Studying the scriptures, reading them to other people, and wand ering around at
places of pilgrimage, the disease (of false ego) is not taken away (sggs 905).
With deception in their hearts, the fools read sacred texts to fill their bellies (sggs 1246).
You gain nothing by reading and studying,
O mad (Qazi), if you don't gain (this) Understanding (ਸੂਝ) in your heart ||2|| (sggs 483).

All organized religions have some common features — a prophet, a holy book and priests (Pujaaree Group). The prophet preaches the message of God which he claims God Himself has graciously granted to him. The holy book is supposed to be the accurate record of prophet's preaching. It's generally maintained first by the prophet's original disciples for their own benefit and then for the benefit of posterity. As far as the priests are concerned, it is posited that they have studied the holy book thoroughly, pondered over it long and finally succeeded in attaining intuitive wisdom to crack open the hard shell of language and ambiguity to get at the kernels of the underlying Truth in the words of the holy book which most readers are likely to miss! Therefore, when priests interpret the holy book, the majority of the people take it granted that the priests have succeeded in unearthing its deeper and sublime meaning! But, in reality, it's the reverse that happens! The scriptures get lost amidst false or unmeaning rituals and rites and controversy.

Priests lay down rituals, rites, ceremonies, religious wearing and other paraphernalia, and a list of dos and don'ts for the followers. They also issue religious edicts and decrees for others to follow. They take upon themselves the task of administering the punishment to offenders of God's commandment and their own edicts and decrees. As the religion gets older and life becomes complicated, the list of such rules grows longer and longer; making one wonder if the will and wish of the priests is not the will and wish of God! Priests want everybody to believe totally that their religious text is the absolute and final word of God; therefore, if anything is not stated in the scripture of their own religion, then, it cannot be true!

  • ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਬਾਦੁ ਵਖਾਣੈ ॥: Parr parr pandit baad vakhaanai: The Priests, read and read scriptutes endlessly, only to stir up arguments and controversies (sggs 152).
  • ਭੁਖੇ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਘਰੇ ਮਸੀਤਿ ॥: Bhukhe mullaan ghare maseet: The one who lacks spiritual wisdom sings religious songs. The hungry Mullah turns his home into a mosque (sggs 1245).
  • If you want dervishhood, spiritual poverty, and emptiness, you must be friends with a Sheikh. Talking about it, reading books, and doing practices don't help. Soul receives from soul that knowing (Sufi Jallaludin Rumi).

The etymological meaning of the Sanskrit word "Veda", referring to the scriptures, is "instrument of knowledge". Thus, all genuine scriptures are the source of spiritual wisdom, given to mankind for only one purpose: to acquire Self-knowledge (Aatam-Giaan) from them. The pursuit of knowledge, however must lead one to Truth — actualization of one's True Nature as Pure Consciousness (Mool, Source...). This is the key. The Gurbani's emphasis, therefore, is on attaining true understanding, realization and comprehension of the scriptural texts.

  • ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥: Parriai naahee bhedu bujhiai paavanaa: Not by reading (books), but through Understanding, is the Mystery Realized (that the Lord is Limitless) (sggs 148).

Misunderstanding of religious texts and resulting chaos breeds religious conflict, tensions, animosity, blind fanaticism, extremism, fundamentalism, bigotry and intolerance. Which, in time, turns into bloody tragedies. Such misunderstanding and confusion arise because we are lacking. We lack in language, reality, truth, honesty, sincerity, faith, love and devotion, intuitive wisdom, spirituality, inner purity, mental steadiness, cool headedness, Sahaj (natural state of Being), inner peace, Self-knowledge, intelligence, memory, integrity, good character, morality and ethics, truthful living, courage, open-mindedness, clarity, noble values, candidness, correct information, fearlessness, self-control, simplicity, nonviolence, inner renunciation, introspection, compassion for all living entities, gentleness, modesty, steady determination, vigor, forgiveness, fortitude, charity, history, facts, freedom from the passion for honor and covetousness, freedom from the inner thieves (lust, greed, anger, attachment, pride, envy, and stubborn mindedness), finding our own faults instead of others, and so on. Furthermore, our behavior is akin to "dog's tail"; we are short lived; and we do not see the same One God in all. Also, ruled by material desires and fear, the majority of us are deceptive, selfish and deluded. Man's this deficit inhibits him from studying the unique strength and weakness inherent in religious texts.

The elements that give rise to man's misunderstanding, confusion, misinterpretation, misuse and exploitation of religious texts can be lumped up in the following headings:

  • Limitations of human language
  • Origination and compilation of religious texts
  • Reading of religious texts in duality
  • Misunderstanding of religious texts
  • Neglecting sublime essence of religious texts

Limitations Of Human Language

Everything other then the Absolute Reality is limited in the framework of time and space, including human language. Since the scriptures are revealed and recorded in human language, it becomes imperative to understand its limitations. Owing to its finitude, human language is available and capable for expressing man's experiences in the finite field only. To the contrary, the theme of the scriptures is the Transcendental Truth; which is Eternal and Infinite, beyond the purview of the gross and limited equipment of the body-mind-intellect (egocentric existence). Therefore, the language, words, or phrases of any sorts can never hope to express, define, or report upon the Perfect and the Infinite Reality.

  • ਗਣਤ ਗਣਾਵੈ ਅਖਰੀ ਅਗਣਤੁ ਸਾਚਾ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਅਗਿਆਨੀ ਮਤਿਹੀਣੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: Ganat ganaavai akharee aganat saachaa soi...: Using a limited number of words, we describe the Unlimited Truth (Parameshar...)! The ignorant one is without Understanding (ਅਕਲ ਹੀਣ...). Without the Gur-Giaan (Divine Knowledge, Aatam Giaan...), Divine Understanding cannot happen (ਕਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਅਗਣਤ ਹੈ - that the Lord is Unlimited, beyond words or description or counting, etc.). (sggs 934).
  • ਬਾਵਨ ਅਛਰ ਲੋਕ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕਛੁ ਇਨ ਹੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਏ ਅਖਰ ਖਿਰਿ ਜਾਹਿਗੇ ਓਇ ਅਖਰ ਇਨ ਮਹਿ ਨਾਹਿ ॥: Baavan ashhar lok trai sabh kashu in hee maahi. Ae akhar khir jaahigae oue akhar in mahi naahi: Through these fifty-two letters, the entire world and all things are described. (But) these letters will perish (ਨਾਸਵੰਤ); and That Unperishable (the One, Aatma...) is not in these letters (sggs 340).
  • ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਕਵਣ ਕਹਾ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: Kudrati kavan kahaa veechaar: How can (God's) Creative Potency be described? (sggs 3).

The Men of Wisdom have discovered that the words can be employed only in expressing four types of meaning; beyond these, language falters, stumbles and lags behind. Specifically, (1) the words can describe the substance (Padaarath or Vastu), (2) they can describe the properties (Gunas), (3) they can describe the activities (Kriya), and (4) they can describe the relationships that exist among the finite objects of the world (Sambandh). These fourfold capacities of the words together constitute the entire world of finite things, beyond which the language cannot express anything at all. However, Supreme Truth is not a finite Padaarath. Also, It is without Gunas, without Kriya, and without Sambandh. This is the difficulty in reading and experiencing the Truth from the religious texts directly.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਕਾਗਦ ਲਖ ਮਣਾ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਕੀਚੈ ਭਾਉ ॥ ਮਸੂ ਤੋਟਿ ਨ ਆਵਈ ਲੇਖਣਿ ਪਉਣੁ ਚਲਾਉ ॥ ਭੀ ਤੇਰੀ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਨਾ ਪਵੈ ਹਉ ਕੇਵਡੁ ਆਖਾ ਨਾਉ ॥: Nanak Kaagad lakh manaa ...: O Nanak, if I had hundreds of thousands of stacks of paper, and if ink were never to fail me, and if my pen were able to move like the wind, and if I were to read and recite and embrace love for God—even so, I could not estimate Your Value. How can I describe the Greatness of Your Name? (sggs 15).

