Ghost-Pret Defined

The majority of us talk about ghosts and goblin or Bhoot-Pret as heard from manufactured stories, or as seen in movies and t.v. serials, or Pakhand, etc. However we seldom talk about the  Bhoot-Pret that the The Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) talks about!

The SGGS does not believe in the existence of any Bhoot-Pret as heard from manufactured stories, or as seen in movies and t.v. serials, etc. In fact, the SGGS does not believe in the existence of any power other than the One Divine Principle (Universal Energy).

  • ਸਰਬੰ ਸਾਚਾ ਏਕੁ ਹੈ ਦੂਜਾ ਨਾਹੀ ਕੋਇ ॥: There is only the One eternal Divine; there is no other at all. (sggs 660).

If there is “NO OTHER”, then how can there be ghosts and goblin or Bhoot-Pret?

Then, who is the real ghost, goblin, Bhoot or Pret the Gurbani talks about? As the Gurbani asserts, we must find answer from within the Gurbani (“ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਜਾਤੀ”). So, let’s ask the SGGS!

Simply put, man’s animal-nature or Pret- nature or Pret-Joon-Life = the mind’s separation from Aatmak Gun (Virtues), Wisdom, humanity, human nature, Truth (Sach), etc.

Hence, according to the SGGS, the man himself/herself becomes the ghost (Bhoot-Pret) or animal while still living in the body! 

Thus, in nutshell, ghost-Bhoot-Pret-Pasoo = a person’s nature (Viratee).

Accordingly, the Gurbani asserts that the day when a person’s Aatmak Gun (Virtues, Soul-Nature, True Nature, Jot Saroop…), or Wisdom, or humanity – true human nature (ਇਨਸਾਨੀਅਤ), or Truth (Sach) etc. dies, at that day, that person becomes  ghosts and goblin or Bhoot-Pret.

  • ਜਿਤੁ ਦਿਨਿ ਦੇਹ ਬਿਨਸਸੀ ਤਿਤੁ ਵੇਲੈ ਕਹਸਨਿ ਪ੍ਰੇਤੁ ॥: On that day when “Dehee” (subtle body within – Aaatmaa or Aatmak Gun or Virtues, true human nature…) perishes-at that time (that person) is called a ghost. (sggs 134).
  • ਦੇਹੀ ਗੁਪਤ ਬਿਦੇਹੀ ਦੀਸੈ ॥: Dehee (ਦੇਹੀ – subtle body within) is hidden; Bidehee (ਬਿਦੇਹੀ – gross, external body) is seen (sggs 900).
  • ਕਰਤੂਤਿ ਪਸੂ ਕੀ ਮਾਨਸ ਜਾਤਿ ॥: (Those in love with Maya, etc., although they) belong to the human species, but they act like animals (sggs 267).
  • ਨਰੂ ਮਰੈ ਨਰੁ ਕਾਮਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ ॥ ਪਸੂ ਮਰੈ ਦਸ ਕਾਜ ਸਵਾਰੈ ॥੧॥: When man’s human nature (man’s True Nature, humanity or ਇਨਸਾਨੀਅਤ) dies, he is of no use. But when his animal (Pasoo Viratee) nature  dies, he sets right ten affairs. ||1|| (sggs 870). (sggs 870).

In other words, man himself or herself is the biggest “Bhoot” (Pret, ghost, goblin)! The implication is that if a person is attached to Maya and has no interest in acquiring Virtues such as, Truth (ਸਤ), contentment (ਸੰਤੋਖ), mercy (ਦਯਾ), patience (ਧੀਰਜ), Sahaj (ਸਹਜ), Wisdom (ਗਿਆਨ), etc.) then he cannot remain connected with true Bhagti, Naam, Shabd, Hukam,  Gun Gayan (“ਗੁਨ ਗਾਇਨ”)…

