ਪੜਿਆ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਸੁ ਲਬੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥ (sggs 140).

Once a new comer to the town was trying to find if there was a Gurdawaaraa in the area. One day, while shopping in a store, he came across a fellow Sikh brother. Introducing himself, he asked the fellow if there was any Gurdawaaraa in the town. The man's reply was like this: "There are two Gurdwara in the town; one belongs to the educated ("Parhe Likhe") people and the other one belongs to the uneducated ("Annaparh") people. If you tell me your level of education, then I can guide you accordingly". The new comer mentioned that he was a retired professor. "Then you should go the Gurdawara of educated people", replied the man.

This true story, though very little, has a significantly giant message for us. It correctly defines the Gurbani's "Learned Ignorant" ("Parhiyaa Moorakh")! In the above story, the Sikh fellow who described two Gurdawara — one run by the educated and the other one run by the uneducated — is a typical "Parhiyaa Moorakh" who has no clue of the Teaching of the Gurbani.

Many of us can perhaps identify with such learned ignorant! Devoid of the essence of the Shabad-Giaan (Gurmat-Aatam Giaan or Divine Knowledge), such people are egoistic: arrogant, greedy, corrupt, false, selfish, and so on; hence Manmukhs. The Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) identifies such learned or educated ignorant (Moorakh or fool) as follows:

  • ਪੜਿਆ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਸੁ ਲਬੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥: Parhiaa moorakh aakheeai jis lab lobh ahankaar (sggs 140).
  • ਪਾਧਾ ਪੜਿਆ ਆਖੀਐ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਬਿਚਰੈ ਸਹਜਿ ਸੁਭਾਇ ॥ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਸੋਧੈ ਤਤੁ ਲਹੈ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਬਿਕ੍ਰਦਾ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਟੇ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਚੀਨਈ ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ ਨਹ ਕਾਇ ॥੫੩॥: Paadhaa parhiaa aakheeai bidiaa bichrai sahaj subhaai ... (sggs 938).
  • ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਥਾਕੇ ਸਾਂਤਿ ਨ ਆਈ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਜਾਲੇ ਸੁਧਿ ਨ ਕਾਈ ॥ ਬਿਖੁ ਬਿਹਾਝਹਿ ਬਿਖੁ ਮੋਹ ਪਿਆਸੇ ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੭॥: Parri parri thaake saant n aaee. Trisnaa jale sudh n kaaee. Bikh bihaajhahi bikh moh piaase koorr bol bikh khaavaniaa ||7||(sggs 120).
Knowledge and intelligence are two different things: Knowledge refers to understanding the nature of Spirit (ਚੇਤਨ) and matter (ਜੜ), and the intelligence refers to the power to analyze things in their proper perspective. The academic knowledge obtained from educational institutions (schools, university, etc.) pertains only to matter (ਜੜ); thus, it is an ordinary knowledge. It is ordinary be cause it's incomplete; and the reason it's incomplete is that it does not cover knowledge about the Spirit (ਚੇਤਨ). It simply takes care of material elements and bodily needs. Consequently, the modern educated man like the one in our little story is essentially nothing but learned ignorant, or "Parhiyaa Moorakh"!
  • ਬੂਝੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਏਕੁ ਸੁਧਾਖਰੁ ਔਹੁ ਸਗਲੀ ਝਾਖ ਝਖਾਈਐ ॥: Boojhai naahee ayk sudhaakhar oh saglee jhaakh jhakhaa-ee-ai (sggs 216).
  • ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥ (sggs 1245).
  • ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥: parreeai naahee bhed bujheeai paavanaa (sggs 148).

Thus, the word knowledge has a specific meaning; which is different than the general meaning of this word as understood by many of us. Generally, the knowledge is connected to education. Upon analysis, one will find that these two words have specific meanings. In short, the education is the collection of data or information by sense organs, which can be imparted to a person by training. However, from a Spiritual standpoint, the Knowledge is something that must be discovered; the discovery of the Truth within. Hence, education can only be meaningful and purposeful if it leads one to that Knowledge by which he can discover the Truth within for himself; then he can see life in its Totality (Saabat) and completeness and not just in part.