Therefore, the Infinite Reality cannot be expressed by the gross finite words of any language in the world. How do the great Teachers overcome this limitation of man's language? They make impossible possible by employing the suggestiveness of the word used and not because of the literal word meanings of the language employed! This is why when the scriptures are studied with a mere dictionary meaning, man's study dumps him in a morass of misunderstanding and confusions.

  • ਪੜੀਐ ਗੁਣੀਐ ਕਿਆ ਕਥੀਐ ਜਾ ਮੁੰਢਹੁ ਘੁਥਾ ਜਾਇ ॥: Parheeai guneeai kiaa kathheeai jaa mundhahu ghuthhaa jaae: What is the point of reading, studying and debating, if one loses the awareness of his very Source? (sggs 68).

Origination And Compilation Of Religious Texts

Man's early experience was tribal for he lived in a tribal setup. This is true even today in many parts of the world. As the world history reveals to us, many early tribes were wild, warlike, restless, insecure, vigorous, nomadic, barbaric, uncultured, emotional, brutal, illiterate, spiritually ignorant, idol worshippers, and so on. To the contrary, there were also those tribes who were more advanced in spiritual matters, hence relatively more cultured, peaceful and wise.

This created unique needs, challenges and circumstances for God's Messengers to deal with in each period and each region in the world. For example, Mosses, Jesus or Muhammad had a relatively tougher job in the sense they had to deal with tribes that were generally rough and unruly. On the other hand, Krishna, Buddha or Baabaa Nanak had relatively easier time in the sense that the tribes they had to deal with were generally more advanced in spiritual matters, hence relatively more cultured, peaceful and wise.

The significance of this is as follows. All messengers had to speak at the level of their audience. They gave their audience the teachings they could comprehend at the time. For example, Mosses, Jesus or Muhammad could not preach the deep spiritual philosophy of the ancient sages of the Upnishadas or the sublime idealism of Baabaa Nanak, Buddha, etc., to their people who were not ready to grasp it. If they had done it, the people would not have had the least idea what was being said. Jesus tried to do that. But, as we know, he was condemned to death on the cross!

Therefore, all Messengers did the best that could have been done under the circumstances. However, the fact remains that shallower the message, more prone it becomes to misunderstanding, confusion, misinterpretation, misuse and chaos later; once the original Messenger had left the scene. Many world religions and their texts have this predicament.

The language of scribes further compounded the situation. For example, many revelations were revealed at a time when their was no formal language or paper available to assemble them in a final form when they were revealed. Instead, it is said that in many cases Messengers' utterances were either memorized and then orally passed on to the next generation. And, in many cases, Messengers' utterances were recorded in a codex form by some of their disciples as they understood them — not necessarily as their Messenger understood them. The records in codex form were reportedly kept on variety of objects such as palm leaves, bones, stones, pieces of papyrus, shoulder blades and ribs of animals, pieces of leather and wooden boards, and so on.

Scriptures of many major world religions that we see today in their final form were not assembled until many years or centuries after the death of their original Messengers. In other words, in many cases, Messengers did not write down their accounts of events. Long after their death, contents of scriptures attributed to them were assembled by committees that interviewed those remaining devotees who might have heard or memorized utterances of Messengers, as well as from the scraps of written material from the same sources. Which, later, resulted in their modern day scriptures put together by kings, clergy, and their scribes.

In many scriptures, we find statements which at their face value seem totally opposed to the reason, general spirit of the religion, and the Supreme Truth whom they bear witness to. One thing is for sure: no true Messenger can say or suggest such things. Then, how can such statements be reconciled? Only logical explanation could be as follows:

  • Those who took notes of their Messenger's utterances, either they did not listen attentively or did not understand perfectly what was being said; resulting in incorrect record.
  • It is reported that companions of Messengers had memorized many of their utterances; their memories may have failed them because memory has tendency to fade with time. The problem magnifies if the disciples did not attentively listen or did not perfectly comprehend their Messenger's utterances in the first place! It's not very heartening, is it? Hear is a case in point. In the Bible, we read Jesus scolding his disciples for sleeping while he spoke to them, even at the delicate moment when he was about to be betrayed by one of his original disciple: "Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. '"Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?"' he asked Peter. '"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."' He went away a second time and prayed, '"My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."' When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, '"Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!'" (Bible, Matt. 26:40-45).
  • Oral or memory-based traditions have a tendency to change over time, therefore, they cannot be relied upon to construct reliable, scientific history.
  • Both priests and translators may have taken literal meanings of the verses as opposed to their deeper spiritual suggestions.
  • Since some scriptures were compiled long after the death of their respective Messenger, it's possible that the priests along with the corrupt rulers (note that these rulers were also religious leaders who also controlled priest-class, but had little enthusiasm for religion, and generally despised the pious and the ascetic) may have edited or taken the Messenger's words out of context to justify their own personal thoughts, deeds, hypotheses and idiosyncrasies.
  • In the absence of the original Messenger, when many hands, over a period of many years, are at work on compiling a manuscript, it tends to cause discrepancies and adding or cutting whatever they liked or disliked.
  • In early days, many languages were not fully developed, consequently, the Messengers' utterances were recorded in codex form. Long after the death of Messengers, they were decoded once those languages got developed. For example, originally, the Arabs had no signs for short vowels. The Arab script is consonantal, and the consonantal text is unpointed. Reportedly, this problem inevitably led to the growth of different centers with their own variant traditions of how the texts should be pointed or vowelized. It is said that a fully developed script, which allowed a fully voweled and pointed text, was not perfected until the late ninth century!

Perhaps, now one can appreciate any seeming ambiguity, incoherence, declamation, repetition, puerility, and so on, that strike the unprepared reader of religious texts at every turn. Owing to the factors discussed above and others, it's possible that parts of some religious texts may have lost their true gist, at least on the very face of them. Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure: it's not the fault of the scriptures if people misunderstand their hidden meanings and sublime essence, as well as their limitations. Instead, it's the fault of man's own lacking for not being able to study the unique strength and weaknesses inherent in them.

  • ਬੇਦ ਕਤੇਬ ਕਹਹੁ ਮਤ ਝੂਠੇ ਝੂਠਾ ਜੋ ਨ ਬਿਚਾਰੈ ॥: Bed kateb kahahu mat jhoothe jhoothaa jo n bichaarai: Do not say that the Vedas and the Kateb (Quraan, etc.) are false. False is he who does not Reflect on them. (sggs 1350).
  • ਬੇਦ ਕਤੇਬ ਕਰਹਿ ਕਹ ਬਪੁਰੇ ਨਹ ਬੂਝਹਿ ਇਕ ਏਕਾ ॥: Bed kateb karahi kah bapure nah boojhahi ik ekaa: Vedas and Kateb (Quraan, etc.) are helpless, (because) peple do not understand the One Lord (sggs 1153).
  • All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work (Bible, Tim 3:16-17).

What it means is that, in the course of the study of scriptural texts, even an intelligent student is sure to come across certain statements which on their very face appear to be contradictory. The true scriptures do not indulge in contradictions. The reason one may see contradictions or confusion in them is if one reads them at a relative level; because reading of the scriptures at a relative level results in superficial understanding of them. Therefore, wherever there is a seeming contradiction or confusion, it is for us to find the true meaning and understand the statement, because the scriptures cover a greater field than the words themselves suggest in their superficial dictionary meaning.

Please note the idea is not to find faults here in any particular religion or scripture. The intent here is to demonstrate as to how, in blind fanaticism, people can take literal meanings of the scriptural statements to justify their stupid deeds, hate, animosity, bigotry, prejudices, intolerance, fanaticism, forceful conversion, and killing of the innocents in the name of their religion and God.

