Chewing Iron!

The Gurus and Bhagats were not only God-Connected Within, they were also excellent communicators, poets, writers, and presenters. They effectively used idioms / metaphors to explain very complex spiritual Messages. Hence, impregnated with spiritual Wisdom or suggestions, numerous idioms can be found in SGGS.

Since the entirety of the Gurbani is for the Mind, idioms / metaphors etc. express the subtlety of the spiritual experiences of the Gurus and Bhagats, draw the reader’s attention, awaken senses, amplify the Message, capture subtle nuances of spirituality, they create imagery in the mind and make the reader see things in a new way, improve understanding, and so on.

The Gurbani compares the spiritual path (the Gurmukh Lifestyle, the Divine Life) to chewing iron with the teeth of wax!

  • ਮੈਣ ਕੇ ਦੰਤ ਕਿਉ ਖਾਈਐ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: How does one undertake Genuine spirituality without Enlightenment? (Idiomatically / Metaphorically speaking: its akin to chewing iron with teeth of wax!). (sggs 943).

In ‘Sidh Gost’ Bani, Sidhas (Yogis) asked Baabaa Nanak to discourse on: 

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਦੰਤਾ ਕਿਉ ਖਾਈਐ ਸਾਰੁ ॥ : (Under taking renunciation without Enlightenment) is akin to chewing iron without teeth! (sggs 939-940).

Baabaa Nanak discoursed the above questions of Sidhas (Yogis) as follows:

  • ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮੇਟੇ ਖਾਈਐ ਸਾਰੁ ॥ : (Renunciation is) undertaking the body, mind or soul attractions of temporal life (without the Enlightenment of the Shabad) is akin to chewing iron without teeth. (sggs 940).

It is so, because, as the Gurbani aptly describes, this path is arduous, as difficult as walking along a double-edged sword!

  • ਮਾਨ ਮੋਹ ਮੇਰ ਤੇਰ ਬਿਬਰਜਿਤ ਏਹੁ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਖੰਡੇ ਧਾਰ ॥: To forsake pride, emotional attachment, and the sense of “mine and yours” (ego-sense), is the path of the double-edged sword (sggs 534).
  • ਖੰਨਿਅਹੁ ਤਿਖੀ ਵਾਲਹੁ ਨਿਕੀ ਏਤੁ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਜਾਣਾ ॥: Khanniahu tikhee vaalahu nikee…. (sggs 918).

Accordingly, the Gurbani points out, though there are millions of seekers all over the world, only a very “rare” are known to have obtained the ultimate Goal (of Mool-realization). They are called “Gurmukh”, “Daas”, “Bhagat”, “Jan”, etc., in the Gurbani.

  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹੁ ਖੇਲੁ ਕਠਨੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਨਹੂੰ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਨਾ ॥੨॥੧॥: O “Jan” Nanak! This is such a difficult game; only a rare Gurmukh understands it! ||2||1|| (sggs 219).

It is like chewing iron because it is very difficult for a person in this modern society to cross the ocean of Maya, thoughts (ਫੁਰਨੇ), doubts (ਭਰਮ), false ego-sense (Haumai), self-conceit, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.), poignant longing for the worldly objects, sense pleasures and material desires…

Spiritual journey is an exploration that each individual undertakes not out of compulsion from outside but from Inner prompting.

As indicated in the SGGS (Sri Guru Granth Sahib), the path to spiritual realization (Mool-realization) is anything but smooth. That is, it’s not a straight one in which the spiritual aspirant can progress easily. It’s a bumpy road, full of twists, turns, and pitfalls along the way!

Therefore, to tread such an arduous path, we need a spiritual guide such as the SGGS who knows the destination, knows all the road-bumps, knows all the twists and turns, and knows all the pitfalls along the way. Who also knows the strengths and weaknesses of the human mind, and knows the delicate art of balancing spirituality and worldly life…

Not only does the SGGS knows the destination and the way to get there, the SGGS is also willing to hold our hand at every step of the way and illuminate the path ahead so that we don’t fall off or cut ourselves!

