ਅਧਿਕ ਤਿਆਸ ਭੇਖ ਬਹੁ ਕਰੈ ॥: Adhik tiaas bhekh bahu kare:
Excessive thirst for Maya makes people
wear all sorts of religious robes (sggs 352).

The Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) reminds us God likes to see the Soul only in certain type of robes (or Divine Virtues). If the She adopts these Divine Dresses (Divivne Virtues...), she becomes accepted by Him. As a result, she enjoys His Blessed Vision. If she does not dress herself to the liking of her Divine Beloved, then she renders herself unfit for receiving His Love in Divine Union. Now, the question is: by wearing what type of robes the Soul can captivate her Beloved? Or, what is that dress the Supreme Being becomes attracted to? The Gurbani reveals the secret and tells us exactly what these robes are. By lovingly adopting these robes, we all can captivate our Divine Beloved, the Mool within (Source, Origin...)!

Before reflecting on the captivating Divine robes as described in the Gurbani, let's discuss the type of dress that are unpleasing to the Divine Beloved. In some fashion, we all try to dress inwardly and outwardly for the sake of pleasing or realizing the Mool. However, it seems as the Divine does not even cast a glance in our direction, as if He is imbued with someone else! Why is it so? The reason being is that, as the Gurbani says, we have adorned ourselves with the adornments that are Spiritually unpleasant. It's that simple! In this context, this Gurbani Reflection will attempt to reflect on the following:

  • The Body Robe
  • The Religious Robes
  • Three Inner Robes That Captivate God
The Body Robe

This material body is likened to a robe. It is called the body robe because it covers the Soul. How  was this body robe fashioned? As indicated in the Gurbani, it was fashioned by joining together the five elements namely earth, water, fire, air, and space. As further revealed in the Gurbani, our body robe has come into this world wearing two filthy dresses namely lust and anger: false ego-sense (Haumai) and its faults.

  • ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਕਾ ਚੋਲੜਾ ਸਭ ਗਲਿ ਆਏ ਪਾਇ ॥: Kaam krodh kaa cholarraa sabh gali aaye paai: All have come, wearing the robes of lust and anger (sggs 1414).
Instead of using this rare opportunity (of the human birth) to re-establish our lost relationship with our Mool (Source), we have become engrossed in this body robe ( body-consciousness or "I-am-the-body" idea). In other words, instead of using it for cultivating Divine Cconsciousness (Aatam-Giaan...), we have become body-conscious. Due to the ignorance of theMool, our True Nature, we identify with the physical robe that leads us to constantly cherish it; knowing well that it is temporary!
  • ਕਰਿ ਸੰਜੋਗੁ ਬਨਾਈ ਕਾਛਿ ॥ ਤਿਸੁ ਸੰਗਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਇਆਨਾ ਰਾਚਿ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਤਿਪਾਰੈ ਨਿਤ ਸਾਰਿ ਸਮਾਰੈ ॥ ਅੰਤ ਕੀ ਬਾਰ ਊਠਿ ਸਿਧਾਰੈ ॥੧॥: Kar sanjog banaaee kaash. Tis sang rahio iaanaa raach. Pratipaarai nit saar samaarai. Ant kee baar ooth sidhaarai ||1||:  Joining together (body and the life-force), the robe of the body is fashioned. The ignorant fool is engrossed in it. He cherishes it, and constantly takes care of it (i.e., he ever pampers it). But at the very last moment, (the life-force from within) arises and leaves him ||1|| (sggs 890).
This body robe has nine holes. Due to our body-consciousness, all these holes (also called "gates") have become contaminated. The mind free to escape through these defiled gates binds the soul in the clutches of material bondage or Maya. This is why it is said that all miseries and distress we experience in this material world are born of the body and the mind! Wearing such a filthy robe of body-consciousness, how the Soul-bride can expect to please her Divine Beloved? Not possible at all, says the Gurbani.
  • ਕਾਇਆ ਕੁਸੁਧ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਲੁ ਲਾਈ ॥: Kaaiaa kasudh houmai malu laaee: Impure is the body which is soiled with the filth of ego (sggs 1045).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਸਭੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਓਪਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: Haumai sabh sareer hai haumai opati hoi: Ego is within all the bodies; and through ego the beings are born (sggs 560).
Due to the pervasiveness of this material contamination (spel of Maya-ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀ ਭੁਖ), one becomes doubtful regarding Spirituality, Spiritual Teaching, etc. For this reason, man's Divine Qualities disappear and evil qualities flourish; resulting in the lack or absence of discrimination (Bibek-Budhi) between the Real (Sat or Truth) and unreal (Asat or false).

