THE BEGGAR

ਮਮਾ ਮਾਗਨਹਾਰ ਇਆਨਾ ॥ ਦੇਨਹਾਰ ਦੇ ਰਹਿਓ ਸੁਜਾਨਾ ॥ <br>
ਜੋ ਦੀਨੋ ਸੋ ਏਕਹਿ ਬਾਰ ॥ ਮਨ ਮੂਰਖ ਕਹ ਕਰਹਿ ਪੁਕਾਰ ॥ (sggs 258).
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Here the Gurbani does not want us to stand at the street-corner and literally become beggars. That's not what the Gurbani means. The term "beggar" symbolizes the noble quality of "humility" ("Gareebee" etc.) in a person, which, according to Baabaa Nanak, is the essence of all noble qualities. This means Baabaa Nanak would like very much to see this virtue in all his followers to take root and blossom. When one good quality is developed, all other good qualities automatically well up within.

  • ਮਿਠਤੁ ਨੀਵੀ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਗੁਣ ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਤਤੁ ॥ : Mithat neevee Naanakaa gun changiaaeeaa tatt (sggs 470).
  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਸਮਾਹਾ ॥ : Braham giaanee kai gareebee samaahaa (sggs 273).
  • ਬੁਧਿ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਖਰਚੁ ਲੈਹੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਜਾਰਹੁ ॥ : Budh gareebee kharach laihu houmai bikh jaarahu (sggs 399).
  • ਖਿਮਾ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਅਨਦ ਸਹਜ ਜਪਤ ਰਹਹਿ ਗੁਣਤਾਸ ॥ : Khimaa gareebee anad sahaj japat rahahi gunataas (sggs 253).
  • ਗਰੀਬੀ ਗਦਾ ਹਮਾਰੀ ॥ ਖੰਨਾ ਸਗਲ ਰੇਨੁ ਛਾਰੀ ॥ ਇਸੁ ਆਗੈ ਕੋ ਨ ਟਿਕੈ ਵੇਕਾਰੀ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪੂਰੇ ਏਹ ਗਲ ਸਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ : Gareebee gadaa hamaaree. Khanna sagal ren saaree. Is aagai ko na tikai vekaaree. Gur poorai ih gal saaree (sggs 628).

Thus the attitude of an actual beggar can teach us a thing or two, provided we are conscious observant. Although there are many humorous jokes about the modern beggars in India and elsewhere, but the aim here is not to reflect on that aspect. So let's keep our focus on the Gurbani's spiritual message here. Through this example of "beggar", the Gurbani is revealing to us the secret of living life properly or happily.

If a beggar goes to somebody's house or someone for begging (Bhikhiaa or Bhikshaa), he does not grieve if nothing is given to him at one place. He simply goes to the next house or person, hoping to get something there. He knows he is a beggar, therefore, whether he receives bountiful or nothing, or weather he receives scowling or foul language, to him it's all part of life and God's Will (Hukam, Bhaanaa etc.). So he keeps his cool without feeling throe, anxiety, envy and anger. If others become annoyed and heated with him and insult him, he just walks away in silence, without complaint. He does not try explaining his sorrows to each and every house or person he visits. He knows if he did, the people would not understand it anyway. He tolerates situations and everything he hears, without losing his peace of mind.

The Gurbani wants us to adopt the attitude of a beggar (humility). When we assume the attitude of a true beggars, we look upon everything as God's Hukam (Will). Baabaa Nanak never called himself "Giaanee or Brahm Giaanee", (Sri 108"), "Sant", "Gurmukh", so on and so forth. Instead, he always called himself "Neech" (lowly), "meek", "Servant" ("Janu", "Sevak", etc.), "Gareeb", "meritless", "slave" ("Daasan Daas") etc. Because he knew that by becoming humble you become the greatest, by assuming the attitude of a "servant" of everyone you "conquer the world", or by cultivating humility you become egoless, fearless and patient.

  • ਹੁਕਮਿ ਮੰਨਿਐ ਹੋਵੈ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ਤਾ ਖਸਮੈ ਕਾ ਮਹਲੁ ਪਾਇਸੀ ॥ : Hukami manniai hovai paravaan(u) taa khasamai kaa mahal(u) paaisee (sggs 471).
  • ਸਚਾ ਤੇਰਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਣਿਆ ॥ : Sachaa taeraa hukam Gurmukh jaaniaa(sggs 144).
  • ਨਾਨਕੁ ਨੀਚੁ ਭਿਖਿਆ ਦਰਿ ਜਾਚੈ ਮੈ ਦੀਜੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਡਾਈ ਹੇ ॥ : Nanak neech bhikhiaa dar jaachai mai deejai naam vadaaee hay (sggs 1021).
  • ਹਮ ਦਾਸਨ ਕੇ ਦਾਸ ਪਿਆਰੇ ॥ : Hamm daasan ke daas piaarae (sggs 1035).
  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮ ਧਨੁ ਰਾਸਿ ॥ : Janu Nanak har naam dhhan raas (sggs 796).
  • ਸੁਖੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੋਨੋ ਸਮ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਨੈ ਅਉਰੁ ਮਾਨੁ ਅਪਮਾਨਾ ॥ ਹਰਖ ਸੋਗ ਤੇ ਰਹੈ ਅਤੀਤਾ ਤਿਨਿ ਜਗਿ ਤਤੁ ਪਛਾਨਾ ॥੧॥ ਉਸਤਤਿ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਦੋਊ ਤਿਆਗੈ ਖੋਜੈ ਪਦੁ ਨਿਰਬਾਨਾ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹੁ ਖੇਲੁ ਕਠਨੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਨਹੂੰ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਨਾ ॥੨॥੧॥ : Sukh dukh dono sam kari jaanai aour maanu apamaanaa. Harakh sog te rahai ateetaa tini jagi tatu pashaanaa. Usatat nindaa do-oo tiaagai khojai padu nirabaanaa. Jan Nanak ihu khel kathan hai kinahoon gurmukhi jaanaa (sggs 219).