A wise one sums it up as follows:

"It seems strange that there are people in this age who take everything stated in the scriptures literally. The scriptures of every religion no doubt say many good things, but they also say things which, on the very face of them, are absurd. Should we believe them because the scriptures say them? It may be claimed that the scriptures are words of God. But how do we know that they are not the words of man? Is it not possible that some clever people wrote them and then passed them around as words of God? Even if they are words of God, should we accept them if they are opposed to reason? ...Today's trend to believe whatever is stated in holy books, is difficult to understand. Those who do so are also fanatical to the extent that they will not tolerate any deviation from the norms of personal and social conduct laid down in the scriptures, regardless of the fact that the times have changed. They think the whole truth has been stated in the scriptures of their own religion. If anything is not stated in those scriptures, then, it cannot be true. This is why they hate other religions. They think they are false and, if possible, they would like to crush them. What they do not understand is that there are elements in all scriptures which are eternally true and there are also elements which are true only for a particular period of time. A distinction must be made between the two. It is the perennials that matter and not that which are of passing interest. Fundamentalism arises from a confusion between the two."

  • ਬੇਦ ਕਤੇਬ ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਸਭਿ ਸਾਸਤ ਇਨ੍‍ ਪੜਿਆ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਏਕੁ ਅਖਰੁ ਜੋ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਪੈ ਤਿਸ ਕੀ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਸੋਈ ॥: Bed kateb simirat sabh...: One may read all the books of the Vedas and Kateb (Quraan, etc.), the Simritees and the Shaastras, but they will not bring liberation. By bcoming the Gurmukh, who understans the One Imperishable Lord (ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ), acquires a pure glory (ਪਵਿਤ੍ਰ ਸੋਭਾ). (sggs 747).
  • ਦੇਵ ਭੇਵ ਨ ਜਾਨਈ ਜਿਹ ਬੇਦ ਅਉਰ ਕਤੇਬ ॥: Dev bhev na jaanayee jih Beda or Kateb: The mystery of God is unknown to any Deva (demigod) and it is also indescribable by any scripture (Guru Gobind Singh Jee, Jaap Sahib 82).

It should be mentioned here that there are religious texts that were actually written, finalized and assembled by their original Messengers themselves. For example, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), the holy book of the Sikhism (initially called Aadi Granth), is one of them. No doubt it is this authenticity of the SGGS that lends its spiritual philosophy to be the most universal in its fundamental principles. The proof of its universality lies in the fact that (1) it glorifies all common names of God; and (2) it contains Divine utterances of many men of Light from different religions, castes, creeds, and who also spoke different languages...

  • ਅਵਲਿ ਅਲਹ ਨੂਰੁ ਉਪਾਇਆ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਕੇ ਸਭ ਬੰਦੇ ॥ ਏਕ ਨੂਰ ਤੇ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਉਪਜਿਆ ਕਉਨ ਭਲੇ ਕੋ ਮੰਦੇ ॥੧॥: Aval Allah noor upaaiaa kudrat ke sabh bande. Ek noor te sabh jagu upjiaa kaoun bhale ko mande ||1||: First, by His Light and Creative Power, Allah (God) created all mortals. From this One Light, the entire universe has welled up. So who is good, and who is bad? ||1|| (sggs 1349).
  • ਹਿੰਦੂ ਤੁਰਕ ਕਾ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਏਕ ॥ ਕਹ ਕਰੈ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਕਹ ਕਰੈ ਸੇਖ ॥: Hindu Turk kaa sahib ek. Kah karai mullah kah karai sheikh: Hindus and Muslims have the same One God. What can the Mullah do, and what can the Sheikh do? (sggs 1158).

Reading Of Religious Texts In Duality

The evolution takes place inside; for God's all secrets are hidden inside the human skull — Pure Knowledge, Bliss, Joy, Immortality (Amrit), ecstasy and Shabad or Naam. Whereas this evolution, which takes place deep within one's Pure Being, is automatic and inevitable, man's attention and his external activities still count. Even though outer activities are linked to the mind's external journey, they either help or detract. That's where a diligent study of the religious books can help one.

The human trouble, however, starts when the scriptures are mistaken for an end in themselves. They are not! But, if studied intuitively, they can certainly be a mean or help towards That End. On the other hand, they can also prove to be a dangerous trap and detraction, or a double-edged sword if studied and practiced unintelligently or stupidly. The wise and the true ones repeatedly remind us that the true Spirituality begins where religion and books end!

On'e True Self (Aatmaa...) is of the nature of Pure Knowledge. Ever present within oneself is this shoreless ocean of Pure Knowledge we all were born with! With the rise of false ego ("I-ness"), however, man looses link with It. Many spiritual practices have been suggested by the men of Light to aid mortals awaken this infinite treasure of Pure Knowledge from its dormant condition; attentive and intelligent study of the scriptures among them. When the raging fire of ego consciousness (or Maya) within is extinguished, one spontaneously finds himself once again awakened to Pure Knowledge, deep within his Pure Being. This Truth (also called God) which can ultimately be realized, when the meditator has withdrawn completely from all his preoccupations with the outer world of objects, emotions and thoughts, is nothing other than the Pure Consciousness that illumined for him all his previous experiences!

  • ਰਤਨੁ ਰਾਮੁ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਕੇ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਓ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਭਗਵੰਤ ਭਜਨ ਬਿਨੁ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇਓ ॥੨॥੧॥: The Jewel (of Raam) is deep within the Heart, (but the conceited mind) does not have any Knowledge of Him. O "Jan" Nanak! The human life is lost in vain without God's Union (sggs 703).
  • ਜਿਨਿ ਆਤਮ ਤਤੁ ਨ ਚੀਨ੍‍ਆਿ ॥ ਸਭ ਫੋਕਟ ਧਰਮ ਅਬੀਨਿਆ ॥: Jini aatam tatu n cheenhiaa. Sabh fokat dharma abeeniaa: Whoever does not Realize the Essence or Reality of the Soul (ਆਤਮਾ ਦੀ ਅਸਲੀਅਤ...), all his religious acts are of no value - worthless (sggs 1351).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਲਾਗੀ ਜਲਿ ਬੁਝੀ ਪਾਇਆ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥: Antar laagee jal bujhee paaeiaa gurmukh giyan: When the raging fire within is extinguished; the spiritual being obtains spiritual wisdom (sggs 20).
  • ਜਿਨੀ ਆਤਮੁ ਚੀਨਿਆ ਪਰਮਾਤਮੁ ਸੋਈ ॥: Jinee aatam cheeniyaa Parmaatam soyee: Those who understand their Self, are themselves the Parmaatam (sggs 421).
  • You are an ocean of knowledge hidden in a dew drop (Sufi Jallaludin Rumi).

The scriptures simply remind us that the real source of Pure Knowledge is ever present in each bosom. However, the scriptures are not always properly read or understood; resulting in man's misunderstanding, confusion, doubts, superstitions and bewilderment. The subject matter of the scriptural texts and the focus of their discussion is beyond the scope of the means of sensory perception and inference with which empirical knowledge (science) is gained. Therefore, in order to attain intuitive understanding of the scriptures, one has to go beyond their letter-form (or Akhars) and the paper they are written on! If that does not happen, then the reading of religious texts results in nothing but worldly entanglements (Karamkaand). And such entanglements only separates man from Truth, and binds his consciousness to the world of plurality (Maya).

