Gurbani on Mental Traps

Superstition or doubt (ਵਹਿਮ-ਭਰਮ) is a major obstacle to the development of an individual or society. Unless one’s daily life is guided by Bibek_budhi (discerning intellect), the Gurbani tells us that we humans are easy prey — easy to get trapped in so many ways. As a result, we end up harming ourselves!!

  • ਵਰਤ ਨੇਮੁ ਸੁਚ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਪੂਜਾ ਪਾਖੰਡਿ ਭਰਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥: (Mind’s) doubt does not depart with pomp or ostentation (Pakhand) such as ritualistic fasts, vows, (outer) purity, restraint and Poojaa ceremonies. (sggs 1423).

The Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) — eternal prescription for mental ailments — is capable of taking a seeker or a learner to the Truth (Sach-ਸਚ). Lack or absence of the Wisdom, however, gives rise to doubt (‘Bharam’-ਭਰਮ), attachment to Maya, duality, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.), Haumai (false ego-sense), fears, selfishness, religious paraphernalia (Bhelh-ਭੇਖ), Pakhand etc.

There are traps to catch animals, birds, etc. — for example, to make humans Aware and Alert, the SGGS talks about traps for catching elephants, monkeys, deer, fish, parrots and so on.

  • ਕੁਦਮ ਕਰੇ ਪਸੁ ਪੰਖੀਆ ਦਿਸੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਾਲੁ ॥ ਓਤੈ ਸਾਥਿ ਮਨੁਖੁ ਹੈ ਫਾਥਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਾਲਿ ॥: The animal and the bird frolic; they do not see death. (But) the mankind too is entangled in the same trap (like an animal or a bird, the man also does not remember death and) is trapped in the trap of Maya. (sggs 43).
  • ਫਿਰਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਫਾਹੀ ਫਾਸੈ ਕਊਆ ॥ ਫਿਰਿ ਪਛੁਤਾਨਾ ਅਬ ਕਿਆ ਹੂਆ ॥: Again and again, the crow (of the Mayaic mind or Jeeva…) falls into the net (ਫੰਧਾ, ਬੰਧਨ, ਫਾਸੀ, ਫਾਹਾ, noose…). Then (after having been so trapped) he grieves, but what can he do then? (sggs 935).

Similarly, the Gurmat Wisdom warns humans that there are numerous traps for trapping human minds as well — ‘Phaasan Kee Bidhi-ਫਾਸਨ ਕੀ ਬਿਧਿ’ (i.e. ਫਸਣ ਦਾ ਰਸਤਾ, ਫਸਣ ਦੀਆਂ ਕਰਤੂਤਾਂ, ਫਸਣ ਦੇ ਕਰਮਕਾਂਡ…)!

In the same breath, the Gurbani tells us that hardly anyone knows how to escape from these traps of the enchanting world — how to stay Free or Liberated (‘Chhootan Kee-ਛੂਟਨ ਕੀ: ਛੁੱਟ ਜਾਂਣ ਜਾ ਮੁਕਤੀ ਦਾ ਰਸਤਾ):

  • ਫਾਸਨ ਕੀ ਬਿਧਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਊ ਜਾਨੈ ਛੂਟਨ ਕੀ ਇਕੁ ਕੋਈ ॥: (Wherever you see) everyone knows the way to be trapped, but hardly anyone knows how to be Freed. (sggs 331).

For example, the Gurbani reveals to us how the so called pilgrim centers or holy places (Teerath-ਤੀਰਥ) are being used by the paid clergy (Pujaaree) as booby traps for filling their Golak (i.e. financial gains).

Other mental traps to catch ignorant or foolish human minds include, but not limited to, religious Karamkaand (formalities, rituals), path of Pakhand, religious paraphernalia (Bhekh), Bikaar (lust, anger, greed etc.), Haumai or false ego-sense, Maya-Jaal or Bharam-Jaal (traps of illusion, delusion, deceptions …) etc.

  • ਨਾਵਨ ਕਉ ਤੀਰਥ ਘਨੇ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਪੂਜਨ ਕਉ ਬਹੁ ਦੇਵ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਛੂਟਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਛੂਟਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਸੇਵ ॥੪॥੧॥੬॥੫੭॥: O crazy mind! There are so many places of pilgrimage in which to bathe, and so many gods to worship. Says Kabeer! O crazy mind, there is no liberation like this; only by serving Hari (Mool, Truth, Wisdom…) will you find liberation (from doubt, Maya…). ||4||1||6||57|| (sggs 335).
  • ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਇ ਕਹਾ ਸੁਚਿ ਸੈਲੁ ॥ ਕੋਟਿ ਕਰਮ ਬੰਧਨ ਕਾ ਮੂਲੁ ॥ ਮਨ ਕਉ ਵਿਆਪੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਭਜਨ ਬਿਨੁ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਪੂਲੁ ॥੨॥: The stone (stone-minded or foolish man) cannot attain (spiritual) purity by bathing at the Teerath (so called Pilgrimage centers). Millions of such religious Karamkaand (Pilgrimages etc.) is the cause of of traps of false ego-sense (Haumai). Without Uniting with Hari within (Mool, Source, Jot Saroop), these (prescribed religious Karamkaand on the human head) are useless (sggs 1149).
  • ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇਆ ਹਉਮੈ ਬੰਧਨ ਕਮਾਏ ॥: The human being remains lost in the delusion of the three qualities of Maya, and thus only accumulates the shackles of Haumai or false ego-sense. (sggs 604).

