(O fool) your mind is tied with the rope of egotism (ਪੈਖੜੁ-ਢੰਗਾ,
a rope tied to the rear legs of an animal,
which does noe let the animal run!) (sggs 1189).
In all sorts of ways, Maya has cast the net (ਜਾਲੀ, ਫਾਹੀ, etc.);
its knot cannot be escaped ||1|| (sggs 1302).
When the knot of the three qualities of Maya is untied, then the Tenth
Gate opens up, and the mind becomes intoxicated, O brother (sggs 1123).

A mouse cannot enter its hole with a basket tied around its waist. A balloon anchored with ropes to the ground cannot take off either. Further, just as a man cannot run with his feet tied, or talk with his mouth closed; similarly, he cannot attain mental purity or liberation with his mind tied to diverse knots of deceptive Maya, egotism (Haumai)...

The mind tied to Maya's knot suffers from threefold tendencies — Taamas (stupor ignorance), Raajas (passion or greed), and Saatav (goodness). The false ego-sense, which is the root of material tendencies (Mayaic efforts) or passions (Bikaar or faults: lust, anger, greed, etc.), flourishes in the externalized and differentiating consciousness caused by the three qualities of deceptive Maya.

  • ਏਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਅਵਗਣਿ ਬਾਧਿਆ ਸਹੁ ਦੇਹ ਸਰੀਰੈ ॥: Ih mann avgan baadhiaa sahu deh sareerai: (So long) this mind is tied to its faults; (untill then one) suffers (pain) in ithe body (sggs 1012).
  • ਅਨਿਕ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਕੀ ਏਕੈ ਜਾਲੀ ਤਾ ਕੀ ਗੰਠਿ ਨਹੀ ਛੋਰਾਇ ॥੧॥: Anik bhaant kee ekai jaalee taakee ganth nahee chhoraai ||1||: In all sorts of ways, Maya has cast the net (ਜਾਲੀ, ਫਾਹੀ, etc.); its knot cannot be escaped ||1|| (sggs 1302).
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਸੂਤੁ ਬਹੁ ਗੁਰਝੀ ਭਰਿਆ ਕਿਉ ਕਰਿ ਤਾਨੁ ਤਨੀਜੈ ॥: Saakat soot bahu gurjhee bhariaa kiou kar taan taneejai: The thread of the (life of ) the Saakat (the one separated from Truth, Manmukh...) is totally knotted and tangled (with Bikaars: lust, enger, greed, etc.); how can (a Pure Life, spiritual Life, Gurmukh Lifestyle, etc.) be woven with such a thread (sggs 1324).
What is this knot? This knot is none other than the false ego-sense — Spiritual ignorance, forgetfulness of the Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...), mental delusion, Mayaic efforts (worldly entanglements or Karamkaand), desires, hypocrisy, evil-mindedness, doubts, skepticism, emotional attachment, lust, anger, greed, self-conceit, envy, stubborn mindedness, falsehood, crookedness, repeated suffering, corruption, Hridaya Granthee, Gandh, and so on.
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਪੈਖੜੁ ਤੇਰੇ ਮਨੈ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਨ ਚੇਤਹਿ ਮੂੜੇ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਜਾਹਿ ॥੬॥: Haumai paikharh tere mannai maahi. Hari na chetahi moorhe mukti jaahi ||6||: (O fool) your mind is tied with the rope of egotism (ਪੈਖੜੁ-ਢੰਗਾ, a rope tied to the rear legs of an animal, which does not let the animal run or walk freely!). (Because of this rope - ਢੰਗਾ - of egotism) you do not even think of God — you fool! (His Name or Simran) is the one who emancipates you (from Bikaars, etc.)||6|| (sggs 1189).
  • ਭਰਮ ਮੋਹ ਕਛੁ ਸੂਝਸਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਇਹ ਪੈਖਰ ਪਏ ਪੈਰਾ ॥੨॥: Bharam moh kashoo soojhas naahee paikhar pae pairaa ||2||: In doubt and emotional attachment (Due to love of Maya, egotism, etc.), the person understands nothing; with this rope - ਢੰਗਾ - (of Maya, egotism, etc.), his feet are tied up ||2|| (sggs 216).
  • ਦੇਵ ਸੰਸੈ ਗਾਂਠਿ ਨ ਛੂਟੈ ॥ ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦ ਮਤਸਰ ਇਨ ਪੰਚਹੁ ਮਿਲਿ ਲੂਟੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Dev sansai gaanth na shootai. Kaam krodh maya mad matsar in panchahu mil loote ||1||Rahaaou||: Lust, anger, Maya, intoxication (with pride. arrogance, etc.) and jealousy - these five have combined to plunder the world. (As a result) the knot of skepticism from within does not get untied ||1||Pause|| (sggs 974).
  • ਮੋਨੀ ਹੋਇ ਬੈਠਾ ਇਕਾਂਤੀ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਕਲਪਨ ਗਾਠਾ ॥: Monee hoi bethaa ikaantee hirdai kalpan gaathaa: (Some) sit alone in silence (in cave, etc.), but his heart is tied in knots of wanderings (of their mind's) imaginations (ਮਾਨਸਕ ਦੌੜ-ਭੱਜ) (sggs 1003).
To put it otherwise, the knot symbolizes a Manmukh (the materiallistic person...) who has his mind tied to egoism or Maya. The Manmukh's delusions, unenlightened existence and Vaasnaas (undigested desires...) constitute his knot. To the contrary, through Mool-realization, the one who has cut asunder this knot symbolizes Gurmukh (Spiritual Being). In the, process, such Spiritual Being (the Gurmukh) has all his doubts dispelled and the bondage of Maya destroyed.
  • ਓਸੁ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਕੂੜੁ ਕੂੜੋ ਕਰਿ ਬੁਝੈ ਅਣਹੋਦੇ ਝਗੜੇ ਦਯਿ ਓਸ ਦੈ ਗਲਿ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਗਲ ਫਰੋਸੀ ਕਰੇ ਬਹੁਤੇਰੀ ਓਸ ਦਾ ਬੋਲਿਆ ਕਿਸੈ ਨ ਭਾਇਆ ॥: Os andhar koorh koorho kar bujhai anhode jhagrhe dayi os de gal paaia. Ohu gal farosee kare bahuteree os daa boliaa kisai n bhaaiaa : Within (the Manmukh) is falsehood, and he deems (Truth) as false (too); Hukam (Law of Nature...) has tied useless conflicts (arisen from his own falsehood) around his neck! He (i.e., the prattler, Manmukh) babbles on and on (ਗੱਲਾਂ ਵੇਚਣੀਆਂ, ਗੱਲਾਂ ਦੀ ਖੱਟੀ ਖਾਣੀ, etc.), but the words he speaks please no one (sggs 303).
So far we have looked at the "tree", per se. Let's try looking at the entire "forest" now! With the help of the Divine Guide of the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS), if we inquire further into the ego's knot, the Gurbani would reveal to us a fantastic mystery.