The Religious Robes

As discussed above, our material body is born with the robes of lust and anger (or ego-consciousness). Majority of us have further contaminated this body robe by grossly identifying with the physical consciousness. Instead of liberating the body from lust and anger (Bikaar), owing to our mistakenidentification with it, we have further adorn it with additional robes such as various religious wearings and other paraphernalia. Poor Soul! The Gurbani teaches us that all these material robes are nothing but a pompous show of our false ego.

  • ਘੂੰਘਰ ਬਾਧਿ ਭਏ ਰਾਮਦਾਸਾ ਰੋਟੀਅਨ ਕੇ ਓਪਾਵਾ ॥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕਰਮ ਖਟ ਕੀਨੇ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੇਖ ਦਿਖਾਵਾ ॥ ਗੀਤ ਨਾਦ ਮੁਖਿ ਰਾਗ ਅਲਾਪੇ ਮਨਿ ਨਹੀ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਗਾਵਾ ॥੩॥: Ghoongar baadhi bhae raamdaasaa roteean ke opaavaa. Barat nem karma khat keenai baahar bhekh dikhaavaa. Geet naad mukh raag alaape man nahee Hari Hari Gaavaa ||3||: (The temple dancers) tie bells around their ankles to earn their living. Others go on fasts, take vows, perform the six rituals and wear religious robes for show. Some sing songs and melodies and hymns, but their minds do not gloryfy the Supreme Being ||3|| (sggs 1003).
  • ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਣ ਕਥੇ ਸੁਣੇ ਹਾਰੇ ਮੁਨੀ ਅਨੇਕਾ ॥ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਬਹੁ ਘਣਾ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਥਾਕੇ ਭੇਖਾ ॥ ਸਾਚੋ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੋ ਮਨਿ ਮਾਨੈ ਏਕਾ ॥੧॥: Bed puraan kathe sunai haare munee anekaa. Athsath tirath bahu ghanaa bharmi thaake bhekhaa. Saacho saahib niramalo mani maanai ekaa ||1||: Reciting and listening to the Vedas, Puraanas (etc.), countless wise men have grown weary. So many in their various religious robes have grown weary, wandering to the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage (they could not please or realize God). The True Lord is Pure; He is satisfied only by the Pure mind. ||1|| (sggs 1008).
  • ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਸਭਿ ਬੰਧਨਾ ਪਾਪ ਪੁੰਨ ਸਨਬੰਧੁ ॥: Karma dharma sabh bandhanaa paap pun sanbandh (sggs 551).
In addition to the robes of lust and anger (i.e., all Bikaar), why we want to further decorate this perishable material body with additional religious garbs? The Gurbani provides us with an authoritative explanation as follows. Many put on such garbs on the body to cover up their wickedness; to make believe that they know God; to establish their religious authority; to hide their inner corruption, stubbornness, fanaticism, mental delusions, and Spiritual ignorance (false ego); to show they are religious scholars; to show they are better than those who do not wear such robes; to hide their fire of worldly desires and fears (ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀ ਭੁਖ); to hide the inner "filth" of Maya; to impress upon simpletons that they know the true teachings of the scriptures; and so on.
  • ਭੇਖ ਅਨੇਕ ਅਗਨਿ ਨਹੀ ਬੁਝੈ ॥ ਕੋਟਿ ਉਪਾਵ ਦਰਗਹ ਨਹੀ ਸਿਝੈ ॥: Bhekh anek agan nahee boojhai. Koti upaav dargah nahee sijhai: Wearing various religious robes, the fire (of desire-Maya) is not extinguished; even making millions of (such) efforts, one will not be accepted in the Court of the Lord (sggs 266).
  • ਕਰਤੂਤਿ ਪਸੂ ਕੀ ਮਾਨਸ ਜਾਤਿ ॥ ਲੋਕ ਪਚਾਰਾ ਕਰੈ ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤਿ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੇਖ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮਲੁ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਛਪਸਿ ਨਾਹਿ ਕਛੁ ਕਰੈ ਛਪਾਇਆ ॥: kartoot pasoo kee maanas jaat. Lok pachaaraa karai din raat. Bahri bhekh antar mal Maya. Shapasi naahi kashu karai shapaaiaa: They (ਮਾਇਆ-ਧਾਰੀ ਜੀਵ - those in love with Maya, etc.) belong to the human species, but they act like animals. Day and night, they make show (ਲੋਕ ਦਿਖਾਵੇ ਦੇ ਕੰਮ). Outwardly, they (those who act like animals) wear religious robes, but within is the filth of Maya. They cannot conceal (their inner filth with outwardly wearing religious robes) (sggs 267).
  • ਭੇਖ ਦਿਖਾਵੈ ਸਚੁ ਨ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥ ਕਹਤੋ ਮਹਲੀ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ ॥੨॥: Bhekh dikhaavai sach na kmaavai. Kahto mahalee nikit na paavai ||2||: He wears religious robes, but he does not practice Truth; he says that he has found the Mansion of God's Presence, but he can not even get near it ||2|| (sggs 738).
