Gurbani Is Meant To Be Understood And Applied

The Gurbani is not meant to be merely read, listened, or memorized. After reading, listening, or memorizing it is meant to be Understood through the diligent Shabad-Vichaar, and ultimately applied to the daily life (i.e., live it-ਅਮਲ).

If a person is disease-stricken, his mere reading of the medicine’s label without taking the medicine will not cure him. In order to be cured of the disease and related pain, one has to take the medicine and stop mere reading the label. Similarly, the Gurbani is only meant to be understood and applied, otherwise it has no meaning. Just as a medicine helps mitigate a disease, in the same way, with the stick of collyrium of the Divine Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan), the Gurbani helps us remove from our eyes the cataract of Maya – relieving us from our inner contamination (” ਮੈਲੁ”, Bikaar…) so that we can Realize our true Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot…).

However, the Gurbani will not do the trick if we simply verbalize it or merely worship it as an idol. In other words, mere reading of it, listening to its recitations, or memorizing it will not cure us from our psychological illness (Haumai or false ego-sense…). This addict of the Gurbani is very clear from the following verses (and many more):

  • ਚਿਤੁ ਜਿਨ ਕਾ ਹਿਰਿ ਲਇਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਬੋਲਨਿ ਪਏ ਰਵਾਣੀ ॥: Chit jin kaa hiri laiaa maya bolani paye ravaanee: Those whose consciousness has been lured by Maya keep reciting mechanically (ਫਰ ਫਰ, ਉਪਰੋਂ ਉਪਰੋਂ, ਤੇਜੀ ਨਾਲ…). (sggs 920).
  • ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥: Parriai naahee bhedu bujhiai paavanaa: Not by reading (books), but through Understanding, is the Mystery Realized. (sggs 148).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਪਸੂ ਭਏ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥੬॥: Bin boojhe pasu bhaye betaale (sggs 224).
  • ਪਢੇ ਗੁਨੇ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਛੁ ਬਉਰੇ ਜਉ ਦਿਲ ਮਹਿ ਖਬਰਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੨॥: Padhe gune naahee kachhu baoure jaou… (sggs 483).
  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਕਛੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਪਸੁ ਜਿਉ ਉਦਰੁ ਭਰਉ ॥: Gurmati suni kashu giaan n upjio pasu jiou… (sggs 685).
  • ਮੂਰਖੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਚੀਨਈ ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ ਨਹ ਕਾਇ ॥੫੩॥: Moorakh Sabad na cheenaee soojg boojh nah kaai ||53|| (sggs 938).
  • ਬੂਝਹੁ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਸਬਦੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: Boojhahu giyani Shabad beechaari (sggs 840).
  • ਕਿਆ ਪੜੀਐ ਕਿਆ ਗੁਨੀਐ ॥ ਕਿਆ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨਾਂ ਸੁਨੀਐ ॥ ਪੜੇ ਸੁਨੇ ਕਿਆ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਜਉ ਸਹਜ ਨ ਮਿਲਿਓ ਸੋਈ ॥੧॥: Kiaa parheeai kiaa guneeai …: (sggs 655).
  • ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਪੜੈ ਨਹੀ ਬੂਝੈ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਬਿਧਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਲੂਝੈ ॥: Doojai bhaai parrai nahee boojhai. Tribidh maya… (sggs 127).
  • ਬੇਦ ਪੜੇ ਪੜਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੇ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Bed parre parri brahme janamu gavaaiaa (sggs 478).
  • ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਜੇਤਾ ਪੜਹਿ ਪੜਤ ਗੁਣਤ ਸਦਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਹੋਈ ॥੧॥: Doojai bhaai jetaa parhahi parhat gunat sadaa… (sggs 492).
  • ਅਖਰ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਭੁਲੀਐ ਭੇਖੀ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਅਭਿਮਾਨੁ ॥ Akhar parr parr bhuleeai bhekhee bahutu abhimaan (sggs 61).
  • ਪੰਡਿਤ ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਕਰਹੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਅਵਰੁ ਕਿ ਬਹੁਤਾ ਪੜਹਿ ਉਠਾਵਹਿ ਭਾਰੁ ॥: Pandit isu man kaa karahu beechaaru. Avaru ki bahutaa parrahi outhaavahi bhaaru (sggs 1261).
  • ਪੜੀਐ ਗੁਣੀਐ ਕਿਆ ਕਥੀਐ ਜਾ ਮੁੰਢਹੁ ਘੁਥਾ ਜਾਇ ॥: Parreeai guneeai kiaa katheeai jaa mundahu ghuthaa jaai (sggs 68).

