Light Symbolizes Knowledge

The gurbani leads us to the Light – Infinite Knowledge (Wisdom, Giaan, etc).

Light (Jot, Joti, or Jyoti) Symbolizes spiritual Knowledge, the greatest and lasting Inner Wealth. For Knowledge removes spiritual ignorance (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਲੋਂ ਬੇ-ਸਮਝੀ ਦਾ ਹਨੇਰਾ) just as light removes darkness.

  • ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਮਿਟਿ ਗਇਆ ਗੁਰ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਚਰਾਗੁ ॥: The Gur-Wisdom is (akin to) the kindled lamp that dispels darkness of ignorance (from within) (sggs 849).

Aatamaan / Parmaatmaan is indicated to be the Knowledge Principle, the Inner Light. The Gurbani says we are That (Joti-svaroopa), the embodiment of the Infinite Knowledge or Wisdom.

  • ਮਤਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸ ਭਈ ਹਰਿ ਧਿਆਇਆ ਗਿਆਨਿ ਤਤਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਟੀ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਸਹਜਿ ਸਮਾਧਿ ਲਗਾਇ ॥੩॥: Remaining lovingly attuned to the Eessence of spiritual Wisdom (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ ਦੀ ਰਾਹੀਂ , etc., who) meditates on the Lord (Simran), the intellect (of that person) becomes Enlightened. The Divine Light radiates forth deep within (awkened within, etc.) his being. Merging intuitively into Celestial Samaadhi (Sahaj Samaadhi, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ), his mind becomes pleased and appeased (ਮਨ ਦਾ “ਗਿਆਨਿ ਤਤਿ ਲਿਵ” ਵਿਚ ਗਿੱਝ ਜਾਣਾਂ). ||3|| (sggs 1199).

The Gurbani repeatedly urges us to awaken this Light of spiritual Knowledge within, which will dispel our darkness of spiritual ignorance.

It’s really amazing and shocking to see how stupid, worthless, and empty rituals and dogmas are taking their strong roots in Gurdawaaraas! For example, the author recently observed in a Gurdawaaraa – immediately after bowing down in front of the Shabad-Guru – that many people attending the congregation would walk to an another alter behind the SGGS and bow down in front of it. Just out of curiosity, after the conclusion of the Divaan, the author went to see as to what is it the people bow before, blatantly ignoring the SGGS. He found that it was an oil lamp people were bowing before!

This is the madness Baabaa Nanak freed us from. But looks like we are falling back into the same mud again, probably even more so! Bhais, Raagees, etc., do not want to correct this sort of non-sense because they don’t want to tick off their clients. After all they are in for money.

The oil lamp (ਦੀਪਕ, ਚਿਰਾਗ) the Gurbani talks about is again the Infinite spiritual “Knowledge”.

  • ਕਲਿ ਕਾਲਖ ਅੰਧਿਆਰੀਆ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਦੀਪਕ ਉਜਿਆਰੀਆ ॥੧॥: In this Kali Yuga, there is only pitch darkness. The Gur-Wisdom is the Lamp that Enlightens (the mind). ||1|| (sggs 210).

Hence, the lamp is to be taken metaphysically and symbolically. That is, instead of taking it literally and start worshiping the lamp blindly (in the presence of SGGS), the idea is to learn spiritual significance of these similes. In turn, if we understand their spiritual significance, we can learn from them.

For example, let’s consider the simile of the oil or Ghee lamp. It symbolizes our Vaasanas (negative tendencies or ਵਿਕਾਰ) and the wick, the false ego-sense (Haumai). When lit by spiritual Knowledge (spiritual Wisdom, Giaan, etc.), Vaasanas get slowly exhausted and Haumai (the false ego-sense) too finally thins out. If we so objectively observe, the flame of a lamp always burns upwards. It signifies that, similarly, we should acquire such spiritual Knowledge as to take us towards Higher ideals and Higher Self.

This lamp of the spiritual Knowledge that wells from wihin is always there. We may not be aware of its existance – we may not care to Realize it – but its there within each one of us, here and now. It is only because our awareness is busy in gratifying our senses in the external world that we don’t wish to look within for this Light that radiates at a higher vibration.

In the lotus of the heart once such lamp is rekindled, the external world (of sense-gratification, Vikaars, passions, Haume- or ego-mind, etc.) disappears, and the Gurmukh Lifestyle (Enlightened or Divine Life, Pure Consciousness, etc.) dawns.

Light Symbolizes Knowledge was last modified: February 12th, 2015 by T. Singh
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4 comments Leave a comment

  1. Sonik Malik

    Sir,
    I agree with you that bowing to a lamp is unnecessary and dogmatic in nature; the lamp is a symbol, after all. But, on the same note, the Granth Sahib too is a collection of songs and hymns that point to the truth – that symbolize something that is untouchable, inexpressible. Going to a gurudwaara and bowing to the book is as unnecessary and futile as is bowing to a lamp or any other image.
    Having said this, I do understand that ritual brings comfort and security to the human mind. Also, a gurudwaara, temple, mosque, or church is a place where people congregate, find some moments of peace and of meditation. That is a good thing, indeed.
    I write here in order to share my views, not to criticise or condemn. I hope my comments do not offend anyone.

    Regards,
    Sonik

  2. Gurbani Veechar

    I don’t want to start this blog page as a discussion forum but just to present my view. Both the author and Mr. Sonik Malik has brought good points. But there is a difference between just bowing down in front of lamp and bowing down in front of Guru Granth Sahib Ji that is pointing at truth as Mr. Sonik Malik himself said. Therefore, to equate a burning lamp to something that is pointing towards Truth may not be appropriate.
    To better express my view please take into consideration this example, a doctor writes an order on a piece of paper. Now any regular paper and that piece of paper on which the doctor has written order is same physically and also chemically but the presence of doctor’s order on that particular paper makes it important. In the same way, bowing down in front of Guru Granth Sahib Ji is not bowing down in front of 1430 papers or the ink, or the nicely decorated clothes but bowing down to the knowledge that is present in it.

    Regards,
    Gurbani Veechar

  3. Sonik Malik

    Well said. I agree with what you have to say, but was pointing towards something else. I could elaborate on my viewpoint, but perhaps this is not the right forum to start a discussion of this kind. Also, discussions and debates probably just take us away from the Truth.
    It is nice to know there are thoughtful and caring people around the world; people who put forth their views in a civilized manner :) Thank you for your comments on my response.

    Regards,
    Sonik

  4. Karamjeet Singh

    This comment is in response to the original post.

    ….. “the idea is to learn spiritual significance of these similes” ….

    Nothing could be more important than realizing this truth. Examples and analogies are often cited to simplify things, to set the right direction for thinking … but unfortunately just a superfluous reading perhaps leads to the literal ‘misinterpretations’ or even mis-actions.

    I particularly liked author’s observation –

    “If we so objectively observe, the flame of a lamp always burns upwards. It signifies that, similarly, we should acquire such spiritual Knowledge as to take us towards Higher ideals and Higher Self”.

    Very well said. The flame burns ‘upwards’ and in the process burns down the ‘wick’ as well as the ‘oil’ – the true inner knowledge eradicates lusts and false egos.

    Please keep enlightening us all (just like the lamp as exemplified in this two-liner by an Urdu poet )….

    Jahaa’n bhi hogaa, roushni hi degaa
    K charaag ka apna makaa’n nahin hotaa

    Deep regards

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