Four things are common in nonhuman animals and a sense-blind human having an unhealthy or empty mind: eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. Mind infatuated with Bikaar (lust,anger, greed, etc.) is not only restless, it also acts like animals (ਪਸੂ ਵਿਰਤੀ-animal nature) — functions primarily on instinct, not much reasoning or discernment (Bibek Budh).
The Gurbani has used many similes to help us understand this animal nature of the human mind. With these examples, the SGGS helps us understand the Gurmat Sidhaant (in the English language, there is no word equivalent to Sidhaant-ਸਿਧਾਂਤ).
- 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).
When the Truth that has not been personally experienced, one cannot grasp it directly. However, with the help of analogies, similes, allegories, metaphors, figurative or mystic representations and illustrations, the Truth becomes relatively easier to grasp. Such methods have extensively been used in the SGGS to drive the Truth or Wisdom (Brahm Giaan) into our doubt ridden mind.
To start with, let’s consider the following verse in which the Gurbani compares the human mind with a donkey (ਖੋਤਾ-ਮਨ) and a buffalo (ਭੈਸਾ-ਮਨ). A donkey — beast of burden — symbolizes foolishness, and a buffalo symbolizes inflated false ego-sense (Haumai).
- ਹਰੀ ਅੰਗੂਰੀ ਗਦਹਾ ਚਰੈ ॥ ਨਿਤ ਉਠਿ ਹਾਸੈ ਹੀਗੈ ਮਰੈ ॥੧॥ ਮਾਤਾ ਭੈਸਾ ਅੰਮੁਹਾ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਕੁਦਿ ਕੁਦਿ ਚਰੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਪਾਇ ॥੨॥: The donkey (i.e., the foolish mind) grazes upon the green grass (of Bikaar or Maya …); arising each day, (the mind) laughs and brays (like a donkey), and (finally) become perplexed. ||1|| | (The stubborn mind) is like the intoxicated buffalo. It romps (in egotism) and eats (the crop of Bikaar, Maya …) and then is ruined completely (live a hellish existence or low life…). ||2|| (sggs 326).
- ਫੀਲੁ ਰਬਾਬੀ ਬਲਦੁ ਪਖਾਵਜ ਕਊਆ ਤਾਲ ਬਜਾਵੈ ॥ ਪਹਿਰਿ ਚੋਲਨਾ ਗਦਹਾ ਨਾਚੈ ਭੈਸਾ ਭਗਤਿ ਕਰਾਵੈ ॥੧॥: (The mind’s animal nature) plays the guitar of the elephant-nature (egoism…); it plays drums of the ox-nature (indolence, ignorance…); it plays cymbals of the crow-nature (material cleverness…). (The mind’s animal nature) performs dance of the donkey-nature (lust…), and perform Bhagti of the buffalo-nature (uncontrolled conduct or intoxication with Maya…) ||1||. (sggs 477).
In addition to donkey and buffalo, the crazy and crooked nature of the human mind is also compared in the Gurbani with the behavior of many other animals. For example, camel, dog, elephant, frog, monkey, stork or crane, fish, deer, and so on.
- ਮਨ ਕਰਹਲਾ ਤੂੰ ਚੰਚਲਾ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ਛਡਿ ਵਿਕਰਾਲਿ ॥ O camel-like mind! You are restless; give up your hideous cleverness. (sggs 235).
- ਅੰਤਰਿ ਲੋਭੁ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਹਲਕਾਏ ॥: (People) within whom is greed wander about like rabid dogs. (sggs 372).
- ਮਨੁ ਮੈਗਲੁ ਸਾਕਤੁ ਦੇਵਾਨਾ ॥: The mind of the Saakat is like a crazy elephant (sggs 415).
- ਮਨੁ ਮੁਗਧੌ ਦਾਦਰੁ ਭਗਤਿਹੀਨੁ ॥: The mind devoid of true Bhagti is like a foolish frog (sggs 1188).
- ਮਨਮੁਖ ਕਰਮ ਕਰੇ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਅਭਿਮਾਨਾ ॥ ਬਗ ਜਿਉ ਲਾਇ ਬਹੈ ਨਿਤ ਧਿਆਨਾ ॥: Manmukhs (those in material or ego consciousness) perform their actions in much pride (arrogance, ਅਭਿਮਾਨ, etc.). (Acting in pride – ਹੰਕਾਰੀ ਹੋਇਆ) They sit, like storks, pretending to meditate (but, while pretending to be meditating, storks keep staring at fish or frogs!) (sggs 230).
- ਮਰਕਟ ਮੁਸਟੀ ਅਨਾਜ ਕੀ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਲੀਨੀ ਹਾਥੁ ਪਸਾਰਿ ॥: O crazy mind! The monkey stretches out its hand (into the narrow-necked pot), and takes a handful of grains; now unable to escape (since its hand is full of grains, it cannot take its hand out of the narrow-necked pot and escape. (sggs 336).
In addition to many nonhuman animals, the crazy and crooked nature of the human mind is also compared in the Gurbani with the behavior of many birds, insects, etc. For example, crow, parrot, vulture, moth, bumble bee, etc.
- ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਪੰਖੀ ਭਇਓ ਉਡਿ ਉਡਿ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਜੋ ਜੈਸੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਸੋ ਤੈਸੋ ਫਲੁ ਖਾਇ ॥੮੬॥: O Kabeer! The mind has become like a bird; it soars and flies in the ten directions (desires chasing sense objects, wanderings, etc.). According to the company it (i.e., mind) keeps, so are the fruits it eats ||86|| (sggs 1369).
