That educated person who is full of greed, avarice and pride, is said to be a fool (sggs 140).
(God) is not won over by playing music, singing songs or
reading (scriptures such as) the Vedas (etc.). He is not won over by
Giaan (knowledge, Giaan Charchaa - ਗਿਆਨ-ਚਰਚਾ, etc.),
meditation or practicing Yoga. (sggs 1237).

There is an old doctrine reported in the history: if you want to rule, control, exploit or ruin a people, keep them illiterate. Unfortunately, all religions, rulers or regimes use it. During the old colonialism, for example, colonized people were purposely kept illiterate. Ignorance lures people to all sorts of addictions. Eventually, they fall prey to mental thralldom which leads to their moral, intellectual as well as Spiritual emasculation. It's much easier for oppressive rulers, regimes or religions to enslave and manipulate such masses. Illiteracy breeds poverty, ignorance, selfishness, animal nature, conflicts, fanaticism, fundamentalism, bigotry, exploitation, manipulation, slavery, prejudices, corruption, social unrest, high handed discrimination, fraud, stealing, looting, swindling, deception, immorality, conflicts, wars, dishonesty and cheating.

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਧਰਤੀ ਸਾਧ ਕੀ ਤਸਕਰ ਬੈਸਹਿ ਗਾਹਿ ॥: Kabeer dharatee saadh kee tusakar baisahi gaahi: Kabeer says: The earth belongs to the Holy, but it is being occupied by thieves (sggs 1375).
  • ਮੈਲੇ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਡਾਇ ਕੈ ਈਸ ॥: Mailae brahamandaae kai ees: The rulers of kingdoms are corrupt (sggs 1158).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਪੜਹਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਕਹਾਵਹਿ ॥: Manmukh parrahi pandit kahaavahi: The material beings (Manmukhs) read and recite scriptures; and call themselves priests (sggs 128)!

Religion has been misguiding humanity because it has become materialistic, or a business. So are the followers, societies and nations. To be materialist is to be selfish. To be selfish means to care for one's own interest, which gives rise to evil passions — lust, greed, anger, attachment, self-conceit, enviousness and stubborn-mindedness (with their numerous variations).

  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਝੂਠੋ ਝੂਠੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥: Manmukh jhootho jhooth kamaavai: The Manmukh practices falsehood, only falsehood (sggs 363).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਅਗਿਆਨੀ ਅੰਧੁ ਅੰਧਾਰਾ ॥: Manmukh agiaanee andh andhaaraa: The Manmukhs (because of emotional attachment: Moh) remain immersed in utter darkness of ignorance (of their spiritual life: ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ) (sggs 1067).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਮੁਗਧੁ ਬੂਝੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭਾਲਣਿ ਜਾਈ ॥: Manmukh mugadh boojhai naahee baahar bhaalan jaaee: The foolish material being does not understand; he goes out searching for the Divine externally (sggs 754).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਕਾਇਆ ਖੋਜੈ ਹੋਰ ਸਭ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਈ ॥: Gurmukh hovai su kaaiaa khojai hor sbh bharami bhulaaee: One who becomes Spiritual Being (Gurmukh) searches within his body; all others just wander around in confusion (sggs 754).
  • ਪਾਂਚ ਪਲੀਤਹ ਕਉ ਪਰਬੋਧੈ ॥: Paanch paleetah kau parabodhai: Educate evil passions (sggs 872).
  • ਸੋਈ ਕਾਜੀ ਜਿਨਿ ਆਪੁ ਤਜਿਆ ਇਕੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਕੀਆ ਆਧਾਰੋ ॥: Soee kaajee jin aap tajiaa ik naam keeaa aadhaaro: He alone is a Qazi, who renounces selfishness and conceit, and makes the One Name his Support (sggs 24).

As a result, today, literacy generally means material progress. Man is happy if his modern education can bring him "quick bucks" overnight. The Gurbani calls such learned people "educated fools". A donkey may carry a load of all the scriptures of the world, it still continues to be a donkey! Nations are happy if they can become rich and powerful, politically and militarily. Man and the state both bribe each other to achieve their separate goals. Naturally, the modern education system is geared to this end — lust and greed ("Kanic Kaamini").