  • ਸਮਝੈ ਸੂਝੈ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਬੂਝੈ ਅੰਤਿ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਸਾਚਾ ॥: Samjai soojai parhi parhi boojhai anti niranatari saachaa: If one understands, realizes and comprehends what he reads and studies, in the end he will realize that the True God dwells deep within his nucleus (sggs 930).
  • ਜਪਹੁ ਤ ਏਕੋ ਨਾਮਾ ॥ ਅਵਰਿ ਨਿਰਾਫਲ ਕਾਮਾ ॥: Japahu ta eko naamaa. Awar niraaphal kaamaa: Chant One God's Name. All other actions are fruitless (sggs 728)

Under the spell of menacing body-consciousness and hypocrisy, however, many read (study or hear) scriptures without reflecting and contemplating on their sublime essence; many read them without gaining their intuitive understanding; many read them without hand-in-hand intense subjective discipline; many read them without following their injunctions; and many read them without practicing the truth indicated in them. Also, with the help of the pick ax of dictionary or word meanings, many read them to make a mere academic acquaintance with them. Yet, many read them in false ego or duality (Doojaa Bhaav) — lust, greed, anger, pride, attachment, enviousness, stubborn mindedness, selfishness, desires, fear, businesslike manner, and so on. Furthermore, many take on the scriptural study to gain mere book-knowledge, only to indulge in useless arguments and debates with others. This type of scriptural study begets confusion and chaos; thereby repudiated by the very scriptures one tries to understand!

  • ਪੜਹਿ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਪਰੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਨਾ ॥: Parhahi manmukh par bidhi nahee jaanaa: Manmukhs (material or ego-beings) read and study, but they do not know the way (sggs 1032).
  • ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੋਥੀ ਸਿੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਪਾਠਾ ॥ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਣ ਪੜੈ ਸੁਣਿ ਥਾਟਾ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਰਸ ਰਾਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਬਹੁ ਨਾਟਾ ॥: Parho parhi pothee simrit paathaa...: You may read, recite and study the scriptures, the Simritees, Vedas and Puraanas; but without being imbued with the Divine Essence, the mind wanders endlessly (sggs 226).
  • ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਪੜੈ ਨਹੀ ਬੂਝੈ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਬਿਧਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਲੂਝੈ ॥: Doojai bhaau parhi nahee boojhai. Tribidh Maya kaaran loojhai: One who reads, while attached to duality, does not understand. He yearns for the three-qualitied Maya (sggs 127).
  • ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਭੂਲਹਿ ਚੋਟਾ ਖਾਹਿ ॥: Parhi parhi bhoolahi chotaa khaahi: Reading and studying, one becomes confused, and suffers punishment (sggs 686).
  • ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਦਝਹਿ ਸਾਤਿ ਨ ਆਈ ॥: Parhi parhi dajhahi saati na aaee: Reading and studying, they burn, and do not find tranquility (sggs 1026).
  • ਵਾਚੈ ਵਾਦੁ ਨ ਬੇਦੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੈ ॥: Vaachai vaad na beda beechaarai: You engage in arguments, but do not reflect on scriptures (sggs 904).
  • ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਵਾਦੁ ਵਖਾਣਹਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਸੁਖੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥: Parhi parhi pandit vaad vakhaanahi bin boojhae sukh na hoee: Reading and studying, the religious scholars argue and debate; but without understanding, there is no Peace (sggs 570).
  • ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਲੂਝਹਿ ਬਾਦੁ ਵਖਾਣਹਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਗਵਾਈ ॥: Parhi parhi loojhahi baad vakhaanahi mili maaeiaa surati gavaaee: Reading and studying, people argue and debate; attached to Maya, they lose their Awareness (sggs 1131).
  • You are searching the scriptures, because you think that by means of them you will have everlasting life (Bible, John 5:39).
  • Men of small knowledge gets very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas....(Geetaa, 2.42).

Today, in Gurdawaras (Sikh temples) the continual page to page reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib called Akhand Paath is sold to the devotees in a businesslike manner. Similar practices goes on in other religions as well. In Madrasas, thousands of young Muslim boys are made to read Quran in a mechanical manner for the only purpose of instilling fanatic fervor in them so that they can breed sectarianism and religious hate; murder innocent people in cold blood and sacrifice one's own life in the name of their religion and God. This is the way of deluded clergy and clerics. The Gurbani warns us that even Brahma ended up wasting his life by such useless reading of the scriptures in duality!

  • ਮੂਰਖ ਅੰਧੇ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਸੇਵਹਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਕੈ ਬਿਉਹਾਰੀ ॥ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਕਪਟੁ ਉਦਰੁ ਭਰਣ ਕੈ ਤਾਈ ਪਾਠ ਪੜਹਿ ਗਾਵਾਰੀ ॥: Moorakh andhe trai gun sevahi Maya kai biyuhaaree... (sggs 1246).
  • ਚਤੁਰ ਬੇਦ ਮੁਖ ਬਚਨੀ ਉਚਰੈ ਆਗੈ ਮਹਲੁ ਨ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ ਬੂਝੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਏਕੁ ਸੁਧਾਖਰੁ ਔਹੁ ਸਗਲੀ ਝਾਖ ਝਖਾਈਐ ॥: Chatur Beda mukh bachnee uchrai aagai mahal na paa-ee-ai. Boojhai naahee ayk sudhaakhar oh saglee jhaakh jhakhaa-ee-ai. Reciting the four Vedas from memory, they do not obtain the Mansion of the Lord`s Presence hereafter. Those who do not understand the One Pure Word, utter total nonsense (sggs 216).
  • ਹਠੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਕਰੈ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ ਪਾਠ ਪੜੈ ਲੇ ਲੋਕ ਸੁਣਾਵੈ ॥ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਭਰਮਸਿ ਬਿਆਧਿ ਨ ਜਾਵੈ ॥: Hatha ahankaar karai nahee paavai. Paath parhai le loka sunaavai: Acting in stubbornness and egotism, (Truth) is not attained (Realized, etc.). Studying the scriptures, reading them to other people, and wandering around at places of pilgrimage, the disease (egotism) is not taken away (sggs 905-906).

As routinely practiced and witnessed, many pay dearly to professional priests for the ritualistic reading and worshipping of holy books in their homes. Also, many do it themselves, over and over again, without reflecting and contemplating on their sublime essence. The truth is: this type of reading has nothing to do with spirituality; because by reading religious books one can neither attain Spiritual Wisdom nor catch God. The only purpose of reading the scriptures is to develop Self-understanding, and then act upon it.

  • ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਬੇਦ ਪੜਾਵਣੇ ॥: Naa too aavahi vas beda parhaavanae: No one can bring You under control, by studying the scriptures (sggs 962).
  • ਸਾਚੁ ਕਤੇਬ ਬਖਾਨੈ ਅਲਹੁ ਨਾਰਿ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਪਢੇ ਗੁਨੇ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਛੁ ਬਉਰੇ ਜਉ ਦਿਲ ਮਹਿ ਖਬਰਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੨॥: Saach kateb bkhaanai Allah naar na purakh nahee koee. Parhe gune naahee kashoo baoure jaou dil mahi khabari n hoee ||2||: (O Qazi) your holy scriptures say that Allah is True (Truth, eternal, ਸਦਾ ਕਾਇਮ ਰਹਿਣ ਵਾਲਾ, etc.), and that he is neither male nor female (ਜਿਸ ਵਿਚ ਕੋਈ ਜਨਾਨੀ ਮਰਦ ਦਾ ਭਾਵ ਨਹੀ ਹੈ). You gain nothing by reading and studying, O mad (Qazi), if you don't gain (this) Understanding (ਸੂਝ) in your heart ||2|| (sggs 483).
  • ਸਲੋਕੁ ਮਃ ੩ ॥ ਪੜਣਾ ਗੁੜਣਾ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਕੀ ਕਾਰ ਹੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਵਿਕਾਰੁ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਸਭਿ ਪੜਿ ਥਕੇ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥ ਸੋ ਪੜਿਆ ਸੋ ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਬੀਨਾ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਅੰਦਰੁ ਖੋਜੈ ਤਤੁ ਲਹੈ ਪਾਏ ਮੋਖ ਦੁਆਰੁ ॥ ਗੁਣ ਨਿਧਾਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਸਹਜਿ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਧੰਨੁ ਵਾਪਾਰੀ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਅਧਾਰੁ ॥੧॥: Slok M: 3|| Parhnaa gunanaa sansaar kee karr hai andar trisnaa vikaar ...: Slok M: 3. Reading and studying (have become) just worldly pursuits, (but still) greed and corruption remain present within. Reading in egotism, all have grown weary; through the love of duality (Maya), they are ruined. He alone is educated, and he alone is a wise Pandit, who reflects and contemplates the Gur-Shabad (i.e., consider that person Pandit - ਉਸ ਮਨੁੱਖ ਨੂੰ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਸਮਝੋ). He searches within himself, and finds the True Essence within; he attains the Door of Salvation. He finds God, the Treasure of Excellence, and contemplates with Sahaj (ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ ਵਿਚ ਟਿਕ ਕੇ, Natural State of Being, etc.). Blessed is the trader (of Naam, the Name), O Nanak, who, as a Gurmukh (Spiritual Being, etc.), takes the Name as his only Support ||1|| (sggs 650).
  • ਪੰਡਿਤ ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਕਰਹੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਅਵਰੁ ਕਿ ਬਹੁਤਾ ਪੜਹਿ ਉਠਾਵਹਿ ਭਾਰੁ ॥ : Pandit isu mann kaa karahu beechaaru. Avaru ki bahutaa parrahi uthaavahi bhaaru (sggs 1261).

