There is the expression to the effect that “knowledge is power”.
But the question is: What kind of Knowledge is true power?
Any knowledge that’s divisive, that does not give one the sense of Oneness with all beings, is susceptible for abuse. History is brimming with examples of such knowledge in which knowledge as power has been abused. For example, look at the crafty clergy system and all Pujaaree groups of all organized religions.All they preaching their respective followers is how to eliminate the other side, and so on!
However, knowledge that’s not divisive, that gives one the sense of Oneness with all mankind, that makes one conscious of the fact that we all are one or linked with one another, that inspires us to live a virtuous and truthful life is the safe knowledge. This Knowledge of Oneness, that is true power!
Hence, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) affirms: (1) Giaan (Wisdom) is the Guru in Sikhi, (2) it’s the consciousness (Surat-ਸੁਰਤ) or the mind that needs to become a Sikh (ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ, or a learner, or a student of the SGGS).
- ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਧੁਨਿ ਚੇਲਾ ॥: The Shabad (i.e. Giaan or Wisdom is my) Guroo. Abidance of (my) Consciousness or the mind is the disciple (of the Shabad-Guroo). (sggs 943).
- ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਮੈ ਸੋ ਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾ ਕਾ ਨਾਉ ਬਿਬੇਕੋੁ ॥੪॥੫॥: Says Kabeer, I have found that Guru, whose Name is “Bibek(u)” (Wisdom, Discerning Intelligence…). ||4||5|| (sggs 793).
- ਗੁਰੁ ਮੇਰਾ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥: Guru is my Giaan (Knowledge or Wisdom…), the Guru is (ever) within my Heart; this is my meditation (Dhiaan, Reflection, contemplation …). (sggs 864).
- ਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨਾਮ ਰਤਨੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: The Jewel of Giaan (Wisdom) is obtained from the Guru (sggs 1044).
- ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਹੈ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਹੈ ਪੂਜਾ ॥: Satiguru is Giaan (i.e., Wisdom, ਸੱਚ ਦਾ ਗਿਆਨ); and this Wisdom-Satiguru is the “Poojaa” (i.e., Bhagati). (sggs 1069).
It’s this Knowledge (Wisdom, Giaan, Upadesh…) by which one can understand his true self. It’s this Knowledge that can unite all mankind, across the barriers of race, color, creed, religions, and even time!
- ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਹੂਣੀ ਭਵੈ ਸਬਾਈ ॥: Deprived (abandoned, deserted…) of the Divine Knowledge (Giaan, Spiritual Wisdom), the entire world (ਸਾਰੀ ਲੁਕਾਈ) wanders around (to stray, err, forget…) (sggs 1034).
- ਸਾਚੇ ਕਾ ਗਾਹਕੁ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਕੋ ਜਾਣੁ ॥: Know that a purchaser (one who appreciates it…) of the True Naam is very rare (sggs 664).
- ਲੋਕੁ ਅਵਗਣਾ ਕੀ ਬੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਗੰਠੜੀ ਗੁਣ ਨ ਵਿਹਾਝੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਗੁਣ ਕਾ ਗਾਹਕੁ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਕੋਈ ਹੋਇ ॥: People tie up bundles of demerits; no one deals in Virtues. O Nanak! Rare is the purchaser appropriator of Virtues. (sggs 1092.
- ਕਬੀਰਾ ਏਕੁ ਅਚੰਭਉ ਦੇਖਿਓ ਹੀਰਾ ਹਾਟ ਬਿਕਾਇ ॥ ਬਨਜਨਹਾਰੇ ਬਾਹਰਾ ਕਉਡੀ ਬਦਲੈ ਜਾਇ ॥੧੫੪॥: O Kabeer! I saw an astonishing thing. A Jewel (ਤੱਤ ਗਿਆਨ…) is being sold in a store. Because there is no buyer (appreciator of it…), it is going in exchange for a shell (i.e., Maya…)! ||154|| (sggs 1372).
The Gurbani reveals that it is Mayaic intellect (ਮਾਇਕੀ ਬੁੱਧੀ) that deserted the Jewel of Wisdom (Knowledge, Sword of Wisdom-ਗਿਆਨ ਖੜਗੁ…) within. In other words, it is the mind’s love or hunger for Maya (ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀ ਭੁੱਖ) that depleted its Treasure of the Wisdom (Giaan or Naam-Dhann…) from within.
- ਬਾਬਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹ ਹਿਤੁ ਕੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ॥ ਜਿਨਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਰਤਨੁ ਹਿਰਿ ਲੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: O Baabaa! (I have) enshrined attachment (love and affection, ਮੋਹ-ਪਿਆਰ) for Maya, which has taken the Jewel of the Spiritual Wisdom away (from me). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 482).
Baabaa Nanak draws a real picture of Jeeva (individual beings) of this world as follows:
- ਲਬੁ ਪਾਪੁ ਦੁਇ ਰਾਜਾ ਮਹਤਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਹੋਆ ਸਿਕਦਾਰੁ ॥ ਕਾਮੁ ਨੇਬੁ ਸਦਿ ਪੁਛੀਐ ਬਹਿ ਬਹਿ ਕਰੇ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਅੰਧੀ ਰਯਤਿ ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਹੂਣੀ ਭਾਹਿ ਭਰੇ ਮੁਰਦਾਰੁ ॥: Greed and sin both have become the king and minister, and falsehood has become the tax collector. (In this assembly of greed, sin and falsehood) lust is as the assistant official, which is summoned and consulted; they all sit together and contemplate their (evil) plans. (Because of) deprived of the Divine Knowledge, people (as if have become mentally) blind (ignorant), and are engaged in gratifying their fire (of desires). (sggs 469).
- ਜਗੁ ਖੋਟੌ ਸਚੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੌ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀਂ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਤੇ ਨਰ ਵਿਰਲੇ ਜਾਣੀਅਹਿ ਜਿਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਮੁਰਾਰਿ ॥੪॥: (Manmukh with Mayaic mind in) the world is polluted; Truth is Immaculate; (this Truth is realized) through the Gur-Shabad Vichaar. Those who have the Divine Knowledge within, are known to be very rare. ||4|| (sggs 1331).
- ਬਾਣੀ ਬਿਰਲਉ ਬੀਚਾਰਸੀ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: By becoming a Gurmukh (spiritual being, True Being, etc.), a rare one contemplates (ਵਿਚਾਰ, Reflection, spiritual Inquiry, etc.) the Bani. (sggs 935).
Baabaa Kabeer declares there is hardly any real seeker, appraiser, or purchaser of Truth in the world!
- ਰਾਮ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਪਾਇ ਕੈ ਕਬੀਰਾ ਗਾਂਠਿ ਨ ਖੋਲ੍ਹ੍ਹ ॥ ਨਹੀ ਪਟਣੁ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਰਖੂ ਨਹੀ ਗਾਹਕੁ ਨਹੀ ਮੋਲੁ ॥੨੩॥: O Kabeer! Upon attaining the Divine Knowledge (Aatam Giaan, Spiritual Wisdom, ਸਚ ਦਾ ਗਿਆਨ…), do not undo its knot (i.e., don’t try marketing it; don’t try preaching who is not interested in it. (The world is so engrossed in Maya that) there is no city (market of Truth, ਸਚ ਦੀ ਮੰਡੀ) to sell it; there is no appraiser of it; there is no customer of it; and cannot put price on it. ||23|| (sggs 1365).
What is it that deprive people of the Divine Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan)? According to the Gurbani, it’s our mind’s love or hunger for Maya…
- ਲਾਗੀ ਭੂਖ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਗੁ ਜੋਹੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਮੋਹਿ ਖਰੇ ॥੩॥: (Jeeva – individual being) looks at the path of Maya due to its hunger for Maya; being so engrossed in Maya, looses Liberation (Mukti Padaarath). (sggs 1014).
Driven by the Mayaic mind, the Gurbani says people neither listen nor contemplate the Naam (Shabad, Hukam, the Divine Knowledge, Virtues…). In other words, it’s very difficult to listen or speak the Truth (Sach-ਸਚ) in its entirety. It’s difficult because, for one thing, the Truth is devoid of form, color, outline, etc. Also, falsehood cannot propagate Truth!
- ਕੂੜੈ ਕੀ ਪਾਲਿ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਨਿਕਲੈ ਸਚੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥: (When) the wall of falsehood is torn down from within, Truth comes to dwell in the mind. (sggs 591).
- ਵਸਤੂ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਵਸਤੁ ਸਮਾਵੈ ਦੂਜੀ ਹੋਵੈ ਪਾਸਿ ॥: A thing can be put into a vessel only if (something that is already inside) be first removed. (sggs 474).
The Gurbani further tells us that, there can be nothing but tumult (“Rol Ghacholaa“) in the mind tied to Maya! Consequently, those who are drowning in the ocean of Maya (Mayadhaaree, Manmukh, Saakat…) cannot pay attention to the Shabad (Upadesh, Wisdom…)!
