O brother! When the knot of the three qualities of Maya is untied,
then the Tenth Gate opens up (Mool-Realization...),
and the mind remains intoxicated (in that State of abiding in Mool) ||3|| (sggs 1123).

ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ - Trikuti (Tri+Kuti) is a Sanskrit word, which literally means "the confluence of the three". But the question one may ask is: the confluence of what three? The focus of this Gurbani Reflection is to ascertain through the Gurbani as to what these three are referred to here by Bhagat Kabeer Sahib Jee.

  • ਤੀਨਿ ਨਦੀ ਤਹ ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਅਹਿਨਿਸਿ ਕਸਮਲ ਧੋਵਹਿ ਨਾਹਿ ॥੫॥: (Those who give up living life by Virtues or Wisdom, and instead continue living in Mayaic consciousness) they remain (immersed or deceived) in 'Trikuti' (i.e. 'confluence of the three' rivers of Maya's three-qualities: Rajo, Tamo, Sato); they transgress day and night; (since they remain devoid of Virtuous life) they do not cleanse their act or thinking. ||5|| (sggs 344).

There is a wide variety of interpretations of "Trikuti" that can be found in the various Gurmukhi Teekaas or English translations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) available in the market. This confusion may be the upshot of the fact that Baabaa Nanak and Kabeer Sahib, for example, have repeatedly used many mystical or esoteric terms and expressions common to Indian religions or traditions. However, Baabaa Nanak's or Kabeer Sahib's use of these mystical terms (i.e. Taantric and Yogic terms) does not plausibly follow that they actually practiced themselves or conceivably suggested their practice to others. This simply means they have used such terms only as figurative speech which were current and handy for use and were generally understood among mystical orders of their time. In fact the Gurus and Bhagats had many discussions during their time with Yogis, Saadhoos and ascetics of various mystical cults and denominations. Actually the Gurus and the Bhagatas had their own mystical message to convey to the humankind, which was original with them.

Having said that, some Gurmukhi Teekaas of the SGGS interprets as Kabeer Sahib suggesting "Trikuti" to mean the confluence of the three main Naarhees (arteries) — Irhaa, Pingla and Sushumanaa that interconnect the Chakras or subtle energy centers of the human body. However, Kabeer Sahib would not be suggesting that because, as said before, he neither practiced Yoga himself nor suggested its practice to others. Other Teekaas of the SGGS interprets as Kabeer Sahib suggesting here the confluence of the three rivers — Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati — that takes place in Trikuti. As we will see, this interpretation does not seem to be apt either. Some Teekaas suggest both the confluence of the three main Naarhees and the three rivers! All such interpretations are based on Mayaic consciousness.

Some English translations of the SGGS interpret as Kabeer Sahib suggesting three rivers namely knowledge, right action and devotion in which we are to wash our sins or mistakes. This is not plausibly either, because they are incorrectly interpreting the word "Naahi" (ਨਾਹਿ) to mean "to bathe or wash". In reality, the word "Naahi" means "no".

Then what does Kabeer Sahib really mean by "Trikuti"? Well, let's dig up help and guidance from the Gurbani itself. On page 1123 of the SGGS, in an another Shabad, Kabeer Sahib gives us the clue as to what this "Trikuti" really is. He says:

  • ਨਗਰੀ ਏਕੈ ਨਉ ਦਰਵਾਜੇ ਧਾਵਤੁ ਬਰਜਿ ਰਹਾਈ ॥ ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਛੂਟੈ ਦਸਵਾ ਦਰੁ ਖੂਲ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਤਾ ਮਨੁ ਖੀਵਾ ਭਾਈ ॥੩॥ ਅਭੈ ਪਦ ਪੂਰਿ ਤਾਪ ਤਹ ਨਾਸੇ ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥ ਉਬਟ ਚਲੰਤੇ ਇਹੁ ਮਦੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਜੈਸੇ ਖੋਂਦ ਖੁਮਾਰੀ ॥੪॥੩॥: Nagaree ekai naou daravaaje dhaavatu baraji rahaaee || Trikuti chutai daswaa daru khulhai taa manu kheewaa bhaaee ||3||. Abhai pada poor taap tah naase kahi kabeer beechaaree || Oubat chala(n)te ihu mada paaiaa jaise khond khumaaree ||4||3||: There are nine gates (or 9 openings: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth, one genital, and one anus) to the one city (of the body); restrain your mind from escaping through them. O brother! When the knot of the three qualities of Maya is untied, then the Tenth Gate opens up (Mool-Realization...), and the mind remains intoxicated (in that State of abiding in Mool) ||3||. When the mortal fully realizes the state of fearlessness, then his sufferings vanish; so says Kabeer after careful deliberation. Turning away from the world (i.e. Maya), I have obtained this wine, and I am intoxicated with it as if with the grape wine ||4||3|| (sggs 1123).