However, to solve this mystery, we must solve the following riddle of the Gurbani. There is one merchant, who trades his merchandise with five traders. Ten bags filled with this merchandise are held by nine poles and carried by twenty-five oxens. However, the carriage these twenty-five oxens are trying to carry is tied by seventy-two ropes. Now, who is this merchant? Who are the five traders? What is the merchandise they trade with? What are the nine poles and ten bags? What are the twenty-five oxens? What is the carriage? And, what is the seventy-two ropes?

  • ਨਾਇਕੁ ਏਕੁ ਬਨਜਾਰੇ ਪਾਚ ॥ ਬਰਧ ਪਚੀਸਕ ਸੰਗੁ ਕਾਚ ॥ ਨਉ ਬਹੀਆਂ ਦਸ ਗੋਨਿ ਆਹਿ ॥ ਕਸਨਿ ਬਹਤਰਿ ਲਾਗੀ ਤਾਹਿ ॥੧॥ ਮੋਹਿ ਐਸੇ ਬਨਜ ਸਿਉ ਨਹੀਨ ਕਾਜੁ ॥: Naayik ek banjaare paanch. baradh pacheesak sang kaach. Nayu baheeyaa das goni aahi. Kasan bahattar laagee taahi. ||1|| Mohi aise banaj siyu naheen kaaj: There is one merchant (ਛਾਹ, etc.) and five traders (with this merchant). The twenty-five oxen carry false merchandise (with this caravan). There are nine (holes as the) poles (ਬਹੀਆਂ-ਚੁਆੜੀਆਂ, ਲੰਮੀਆਂ ਡਾਂਗਾਂ ਜਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੀ ਸਹਾਇਤਾ ਨਾਲ ਛੱਟਾਂ ਲੱਦੀਦੀਆਂ ਹਨ) which hold the ten bags (i.e. ten senses are like ten bags, ਛੱਟਾਂ, ਬੋਰੀਆਂ, etc.). The seventy-two arteries (Naarhees) are ropes (ਕਸਨ-ਕੱਸਣ ਵਾਲੀਆਂ, ਖਿੱਚਣ ਵਾਲੀਆਂ, ਸੇਬੇ, ਰੱਸੀਆਂ ਜਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨਾਲ ਛੱਟਾਂ ਸੀਵੀਂਦੀਆਂ ਹਨ) tied to the (ten bags of the ten senses). ||1|| I don't care at all about such commerce (sggs 1194).
The one merchant is none other than the crooked mind (Mayaic). The five traders it trades with are five Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, emotional attachment, and self-conceit; and their numerous variations). To put it otherwise, the five traders are five cognitive senses who trade with the merchandise of sense-objects or pleasures — touch, seeing, smell, taste, and hearing. All of them being bound in the frame work of time, space and causation, the merchant is false, the traders are false, and the merchandise is false — temporary or perishable!

The one merchant has this false merchandise packed in ten bags of ten senses. Five of which are known as instruments of perception (skin, eyes, nose, tongue, and ears), and the remaining five are called the instruments of action (legs, hands, tongue, anus, and genital). The nine poles holding these ten bags are nine gates or Nau Darvaaje (two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth, one genital, and one anus). Likewise the merchant and the five traders, these nine poles and ten bags are also false!

The carriage is nothing but the gross body, which is loaded with the ten senses (bags) and nine holes (poles). The twenty-five oxens that try to carry it are twenty-five principles of creation. These include five subtle elements, five manifested elements, ten senses, and five Praanaas or life force. Through the aggregate of these elements evolves the human body, which is also known age Kshetra or Khet (field) of actions. Since the body is time-bound as well, it is false too (Maya)!

The total number of arteries (Naarhees) in the human body is numbered by some to be as many as 72,000. The senses are strung upon these seventy-two thousand ropes. The underlying principle is that, when the senses and Naarhees are tied in tight knot, the senses seek for sense-pleasures. On the other hand, when this knot becomes loose or untied, the senses cease to seek out their objects.

According to the Gurbani, man's tasks will be accomplished only when he merges in his True Being (Joti-Svaroopa, Mool...) within by dispelling his doubts (ignorance or false ego). However, the heavy stone of corruption or falsehood tied around his neck is the obstacle. With this load on man's head, he cannot cross over the vast open ocean of desires and fear. Engrossed in passions and Spiritual ignorance, the man has thus turned his eyes away from the Truth. In such conditioned state, it's impossible even to raise the head above the water of the vast, impassable sea of bewitching worldliness; let alone crossing it!