One can go through the scriptures again and again, but it's all worthless if he does not let the scriptures go through him! The Gurbani's message is very loud and clear: There is no purpose in merely rolling the beads nor the tongue reading scriptures or singing God's praises without true love, devotion and concentration. The purpose of scriptural study is to gain Self-knowledge, and then apply that understanding to day-to-day living. If that does not happen, then, there is no difference between a human being engaged in reading or listening to scriptures and a beast engaged in filling his belly!

  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਕਛੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਪਸੁ ਜਿਉ ਉਦਰੁ ਭਰਉ ॥: Gurmati suni kashu giaan n upjio pasu jiou udar bharaou: Despite listening to the Gurmati (Shabad-Giaan, Divine Teaching of the Gur-Shabad, etc.), (if) no spiritual wisdom (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਕੁਝ ਭੀ ਸੂਝ) wells up within (me); (then it would be) like a beast (routinely) filling its belly (sggs 685).
  • ਪੜੀਐ ਗੁਨੀਐ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਭੁ ਸੁਨੀਐ ਅਨਭਉ ਭਾਉ ਨ ਦਰਸੈ ॥ ਲੋਹਾ ਕੰਚਨੁ ਹਿਰਨ ਹੋਇ ਕੈਸੇ ਜਉ ਪਾਰਸਹਿ ਨ ਪਰਸੈ ॥੧॥ ਦੇਵ ਸੰਸੈ ਗਾਂਠਿ ਨ ਛੂਟੈ ॥ ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦ ਮਤਸਰ ਇਨ ਪੰਚਹੁ ਮਿਲਿ ਲੂਟੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Parheeai guneeai naam sabh suneeai anabhaou bhaaou n darsai. Lohaa kanchan hiran hoi kaisae jaou paarasahi n parasai ||1|| Dev sansai gaanth n shootai. Kaam krodhh Maya mada matasar in panchahu mil loote ||1|| Rahaaou ||: All read, hear and reflect upon God's Name; but (due to lust, anger, etc.) they cannot develop the Divine Love, and they cannot Experience God within. How can iron be transformed into gold, unless it touches the Philosopher's Stone? ||1|| Lust, anger, Maya, intoxication (with pride. arrogance, etc.) and jealousy - these five have combined to plunder the world. (As a result) the knot of skepticism from within does not get untied ||1||Pause|| (sggs 973-974).

All scriptures are contained in God' Name. Therefore, the Gurbani urges us that the reading of the scriptures should be performed for the sole purpose of reflection and contemplation on the Holy Word, followed by God-onsciousness; without which the egoist mind will keep wandering endlessly! In other words, religion and scriptures end where the God-consciousness begins! Therefore, the Gurbani declares that the blessing of studying religious texts is to become imbued in Love and Devotion (Prema-Bhagti), so that we may meditate on the Word and realize the Essence of the Supreme Truth or Reality within our bosom.

  • ਸਮਝੈ ਸੂਝੈ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਬੂਝੈ ਅੰਤਿ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਸਾਚਾ ॥: Samjai soojai parhi parhi boojhai anti niranatari saachaa: If one understands, realizes and comprehends what he reads and studies, in the end he will realize that the True God dwells deep within his nucleus (sggs 930).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਪੜਣਾ ਗੁਨਣਾ ਇਕੁ ਨਾਉ ਹੈ ਬੂਝੈ ਕੋ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥ (sggs 1246).

Misunderstanding Of Religious Texts

Animals or beasts are called "Pasu" in both Sanskrit and Punjabi language because they do not have the faculty to think and ponder on what they perceive. They just take things at face their value — what they see — which their name "Pasu" literally indicates. For example, when a buffalo sees grass it does not wonder why it is green. Or, if you read buffalo a text or play it a piece of music, it has no appreciation.

Man also derives his common name from the Sanskrit word "Manava", meaning to think. Because he has this faculty to think and ponder on what he perceives, infers, and reads or hears. Hence he is different from animals. He is considered rational animal! However, if human beings do not use this God given faculty to reason out what they perceive, infer, read or hear they become fettered, thus, "Pasu" or beast!

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਪਸੂ ਭਏ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥੬॥: Bin boojhe pasu bhaye betaale: Binu boojhai pasu bhaye betaale ||6||: Without understanding, people become beast (-nature) and demon ||6|| (sggs 224).
  • God then answers, 'As I have said, your animal soul is an enemy to you and to me: take not my enemy and your enemy for your friends.' (Quraan 60:1).
  • Man is called a rational animal; therefore, he is two things. What feeds his animality in this world is passion and desire; but the food for his essential part is knowledge, wisdom and the vision of God. Man's animal nature avoids the Real, and his human nature flies from this world. "One of you is an unbeliever, and another of you is a believer" (Quran 64:2). There are two personae in conflict in this being. "With whom shall luck be? Whom shall fortune favor?" (Sufi Jallaluddin Rumi).

If man intends to remain a rational animal, then he must use his God given faculty of reasoning and discriminating intellect (Bibek Budhi). The words of genuine religious texts are of the nature of God. Since God cannot be understood with material nature, likewise, the contents of scriptural texts cannot be understood with material tendencies either. Also, the human body, mind, and intellect are limited being in the framework of time-space. Consequently, man's language is also limited. But the Absolute Truth scriptures try to explain using this limited human language is unlimited and infinite. As a result, one cannot hope to realize Self by scholarships. Baabaa Nanak says:

  • ਗਣਤ ਗਣਾਵੈ ਅਖਰੀ ਅਗਣਤੁ ਸਾਚਾ ਸੋਇ ॥: Ganat ganaavai akharee aganat saachaa soe: Using a limited number of words, we describe the unlimited True Lord (sggs 934).
  • ਸਲੋਕੁ ਮਃ ੧ ॥ 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॥: Slok M: 1 || Parri parri gaddee laddeeahi parri parri bhareeahi saath ...: Slok M: 1. You may read and read loads of books; you may read and study vast multitudes of books. You may read and read boat-loads of books; you may read and read and fill pits with them (ਕਈ ਖਾਤੇ ਪੂਰੇ ਜਾ ਸਕਣ). You may read them year after year; you may read them as many months are there. You may read them all your life; you may read them with every breath. O Nanak, only one thing is of any account (the Truth, etc.), everything else is useless babbling and idle talk in ego ||1|| (sggs 467).
  • You seek knowledge from books. What a shame! (Sufi Jallaludin Rumi).
  • When your mind is no longer bewildered by the flowery language of the Vedas, and when it remains fixed in the trance of Self-realization, then you will have attained the divine consciousness (Geetaa, 2.53).
Spiritual knowledge contained in the scriptures can help one destroy ignorance of his Unconditioned Nature. However, the destruction of ignorance will only take place if one understands their true gist, and, then, more importantly, live by it. Otherwise, any ritualistic reading or worship will do no good. In reality, what happens is that the majority of the people not only ignore or miss out the Self-knowledge hidden in the scriptures, but they also turn them into object (or idle) of worship. This is ignorance!
  • ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਪੜੀਐ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਪੜੀਐ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ॥: Hari jap parheeai gur sabad veechaari. Har jap parreeai haumai maar : Meditate on God, and read and reflect upon the Gur-Shabad. Meditate on God, and read and reflect by removing your ego (sggs 424).
  • 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).

