Reincarnation – Birth and Death Cycle

In order to impart the Truth (ਸਚ) to us, all 35 contributors in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) have used terms that were already within the use and within the psyche of people of the time.

However, many of these terms have been used in the Gurbani as examples (ਹਵਾਲਾ), but explicitly with new meanings and understanding to fit the new spiritual paradigms of Sikhi or Gurmat (Giaan or Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS).

Included in these terms is cycle of Birth and Death (i.e., reincarnation or coming and going).

In short, as the Gurbani asserts, whatever Pujaaree groups (Pandit, Brahmin, Mullaan, Yogi, and so on) have written, the Gurbani REJECTS all of that:

  • ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਜੋ ਲਿਖਿ ਦੀਆ ॥ ਛਾਡਿ ਚਲੇ ਹਮ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਲੀਆ ॥੩॥: Whatever the Pandit and the Mullaan have written (the path of Karamkaand, Shariyat…), I have abandoned (all of that); I have not taken any of it ||3||. (sggs 1159).

Furthermore, the Gurbani is written at the level of the mind — it’s for the mind to reflect upon it, understand it (Soojh Boojh), and then live its Wisdom in daily life, here and now, not after death!

In nutshell, the Gurbani is the mind’s Mirror, which reveals to a mind its true face (or its real condition or state) — its flaws, faults, defects, demerits, qualities etc.

In addition, the Gurbani’s mirror shows our mind its conditioned nature tainted with false ego-sense (Haumai), deception, doubt, falsehood, fraud, hypocrisy or Pakhand, duality, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.).

Consider the following verse of the SGGS:

  • ਹਉ ਆਇਆ ਦੂਰਹੁ ਚਲਿ ਕੈ ਮੈ ਤਕੀ ਤਉ ਸਰਣਾਇ ਜੀਉ ॥: I have come traveling a long distance, (now I am) seeking your refuge (i.e. Gur-Upadesh, Giaan or Wisdom…). (sggs 763).

Does ‘Traveling a long distance’ mean the cycle of coming and going or reincarnation or repeated birth and death as falsely propagated by the crafty and illiterate Pujaaree-Vaad?

However, the illiterate and self-serving Sikh Pujaaree groups always relate it with a cycle of 84-Lakh (ਚਉਰਾਸੀ ਦਾ ਗੇੜ) as talked by the Brahmans or Pandits in their fake stories (ਗੱਪ ਕਹਾਣੀਆਂ).

That’s just a misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS) by the crafty Pujaaree-Vaad in Sikhi. In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth!

They follow Brahmanical footsteps, and mislead people misinterpreting terms like ‘Poorab Janam’, ‘Aavaa Gavan’, ‘Janam Maran’ etc. For example:

  • ਪੂਰਬ ਜਨਮ ਕੋ ਲੇਖੁ ਨ ਮਿਟਈ ਜਨਮਿ ਮਰੈ ਕਾ ਕਉ ਦੋਸੁ ਧਰੇ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਬਾਦਿ ਜੀਵਣੁ ਹੋਰੁ ਮਰਣਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੈ ਜਨਮੁ ਜਰੇ ॥੯॥: (The results or consequences of) actions performed in life to date cannot be erased; don’t blame ‘birth and death’ (i.e., don’t blame anybody else). Without the Gur-Wisdom (Upadesh), life and death are vain; without the Gur-Shabad (Wisdom, Upadesh), life just burns (in Bikaar…). ||9|| (sggs 1014).

However, one skill the corrupt Pujaaree do seem to possess is how to make people fearful, greedy, confused, brainwashed etc. and keep them as such for return business (ਧੰਧਾ)!

In fact, the status of these crafty and illiterate Pujaaree groups remains because there is fear and greed in the minds of the people — fear of Paap and Punn, birth and death cycle or reincarnation, etc. As a result, fearful and greedy people seek their refuge and do not speak against this fraud.

Fear and greed of any kind is considered the most effective method to control and exploit a people. Interesting thing is that the Pujaaree groups creating fear and greed is the very same groups who stand to benefit from providing people solutions to their fears and greed!

