Sootak Redefined

Doubt (delusion, superstitions, Bharam) is one of the major diseases of the human mind that easily weaken one’s mind. It is relatively easy to cheat a weak minded person by mentally controlling him/her.

Aware of this mental weakness of the human beings, the self-serving  Pujaaree (clergy class) since time immemorial have injected the poison of various kinds of superstitions in the human minds to keep them superstitious, ignorant, fearful, greedy, exploitable etc.

There is a saying in India — where there are greedy people, a CONMAN (Thugg-ਠੱਗ) will not starve there!

What is Sootak – a brief background

In the Snatan religious traditions, Sootak means physical impurity, defilement etc. For example:

  • Sootak (Impurity) is the period of abstention observed by the Hindus after birth/death of a family member. Whenever a child is born in the family, the family gets a thread for a certain days. During this period or time, no member of the family can participate in any religious work nor visit the temple. They have to abstain from worship. Apart from this, a woman who gives birth to a child is not allowed to enter the kitchen or do any household work for she is (allegedly) considered Impure during this Sootak period. Also, the newborn is not brought outside of the home. After the delivery, the mother does not mix with people and remains confined to the house until she is purified (allegedly). Family members call a priest for the spiritual Pooja (worship, Havan etc.).
  • Known as ‘Patak‘ in in the Hindu ‘Puranas, Sootak period also applied if a member of the family dies. It is the period of renouncing daily life activities for a certain period after the death of a family member. It is observed by all the family members and relatives of the dead individual. Also, one is not supposed to touch those who are observing the Sutak of death.
  • Sootak period is also observed as inauspicious time before the Solar and Lunar Eclipses. Sootak (Impurity) period is observed for few hours before Solar Eclipse and Lunar Eclipse.
  • The length of Sootak period varies depending on one’s caste (Jaat Paat) etc.

Thus, many rules, beliefs of superstitions associated with Sootak (impurity) exist in Indian society. Also, according to Hindu religious beliefs, people believe in certain days or times being auspicious, and certain days or times being inauspicious.

Those who blindly (ਅੰਧ-ਵਿਸ਼ਵਾਸ਼) follow their self-serving Pujaaree and believe in the Pujaaree’s concocted mythical tales, Mubaarak to them — wish them the best (‘Sarbatt Daa Bhalaa’)!

Before going further, it is very important to remember that Guru Nanak condemned such notions of pollution/impurity in no uncertain terms. Because it has nothing to do with Spiritual Enlightenment or the Sikhi of Guru Nanak.

Gurbani explains purity or impurity (Sootak) at the level of the MIND

All composers of Bani (ਬਾਣੀਕਾਰ) who are included in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) have used terms that were already within the use and within the psyche of people of their time. However, they have used these terms as examples (ਹਵਾਲਾ), but explicitly with new meanings and understanding to fit the new and unique spiritual paradigms of Sikhi or Gurmat (Wisdom of the SGGS); NOT to regurgitate what already existed before the Gurus!

Sootak’ is one of these terms.

The Gurbani of the SGGS explains purity or impurity (Sootak-ਸੂਤਕ) at the level of the MIND, not at the outer or physical body level. In fact, according to the Gurbani, mind’s cyclic nature of Spiritual birth and death (Aavaa Gaman) is due to the mind’s Sootak (impurity).

  • ਸੂਤਕੁ ਅਗਨਿ ਭਖੈ ਜਗੁ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਜਲਿ ਥਲਿ ਸਭ ਹੀ ਥਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੂਤਕਿ ਜਨਮਿ ਮਰੀਜੈ ॥ : (If impurity happens because of death then) there is also Sootak (impurity) in the fire because it consumes the world! (Similarly) there is Sootak is in water, land, and all places. O Nanak! It is because of Sootak (of the Mind, people) go through the cycle of Spiritual birth and death. (sggs 413).

In other words, Sootak is defilement or impurity of thinking (Soch), speech, actions, habits, character, seeing, hearing etc.

According to the SGGS, for example, Sootak of the mind is greed (i.e., all Bikaars…); Sootak of the tongue is falsehood; Sootak of the eyes is to gaze upon the beauty of another’s woman and wealth; Sootak of the ears is to listen to the slander of others, and so on.