  • 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).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਦਾਝੈ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਭਾਹੀ ॥: A Manmukh may be highly educated, but he burns in the fire (of Maya, desires...). (sggs 1028).
  • ਪਾਖੰਡਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਬੋਲੁ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥: Paakhandi bhagtee na hovayee dubidha bol khuaar: Hypocrisy is not devotion — speaking words of duality leads only to misery (sggs 28).
  • ਪੜਿਆ ਹੋਵੈ ਗੁਨਹਗਾਰੁ ਤਾ ਓਮੀ ਸਾਧੁ ਨ ਮਾਰੀਐ ॥ ਜੇਹਾ ਘਾਲੇ ਘਾਲਣਾ ਤੇਵੇਹੋ ਨਾਉ ਪਚਾਰੀਐ ॥: If an educated person is the sinner (ਮੰਦ-ਕਰਮੀ), then an illiterate Saadh (an illiterate person who lives a holy or a spiritual life) is not to be punished (if he acts good - ਨੇਕ ਕਮਾਈ ਵਾਲਾ ਮਨੁੱਖ)! (sggs 469).

Absence of proper education of the followers of all religions is causing havoc in the world. Most of the followers of all religions follow or believe in religion without any understanding! In the words of a great one, "Those who believe, do so like the dumb driven cattle in a herd and there is no active enthusiasm or diligent intellectual stocktaking on their part when they hear an advice or follow a path; unfortunately, religion is not meant for the unintelligent or for the stupid."

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅੰਧੁਲੇ ਸੋਝੀ ਨਾਹੀ ॥: Manmukh andhule sojhee naahee: The blind material beings do not understand (sggs 1028).
  • 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).
  • ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥: Parriai naahee bhedu bujhiai paavanaa: Not by reading (religious books), but through Understanding, is the Mystery Realized (that the Lord is Limitless) (sggs 148).
  • ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥: Aklee parh kai bujheeyai aklee keejai daan. Nanak aakhai raah eho hor gallan saitaan: 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 (sggs 1245).

Even though the modern society has achieved unprecedented rates of formal literacy, but man does not know "Who am I?". Since there is no real change in the way the man is being educated, this void in man continues to grow. Because of the lack or absent of Spiritual and moral development, man only identifies with his name, his form, his flesh, his caste, his skin-color, his race, his creed, his external religion, his material possessions, his material education, his material power, his religious dogmas, and so on. But he does not know his Essential Nature.

  • 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).
  • ਪ੍ਰਣਵਤਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈਸਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਬੂਝੈ ਸੋਇ ॥: Pranvati Nanak giaanee kaisaa hoi. Aapu pashaanai boojhai soi: Prays Nanak, of what nature is the Giaanee (the Wise one, the knower of the Truth...)? (A true Giaanee is he who) recognizes his (Mool-ਮੂਲ, Source, Origin, Essential Nature, etc.), such (Giaanee-ਜੋ ਆਪਣੇ ਅਸਲੇ ਨੂੰ ਪਛਾਣਦਾ ਹੈ) Understands God (sggs 25).
  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਆਪਾ ਚੀਨੈ ਮਿਟੈ ਨ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੀ ਕਾਈ ॥: Jan Nanak binu aapaa cheenai mitai na bhram kee kaaee: O Daas Nanak! Without Realizing one’s own self (Mool, Original, or True Nature, etc. - ਆਪਣਾ ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਪਰਖਣ ਤੋਂ ਬਿਨਾ, etc.), the moss of doubt (ignorance of one's True Nature, etc.) is not eradicated (from the mind) ||2||1|| (sggs 684).
  • ਸੋ ਬਉਰਾ ਜੋ ਆਪੁ ਨ ਪਛਾਨੈ ॥ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਨੈ ਤ ਏਕੈ ਜਾਨੈ ॥੪॥: So baouraa jo aap na pachaanai. Aap pacchaanai ta eko jaanai ||4||: Man is crazy without knowing himself (Mool-realization…). When he knows himself (ਆਪਣੇ ਅਸਲੇ ਦੀ ਪਛਾਣ, the Reality of his Being, his True Nature, etc.), only then he comes to know the One (All-pervading Truth). ||4|| (sggs 855).
  • ਕਿਆ ਪੜੀਐ ਕਿਆ ਗੁਨੀਐ ॥ ਕਿਆ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨਾਂ ਸੁਨੀਐ ॥ ਪੜੇ ਸੁਨੇ ਕਿਆ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਜਉ ਸਹਜ ਨ ਮਿਲਿਓ ਸੋਈ ॥੧॥: Kiaa parheeai kiaa guneeai ...: What use is it to read, and what use is it to study? What use is it to listen to the scriptures? What use is reading and listening, if (Truth ) is not naturally (spontaneously, Sahaj ਤੌਰ ਤੇ, ਕੁਦਰਤੀ ਨਤੀਜੇ ਦੇ ਤੌਰ ਤੇ, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ ਦੇ ਤੌਰ ਤੇ, etc.,) realized? ||1|| (sggs 655).
  • ਮੂਰਖਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ॥ ਬਹੁ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਦੁਖੁ ਸਬਾਇਆ ॥: Moorkh parh parh doojaa bhaav driraayaa. Bahu karak kamaavai dukh samaayaa: The fool reads and reads, but holds tight to duality. He performs all sorts of rituals, but still suffers terrible pain (sggs 424).
  • 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).