Among the materially educated ignorant, there is a misconception that more the material education wiser is the person. For example, if someone has college degree, he may consider himself wiser than the one who does not have it. The one with doctorate degree may think himself wiser than those who may posses only undergraduate or graduate degree. The Gurbani differs on this concept; for it is not the material education that determines if one is wise or fool. The Gurbani declares that an educated person should be known as a fool if his intellect is corrupted with material contamination (Maya).

  • ਸਲੋਕੁ ਮਃ ੧ ॥ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਗਡੀ ਲਦੀਅਹਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਭਰੀਅਹਿ ਸਾਥ ॥ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਬੇੜੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਗਡੀਅਹਿ ਖਾਤ ॥ ਪੜੀਅਹਿ ਜੇਤੇ ਬਰਸ ਬਰਸ ਪੜੀਅਹਿ ਜੇਤੇ ਮਾਸ ॥ ਪੜੀਐ ਜੇਤੀ ਆਰਜਾ ਪੜੀਅਹਿ ਜੇਤੇ ਸਾਸ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਲੇਖੈ ਇਕ ਗਲ ਹੋਰੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਝਖਣਾ ਝਾਖ ॥੧॥: Slok M: 1 || Parri parri gaddee laddeeahi parri parri bhareeahi saath ... (sggs 467).

The only difference between the material illiteracy and the material education is as follows: the illiteracy is ignorance, whilst the education is learned ignorance!

Thus, both the material education and the material illiteracy are ignorant of their true goal. To the contrary, a true devotee is not ignorant because he is free of false concepts or aim. He is living liberated (the Gurmukh) - Jeevanmukta - regardless if he is illiterate or educated. He possesses the True Knowledge and Intelligence — the Supreme Wisdom, Self-knowledge, Aatam-Giaan, Bibek Budhi...

  • ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਗੋਵਿੰਦੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥ ਪੜਿਆ ਅਣਪੜਿਆ ਪਰਮ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਵੈ ॥੧॥: Jo praanee Govind dhiaavai. Parhiaa anparhiaa param gati paavai ||1|| (sggs 197).
In order for man to find out what he really is, first he needs to find out what he is not. The Divine Knowledge (Aatam Giaan) attained through the Shabad-Vichaar helps one to understand what he is not, and keeps him free from false concepts, precepts, ideas, desires, fear, and actions. It makes one alert and careful, by rejecting all that does not go with the fact: "Soham" ("He is me" or "I am Him").

The purpose or use of the Divine Knowledge is to bring about inner transformation. One aimlessly wanders in this world till there is the dawn of such Intuitive Wisdom able to destroy the root of ignorance in which the Jagat (material world-Maya) appears real or permanent. This inner transformation can only happen with the True Knowledge (Braham Giaan, Aatam Giaan, etc.); the discovery of the Truth within. When the mind is engaged in Intuitive Wisdom, it sheds all mental disposition or conditioning and returns to its original nature as Pure Consciousness (Mool).