Religious Karamkaand is blinding by nature. These mental traps are further promoted by the selfish and illiterate paid clergy (Pujaaree). With the Gurbani available to the Sikhs (learners of the SGGS), no Sikh should fall in their trap. If we don’t wish to remember the advice of the SGGS then we are sure to get ‘exploited’, ‘plundered‘ or ‘robbed‘ in life

  • ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਪੜੈ ਬੰਧਨ ਮੋਹ ਬਾਧਾ ਨਹ ਬੂਝੈ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਪਿਆਰਿ ॥: Trapped in bondage of attachment, the paid clergy (i.e. religious scholar, etc) reads religious texts, but being stuck in the love of Maya he cannot understand (the right Way of life). (sggs 33).

The Gurbani Awakens and Alerts all of us — physically, intellectually and spiritually:

  • ਦੁਨੀਆ ਹੁਸੀਆਰ ਬੇਦਾਰ ਜਾਗਤ ਮੁਸੀਅਤ ਹਉ ਰੇ ਭਾਈ ॥ ਨਿਗਮ ਹੁਸੀਆਰ ਪਹਰੂਆ ਦੇਖਤ ਜਮੁ ਲੇ ਜਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਨੀਬੁ ਭਇਓ ਆਂਬੁ ਆਂਬੁ ਭਇਓ ਨੀਬਾ ਕੇਲਾ ਪਾਕਾ ਝਾਰਿ ॥ ਨਾਲੀਏਰ ਫਲੁ ਸੇਬਰਿ ਪਾਕਾ ਮੂਰਖ ਮੁਗਧ ਗਵਾਰ ॥੧॥: O brother! O people of the world! Beware, be Alert, you are being robbed (by the paid clergy) while awake. Even in the guarding of the Shastras, (paid clergy) is saying or doing things under the impact of ‘Jam(u)’ — Bikaars: lust, anger, greed etc. ||1|| Pause || (Trapped in Bikaars and Karamkaand, even in the guarding of the Shastras they talk nonsense as) they think Nimm tree is a mango tree and a mango tree is a Nimm; and Ripe bananas look to them as they are on thorny bushes. And the Simbol tree seems to these foolish ignorant people to be the ripe coconut fruit. (sggs 972).
  • ਜਾਗੁ ਸਲੋਨੜੀਏ ਬੋਲੈ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਰਾਮ ॥: O my beautiful consciousness (mind, soul, Surat-ਸੁਰਤ…) the Gurbani (i.e., Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS) tells you to Wake up (to Truth – ਅਸਲੀਅਤ, ਤੱਤ, ਸੱਚ). (sggs 844).

Just look around with an open mind: The places of organized and institutionalized religions are equipped with all sorts of mental traps — ‘Phaasan Kee Bidhi!!

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਜਾਲੁ ਪਸਾਰਿਆ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਚੋਗ ਬਣਾਇ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਪੰਖੀ ਫਾਸਿਆ ਨਿਕਸੁ ਨ ਪਾਏ ਮਾਇ ॥: Maya has spread out her net and in it has placed the bait (sense-gratifications, Bikaars, desires, etc.). The bird of desire (instinctive mind, ਜੀਵ-ਪੰਖੀ, etc.) is caught, and cannot find any escape, O (my) mother (sggs 50).
  • ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਣ ਪੁਕਾਰਨਿ ਪੋਥੀਆ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨਾ ਸਭਿ ਕੂੜੁ ਗਾਲ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਹੋਛੀਆ ॥੧॥: (Leaving aside Naam or Wisdom) those human beings who read the religious texts (e.g. Vedas, Puranas, Simritis etc.), are the ones who talk nonsense. Without the Naam, everything is false and worthless. ||1|| (sggs 761).

Bhagat Kabeer Jee further highlights it in the SGGS. He says they to whom I go to release myself, I find them bound by all sorts of chains themselves (false ego-sense or Haumai, Bikaar, craftiness etc.)!!

  • ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਨੇ ਅੰਧਾ ॥ ਜਾ ਪਹਿ ਜਾਉ ਆਪੁ ਛੁਟਕਾਵਨਿ ਤੇ ਬਾਧੇ ਬਹੁ ਫੰਧਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Without Hari (Mool, Source), the spiritually blind ones are gone astray in doubt. And those, to whom I go to find release – they themselves are bound by all sorts of chains. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 334).