- ਮਾਇਆਧਾਰੀ ਅਤਿ ਅੰਨਾ ਬੋਲਾ ॥ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਸੁਣਈ ਬਹੁ ਰੋਲ ਘਚੋਲਾ ॥: One who is attached to Maya is (spiritually) very much blind and deaf (to the Gur-Shabad…). (In such conditioned state), he is unable to listen (i.e., don’t pay attention…) to the Shabad; (but, in love or hunger of Maya) he makes much uproar and tumult (ਰੌਲਾ-ਗੌਲਾ, noise, chatter, etc.). (sggs 313).
Animals lack the Divine quality of discriminating intellect (Bibek-Budhi ). That’s why animals act the way they act. For example, animals have neither Bibek-Budhi nor interest in inquiring into the reality of their Mool (Source, Origin, True Nature, Jot Saroop…).
But — the Gurbani asks — if a man endowed with the Divine Quality of Bibek-Budhi deliberately chooses not to use it, than he descends to the animal level by the perpetual existence of his animal-like conduct. In such mental state, he is also not interested in cultivating and living Knowledge just as animals.
- ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਪਸੂ ਕੀ ਨਿਆਈ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਮੋਹਿ ਬਿਆਪਿਓ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Without understanding, (a person) remains like beast, and remains engrossed in Maya’s doubt and attachment (i.e, Maya’s deception, bewilderment…). (sggs 1300).
Baabaa Kabeer says that the Satiguru (Giaan, Knowledge of Truth, Shabad, Bani… ) can’t do anything if a student (i.e., Sikh – learner of the SGGS) lacks interest and is bent upon squandering his precious life! The Satiguru cannot kindle the thirst for Knowledge in such a student. Hence, Sikhi cannot be thrusted upon somebody by force (ਧੱਕੇ ਨਾਲ). If it could be thrusted upon somebody, Baabaa Nanak would have thrusted it upon his two sons Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das; Guru Ramdas Ji would have thrusted it upon his son Prithy Chand; and Guru Amardas Ji would have thrusted it upon his son Mohan.
- ਪੁਤ੍ਰੀ ਕਉਲੁ ਨ ਪਾਲਿਓ ਕਰਿ ਪੀਰਹੁ ਕੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਮੁਰਟੀਐ ॥ ਦਿਲਿ ਖੋਟੈ ਆਕੀ ਫਿਰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਬੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਭਾਰੁ ਉਚਾਇਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਛਟੀਐ ॥: Sons (of Baabaa Nanak: Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das) did not obey (Baabaa Nanak’s) Word; they turned their backs on Him as Guru. The evil-hearted ones become rebellious; they carry loads (of vices, Bikaar, defects…) on their backs. (sggs 967).
- ਮੋਹਣੁ ਕਮਲਾ ਹੋਇਆ ਚਉਬਾਰਾ ਮੋਹਰੀ ਮਨਾਇਆ॥ ਮੀਣਾ ਹੋਇਆ ਪਿਰਥੀਆ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਤੋਂਡਕ ਬਰਲੁ ਚਲਾਇਆ॥: Mohan (son of Guru Amardas) got insane (ਝੱਲਾ, ਬੇ-ਅਕਲ…) and Mohart (the second son) lived in a lofty house and started getting served by the people. Prithy Chand (son of Guru Ramdas) came out as dissembling scoundrel and using his oblique nature spread his mental sickness all round. (Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 26 Paurhee 33).
Hence, Sikhi is of Understanding (ਸਮਝ, Knowledge, Wisdom, Intellect…). But an uninterested student, will hear from one ear and let it out from the other! The Gurbani says it’s as useless as blowing into bamboo — as you blow into bamboo from one side, air goes out from the other side!
- ਕਬੀਰ ਸਾਚਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਕਿਆ ਕਰੈ ਜਉ ਸਿਖਾ ਮਹਿ ਚੂਕ ॥ ਅੰਧੇ ਏਕ ਨ ਲਾਗਈ ਜਿਉ ਬਾਂਸੁ ਬਜਾਈਐ ਫੂਕ ॥੧੫੮॥: O Kabeer! The Satguru can’t do anything, when there is a lapse (deception, etc.) in Sikhs. (The Satguru’s Knowledge, Giaan…) can’t affect the blind (i.e., mentally blind – ignorant); it is as useless as blowing into bamboo. ||158|| (sggs 1372).