  • ਇਹੁ ਜਗੁ ਤਾਗੋ ਸੂਤ ਕੋ ਭਾਈ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਬਾਧੋ ਮਾਇ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਗਾਠਿ ਨ ਛੂਟਈ ਭਾਈ ਥਾਕੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ॥ ਇਹੁ ਜਗੁ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇਆ ਭਾਈ ਕਹਣਾ ਕਿਛੂ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥੬॥: Ih jag taago soot ko bhaaee dah dis baadhoo maai ...: O brother, this world is (like a) thread of cotton, which Maya has tied on all ten sides (wnadering in directions due to the love of Maya). O brother, without the Guru, the knots cannot be untied; I am so tired of religious rituals (ਰਸਮੀ ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਕਰਮ, Karamkaand). O brother, this world (performing ਰਸਮੀ ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਕਰਮ, Karamkaand) is deluded by doubt so much that it cannot be described ||6|| (sggs 635).
The arm is broken when it is pulled from both sides. Also, the love breaks when the speech goes sour. Similarly, the knot between the Soul and the deluded mind (egoism) is tied when one works against the Hukam; resulting in sorrows of life.
  • ਲੂਕਿ ਕਮਾਨੋ ਸੋਈ ਤੁਮ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਪੇਖਿਓ ਮੂੜ ਮੁਗਧ ਮੁਕਰਾਨੀ ॥ ਆਪ ਕਮਾਨੇ ਕਉ ਲੇ ਬਾਂਧੇ ਫਿਰਿ ਪਾਛੈ ਪਛੁਤਾਨੀ ॥੧॥: Look kamaano soyee tum pekhiyo moorh mughdh mukraanee. Aap kamaane kayu le baandhe phir paachhai pachhtaanee ||1||: O Lord, whatever (we) do secretly (i.e., bad actions, etc.) You know them all; the fool may (still) stubbornly deny (that You do not know). By his own (bad) actions, he is tied down, and in the end, he regrets and repents ||1|| (sggs 403).
How can we untie this knot? The Gurbani asks us to simply follow this edict: "Do not trade in the false merchandise". Hence the Gurbani reminds us that Vaasnaas, physical senses, mind and intellect should not be allowed to carry on this trade because they deplete one's Spiritual Capital. The Gurbani further urges us not to let the feeling of likes and dislikes, and mixer of these two dictate our actions. If allowed, it will result in scattering of the mind and loss of the True Spiritual Wealth.
  • Mohi aise banaj siyu naheen kaaj. Jih ghatai mool nit badhai biyaaj: I don’t care at all about such commerce. It exhausts my capital, and the interest charges only increase (sggs 1194-95).
  • Laahaa jag mehi sae khuttehi jin har dhannn raas: They alone earn Spiritual profit in this world, who have the wealth of God's Name (sggs 321).
Imagine standing at the edge of the river bank, and your body's shadow falling in the water. Notice that, even though the body's shadow is in the water, however, your body does not feel any wetness. The body would feel wet only when you jump in the water. In the same way, as long as we play our part in life without attachment, and stand aside and witness the passing show as a passing show (Cosmic Play or "Jagat Tamaashaa"), the Maya's knot is absent. On the other hand, by sticking to the play (or objects) and identifying with the actor and the role he is playing, one becomes tied to it. The person in the state of eternal witness (Saakshee Bhaav) lives in this material world just like the bird that flies in the sky; without leaving any footprints or mark behind, or like a lotus flower who grows in the mud but remains untouched by it!