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਜਾ ਘਰ ਸਾਧ ਨ ਸੇਵੀਅਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਨਾਹਿ ॥ ਤੇ ਘਰ ਮਰਹਟ ਸਾਰਖੇ ਭੂਤ ਬਸਹਿ ਤਿਨ ਮਾਹਿ ॥੧੯੨॥: O Kabeer! Hearts, in which the “Saadh” (Inner Saadh — Mool, Hari…) is not served (by Giaan-Divine Wisdom; by obeying the Divine Hukam…);. those Hearts are like the cremation ground and demons dwell within them. (sggs 1374).
  • ਕੁਟੰਬ ਜਤਨ ਕਰਣੰ ਮਾਇਆ ਅਨੇਕ ਉਦਮਹ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਭਾਵ ਹੀਣੰ ਨਾਨਕ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਬਿਸਰਤ ਤੇ ਪ੍ਰੇਤਤਹ ॥੧॥: (People) make efforts for his family and puts in many endeavors for the sake of Maya. But they remain devoid of the Divine Bhagti. O Nanak! (Those who) forget Prabh (Mool, Source…) are like ghost. ||1|| (sggs 706).

First off, The Gurbani asserts that any person attached to Maya or without Virtues is a ghost (Bhoot-Pret).

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਪਰੇਤੁ ਹੈ ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥: Attachment to Maya, lust, anger, and egotism is the goblin (ghost, ਪ੍ਰੇਤ, ਭੂਤ…). (sggs 513).
  • ਕਲਿ ਮਹਿ ਪ੍ਰੇਤ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਰਾਮੁ ਨ ਪਛਾਤਾ ਸਤਜੁਗਿ ਪਰਮ ਹੰਸ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥: Those who have not realized Raam (Mool, Prabh, Source, ਮੂਲ…) are “Pret-ਪ੍ਰੇਤ” in “Kali” (mental state of imagination, strife, hunger for Maya…). Those who are established in “Satjugi” (the (mental state of Truth) are the supreme souls, (they) Reflect on (Raam, Hari, Mool…). (sggs 1131).
  • ਕਲੀ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿੰਨਾਂ ਦਾ ਅਉਤਾਰੁ ॥: O Nanak! In “Kalee” (a mental state of imagining or Phurne, doubt, hunger for Maya…), ghosts have taken birth (sggs 556).

Hence, the minds inflicted with Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.) are ugly (“Karoop”) — ghosts (Bhoot-Pret)!

  • ਮਨਹੁ ਜਿ ਅੰਧੇ ਕੂਪ ਕਹਿਆ ਬਿਰਦੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ॥ ਮਨਿ ਅੰਧੈ ਊਂਧੈ ਕਵਲਿ ਦਿਸਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਖਰੇ ਕਰੂਪ ॥: Those (people) whose minds are like deep dark pits (i.e., closed, utterly ignorant or foolish) do not understand the purpose of life, even when it is explained to them. (Because) they are mentally blind (ignorant) and they have their heart lotus inverted (from Dharma, Virtues, Giaan, etc. and their minds) look extremely ugly (“karoop”). (sggs 1246).

However, since we don’t want to be responsible for our own corruption, we create ghosts (Bhoot-Pret) in the sky so that we can pass on our corruption to some other entity in thin air!!

Further, the Gurbani tells us those of us engaged in wickedness also belong to the category of ghosts (Bhoot-Pret).

  • ਕਰਤ ਬੁਰਾਈ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਤੇ ਛਪਾਈ ਸਾਖੀ ਭੂਤ ਪਵਾਨ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Hiding from others, the mortal practices “Buraaee” (wickedness…), but (this wickedness) clings to him like a ghost. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 1202).

In other words, under the sway of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride…), those who pick up strife and conflict and act like crazy are just goblins and ghosts.

  • ਦੁੰਦਰ ਦੂਤ ਭੂਤ ਭੀਹਾਲੇ ॥ ਖਿੰਚੋਤਾਣਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥: Argumentative and terrifying demons of Bikaar reside within (a person who is under the spell of Maya). (These argumentative demons of Bikaar) stir up conflict and strife. (sggs 1031).

Hence, one disconnected from the Truth (ਸੱਚ), or separated from Naam, or broken away from his Mool (Source, Jot, Hari, Saadh, Raam, Gobind, Prabh, Allah…) is the ghost or goblin. Baabaa Nanak stresses that this ghost within our body ruins us.

  • ਜਤੁ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਸੀਲੁ ਨ ਰਾਖਿਆ ਪ੍ਰੇਤ ਪਿੰਜਰ ਮਹਿ ਕਾਸਟੁ ਭਇਆ ॥: You do not practice truth, abstinence, self-discipline or humility; the ghost within your skeleton has become (like a) dry wood. (sggs 906).