- ਬਿਨੁ ਸਿਮਰਨ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਕਰਮ ਕਰਾਸ ॥ ਕਾਗ ਬਤਨ ਬਿਸਟਾ ਮਹਿ ਵਾਸ ॥੨॥: Without Simran (i.e., without the continuous remembrance of the Mool), one’s other actions are accursed. Like the crow’s beak, he dwells in ordure. ||2|| (sggs 239).
- ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਰੋਗਿ ਪਚਿ ਮੁਏ ਪਤੰਗਾ ॥: Because of the disease of vision (attracted to a lamp’s light), the moth is burnt to death (on a lamp’s light). (sggs 1140).
- ਬਾਸਨ ਰੋਗਿ ਭਵਰੁ ਬਿਨਸਾਨੋ ॥: Through the disease of smell (attracted to a flower), the bumble bee is destroyed. (sggs 1140).
What separates humans from animals?
The SGGS tells us that our mind’s True or Pure Nature is Jot Saroop. This gives rise to a following question: If our mind’s True Natue is Jot Saroop, then why does it act like animals? Let’s ask the SGGS:
- ਜਿਨਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨ ਸੇਵਿਓ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕੀਤੋ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਓਇ ਮਾਣਸ ਜੂਨਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਨਿ ਪਸੂ ਢੋਰ ਗਾਵਾਰ ॥ ਓਨਾ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਸਉ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਨ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥: Those who do not serve the Satiguru (Knowledge of Truth) through Reflection on the Shabad (Shabad-Vichaar), do not call them human beings; they are just animals and stupid beasts. They have neither spiritual Knowledge nor contemplation within (Giaan Dhiaan); they have no love and affection for “Hari” (i.e., Mool, Raam, Prabh…). (sggs 1418).
- ਮੈ ਪਤਿ ਕੀ ਪੰਦਿ ਨ ਕਰਣੀ ਕੀ ਕਾਰ ॥ ਹਉ ਬਿਗੜੈ ਰੂਪਿ ਰਹਾ ਬਿਕਰਾਲ ॥: I have not followed the Divine Way (Divine Wisdom), nor have I done good deeds. (As a result, my Original Jot Saroop) got damaged and remain perplexed. (sggs 24).
Thus, in nutshell, a mortal, lacking the Divine Wisdom or the Gurmukh Lifestyle, lives an animal-like life (animal Joon -ਪਸੂ ਜੂਨ) while alive, again and again!
Now, let’s ask the Gurbani as to why do we lack the Divine Knowledge in the first place? Because – as the Gurbani tells us – people are not interested in it!
We may read, listen or study the Gur-Shabad a lot, but very “rare” one LIVES IT! Hence, the important step – earnest practice or implementation of the Wisdom of the SGGS in daily life (Amal-ਅਮਲ) – is missing.
- ਗੁਰ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਹੀਣਸ੍ਯ੍ਯ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੰਤ ਜਨਮ ਭ੍ਰਸਟਣਹ ॥ ਕੂਕਰਹ ਸੂਕਰਹ ਗਰਧਭਹ ਕਾਕਹ ਸਰਪਨਹ ਤੁਲਿ ਖਲਹ ॥੩੩॥: That mortal who lacks the Gur-Wisdom, cursed and fallen (depraved, polluted…) is his life. That wicked person is a dog, a pig, a jackass, a crow, a snake. ||33|| (1356).
The SGGS urges to give up living an animal-Joon or life (i.e., non-Gurmukh nature, etc.). Instead, we are urged to adop the nature of a Hans or swan (i.e., the Gurmukh).
A Hans (swan) is said to have two mystic qualities: (1) a mystic quality of separating milk from the water, and (2) eating only the real pearls found at the bottom of a lake! Like a Hans, we also need to separate Truth from all that enters our years, eyes, and other physical senses; for everything we perceive through our senses is not Truth. Like a Hans, we need to learn separating Truth from the worldly nonsense or Maya by utilizing the unique power of reasoning or discernment (Bibek Budh).
- ਹੰਸ ਹੰਸਾ ਬਗ ਬਗਾ ਲਹੈ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਜਾਲਾ ॥: (By sermonizing, understanding, orating, etc., Naam,) filth of the mind diminishes, and from a great heron (i.e., great cheat or trickster), the mind becomes a great swan (i.e., Gurmukh). (sggs 567).
Since the stubborn mind knowingly commits demerits, now perhaps we can appreciate why the Gurbani repeatedly ask us to investigate the mind, conquer the mind, freeze the mind, cut the mind, and bathe the mind in the Pool of Wisdom (Giaan). For it’s the mind that needs to become Sikh…
Baabaa Nanak placed tremendous emphasis on virtuous conduct and Soch (thinking). After all, human actions are the louder expressions of his thoughts (Soch). According to Baabaa Nanak, truth is the foundation of all Virtues. So the SGGS asks us not to associate with people of animal nature (i.e., Saakat, Manmukh, Mayadhaaree, etc.).
- ਸਰਵਰੁ ਹੰਸਿ ਨ ਜਾਣਿਆ ਕਾਗ ਕੁਪੰਖੀ ਸੰਗਿ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਸਿਉ ਐਸੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਹੈ ਬੂਝਹੁ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਰੰਗਿ ॥: Associating with the crow-minded (i.e., Saakat: those separated from their Mool, Mayadhaaree, Manmukh…), the soul-swan did not respect the Sarovar (i.e., the Pool of the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom). Such is the love with the Saakat. O wise one! Understand (the true Way of life) through the Divine love. (sggs 1411).