On the same page, in an another Shabad that comes before the foregoing Shabad, Kabeer Sahib lists these three qualities of Maya as (1) Saatava (Sat or Sato), (2) Raajas (Raj or Rajo), and (3) Taamas (Tam or Tamo). In English, these three modes can be called goodness, passion and ignorance, respectively. They are like intertwined strands of the winding cord or rope, a delusive force inherent in the creation. Simply put, Trikuti is that mystical point in the brain from where "Chetnaa Pravaah " or stream of consciousness flows out into the external world (Maya) through the defiled or extrovert cognitive senses (e.g, eyes, nose, ears...).

  • ਤ੍ਰਿਬਿਧਿ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਈਅਹਿ ਆਸ ਅੰਦੇਸਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਕਿਉ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਛੁਟਸੀ ਸਹਜਿ ਮਿਲਿਐ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਇ ॥: Tribidhi karam kamaaeeahi aas andesaa hoi ...: By actions committed under the influence of the three qualities (of Maya), hope and anxiety are produced. There can be no release from the bondage of of this Trikuti (i.e., three qualities of Maya) without the Gur-Giaan (for Gur-Giaan bestows Sahaj, Adoltaa - ਅਡੋਲ ਅਵਸਥਾ, ਗਿਆਨ ਅਵਸਥਾ, Natural State of Being, etc.). Sukha ensues by being established in Sahaj. (sggs 18).

The Gurbani time and again reveals to us that Maya's delusive force makes us (a) forget "Hari" or our Mool ("Hari Visrai"), (b) it gives rise to emotional attachment ("Mohu Upjai), and (c) it creates duality ("Bhaau Doojaa") or the notion of "other" where there is none. In an another Shabad Kabeer Sahib says that everything will eventually get tired, fade away or vanish, but not this Maya.

  • ਰਜ ਗੁਣ ਤਮ ਗੁਣ ਸਤ ਗੁਣ ਕਹੀਐ ਇਹ ਤੇਰੀ ਸਭ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਚਉਥੇ ਪਦ ਕਉ ਜੋ ਨਰੁ ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਹੀ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੨॥: Raj gun tam gun sat gun kaheeai ih teree sabh maya. Chauthe pad kau jo naru cheenai tinh hee param padh paaiaa ||2||: (O Lord) Raajas, Taamas, and Saatav modes are the creations of Your Maya. The man who realizes the Fourth State; he alone obtains the Supreme Status ||2|| (sggs 1123).
  • ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਪਸਾਰਾ ਸਭ ਵਰਤੈ ਆਕਾਰੀ ॥ ਤੁਰੀਆ ਗੁਣੁ ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਨਦਰੀ ਪਾਰਿ ਉਤਾਰੀ ॥੨॥: Trai guna Maya mohu pasaaraa sabh vartai aakaaree. Turiya Gunu sat sangati paayeeai nadree paari utaaree ||2||: Attachment to the three-phased show of Maya pervades the world of objects. Associating with Sat (Truth), Turiya is attained (the State of Supreme Awareness beyond the three qualities of Maya); (whosoever attains this Turiya Avasthaa) the Divine Grace carries (that person) across (from the Maya-ocean). ||2|| (sggs 1260).
  • ਏਹ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ਲਾਇਆ ॥: Eh Maya jitu Hari visrai mohu upjaibhaau dooja laaiaa: This is Maya, by which the Lord is forgotten; emotional attachment and love of duality is born (sggs 921).
  • ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਜਿਸੁ ਉਦਰੁ ਤਿਸੁ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Kahi kabeer jisu udaru tisu Maya: Says Kabeer, whoever has a belly to fill, is under the spell of Maya (sggs 1160).
  • ਬਾਵਰੇ ਤੈ ਗਿਆਨ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਥਾਕੇ ਨੈਨ ਸ੍ਰਵਨ ਸੁਨਿ ਥਾਕੇ ਥਾਕੀ ਸੁੰਦਰਿ ਕਾਇਆ ॥ ਜਰਾ ਹਾਕ ਦੀ ਸਭ ਮਤਿ ਥਾਕੀ ਏਕ ਨ ਥਾਕਸਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥1॥: Baavare tai giaan beechaar n paaiaa. birathaa janam gavaaiaa ||1|| Rahaaou || Thaake nain sravan suni thaake thaakee sundar kaaiaa ||1||: O mad man! You have not obtained Spiritual Wisdom (Giaan) and Vichaar (Shabad-Vichaar...). You have lost this birth in vain, ||1||Pause|| Your eyes are exhausted, and your ears are tired of hearing (cannot hear anymore); your beautiful body is exhausted. Driven forward by old age, all your all intellect is exhausted (ਅਕਲ ਠੀਕ ਕੰਮ ਨਹੀਂ ਕਰਦੀ); but your attachment to Maya is (still) not exhausted. ||1|| (sggs 793).