In nutshell, man’s duality (Doojaa-Bhaav) is his worst ghost.

Like darkness and light, in nature both duality and non-duality coexists. But the Mayaic mind (Haumai) sees or transacts with duality only.

  • ਪ੍ਰੇਤ ਭੂਤ ਸਭਿ ਦੂਜੈ ਲਾਏ ॥: Pret bhoot sabh doojai laae: All goblins and demons are attached to duality (wanderings in the love of Maya, ਮਾਇਆ ਦੇ ਮੋਹ ਦੀ ਭਟਕਣਾ). (sggs 841).

Those attached to duality are also called Manmukhs in the Gurbani.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਬਿਲਲਾਦੀ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਖੁਆਈ ਹੇ ॥੩॥: The Manmukh (self-willed, one in material consciousness…) wanders everywhere, weeping and wailing; he is ruined by the love of duality (wanderings in the love of Maya, ਮਾਇਆ ਦੇ ਮੋਹ ਦੀ ਭਟਕਣਾ). ||3||: (sggs 1044).
  • ਅੰਤਿ ਕਾਲਿ ਜੋ ਮੰਦਰ ਸਿਮਰੈ ਐਸੀ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਮਹਿ ਜੇ ਮਰੈ ॥ ਪ੍ਰੇਤ ਜੋਨਿ ਵਲਿ ਵਲਿ ਅਉਤਰੈ ॥੪॥: At the last moment, who thinks of mansions and if he dies in such thought, he (lives and his mind) is born as a Pret again and again (here and now). ||4|| (sggs 526).

Therefore, a Manmukh (a Saakat or a Mayadhaaree) = a ghost or goblin.

But the Gurmukh (who is opposite of the Manmukh), lives in non-duality, for he is established in the Divine Wisdom of the SGGS. In other words, he has become Jeevanmukta (living liberated). He has realized his non-dual Joti-Sroop.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੋ ਮੁਕਤੁ ਕਹੀਐ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਬੰਧ ਵਿਚਾਰੇ ॥: One who becomes Spiritual being (Gurmukh) is said to be liberated, while the poor materialists (Manmukhs) are in bondage (sggs 796).

In other words, the darkness or “Dhundh-ਧੁੰਧ” of ignorance is ghost in itself.

  • ਪ੍ਰੇਤ ਪਿੰਜਰ ਮਹਿ ਦੂਖ ਘਨੇਰੇ ॥ ਨਰਕਿ ਪਚਹਿ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਅੰਧੇਰੇ ॥: (Those who live as) ghost in the body-cage, suffer all sorts of afflictions. Those who (thus live) in the darkness of spiritual wisdom, putrefy in hellish (existence). (sggs 1029).

the SGGS wants us to live Gurmukh Lifestyle, NOT like a ghost or an animal! However, living blind to the Wisdom (Gurmukh Lifestyle), one tends to believe false things to be true.

  • ਝੂਠੁ ਬਾਤ ਸਾ ਸਚੁ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਤੀ ॥: That which is false (we) deem it to be true. (sggs 185).

In nutshell:

Mortal + Divine Virtues (ਗੁਣ) = Divine, god-like, ਦੇਵਤਾ …
Mortal – Divine Virtues (ਗੁਣ) = ghost, goblin, Satan, Demon, Pasoo, ਰਾਖਛਸ …

Hence, the Gurbani asserts that so long the Divine (i.e., the Divine Virtues, ਗੁਣ — ਸਤ, ਸੰਤੋਖ, ਦਯਾ, ਧਰਮ, ਧੀਰਜ — Truth contentment, compassion, Dharma, patience) is with the body, the mortal will be happy.