This illiteracy or poverty of not knowing "Who am I?" is the world crisis. Various religions and education systems of the nations of the world have been unable to touch the core of the man's personality. Consequently, the world is becoming potentially more dangerous place than ever before. The purpose of education is to improve — improve the man's character to make him the Gurmukh, "true man", "total man", "better man", "moral man", "kind man", "generous man", "tolerant man", "Spiritual man", "selfless man", or "all-round improved man". Apparently, religions and the education systems are doing no good for present or future humanity.

The essence of the teachings of the true masters and the scriptures is that there is only One Cosmic Reality; pervading all beings equally. Call It by any name you like; It is the Source or Origin of all that exists. We are That. Although religions or paths are many, but the ultimate destination is one and the same — Realization of our Oneness with the Source of our very Being and everything else. This is the basic Unity which religion preaches. The purpose of all religions is to take the mankind in that direction. This is what needs to be recognized and preached with utmost sincerity and conviction by those who consider themselves to be the leaders and custodians of religions. This is what needs to be brought to the attention of their followers. This is what needs to be focussed on so that each religion can devise a simple way for their own followers to practice this truth in daily life.

  • ਜਿਨੀ ਆਤਮੁ ਚੀਨਿਆ ਪਰਮਾਤਮੁ ਸੋਈ ॥: Jinee aatam cheeniaa parmaatam soee: Those who understand their own Soul, are themselves the Supreme Soul (sgg 421).
  • Tat tvam asi: Thou art That (Vedas).
  • Be still and know that I am God (Bible, Psalms 46:10).
  • Man is the goal of creation. He has come into this world to display those Attributes of God that are reflected within himselft (Sufi Giyani Jallaludin Rumi).

Yes, to some extent, material prosperity is necessary. Also, for the progress of the society, intellectual growth is important as well. But, as the scriptures remind all of us, man and society cannot live or survive on material prosperity, intellectual growth and skills alone. It's of no use to have our bellies filled if our hearts or minds are empty! What's the use of gaining the whole world if we lose our own soul in the process? To become a better man, one needs Spiritual Development as well. Spiritual Progress, in turn, unfolds Divine qualities such as morality, truthfulness, righteousness, compassion, wisdom, love, purity, harmony and Oneness.

