A Real Spiritual Person is no Killjoy

The popular picture of a spiritual or Dhaarmic person is presented as someone freeloader (‘ਮਖਟੂ’) with a flowing beard, serious looking, grim-faced, busy correcting and guiding others, no time or less inclination to laugh and smile etc.

Such person is NOT the Gurmat’s spiritual or Dhaarmic person! In other words, such person can NOT be a real Sikh (learner-ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ) of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS)!!

The Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS urges us to be engaged in this world, but with a smile, detached attitude and Wisdom (Akal-ਅਕਲ, keen understanding, discerning intelligence-ਬਿਬੇਕ-ਬੁੱਧੀ…).

To be detached or Selfless does not mean running away from life, family, society, duties, responsibilities, or being less happy and sensitive etc.

After developing a detached attitude through the divine Wisdom of the SGGS, even if one lives amidst the worldly activity, he will be unattached from it and thus untainted by it, just as the lotus flower remains untainted by the slimy scum it grows in.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਭੇਟਿਐ ਪੂਰੀ ਹੋਵੈ ਜੁਗਤਿ ॥ ਹਸੰਦਿਆ ਖੇਲੰਦਿਆ ਪੈਨੰਦਿਆ ਖਾਵੰਦਿਆ ਵਿਚੇ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ॥: O Nanak! Meeting the Satigur (ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ) then one learns the perfect Way to live life. (Thus following that) he is liberated while laughing, playing, dressing and eating (i.e. one remains free from worldly temptations and their corrupting influence while living in the world). (sggs 522).
  • ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਜਿਨਾ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਤਿਨੀ ਵਿਚੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: Says Nanak: By the Gur-Grace (Grace of the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom…) who remain connected (to their Mool, True Nature or Jot Saroop, Aatam Giaan or Wisdom…) realize (Bliss, Mukti or liberation etc.) while using Maya (sggs 921).
  • ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਅਲਿਪਤੋ ਵਰਤੈ ਤਿਉ ਵਿਚੇ ਗਿਰਹ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥: As the lotus flower floats unaffected in the water, so does one must remain detached in his own household (sggs 949).

That being said, the Gurbani (SGGS) does not teach us not to laugh.

To the contrary, the Gurbani wants us to laugh, eat, and sleep BUT NOT BY FORGETTING THE NAAM (i.e. Virtues / Wisdom). If we become engrossed in laughing, eating, sleeping etc. and forget Naam, then our spiritual death is certain. This is the Gurbani’s edict:

  • ਖਾਣਾ ਪੀਣਾ ਹਸਣਾ ਸਉਣਾ ਵਿਸਰਿ ਗਇਆ ਹੈ ਮਰਣਾ ॥ ਖਸਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿ ਖੁਆਰੀ ਕੀਨੀ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਜੀਵਣੁ ਨਹੀ ਰਹਣਾ ॥੧॥: By remaining engrossed in eating, drinking, laughing and sleeping one forgets the Divine Naam, then spiritual death is certain. No one lives in this world forever; forgetting the One Creator, one wanders vainly and accursed becomes his life. ||1|| (sggs 1254).

Material wealth or nobleness is not a sign of Happiness. Rather, it’s a state of the mind which — according to the Gurbani — comes with applying the Divine Virtues and Wisdom to daily life.

  • ਵਣਜਾਰਿਆ ਸਿਉ ਵਣਜੁ ਕਰਿ ਲੈ ਲਾਹਾ ਮਨ ਹਸੁ ॥੨॥: Deal with the dealers (of the Naam: Wisdom, Virtues…), the resulting profit will be laughter (Joy, Happiness, rejoicing) in your mind. ||2|| (sggs 595).
  • ਗੁਣ ਗਾਇ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਦੂਖ ਨਾਸੇ ਰਹਸੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਮਨਿ ਘਣਾ ॥: Living a life of Divine Virtues and Wisdom, sorrows (distress, unhappiness, afflictions…) are dispelled and the mind gets filled with tremendous Joy. (sggs 778).

Only Enlightened person can afford to laugh!

Hence, only a true spiritual Being (Enlightened, Gurmukh State of the Mind) can laugh in life. Why? Because, being a Brahm-Giaanee (Enlightened) only he knows the ridiculousness of this world!

A Brahm-Giaanee (Enlightened one) is Virtuous and worry-free. As such, he can afford to laugh!

  • ਤੁਮ ਗਾਵਹੁ ਮੇਰੇ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਕਾ ਸੋਹਿਲਾ ॥ ਹਉ ਵਾਰੀ ਜਿਤੁ ਸੋਹਿਲੈ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : O My mind! Sing the Sohilaa (Internalization of Divine Praises, Wisdom and Virtues) of the Fearless Creator that leads to (a State of the Mind of) Eternl Bliss or Joy, Within. (SGGS 12).

Such person knows laughing at oneself is spiritually therapeutic, for it tends to bulldoze our Haumai or false ego-sense. According to the Wisdom of the Gurbani, annihilation of the false ego-sense is a precondition for spiritual liberation (Mukti).