  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਬੰਧਨ ਤੇ ਮੁਕਤਾ ॥: Brahm giaanee bandhan te muktaa (sggs 273).
The true Knowledge results in the elimination of falsehood. Majority of us have based our lives on certain concepts, some may may right, but many are false. However, activities arising from false concepts are also false — if the cause is based on falsehood, then the effect is automatically false. The educated ignorant lives by false concepts such as taking the Self as the physical body, believing that sense pleasures are the source of real happiness, thinking that material wealth (education, money, etc.) is the source of security in life, and so on.
  • ਛੋਡਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਕੂੜ ਕਬਾੜਾ ॥ ਕੂੜੁ ਮਾਰੇ ਕਾਲੁ ਉਛਾਹਾੜਾ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਕੂੜਿ ਪਚਹਿ ਮਨਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਦੁਹੁ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਪਚੈ ਪਚਾਈ ਹੇ ॥੬॥: Shodahu praanee koor kabaadaa ... (sggs 1025).
Thus, unaware of life's Ultimate Goal, the learned ignorant in us wastes his life in material consciousness; although his inflated ego-sense likes to think otherwise! Consequently, he ends up doing things contrary to the Gur-Shabad. Under the spell of bewitching worldliness or Maya, he entertains the wrong notion that his material body is the real Mool. This false or mistaken identity is the seed of ego-sense or deluded mind, whose nature is conceptualization, which is the cause of man's sorrows. The trunk of tree that grows out of this seed is the body. The branches of this tree are senses that reach out in every direction seeking for sensual pleasures. It is when we entertain desires and fear that this world illusion begins to expand and spread out. This tree bears the fruit of duality — likes and dislikes. Out of this perverse thinking comes an arrogant sense of doership and enjoyership (false ego-sense). The Gurbani declares that such educated ignorant are certain to experience repeated suffering!
  • ਪੜਿਆ ਲੇਖੇਦਾਰੁ ਲੇਖਾ ਮੰਗੀਐ ॥ ਵਿਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਕੂੜਿਆਰੁ ਅਉਖਾ ਤੰਗੀਐ ॥ ਅਉਘਟ ਰੁਧੇ ਰਾਹ ਗਲੀਆਂ ਰੋਕੀਆਂ ॥ ਸਚਾ ਵੇਪਰਵਾਹੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਸੰਤੋਖੀਆਂ ॥: Parhiaa lekhedaar lekhaa mangeeai. Vin naavai koorhiaar aoukhaa tangeeai ... (sggs 1289).
  • ਪੜਿਆ ਹੋਵੈ ਗੁਨਹਗਾਰੁ ਤਾ ਓਮੀ ਸਾਧੁ ਨ ਮਾਰੀਐ ॥ ਜੇਹਾ ਘਾਲੇ ਘਾਲਣਾ ਤੇਵੇਹੋ ਨਾਉ ਪਚਾਰੀਐ ॥ ਐਸੀ ਕਲਾ ਨ ਖੇਡੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਦਰਗਹ ਗਇਆ ਹਾਰੀਐ ॥ ਪੜਿਆ ਅਤੈ ਓਮੀਆ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ਅਗੈ ਵੀਚਾਰੀਐ ॥: Parhiaa hovai gunahgaar taa omee saadh n maareeai. Jehaa ghaale ghaalanaa teveho naaou pachaareeai. Aisee kal n khedeeai jit dargah gaiaa haareeai. Parhiaa atai omeeaa veechaar agai veechaareeai (sggs 469).
The sense of duality, Doojaa Bhaav, veils the Mool. As a result, one thinks himself separate from other. He thinks himself "other" than the Spirit, and he takes himself separate from the Mool. This is the notion of two-ness. This is Maya, with her dualistic principle of delusion or the law of opposites. An educated ignorant is stuck in this dualistic principle (educated and uneducated, good and bad, superior and inferior, etc.).
  • ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਸਭਾ ਧਾਤੁ ਹੈ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ਵਿਕਾਰੁ ॥: Trai gun sabhaa dhaat hai doojaa bhaaou vikaar (sggs 33).
From ignorance comes the perception of individuality (egoism). And from the perception of individuality arises walls namely senses, mind and intellect; which divide our consciousness (separateness from God). These formidable walls make it very hard for us to gain a glimpse of our own true nature, the Mool. This is the trap — the play of the mind. This is what the Gurbani calls ignorance, illusion, suffering, self-limitation, pains, mental agitation, foolishness, insanity, misery, sorrows, corruption, deception, animal mentality, evil nature, bad habits, wickedness, bondage, attachment, arrogance, falsehood, "I, me, mine, your", and so on.
  • ਪਾਖੰਡਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਬੋਲੁ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥: Paakhandi bhagtee na hovaee dubidha bol khuaar (sggs 28).
The educated ignorant acts in fear and worldly desires. The fear and desires condition the consciousness by creating division in it. This ignorance can be dissolved through the Spiritual Inquiry or Shabad-Vichaar. However, since the ignorant's life is based on falsehood, he is always afraid and devoid of this Inner Inquiry. By not inquiring into his True Nature (Mool), he keeps living in the world, rather than the world living in him!
