The Gurbani has attached paramount importance to the necessity of internal cleanliness, not the external one.
- ਬਾਹਰਿ ਮਲੁ ਧੋਵੈ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਜੂਠਿ ਨ ਜਾਏ ॥: Outwardly, he (hypocrite) washes off the filth, but the impurity of his mind does not go away (sggs 88).
- ਮਨਿ ਮੈਲੈ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਮੈਲਾ ਤਨਿ ਧੋਤੈ ਮਨੁ ਹਛਾ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: When the mind is filthy, everything is filthy; by washing the body, the mind is not cleaned (sggs 558).
The Gurbani does not advocate not to keep the external body clean. However, on account of lack of understanding of the Gurmat (The Teaching or Wisdom of the SGGS…), many have turned the external cleanliness into a religious ritual – equating the outer neatness and cleanliness with the internal cleanliness (mental Purity, Divine or Gurmukh Lifestyle, Spiritual Life, etc.)! The Gurbani exposes the folly of emphasis on such Brahminical ritual of external cleanliness:
- ਇਸੁ ਦੇਹੀ ਕਉ ਬਹੁ ਸਾਧਨਾ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਮਨ ਤੇ ਕਬਹੂ ਨ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਟਰੈ ॥ ਜਲਿ ਧੋਵੈ ਬਹੁ ਦੇਹ ਅਨੀਤਿ ॥ ਸੁਧ ਕਹਾ ਹੋਇ ਕਾਚੀ ਭੀਤਿ ॥: (One) may subject your body to all sorts of “Saadhanaa” (practices, disciplines, etc.), but the mind will never be rid of its “Bikhiaa” (Maya). (One) may wash this perishable body with plenty of water, (still) this wall of mud (i.e., body) cannot be washed clean. (sggs 265).
- ਵਸਤ੍ਰ ਪਖਾਲਿ ਪਖਾਲੇ ਕਾਇਆ ਆਪੇ ਸੰਜਮਿ ਹੋਵੈ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਲਗੀ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੈ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਮਲਿ ਮਲਿ ਧੋਵੈ ॥ ਅੰਧਾ ਭੂਲਿ ਪਇਆ ਜਮ ਜਾਲੇ ॥: (A person who upon) washing (his) clothes washes (his) body, (and thus by keeping external cleanliness, he thinks himself as he has) become an ascetic one who controls his passions…). (But he is) unaware of the inner filth staining (his mind), (while he) ties and tries to wash off the outer (dirt of the body). (sggs 139).
Hence, the real problem is that these external cleansing actions, for most of us, tend to be misconstrued as “necessary and sufficient”; thus presenting a slippery slope descending us down to a point where the need for internal cleanliness (of the mind) is deemed completely obliterate. Such trickery (“ਚਤੁਰਾਈ”) of the deluded, Mayaic, or ego-mind (Haumai) is out-rightly rejected by the SGGS.
- ਬਾਹਰੁ ਉਦਕਿ ਪਖਾਰੀਐ ਘਟ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਬਿਬਿਧਿ ਬਿਕਾਰ ॥ ਸੁਧ ਕਵਨ ਪਰ ਹੋਇਬੋ ਸੁਚ ਕੁੰਚਰ ਬਿਧਿ ਬਿਉਹਾਰ ॥੪॥ : (One can) externally wash (his body) with water, but deep within (the heart) is tarnished by all sorts of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed…). So how can he become pure? This practice of purification is like that of an elephant-bath (i.e., this process of purification is the conduct of the egoistic people). ||4|| (sggs 346).
- ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੁਗਧ ਕਰਹਿ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ॥ ਨਾਤਾ ਧੋਤਾ ਥਾਇ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥: Manmukh mughad kare chaturaaee... (sggs 114).
In nutshell, first, the Gurbani does not ask us not being hygienic. Second, the Gurbani does not promote or support “Frog-Philosophy” either. But, our “frog-mind” always thinks in terms of cleansing the body but not the mind:
- ਜਲ ਕੈ ਮਜਨਿ ਜੇ ਗਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਮੇਂਡੁਕ ਨਾਵਹਿ ॥: If salvation can be obtained by bathing in water, then what about the frog, which is always bathing (always remain in water)? (sggs 484).