  • ਮਾਗਹਿ ਟੂਕਾ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਿ ਨ ਪਾਵੈ ॥: Maagahi tookaa tripati na paavai: (Man) begs for bread, but he is not satisfied (sggs 886).
  • ਮਾਰੂ ਕਬੀਰ ਜੀਉ ॥ ਦੀਨੁ ਬਿਸਾਰਿਓ ਰੇ ਦਿਵਾਨੇ ਦੀਨੁ ਬਿਸਾਰਿਓ ਰੇ ॥ ਪੇਟੁ ਭਰਿਓ ਪਸੂਆ ਜਿਉ ਸੋਇਓ ਮਨੁਖੁ ਜਨਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਾਰਿਓ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਕਬਹੂ ਨਹੀ ਕੀਨੀ ਰਚਿਓ ਧੰਧੈ ਝੂਠ ॥ ਸੁਆਨ ਸੂਕਰ ਬਾਇਸ ਜਿਵੈ ਭਟਕਤੁ ਚਾਲਿਓ ਊਠਿ ॥੧॥ ਆਪਸ ਕਉ ਦੀਰਘੁ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਨੈ ਅਉਰਨ ਕਉ ਲਗ ਮਾਤ ॥ ਮਨਸਾ ਬਾਚਾ ਕਰਮਨਾ ਮੈ ਦੇਖੇ ਦੋਜਕ ਜਾਤ ॥੨॥ ਕਾਮੀ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੀ ਚਾਤੁਰੀ ਬਾਜੀਗਰ ਬੇਕਾਮ ॥ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਕਰਤੇ ਜਨਮੁ ਸਿਰਾਨੋ ਕਬਹੂ ਨ ਸਿਮਰਿਓ ਰਾਮੁ ॥੩॥ ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਚੇਤੈ ਨਹੀ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਮੁਗਧੁ ਗਵਾਰੁ ॥ ਰਾਮੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਾਨਿਓ ਨਹੀ ਕੈਸੇ ਉਤਰਸਿ ਪਾਰਿ ॥੪॥੧॥: Maaroo Kabeer jeeou || Deen bisaariyo re divaane deen bisaariyo re ...:  Maaroo Kabeer jeeou. O madman, You have forgotten your Dharma; you have forgotten your Dharma. Like animals, you fill your belly and sleep; you have wasted and lost this human life. ||1||Pause||... (sggs 1105).
  • ਰੈਣਿ ਗਵਾਈ ਸੋਇ ਕੈ ਦਿਵਸੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ਖਾਇ ॥: Raini gavaaee soe kai divas gavaaeiaa khaae: The nights are wasted sleeping, and the days are wasted eating (sggs 156).
  • Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God (Bible, Luke 4:4). For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul (Bible Mar 8:36)?

With inner Unfoldment, man begins to think less and less about acquisition of material prosperity, wealth, political power, social status, scholarships; and he cares less and less about caste, creed, race, sense-pleasures, and so on. He directs his time and efforts towards discovering the truth that "the Self in him is the Self in all". Thus, he comes to realize that he is not separate from others, but part of all that exists out there. Such balanced man will surely become a better teacher, better preacher, better leader, better administrator, better worker, and better citizen of the global-society. He will earn his living honesty, share with others, live a Divine life, recognize brotherhood of man, be compassionate and uncruel, and be forgiving and loving.

Towards this ultimate end, religions must play their true role. Religions must undertake a proper education of their own followers, so they can achieve this finest Self-development within: the Unfoldment of the Spiritual Perfection that already exists in each one of us — godly status. This is the highest stand that a religion, a society or a country can take. Because character counts! Religions must develop Spiritual Beings, not bloodthirsty fanatics. For that to happen, first all religions must remove human "error" from them. Once the superimposed "error" is removed, the substratum or "truth" will remain over. Lovingly teach this "truth" to the followers, and devise simple and practical ways empowering them to live a life of veracity, truthfulness, righteousness, selflessness, purity, goodwill and love. Otherwise religion, education, progress, or knowledge has no meaning whatsoever.

