Antidote for Ignorance

Ignorance is the greatest evil in the world!

If we live ignorantly, we must suffer!

If the ignorance does not make us suffer, then what’s the use GiAAN or Knowledge? Then what’s the use of KNOWING? Then what’s the use of ENLIGHTENMENT? Then what’s the use of BIBEK-BUDH (discerning intellect)? Then what’s the use of UNDERSTANDING? Then what’s the use of REALIZATION? Then what’s the use of MOOL-ABIDANCE? Then what’s the use of good thoughts (soch) etc.?

In short, if one can live Happily and Blissfully with ignorance, then what’s the point of all this?

Ignorance causes suffering

In short, if one lives ignorantly, then he must suffer! This is the edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ) of the Gurmat Giaan or Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS).

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅਗਿਆਨੀ ਮਹਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਦੇ ਡੁਬੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿ ॥: Forgetting the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues…), the ignorant Manmukh persons are drowned (in ignorance, Bhav Saagar…) and suffer greatly. (sggs 89).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਭਰਮੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨਿ ਗਵਾਈ ॥: The ignorance (causes) suffering and doubt within the human being and are removed through the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom. (sggs 1291).

Hence, ignorance can NOT enhance or heightened one’s bodily energies and faculties.

There are antidotes for poisons and snake-bites.

What is the antidote for ignorance (known variously as Agiaanataa- ਅਗਿਆਨਤਾ, Avidiaa, etc.) or for the bite of the Maya-snake?

Mundane or formal education of today gives little or no importance to spiritual Wisdom. It’s main focus is on getting degrees and then finding a well paying job to attain material prosperity. But to ignore the education that provides one spiritual Wisdom leads to ignorance so much talked about in the Gurbani. Man’s repeated suffering in this world is caused by ignorance.

  • ਬਨਿਤਾ ਬਿਨੋਦ ਅਨੰਦ ਮਾਇਆ ਅਗਿਆਨਤਾ ਲਪਟਾਵਏ ॥ ਖਿਸੈ ਜੋਬਨੁ ਬਧੈ ਜਰੂਆ ਦਿਨ ਨਿਹਾਰੇ ਸੰਗਿ ਮੀਚੁ ॥: clinging to ignorance, I am engrossed in enjoying woman (lust) and joy of Maya (worldly lures or temptations etc.). My youth is fading, old age is coming nearer, and death has been watching (me or coming nearer) by the day. (sggs 458).

On account of ignorance, misunderstanding the unreal (Asat, false or untrue) as real (Sat or true) is guaranteed!

Being stubborn, ignorance will not disappear easily. It has to be countered only with an unshakable commitment.

Naam (Shabad) is the antidote to ignorance

Maya, the cosmic charmer, is likened to a serpent clinging to this world. Attached to this cosmic illusion, we fall into the deep sleep of unenlightened existence. Unable to apprehend the Truth, we remain deluded or illusioned.

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਹੋਈ ਨਾਗਨੀ ਜਗਤਿ ਰਹੀ ਲਪਟਾਇ ॥ ਇਸ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਜੋ ਕਰੇ ਤਿਸ ਹੀ ਕਉ ਫਿਰਿ ਖਾਇ ॥: Maya is a serpent, clinging to the world. Whoever serves her, she ultimately devours (that person). (sggs 510).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਸੀਅਰੁ ਡਸੈ ਮਰਿ ਵਾਟ ॥: Without the Guru (Giaan or Wisdom), one is stung by the poisonous snake (of Maya: worldly attachment, temptations etc.), and dies (of spiritual death – ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤੇ) in the middle of (the journey of life). (sggs 942).

Naam (Gur-Shabad, Wisdom…) is the antidote to the poison of the Maya-serpent (‘ਗਾਰੁੜ’ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ – ‘Gaarurr’ Mantra); and the Gurmukh knows how to apply it (the ‘Gaarurr’ Mantra is believed to neutralize snake venom).

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਭੁਇਅੰਗਮੁ ਸਰਪੁ ਹੈ ਜਗੁ ਘੇਰਿਆ ਬਿਖੁ ਮਾਇ ॥ ਬਿਖੁ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਣੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰ ਗਰੁੜ ਸਬਦੁ ਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਇ ॥: Maya-snake is the big snake (i.e. lures or temptations of the world…) and has surrounded the world with its coils. Filled with the poison that brings spiritual death, this Maya-snake surrounds the world. Antidote to this poisonous venom is Awareness of the divine Naam; the Gur-Shabad is the ‘Gaarurr’ Mantra, keep it in your mouth. (sggs 1415).
  • ਬਿਸੀਅਰ ਬਿਸੂ ਭਰੇ ਹੈ ਪੂਰਨ ਗੁਰੁ ਗਰੁੜ ਸਬਦੁ ਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਵੈਗੋ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਭੁਇਅੰਗ ਤਿਸੁ ਨੇੜਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਝਾਰਿ ਝਾਰਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਵੈਗੋ ॥੨॥: The snakes are filled with poisonous venom; the Guru’s Shabad is the ‘Garurr’ Mantra (antidote that neutralize the poison) – place it in your mouth. Maya- serpent (i.e. lures or temptations of the world…), does not affect that person who is rid of the poison by fixing attention on Naam. ||2|| (sggs 1310).