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਣ ਕਾਮਿ ਨ ਆਵਈ ਢਹਿ ਢੇਰੀ ਤਨੁ ਖੇਹ ॥੧॥: Without the Divine Virtues, the body is of no avail; (in the end) it will (spiritually) crumble into a pile of dust. ||1|| (sggs 20).
  • ਤਿਚਰੁ ਵਸਹਿ ਸੁਹੇਲੜੀ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਾਥੀ ਨਾਲਿ ॥ ਜਾ ਸਾਥੀ ਉਠੀ ਚਲਿਆ ਤਾ ਧਨ ਖਾਕੂ ਰਾਲਿ ॥੧॥: O body! As long as your companion is within (i.e., the Divine Factor – the Divine Virtue, ਗੁਣ), you will be happy. But when this companion departs (i.e., if Virtue remains unused), then the body mingles with dust. ||1|| (sggs 50).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਗੁਣ ਤੈ ਬਾਹਰੇ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਮਰਦੇ ਝੂਰਿ ॥੨॥: The Manmukh are devoid of the Divine Virtues. Bereft of the Naam, they (spiritually) die in frustration. (sggs 27).

Bhai Gurdaas Ji explains it with more examples as follows:

  • ਮਖਣੁ ਲਇਆ ਵਿਰੋਲਿਕੈ ਛਾਹਿ ਛੁਟੜਿ ਹੋਈ । ਪੀੜ ਲਈ ਰਸੁ ਗੰਨਿਅਹੁਂ ਛਿਲੁ ਛੁਹੈ ਨ ਕੋਈ । ਰੰਗੁ ਮਜੀਠਹੁ ਨਿਕਲੈ ਅਢੁ ਲਹੈ ਨ ਸੋਈ । ਵਾਸੁ ਲਈ ਫੁਲਵਾੜੀਅਹੁ ਫਿਰਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਨ ਢੋਈ । ਕਾਇਆ ਹੰਸੁ ਵਿਛੁੰਨਿਆ ਤਿਸੁ ਕੋ ਨ ਸਥੋਈ। ਬੇਮੁਖ ਸੁਕੇ ਰੁਖ ਜਿਉਂ ਵੇਖੈ ਸਭ ਲੋਈ ॥੧੨॥: When the butter is churned and taken out (of the cream), the butter milk (Lassi) is abandoned. When the juice of sugarcane is extracted out, nobody touches the peel. When the fast color of Rubia munjista is taken away then nobody cares for it even worth a penny. When the fragrance of flowers is exhausted, nobody wants them. When the Atman separates from the body, no companion of the body remains (nobody wants to keep the body in the house). It is clear to everyone that the apostate is like the dry wood (which can only be pushed into fire!). (Bhai Gurdaas, vaar 34, Paurhee 12).

How one can transform his animal or Pret nature? In nutshell, according to the SGGS, by bathing the mind in the pool of the Divine Wisdom of the SGGS:

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਚਰਨ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਪਰਸਿਆ ਸੇ ਪਸੁ ਪਰੇਤ ਸੁਰਿ ਨਰ ਭਇਅ ॥੨॥੬॥: (the mind of) Whoever realizes the Giaan (the Divine Wisdom…) of the Satiguru, (that mind) is transformed from an animal (-nature) and a ghost (-nature) into an angelic being. ||2||6|| (sggs 1399).
  • ਪਸੂ ਪਰੇਤ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਉਧਾਰੇ ਇਕ ਖਣੇ ॥: In an instant, (the Naam) emancipates persons, who are ignorant,  beasts-nature and goblin-nature. (sggs 963).
  • ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਸਿਉ ਲਾਗੋ ਹੇਤੁ ॥ ਖਿਨ ਮਹਿ ਬਿਨਸਿਓ ਮਹਾ ਪਰੇਤੁ ॥: Whosoever imbibes affection for the Giaan (the Divine Wisdom…), the great demon (of one’s demon-nature) is destroyed in an instant. (1149).
Filed Under: Duality, Doojaa-Bhaav, Ghost, Pret, Gurbani
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15 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Davinder Singh

    Gurfateh ji, thank you for your excellent effort and articles, however, I would disagree with your full interpretation that there are no such beings. The One consciousness exists as duality, and duality has both darkness and light as its nature. My own personal experience over 40 years has demonstrated numerous cases of energies that exist in different states that those we are aware off.