- ਸੂਚੇ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਹਨਿ ਜਿ ਪਿੰਡਾ ਧੋਇ ॥ ਸੂਚੇ ਸੇਈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਨ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਸੋਇ ॥: People who sit (thinking they have become pure) after merely washing their body are not called pure. O Nanak! Only they are pure within whose mind (ਸੱਚ-Truth) abides (sggs 472).
As revealed by the Gurbani here, one’s stubborn belief in ritual bathing is nothing but ignorance and foolishness. By doing so, as indicated in the Gurbani, such “idiotic Manmukhs” (“ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੁਗਧ”) end up accumulating more mental filth! Inflicted by ego of external bathing, or ablutions at Teerath (places of pilgrimage), the Gurbani says their “Dubidhaa” (duality, doubt…) only expands!!
In other words, The Gurbani says they become more “Pakhandee” (hypocrite).
- ਦੇਹੀ ਧੋਇ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਮੈਲੁ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਿਆਪੈ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਫੈਲੁ ॥: By merely washing the body, (one’s inner) filth is not removed. Afflicted by egotism, “Dubidhaa” (duality, doubt…) only increases. (sggs 893).
The Gurbani is all about understanding and living the Aatmic-Giaan (the Divine Wisdom or Brahm-Giaan of the SGGS). Whenever there is a mention of Ishnaan (bathing) in the Gurbani, it is only pointed toward the Inner Ishnaan; bathing the mind in the Inner Pool (“Sarovar”) of the Naam (Shabad, Hukam, Aatam-Giaan…) located within the body. This Spiritual “Srovar” within is cleansing, purifying, and inspiring at all times!
- ਏਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਸਰਵਰੁ ਹੈ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਈ ॥੧੩॥: O saints, this (human) body is a pool (Srovar); (the man who stays connected to his Mool with) one-pointed consciousness or single mindedly, (it’s like he is) bathing (in this Srovar) ||13|| (sggs 909).
Here the Gurmat (Divine Wisdom, Upadesh of the SGGS) makes it very clear that the true Ishnaan (bathing, ablution) only consists of bathing the mind in the cleansing water of the Shabad (Naam, Hukam, Divine Wisdom, Divine Qualities…). Stubborn insistence on any other Ishnaan will only indicate no trust in the SGGS, and bewilderment of the doubt-ridden mind indulged in Karamkaand.
- ਸਹਸੈ ਜੀਉ ਮਲੀਣੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਤੁ ਸੰਜਮਿ ਧੋਤਾ ਜਾਏ ॥ ਮੰਨੁ ਧੋਵਹੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਲਾਗਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਉ ਰਹਹੁ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ: So long the mind is in the grip of ਸਹਿਮ (doubt, worry, skepticism, etc., born of from our love for Maya), it is rendered filthy. By no ਸੰਜਮਿ (Jugati – external tact, skill, device, knack, etc.) this filth of the mind can be cleansed. Attach yourself to the Shabad (Gur-Giaan…), continue to fix your consciousness on Hari (Mool), and (like this) wash your mind (sggs 919).
- ਭਰੀਐ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਪਾ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਪੈ ਨਾਵੈ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ ॥: Bhareeai mati Paapaa kai sangi… (sggs 4).
The Gurbani is “Brahm Beechaar-ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰ” (Reflection on the Ultimate Formless or Niraakaar Reality – ਪਰਮਾਤਮ ਦੇ ਮਿਲਾਪ ਦੀ ਵਿਚਾਰ). There is no place for stubborn-mindedness or Karamkaand (rituals) in “Brahm-Beechaar” of the SGGS. Those who blindly follow the Karamkaand propagated by the greedy Pujaaree-group or the priest-group take the Gur-Shabad to be just an ordinary song (“ਗੀਤੁ”). But, according to the Gurbani’s edict, it is “Brahm Beechaar-ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰ”!
- ਲੋਗੁ ਜਾਨੈ ਇਹੁ ਗੀਤੁ ਹੈ ਇਹੁ ਤਉ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥: People think that the (Gur-Shabad) is (an ordinary) song, but it is a “Brahm Beechaar”. (sggs 335).
- ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬੋਲੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥੨॥੧੧॥: Nanak speaks the “Brahm Beechaaru” (sggs 1138).
Only if we could understand and implement on us these teachings of the SGGS, we could truly understand the shallowness of the stubborn-mindedness and Karamkaand we so ignorantly keep on executing day in and day out.