Bitter Nature As Nimm

Nimm (ਨਿੰਮ – Azadirachta indica, an Indian lilac tree) is known to be bitter by its very nature. Also called Neem, everything about this tree is bitter — its leaves, its twigs, and its fruit (olive-like drupe) are bitter!

Bhagat Kabeer Sahib in the Gurbani says if one were to irrigate this Nimm tree again and again with sweet water or nectar, still its natural quality of bitterness will not depart!

  • ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਲੈ ਲੈ ਨੀਮੁ ਸਿੰਚਾਈ ॥ ਕਹਤ ਕਬੀਰ ਉਆ ਕੋ ਸਹਜੁ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥੫॥੭॥੨੦॥: Says Kabeer! If (you) repeatedly irrigate the Neem tree with Amrit (sweet water, nectar) still, its natural quality (i.e., bitter nature) will not depart. ||5||7||20|| (sggs 481).

What Bhagat Kabeer Sahib is implying here? Bhagat Kabeer Sahib compares the nature of a Saakat with the bitter Nimm.

But who is a Saakat? Saakat ~ Manmukh ~ Mayadhaaree, who does not live by the Gurbani’s Wisdom or Upadesh. In other words a Saakat mind is full of Bikaar (lust,anger,greed, etc.), negativity, ignorance, doubts, Haumai or ego, Maya, and so on.

As the Nimm tree does not give up its bitter nature even if repeatedly irrigated with sweet water, similarly, Bhagat Kabeer Sahib says a Saakat cannot give up his innate nature either.

To illustrate, Bhagat Kabeer Sahib gives us some examples. For instance, it’s of no avail to read scriptures to a dog. Similarly, Bhagat Kabeer Sahib says it’s of no avail to praise or describe the Divine Virtues to a Saakat. For he is not going to give up his Saakat-hood!

  • ਕਹਾ ਸੁਆਨ ਕਉ ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਸੁਨਾਏ ॥ ਕਹਾ ਸਾਕਤ ਪਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਏ ॥੧॥: Kahha suaan… (sggs 481).

In the next example, Bhagat Kabeer Sahib talks about a crow and a snake. It’s of no avail to feed camphor (Kapoor) to a crow. Because, a crow rather have its beak in filth (stench, ਗੰਦ ਖਾਣ ਦੀ ਆਦਤ) instead! Likewise, it’s of no avail to feed milk to a snake. Because, this will not make a snake give up its nature of biting with poisonous fangs!

  • ਕਊਆ ਕਹਾ ਕਪੂਰ ਚਰਾਏ ॥ ਕਹ ਬਿਸੀਅਰ ਕਉ ਦੂਧੁ ਪੀਆਏ ॥੨॥: kaooaa kahaa.. (sggs 481).

Thus, Bhagat Kabeer Sahib says a dog, a crow, a snake, and a Saakat all do their nature.

  • ਸਾਕਤੁ ਸੁਆਨੁ ਸਭੁ ਕਰੇ ਕਰਾਇਆ ॥: Saakatu suaanu… (sggs 481).
  • ਨੀਬੁ ਭਇਓ ਆਂਬੁ ਆਂਬੁ ਭਇਓ ਨੀਬਾ ਕੇਲਾ ਪਾਕਾ ਝਾਰਿ ॥ ਨਾਲੀਏਰ ਫਲੁ ਸੇਬਰਿ ਪਾਕਾ ਮੂਰਖ ਮੁਗਧ ਗਵਾਰ ॥੧॥: Neembu bhaio aanb... (sggs 972).

Thus, Bhagat Kabeer Sahib says do not even bother to speak of Raam-Naam (Brahm-Giaan) to a Saakat!

  • ਰਾਮ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਮ ਰਮੇ ਰਮਿ ਰਹੀਐ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਸਿਉ ਭੂਲਿ ਨਹੀ ਕਹੀਐ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Raam Raam… (sggs 481).

A Saakat can visit and bath at all the places of pilgrimage, but his bitter nature or his mental filth will not leave him just as the gourd does not shed its bitterness even if you bathe it at all of the so-called holy places! Bhagat Kabeer Sahib says:

  • ਲਉਕੀ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਈ ॥ ਕਉਰਾਪਨੁ ਤਊ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥੨॥: (Remember) the gourd may be washed at the sixty-eight sacred shrines, but even then, its bitterness is not removed (from inside) ||2|| (sggs 656).
  • ਬਿਖੈ ਕਉੜਤਣਿ ਸਗਲ ਮਾਹਿ ਜਗਤਿ ਰਹੀ ਲਪਟਾਇ ॥: The bitter poison (Maya) is within all (Jeev); it clings to the entire world (sggs 304).

Therefore, Bhagat Kabeer Sahib emphasizes on avoiding such company company (Saakat mentality, Saakat thinking…). Otherwise, ignorance is bound to increase, and the intellect is bound to dim!

To illustrate this, Bhagat Kabeer Sahib again gives us some examples: (1) If we touch a vessel stained with soot, some of the soot is bound to stick to us; (2) if we come in contact with garlic, we can not avoid its smell; and (3) a black blanket cannot be made white by simply washing it!

