There is the expression to the effect that “knowledge is power”.
But the question is: What kind of Knowledge is true power?
For one, 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.
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, is the safe knowledge. Because it’s this unitive Vision, this Knowledge of Oneness, that is true power!
That’s the kind of Knowledge the Gurbani imparts – the Divine Knowledge (Wisdom, ਤੱਤ ਗਿਆਨ…). It’s the Knowledge by which one can understand himself (Self-realization). It’s this Knowledge that can unite all mankind, across the barriers of race, color, creed, religions, and even time!
Yet, the Gurbani roars, people (with the exception of a “rare” one) are not interested in the Divine Knowledge!
- ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਹੂਣੀ ਭਵੈ ਸਬਾਈ ॥: Without the Divine Knowledge, the entire world wanders about (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).
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 ॥: (For Jeeva in this world) greed (mind’s hunger for Maya) and sin are (as if) the king and minister; and falsehood is the treasurer. (In this assembly of greed, sin and falsehood) lust is as the the assistant official, which is summoned and consulted; they all sit together and contemplate their (evil) plans. (Because of) devoid 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 ॥ ਇਹ ਬਾਣੀ ਮਹਾ ਪੁਰਖ ਕੀ ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਸਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੪੦॥: By becoming a Gurmukh (spiritual being, True Being, etc.), a rare one contemplates (ਵਿਚਾਰ, Refletion, spiritual Inquiry, etc.) the Bani. This Bani is of the Supreme Being; through it, (one) abides in (his) Nij Ghar (within – Mool, Jot Saroop, Source, Origin, True Nature…). (sggs 935).
Bhagat Kabeer Sahib declares there is hardly any real seeker, appraiser, or purchaser of Truth in the world. Furthermore, Bhagat Kabeer Sahib points out — although I tell people what I have seen (or personally Realized), but no one believes me (“ਨ ਕੋ ਪਤੀਆਇ”)!
- 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).
- ਕਬੀਰ ਦੇਖਿ ਕੈ ਕਿਹ ਕਹਉ ਕਹੇ ਨ ਕੋ ਪਤੀਆਇ ॥: Kabeer dekhi kai kih kahaou kahe n ko patiaai (sggs 1371).
What is it that deprive people of the Divine Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan)? According to the Gurbani, it’s our mind’s hunger for Maya…
- ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੂੜ ਮਾਇਆ ਚਿਤ ਵਾਸੁ ॥: Residence of the consciousness of the foolish Manmukh is Maya (sggs 222).
- 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).
- ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਦੇਖਿਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਛਾਇਆ ॥: Sabhu jagu dekhiaa maya cchaaiaa (sggs 354).
- ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਿ ਇਹੁ ਜਗੁ ਸੁਤਾ ॥: Maya mohi ihu jagu sutaa (sggs 112).
Driven by the Mayaic mind, the Gurbani says that people neither listen nor contemplate the Naam (Shabad, Hukam, the Divine Knowledge…). 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.
- ਆਖਣਿ ਅਉਖਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਕਿਉ ਸੁਣੀਐ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ॥: O Dear! It is becoming difficult to utter (the Naam); the Naam is (also) not being heard (sggs 636).
The Gurbani further tells us that, there can be nothing but tumult (“Rol Ghacholaa“) in the mind tied to Maya! Consequently, those who are interested in dealing with Maya (Mayadhaaree, Manmukh, Saakat…) cannot pay attention to the Shabad!
- 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 and consciousness. In such mental conditioning, he is also not interested in cultivating Transcendental Knowledge just as animals.
- ਮੂਲੁ ਨ ਬੂਝਹਿ ਆਪਣਾ ਸੇ ਪਸੂਆ ਸੇ ਢੋਰ ਜੀਉ ॥: Those who do not understand their own Mool (Source, Origin, Jot…); they are beasts and they are cattle (i.e., great fools of animal intellect-ਡੰਗਰ…)! (sggs 751).
- 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, wilderment…). (sggs 1300).
Bhagat Kabeer Sahib says that the Satguru (Giver of the Divine Knowledge) can’t do anything if a student (Sikh – learner) lacks interest and is bent upon squandering his precious life “in exchange for a shell”! The Satgur cannot enkindle the thirst for Knowledge in such a student. For he 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॥: Kabeer saachaa satiguru kiaa karai jaou sikhaa mahi chook…: 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).