  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੇਖ ਕਰਹਿ ਘਨੇਰੇ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਉਤਰੀ ਘੇਰੇ ॥: Baahri bhekh karhi ghanere. Antar bikhiaa utree ghere: Outwardly (to look pious and to impress others), they wear various religious robes, but within, they are enveloped by poison (of Maya). (sggs 372).
  • ਮਾਥੇ ਤਿਲਕੁ ਹਥਿ ਮਾਲਾ ਬਾਨਾਂ ॥ ਲੋਗਨ ਰਾਮੁ ਖਿਲਉਨਾ ਜਾਨਾਂ ॥੧॥: Maathe tilk hath maalaa baanaa. Logan Raam khilonaa jaanaa ||1|| (sggs 1158)!
  • ਹਠੁ ਕਰਿ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਲੇਖੈ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ ਵੇਸ ਕਰੈ ਬਹੁ ਭਸਮ ਲਗਾਵੈ ॥: Hath kar marai na lekhai paavai. Ves karai bahu bhasam lagaavai: It is of no avail to die in stubbornness (Yogic rituals or Karamkaad). (One may) wear religious robes and smear his body with ashes (These are also useless) (sggs 226).
  • ਕਿਨਹੀ ਸਿਧ ਬਹੁ ਚੇਟਕ ਲਾਏ ॥ ਕਿਨਹੀ ਭੇਖ ਬਹੁ ਥਾਟ ਬਨਾਏ ॥ ਕਿਨਹੀ ਤੰਤ ਮੰਤ ਬਹੁ ਖੇਵਾ ॥ ਮੋਹਿ ਦੀਨ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਆਧਾਰਾ ॥੪॥: Kinhee sidh bahu chetak laaye. Kinhee bhekh bahu thaat banaaye. Kinhee tant mant bahu khevaa. Mohi deen hari hari aadhaaraa ||4||: Some practice many miracles and spells (ਰਿੱਧੀਆਂ ਸਿੱਧੀਆਂ ਦੇ ਤਮਾਸ਼ੇ). Some wear various religious robes and establish their authority. Some perform many Tantric spells and charms (ਤੰਤ੍ਰਾਂ ਮੰਤ੍ਰਾਂ ਦੀ ਦੁਕਾਨਦਾਰੀ). (But) I meek have only support of the Lord's Name (i.e., Divine Knowledge - Aatam Giaan...)||4|| (sggs 913).
  • ਜੋਗੀ ਗ੍ਰਿਹੀ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਭੇਖਧਾਰੀ ॥ ਏ ਸੂਤੇ ਅਪਣੈ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦਿ ਮਾਤਾ ਰਹਿਆ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਜਾਗਤੁ ਰਹੈ ਨ ਮੂਸੈ ਕੋਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Jogee grihee pandit bhekhdhaaree. Ye soote apnai ahankaaree. Maya madi maataa rahiaa soi. Jaagat rahai n moosai koi ||1|| Rahaaou ||: The Yogis, the householders, the Pandits, the religious scholars, and the sectarians in religious robes — they are all asleep in egotism.  They are asleep, intoxicated with the wine of Maya (being constantly robbed by lust, anger, greed, etc.). Only those who remain awake and aware (with Naam-Simran...) are not robbed. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 1128).
  • ਜੇ ਜੇ ਭੇਖ ਸੁ ਤਨ ਮੈਂ ਧਾਰੈ ॥ ਤੇ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਜਨ ਕਛੁ ਕੈ ਨ ਬਿਚਾਰੈ ॥: Je je bhekh su tan mai dhaarai. Te prabh jan kashoo kai na bichaarai: Those who adopt different religious garbs are never liked by the men of God (Guru Gobind Singh Jee, Bachitra Naatak, Dasam Granth, page 140).
Thus, the Gurbani repeatedly teaches us that the Divine can not be pleased by outwardly religious robes. One can go weary of wearing such religious garbs but it will not bring him a bit closer to God, his Mool. For example, hunger of a beggar will never depart just by wearing begging robes! Accordingly, the Gurbani warns us that mind's wandering can not be seized and the inflated ego can not be eradicated by such phony rituals.
  • ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੋਨੀ ਥਾਕੇ ਭੇਖੀ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥: Par par pandit monee thaake bhekhee mukti na paaee: By continual reading, the scholars and silent sages are tired, and through religious garbs emancipation is not attained (sggs 440).
  • ਮੈ ਅਵਰੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਪੂਜਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਵਸਿ ਰਹੇ ॥ ਭੇਖੁ ਭਵਨੀ ਹਠੁ ਨ ਜਾਨਾ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਸਚੁ ਗਹਿ ਰਹੇ ॥੧॥: Mai avar giaan n dhiaan poojaa Hari Naam antari vasi rahe. Bhekh bhavnee hath n jaanaa Nanakaa sach gahi rahe ||1||: God's Name dwells deep within me, I know no other wisdom, meditation or worship. I know nothing about religious robes, pilgrimages or stubbornness; O Nanak, I only hold tight to the Truth ||1|| (sggs 843).
  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੇਖ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ਮਨੂਆ ਦਹ ਦਿਸਿ ਧਾਵੈ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਿਆਪਿਆ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਫਿਰਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਜੂਨੀ ਆਵੈ ॥੩॥: Baahar bhekh...: Outwardly, he (Manmukh) wears religious robes and he is very clever, but his mind wanders in the ten directions. Engrossed in ego, he does not remember the Shabad; over and over again, he is reincarnated. (sggs 732).
  • ਭੇਖੀ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਨ ਲਭਈ ਵਿਣੁ ਸਚੀ ਸਿਖੰ ॥: Bhekhi prabhu na labhaee vin sachee sikham: God can be found by true instructions, not by religious garbs (sggs 1099).
Three Robes that Captivate God