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਵਿਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਕੋ ਨਹੀ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥੧॥: Nanak bin Naavai nirbhaou ko nahee jichar Sabad n kare veechaar ||1|| (sggs 588).
The learned ignorant uses Naam (Shabad) artificially and superficially. But he pretends to be the most religious person on the face of this earth! He is always in the forefront of phony ("Fokat") religious rituals, rites, and ceremonies. He always try to control or dominate religious places. He likes to make a show of his religious garbs and piety. He loves to perform religious rituals in public; he will do anything to hold titles in the religious organizations; and he wants the whole world to know if he gives any charity. His focus is pointed on such self-conceited agenda because it inflates his ego-sense, resulting in widespread corruption and violence at organized religious places. As seen at these places, such people are able to impose their personal agenda or will on others not by the virtue of their Spiritual Wisdom, credibility, ethics, or moral character but because they have behind them some sort of material power (money!), influence or corrupt instincts. They are interested only in power and recognition without any responsibility such as dissemination of the scriptures and Dhrama in its true sense.
  • ਮੂਰਖਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ॥ ਬਹੁ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਦੁਖੁ ਸਬਾਇਆ ॥: Moorakh parh parh doojaa bhaav driraaiaa. Bahu karak kamaavai dukh samaaiaa (sggs 424).
  • 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 (sggs 267).
In the Gurmat (Gurbani's Aatam Giaaan), there is no place for caste system (Jaat-Paat). Baabaa Nanak introduced the concept of a society with no caste distinction. This concept was followed through by all Masters. Yet, the madness of belief in castes has a strong hold in Sikhs. Why? It is because of the learned or illiterate ignorance! Instead of just calling himself a Sikh, a fool will identify himself or others with caste such as Jatt Sikh, Saini Sikh, Bhaapaa Sikh, Rorha Sikh, Tarkhaan Sikh, Majhbee Sikh, Khatree Sikh, Caucasian (Goraa) Sikh, and so on. Along the same lines, he will also identify Gurdwaaraas such as Ramgarhiyaa Gurdwara, Jatt Gurdwara, Saini Gurdwara, and so on. The Gurbani roars that the pride of caste results in two things: sin and corruption. In spite of such stern warnings and dire consequences, educated ignorant inflicted with this disease are unaware of the consequences.
  • ਜਾਤਿ ਕਾ ਗਰਬੁ ਨ ਕਰਿ ਮੂਰਖ ਗਵਾਰਾ ॥ ਇਸੁ ਗਰਬ ਤੇ ਚਲਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਵਿਕਾਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Jaat kaa garab n kar moorakh gavaaraa. Is garab te chalahi bahut vikaaraa ||1||Rahaaou|| (sggs 1127-1128).
As we can see, the learned ignorant ("Parhiyaa Moorakh") behaves absolutely opposite to the Shabad-Giaan. For example, the Gurbani rejects going on pilgrimage, but he will travel thousands of miles and climb high mountains for visiting every shrine in the world. The Gurbani rejects bathing at Tirath Asathaans, but he will go and bathe at every pool (Sar or Sarover) he can find. The Gurbani roars that the Lord is within your body, but he searches for Him in the externalities of the world. The Gurbani thunders that the True Religion is Naam (Aatam Giaan), but he will go on engaging in nonsense rituals and garbs. The Gurbani teaches him not to take the Naam in worthless ways, but he will use it artificially and superficially. The list of educated ignorant's perverted understanding thus goes on and on.
  • ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਰਾਗੀ ਨਾਦੀ ਬੇਦਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਸੁਰਤੀ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਜੋਗਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਸੋਗੀ ਕੀਤੈ ਰੋਜਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ...॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਬੈਠਿਆ ਸੁੰਨਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਭੇੜਿ ਮਰਹਿ ਭਿੜਿ ਸੂਰ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਕੇਤੇ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਧੂੜ ॥ ਲੇਖਾ ਲਿਖੀਐ ਮਨ ਕੈ ਭਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਭੀਜੈ ਸਾਚੈ ਨਾਇ ॥੨॥ : Mahalaa 1 || Na Bheejai raagee naadee Bedi ... (sggs 1237).

