Rituals-Karamkaand

Some religious traditions and followings ask us to perform and practice rituals (Karamkaand). By doing so we think we will or have become religious!

The Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) challenges us to ask ourselves: How can the external performance of some ceremonial or otherwise practice make our mind pure, relieve it of inner garbage (lust, anger, greed, etc.), and connect us with our Mool within (Source, Jot, Tru Nature…)? Until that happens, we cannot develop spiritually (Aatam-Giaan) and have balanced mind. As a result, we will continue doing what we have been doing, and thus carry on with our old thing (Soch), habits and actions.

In the same vein, we may perform ritualistic reading of the Gurbani, we may wear religious robes and symbols and consider ourselves to be pure, holy, clever, etc. However, the conditioned mind continues to wander around.

Simply put: Rituals hide the Truth and bind us in egotism (Haumai).

Fittingly, the Gurbani repudiates Karamkaand (rituals…)!

  • ਕਰਮ ਕਾਂਡ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਨ ਕਾਜੈ ਕੁਸਲ ਸੇਤੀ ਘਰਿ ਜਾਹਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: O Pandit! The religious ceremonies and self-conceit are of no avail, and (with these you cannot) happily go Home within (i.e., Mool). ||1||Pause||  (sggs 891).

Karamkaand (rituals) are utilitarian in nature and therefore do not provide ultimate Anand or Sukh (Joy…). Furthermore, Karamkaand (rituals) can never afford realization of one’s Mool (Source, Jot Saroop…), thus worthless (“Fokat“).

Now, the question is: Then why do many (including the  Pujaaree-Vaad, Gurdwaras…) carry on Karamkaand? The Gurbani’s answer is: It’s because people don’t know the true Nature of the Divine!

  • ਜੇ ਜਾਣਸਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰ ਕਰਮੰ ॥ ਸਭਿ ਫੋਕਟ ਨਿਸਚਉ ਕਰਮੰ ॥: If (you) know the Way of the Brahm, (then you would) definitely know that all rituals are of no value. (sggs 470).

Due this ignorance of the Nature of Spiritual Essence, the Gurbani says people just grope in the darkness of ignorance and carry on useless Karamkaand — fake rituals, Pakhand (pretending, hypocrisy)…

  • ਗਿਆਨ ਹੀਣੰ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਪੂਜਾ ॥ ਅੰਧ ਵਰਤਾਵਾ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ॥: Bereft of Spiritual Wisdom, (people) worship ignorance. In the love of duality (in love of Maya, their) conduct or behavior (keeps them mentally blind or ignorant of their spiritual life). (sggs 1412).
  • ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਮਹਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥ ਪੂਜਾ ਕਰਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਬਿਸਥਾਰਾ ॥ ਕਰਿ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਤਨਿ ਚਕ੍ਰ ਬਣਾਏ ॥ ਅੰਤਰ ਕੀ ਮਲੁ ਕਬ ਹੀ ਨ ਜਾਏ ॥੧॥: (If) the mind is filled with anger and massive self-conceit (i.e., Bikaar), (but) performs worship all sort of ways with great ostentation; (even if ritual) bath is taken (at so called sacred shrines and religious) marks are applied to the body; (however, this way) the filth within (the mind) never departs. ||1|| (sggs 1348).

Now, the next question is: What is it that usher the mind into the darkness of spiritual ignorance?

Again, here is the authoritative answer from the Gurbani — it’s the mind’s hunger for Maya that leads to the darkness of ignorance!

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਗੁਬਾਰੁ ॥: Attachment to Maya (worldliness or illusion) leads to the darkness of ignorance (sggs 1262).

This leads to the next question: How can we realize the Truth?

Again, here is the authoritative answer from the Gurbani — by cultivating the Divine Knowledge through the Shabad-Vichaar

  • ਸਚੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦ ਪਿਆਰਿ ॥: True Bhagati consists of love for the Gur-Shabad (sggs 158).
  • ਸਚੁ ਤਾ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਸਿਖ ਸਚੀ ਲੇਇ ॥: Truth is known when true Counsel (Wisdom, Giaan…) is received (sggs 468).

In nutshell, the Gurbani demands constant abidance in the Naam (Shabad, Hukam, Spiritual Wisdom, Divine Virtues…).

According to the Gurbani, as indicated in the following verse, such individual who constantly abide in the Naam is very “rare”, rest is mere business (“ਬਿਉਹਾਰੀ-Biouhaaree”: traders, Maya’s traders, worshipers of Mammon, Karamkaandee, Pakhandee…).

  • ਕੋਟਿ ਮਧੇ ਕੋ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਸਗਲੇ ਬਿਉਹਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Koti madhe ko viralaa sevaku hori sagale Biouhaaree ||1||Rahaaou|| (sggs 495).

Hence, to love or to live the Shabad (Naam, Hukam, Gurmat…) is to love the Truth (Sach)…!