In fact, by ‘Traveling a long distance’ (‘ਬਾਟ’, ‘ਜਾਤ੍ਰਾ’, ‘ਲਖ ਚਉਰਾਸੀਹ’…), etc., the wisdom of the SGGS does NOT support the Pujaaree’s concocted story of birth-death cycle of ’84-Lakh’ (ਚਉਰਾਸੀ ਦਾ ਗੇੜ) etc.

The Gurbani calls Kudarat (System-Rule-Law of Nature) or Hukam to be limitless. As such, Kudrat can NOT be limited to a finite number such as ‘8.4-Lakh’ — ‘ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਕਰਮੁ ਨ ਕਹਣਾ ਜਾਈ ॥’!

Then, according to the Gurbani, what does it mean?

It’s the mind — not the body — that is born every moment and then dies every moment!

In other words — depending on the state of one’s mind at a given moment — the Gurbani is referring to the deluded mind’s continues coming and going due to doubt, fear, attachment, Haumai (false ego-sense), Bikaar, etc. 

  • ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਕੇਤੜਿਆ ਜੁਗ ਭਰਮਿਆ ਥਿਰੁ ਰਹੈ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ॥: (Man’s) this mind wanders through so many states; it does not remain stable and it continues coming and going. (sggs 513).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਡੋਲੈ ਬਹੁ ਬਿਧੀ ਮਨੁ ਲਪਟਿਓ ਤਿਹ ਸੰਗ ॥: Maya wavers many ways, the mind clings to this (Maya, also wavers many ways). (sggs 258).
  • ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਜੰਮੈ ਭੈ ਮਰੈ ਭੀ ਭਉ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: (Man) is born in fear and dies in fear; fear always remains in (his) mind. (sggs 149).
  • ਜਨਮ ਮਰਨ ਮਨ ਮੋਹੁ ਬਢਾਇਓ ॥: Attachment (worldly love), the root of birth and death, is increased in the mind. (sggs 250).

How so? For example, depending on the situation, when the lusty mind dies, it may be reborn the very next moment as a greedy mind, or an angry mind, or an attached mind, or an haughty or arrogant mind, or a jealous mind, or a stubborn mind, or a corrupt mind, or an ignorant mind, or a wise mind, or a merciful mind, or a contented mind, or an enemy, or a friend, or a slanderer, and so on.

This nonstop cycle of birth and death of the mind continues all day along, everyday, throughout one’s lifetime!

Hence, in nutshell, re-birth is of one’s nature (ਸੁਭਾ), here and now, NOT after death of the body-frame!

  • 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).

In other words, it’s the restless and rambling ego-mind that is born and dies every moment while transacting with the outside world —sometimes with dominant dog mentality; sometimes with dominant pig mentality; sometimes with dominant donkey mentality; sometimes with dominant crow mentality; sometimes with dominant snake mentality; sometimes with dominant elephant mentality; sometimes with dominant deer mentality; sometimes with dominant camel mentality; sometimes with dominant monkey mentality; sometimes with dominant frog mentality; and so on. The Gurbani makes it very clear:

  • ਗੁਰ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਹੀਣਸ੍ਯ੍ਯ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੰਤ ਜਨਮ ਭ੍ਰਸਟਣਹ ॥ ਕੂਕਰਹ ਸੂਕਰਹ ਗਰਧਭਹ ਕਾਕਹ ਸਰਪਨਹ ਤੁਲਿ ਖਲਹ ॥੩੩॥: That mortal who lacks the Gur-mantra (Guru’s counsel, advice, Wisdom, Upadesh, ਸਲਾਹ), cursed and fallen (depraved, polluted…) is his life. That wicked person is a dog, a pig, a jackass, a crow, a snake (in this very life, here and now, not after death). ||33|| (1356).
  • ਪਰ ਧਨ ਪਰ ਤਨ ਪਰ ਤੀ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਪਰ ਅਪਬਾਦੁ ਨ ਛੂਟੈ ॥ ਆਵਾ ਗਵਨੁ ਹੋਤੁ ਹੈ ਫੁਨਿ ਫੁਨਿ ਇਹੁ ਪਰਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਤੂਟੈ ॥: Others’ wealth, others’ bodies (others’ wives), others’ slander, and others’ infamy or reproach – (these Bikaars) do not go away. (For the sake of Bikaar, at the level of the mind, a person) is born and dies again and again (i.e., every second or moment – many times a day…), and this theme never ends. (sggs 971).

