duped by the cheat (Maya, greed of the false, etc., and consequently it is caught in the cycle of) coming and going. (sggs 147).
  • ਪਾਹਨ ਬੋਰੀ ਪਿਰਥਮੀ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਪਾੜੀ ਬਾਟ ॥੧੩੭॥: Paahaan boree pirathamee pandit paarree baat ||137|| (sggs 1371).
  • ਗਲੀ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਜਪਮਾਲੀਆ ਲੋਟੇ ਹਥਿ ਨਿਬਗ ॥ ਓਇ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਸੰਤ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ ॥੧॥: Galee jinnaah… (sggs 476).
  • ਥਾਨਸਟ ਜਗ ਭਰਿਸਟ ਹੋਏ ਡੂਬਤਾ ਇਵ ਜਗੁ ॥: Thaanasatt jag bharisat hoae doobataa iv jagu (sggs 662).
  • ਮੂਰਖ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਹਿਕਮਤਿ ਹੁਜਤਿ ਸੰਜੈ ਕਰਹਿ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥: Moorakh pandit… (sggs 469).
  • ਤੂੰ ਬਾਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਨੁ ਮੈ ਕਾਸੀਕ ਜੁਲਹਾ ਬੂਝਹੁ ਮੋਰ ਗਿਆਨਾ ॥ ਤੁਮ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਤਉ ਜਾਚੇ ਭੂਪਤਿ ਰਾਜੇ ਹਰਿ ਸਉ ਮੋਰ ਧਿਆਨਾ ॥੩॥੪॥੨੬॥ (482).

No wonder the Gurbani urges to renounce whatever the greedy and crafty Pujaaree-Group (that has made Dharma a business…) has to say. Because, on account of greed, ignorance, or hunger for Maya they are known to instigate controversies and quarrels (ਲੜਾਈ-ਝਗੜਾ) in the world.

  • ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਜੋ ਲਿਖਿ ਦੀਆ ॥ ਛਾਡਿ ਚਲੇ ਹਮ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਲੀਆ ॥੩॥: Pandit mulaan jo likhi deeaa. Chhaadi chale ham kachhoo n leeaa ||3|| (sggs 1159).
  • ਹਮਰਾ ਝਗਰਾ ਰਹਾ ਨ ਕੋਊ ॥ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਛਾਡੇ ਦੋਊ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Hamaraa jhagaraa rahaa na ko-oo. Pandit mulaan shaade do-oo ||1|| Rahaaou || (sggs 1158).

If we accept everything blindly, we will be led towards more doubts; more rituals (Karamkaand), dogmas, etc., which have been rejected several centuries ago by the Guroos and Bhagats. The entire Gurbani attest to that.

The Gurbani’s Giaan ( Spiritual Wisdom) makes one immune from deception, fraud, or trickery: Protects one from being cheated of his Spiritual Wisdom and Spiritual Life (Aatmak Jeevan). The Gurbani tells us that the Gurmukhs are ever absorbed in such Tatt Giaan (ਤੱਤ ਗਿਆਨ-Essence of Spiritual Wisdom…).

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੋ ॥: By becoming the Gurmukh, realize the Essence of the Spiritual Wisdom (Aatam Giaan-ਅਸਲੀ ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ). (sggs 1006).

To the contrary, due to lack or loss of the Gurbani’s Tatt Giaan or Understanding, we get cheated.

  • ਗਿਆਨ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਖੋਇਆ ਠਗਿਆ ਮੁਠਾ ਜਾਇ ॥੧॥: (Whosoever) loses the Giaan Padaarath (Naam-Dhann, Wealth of Spiritual Wisdom…), they depart defrauded and plundered (of their Spiritual Life-ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਲੋਂ…). ||1|| (sggs 60).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਠਗਿਆ ਮੁਠਾ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਵਿਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਪਤਿ ਗਇਆ ਗਵਾਇ ॥੧॥: Nanak thagiaa muthaa jaai… (sggs 142).