  • ਮਨ ਕਾ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਹੈ ਜਿਹਵਾ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਕੂੜੁ ॥ ਅਖੀ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਵੇਖਣਾ ਪਰ ਤ੍ਰਿਅ ਪਰ ਧਨ ਰੂਪੁ ॥ ਕੰਨੀ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਕੰਨਿ ਪੈ ਲਾਇਤਬਾਰੀ ਖਾਹਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੰਸਾ ਆਦਮੀ ਬਧੇ ਜਮ ਪੁਰਿ ਜਾਹਿ ॥੨॥ : Sootak (impurity) of the mind is greed, and the Sootak of the tongue is falsehood. Sootak of the eyes is to gaze (with lust) upon the beauty of another woman and wealth pertaining to others. Sootak of the ears is that (people) listen to the slander of others. Nanak, no matter how externally cleansed/pure people look, but with all these inner impurities, such people trapped in vices/Bikaar (Jum) always falls in the cycle of mental and spiritual life and death. ||2|| (sggs 472).
  • ਨਵੇ ਛਿਦ੍ਰ ਸ੍ਰਵਹਿ ਅਪਵਿਤ੍ਰਾ ॥ : The nine holes pour out filth (sggs 998).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਪਰਦੇਸੀ ਕੈ ਘਾਘਰੈ ਚਹੁ ਦਿਸਿ ਲਾਗੀ ਆਗਿ ॥ : O Kabeer! The kilt (of sense-organs) of this alien (i.e. mind-‘ਮਨੁ ਪਰਦੇਸੀ’) has caught fire on all four sides (i.e. fire of Bikaar – lust-desires, anger, greed, etc.). (sggs 1366).

The Gurbani redefined Sootak

Thus redefining ‘Sootak‘, Guru Nanak exorcized this illusory ghost of superstition related to external Sootak. Simply put, Guru Nanak’s Spirituality guides us away from this nonsense of pre-1469 belief systems, impurities of the concocted notions and concepts of the Pujaaree and from the focus of the manufactured myths. That said, Guru Nanak’s Gurmat or Sikhi is not meant to regurgitate pre-1469 beliefs that have been instilled over the past several centuries in the psyche of people by their promoters who spin and manufacture them.

Guru Nanak logically debunked the widespread superstitions of Sootak. Instead, he raised the human Conscience above the superstitions associated with ‘Sootak‘ in the society. According to the Gurbani of the SGGS, all days and times are the same. Each day one is alive, doing good, remembering the Creator (divine Virtues) within HERE AND NOW is a blessed day.

If a woman delivering baby, the solar and lunar eclipses, physical death of a family member etc. are the source of Sootak in the world, then the Gurbani argues Sootak is all around us! For example, every grain we eat, water we drink, air we breathe, wood we use etc. are all full of Jeev (life)!

  • ਜੇ ਕਰਿ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਮੰਨੀਐ ਸਭ ਤੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਗੋਹੇ ਅਤੈ ਲਕੜੀ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਕੀੜਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਜੇਤੇ ਦਾਣੇ ਅੰਨ ਕੇ ਜੀਆ ਬਾਝੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਪਹਿਲਾ ਪਾਣੀ ਜੀਉ ਹੈ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿਆ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਕਿਉ ਕਰਿ ਰਖੀਐ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਪਵੈ ਰਸੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਏਵ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਉਤਾਰੇ ਧੋਇ ॥੧॥ : If we accept Sootak (ie, if we assume that we should have the illusion of Sootak, then also remember that in this way) the Sootak is everywhere. In cow-dung and wood there are worms. As many are the grains of food, none is without life. First, the water is Jeev itself (there is life in it), by which everything else is made green (i.e. alive). How to accept Sootak (i.e. it is very difficult to accept the superstition of Sootak, because in this way always) there is Sootak lying in the kitchen. O Nanak! Sootak cannot be removed in this way (i.e. being deluded); it can only be washed away by the Divine Wisdom. ||1|| (sggs 472).
  • ਜਲਿ ਹੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਥਲਿ ਹੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਸੂਤਕ ਓਪਤਿ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਜਨਮੇ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਮੂਏ ਫੁਨਿ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਸੂਤਕ ਪਰਜ ਬਿਗੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਕਹੁ ਰੇ ਪੰਡੀਆ ਕਉਨ ਪਵੀਤਾ ॥ ਐਸਾ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਜਪਹੁ ਮੇਰੇ ਮੀਤਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਨੈਨਹੁ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਬੈਨਹੁ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਸ੍ਰਵਨੀ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਊਠਤ ਬੈਠਤ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਲਾਗੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਪਰੈ ਰਸੋਈ ॥੨॥ ਫਾਸਨ ਕੀ ਬਿਧਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਊ ਜਾਨੈ ਛੂਟਨ ਕੀ ਇਕੁ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਬਿਚਾਰੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਤਿਨੈ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੩॥ : (If due to the birth and death of living beings, Sootak-impurity is created then) there is Sootak in water, Sootak on land, and Sootak is everywhere (i.e. then the contamination of Sootak is everywhere). The world is being ruined in this superstition of being contaminated by Sootak when someone is born, and when someone dies. ॥1॥ O Pandit! (When impurity is everywhere, then) who is (possibly) pure? (Therefore) O my friend! Consider this matter carefully and tell. ||1||Pause|| (It is not only living beings seen with these eyes that are born and die, many microscopic beings are dying due to movements of our body and senses, then) There is Sootak in the eyes, there is Sootak in the speech (meaning, tongue), there is also Sootak in the ears. (Also we) are getting all the time while getting up and sitting, there is also Sootak in (our) kitchen! ॥2॥ (Wherever you see) everyone knows the way to be trapped, but hardly anyone knows how to be Freed. Kabir says – the person who contemplates on Raam in (his/her) Heart, does not get contaminated by Sootak! (sggs 331).