Hence, a mortal’s mind lacking Bhagti (Wisdom, Virtues,  Naam, or the Gurmukh Lifestyle…) remains deformed and perplexed to the end (‘ਅੰਤਿ ਕਾਲਿ’). As a result, it’s as that person is living a Joon or life as a snake, prostitute, pig, goblin, dog, jackass, crow, camel, frog, monkey, elephant, deer, and other animals (ਪਸੂ ਜੂਨ), again and again (‘ਵਲਿ ਵਲਿ ਅਉਤਰੈ’!

  • ਜਿਨਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨ ਸੇਵਿਓ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕੀਤੋ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਓਇ ਮਾਣਸ ਜੂਨਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਨਿ ਪਸੂ ਢੋਰ ਗਾਵਾਰ ॥ ਓਨਾ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਸਉ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਨ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥: Those who do not serve the Satiguru (Knowledge of Truth) through Reflection on the Shabad (Shabad-Vichaar, Gur-Giaan or Wisdom, Upadesh…), do not call them human beings; they are (just like the) foolish dead animals. They have neither spiritual Knowledge nor contemplation within (Giaan Dhiaan); they have no love and affection for ‘Hari’ (i.e., Mool, Prabh, Jot…). (sggs 1418).
  • ਮੈ ਪਤਿ ਕੀ ਪੰਦਿ ਨ ਕਰਣੀ ਕੀ ਕਾਰ ॥ ਹਉ ਬਿਗੜੈ ਰੂਪਿ ਰਹਾ ਬਿਕਰਾਲ ॥: I have not followed the Divine Way (Divine Wisdom), nor have I done good deeds. (As a result, my Original Jot Saroop) got deformed and remains perplexed. (sggs 24).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਪਸੂ ਭਏ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥੬॥: Without understanding, people become beast (-nature) and demon ||6|| (sggs 224).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਵਿਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਕੂੜਿਆਰ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਬੇਤਾਲਿਆ ॥ ਪਸੂ ਮਾਣਸ ਚੰਮਿ ਪਲੇਟੇ ਅੰਦਰਹੁ ਕਾਲਿਆ ॥: Manmukh are devoid of the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…); they deal with falsehood and wander about like demons. (In reality) they are animals, wrapped up in human skin and are black (corrupt, Bikaaree…) from within. (sggs 1284).

The aim of the SGGS is to freeze this wandering mind bring about cessation of its movement or the vicious cycle of its birth and death, and help the deluded mind trace its steps back to its True Nature (Jot Saroop), Here and Now and move it out of Bhav Saagar and usher it into Sukh Saagar.

  • ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਭੂਲਾ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਫੇਰੇ ॥: (The Wisdom of the Bani) turns the deluded mind around (sggs 118).
  • ਗੁਰ ਹਿਵ ਸੀਤਲੁ ਅਗਨਿ ਬੁਝਾਵੈ ॥: (O Yogi) Gur-Giaan (Gur-Wisdom) is cold like ice (cooling, soothing, that) puts out the fire (of the mind — desires, Trishnaa, Maya…). (sggs 411).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਕਟੀਐ ਨਾ ਆਵੈ ਨਾ ਜਾਗੁ ॥: When the diseases of Haumai or false ego-sense and doubt are cast out (by applying the Wisdom of the SGGS); there is no coming and going (i.e., the movement of the Haumai mind freezes). (sggs 47).

Thus, it’s the mind that has to become human and stable by staying with the Gur-Wisdom, Virtues, Truth (ਸਚ), Naam, or Hukam (Universal Energy, Law of Nature). Otherwise, it will be living at the level of animal-consciousness — daily passing through countless animal-like lives, here and now, not after death!