14 replies on “Don’t Take Anything At Face Value”

Gurbani guides us from deceitful entrapments, I believe an obvious reason is lack of understanding the true inspirational meaning of the Shabad-Text. Yes, many Katha-vachaks, Kirtani Jathas, preachers and Deras are misleading the innocent Sikhs. As you are making excellent efforts to enlighten the general public about ‘Gurbani’, at the same time if grammatical stance of each word is given, perhaps that would help the readers to understand the composition more clearly, and surely it would change an apparent observations.

Yes, many Katha-vachaks, Kirtani Jathas, preachers and Deras are misleading the innocent Sikhs.

No doubt Ji!

if grammatical stance of each word is given, perhaps that would help the readers to understand the composition more clearly,

Satt Vachan Ji!

Trilochan Singh Duggal Ji, I can’t agree more with you on the need of understanding the grammatcal fcsets of Gurbani. Only on onderstanding these intricaies, does one pay attention to proper pronunciations. Even as a kid, I had always wondered as to why (in Japji Sahib) the first of the four Manne pauris (pauris 12 to 15) starts with Manne while the other three (pauris 13 to 15) start with Mannae. But after understanding the grammar, it became clear that Manne (the one who believes) is noun whereas Mannae (having beleved on) is a sort of verb. There are good youtube videos on Gurbani Vyakaran as well as Proff Sahib Singh’s books that make very good resource. If you know any other useful resources / tips please do share. Trilochan Ji, if possible contact me at I would love to hear more from you on Gurbani Grammar and more.


Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio.

There are good youtube videos on Gurbani Vyakaran

In fact, we have linked two youtube videos in the footer of this site (“external resources”). If you know more such resources, please let us know so we can add that to this list too. Thanks.

“Shabad” means divine knowledge/Giaan.
But people nowadays are so lost in it’s Literal meaning and only trying to obtain one particular “shabad (secret)” from fake derawaad baba ji’s or just reciting on one particular word from Gurbani OR focusing too much on yogic exercises like inhaling (wah) and exhaling(guru) or vice versa.
While Gurbani says… “Jin prem kiyo, tinhi prabh payo”

Thank you Bhai Sahib Harvinder Singh Jio for sharing the Shabad-Vichaar.

“Shabad” means divine knowledge/Giaan.

Thank you!

But people nowadays are so lost in it’s Literal meaning and only trying to obtain one particular “shabad (secret)” from fake derawaad baba ji’s…

Very true!
Thank you again!

I think in this context Kabir Das ji seems to be most smartest thru a Quote as

Kabeer Sahib says in the SGGS:
ਕਬੀਰ ਸਿਖ ਸਾਖਾ ਬਹੁਤੇ ਕੀਏ ਕੇਸੋ ਕੀਓ ਨ ਮੀਤੁ ॥ ਚਾਲੇ ਥੇ ਹਰਿ ਮਿਲਨ ਕਉ ਬੀਚੈ ਅਟਕਿਓ ਚੀਤੁ ॥੯੬॥: Kabeer Sikh sakhaa bahute keeae keso keeaa na meetu. Chaale thae Hari milan kaou beechai atakio cheetu (sggs 1369).
Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio.

Parkash singh ji….SSA!!
There is no need to add “N” with word “Naam”. English and Punjabi are two different languages with different alphabets and can not be mixed up to reflect its meaning.
This letter “u” entirely changes the meaning of the word “naam”
For ex.. ” Ram” and then add “u” to make it “Ramu” (Arth da anarth ho jaanda hai”

Please check out the links below for Gurbani Vyakaran. I learnt so much from these 10-part series videos on youtube in last few months.

That way you would know how to pronounce the words where “aunkarr” is used/not used and their meanings.

During my watching of Gurbani Vyakaran videos on You Tube,,,,,I have concluded that
“aunkarr” and “sihari” are very dominant and play a vital role in understanding Gurbani’s meanings and therefore efforts must be made to understand all applications of
“aunkarr” and “sihari”.

Thanks for adorning us with yet another rare pearl from the inestimable Gurbani treasure.

I have an alternative title for this masterpiece – Be Spritually Street Smart

I have an alternative title for this masterpiece – Be Spritually Street Smart

Very fitting title, indeed: “Be Spritually Street Smart”!
I’ll certainly use it in a future post!
Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio For your Vichaar and sharing.

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