The ego-mind may not be agreeable with the Gurbani boldly saying that reading and memorizing (religious texts, Granths…) is of no avail (Spiritual Gain, ਆਤਮਕ ਲਾਭ, ਲਾਹਾ…) unless one gains Understanding (ਆਤਮਕ ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ) in his Heart. Here is the proof from the Gurbani:
- ਪਢੇ ਗੁਨੇ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਛੁ ਬਉਰੇ ਜਉ ਦਿਲ ਮਹਿ ਖਬਰਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੨॥: O crazy man! (You) gain nothing by reading and studying if you do not gain the Understanding (ਆਤਮਕ ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ) in the Heart. ||2|| (sggs 483).
Clearly, the words of the scriptures are meant not only to be read and memorized, but their true meanings understood, and their instructions then applied to one’s day-to-day living.
Accordingly, the Gurbani time and again reminds us even if we were to read loads of books (Granths, etc.), it would be a “useless” exercise!
- ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਗਡੀ ਲਦੀਅਹਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਭਰੀਅਹਿ ਸਾਥ ॥ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਬੇੜੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਗਡੀਅਹਿ ਖਾਤ ॥ ਪੜੀਅਹਿ ਜੇਤੇ ਬਰਸ ਬਰਸ ਪੜੀਅਹਿ ਜੇਤੇ ਮਾਸ ॥ ਪੜੀਐ ਜੇਤੀ ਆਰਜਾ ਪੜੀਅਹਿ ਜੇਤੇ ਸਾਸ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਲੇਖੈ ਇਕ ਗਲ ਹੋਰੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਝਖਣਾ ਝਾਖ ॥੧॥: (One may) read cart-loads of books, (one may) read heaps and heaps of them. (One may) read boat-loads of books, (one may) read and fill pits with them. (One may) read year afte year, (one may) read all the months, that there are. (One may) continue to read entire life, (one may) read with all breaths. O Nanak! Only one thing is of any account (understanding, ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ…), all else is but useless and idle talk in ego ||1|| (sggs 467).
We often go through the Gurbani, but our false ego-sense (Haumai, Mayaic mind…) does not let the Gurbani go through us! Why? Because most often our reading of the Gurbani is undertaken without hand-in-hand intense subjective discipline. To put it in other way, instead of reflecting and contemplating (Shabad-Vichaar…) on their Divine Essence (Aatam Giaan) and becoming one with it, our material consciousness enjoys worshiping the physical “I”; for our ego-mind likes the crooked ways (Mayaic efforts)!
- ਅਖਰ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਭੁਲੀਐ ਭੇਖੀ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਅਭਿਮਾਨੁ ॥: (In spite of) Reading books over and over again, people make mistakes (due the pride of this reading); wearing of religious robes also gives rise to much pride (in the mind). (sggs 61).
In spite of the repeated cautions in the Gurbani, today, for example, in the Gurdwaras the continual page to page reading of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib called Akhand-Paath is sold to the devotees in a businesslike manner. This is the way of the Mayadhaaree (mammon worshipers). The Gurbani warns us that even Brahma ended up wasting his life by such unavailing reading of the scriptures in duality!
- ਚਿਤੁ ਜਿਨ ਕਾ ਹਿਰਿ ਲਇਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਬੋਲਨਿ ਪਏ ਰਵਾਣੀ ॥: Those whose consciousness has been lured by Maya, keep reciting mechanically (ਫਰ ਫਰ, ਉਪਰੋਂ ਉਪਰੋਂ, ਤੇਜੀ ਨਾਲ…). (sggs 920).
- ਬੇਦ ਪੜੇ ਪੜਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੇ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Bed parre parri brhame janamu gavaaiaa. ||1|| ( sggs 478).
The Gurbani’s emphasis, thus, is on attaining the true Understanding of the Gurbani. Why? Because the content of the Gurbani is Divine Knowledge (Aatam Giaan, Spiritual Wisdom) recorded for the purpose of reflection and contemplation (Shabad-Vichaar); which must be followed by living it (the Gurmukh Lifestyle) ! This is the key. As the Gurbani puts it, without the intuitive Understanding we simply live like beasts…!
- ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਪਸੂ ਭਏ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥੬॥: Without understanding, people become beast (-nature) and demon ||6|| (sggs 224).ਬਾਣੀ ਬਿਰਲਉ ਬੀਚਾਰਸੀ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: By becoming a Gurmukh (spiritual being, True Being, etc.), a rare one contemplates (ਵਿਚਾਰ, Refletion, spiritual Inquiry, etc.) the Bani (sggs 935).
Therefore, the Gurbani Instructs us:
- ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥: One should read (Bani) with intelligence, and then understand its real essence (i.e., assimilate it). Also, one should use intelligence in giving charity. Says Nanak, this is the True Path; other things lead to Satanic life ||1|| (sggs 1245).
- ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥: Not by reading (books), but through Understanding, is the Mystery Realized. (sggs 148).
- ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਪੜੀਐ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: By Reflecting on the Gur-Shabad (i.e., Shabad-Vichaar), study and understand “Hari” (Naam). (sggs 424).