  • ਬਾਜੀਗਰਿ ਜੈਸੇ ਬਾਜੀ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਨਾਨਾ ਰੂਪ ਭੇਖ ਦਿਖਲਾਈ ॥ ਸਾਂਗੁ ਉਤਾਰਿ ਥੰਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਿਓ ਪਾਸਾਰਾ ॥ ਤਬ ਏਕੋ ਏਕੰਕਾਰਾ ॥੧॥: Baajeegar jaise baajee paaee. Naanaa roop bhekh dikhlaaee. Saang utaar thanmiho paasaaraa. Tab eko ekankaaraa ||1||: When Baajeegar (an actor, a juggler, etc.) stages his play (ਬਾਜ਼ੀ ਪਾ ਕੇ ਵਿਖਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ); he plays many characters in different costumes. But when his play (ਬਾਜ਼ੀ, Tamaashaa) ends, he takes off the costumes, and then he remains just one - Baajeegar. (Similarly, this universe is God-Baajeegar's Play - Jagat Tamaashaa - and He pervades in this Play of His so many different ways, etc., but when He takes off the costumes and stops His Expanse - Play, Tamaashaa, etc. -, then He the only One remains) ||1|| (sggs 736).
For more understanding, we can also look at the analogy of the honey-filled cup and the fly. So long the fly remains seated on the edge of the cup's rim and tastes the honey, it will be all right. However, the moment it becomes greedy and jumps into the cup, it gets entrapped in the honey and die!
  • ਪੰਕਜ ਫਾਥੇ ਪੰਕ ਮਹਾ ਮਦ ਗੁੰਫਿਆ ॥ ਅੰਗ ਸੰਗ ਉਰਝਾਇ ਬਿਸਰਤੇ ਸੁੰਫਿਆ ॥ ਹੈ ਕੋਊ ਐਸਾ ਮੀਤੁ ਜਿ ਤੋਰੈ ਬਿਖਮ ਗਾਂਠਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਇਕੁ ਸ੍ਰੀਧਰ ਨਾਥੁ ਜਿ ਟੂਟੇ ਲੇਇ ਸਾਂਠਿ ॥੧੫॥: Pankaj phaathe pank mahaa mad gunphiyaa ...: The wings of the bumble bee become intoxicated (with the fragrance of the lotus flower, and) get caught in the fragrant petals of the lotus. With its limbs entangled in the petals, it forgets to fly (This is the condition of Jeeva-individual beings - ਇਹੀ ਹਾਲ ਹੈ ਜੀਵ-ਭੌਰੇ ਦਾ - intoxicated with Maya, it is stuck or tied to her). Is there any such Friend (the Gurmukh, the Saint, etc.), who can untie this difficult knot (of Maya to which the Jeeva is tied)? O Nanak, the One Supreme God of the earth reunites the separated ones ||15|| (sggs 1362-1363).
Just as without a farmer, the land is not planted; without a thread, the beads are not strung; without a mother or father there is no child; without the water, the clothes are not washed; without a horse, there can be no rider; without the music, there is no dancing; just so, without the Naam-consciousness or Shabad-Surti (Intuitive Wisdom, Aatam Giaan...), without the Sat (Truth), without the love and longing for God, or without becoming a Gurmukh (Spiritual Being) the mortals cannot untie the knot of Maya.
  • ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਘਰਿ ਕਾਰਜੁ ਸਾਰਿ ॥: Gur sabdee ghar kaaraj saar: Through the Gur-Shabad, one’s affairs are resolved in one’s iown Home (within) (sggs 933).
The Lighter, who lights up the dark chambers of our inner Home, is the Intuitive Understanding of the Gurbani (Aatam Giaan). When by sincere Shabad-Vichaar, the mind is purified, the inner Light begins to shine forth. When the knot of ignorance is broken, the Sun of our Soul shines forth in all its glory. The world-dream comes to an end, and with it comes the end of dreams of pain and pleasure (likes, dislikes and mixer of these two).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਫਾਸ ਬੰਧ ਬਹੁ ਬੰਧੇ ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿਓ ਖੁਲ ਖੁਲਨੇ ॥: Maya phaas bandh bahu bandhe Har japio khul khulane: The mortals are bound by the many bonds of Maya’s noose. Meditating on the Lord, this knot is untied (sggs 977).