When we laugh, we set ourselves free from the mind’s analyzing habit, free from worry, free from vices / Bikaar (i.e. lust, anger, greed etc.). Hence this is exactly the same state one attains in meditation.

  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈ ਹੋਇ ਅਚਿੰਤ ॥: The Brahm Giaanee is worry-free (sggs 273).
  • ਅਚਿੰਤ ਸੋਇ ਜਾਗਨੁ ਉਠਿ ਬੈਸਨੁ ਅਚਿੰਤ ਹਸਤ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ॥: (One who is absorbed in the Naam) worry-free (he) sleeps, wakes, rises up and sits down; (and worry-free he) laughs detached (sggs 1217).

According to the Gurbani, Gurmukh-Hodd (Bhagat, Daas, Jan…) is such a State of the Mind (Enlightened). Being worry-free, there is everlasting Joy (bliss, peace, happiness…) within him. Laughter is natural to him. 

  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈ ਘਰਿ ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦ ॥: There is everlasting Joy in the Heart of the Brahm Giaanee (sggs 273).

A Brahm Giaanee (Enlightened one) is LOVE personified.

How does it all become possible for a Gurmukh Mindset or a Brahm Giaanee? The Gurbani tells us that a Brahm Giaanee, for example, is stabilized in Sahaj Avasthaa (Natural State of Being, Giaan Avasthaa, Wisdom State, Enlightenement…). The enchanting world to him is nothing but a passing show. He enjoys it as it happens; without attachment. Since he has transcended attachment to Maya, he is worry-free, the Whole (Saabat).

Free of the body-consciousness, the Brahm Giaaneee rests in his ‘Jot Saroop (his Mool, Source, Original Nature…); he ever remains established in the discerning intellect (Viveka-Budhi) of the SGGS. He sees the One ‘Jot’ alone in a scavenger and a king, etc.

When mind is so Pure, or when the ‘filth‘ of Maya’s attachment is gone from the mind, or when the ‘dream‘ has ended, then one will start laughing, never to lose his sense of humor again.

To the contrary, the Gurbani tells us that those afflicted with worry cannot find joy even in their dreams!

  • ਸਤਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਜੋ ਮੁਹ ਫੇਰਹਿ ਮਥੇ ਤਿਨ ਕਾਲੇ ॥ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਦੁਖ ਕਮਾਵਦੇ ਨਿਤ ਜੋਹੇ ਜਮ ਜਾਲੇ ॥ ਸੁਪਨੈ ਸੁਖੁ ਨ ਦੇਖਨੀ ਬਹੁ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਪਰਜਾਲੇ ॥੩॥: Those who turn a blind eye to the true Wisdom (ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ), their mind or brain remains corrupt. They always do the same deeds, the result of which is sorrow (Dukh).They always live in the trap of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed etc.). Even in their dreams, people find no Happiness (Sukh); they are consumed by the fire of intense worry (sggs 30). (sggs 30).

A Brahm Giaanee is worry-free (‘Achint-ਅਚਿੰਤ’). He understands the ridiculousness of this glittering worldly show. To him, this worldly show is just a Tamaasaa – entertainment, spectacle, show…!

  • ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਅੜਾ ਵਡਭਾਗੀਈ ਮੇਰੇ ਗੋਵਿੰਦਾ ਨਿਤ ਲੈ ਲਾਹਾ ਮਨਿ ਹਸੁ ਜੀਉ ॥੩॥: O my Gobind! By great good fortune, those who have realized Hari (Mool), earning (spiritual-) profit continually, laugh (Joy, ਆਤਮਕ ਆਨੰਦ) in the mind. ||3|| (sggs 173).
  • ਸਹਜਿ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਸਹਜੇ ਹੀ ਹਸਨਾ ॥: (Who have mental stability, Wisdom) in Sahaj (he) remains detached; in Sahaj (he) laughs (sggs 236).

A Brahm Giaanee is a detached observer just as air: Air exists in space, but, since it is not attached to space, it is free from spatial limitations.

The mind attached to Maya is tortured by the memory of the past and worries of the future. But the Brahm Giaanee is free from past-memory and future-anticipation.

  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਸਦਾ ਨਿਰਲੇਪ ॥ ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲ ਅਲੇਪ ॥: The Brahm Giaanee is always Pure (untainted by Maya…), as the lotus in the water remains untouched (sggs 272).

However, to the contrary, those who claim to be spiritual or Dhaarmic look sad (Dukhi), irritated, angry, selfish, hateful, unfriendly, selfish, Bikaaree (i.e., full of lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride…), no smile on face etc.

If you see a person claiming himself to be a spiritual or Dhaarmic who has no sense of humor, you can be certain that he is a Pakhandee who has not come ‘Home‘ yet — he is just a fraud, pretending (Paakhand) to be a spiritual or Dhaarmic person. But in reality, it is warning sign that his mind is still clinging to Maya!

Now try yourself and see what is more beneficial to you — weeping or laughing!