Hence, only when one fully assimilates the Gurbani will all be well with him! That is, reading or listening or memorizing the Gurbani can only be beneficial if we take the next step: reflect on it (Shabad-Vichaar), understand it (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ), and then live it (“ਕਰਣੀ”-Karanee: ਅਮਲ, application). Therefore, the Gurbani’s emphasis is on understanding the Gur-Shabad (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ) and then live it in daily life (“Karanee“: implementation, application, practice, living the Gurmat, ਅਮਲ, ਕਰਣੀ, ਗੁਰੂ ਦਾ ਦੱਸਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ ਆਚਰਨ, ਕਰਨ-ਜੋਗ ਕੰਮ, ਸੁਚੱਜਾ ਜੀਵਨ, etc.). We are reminded that the Gurbani is the “Brahm Beechaar” (“ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰ”), not just a song (“ਗੀਤੁ”)!!

  • ਕਰਣੀ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਤਰੈ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: Karanee baajhahu tarai na koi (sggs 952).
  • ਲੋਗੁ ਜਾਨੈ ਇਹੁ ਗੀਤੁ ਹੈ ਇਹੁ ਤਉ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥: Logu jaanai ihu geetu hai ihu taou Brahm Beechaar (sggs 335).

In other words, reading, listening or memorizing of the Gurbani must result in Spiritual Unfoldment (ਆਤਮਿਕ ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਚ ਤਰੱਕੀ, ਆਤਮਿਕ ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ ਵਿਚ ਤਰੱਕੀ, ਰਹਿਣੀ ਵਿਚ ਤਰੱਕੀ…). If it does not, then apparently we are doing something contrary to the Gur-Shabad (ਗੁਰ-ਉਪਦੇਸ)!!

  • ਸਚੁ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਬਦੁ ਹੈ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Sachu karanee Sabad hai saar (sggs 114).

When a wooden log is on fire, it makes crackling noise and flames. But when the log is completely burnt, then no more noise is heard! Our deluded mind (Haumai, false ego-sense) is the log; attached to the worldliness (Maya) it makes noises (restlessness, wanderings, imaginations or ਫੁਰਨੇ…) and the flames of Bikaar are seen (i.e., lust, anger, greed, etc.). By applying the Gur-Shabad, when the burning is over, it becomes quite (Sahaj, stable, ਟਿਕ ਜਾਣਾਂ…). Such mended Mind (or Pure Budhi) is the voice of the Mool (Source, Jot…).

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਕਮਾਈਐ ਹਰਿ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥ Gurmukhi sabadu kamaaeeai Hari vasia mani aai (sggs 67).
  • ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਪੜੀਐ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਪੜੀਐ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ॥: Hari japi parheeai gur sabadu veechari… (sggs 424).
  • ਖੋਜ ਬੂਝਿ ਜਉ ਕਰੈ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਤਉ ਭਵਜਲ ਤਰਤ ਨ ਲਾਵੈ ਬਾਰਾ ॥੪੦॥: Khoj boojhi jaou kare beechaaraa… (sggs 342).

The Gurbani is a very simple and basic human Guide for human life, which outlines man’s Mool-ward journey (not Karamkaand-ward journey). Therefore, the Gurbani’s Teaching has relevance to day-to-day life of each individual in the world.  To fully appreciate, understand, and live the Gurbani, we are repeatedly asked to become the Gurmukh (from Manmukh), because one can grasp it only by becoming a Gurmukh (“ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਤੀ”). For the Gurbani has been uttered by the Gurmukhs (“ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਖੀ”)!

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਖੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਤੀ ਸੁਰਤੀ ਕਰਮਿ ਧਿਆਈ ॥: Gurmukhi aakhee gurmukhi jaatee… (sggs 1243).

Simply put: The Gurbani indicates that a Manmukh (one in love with Maya…) cannot understanding the Gurbani!