  • ਕਰਤੂਤਿ ਪਸੂ ਕੀ ਮਾਨਸ ਜਾਤਿ ॥ ਲੋਕ ਪਚਾਰਾ ਕਰੈ ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤਿ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੇਖ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮਲੁ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਛਪਸਿ ਨਾਹਿ ਕਛੁ ਕਰੈ ਛਪਾਇਆ ॥: (Although one born from human category) belongs to the human specie, but his deeds are that of animals. (However, he) day and night humbugs or show off to people (that he is a human, ਬੰਦਾ…)! Outside (on his body) is the religious dress but in his mind is the filth of Maya. (However, the filth of the mind) cannot concealed by trying to conceal it with (outwardly wearing religious robes). (sggs 267).
  • ਆਖਾ ਜੀਵਾ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਮਰਿ ਜਾਉ ॥: I come alive (Aatmak Jeevan-ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ) as I practice (Naam – Virtues, Wisdom, Truth…). Upon forgetting (Virtues, Wisdom, Truth…), I die (spiritual death-ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). (sggs 9 & 349).

Therefore, Baabaa Nanak tells us:

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਸਦਾ ਅਰਾਧਿ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਜਾਂਹਿ ਮਰਿ ॥੧੭॥: O Nanak! Always adore the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…), you will not die ever (spiritual death-ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). ||17|| (sggs 1363).

Themind of a Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree is deceitful, wicked, Bikaaree (stuck in lust, anger, greed, etc.), denier of Truth, egoistic, deluded, illusioned, ignorant, conditioned, and so on. Hence,  reincarnating every moment in this very life.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬਿਨਸੈ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ॥: The ‘Manmukh’ (mind-orientations) die and the same is reborn. (sggs 19).

Accordingly, the Gurbani reminds us that the mind’s cycle of birth and death will continue until the mind continues to live foolishly instead of the Gur-Wisdom — target of a Sikh in life (Sikh = ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ, learner)!

So, the SGGS time and again reminds us that ‘NOW‘ (‘ਅਬ’) is the time!

  • ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਅਬ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Whatever you have to do – now is the best (time) to do it.  (sggs 1159).
  • ਅਬ ਮੈ ਕਉਨੁ ਉਪਾਉ ਕਰਉ ॥ ਜਿਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਮਨ ਕੋ ਸੰਸਾ ਚੂਕੈ ਭਉ ਨਿਧਿ ਪਾਰਿ ਪਰਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ … ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਬਿਰਦੁ ਪਛਾਨਉ ਤਬ ਹਉ ਪਤਿਤ ਤਰਉ ॥੨॥੪॥੯॥੯॥੧੩॥੫੮॥੪॥੯੩॥:: What effort should I make, now? By the help of which my mind’s ‘Sansaa’ (uncertainty, anxiety, fear, apprehension; doubt, suspicion, etc.) may be ended, and I may cross the world-ocean (Bhav Saagar)? … Says Nanak!  Recognize glory of ‘Prabh’ (i.e., Mool, Jot Saroop, Pure Nature, Virtues, Wisdom…); for only then can I, the degraded (mind), cross (the world-ocean). ||2||4||9||9||13||58||4||93|| (sggs 685).

Once the mind regains its True Nature (Jot Saroop) through Bhagti, it stops behaving like animals. Instead, it starts behaving like a real human being (the Gurmukh). Then and only then a person becomes a real human, in real human body!

  • ਤਬ ਇਹ ਮਾਨਸ ਦੇਹੀ ਪਾਈ ॥: Then, understand to have obtained this human body. (sggs 1155).

Conquering of the Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree mindset is conquering of the long journey (‘ਬਾਟ’, ‘ਜਾਤ੍ਰਾ’, ‘ਲਖ ਚਉਰਾਸੀਹ’, coming and going…). The Gurbani says we can conquer the worldly mindset by becoming the Gurmukh. A Gurmukh mind is fearless and free of doubt, attachment, Haumai, Bikaar, etc.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਕਾਲੁ ਨ ਖਾਏ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੨॥: Who becomes the Gurmukh does not die (i.e., he escapes from the death of his Spiritual Life); (he) is not consumed by (Spiritual) death. (Because) the Gurmukh remains absorbed in the Truth. ||2|| (sggs 125).

In nutshell, when the mind becomes established in the Gur-Wisdom through the sincere Shabad-Vichaar or churning the Gurbani, it becomes frozen and its wanderings (ਭਟਕਣਾਂ, coming and going birth and death…) stop.

