ਕਬੀਰ ਜਉ ਗ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਤ ਧਰਮੁ ਕਰੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਤ ਕਰੁ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ॥:
Kabeer jaou grihu karahi ta dharamu karu naahee ta karu bairaagu:
Kabeer, if you embrace or live the householder's life, then practice Dharma;
otherwise, (i.e., if you are going to stay engrossed in Mayaic efforts instead...)
you might as well retire from the world (i.e., do Bairaag-ਇਸ ਨੂੰ ਤਿਆਗਣਾ ਹੀ ਭਲਾ ਹੈ). (1377).

A bird flies in the sky without leaving any mark, a fish swims in the water without making any footprints, the lotus lives in the water untouched, and the swan swims across the stream without getting wet. Similarly, as we are told in the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS), one can live amidst the so called "impurities" of the material world without being affected. In this context, this Gurbani Reflection will attempt to reflect on as to who and what the householder is, and what constitutes a "liberated" householder.

Who Is A Householder?

Is God a householder? Yes. The entire creation is His family! For that, He is the biggest householder because He runs the largest family. He is in everything, and everything is in Him. Yet, He is aloof, untouched and detached (Bairaagee); like the lotus flower!

Now, let us look at the man. He has two families: an immediate family and an extended family. The immediate family of a person includes ten children and one spouse. Ten senses — five organs of perception and five organs of action — constitute ten children, and the mind constitutes the spouse. In other words, the body, the mind, and the intellect becomes our immediate family. Man's entire life is spent satisfying these three. Thus, without one's choice or input, every person is inherited with this family. In that sense, every person is a householder; regardless if one is a married person or a renunciate!

  • ਪੰਚੇ ਰੁੰਨੇ ਦੁਖਿ ਭਰੇ ਬਿਨਸੇ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ॥੧॥: Panche runne dukh bhare binse doojai bhaai ||1||: The five relatives (the five senses of perception) weep and wail painfully, and waste away through the love of duality ||1|| (sggs 19).
After man's immediate family comes his extended or outer family. The members of one's extended family includes worldly relatives such as sons, daughters, spouse, mother, father, brothers, sisters, and so on.

As we can see, one does not necessarily become a householder by merely getting married, having children, material wealth, and so on.  On the contrary, by merely renouncing the world one does not necessarily become a non-housholder. Then, what is it that make one a householder?

Householder Defined

We al hear this assertion that the Gurbani encourages family-life (ਘਰ-ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤੀ...). But that's only half the story. That is, the Gurbani has specified some strict conditions that need be satisfied. For example:

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਜਉ ਗ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਤ ਧਰਮੁ ਕਰੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਤ ਕਰੁ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ॥: Kabeer jaou grihu karahi ta dharamu karu naahee ta karu bairaagu: Kabeer, if you embrace or live the householder's life, then practice Dharma; otherwise, (i.e., if you are going to stay engrossed in Mayaic efforts instead...) you might as well retire from the world (i.e., do Bairaag-ਇਸ ਨੂੰ ਤਿਆਗਣਾ ਹੀ ਭਲਾ ਹੈ). (1377).

As indicated in the foregoing verse, if one choses the life of a housholder, he must practice Dharma in all situations.

Now, what's practicing Dharma? in nuttshell, it's to live by the Divine Hukam (Bhaanaa Mannanaa, ਭਾਣੇ ਵਿਚਹ ਰਹਣਾਂ). In other words, it's to live the Divine Life (the Gurmukh Lifestyle) - walking in the Way of the Lord, or Truth (ਸਚ); remaining firmly committed to the Joti-Svaroopa (our True Nature, Mool...),True contentment, the Naam or the true Giaan of the Gurbani [ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਦੇ ਅਸਲੀ ਅਰਥਾਂ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ ਵਾਲਾ ਜੀਵਨ, ਗੁਰਮਤ (ਆਤਮ ਗਿਆਨ, ਬਿਬੇਕ ਬੁਧਿ) ਵਾਲਾ ਜੀਵਨ, ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ, ਅਮਲੀ ਜੀਵਨ, ਹੁਕਮੀ ਜੀਵਨ, ਸਤ ਸੰਤੋਖ ਦਾ ਜੀਵਨ...]. This is the Lifestyle of a Living Liberated (Jeevan Mukat).