The true way to understand scriptures would be through intuitive perception; attuning oneself to the inner realization of the Truth. Otherwise, the entire scriptural spirit will get misconstrued and misunderstood. Consequently, the scriptures would read meaningless and even incongruous. By utilizing the nutcracker of the intuitive perception, one can crack open the hard shell of language and ambiguity to get at the kernels of the underlying Truth in the scriptures. In lack of true comprehension, one would be creating troubles for himself and for those around him.

  • ਬੂਝੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਏਕੁ ਸੁਧਾਖਰੁ ਓਹੁ ਸਗਲੀ ਝਾਖ ਝਖਾਈਐ ॥: Boojhai naahee ek sudhaakhar oh saglee jhaakh maareeai: Those who do not understand the One Pure Word, utter total nonsense (sggs 216).

Neglecting Sublime Essence of Religious Texts

After Muhammad defeated his opponents and established himself, his companions thought the Islam was now safe from any danger. After hearing this, Muhammad told his companions that the Islam yet faced potential danger from two groups of people: (1) illiterate, and (2) educated (ਵਿੱਦਵਾਨ). His explanation was as follows. In ignorance of his real teaching, the illiterate group might resort to worshipping and adoring his tomb after his death. On the other hand, those who consider themselves educated might ignore or forget the real essence of his sublime message altogether and, instead, might make his sublime message the subject of their material logic and mental speculations. Muhammad was so right!

  • ਪੜਿਆ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਸੁ ਲਬੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥: Pariraa moorakh aakheeai jis lab lobh ahankaar: That educated person who is full of greed, avarice and pride, is said to be a fool (sggs 140).
  • ਮੂਰਖੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਚੀਨਈ ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ ਨਹ ਕਾਇ ॥੫੩॥: Moorakh sabadu n cheenaee soojh boojh nah kaaee ||53||: The fool does not contemplate the Shabad (ਪਛਾਣ ਲੈਣਾਂ/ਸਮਝ ਲੈਣਾ); he has no understanding, no Comprehension (of the Shabad-Giaan, etc.). ||53|| (sggs 938).

The scriptural texts are often compared to the ocean because of the magnitude of their teachings, and because the scriptures cover a greater field than the words themselves suggest in their superficial dictionary meaning. This ocean-analogy can be extended to understand their significance. While the shallow waters of the ocean yield only fish, it is possible to reap pearls by diving deep into the ocean. Likewise, the statements, legends and analogies of scriptural texts can be interpreted at different levels according to the capacity or the spiritual development of the person. At the surface they may have one set of meaning but at a subtler level they expound abstract philosophical concepts.

Every religious philosophy, all scriptural texts, and the gospel of all godly souls are subjected to material logic and mental speculations. The results are in front of us! The corrupt priest class of all organized religions has simply reduced religion to a level of mundane business. The basic principle that religion is not different from the practice for the realization of one's own essential nature is forgotten. Its object of achieving equanimity of mind and enjoying real Peace and Bliss as a living reality is no where to be found. Consequently, an integral view of life, right faith, right type of spiritual knowledge and right conduct, to tread the path of salvation is missing.

The sublime essence of religious texts is meant to be applied. If a person is sick, his mere reading of the medicine label will not cure him. In order to cure the disease and related pain and suffering, one has to take the medicine and stop mere reading of the label. We are all sick from the disease of false ego (Haume). To know God is to undo our ego. The inner Message of the Gurbani is like a medicine. Until it is applied to the mind, its mere reading will not have any effect on the healing process. In other words, it will do no good to simply verbalize it. Only when one assimilates it will all be well with him!

  • ਪੜਿਐ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਪੂਛਹੁ ਗਿਆਨੀਆ ਜਾਇ ॥: Parhiai mail na outarai pooshahu giaaneeaa jaae: The filth is not removed by reading. Go ahead, and ask the Wise ones (sggs 39).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਲਾਗੀ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਖੋਵੈ ॥: Haumai mail laagee gur shabdee khovai: The filth of ego (ਹਉਮੈ) stuck to the (mind) is removed through the Shabad (sggs 123).
  • ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਦੇਹੀ ਸੋਧਿ ਤੂੰ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਇਸੁ ਦੇਹੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਨਿਧਾਨੁ ਹੈ ਪਾਈਐ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਹੇਤਿ ਅਪਾਰਿ ॥੮॥੧੦॥੩੨॥: Ihu manu dehee sodhi toon gur sabadi veechaari. Nanak isu dehee vichi naami nidhaani hai paaeeai gur kai heti apaari ||8||10||32||: Search this mind and body, by the Gur-Shabad-Vichaar (by reflecting on the Gur-Shabad...). O Nanak! Within this body is the Treasure of the Naam; it is attained through the unbounded love for the Gur (Gur-Giaan...) ||8||10||32|| (sggs 427).

The objective of scriptural texts is to reveal the path of righteousness to mankind suffering in bondage. Therefore, after reading scriptures if one dose not conduct himself righteously, then he has failed the scriptures and the Prophets. The scriptures guide and inspire mankind to tread the sublime path of righteousness in order to realize Truth. The scriptures demonstrate how the demands and desires of senses are to be reconciled with righteousness. Therefore, righteousness should be man's watchword and if he upholds it under all circumstances, he will be highly successful in his spiritual endeavor. After a person's death, no one will be interested in his dead body that has been left behind. But righteousness alone follows him as the sole companion. Therefore, man should keep himself constantly reminded of the fact that he is a human being who should observe the law of righteousness and not behave like an animal. Divinity shines in everyone and hence there is no need to hate others. Earnest practice of righteousness is religion in itself. It is to be lived both externally and internally if this would cost even one's life.

  • ਬੋਲੀਐ ਸਚੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਝੂਠੁ ਨ ਬੋਲੀਐ ॥: Boleeai such dharam jhooth na boleeai (sggs 488).
  • ਨਹ ਬਿਲੰਬ ਧਰਮੰ ਬਿਲੰਬ ਪਾਪੰ: Nah bilanb dharamam bilamb paapam: Do not delay in practicing Dharma; delay in committing sins (sggs 1354).
  • Those who believe, and work righteousness- their Lord will guide them because of their Faith: beneath them will flow rivers in Gardens of Bliss (Quran, 10:9).
  • Jehovah judges with righteousness (Bible, Jr. 11:20).

The dictum of all scriptures is as follows: develop true Love towards all consciously. After reading scriptures if one still harbors hatred towards other beings and other religions, then he has failed the scriptures and the Prophets. It's the pure Love that will lead man to his Spiritual Goal. What is pure Love? Annihilation of "I-ness" (personal will, selfishness, or false ego) only constitutes pure Love, which brings understanding and harmony. It chases out nonessential or unwanted things in our lives; hence bringing us face to face with our original, unselfish, and unhampered lives. The expression of Pure Love speaks from a state beyond the ordinary perception of the senses; for the experience of such Love always carries with it the acknowledgment of eternity. All religions are motivated by such Love.

