Oily Rag

  • ਖੰਨਲੀ ਧੋਤੀ ਉਜਲੀ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜੇ ਸਉ ਧੋਵਣਿ ਪਾਹੁ ॥: Khanalee dhotee ujalee na hovee jae so dhovan paahu: The oily rag cannot be cleaned by merely washing it, even if it is washed a hundred times (sggs 651). 

Why cannot the external bathing remove the inner “filth” that sticks to our mind? Because this “filth” that stains the mind is subtle and stubborn like the “oily rag”. Also, as indicated in the Gurbani, since the mind is accumulating this “filth” for time immemorial, the mind has become “pitch black”. Such subtle and stubborn “filth” cannot be removed by just bathing the body in waters of wells, ponds, rivers etc. This is the Gurbani’s edict. The SGGS logically asks “If salvation can be obtained by bathing in water, then what about the frog, which is always bathing in water? As is the frog, so is that mortal”.

  • ਜਨਮ ਜਨਮ ਕੀ ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਕਉ ਮਲੁ ਲਾਗੀ ਕਾਲਾ ਹੋਆ ਸਿਆਹ ॥: Janam janam kee is mann kayu mal laagee kaalaa hoaa siaah: The scum (i.e., impurity) of so many births is attached to this mind and it has become pitch black (sggs 651). 

The SGGS reminds us that, in addition to bathing the body in the morning, our mind also needs a morning bath, before we start our day. This internal washing can only be attained through meditation (“bathing in the pool of the Amrit-Name within”) and other spiritual practices (such as keeping the Company of the saints or the Gurmukhs, becoming the Gurmukh, living truthfully, performing good deeds, and so on). Because until the mind is so bathed and cleansed daily, mere bathing of the body-frame will not be enough.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਚੁਕਾਵਣਿਆ ॥: Nanak naam vasai mann antar gurmukh mailu chukaavaniaa: Says Nanak, let the Naam abides deep within the minds; by becoming the Gurmukhs, cleanse your filth (sggs 121). 

The Gurbani tells us that without cleansing the mind (eradication, annihilation, killing or destruction of the Haume-mind), it’s not possible to link with one’s True Nature within, the Supreme Essence. The SGGS reveals to us as to exactly how one can go about bathing and cleansing the mind. The Gurbani says that when our body or clothes become dirty, they can be cleansed with soap and water, but when the mind becomes dirty, it can be cleansed with the “Love of the Divine Name”.

  • ਭਰੀਐ ਹਥੁ ਪੈਰੁ ਤਨੁ ਦੇਹ ॥ ਪਾਣੀ ਧੋਤੈ ਉਤਰਸੁ ਖੇਹ ॥ ਮੂਤ ਪਲੀਤੀ ਕਪੜੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਦੇ ਸਾਬੂਣੁ ਲਈਐ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਇ ॥ ਭਰੀਐ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਪਾ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਪੈ ਨਾਵੈ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ ॥: Bhareeai hath pair tanu deh. Paanee dhotai outaras khaeh. Moot paleetee kaparr hoi. Dae saaboon layeeai ouhu dhoi. Bhareeai Mati paapaa kai sangi. Ohu dhopai naavai kai rangi: When the hands, feet and the body are dirty, water can wash away the dirt. When the clothes are soiled and stained by urine, soap can wash them clean. But when the intellect is stained and polluted by sin, it can only be cleansed by the Love of the Divine Name (sggs 4).
Oily Rag was last modified: October 9th, 2010 by T. Singh
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Filed Under: Bikaars, demerits, Passions, 5, five thieves, Filth, Gurbani
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  1. Karamjeet Singh

    Thanks for yet another insightful piece.

    “ਖੰਨਲੀ ਧੋਤੀ ਉਜਲੀ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜੇ ਸਉ ਧੋਵਣਿ ਪਾਹੁ”

    “ਜਨਮ ਜਨਮ ਕੀ ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਕਉ ਮਲੁ ਲਾਗੀ ਕਾਲਾ ਹੋਆ ਸਿਆਹ”

    So Gurbani clearly shows us the path to cleansing not only our ‘oily rags’ but also the rags that have accumulated filth sinces ages. An opportunity, a recipe, a process that is so explicitly presented to us and yet most of us never consider even reflecting on it.

    Thanks Veer T Singh Ji for constantly attempting to awaken us.

    Deep Regards

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