Karamkaand makes the mind extrovert — connects it to Maya

According to the Gurbani, Karamkaand only enhances ignorance, thickens Haumai (egotism), increases Bikaar and worldly entanglements, etc. Such deluded consciousness makes us do useless acts, devoid of any spiritual vibrations. Therefore if one thinks that merely by performing Karamkaand (rituals) he can mend his mind, he could not be any more lost!

  • ਕਰਮ ਕਰਤ ਬਧੇ ਅਹੰਮੇਵ ॥: Ritual practices bind people in egotism (sggs 324).
  • ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਸਭਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਫੈਲੁ ॥: Religious rituals are all just egotistical displays. (sggs 890).
  • ਕਰਮ ਕਰਤ ਜੀਅ ਕਉ ਜੰਜਾਰ ॥੩॥: Performing religious rituals, the soul is entangled. ||3|| (sggs 385).
The Gurbani makes the mind introvert — connects it to its Mool (Source, Jot…)

The Gurbani concludes that above all Karamkaand (rituals) is the Naam (Shabad, Hukam…). In fact, the Gurbani mandates not to even come near those whose minds are oblivious of the Naam and are attached to duality (in love with Maya…)!

  • ਕਰਮ ਕਾਂਡ ਬਹੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਅਚਾਰ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰ ॥੩॥: (Those who) perform all sorts of (religious) rituals and formalities, (but remain) devoid of the Naam, (such Karamkaand or rituals only give rise to) egotism (in them and their lives just remain) disdainful. ||3|| (sggs 162).
  • ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨਾ ਜੋ ਦੂਜੈ ਲਾਗੇ ਤੇ ਸਾਕਤ ਨਰ ਜਮਿ ਘੁਟੀਐ ॥ ਤੇ ਸਾਕਤ ਚੋਰ ਜਿਨਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਆ ਮਨ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਨ ਭਿਟੀਐ ॥੪॥: Mere man naam binaa… (sggs 170).
In nutshell, those who don’t doubt their knowledge and don’t test it with the touchstone of the Gurbani’s Divine Knowledge, regard rituals as the final proof. Consequently, such people cannot really get at the Gurbani’s understanding and Truth!
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਕਸਉਟੀ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਝੂਠਾ ਟਿਕੈ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: O Kabeer! Such is the Touchstone of “Raam” that no false can withstand (sggs 1366).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪਣਾ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਸਬਦਿ ਕਸਵਟੀ ਲਾਇ ॥: Applying the Touchstone of the Shabad, by becoming the Gurmukh, the Gurmukh conquers his mind (prevents it from falling in love with Maya, etc.). (sggs 87).
  • ਮਨੁ ਸਚ ਕਸਵਟੀ ਲਾਈਐ ਤੁਲੀਐ ਪੂਰੈ ਤੋਲਿ ॥: When the Touchstone of Truth is applied to the mind, the mind comes up to its full weight (i.e., then it comes to resemble its Mool – Source, Jot…). (sggs 22).
Filed Under: Gurbani, Rituals, Karamkaand
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8 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Prakash S Bagga

    Every one is wandering as the the knowledge of true and right spiritual path is not imparted right from the childhood from the parents themselves as they themselves have never acquired the same. So the market of falsehood is growing with increase in population .
    Only a few like Samara Abzu are fortunate to come out of the web of rituals and get on the right path of naad .This is the grace of Satiguru as predestined

  2. SamaraAbzu

    It has been my experience that ritual is ego’s playground. I previously participated in such events, orchestrated by what later was revealed as self appointed ‘shamans’ and ‘healers’ — charlatans, all. I have seen many (including myself) fall spiritually, emotionally and financially. While it was our karmic path to be exposed to such lessons, very few of us woke up to see it for what it was. I was fortunate — the Sikh mantras saved my life and are the bedrock of my daily walk.
    While I do not regret the labyrinthian ritual path I was on (as I learned so much about myself and how ego masks and traps wounded people), I conclude that it was all necessarily unnecessary.
    I rest now in the naad.

  3. prakash s bagga

    In my understanding all refereces in Gurbaanee are for ONE and ONLY ONE ENTITY and that ONLY ONE ENTITY is “EKANKAARu”
    as Gurjoti (PrabhuAbinaasee)

    • T. Singh Post author

      Well put! Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio for sharing the Gurbani Vichaar.
      In this context, here is wonderful verse from the Gurbani:
      • ਇਕਾ ਬਾਣੀ ਇਕੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਇਕੋ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: (sggs 646)

  4. Rajinder singh kahlon

    dear bhai sahib I have a question on sukhmani sahib and other similar questions arise time to time please put me in contact with a person I can share some conversation on the basis of GURBANI
    Q aad ,jugad,satgur and shri gurdev neme’
    to whom this refer to
    who are last two ,our guru Arjin ji giving the regards to ie neme’
    sat sri akal
    please accept my humble appreciation for you time in replying

    • T. Singh Post author

      please put me in contact with a person I can share some conversation on the basis of GURBANI

      Bhia Sahib Jio, please share your Gurbani Vichaar right here at this blog.
      There is no special referral. Sorry! Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio for taking the time.

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