    Several of these cases have impacted fully fledged amritdharis, and I am aware of at least one case right now. the real tragedy is that none of these individuals were able to get any support or help from gurdwaras, but had to resort to Deras and Muslim seers. Denying the existence of something one can not understand, does not mean it does not exist.
    Bhul Chuk Maaf

  2. Paramjit Singh Rana

    Guru Fetah and thank you for putting together a very thoughtful and insightful post. I read the the entire post very carefully to find answer to the question that I thought you set out to address: “Who are the real ghosts-Pret or goblin the Gurbani talks about?”

    Without going over the entire post the answer seems to reside with the following Rahaoo pankti that you quoted: “ਕਰਤ ਬੁਰਾਈ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਤੇ ਛਪਾਈ ਸਾਖੀ ਭੂਤ ਪਵਾਨ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Hiding from others, the mortal practices “Buraaee” (wickedness…), but (this wickedness) clings to him like a ghost. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 1202).”

    As you state if we do “Buraaee” then the Gurbani alerts us that we are LIKE ghosts. Similarly as you stated throughout the post, if we are attached to material pleasures (maya) , we are LIKE pret…if we are manmukh, we are LIKE Bhoot-Pret etc.

    • Thank you Veer Ji for taking the time to read the post and reply.

      So what I gather is that our behaviour as a Manmukh or the one due to attachment with duality would be akin to “Bhoot-pret”. I think “LIKE” does not mean “Equivalence”.

      of course. the Gurbani speaks at the level of the mind (Soch…). It’s the Soch (thinking) that translate into speech, actions or conduct/behavior.

      Please keep your comments short and to the point. Thanks.

  3. J

    Beautiful analysis, T Singh Ji.

  4. Rajinder Singh Walia

    Great Analysis.There must be group of wise people who write this. I bow my head to their wisdom.
    Thank you.


    It’s very interesting……our discussion here is on a certain aspect of our references to bhoot pret etc……. n I can understand where u are coming from……how do I explain this …..the actual physical real life experiences with beings of another plane…..b4 I walked on this Sikhi path…. I have personally witnessed possessions by other others who do not have the Sikhi faith in them……in my 57 years of life in this earthly world……have witnessed supernatural phenomenons……to say it does not exist ……I cannot accept…..for based on my personal experiences n beliefs……if u truly have Sikhi in you n Baani has been part n Parcel of your every moment in your life……
    Nothing can touch you……..but the moment there is an ounce of lack of faith…….u opens the gateway for supernatural experiences…. I consider myself as a very practical person n do not jump up n down with everything others say or claim……seeing/experiencing is believing…….

    • Thank you Amarjit Singh Ji for taking the time to share your thoughts. Welcome to the Gurbani Blog!

      Either you fully believe in the SGGS or not! The SGGS, for example, says:
      • ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਪਰੇਤੁ ਹੈ ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥: Attachment to Maya, lust, anger, and egotism is the goblin (ghost, ਪ੍ਰੇਤ, ਭੂਤ…). (sggs 513).

      As indicated in the following verse of the SGGS, Maya is anything that makes us (1) forget our Mool (“Hari Visrai“); (2) gives rise to emotional attachment (“Moh Upjai”); and (3) creates duality (“Bhaau Doojaa“).
      • ਏਹ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ਲਾਇਆ ॥: Eh Maya… (sggs 921).

  6. shaanu

    very intelectualy\spiritualy said Gur..

  7. Gurvinder singh

    According to Gurbani whole life (jivan) is amrit vela . Naam japna means always keeping in mind the qualities of God everytime even in the morning ,during the duty time /business hours eg. if a teacher is sincerely teaching the students than he/she is “naam jap reha hai” same is case if a bussinessman is not cheating the client than ” naam jap reha hai” but a pujari/Granthi is not guiding the sangat about gurbani and simply using “Guru ki golak” than” naam nahi jaap reha hai”
    waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh”

  8. Jagminder Singh

    A person once asked Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj that he was seeing ghosts and being possessed by them. Maharaj asked that person whether he woke up at amrit vela to do his simran and nitnem. He replied he never did nam japna or nitnem and maharaj then gave the bachan that he was in actual fact a ghost because, just like a ghost, devoid of spirituality and no connection with the divine, that person was living according to his mind and was living in material consciousness, not God-consciousness.

  9. Amar

    Waheguru ji ka khalsa, waheguru ji ki fateh.

    Good baani, hopefully I learn something from it.

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