Senses are akin to the venomous serpents. Like snakes, the senses do not like to be restricted. Rather, they like to act not only loosely but also without any control. As time and again indicated in the Gurbani, the Gurmukh knows very well how to control these serpents.

The Gurmukh’s senses are directed by his dictation or plan. In other words, first, his mind is not vexed in Bikaar (i.e. lust, anger, greed, etc.). Second, he does not let his senses act independently. Like a snake charmer, the Gurmukh never allows his snakes (senses) to act on their own, for he leaves them ‘without fangs’.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੋਈ ਗਾਰੜੂ ਤਿਨਿ ਮਲਿ ਦਲਿ ਲਾਈ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੇਈ ਉਬਰੇ ਜਿ ਸਚਿ ਰਹੇ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥੨॥: Some ‘rare’ who has become the Gurmukh knows the ‘Gaarurr’ Mantra (that neutralizes the poison of Maya-snake); he has trampled her (Maya) and destroy its influence or affect. Only those who remain absorbed in Truth are saved. ||2|| (sggs 510).
  • ਦਸਨ ਬਿਹੂਨ ਭੁਯੰਗੰ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੰ ਗਾਰੁੜੀ ਨਿਵਾਰੰ ॥ ਬ੍ਯ੍ਯਾਧਿ ਉਪਾੜਣ ਸੰਤੰ ॥: It is believed that the ‘Gaarurr’ Mantra removes poison of the snake and its fangs become bereft of poison. Likewise the Guru (Giaan or Wisdom) ends one’s (mental ailments. (sggs 1361).

Light of Knowledge removes darkness of ignorance

The Awareness of our Mool (Jot Saroop, ਸਚ, Truth …) arises when ignorance is eradicated with the Light of Knowledge.

Therefore, the only way to avoid falling into the dark pit of ignorance is to take the Wisdom (Aatm-Giaan) through persistent Shabad Vichaar and seeking the company of Gurmukhs.

  • ਕੁੰਭੇ ਬਧਾ ਜਲੁ ਰਹੈ ਜਲ ਬਿਨੁ ਕੁੰਭੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਗਿਆਨ ਕਾ ਬਧਾ ਮਨੁ ਰਹੈ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੫॥: As the water remains confined in a pitcher, (just so) the mind is restrained by the Spiritual Wisdom. But (as) the pitcher cannot be shaped without the water, (just so) there can be no Spiritual Wisdom without the Guru. ||5|| (sggs 469).

Thoughts of the true Gurmukhs are never about mundane pursuits or sense-gratifications, but are always on a Higher Plane. This helps one imbibe in divine Virtues (ਗੁਣ), and thus cultivate the Gurmukh Lifestyle (the Divine Life). Aatm-Giaan liberates us from repeated suffering -‘ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ-Gur Giaan Padaarath Naam(u) hai…’ (sggs 759).

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਤਿਮਰ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅਧੇਰੁ ਚੁਕਾਇਆ ॥: O Nanak! The Divine Wisdom is obtained by becoming the Gurmukh, and the pitch darkness of ignorance is dispelled (sggs 512).

Hence the Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ) is:

  • ਮਨ ਸਮਝਾਵਨ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਕਛੂਅਕ ਪੜੀਐ ਗਿਆਨ ॥੫॥: To instruct the mind one ought to study Knowledge to some extent. ||5|| (sggs 340).
  • ਜਹ ਗਿਆਨ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸੁ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਮਿਟੰਤੁ॥: Where the Light of Divine Wisdom illuminates, ignorance is dispelled. (sggs 791).

Wisdom (Giaan) is Meant to be Lived

Furthermore, the Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ) is: Once KNOWN or UNDERSTOOD, that Knowledge should to applied to daily life (ਅਮਲ).

If not lived, it will be no more than an information cluttering the mind, which will get us in troubles in life (‘ਪੂਰੀ ਪਰੀ ਬਲਾਇ’). Bhagat Kabeer Ji Awakens us from this dreadful sleep paralysis:

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਜਿਨਹੁ ਕਿਛੂ ਜਾਨਿਆ ਨਹੀ ਤਿਨ ਸੁਖ ਨੀਦ ਬਿਹਾਇ ॥ ਹਮਹੁ ਜੁ ਬੂਝਾ ਬੂਝਨਾ ਪੂਰੀ ਪਰੀ ਬਲਾਇ ॥੧੮੧॥: O Kabeer! Those who do not KNOW or UNDERSTAND (the riddle of life) live a life of perpetual slumber or indifference. I have understood what needed to be understood and my troubles have ended (because now I live that UNDERSTANDING or GIAAN in my daily life…). ||181|| (sggs 1374).