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 behaves and lives like animals while alive (ਪਸੂ ਵਿਰਤੀ-animal nature) — functions primarily on instinct, not much reasoning or discernment (Bibek Budh).
In nutshell, separation from Truth (Sach) = Animal-Joon-Life-nature
- 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).
- ਮਾਣਸ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਕਰਣੀ ਕੁਤਾ ਦਰਿ ਫੁਰਮਾਨੁ ॥: O Nanak! A human being is a human in shape and name only; (but) by conduct he is a dog (greedy, selfish, corrupt, etc.) – this is the Divine edict. (sggs 350).
- ਜਿਉ ਕੂਕਰੁ ਹਰਕਾਇਆ ਧਾਵੈ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਲੋਭੀ ਜੰਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਈ ਭਖੁ ਅਭਖੁ ਸਭ ਖਾਇ ॥: Like the mad dog running around in all directions, the greedy person, unaware, consumes everything, edible and non-edible alike (sggs 50).
- ਬਿਨੁ ਸਿਮਰਨ ਕੂਕਰ ਹਰਕਾਇਆ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਲੋਭੀ ਬੰਧੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੬॥: Without remembrance (of Wisdom, Virtues..), one is like a mad dog. The greedy, Saakat (one separated from the Truth) falls into entanglements ||6|| (sggs 239).
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).
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).
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.
- ਗੁਰ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਹੀਣਸ੍ਯ੍ਯ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੰਤ ਜਨਮ ਭ੍ਰਸਟਣਹ ॥ ਕੂਕਰਹ ਸੂਕਰਹ ਗਰਧਭਹ ਕਾਕਹ ਸਰਪਨਹ ਤੁਲਿ ਖਲਹ ॥੩੩॥: That mortal who lacks the Gur-mantra (Guru’s counsel, advice, Wisdom, Upadesh, ਸਲਾਹ), cursed and fallen (depraved, polluted…) is his life. That wicked person is a dog, a pig, a jackass, a crow, a snake (in this very life, here and now, not after death). ||33|| (1356).
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, similar is the fruit (i.e. Giaan or knowledge) it eats ||86|| (sggs 1369).
- ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਮੀਨ ਭ੍ਰਿੰਗ ਪਤੰਗ ਕੁੰਚਰ ਏਕ ਦੋਖ ਬਿਨਾਸ ॥ ਪੰਚ ਦੋਖ ਅਸਾਧ ਜਾ ਮਹਿ ਤਾ ਕੀ ਕੇਤਕ ਆਸ ॥੧॥: The deer, the fish, the bumble bee, the moth and the elephant are destroyed, each for a single defect [ardent desire to hear sound (deer); fish: desire of tongue or taste (fish); desire for smell (bumble bee); desire for seeing (moth); desire of lust (elephant)]. So the (mortal) who is filled with the five incurable defects (i.e., lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride) – what hope is there for him? ||1|| (sggs 468).
Not only animals, birds, and insects, the Gurbani also uses the examples of trees and plants! For example, the smell of sandalwood is so sublime, whatever plant comes in its contact gets uplifted. Similarly, the Gurbani urges us to seek the company of the divine-oriented, virtuous and wise people. In their contact, one gets spiritually uplifted, transformed, and changed from within.
- ਜਿਉ ਚੰਦਨ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਵਸੈ ਹਿਰਡੁ ਬਪੁੜਾ ਤਿਉ ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਪਤਿਤ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥੩॥: The poor castor oil plant, growing near the sandalwood tree, becomes fragrant; in the same way, the fallen or corrup becomes approved by joining the company of the divine-oriented. ||3|| (861).
To the contrary, consider a thorn bush:
- ਕਬੀਰ ਮਾਰੀ ਮਰਉ ਕੁਸੰਗ ਕੀ ਕੇਲੇ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਜੁ ਬੇਰਿ ॥ ਉਹ ਝੂਲੈ ਉਹ ਚੀਰੀਐ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਹੇਰਿ ॥੮੮॥: O Kabeer! I have been ruined and destroyed by bad company (Kusang), like the banana plant near the thorn bush. The thorn bush waves in the wind, and pierces the banana plant; see this, and do not associate with the Saakat (those separated from the Divine). ||88|| (sggs 1369).
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 how did it become deformed and perplexed? And why does it behave 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, Gur-Giaan or Wisdom, Upadesh…), do not call them human beings; they are (just like the) foolish dead animals. They have neither spiritual Knowledge nor contemplation within (Giaan Dhiaan); they have no love and affection for “Hari” (i.e., Mool, Prabh, Jot…). (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 deformed and remains perplexed. (sggs 24).
- ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਪਸੂ ਭਏ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥੬॥: Without understanding, people become beast (-nature) and demon ||6|| (sggs 224).
Now, let’s ask the Gurbani as to why do we lack the spiritual Knowledge or a Divine Lifestyle? As the Gurbani tells us, because 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.
Instead of living an animal-Joon or life (i.e., non-Gurmukh nature, etc.), the SGGS urges adopting 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! Everything we perceive through the bodily senses is not the Truth! Like a Hans, the Gurbani’s Wisdom expects us to utilizing the unique power of reasoning or discernment (Bibek Budh) to separate the Truth from all that enters our senses.
- 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).
Virtuous conduct and thinking (Soch) is emphasized by Baabaa Nanak. After all, human actions are the louder expressions of his thoughts (Soch). According to Baabaa Nanak, the Truth is the foundation of all Virtues. So the SGGS asks us to befriend with the Truth and disassociate from 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 Wisdom). Such is the love with the Saakat. O wise one! Understand (the true Way of life) through the Divine love. (sggs 1411).
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…