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਪ੍ਰੀਤੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਬਦੈ ਥਾਇ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਸਬਦੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੀਐ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਹਜਿ ਸੁਭਾਇ ॥੭॥: Bin preetee bhagti n hovaee bin Shabadi thaai n paai. Shabade hayu mai maareeai maya kaa bhram jaai. aam padaarath paaeeai gurmukhi sahaj subhaai ||7||: Without the Shabad (the Divine love does not well up within), without love no Bhagti is possible, and (the Jeeva) is not acceptede. Through the Shabad, egotism is killed and the illusion of Maya dispelled. (Through the Shabad, thus) by becoming the Gurmukh, Naam-Padaarath is obtained, Naturally ||7|| (sggs 67).
  • ਸਾਚ ਕਹੋਂ ਸੁਨ ਲੇਹੁ ਸਭੈ ਜਿਨ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਕੀਓ ਤਿਨ ਹੀ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਪਾਇਓ ॥: Saach kahon sun leho sabhai jin prem keeo tin hee prabh paaio: Listen all, I tell you the Truth: One who practices love attains God (Guru Gobind Singh Jee).
  • He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love (Bible, 1John 4:8). You must love your fellow as yourself (Bible, Le 19:18). Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you (Matt. 5:43-44).
  • The best type of yogi is he who feels for others, whether in grief or pleasure, even as he feels for himself (Gita 6:32).
  • A lover's food is love for God -- in his eyes a hundred bodies are not worth a bean (Sufi Jallaluddin Rumi).
  • Love alone is worth hunting -- but how can you catch it in your snare? Unless, perhpas, you become His prey: Leave aside your snare and enter His! ( Sufi Jallaluddin Rumi)
  • And from beyond the intellect, beautiful Love comes dragging its skirts, a cup of wine in its hand. And from beyond Love, that indescribable One who can only be called That keeps coming (Sufi Jallaluddin Rumi).

Scriptures are the source of knowledge on the True Nature of God or the Soul. If one fails to realize this Self-knowledge (Aatam-Giaan) from the scriptures, then he has failed the scriptures and the Prophets. The content of the genuine scriptural texts is esoteric knowledge recorded for the purpose of reflection and contemplation; which must lead one towards God-consciousness. Hence, the crux of the whole matter is to attain intuitive understanding of the Word. If one understands, realizes and comprehends what he reads and studies in the scriptures, in the end he will realize that God (Truth-Knowledge-Bliss) dwells deep within his nucleus.

  • ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਹੂਣੀ ਪਿਰ ਮੁਤੀਆ ਪਿਰਮੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥: Giaan vihoonee pir muteeaa piram na paayaa jaae: Those who are utterly lacking in spiritual wisdom are separated from God; they cannot obtain His Love (sggs 38).
  • ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥: One should read scriptures with intelligence, and then understand them. Also, one should give charity with intelligence. Says Nanak, this is the true Path; other things lead to Satanic life ||1|| (sggs 1245).
  • The Light of all lights resides in everybody's heart (Gita 13:17).

The scriptures and godly beings reiterate that there is but One God pervading everything, animate and inanimate, sustaining them all. They also reveal that God has endowed man with the intuitive vision to see Him everywhere. After reading them, if one still thinks himself to be separate from all else, then he has failed the scriptures and the Prophets. A lay person who does not have the necessary insight into this wisdom will naturally wonder how One God is present in all that he perceives. Religious texts also reveal that the world is a delusive mystery, hiding what it ought to reveal and only the blessed and good (Gurmukhs) who can get over this delusion, will have the vision of God.

Religious texts have declared that it is very difficult to surmount this veil of delusion (Maya) consisting of the triple qualities (found in men) of super activity, of average nature and of indolence. But those who having made the True Self within their refuge (inner surrender of falsehood), can easily get over this ocean of Maya.

  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਦੀਸੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਸੁਣੀਐ ਏਕੁ ਏਕੁ ਵਖਾਣੀਐ॥ਆਤਮ ਪਸਾਰਾ ਕਰਣਹਾਰਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਬਿਨਾ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੀਅ ॥: Brahm deesai Brahm suneeyai ek ek vakhaaneeyai. Aatam pasaaraa karan haaraa parabh binaa nahee jaaneeyai: The One Unique Reality is seen everywhere, the Unstruck Celestial Music is heard everywhere, the One Creator is present in all creation; there is none else than He Himself everywhere (sggs 846).
  • If any one slew a person — unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land — it would be as if he slew the whole people: And if any one saves a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people (Quran 5:35). To Allah belong the East and West: wherever you turn, there is the presence of Allah. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing (Quran 2:115).
  • If one makes the statement 'I love God', and yet is hating his brother (other being in the family of mankind), he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen (Bible, 1 John, 4:20). God created the man in His Image (Bible, Genesis 1:27).
  • Experiencing one's own Self in all beings and all beings in the Self, one attains the highest Reality -- and not by any other means" (Vedas, Kevalya Upnishad, 10). O God, You are all-pervading, and thus You are everything (Gita 11:40).

Pursuit of knowledge must lead to Truth. After reading scriptures if one is still governs by falsehood, then he has failed the scriptures and the Prophets. To strictly abide by Truth is the duty of every human being because it is the highest refuge and is even considered as the greatest penance. Any discipline of study is useful only at the relative level of the world but there is one knowledge which is essential to realize happiness that every individual has to learn without choice —Aatam-Giaan. The greatest tragedy that can happen to any person is when he does not know himself. The assertion of the true scriptures makes it apparent that the knower of Truth becomes one with God.

  • ਸਚਹੁ ਓਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਉਪਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਆਚਾਰ ॥੫॥: Sachahu orai sabh kayu upari sach aachaar ||5||: Everything is underneath (lower than, ਉਰ੍ਹੇ, …) Truth; the truthful living (living with Truth) is the highest (i.e., the superior form of living, ਸਭ ਤੇ ਉੱਪਰ …) ||5|| (sggs 62).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਲੇਖੈ ਇਕ ਗਲ ਹੋਰੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਝਖਣਾ ਝਾਖ ॥੧॥: Nanak lekhai ik gal hor haumai jhakhanaa jhaakh ||1||: O Nanak, only one thing is of any account (the Truth, etc.), everything else is useless babbling and idle talk in ego ||1|| (sggs 467).
  • And cover not Truth with falsehood, nor conceal the Truth when ye know (what it is) (Quran 2:42).

To realize one's own True Self within is the end of all searching; for the True Self is the only Truth, all else is inference. To create the right conditions needed for rediscovery of this Supreme Truth, all scriptures tell us to go within, look within, search within, or simply be established in the True Self within. Because the Kingdom of God is within man's own body, in the cave of his Heart! Always with us, ever available to everybody. We are simply That. After reading scriptures, if we keep searching outside what can be found only within, then we have failed the scriptures and the Prophets! But the tragedy is that the man instead of identifying God who is present in his heart as his Real Self, searches for Him everywhere else!

  • ਸਭ ਕਿਛੁ ਘਰ ਮਹਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਟੋਲੈ ਸੋ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਹੀ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਜਿਨੀ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਸੋ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਸੁਹੇਲਾ ਜੀਉ ॥੧॥: Sabh kishu ghar mahi baahari naahee... (sggs 102).
  • Tat tvam asi: Thou art That (Saam Veda). Prajnanam Brahma: Consciouness is God (Rig Veda). Ayam Aatma Brahma: The Self is God (Atharva Veda). Aham Brahma Asmi: I am God (Yajur veda).
  • Jesus said: "If those who lead you say, 'See, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is in and around you. When you know your selves, then you will be known, and you will be aware that you who the sons of the living Father. But if you do not know your selves, you are in poverty, and you who are the poverty" (Gospel of Thomas).
  • Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3). Blessed are the pure in heart; for they will see God (Matt. 5:8).