The Gurbani declares that we all are beggars at the Door of God. With this beggar-like attitude, we can make spiritual progress and gain inner strength. But we are ignorant, doubt-ridden and deluded beggars. Because, we beg for worldly things. In other words, instead of begging for the eternal God and His Name, we beg for wrong or ephemeral things. The Gurbani tells us that the purpose of life is to link with God not with the "Sansaar" (the place of repeated death). Worldly things can only lead one to suffering or sorrows in the end. Then we complain and cry, because we find ourselves unable to experience lasting happiness and peace from the worldly objects. Furthermore, in the process, we forget the "Giver" (God) of all the "Gifts" we receive in the life. Thus, we are reminded by the Gurbani that we are "ignorant" beggars for we lack the right attitude.

  • ਮਮਾ ਮਾਗਨਹਾਰ ਇਆਨਾ ॥ ਦੇਨਹਾਰ ਦੇ ਰਹਿਓ ਸੁਜਾਨਾ ॥ ਜੋ ਦੀਨੋ ਸੋ ਏਕਹਿ ਬਾਰ ॥ ਮਨ ਮੂਰਖ ਕਹ ਕਰਹਿ ਪੁਕਾਰ ॥ ਜਉ ਮਾਗਹਿ ਤਉ ਮਾਗਹਿ ਬੀਆ ॥ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਕੁਸਲ ਨ ਕਾਹੂ ਥੀਆ ॥ ਮਾਗਨਿ ਮਾਗ ਤ ਏਕਹਿ ਮਾਗ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਪਰਹਿ ਪਰਾਗ ॥੪੧॥ : Mamaa maaganehaar iaanaa... (sggs 258).
  • ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੈ ਭਾਇ ਭਵੈ ਭੇਖਧਾਰੀ ॥ : Bhram kai bhaai bhavai bhekhadhaaree: Wearing the robes of a beggar, he wanders around, deluded by doubt (sggs 856).
  • ਤੂ ਦਾਤੌ ਹਮ ਜਾਚਿਕਾ ਹਰਿ ਦਰਸਨੁ ਦੀਜੈ ॥ : Too daata hamm jaachikaa har darasan deejai (sggs 419).
  • ਜਾਚਿਕੁ ਮੰਗੈ ਨਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਕਰੇ ਕਬੂਲੁ ॥ : Jaachik mangai nith naam saahib kare kabool (sggs 323).
  • ਹਮ ਜਾਚਿਕ ਦੀਨ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤੇਰਿਆ ਮੁਖਿ ਦੀਜੈ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਬਾਣੀ ॥ : Hamm jaachik deen prabh teriaa mukh deejai amrit bani (sggs 997).

We also learn from this example of the "beggar" not to increase baser desires. Because, when full of desires, we submit to the world and become subservient (Muhataaj) to Maya , begging from people. On the other hand, when desires are reduced, then one lives like a king!

  • ਅੰਤਰ ਆਤਮੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਨ ਚੀਨ੍‍ਆਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਮੁਹਤਾਜੁ ਭਇਆ ॥ : Antar aatamai braham na cheenihaaa Maya kaa muhataaj bhaiaa (sggs 435).
  • ਕਿਆ ਮੁਹਤਾਜੀ ਕਿਆ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥: Kiaa muhathaajee kiaa sansaar (sggs 349).

Before a seed can become a mature tree, it has to be buried beneath the ground! Also, before the seed or sapling is planted, the ground has to be prepared and the weeds need to be cleared in the area. After that, it has to be cared for by regularly watering and fertilizing it, and guarding it by putting up the fence around to protect the sapling from being eaten by animals, birds, etc., until it becomes a strong tree. Similarly, spiritual life needs to be cared for if we intend it to fully grow and become mature. Until than, among other things, the Gurbani says it needs to be fenced with humility.

  • ਮਨੁ ਹਾਲੀ ਕਿਰਸਾਣੀ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਰਮੁ ਪਾਣੀ ਤਨੁ ਖੇਤੁ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਬੀਜੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸੁਹਾਗਾ ਰਖੁ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਵੇਸੁ ॥ ਭਾਉ ਕਰਮ ਕਰਿ ਜੰਮਸੀ ਸੇ ਘਰ ਭਾਗਠ ਦੇਖੁ ॥ : Mann haalee kirsaanee karnee saram paanee tann khet. Naam beej santokh suhaagaa rakh greebee ves. Bhaayu karm kari jamsee se ghar bhaagath dekh (sggs 595).

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org