One can not chew iron with the teeth of wax, or live in a snow house wearing robes of fire. Can he? Similarly, one can not captivate his Mool with his "unpleasant" robes — internal "filth" and external rituals. According to the Gurbani, the three robes (Divine Virtues) that can captivate the Mool (Source...) within are humility, forgiveness, and sweet speech.

  • ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਅਖਰੁ ਕਵਣੁ ਗੁਣੁ ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਮਣੀਆ ਮੰਤੁ ॥ ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਵੇਸੋ ਹਉ ਕਰੀ ਜਿਤੁ ਵਸਿ ਆਵੈ ਕੰਤੁ ॥੧੨੬॥ ਨਿਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਅਖਰੁ ਖਵਣੁ ਗੁਣੁ ਜਿਹਬਾ ਮਣੀਆ ਮੰਤੁ ॥ ਏ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਭੈਣੇ ਵੇਸ ਕਰਿ ਤਾਂ ਵਸਿ ਆਵੀ ਕੰਤੁ ॥੧੨੭॥: Kavan su akhar kavan gun kavan su maneeaa mant. Kavan su veso haou karee jit vas aavai kant. Niwan su akhar khavan gun jihba maneeaa mant. Ye trai bhaine ves kar taa vas aavee kant ||127||: What is that permanent letter; what is that virtue; and what is that jewel-like spell? What are those clothes, which I can wear to captivate my Husband? ||126|| Humility is the word, forgiveness is the virtue, and sweet speech is the jewel-like spell. O sister (soul)! Wear these three robes and you will captivate your Husband. ||127|| (sggs 1384).
These three robes are antidotes to our evil passions (ego-consciousness, Maya...). Living entities are afflicted with mental diseases like lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride, enviousness and stubborn mindedness (and their numerous variations). As these passions include in themselves all other evils, similarly these three robes include in themselves all other Spiritual Qualities.

The first of the three robes is Humility; for without humility there can be no Self-realization. It is a Divine Virtue; the product of Goodness essential for linking with one's Mool within. A truly humble person is he who has replaced his fleshly nature or egoism with the Nature of God — Pure Consciousness (Joti-Svaroop). Thus, a  man in true humility is in perfect Divine Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan), who knows that he is not this body robe. To such a person, honor or dishonor, fame or anything else pertaining to this body robe is unimportant. He is beyond duality.

Humility has already been extensisely covered in a separate Gurbani article.

In nutshell, true humility is one of the essential qualifications of a Spiritual Being (Gurmukh) or Transcendentally situated person.Therefore, in the Gurbani, considerable importance and emphasis has been given to the quality of humility. One can test and judge himself by this quality to see how far he is progressed in Spirituality.