In the beginning it is not going to be a pleasant experience, as our inner mind will reveal to us our shocking crookedness, perversions, and weaknesses. Overwhelmed by these shocks, majority of the seekers may shrink from even continuing the Spiritual practice, as the inner Self plays back unhappy thoughts on the screen of our mind. However, diligent attempt, consistent self-effort (Uddam-Shabad Vichaar), and continuous mental alertness is the key to the conquest.

  • ਤਬ ਇਹ ਮਤਿ ਜਉ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਪੇਖੈ ਕੁਟਿਲ ਗਾਂਠਿ ਜਬ ਖੋਲੈ ਦੇਵ ॥: Tab ih nat jaou sabh mahi pekhai kutil gaanth jab kholai dev: When one unties the knot of cunningness within, then the wisdom comes and one sees One God in all (sggs 857).
  • ਮਿਲਿ ਸਾਧੂ ਦੀਨਾ ਤਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਲੀਨਾ ਜਨਮ ਮਰਣ ਦੁਖ ਨਾਠੇ ॥ ਸਹਜ ਸੂਖ ਆਨੰਦ ਘਨੇਰੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਿਨਠੀ ਗਾਠੇ ॥: Mil saadhoo deenaa taa Naam leenaa janam maran dukh naathe. Sahaj sookh anand ghanere haumai binathee gaathe: Meeting with the Holy, Naam - the Lord's Name - is obtained, and (who meditates on the Name, his) pains of birth and death leave him. He is blessed with Sahaj (Natural State of Being, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ, etc.), and abundant Joy- Bliss, and his knot of egotism (within) is untied (sggs 784).

— T. Singh