Antidote for Ignorance

Ignorance is the evil in the world! Ignorance is not lacking or being devoid of Knowledge (Giyan-ਗਿਆਨ), but one’s turning a deaf year to take it or refusal to acquire it.

If we live ignorantly, we must suffer! If the ignorance does not make us suffer, then what’s the use of GIYANWisdom? 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 ofSelf-REALIZATION? Then what’s the use of MOOL-ABIDANCE? Then what’s the use of good or Virtuous thinking (soch) etc.? With that said, if one can live Happily and Blissfully with ignorance, then what’s the point of all this?

Evil of ignorance causes suffering

In short, if one lives ignorantly, then he must suffer in life! This is the edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ) of Gurbani in 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 internal suffering and doubt arising from ignorance are only dispelled through the Guru’s GiyanWisdom. (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 Agiyanataa- ਅਗਿਆਨਤਾ, Avidiaa, etc.) or for the bite of the Maya-snake?

Mundane or formal education of today gives little or no importance to spiritual Giyan-Wisdom. It’s main focus is on getting degrees and then finding a well paying job to amass trivial possessions by hook or by crook. But to ignore the education that provides one spiritual Wisdom leads to ignorance so much talked about in the SGGS. 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!

Like a person in the dark of night mistakes a rope for a snake, similarly, we also get mixed up about the true nature of things in this world including our own True Nature (Jot Saroop).

Simply put, darkness of ignorance is the non-apprehension of greater Reality. This non-apprehension of Reality causes the misapprehension in our life. 

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

Naam is the antidote to ignorance

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

  • 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 (Giyan 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 (Wisdom / Virtues/ Hukam…) is the antidote to the poison of the Maya-serpent (‘ਗਰੁੜ ਸਬਦੁ’ – ‘Gaarurr Shabad’); and a Gurmukh (Enlightened/Guru Shabad-Oriented mindset) knows how to apply it.

  • 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 counseled in Gurbani, a Gurmukh knows very well how to control these serpents.

A Gurmukh’s senses are directed by his dictation or plan. In other words, first, his mind is not vexed in vices/Bikaar (i.e. lust, anger, greed, etc.). Second, he does not let his senses act independently. Like a snake charmer, a 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 (Giyan 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 the spiritual Knowledge.

Therefore, the only way to avoid falling into the dark pit of ignorance is to take the divine Wisdom through persistent Shabad Vichaar.

  • 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 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). Spiritual Wisdom liberates us from repeated suffering in this life. (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).
  • ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੋ ਦੇਇ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇ ॥ : The Gur-Giyan (Spiritual Wisdom…) is the Naam Padaarath. (Hence, the Guru) makes the Hari Naam firm (resolved, stable, strong, properly understood, ਪੱਕਾ, ਦ੍ਰਿੜ, etc., in the mind of the sincere seeker of Truth – ਜਗ੍ਯਾਸੂ…). (sggs 759).

Hence the edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ) of Gurbani of the SGGS 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).

Giyan-Wisdom is meant to be lived

Furthermore, Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ) is: Once KNOWN or UNDERSTOOD, that Giyan-Wisdom 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 GIYAN in my daily life…). ||181|| (sggs 1374).

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