But, the Gurbani tells us that merely being in the physical presence of the SGGS is NOT enough; or, nothing can be achieved by bowing the head (Mathaa Tekanaa -ਮੱਥਾ ਟੇਕਣਾਂ) if the mind remains bent on falsehood, malice, crookedness, etc. Here is the Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ):

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਨੋ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਵੇਖਦਾ ਜੇਤਾ ਜਗਤੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਡਿਠੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਚੁਕਈ ਨਾਮਿ ਨ ਲਗੈ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥: Everybody in this the world physically see the Satgur. Nothing going to happen just by seeing (the Satgur); one can not be ‘Mukt‘ (liberated, unentangled, unhindered etc.) until and unless the Message within the Shabad is Reflected upon. (Because, without the Shabad-Vichaar) the filth of Haumai (false ego-sense) is not removed, and love for the Naam (Shabad, Hukam, Divine Virtues, Divine Wisdom, Giaan…) does not get affixed (in the mind). (sggs 594).
  • ਸੀਸਿ ਨਿਵਾਇਐ ਕਿਆ ਥੀਐ ਜਾ ਰਿਦੈ ਕੁਸੁਧੇ ਜਾਹਿ ॥੧॥: What can be achieved by merely bowing the head, when the heart remains resorted to falsehood (i.e., nothing is achieved!)? ||1|| (sggs 470).
The Gurbani says Pakhand (hypocrisy) will not do the trick!

The Gurbani further warns us that the personal experience of spiritual realization is not to be accomplished through intellectual speculations or clever tricks (Karamkaand, Pakhand…) but poignant longing, earnest Shabad-Vichaar, and then truthfully living the Gurbani’s wisdom in daily life (the Gurmukh Lifestyle) is needed to succeed.

  • ਅਕਲ ਕਲਾ ਨਹ ਪਾਈਐ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਅਲਖ ਅਲੇਖੰ ॥: (God) is not found by intellectual or clever devices; He is Unseeable and Incalculable (sggs 1098).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥੨॥: Recognize Brahm within through the Gur-Shabad. ||2|| (sggs 362).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਜਲਾਏ ॥: I Adopt the spirituality of the Shabad (the Gurmukh-Hood State of the MInd), the Contemplation and Enlightenment of its (i.e. Shabad’s) Essence eliminates my false ego-sense. (sggs 946).
Spiritual Wisdom is the only means of Mool-realization.

In nutshell, the Divine Knowledge is the only mans of treading the spiritual path and realizing the Mool (Source, Jot Saroop...), just as fire is the only means of cooking the food. In the Company of the Gurbani’s Brahm-Giaan (Wisdom laden with deep insights), we spiritually grow and iron-like Maya, Haumai, Bikaar, etc., become like cotton candy!

  • ਜਗੁ ਕਰੜਾ ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਗਾਵਾਰੁ ॥ ਸਬਦੁ ਕਮਾਈਐ ਖਾਈਐ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Spiritual Life is impossible in a self-willed and unenlightened state. To undertake genuine spirituality is to Become the Shabad (by Internalizing the Shabad, one can chew genuine spirituality which is difficult or hard like iron). (sggs 943).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਭਲੀ ਸਿਵ ਨੀਕੀ ਆਨਿ ਪਾਨੀ ਸਕਤਿ ਭਰੀਜੈ ॥ ਮੈਨਦੰਤ ਨਿਕਸੇ ਗੁਰ ਬਚਨੀ ਸਾਰੁ ਚਬਿ ਚਬਿ ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਪੀਜੈ ॥੩॥: By becoming the Gurmukh (i.e. Enlightened Mind by Internalizing the Message of the Guru’s Shabad), with the sublime Divine Light, then the Maya starts serving him. By following the Guru’s Shabad, (he can so control his vices or Bikaar), as if he can chew steel with teeth of wax, and drink the sublime elixir of Divine Naam. ||3|| (sggs 1324).
  • ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮੇਟੇ ਖਾਈਐ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: (By burning the mind’s desires through the Shabad, as a Gurmukh) eradicating three qualities (of Maya), iron (iron-like Maya) is eaten (sggs 940).


  1. I think that
    in Gurbanee there are FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES as well as DIRECTIVE PRICIPLES.
    Fundamental Principles are about the complete Knowledge of THE CREATOR including ITS NAAMu and
    Directive Principles are directions from THE CREATOR for all human beings as to How to lead a life with TRUTHNESS and how to get connected with NAAMu for the journey to be successful.
    I think that Gurbanee must be understood in above two context.

  2. Thank you Bhai Sahib Tarlok Singh Sahota Jeo for sharing your Knowledge.

    As about quotations, the Gurbani is full of many more related verses, but all cannot be given from a space point of view, and also from a point of view of keeping them short and sweet!