  • ਸੇ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਜੋ ਸਬਦ ਨ ਪਛਾਨਹਿ ॥: Se manmukh jo Sabad na pachhaanahi (sggs 1054).
Filed Under: Gurbani, Gurmukh, Manmukh, Reading-Listening Gurbani, Understanding, Vichaar, Read, Listen
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14 Comments Leave a comment

  1. prakash.s.bagga

    My understanding is that there is great significance of the word SABADu
    Thus there is great need of understanding the correct reference meaning of the word SABADu
    in Gurbanee.
    It can be observed that we generally writethis word incorrectly and give meaning accordingly.
    whereas this word is actually SABADu (word SABAD with matra of Aukad under its last letterD) and thus this word should be understood in this context of matra for its correct and true meaning applicable to Gurbanee messages.

    • shammi wadhwa

      Dear Prakash Ji
      SABAD is that power which is behind the entire universe and doing every thing
      we may call it NAAM or SABAD or Dhur Ki Baani which has two features (Gun)… Light & Sound and it is in every being of this universe…. you and me and others are doing anything just because of that SABAD or NAAM which is inside us….. and it is drop of ocean or part of Lord…
      and this SABAD is also called as LORD

      that is why that lord is in everybeing and everyone can experience that Light & Sound through SIMRAN …….
      but one thing that must be kept in mind…..that there should be someone who can tell us the way to get connected with NAAM or SABAD…. THAT IS CALLED GURU


      bhul chook maaf

  2. shammi wadhwa

    Dear T. Singh Vir ji
    I wish that you could suggest me some books to comprehend knowledge upon gurbani in english or in hindi… or how should i start reading SGGS to get insights.

    • T. Singh Post author

      Dear Shammi Ji, thank you for sharing your longing for Spiritual Life.

      Intense Longing For Mool-Realization is a prerequisite of Mool-realization or Self rediscovery – freedom or liberation from Maya, egotism or Haumai…
      • ਉਪਜੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਰਸੁ ਚਾਉ ॥ ਮਨ ਤਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਇਹੀ ਸੁਆਉ ॥: Upajee preeti prem rasu chaaou. Man tan antari ihee suaaou (sggs 290).
      This Intense Longing seems to have already been lit within you! Keep it buring. Things will happen! For one’s Mool that each one is trying to Unite with (the Target of human birth) is situated within!!

      I wish that you could suggest me some books

      Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
      A practical Guide for the Divine Life (Gurmukh Lifestyle), the Gurbani is the Treasure of Wisdom (Giaan-Guroo). Which provides all that’s needed to raise consciousness to the Higher dimension…

    • Jyoti

      I am reading a translation that consists of 5 volumes. Title is the essence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Author is gurbachan Singh makin. You may need to get this from India or Canada. Not sure where mom got this from but it’s been eye opening.

  3. Balwant Singh Seera

    I am very deeply impressed by your thoughts.You said very rightly that Gurbani is to be read, understood and implemented in life.Tis is need of the hour.

    Balwant Singh

    • T. Singh Post author

      Thank you Bhai Sahib Balwant Singh Seera Ji for your feedback.

      Gurbani is to be read, understood and implemented in life.Tis is need of the hour.

      • ਭਾਈ ਰੇ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸਾਚਿ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Bhaaee re gurmati saach rahaaou: O brother, follow the Gurmat (Teaching of the Gur-Shabad) and dwell in Truth. (sggs 30).
      • ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥: Akalee parhih kai bujheeai… (sggs 1245).
      • ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਪੜੀਐ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਪੜੀਐ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ॥ (sggs 424).
      • ਹਉ ਵਾਰੀ ਜੀਉ ਵਾਰੀ ਪੜਿ ਬੁਝਿ ਮੰਨਿ ਵਸਾਵਣਿਆ ॥ (sggs 127).

  4. Karamjeet Singh

    A great piece replete with precious Gurbani verses and supporting similes.

    Both the analogies were quite apt – mere reading of the label on the medicine bottle being completely ineffective and the burning log going quiet on the combustion attaining maturity.

    T singh Ji, I am always amused at your ability to keep contributing new precise terms to the dictionary of Gurbani-Wisdom. This eddition saw the welcome addition of at least two new entries : Mool-ward and Karamkand-word.

    Deep regards.

    PS – I think there’s a typo in the line – However, the Gurbani will not do the trick if we simply verbalize it or merely worship it as an idle. I believe you meant to write ‘idol’.

  5. Kirpal Singh

    A great and inspiring selection of Gurbani verses. May Waheguru bless you!

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