Clearly, Kabeer Sahib stresses here the absolute necessity of transcending the realm of the three-modes of material nature (Traiguna Maya). He says that the Chauthaa Pada (the Fourth State, Turiya-Avasthaa or the state of Unconditioned Awareness) is experienced only when the "Trikuti" of Saatav, Raajas and Taamas is transcended.

In other words, Kabeer Sahib says when the knot of the three qualities of Maya is untied, then the Tenth (Dasam) Gate (Duaar; also spelt as Duar, Dwaar, Dwar, etc.) opens up. In short, realization of God-Consciousness is the opening of the Tenth Gate by rising above the trinity of Saatav, Raajas and Taamas. Hence, according to Kabeer Sahib, "Trikuti" is the sphere of Maya wherein matter predominates over Spirit. In this sphere, the Kaarmic law of repeated suffering works in full swing. Therefore, he accentuates one must be go beyond Maya to realize one's True Nature as Pure Awareness. Going beyond Maya is synonymous with many other esoteric terms and expressions such as opening of Bajjar Kapaat, opening of third eye, Sunn, Sahaj-Avasthaa, Gurmukh state, understanding of Irhaa-Pingla-Sushumanaa, and so on.

The compelling force of the illusory and deceptive effects of the tripple-qualitied Maya are subtle and enticing. Thus, the greatest challenge for the individual in his ultimate quest for liberation from the powerful sway of Maya that easily deludes and distracts one's efforts.

But Maya is not easily overcome especially for those who have not conquered the lure of their senses. To counter this attraction towards the mirage-like world caused by Maya, we are asked to strive to gain the Divine Knowledge (Spiritual Wisdom, Aatm-Giaan...), which can rip apart the veil of Maya. This can be achieved by sincere Shabad-Vichaar.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਣੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥੨॥: Nanak maya kaa maaranu sabadu hai gurmukhi paaiaa jaai (sggs 853).
  • ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਵਸੀਅਲੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣਿ ਰਹੈ ॥: Ihu manu nihchalu hiradai vaseeale gurmukhi moolu pachhaani rahai (sggs 945)

The Gurbani demand abiding in Mool (Jot, Reality...) here and now, which can be accomplished through sincere Shabad-Vichaar and cultivating Divine Qualities. However, to overcome the effects of Maya is a difficult path to tread — it's like chewing the steel balls or walking on a double-edged sword!

  • ਕਹਤੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਨਵੈ ਘਰ ਮੂਸੇ ਦਸਵੈਂ ਤਤੁ ਸਮਾਈ ॥: Kahat Kabeer navai ghar moose dasavai(n) tatu samaaee: Says Kabeer, the nine openings (these are: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth, one genital, and one anus) of the body are being plundered; rise up to the Tenth Gate, and discover the true essence (sggs 339).
  • ਬਜਰ ਕਪਾਟ ਜੜੇ ਜੜਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਖੋਲਾਇਦਾ ॥੨॥ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਕੋਟ ਗੁਫਾ ਘਰ ਜਾਈ ॥: Bajjar kapaat jarhe jarhi jaanai gur sabdee kholaaidaa. ||2|| Bheetar kot guphaa ghar jaaee: The hard and heavy doors (of the love of Maya, etc.) are closed and locked (within the fortress of the body). Through the Gur-Shabad, they are thrown open. ||2|| Within the fortress (of the body) is the Cave, the Home (of the Truth) (sggs 1033).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਦੁਆਰਾ ਸੰਕੁੜਾ ਰਾਈ ਦਸਵੈ ਭਾਇ ॥ ਮਨੁ ਤਉ ਮੈਗਲੁ ਹੋਇ ਰਹਾ ਨਿਕਸਿਆ ਕਿਉ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਐਸਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਜੇ ਮਿਲੈ ਤੁਠਾ ਕਰੇ ਪਸਾਉ ॥ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਦੁਆਰਾ ਮੋਕਲਾ ਸਹਜੇ ਆਵਉ ਜਾਉ ॥: Kabeer mukati duaaraa sankurraa raaee dasavai bhaai...: O Kabeer, the gate of liberation is narrow, less than one-tenth of a mustard seed. The mind has become as big as an elephant; how can it pass through this gate? If one meets such a True Guru, who becoming mightily pleased, shows His Mercy. Then, the gate of liberation becomes wide open, and the soul can easily passes through (sggs 509).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਸਹਜੁ ਹੈ ਮਨੁ ਚੜਿਆ ਦਸਵੈ ਆਕਾਸਿ ॥: Gurmukhi antar sahaj hai manu charriaa dasavai aakaas: Upon becoming Gurmukh (Spiritual Being), Intuitive Poise (Sahaj) awakens within; then his mind ascends to the Tenth Plane - Dasam Duaar (sggs 1414).

Many also mistakenly equate Trikuti with "Dasam Duaar". But, according to the Gurbani, Dasam Duaar ( Spiritual Realization, Nij Ghar, etc.) is beyond Maya or Trikuti, thus hidden!! Therefore, the language, words or phrases of any sorts can never hope to express, communicate, define or report upon Dasam Duaar. One has to experience it himself within. In other words, Experience of Dasam Duaar cannot given as a gift or made to an order. Here the Gurbani is simply trying to make us aware that if someone makes claims to the contrary, watch out!

  • ਨਉ ਦਰਵਾਜੇ ਕਾਇਆ ਕੋਟੁ ਹੈ ਦਸਵੈ ਗੁਪਤੁ ਰਖੀਜੈ ॥: (sggs 954).
  • ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਛੂਟੈ ਦਸਵਾ ਦਰੁ ਖੂਲ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਤਾ ਮਨੁ ਖੀਵਾ ਭਾਈ ॥੩॥: (sggs 1233).
  • ਦਸਵੈ ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਸਾ ਪਾਏ ॥: (sggs 124).
  • ਜਿਸੁ ਛੂਟੈ ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਤਿਸੁ ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਸਾ ॥੨॥: (sggs 374).
  • ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਛੂਟੀ ਬਿਮਲ ਮਝਾਰਿ ॥: (sggs 220).

It's Realized through the Giaan or Divine Knowledge of the Gur-Shabad.

  • ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਛੂਟੈ ਚਉਥੈ ਪਦਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਈ ॥੧੭॥: (sggs 909).
  • ਸਤਗੁਰਿ ਮਿਲਿਐ ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਛੂਟੈ ਚਉਥੈ ਪਦਿ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਦੁਆਰੁ ॥੨॥: (sggs 33).
  • ਬਜਰ ਕਪਾਟ ਜੜੇ ਜੜਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਖੋਲਾਇਦਾ ॥੨॥: (sggs 1033).

— T. Singh