How does Sootak arise in the mind?

Simply put: According to the Gurbani, Sootak is nothing but doubts of the duality-ridden or Maya-infatuated mind.

  • ਮਨ ਕਾ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ॥ : Sootak of the mind is the love of duality. (sggs 229).
  • ਭਰਮੇ ਆਵੈ ਭਰਮੇ ਜਾਇ ॥ : In doubt (the Manmukh) comes, and in doubt (he) goes (sggs 161).
  • ਭਰਮੇ ਭੂਲਾ ਸਾਕਤੁ ਫਿਰਤਾ ॥ ਨੀਰੁ ਬਿਰੋਲੈ ਖਪਿ ਖਪਿ ਮਰਤਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : A Saakat (one separated from his Mool, Wisdom, Virtues…) wanders astray in doubt. He churns water (only), and on account of this useless effort, he continuously wastes away his life and thus continuous experiences death (of his spiritual life). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 739).

Who’s mind is stained by Sootak?

The Gurbani tells us that so long the mind remains Unenlightened (Manmukh (Saakat, Mayadhaaree etc.), Sootak will never leave the mind alone.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਕਬਹਿ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਹਰਿ ਕੈ ਨਾਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਸਭੋ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਜੇਤਾ ਮੋਹੁ ਆਕਾਰੁ ॥ ਮਰਿ ਮਰਿ ਜੰਮੈ ਵਾਰੋ ਵਾਰ ॥੨॥ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਅਗਨਿ ਪਉਣੈ ਪਾਣੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਜੇਤਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਖਾਹਿ ॥੩॥ : The Sootak of the Manmukh (Unenlightened) will never go away, as long as (that Manmukh person) does not Realize Naam (Giaan-Wisdom, Virtues…) through Internalization of the Shabad. ||1||Pause|| (For a Manmukh – Unenlithened Mind) the attachment of all the visible objects is (the source of) all Sootak. (That Manmukh – Unenlithened Mind) goes through the cycle of spiritual death and birth. ||2|| (For Manmukhs – Unenlithened Minds) there is Sootak in fire, air and water. Whatever (Manmukhs) eat is also (for their mind) the cause of Sootak.॥3॥ (sggs 229).

Thus, without the Divine Naam (Giyan-Wisdom/Virtues…), the Gurbani says the world remains in Sootak:

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਜਗਿ ਛੋਤਿ ॥ : Without the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues…), somewhere in the world there is (superstition) of Sootak and somewhere there is a untouchability. (sggs 413).

Who’s mind is NOT stained by Sootak?