  • ਸਚਹੁ ਓਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਉਪਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਆਚਾਰ ॥੫॥: Sachahu orai sabh kayu upari sach aachaar ||5||: Everything is underneath Truth (lower than, ਉਰ੍ਹੇ, …); the truthful living (living with Truth) is the highest (i.e., the superior form of living, ਸਭ ਤੇ ਉੱਪਰ …) ||5|| (sggs 62).
  • ਤਾ ਤੂ ਮੁਲਾ ਤਾ ਤੂ ਕਾਜੀ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਖੁਦਾਈ ॥ ਜੇ ਬਹੁਤੇਰਾ ਪੜਿਆ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਕੋ ਰਹੈ ਨ ਭਰੀਐ ਪਾਈ ॥: Taa too mulaa taa too kaajee jaanahi naam khudaaee. Je bahuteraa parriaa hovahi ko rahai na bhareeai paaee: You are a Mullah, and you are a Qazi, only when you know the Divine Name. You may be very educated, but no one can remain when the measure of life is full (sggs 24).
  • ਬੋਲੀਐ ਸਚੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਝੂਠੁ ਨ ਬੋਲੀਐ ॥: Boleeai such dharam jhooth na boleeai (sggs 488).
  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਬੰਧਨ ਤੇ ਮੁਕਤਾ ॥: Brahm giaanee bandhan te muktaa: Brahm Giaanee - the knower of Truth - is free from worldly entanglements (sggs 273).
  • ਛੋਡਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਕੂੜ ਕਬਾੜਾ ॥: Shodahu praanee koor kabaadaa: O mortal, abandon falsehood and your worthless ways (ਨਿਰੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਦੇ ਮੋਹ ਦੀਆਂ ਗੱਲਾਂ, etc.). (sggs 1025).
  • ਪਾਧਾ ਪੜਿਆ ਆਖੀਐ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਬਿਚਰੈ ਸਹਜਿ ਸੁਭਾਇ ॥ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਸੋਧੈ ਤਤੁ ਲਹੈ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਬਿਕ੍ਰਦਾ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਟੇ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਚੀਨਈ ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ ਨਹ ਕਾਇ ॥੫੩॥: Paadhaa parhiaa aakheeai bidiaa bichrai sahaj subhaai ...: That Pandit is said to be well-educated, if he contemplates knowledge (and lives his life) with Sahaj (Intuitive Poise, Natural State of Being, calm disposition, ਆਤਮਿਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ, etc.). Through his knowledge, he Reflects on the Essence of Reality (ਆਪਣੇ ਅਸਲੇ ਦੀ ਵਿਚਾਰ), and focuses his attention on the Name of the Lord. The Manmukh sells his knowledge (learning, etc.); he earns poison (of Maya), and eats this poison (that brings him spiritual death). The fool does not Reflect on the Shabad. He has no understanding, no comprehension ||53|| (sggs 938).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਪ੍ਰੀਤੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਬਦੈ ਥਾਇ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥: Bin preetee bhagti n hovayee bin shabde thaai n paai: Without love, no Devotion is possible; and without Shabad or Naam, no one finds acceptance (sggs 67).
  • ਜਾਇ ਪੁਛਹੁ ਸੋਹਾਗਣੀ ਤੁਸੀ ਰਾਵਿਆ ਕਿਨੀ ਗੁਣੀ ॥ ਸਹਜਿ ਸੰਤੋਖਿ ਸੀਗਾਰੀਆ ਮਿਠਾ ਬੋਲਣੀ ॥: Jaai pushahu sohaaganee tusee raaaviaa kinee gunee. Sahaji santokhi seegaareeaa mithaa bolanee: Go, and ask the Realized-beings, "By what Virtues have you Realized your God?" (They will tell you that) They are adorned with Intuitive Ease, Contentment and Sweet Speech (sggs 17).
  • "What is needed is proper education of the followers of all religions. Place the practical tenets of their own religion before the followers of that religion, and devise ways and means of enabling them to express these tenets in their daily life. Without practice, idealism creates fatalism in man. Unless knowledge alters one's life, it is useless. Selflessness and love are not creeds to be taught, but ideals to be exemplified, demonstrated and radiated. Therefore, let everyone practice his own religion and strive to attain the goal. Let religion create saints and Yogins, rather than Mandirs (Hindu temple), Masjids (Mosque) and Churches." (Swami Sivananda, Divine Life Society).

— T. Singh