  • ਮਿਠਤੁ ਨੀਵੀ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਗੁਣ ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਤਤੁ ॥: Mithat neevee Naanakaa gun changiaaeeaa tatt: Sweetness of humility, O Nanak, is the essence of all good virtues (sggs 470).
The second of the three robes is forgiveness. From a Spiritual standpoint, this Divine Virtue also translates as mercy, tolerance, calmness, forbearance, patience, gentleness, and compassion, etc. Scriptures advice us to forgive and forget. Therefore, it befits any person who is godly by nature. As such, this robe belongs to a godly person endowed with Divine Love.

Anger or Krodh is one of the vices regarded as the agent of desolation. The antidote to this evil passion is forgiveness. It is the power in man that resists the disturbing fluctuations of mind's duality (Doojaa Bhaav). Thus, this robe helps shield the Soul from the onslaught of anger, jealousy and enviousness. It helps in the upward struggle of the Soul.

Forgiveness is a reflection of God's Eternal Calm, the Everlasting Patience, Peace, and Steadfastness which are very essential for contemplation and meditation. A person devoid of forgiveness is devoid of God's True Nature. It is, therefore, is holiness. It is the quite of mind, an indication of a Self-realized person. It is a mighty weapon against evil instincts. In essence, forgiveness is sacrifice, and a humble gesture. In fact, continuation of the living entities is due to man's being forgiving. Thus, forgiveness  holds the universe together. The Soul comes to attain this robe after a long practice in Spiritual discipline.

  • ਖਿਮਾ ਗਹੀ ਬ੍ਰਤੁ ਸੀਲ ਸੰਤੋਖੰ ॥ Khimaa gahee brat seel santokh: To practice forgiveness is the true fast, good conduct and contentment (sggs 223).
  • ਸਚੁ ਵਰਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥ ਦਇਆ ਦੇਵਤਾ ਖਿਮਾ ਜਪਮਾਲੀ ਤੇ ਮਾਣਸ ਪਰਧਾਨ ॥: Sach varat santokh teerath giaan dhian isnaan. Daya devta khimaa japmaalee te manas pardhaan: The most excellent people (Pardhaan) are those persons who make truth their fasting, contentment their pilgrim-station, cognition and meditation their ablution, compassion their deity, and forgiveness their rosary (sggs 1245).
The last of the three robes is the sweet speech. The Gurbani describes God Himself as "Mith Bolraa", which means our True Being (the Mool) always speaks sweetly. Therefore, in essence, this Divine Virtue of sweetness of speech represents God Himself. Accordingly, those who are serious about captivating the Pure Being within are instructed by the Gurbani to wear the robe of sweet speech.
  • ਮਿਠ ਬੋਲੜਾ ਜੀ ਹਰਿ ਸਜਣੁ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਮੋਰਾ ॥ ਹਉ ਸੰਮਲਿ ਥਕੀ ਜੀ ਓਹੁ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਬੋਲੈ ਕਉਰਾ ॥ ਕਉੜਾ ਬੋਲਿ ਨ ਜਾਨੈ ਪੂਰਨ ਭਗਵਾਨੈ ਅਉਗਣੁ ਕੋ ਨ ਚਿਤਾਰੇ ॥: Mith bolarraa jee har sajan suaamee moraa. Haou sanmal thakee jee ouhu kade na bolai kouraa. Kourraa bol naa jaanai pooran bhagavaanai aougan ko na chitaare: My Dear God, my Friend, speaks so sweetly. I have grown weary of testing Him, but still, He never speaks harshly to me. He does not know any bitter words; the Perfect Lord does not even consider my faults and demerits (sggs 784).
It is said that a fool can not be identified as long as he does not speak! As soon as he opens his mouth, he reveals himself. Therefore, one of the most important qualities of a man in God Consciousness is his speech — the way he expresses his mind. The immediate symptom of a God Conscious man is that he speaks only of God and matters related to Him. This is the sum and substance of his expression or speech. To him, the speech of God's Name is the most sweetest thing in the world.

There is contradiction about the person who is not God Conscious — he may speak like a wise, but he behaves like an ignorant. There is no such contradiction about a pious Soul. He speaks Wise as well as behaves Wise. The words he speaks are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and cause no agitation to anyone. This Divine Virtue acts as an antidote to all demerits.

  • ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਲਾਗਈ ਭਗਤਨ ਕਉ ਮੀਠਾ ॥: Hari binu kachhoo na laagaee bhagtan kaou meethaa(sggs 708).

— T. Singh

Updated on Monday, February 13, 2012 10:45 AM (PST)

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