Mere Bowing Down is Not Humility

The Gurbani captures Varied facets of human nature and the gross and subtle ways in which the right conduct can be transgressed.

  • ਸਲੋਕੁ ਮਃ ੧ ॥ ਸਿੰਮਲ ਰੁਖੁ ਸਰਾਇਰਾ ਅਤਿ ਦੀਰਘ ਅਤਿ ਮੁਚੁ ॥ ਓਇ ਜਿ ਆਵਹਿ ਆਸ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਹਿ ਨਿਰਾਸੇ ਕਿਤੁ ॥ ਫਲ ਫਿਕੇ ਫੁਲ ਬਕਬਕੇ ਕੰਮਿ ਨ ਆਵਹਿ ਪਤ ॥ ਮਿਠਤੁ ਨੀਵੀ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਗੁਣ ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਤਤੁ ॥ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਨਿਵੈ ਆਪ ਕਉ ਪਰ ਕਉ ਨਿਵੈ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਧਰਿ ਤਾਰਾਜੂ ਤੋਲੀਐ ਨਿਵੈ ਸੁ ਗਉਰਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਅਪਰਾਧੀ ਦੂਣਾ ਨਿਵੈ ਜੋ ਹੰਤਾ ਮਿਰਗਾਹਿ ॥ ਸੀਸਿ ਨਿਵਾਇਐ ਕਿਆ ਥੀਐ ਜਾ ਰਿਦੈ ਕੁਸੁਧੇ ਜਾਹਿ ॥੧॥: Saloku M: 1 ||: The Simmal tree is straight, very tall, and very thick. But the birds that come and sit on it with expectation, depart disappointed. (Because) its fruits are tasteless, its flowers are nauseating, and its leaves are useless. O Nanak! There is sweetness in humility, and Virtues; (humility) is the essence of all good Virtues (i.e., it’s the best Virtue!). Everyone bows down to himself (in this world – for the sake of one’s own selfishness); no one bows down for the sake of other. (But notice that) when something is placed on the balancing scale and weighed, the side which descends is heavier! A Aparaadhe (ਅਪਰਾਧੀ – offender, defaulter, transgressor, guilty, culprit, wrong-doer, etc.) like the deer hunter, bows down twice as much. (But) what can be achieved by bowing the head, when the heart is impure (i.e., nothing is attained by bowing if one is full of Bikaars within). ||1|| (sggs 470). (sggs 470).

For example, the above Shabad of Baabaa Nanak draws our attention to the fact that:

  • Humility is the one quality that is the bedrock on which all other good qualities rest.
  • Pretending to be humble (pretentiously bowing down – ਝੂਠੇ ਲਾਲਚ ਦੀ ਖਾਤਰ ਮੱਥੇ ਟੇਕਣੇ…) while there is the lack of true humility within brings in its wake all the negative and undesirable qualities. In fact, those who display phony bowing down are indicated to be akin to a “Aparaadhe” (ਅਪਰਾਧੀ – offender, defaulter, transgressor, guilty, culprit, wrong-doer, etc.) like the hunter.
  • Due to arrogance, there sets in delusion in reading/listening/understanding of the Gurbani that is given to us purely for the cause of spiritual Upliftment and the gaining of Aatm-Giaan (Divine Knowledge, Spiritual Wisdom…).

True humility is the recognition of one’s imperfections. The material conception of life makes us ignoring or not recognize our own imperfections. It is so because we lack Aatm-Giaan (Spiritual Wisdom…). The humble and modest feeling of being meek and lowly comes when we attain humility. For example, all God-realized persons (the Gurmukhs) are embodiment of true humility; for they always call themselves meek and lowly. Their pattern of humility is unblemished.

Spiritual quality of humility belongs to a godly person (the Gurmukh) endowed with the Divine Nature. Accordingly, humility abides in the heart of those fortunate ones who have divinized their inner-self: the mind, intelligence, consciousness, and ego. Hence the importance of this Divine Virtue of “humility” is underscored in the Gurbani; for one can test and judge himself by this Virtue to see how far his own Spiritual-Unfoldment is progressed.

Since true humility is one of the essential qualifications of a godly or a transcendentally situated person, it puts that person in a right relation to God and His Creation.

Humility is a habit of the mind and heart corresponding to our comparative meanness, unworthiness and vileness before God. A truly humble person is sensible of the small extent of his knowledge, and the great extent of his ignorance, and of the limited extent of his understanding as compared with the understanding of a godly person (the Gurmukh).

According to the Gurbani, humility is a formidable weapon. This weapon can be used to cut the roots of false ego-sense (Haumai).

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