Spiritual knowledge helps one transcend duality (Doojaa Bhaav). After reading scriptures, if our mind's duality still persists, then we have failed the scriptures and the Prophets. Knowledge pertaining to the world is relative as it is always in relation to something. Knowledge thus presupposes subject-object duality, the person and the object of knowledge. This is true of all empirical knowledge but cannot be applied to spiritual knowledge. In empirical knowledge the object is different from the subject and hence the process of knowledge is experienced distinctly; whereas, in the case of spiritual knowledge, the individual is both the knower and the known. Before spiritual awakening a person identifies himself with the worldly relations as his sense of identification with his body-mind-intellect personality is very strong. Spiritual knowledge enables man to understand that while his relationship with others in the world is temporary that with God is eternal. This can be better appreciated with the analogy of the ocean and the wave. While the relationship between one wave and another is temporary that between the wave and the ocean is permanent as the wave is nothing but the ocean when it loses its identity. So also is the case with man. His true nature is spiritual and infinite and when he realizes his relation with God his egocentric identity ceases to bother him anymore.

  • ਮੂਰਖਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ॥ ਬਹੁ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਦੁਖੁ ਸਬਾਇਆ: Moorakh parh aprh doojaa bhaau drirhaaiaa ...: The fool reads and reads, but holds tight to duality. He performs all sorts of rituals, but still suffers terrible pain (sggs 424).
  • So man is in form a branch of the world, but in attribute the world's foundation. Know this! His outward is made dizzy by a gnat, but his inward encompasses the seven heavens... Whenever you come upon a form, you stop and say "I am this." By God, you are not that! How can you be that? You are that unique one, happy, beautiful, and intoxicated with yourself. You are your own bird, prey, and snare, your own seat of honor, carpet, and roof (Sufi Jallaludin Rumi).

Ego-mind is defective. Elimination of mind's defects leads to its purification. The scriptures point to us as to how one can go about doing it. After reading scriptures, if our mind still dwells in "filth" (impurity, restlessness and ignorance), then we have failed the scriptures and the Prophets. The experiences of the realized souls and the knowledge of the scriptures urge us to earnestly study and analyze the mind, rise above its temptations and deceptions, make it steady, dissolve it in the Divine Essence by the constant and intense Self-inquiry, fix it on God Consciousness, and, thus, get rid of the menacing body consciousness. All other activities are said to be mere babbling in ignorance! When a wooden log burns, it makes crackling noise and flames. Once the log gets completely burnt, then no more noise is heard! Our deluded mind (false ego) is the log; attached to the worldliness it makes noise (inner "filth", egotism...) and the flames of desire and fear are seen. By applying the Word, burning comes to an end, and it becomes quite (Sahaj). Such Pure Mind (Pure Self, Pure Aatmaan, or Pure Budhi) is the voice of God. The more one advances towards his Pure Self, the more he becomes detached from the body-consciousness.

  • ਜਿਚਰੁ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਲਹਰੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰ ॥: As long as this mind is tossing around (in waves of Maya etc., that person remains) caught in too much ego and pride (sggs 1247).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਹਉ ਬੁਧਿ ਹੈ ਸਚਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਲੁ ਖੋਹੁ ॥ ਹੋਹੁ ਨਿਮਾਣਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਅਗੈ ਮਤ ਕਿਛੁ ਆਪੁ ਲਖਾਵਹੇ ॥ ਆਪਣੈ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਿ ਜਗਤੁ ਜਲਿਆ ਮਤ ਤੂੰ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਵਹੇ ॥: Antari agiyan hayu budhi hai ..: within the intellect are ignorance and ego; through the True Word, this filth is washed off. So be humble, and surrender to the True Guru (Self within); do not attach your identity to your ego. The world is consumed by ego and body consciousness; see this, lest you lose your own self as well (sggs 441).
  • ਮਨ ਸਮਝਾਵਨ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਕਛੂਅਕ ਪੜੀਐ ਗਿਆਨ ॥੫॥: Man samajhaavan kaarane kashooak parreai giaan ||5|| To instruct the mind (ਉੱਚੇ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਸਤੇ-to raise the Consciousness to the High Plane, one) ought to study Divine Knowledge (ਉੱਚੀ ਵਿਚਾਰ ਵਾਲੀ ਬਾਣੀ…) to some extent. ||5|| (sggs 340).

All religious texts contain categorical statements that God is the reservoir of auspicious Virtues (ਗੁਣ) and has absolutely no flaws and of greater importance is His impartiality. They also declare that everyone can realize This reservoir of Transcendental Qualities within, "hear" and "now". If we do not care to do so, and instead choose to live a life of inauspicious qualities, then we have failed the scriptures and the Prophets! Because, without acquiring godly virtues, one cannot realize God!

  • ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਸੋ ਸਭਿ ਗੁਣ ਜਾਣੈ ॥: Aap pashaanai so sabhi gun jaanai: One who realizes his Self, knows all virtues (sggs 1056).
  • ਸਗਲ ਗੁਣ ਸੁਗਿਆਨ ਪੂਰਨ ਆਪਣੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਭਾਣੀ ॥: Sagal gun sugiaan pooran aapanae prabh bhaanee: Filled with all virtues and complete spiritual wisdom, one becomes pleasing to his God (sggs 459).
  • So strive as in a race in all virtues (Quran 5:48).
  • The transcendental qualities are conducive to liberation, whereas the demoniac qualities make for bondage. Do not worry, O son of Paandu, for you are born with the divine qualities (Gita 16:5)

The role of the scriptures is to help us eradicate false ego—forgetfulness of our True Identity. Ignorance of Truth lasts so long one has altered ego or body-consciousness (false "I-ness"). To act correctly, however, we must understand holy books correctly. Once their sublime essence is understood and realized, the confirming action is up to us. Nobody can act for another, just as nobody can eat for another. The scriptures indicate the Goal. However, the obstacles are discovered and overcome by us, the seekers, through wisdom and truthful living. If we do not apply the spiritual essence of the scriptures rightly, it only means that we have not understood it rightly. The Word never fails, but, in bondage, we fail the Word!

  • ਬਾਵਨ ਅਖਰ ਸੋਧਿ ਕੈ ਹਰਿ ਚਰਨੀ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ ॥੧੭੩॥: Baavan akhar sodi kai hari charanee chitu laai ||173||: Searching the fifty-two letters of the alphabet (i.e., through the Spiritual Inquiry into what's written), focus your consciousness on Hari (Mool). ||173|| (sggs 1373).
  • ਸਚੀ ਪਟੀ ਸਚੁ ਮਨਿ ਪੜੀਐ ਸਬਦੁ ਸੁ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Sachee pattee sach manni parheeai sabad su saar: With the true notebook of the true mind, study the most sublime Word (sggs 938).
  • ਸਮਝੈ ਸੂਝੈ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਬੂਝੈ ਅੰਤਿ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਸਾਚਾ ॥: Samjai soojai parhi parhi boojhai anti niranatari saachaa: If one understands, realizes and comprehends what he reads and studies, in the end he will realize that the True Lord dwells deep within his nucleus (sggs 930).

All religions speak of One Universal Truth, hence it is imperative that the scriptures of the various religions must be read and interpreted with this perspective. The problem arises when they are read and interpreted in selfish attachment instead of Truth. As a result, one religion tries to prevail over another; giving rise conflicts. All religions must learn by now that sowing seeds of dissension only conflicts can be reaped.

To summarize in the words of a wise one:

"The religious text books provide us with the material for a subjective scientific analysis by which we can intelligently understand and appreciate the necessity for such voluntary self-restraint. They serve the same purpose as manuals supplied with a machine for its efficient use. Similarly, the human machine, the most complex entity in nature, also needs certain adjustments and tuning up according to the manuals of Religion so that it may function efficiently in all its contacts with the world of things and beings. Man is given the liberty, either eke out the maximum happiness for himself by following these instructions and harnessing his equipment or to disregard them inviting sorrow and suffering for himself. His alone is the choice to make or mar himself and his happiness. Thus, the scriptural books provide an exhausting science of better living and, in our maturity, we find in them complete technique of self-development culminating in the experience of the Supreme Reality."

— T. Singh