The highest Knowledge is the recognition of Oneness in diversity. That One Homogeneous Whole is the Changeless in changing phenomena, like the gold in ornaments, the ocean in waves, the clay in pots, the thread in pearls, the sun in rays, the aroma in flowers, and the moon in water pitchers. This vision of Oneness is the highest Knowledge.

  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਦੀਸੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਸੁਣੀਐ ਏਕੁ ਏਕੁ ਵਖਾਣੀਐ ॥ ਆਤਮ ਪਸਾਰਾ ਕਰਣਹਾਰਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਬਿਨਾ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੀਐ ॥: Brahm deesai Brahm suneeyai ek ek vakhaaneeai. Aatam pasaaraa karan haaraa parabh binaa nahee jaaneeai (sggs 846).
Thus, the complete knowledge is that power which knows the distinction between the Spirit and the matter. That type of knowledge is contained in the sacred texts. As such, the Gurbani needs to be intuitively understood, comprehended, and realized. It is not meant to be read and sing in a business like manner as seen at organized religious places and many homes. That is corruption on the name of religion and Spirituality. As a result of such corruption, the organized religious places have become the dens of mammon worshippers; thus virtually unavailing.
  • ਸਲੋਕੁ ਮਃ ੩ ॥ ਪੜਣਾ ਗੁੜਣਾ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਕੀ ਕਾਰ ਹੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਵਿਕਾਰੁ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਸਭਿ ਪੜਿ ਥਕੇ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥ ਸੋ ਪੜਿਆ ਸੋ ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਬੀਨਾ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਅੰਦਰੁ ਖੋਜੈ ਤਤੁ ਲਹੈ ਪਾਏ ਮੋਖ ਦੁਆਰੁ ॥ ਗੁਣ ਨਿਧਾਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਸਹਜਿ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਧੰਨੁ ਵਾਪਾਰੀ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਅਧਾਰੁ ॥੧॥: Slok M: 3|| Parhnaa gunanaa sansaar kee karr hai andar trisnaa vikaar ... (sggs 650).
  • ਸਮਝੈ ਸੂਝੈ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਬੂਝੈ ਅੰਤਿ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਸਾਚਾ ॥: Samjhai soojhai parh parh boojhai anti nirantar saachaa (sggs 930).
  • ਜਾ ਕੇ ਨਿਗਮ ਦੂਧ ਕੇ ਠਾਟਾ ॥ ਸਮੁੰਦੁ ਬਿਲੋਵਨ ਕਉ ਮਾਟਾ ॥ ਤਾ ਕੀ ਹੋਹੁ ਬਿਲੋਵਨਹਾਰੀ ॥ ਕਿਉ ਮੇਟੈ ਗੋ ਛਾਛਿ ਤੁਹਾਰੀ ॥੧॥: Jaa ke nigam doodh ke thaathaa. Samund bilovan kaou maataa. Taa kee hohu bilovan haaree, Kiou metai go chhaachh tuhaaree||1|| (sggs 655).
The Gurbani is meant to be applied. For example, if we want to know the sweetness of honey, we must taste it. Similarly, if we want to attain the True Knowledge and Intelligence, we must apply the Divine Teachings. Without it, we will remain nothing but "learned fools"!
  • ਕਿਆ ਪੜੀਐ ਕਿਆ ਗੁਨੀਐ ॥ ਕਿਆ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨਾਂ ਸੁਨੀਐ ॥ ਪੜੇ ਸੁਨੇ ਕਿਆ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਜਉ ਸਹਜ ਨ ਮਿਲਿਓ ਸੋਈ ॥੧॥ (sggs 655).
  • ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਦਾ ਹੈ ਦਿਸੈ ਸਬਦੁ ਕਮਾਇ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਅਉਹਾਣੀ ਕਦੇ ਨਾਹਿ ਨਾ ਆਵੈ ਨਾ ਜਾਇ ॥: Sahib meraa sadaa hai disai Shabad kamaai. Oh aouhaanee kade naahi n aavai n jaai (sggs 509).

— T. Singh