The Gurbani (SGGS) teaches us that those who have become the Gurmukh ( Enlightened/God-Oriented/uru Shabad-oriented beings) are free of Sootak:

  • ਸਭੋ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਭਰਮੁ ਹੈ ਦੂਜੈ ਲਗੈ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਜੰਮਣੁ ਮਰਣਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਹੈ ਭਾਣੈ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਖਾਣਾ ਪੀਣਾ ਪਵਿਤ੍ਰੁ ਹੈ ਦਿਤੋਨੁ ਰਿਜਕੁ ਸੰਬਾਹਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬੁਝਿਆ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥੩॥ : Sootak (impurity or purity, auspicious or auspicious etc.) is entirely illusory, and it impacts those who are stuck in duality (worldly temptations and their corrupting influences — Maya). It is Hukam (Universal System-Rule-Law of Nature, ਕੁਦਰਤੀ ਨਿਯਮ), which causes birth and death (i.e. according to the biology of birth and death). Whatever food is made available to be used by us is good for anything created by the Creator is good and pure. Nanak, people who understand this Message by becoming the Gurmukh (Enlightened) do not fall into the trap of the concepts of ‘Sootak‘. (sggs 472).

How can mind’s Sootak be eradicated?

The SGGS says that it’s not things we see around us, or certain days or certain time that are impure. It is our mind (thoughts) that is impure. Hence, we need to purify our mind. We can only purify our mind through internalizing the Enlightenment spiritual Message embedded in the SGGS.

Having said that, impurity of the mind can’t be eradicated merely by cleansing outer body-frame (Tann). Thus, the Gurbani of the SGGS makes it very clear that the mind afflicted with Sootak cannot be purified by any ritualistic washing or bathing of the external body, Karamkaand, worship or Poojaa etc.

Since Sootak of the mind can only be eradicated by the Spiritual Wisdom (Enlightenment), the purpose of the Gurbani’s Wisdom (Giaan) is to remove Sootak of our defiled mind and senses (tongue, eyes, ears etc.). In other words, the Gurbani counsels us that the mind’s Sootak can be eradicated by giving up the Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree Mindset (Unenlightened state of the mind) through the Naam.

  • ਸੂਤਕਿ ਕਰਮ ਨ ਪੂਜਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਮਿ ਰਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹੋਇ ॥੪॥ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵਿਐ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਜਨਮੈ ਕਾਲੁ ਨ ਖਾਇ ॥੫॥ : No Karamkaand (ritualism, formalities, etc.) can purify the (mind ridden with the doubt or Bharam of) Sootak, no Poojaa can purify. Only by being imbued in Naam is the mind purified. ||4|| If one takes the help of Satguru (ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ-true Wisdom…), then the Sootak of the mind is removed. (Who Internalizes the Guru’s Shabad, that mind) does not go through the cycle of spiritual birth and death. ॥5॥ (sggs 229).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਜੂਠਾ ਕਿਉ ਸੁਚਿ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਸਬਦੀ ਧੋਵੈ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਕੋਇ ॥ : If (someone) is impure within, (he) cannot become pure (without washing the mind with Shabad). How rare is the person who washes (his mind) with the Shabad (Wisdom, Upadesh, Sikhiaa, Naam…). (sggs 1344).

In other words, Sootak can be washed away by the Spiritual Wisdom of the Gurbani (SGGS) churned through Shabad-Vichaar.

The Message of the Shabad (SGGS) also guides Sikhs to exercise the Gurmat Wisdom rather than blindly following others (ਭੇਡ-ਚਾਲ).

  • ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ ਸਭ ਕਰੇ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੂਝ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥ : Manmukhs (Unenlightened persons) do everything seeing other people do to make a show (Pakhand, ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ, ਨਕਲ, ਦਿਖਾਵਾ…), but they themselves have no understanding of the true way of living. (sggs 28).

The above discussion makes it clear that the Unique and Revolutionary Spirituality of Guru Nanak Counsels Sikhs to stay away from all types of superstitions (Sootak) etc.

Sikhs who observe Sootak are ignorant of the Guru Nanak’s Sikhi and/or they have been influenced by the pre-1469 belief systems injected into the Unique Sikhi of the Guru Nanak by the vested interests.

The purpose of listening and reading the Gurbani (SGGS) is to BECOME the GURBANI. If that does not happen, then, the Gurbani thunders forth the following rebuke in a strongest terms:

  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਕਛੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਪਸੁ ਜਿਉ ਉਦਰੁ ਭਰਉ ॥ : Listening to the Gurmat (Shabad-Giaan, Teaching of the Gurbani, etc.), (if) no Spiritual Wisdom (understanding of the Spiritual Life…) wells up within; (then it would be) like a beast (routinely) filling its belly (sggs 685).

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