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਜਨਮੇ ਗਵਨੁ ਮਿਟਾਇਆ ॥: As (the mind) followed or Awakened to the True Wisdom (i.e., ‘Satgur‘ = ਸਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ), the wandering (of the mind) came to an end (sggs 940).
  • ਫਾਹੇ ਕਾਟੇ ਮਿਟੇ ਗਵਨ ਫਤਿਹ ਭਈ ਮਨਿ ਜੀਤ ॥: When one conquers his (own) mind, victory (Fatih-‘ਫਤਿਹ’) is obtained; (Maya’s) snares are cut (ਮਾਇਆ ਦੇ ਮੋਹ ਦੇ ਬੰਧਨ ਕੱਟੇ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ); and one’s (Mayaic-ਮਾਇਆ ਪਿਛੇ ਭਟਕਣਾ) wanderings cease. (sggs 258).

Let’s keep in mind what Bhagat Kabeer Jee has to tell us – the human birth DOES NOT happen gain and again!

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਮਾਨਸ ਜਨਮੁ ਦੁਲੰਭੁ ਹੈ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਬਾਰੈ ਬਾਰ ॥ ਜਿਉ ਬਨ ਫਲ ਪਾਕੇ ਭੁਇ ਗਿਰਹਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਨ ਲਾਗਹਿ ਡਾਰ ॥੩੦॥: O Kabeer! It is ‘Dulambhu’ (i.e., rare, unique, etc.) to obtain this human birth; it does not come again and again. It is like the ripe fruit on the tree; when it falls to the ground, it cannot be re-attached to the branch ||30|| (sggs 1366).
  • ਰੇ ਮਨ ਹਰਿ ਭਜੁ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਤਜਹੁ ਜਗਜੀਵਨ ਰਾਮ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਆਵਤ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਦੀਸਈ ਨਹ ਦੀਸੈ ਜਾਤ ॥ ਜਹ ਉਪਜੈ ਬਿਨਸੈ ਤਹੀ ਜੈਸੇ ਪੁਰਿਵਨ ਪਾਤ ॥੨॥: O (Mayaic) mind! Abandon doubt, join Hari within – the Universal Energy or life. That (Universal Energy or life) is never seen coming, and never seen going. Where it is born, there it perishes like the leaves of the water-lily! (sggs 857).

Consider and pay attention to this Shabad of Bhagat Kabeer Ji:

  • ਸਭੁ ਕੋਈ ਚਲਨ ਕਹਤ ਹੈ ਊਹਾਂ ॥ ਨਾ ਜਾਨਉ ਬੈਕੁੰਠੁ ਹੈ ਕਹਾਂ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਆਪ ਆਪ ਕਾ ਮਰਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਨਾਂ ॥ ਬਾਤਨ ਹੀ ਬੈਕੁੰਠੁ ਬਖਾਨਾਂ ॥੧॥ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਮਨ ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ਕੀ ਆਸ ॥ ਤਬ ਲਗੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਚਰਨ ਨਿਵਾਸ ॥੨॥ ਖਾਈ ਕੋਟੁ ਨ ਪਰਲ ਪਗਾਰਾ ॥ ਨਾ ਜਾਨਉ ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ਦੁਆਰਾ ॥੩॥ ਕਹਿ ਕਮੀਰ ਅਬ ਕਹੀਐ ਕਾਹਿ ॥ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਬੈਕੁੰਠੈ ਆਹਿ ॥੪॥੮॥੧੬॥: Everyone talks of going there. (But) no one knows where heaven is. ||1|| Pause ||. (They) have not found the secret of themselves (i.e. they don’t even know who they are, but) they think that as if they have reached heaven by talking alone (ਨਿਰੀਆਂ ਗੱਪਾਂ – useless talk etc.). ||1|| As long as the mind hopes for heaven, till then one cannot dwell at the ‘Charan’ (divine feet = Wisdom or Giaan). ||2|| (I don’t know) what kind of moat is there around heavon fort (of these people), what kind of city it is, what kind of wall it is. I don’t know what door is like (of the heaven of these people). ||3|| Says Kabeer, now what more can I say (these people do not understand that there is no heaven ahead). ‘Saadhsangati’ (the Association of Saadh within – Wisdom, Virtues…) alone is heaven (and that heaven is here and now). ||4||8||16|| (sggs 1161).

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