  • ਸਾਚ ਧਰਮ ਕੀ ਕਰਿ ਦੀਨੀ ਵਾਰਿ ॥ ਫਰਹੇ ਮੁਹਕਮ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ॥੨॥: Saach Dharam kee kari deenee vaari. Farahe muhkam gur giaanu beechaari. ||2|| (sggs 430).
  • ਕਬੀਰਾ ਜਹਾ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਤਹ ਧਰਮੁ ਹੈ ਜਹਾ ਝੂਠੁ ਤਹ ਪਾਪੁ ॥: Kabeeraa jahaa giaanu tah dharamu hai jahaa jhoothu tah paapu (sggs 1372).

If one cannot commit himself to Dharma, instead, if one is going to remain submerged in the Mayaic efforts, then, the Gurbani says, that person should consider Baiaaraag.

Householder in Bondage

Householder who does not practice Dharma is in bondage (Manmukh, Saakat, Mayadhaaree...).

Another name for such householder is "Sansaaree" (also spelt Sansari). According to the Gurbani householder or a Sansaaree is he who is wrapped up in a strong attachment to the worldliness. He does not practice Dharma. In other words, Sansaaree is he who depends on external situations and objects for his joy or happiness in this life. Sansaaree is derived from the word Sansaar (or Sansar), which literally means the place of repeated suffering.

  • ਬੰਧਨ ਅੰਧ ਕੂਪ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਮੇਰਾ ॥: Bandhan andh koop grih meraa: Bound to household possession (this house is mine, this house is mine, etc.) is the dark pit (sggs 388).
  • ਦੇਖਿ ਕੁਟੰਬੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਸਾਕਤੁ ਜੰਜਾਲਿ ਪਰਾਲਿ ਪਇਆ ॥੯॥: Dekh kutamb Maya grih mandar saakat janjaal praal paayaa ||9||: Seeing his family, wealth, household and mansions, the faithless cynic is entangled in worthless worldly affairs ||9|| (sggs 906).
  • ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਕਲਤ੍ਰ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਦੇਖਿ ਸਮਗ੍ਰੀ ਇਸ ਹੀ ਮਹਿ ਉਰਝਾਇਓ ॥: Putra kalahra grih dekh samagree is hee mahi ourajhaaiou: Gazing upon your children, spouse, ousehold and paraphernalia, you are entangled in them (sggs 1017).

The Gurbani compares the emotional attachment of family and household affairs with the following things: "worst pain, anxiety, ruins, deep dark pit, horrible hell, ocean of fire, something totally worthless, cursed living, illusion, passing shade of a tree, ignorance, foolishness, intoxicants, pool of mud", and so on.

 Under the influence of Maya (polluted mentality...), one commits mistakes. Consequently, one becomes entangled in Mayaic efforts, and gets involved in selfishness, deception, fraud, corruption, evil-mindedness, and falsehood.

The Liberated Householder

Leading the life of a householder is not an automatic liberation from bondage. In fact, by leading a sincere and earnest Spiritual Life, very rare ones succeed in it. On the other hand, most of us fail; for entering the worldly life we become more and more involved in it, and then get drown in the ocean of desires and fear, and suffer the agonies of death. 

Therefore, the practice of Dharma as commanded by the Gurbani is imperative; otherwise we cannot rightly live the life of a householder.

As time and again indicated in the Gurbani, mere renunciation of family life and empty rituals will not help break the Maya's bonds either. As long as we identify with the body-mind-ntellect, we are attached. To the contrary, when we abide in theMool within (Source, Origin, Jot...), we become detached. It is so because the Pure Consciousness alone is Real, everything else is unreal or temporary. If one can become detached from one's immediate family (i.e., the body, the mind and the intellect), he can also become detached from the extended family and its related paraphernalia.

The Gurbani observes that the householder which is filled with abundance, even that household suffers anxiety. On the other hand, one whose household has little, wanders around searching for more. Thus we can see that the attachment is a disease for both. Those who do not have enough suffer pains of wanting what they do not have. On the contrary, those who have enough also suffer pains because they want more, and also they want to safeguard what they have already attained. Therefore, both conditions create mental pains, agitation, chaos and turbulent. The disease of attachment is so dangerous that it makes people go insane, commit murders, etc. Accordingly, the Gurbani declares that he alone is happy and at peace, who is liberated from both of these conditions.