The Gurbani rejects all types of Karamkaand (rituals, formalities…). Because Karamkaand binds people in more and more false ego-sense (Haumai)!

  • ਬੰਧਨ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਹਉ ਕਰਤਾ ॥: Religious Karamkaand (rituals) are traps (because of these the mortal) becomes egoistic (that I have performed pilgrimage etc.). (sggs 1147).
  • ਗਲਿ ਜੇਵੜੀ ਹਉਮੈ ਕੇ ਫਾਸਾ ॥੨॥: (A person attachment to Maya, possessions, falsehood, greed etc. finds) the rope of ego tightened around his neck. ||2|| (sggs 176).

It is repeatedly pointed out in the Gurbani that there are only two different groups of people living together on earth: the ‘rare’  Gurmukhs and the majority Manmukhs-Saakay-Mayadhaaree.

The Gurbani asks us to become the Gurmukhs. Because only a Gurmukh knows how to be freed and live a Liberated lifestyle.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਲਾਹਾ ਲੈ ਗਏ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਚਲੇ ਮੂਲੁ ਗਵਾਇ ਜੀਉ ॥੧੯॥: Those who have become Gurmukhs, reap their (Spiritual) Profits (of Naam, Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) and leave, while Manmukhs lose their investment (ਰਾਸ-ਪੂੰਜੀ or life) and depart. ||19|| (sggs 74).
  • ਫਾਥੇ ਸੇਈ ਨਿਕਲੇ ਜਿ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਪੈਰੀ ਪਾਹਿ ॥੩॥: (All beings are entangled in the attachment of Maya) only those escape from this trap who take or apply the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom (in daily life). ||3|| (sggs 43).

That sais, only the Gurmukhs depart from this world reaping the Real Gain (ਲਾਹਾ-Spiritual Benefit or Profit-ਲਾਭ, ਨਫਾ…) in this birth, while the Manmukhs depart loosing all…

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

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੰਧੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਕਰਾਏ ॥੪॥੩॥: O Nanak! Manmukhs remain in bondage; (but those who) become Gurmukhs become liberated. ||4||3|| (sggs 559).
  • 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).

To the contrary, since Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree are opposite of the Gurmukh (i.e., foolish, the follower of falsehood etc.), they only knows how to get trapped.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਭੂਲੀ ਬਹੁਤੀ ਰਾਹੀ ਫਾਥੀ ਮਾਇਆ ਫੰਦੇ ॥: A Mammukh wanders around in many other ways (from the real life) and remains trapped in the noose of Maya. (sggs 779).
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਕਉ ਦਿਨੁ ਰੈਨਿ ਅੰਧਾਰੀ ਮੋਹਿ ਫਾਥੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਾਲ ॥: For Saakat (all) day (all) night is pitch dark, (because) they are stuck in the traps of (attachment of) Maya. (sggs 1335).
  • ਕਰਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਾ ਧਰਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਾ ਲੋਭੀ ਮਾਇਆਧਾਰੀ ॥: (I) do not know about (good) Karma, (I) do not know about Dharma, (I am) greedy Mayadhaaree — chasing after Maya. (sggs 624).

6 comments

  1. The Gurbani clearly chalks out the way out:-

    1.ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਮਿਲਿਓ ਸੁਖ ਬਾਲੇ ਭੋਲੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ (Raag Kaanrhaa M. 5, GGS. 1307-7).
    I have met God through innocent faith, and He has blessed me with peace. ||1||Pause||

    2. ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਈਐ ਤਾ ਸਹੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਅਉਰੁ ਕੈਸੀ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ॥ (Raag Tilang M. 1, GGS. 722-13).
    Give up your selfhood, and so obtain your Husband Lord; what other clever tricks are of any use?

    ਸਹੁ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਦੇਖੈ ਸੋ ਦਿਨੁ ਲੇਖੈ ਕਾਮਣਿ ਨਉ ਨਿਧਿ ਪਾਈ ॥
    When the Husband Lord looks upon the soul-bride with His Gracious Glance, that day is historic – the bride obtains the nine treasures.

    3. ਆਪੁ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਸਰਨਿ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ॥ (Raag Gauri M. 5, 288-13).
    Give up your selfishness and conceit, and seek the Sanctuary of the Divine Guru.

    The loss of self-consciousness, which is full of self conceit (Duality) leads to merger with Waheguru when the clarity of Divine Hukam/Virtues becomes imminent:-

    – ਪ੍ਰਭ ਮਿਲਣੈ ਕੀ ਏਹ ਨੀਸਾਣੀ ॥ ਮਨਿ ਇਕੋ ਸਚਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਪਛਾਣੀ ॥ (Raag Maajh M. 5, GGS. 106-17).
    This is the sign of union with God: In the mind, the Command of the True Lord is recognized.

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