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਦੂਰਹਿ ਜਾਈਐ ਭਾਗਿ ॥ ਬਾਸਨੁ ਕਾਰੋ ਪਰਸੀਐ ਤਉ ਕਛੁ ਲਾਗੈ ਦਾਗੁ ॥੧੩੧॥: O Kabeer! Don’t do Saakat’s company; run far away (from Saakat). If you touch a vessel stained with soot, some of the soot is bound to stick (to you). ||131|| (sggs 1371).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਸਾਕਤੁ ਐਸਾ ਹੈ ਜੈਸੀ ਲਸਨ ਕੀ ਖਾਨਿ ॥ ਕੋਨੇ ਬੈਠੇ ਖਾਈਐ ਪਰਗਟ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਦਾਨਿ ॥੧੭॥: O Kabeer! As is the closet of garlic, so is Saakat. Even if (garlic) is eaten sitting in a corner, it becomes obvious (to all due its odour)!||17|| (sggs 1365).
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਕਾਰੀ ਕਾਂਬਰੀ ਧੋਏ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਸੇਤੁ ॥੧੦੦॥: The Saakat is like a black blanket, which does not become white by being washed ||100|| (sggs 1369).
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਹੋਇ ਬਿਨਾਹੁ ॥੯੩॥: Don’t do Saakat’s company; it would bring ruin (of intellect, spiritual life…). ||93|| (sggs 1369).

Baabaa Nanak also talks along the same lines saying that, instead of calling bad or dull, just don’t mess with a fool!

  • ਮੰਦਾ ਕਿਸੈ ਨ ਆਖੀਐ ਪੜਿ ਅਖਰੁ ਏਹੋ ਬੁਝੀਐ ॥ ਮੂਰਖੈ ਨਾਲਿ ਨ ਲੁਝੀਐ ॥੧੯॥: Having read the words (of Wisdom, Upadesh…), understand it not to call anyone bad. Don’t argue with a fool ||19|| (sggs 473).
  • ਤੁਮੀ ਤੁਮਾ ਵਿਸੁ ਅਕੁ ਧਤੂਰਾ ਨਿਮੁ ਫਲੁ ॥ ਮਨਿ ਮੁਖਿ ਵਸਹਿ ਤਿਸੁ ਜਿਸੁ ਤੂੰ ਚਿਤਿ ਨ ਆਵਹੀ ॥: Bitter melon, swallow-wort, poison, thorn-apple and Nimm fruit (i.e., bitter stuff like these, etc.) – resides in the mind and mouth of him in which (YOU) do not reside (sggs 147).

The Gurbani says by constantly living the Wisdom of the Gurbani or Gur-Upadesh, the bitter poison (of ego, Haumai, Maya, Bikaar, doubt…) does not affect.

  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਮਾਰੇ ॥: Through the (Wisdom or Giaan of the) Gur-Shabad, the poison of “Haumai” (ego) is conquered (sggs 1133).
  • ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਜਸੁ ਰਵਣਾ ਬਿਖੈ ਠਗਉਰੀ ਲਾਥੀ ॥: Aath pahar Hari kaa jasu… (sggs 628).

Accordingly, the Gurbani declares that all material stuff is “bitter”. However, the Naam (Shabad, Hukam, Brahm-Giaan, Divine Wisdom, Divine Virtues…) is always sweet (“mithaa-ਮਿਠਾ”)!

  • ਸਭੇ ਵਸਤੂ ਕਉੜੀਆ ਸਚੇ ਨਾਉ ਮਿਠਾ ॥: Sabhae vastu kaourheeaa sachae naaou mithaa (sggs 321).


  1. Dears where I can get the simple audio meaning of Gurbani ??
    Like full of Shri Guru Granth Sahib.
    I drive cab & very much keen to listen it but not the Katha’s like 1hr katha on one Salok’s.

  2. Veer ji while reading this article one thing click to the mind that this sakat which guru ji is talking about is sakat veechar. Veechars those connect with maya, ignorance, bad deeds etc are sakatness. So, sakat live in all and in worldly things and its teaching of Guru ji to abandon such sakat veechar and take Guru ji updesh. This way one connect to way to mool.

  3. I think here Guruji describes about the person who is not willing to except the existence of God, Who is having an argumentative behovior, who dont belives in Gurbani…………………..Guruji tells dont argue or mess with such people just ignore them otherwise our own faith may decrease……………….Bhul Chuk Maaf…………

  4. Many thanks Prakash S Bagga Ji for taking the time to respond to this post.

    In my opinion the meaning of SAKAT is one who worships SHAKTEE or THE SYMBOL of POWERS .

    i.e., the one connected to something other than his Mool!
    i.e., one connected to Maya (i.e.,Mayadhaaree)!
    i.e., one connected to his instinctive mind (i.e., Manmukh)!
    i.e., ਅਪਣੇ ਮੂਲ ਤੋ ਟੁੱਟਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ!!!

    ਸਾਕਤ ਬਧਿਕ ਮਾਇਆਧਾਰੀ ਤਿਨ ਜਮ ਜੋਹਨਿ ਲਾਗੇ ॥ (sggs 172).
    ਸਾਕਤ ਮੁਠੇ ਦੁਰਮਤੀ ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਨ ਜਾਣੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ॥ (sggs 854).
    ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਚਾਖਿਆ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ (sggs 733).

    The Wisdom of the Gurbani converts:
    Saakat into Gurmukh
    Manmukh into Gurmukh
    Mayadhaaree into Gurmukh

  5. In context of this
    As the Nimm tree does not give up its bitter nature even if repeatedly irrigated with sweet water, similarly, Bhagat Kabeer Sahib says a Saakat cannot give up his innate nature either.
    Can we consider Saakat ~ Manmukh when the gurbaanee is stated to turn A Manmukh into Gurmukh.

    In my opinion the meaning of SAKAT is one who worships SHAKTEE or THE SYMBOL of POWERS .

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