  • ਜਿਸੁ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਤਿਸੈ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਚਿੰਤਾ ॥ ਜਿਸੁ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਥੋਰੀ ਸੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਭ੍ਰਮੰਤਾ ॥ ਦੁਹੂ ਬਿਵਸਥਾ ਤੇ ਜੋ ਮੁਕਤਾ ਸੋਈ ਸੁਹੇਲਾ ਭਾਲੀਐ ॥: Jis grihi bahut tisai grihi chintaa. Jis grihi thhoree s firai bhramantaa. Duhoo bivasataa te jo mukataa soee suhelaa bhaaleeai: That (person's) house in which there is plenty (of wealth) - there is anxiety (care, worry of losing, etc.) in that house. That (person's) house in which there is little, (he) wanders around (searching for Maya). He alone is found to be at Ease (ਸੁਖੀ, ਸੌਖਾ...), who is liberated from both states (conditions, stages, modes...). (sggs 1019).
Gurbani shows us a way to freedom from the bonds of both conditions. The trick is to trick the Maya's trickery by becoming Shabad or God-Conscious through the Shabad-Vichaar, keeping constant Association of Sat (ਸਚ) within and without...
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੈਰਾਗ ਨ ਛੂਟਸਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Bin bairaag na shootas maya ||1||: Without detachment, Maya cannot be gotten rid of (cannot be liberated from Maya, etc.) ||1|| (sggs 329).
  • ਊਤਮ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥: Ootam karanee sabad beechaar: The ultimate action is Reflections on the Shabad - Shabad Vichaar (sggs 158).
Through the Divine Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan...) of the Gurbani (Gurmat), one understands that the wealth, family, friends, relatives, power, pleasure, possessions, etc., are false show and false displays. Which is nothing but the vast expanse of Maya from which very rare one escapes.
  • ਇਕਿ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਮਹਿ ਸਦਾ ਉਦਾਸੀ ॥ ਸਬਦਿ ਮੁਏ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਨਿਵਾਸੀ ॥ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਸਦਾ ਰਹਹਿ ਰੰਗਿ ਰਾਤੇ ਭੈ ਭਾਇ ਭਗਤਿ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਈ ਹੇ ॥੭॥: Ik grih kutamb mahi sdaa udaasee. Sabad mue Hari Naam nivaasee. Anadin ...: Some, in the midst of their household and family, remain always unattached. They die in the Shabad, and dwell in God’s Name (Giaan). Night and day, they remain forever attuned to His Love; they focus their consciousness on loving devotion and the Fear of God ||7|| (sggs 1046).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਕੇ ਸਨਬੰਧ ਸੈਨ ਸਾਕ ਕਿਤ ਹੀ ਕਾਮਿ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥: Maya ke sanabandh sain saak kit hee kaam na aaiaa: Relatives, relations and family bound through Maya are of no avail (sggs 497).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਮਤਿ ਤੂੰ ਲੇਹਿ ਇਆਨੇ ॥ ਭਗਤਿ ਬਿਨਾ ਬਹੁ ਡੂਬੇ ਸਿਆਨੇ ॥: Gur kee mati toon lehi iaane. Bhagti binaa bahu doobe siaane: You ignorant fool, take the Gurmat (Aatmic-Giaan, Gur-Giaan, Shabad-Vichaar...); without Bhagti, even many clever have drowned. (sggs 288).
Detachment starts with proper understanding. But, how one can bring about the proper understanding? One attains Divine Qualities and Spiritual Perfection by Understanding the real meanings of the Gurbani. By following the practice of Dharma, a seeker becomes receptive to God's Grace. Primarily, Spiritual Realization is the result of such Grace which comes from within.
  • ਜਾਰਉ ਐਸੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਸਨਬੰਧੀ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹ ਪਸਾਰੀ ॥ ਜਿਸੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਰਾਮ ਰਸੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਕਰਮ ਬਿਕਾਰੀ ॥੩॥ : Jaaraou aisee preet kutamb sanbandhee Maya moh pasaaree. Jis antar preet Raam ras naahee dubidaa karam bikaaree ||3||:  Burn away any love of family and relatives, which increases your attachment to Maya. One who does not savor God’s Love deep within, lives in duality and corruption ||3|| (sggs 1198).
  • ਦੇਹੀ ਮਹਿ ਜੋ ਰਹੈ ਅਲਿਪਤਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਜਨ ਕੀ ਪੂਰਨ ਘਾਲੀਐ ॥੨॥: Dehee mahi jo rahe alipataa tis jan kee pooran ghaaleeai ||2||: Perfect is the work (practice, actions, Karma, ਕਮਾਈ, ਘਾਲਣਾ etc.) of that humble servant, who remains unattached while in the body ||2|| (sggs 1019).
The moment one becomes a the Gurmukh, in the midst of family life, he ever remains unattached. When the Inner Love is established with God (Mool, Guru, Satguru, etc.), then whatever one does, is Spiritual. 
  • ਸੋ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਜੋ ਨਿਗ੍ਰਹੁ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਜਪੁ ਤਪੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਭੀਖਿਆ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਪੁੰਨ ਦਾਨ ਕਾ ਕਰੇ ਸਰੀਰੁ ॥ ਸੋ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਗੰਗਾ ਕਾ ਨੀਰੁ ॥: So girahee jo nigrah karai ...: He alone is a householder, who restrains his passions (demands of his senses) and begs (from God) for Jap, Tap and Sanjam. He makes his body a charity (i.e., he makes his nature that of a selfless service to the entire mankind etc.) ; such a householder is pure as the Ganges' water - that is, he posses Pure Awareness (sggs 952).
  • ਸੋ ਅਉਧੂਤੀ ਜੋ ਧੂਪੈ ਆਪੁ ॥: So aoudhootee jo dhoopai aap: He alone is a detached hermit, who burns away his self-conceit (sggs 952).
  • ਜਾਗਤ ਰਹੇ ਤਿਨੀ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਸਬਦੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੀ ॥ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਮਹਿ ਸਦਾ ਹਰਿ ਜਨ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਗਿਆਨ ਤਤ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵਿ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਖਿਆ ਉਰ ਧਾਰੀ ॥੨॥: Jaagat rahe tinee prabh paaiaa Sabade haumai maaree. Girahee mahi sadaa Hari jan udaasee giaan tat beechaaree ...: Those who remain wakeful obtain God; through the Shabad, they conquer their ego. Immersed in family life, God’s humble servant ever remains detached; he reflects upon the essence of spiritual wisdom. Serving the True Guru, he finds eternal peace, and he keeps God enshrined in his heart ||2|| (sggs 599).