The true spiritual person not only laughs but also makes others laugh, possibly at his own expense!

Because of his Wisdom, a Gurmukh or a Brahm Giaanee treats both suffering and joy with indifference. He thinks they are part of life and have to be accepted. This is abiding in the Hukam.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਬੋਲਣੁ ਝਖਣਾ ਦੁਖ ਛਡਿ ਮੰਗੀਅਹਿ ਸੁਖ ॥ ਸੁਖੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੁਇ ਦਰਿ ਕਪੜੇ ਪਹਿਰਹਿ ਜਾਇ ਮਨੁਖ ॥ ਜਿਥੈ ਬੋਲਣਿ ਹਾਰੀਐ ਤਿਥੈ ਚੰਗੀ ਚੁਪ ॥੨॥: Happiness and pain (Sukh and Dukh) are the two garments for one life. Nanak, why then beg for happiness and negate pain (begging for joy and negating pain is fruitless talk -‘Jhakhanaa‘)? Where you are bound to lose in argument (to avoid one for the other), why not accept the two? ||2|| (sggs 149).

In short, an Enlightened person (Bhagat, Daas, Jan, Gurmukh Mindset…) is a Wise, brave, good, virtuous, stable, fearless, blissful (Anand), pious, Joyful, positive, Happy, stable, balanced and poised etc. (ਵਿਦਵਾਨ, ਬਹਾਦੁਰ, ਭਲਾ, ਨੇਕ, ਗੁਣੀ, ਖੁਸ਼, ਅਡੋਲ, ‘ਸਹਜਿ ਸੁਭਾਇ’, ਹਮੇਸ਼ਾ ਚੜ੍ਹਦੀ ਕਲਾ ਵਿਚ…). 

Having said that, their laughing is in Bhagti and his crying is also in Bhagti (i.e., in Wisdom).

  • ਸਚਾ ਤੇਰਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਣਿਆ ॥ ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਇ ਸਚੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ ॥: Your Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature, ਨਿਯਮ…) is Permanently in Existence (i.e. Hukam cannot be changed or violated); this is the Guru’s Realization. The Recognition or Realization (that the Creator / Hukam is Permanently in Existence) comes through the Gurmat (Giaan or Wisdom of the SGGG) removing Haumai (false ego-sense, ਖ਼ੁਦੀ). (sggs 144).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਸੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਰੋਵੈ ॥ ਜਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਰੇ ਸਾਈ ਭਗਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ॥: Gurmukh Hasai Gurmukh Rovai … (sggs 1422).

Life goes on whether we weep and wail or laugh. It will not stop because we are weeping and wailing. Why not laugh/smile then?

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਭੂਲੇ ਮੁਏ ਬਿਲਲਾਇ ॥: Manmukhs remain astray, and (consequently) die (spiritual death) weeping and wailing. (sggs 1065).

The wall that separates us from our Jot Saroopis the crazy mind. The Gurbani teaches us to pull this wall down by churning the Gurbani through the Shabad-Vichaar.

The more we understand the Shabad, the more we start being Happy, Joyous, humorous, loving, smiling, laughing, worry free etc.

  • ਮਹਾ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: Reflecting on the Gur-Shabad, Great Joy (is experienced…). (sggs 370).
  • ਬਸਤਾ ਤੂਟੀ ਝੁੰਪੜੀ ਚੀਰ ਸਭਿ ਛਿੰਨਾ ॥ ਜਾਤਿ ਨ ਪਤਿ ਨ ਆਦਰੋ ਉਦਿਆਨ ਭ੍ਰਮਿੰਨਾ ॥ ਮਿਤ੍ਰ ਨ ਇਠ ਧਨ ਰੂਪਹੀਣ ਕਿਛੁ ਸਾਕੁ ਨ ਸਿੰਨਾ ॥ ਰਾਜਾ ਸਗਲੀ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਕਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਮਨੁ ਭਿੰਨਾ ॥: (If a person) lives in a broken hut, his clothes are all tattered; he is not of high caste, no respect, and he wanders around (due to misfortunes and no respect); he has neither a friend, nor a beloved, nor wealth, nor beauty, nor relation or Kinsman; (in spite of such misfortunes) if his mind is soaked in Naam (Giaan or Wisdom), consider him the King of the whole world. (sggs 707).


  1. A great attempt to explain gurbani in easier words ! Great seva to explain and understanding it makes gurbani so much beautiful

  2. Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio!

    ਤੇ ਸੰਤ ਭਲੇ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਹੈ ਜਿਨ ਨਾਹੀ ਚਿੰਤ ਪਰਾਈ ਚੁਖਾ ॥: Te sant bhale gursikh… (sggs 588).

  3. Dear T Singh Ji

    Thank you for an enlightening article.

    The worry free happiness u speak of is the true Chard Kala, unlike the veneer of positivity far too often seen in life.

  4. BRAHMGIYANEE and /or GURMUKH(i) gets the art of living in an equipoised state of all sort of happenings.
    Sukhmanee Sahib.

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