Reading and memorizing Gurbani is of no avail unless

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).

5 replies on “Reading and memorizing Gurbani is of no avail unless”

on the contrary – i beleive this is not per Gurbani – Gurbani is to be read over and over – “barang bar bar prabh japyaa”. I belive T singh jee you’ve got confused here – those rituals are of the brahmins what they were doing – not of Sikhs – and Guru Granth Sahib. Of course we must do vichaar also of Gurbani – is of extreme importance. When you strart calling reading Gurbani as ritualistic you will put people off not to read it. Think how you started – first you read – reread – then you begin the stage of understanding and learning , vichaar. Repitition is a must – as it’s a mother of all skill at the start.

There is a difference between read and study. No teacher would ask a student “first you read – reread a book and then you begin the stage of understanding and learning”. Teachers always say “study and try to understand it thoroughly.”

If we want to learn, then we should study SGGS, not just read it.

One thing we need to keep in mind that in Punjabi both Study and Reading are called “Padaai”, so we should not get confused which one is applied here.

Nothing could be truer ….

“We often go through the Gurbani, but our false ego-sense (Haumai, Mayaic mind…) does not let the Gurbani go through us!”

Sometimes it’s also the ignorance (of the very reason for reciting or reading Gurbani) that impedes Gurbani to ‘go through us’. I know quite a few who would do the enitre Nitnem (both morning and evening), and other Baanis like Sukhmani Sahib, Dukhbanjani Sahib, Raam Kali ki vaar, Aasaa Ki Vaar and much more … all on a daily basis in a manner much like ‘finishing the task at hand’ and at the lightening speed. But I don’t see any signs of abidance of Gurbani in them. The reason is perhaps not even ego there … just the ignorance of a need to comprehend what they are reading … and obviously because they don’t comprehend … they don’t implement. If they did try to comprehend they would have realized that ritually reading is of no essence untill there is a will to understand and apply.

Deep Regards

Thank you Veer Jiou for sharing Shabad-Vichaar.
• ਅੰਤਰਿ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਹਉ ਬੁਧਿ ਹੈ ਸਚਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਲੁ ਖੋਹੁ ॥ (sggs 441).
• ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰੁ ਮਹਾ ਪੰਥੁ ਬਿਖੜਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਿ ਭਾਰਿ ਲਦਿ ਲੀਜੈ ॥੭॥ (sggs 1326).

Yes yes yes….I believe as we are GHAR GHRISTY KALYUG JEEV we need to thank Guru Ji morning and night as a minimum for everything we have, and remember during the day whenever possible…..the shabad SOOL and SOOLI comes to mind here….a man was infact due to he hung via SOOLI, however due to him doing his paath the SOOLI became a SOOL and this entered his foot, and was susequently removed and he still lived, when infact he should have been facing the SOOLI…Veer Ji, would it be possible you could locate the shabad and do vichar on it please?

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