With Aatam-Giaan of the Gurbani, one becomes detached while living amidst the worldly happenings. Who has thus broken the bonds of attachment is celebrated as a Liberated (Mukat) householder.

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਸੋਈ ਕੁਲ ਭਲੀ ਜਾ ਕੁਲ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਦਾਸੁ ॥ ਜਿਹ ਕੁਲ ਦਾਸੁ ਨ ਊਪਜੈ ਸੋ ਕੁਲ ਢਾਕੁ ਪਲਾਸੁ ॥੧੧੧॥: Kabeer soee kul bhalee jaa kul hari ko daas. Jih ku daas na oopjai so kul dhaak plaas ||111||: Kabeer, that family is good, in which God's slave is born. But that family in which God’s slave is not born is as useless as weeds ||111|| (sggs 1370).
  • ਮੰਨੈ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਮੋਖੁ ਦੁਆਰੁ ॥ ਮੰਨੈ ਪਰਵਾਰੈ ਸਾਧਾਰੁ ॥: Mannai paavahi mokh duaar. Mannai parvaarao saadhaar: The faithful find the Door of Liberation. The faithful uplift and redeem their family and relations (sggs 3).

Such householder may live in the world but his mind is faithfully focused on the Mool within.

  • ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਕਲਤ੍ਰ ਵਿਚੇ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਈ ॥: Putar kalattar viche gati paaee: In the midst of children and spouses, they attain emancipation (sggs 661).
  • ਹਸੰਦਿਆ ਖੇਲੰਦਿਆ ਪੈਨੰਦਿਆ ਖਾਵੰਦਿਆ ਵਿਚੇ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ॥: Hasandiaa khelandiaa painandiaa khaavandiaa viche hovai makat: While laughing, playing, dressing and eating, become liberated (sggs 522).
Bricks are known to retain the mark if they are burnt after the trademark has been stamped on them. Similarly, the liberated householder ever retains in God-consciousness (Shabad-Sirti...) while transacting in the world — he never gets emotionally attached to anything. He first stamps his body-mind-intellect apparatus with the mark of Shabad-Surti (God-consciousness), and then sets them to the duties of the world.

God from within witnesses everything but ever remains detached and untouched. Similarly, a liberated householder simply watches everything that happens around him, without becoming emotionally attached and involved. As his mind is dissolved, it does not interfere in this state of Eternal Witnessing (Shaakshee Bhaav). This is the state where one constantly abides in his True Nature, the Mool.

— T. Singh

Updated on Friday, August 16, 2013 4:02 PM (PST)

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