    When I write these posts, I try to keep them short and sweet – to the point relevant to the topic or the theme of the post. By sticking to the topic and the theme, I save these posts from becoming multipage – unnecessarily too long. If a post is too long, we split it into different topics.

    you mentioned the name of Bhai Veer Singh Ji’s. I have heard his name, but I don’t know much about him/his writtings/or his translation of the Gurbani. Please forgive my ignorance.

    Again, thank you Bhai Sahib Jio for sharing your wisdom.

  3. T. Singh Jeo;

    Good Article! However, it is incomplete. One of the important means of treading this extremely difficult path is prayer/self surrender. Yatha Gurwaks “ਮੋ ਕਉ ਤਾਰਿ ਲੇ ਰਾਮਾ ਤਾਰਿ ਲੇ ॥
    Carry me across, O Lord, carry me across.
    ਮੈ ਅਜਾਨੁ ਜਨੁ ਤਰਿਬੇ ਨ ਜਾਨਉ ਬਾਪ ਬੀਠੁਲਾ ਬਾਹ ਦੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
    I am ignorant, and I do not know how to swim. O my Beloved Father, please give me Your arm. ||1||Pause||” Ank 873. and
    “ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਸਮੁੰਦੇ ਤਾਰਿ ਗਬਿੰਦੇ ॥
    Please carry me across the world-ocean, O Lord of the Universe.
    ਤਾਰਿ ਲੈ ਬਾਪ ਬੀਠੁਲਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
    Carry me across, O Beloved Father. ||1||Pause||” Ank 1196. Those who don’t come to recite such Gurwaks, I believe haven’t moved much on the spiritual path.
    Once doing Jap Path and Vichar, Satguru Ji made me to realize that if one has to pick up one Key Word from Jap it would be ‘ਨਦਰਿ’ (ਜਿਨ ਕਉ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰਮੁ ਤਿਨ ਕਾਰ ॥
    Such is the karma of those upon whom He has cast His Glance of Grace.
    ਨਾਨਕ ਨਦਰੀ ਨਦਰਿ ਨਿਹਾਲ ॥੩੮॥
    O Nanak, the Merciful Lord, by His Grace, uplifts and exalts them. ||38||).
    I believe the prayer is fulfilled when three conditions are met:
    1. I can not do it!
    2. He can do it; He is Samrath (capable of doing any thing, any time, any where to absolute perfection).
    3. No one else can do it! A state of complete Faith and complete Surrender!
    Prayer/surrender is also indicated by Guwaks such as “ਡੰਡਉਤਿ ਬੰਦਨ ਅਨਿਕ ਬਾਰ ਸਰਬ ਕਲਾ ਸਮਰਥ ॥
    I bow down, and fall to the ground in humble adoration, countless times, to the All-powerful Lord, who possesses all powers.
    ਡੋਲਨ ਤੇ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇ ਕਰਿ ਹਥ ॥੧॥
    Please protect me, and save me from wandering, God. Reach out and give Nanak Your Hand. ||1||” Ank 256.
    We can obtain knowledge through Budhi, but knowledge gained through Budhi alone isn’t enough to chew iron! Most of us, including those who write articles on Gurbani, I believe in this category. However, I have a firm belief that the Gurbani should be read, contemplated and also shared. Therefore, keep doing what you are doing. One day, spiritualty will reflect in your writings as it does in Bhai Veer Singh Ji’s writings/and translation of Gurbani.
    Gustakhi Maaf, and
    Best Regards…

  4. Love your blog/posts jio.
    Maharaj thodi sewa safal karan. Please keep sharing your thoughts with the sangat.

  5. A quote from Gurbanee in this context as
    MUN MAIN RAAM NAMAA JAAP……………………………………

  6. Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio for sharing!
    The Gurbani urges us:
    • ਆਪਣ ਹਥੀ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਕਾਜੁ ਸਵਾਰੀਐ ॥੨੦॥ (sggs 474).
    • ਆਪੈ ਜਪਹੁ ਆਪਨਾ ਜਾਪ ॥੫॥: Aapai japahu aapanaa jaap (sggs 343).
    • ਸਿਖੀ ਸਿਖਿਆ ਗੁਰ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: Sikhee sikhiaa gur veechaari (sggs 465).

  7. Spiritual Wisdom is only thru grace of THE LORD HARiHARi. No amount of intelligence or external efforts can be of any help.
    Spiritual Wisdom comes of its own and so blessed are those who experience and get to live with true spiritual wisdom of HARi/RAAM NAAMu

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