Chully – Handful Of Water

Literally, Chully (ਚੁੱਲੀ) is to take a handful of water for external cleansing.

Specifically, at the so called “Sarovars” or Tirath Asthaan (even at local Gurdawars), ignorant people take Chully of water from filthy ponds, etc., and put it in their mouth, throw on their eyes, sprinkled on top of their head, wash their feet and arms, and so on.

Using this worldly example of Chully, Baabaa Nanak in the Gurbani expounds the Bibek or Wisdom (Divine Knowledge, Aatam-Giaan) to the seekers of Truth.

First off, keeping the external body clean is a good practice in personal hygiene — a common sense. The Gurbani does not advocate not to keep the body clean.

However, on account of an utter ignorance of the Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, Upadesh or Way of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS), many have turned the external cleanliness into a religious ritual (Karamkaand) — equating the outer neatness and cleanliness with the mental Purity (Purity of thoughts) or Divine Life!

The Way of the SGGS or Sikhi assertively rejects such deluded thinking that external cleansing will make you pure.

  • ਤਨਿ ਫਿਟੈ ਫੇੜ ਕਰੇਨਿ ॥ ਮਨਿ ਜੂਠੈ ਚੁਲੀ ਭਰੇਨਿ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਚੁ ਧਿਆਈਐ ॥ ਸੁਚਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਤਾ ਸਚੁ ਪਾਈਐ ॥੨॥: (Pujaaree) commit evil deeds with their polluted bodies (corrupt mind, thinking…). With filthy mind, they keep doing ‘Chully’. O Nanak! remember (think, meditate) the Truth. If you are pure (within), then you will obtain Truth ||2|| (sggs 472).

Although one can wash the external body (Ishnaan), or rinse the inside of his mouth, etc., with Chully of water; however, Baabaa Nanak says water cannot wash the consciousness or the mind (the mins’s Bikaar: lust, anger, greed…).

  • ਪਾਣੀ ਚਿਤੁ ਨ ਧੋਪਈ ਮੁਖਿ ਪੀਤੈ ਤਿਖ ਜਾਇ ॥: You may drink water to quench your thirst, (but) the water cannot wash the consciousness (mind’s Bikaar or crookedness, etc.). (sggs 1240).
  • ਮਨਿ ਮੈਲੈ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਮੈਲਾ ਤਨਿ ਧੋਤੈ ਮਨੁ ਹਛਾ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: When the mind is filthy, everything is filthy; by washing the body, the mind is not cleaned (sggs 558).

For example, mouth rinsing (including washing of feet, arms, etc.) is one of the actions carried out for performing Wudu (partial ablution) by Muslims. Off course, the idea was to make intention (Niyyah) in the heart (i.e., to purify the heart, or mind…); for it is an action of the pure heart or mind and not of the tongue that matters!

Also, there is a ritual called ” Panj Ishsanaanaa ” or ” Panj Ishnan ” pretty common in Sikhs (” five washings ” – washing of two hands, two feet, and the face before entering a Gurdwara building, or before reciting Paath, etc.).

Again, there is nothing wrong with cleaning hands, feet, mouth, etc. The Gurbani does not advocate not to keep the body clean.

However, to equate the outer neatness and cleanliness with Inner Purity or Divine Life is rejected by the Gurbani.

Because, it is nothing but trickery of the mind ridden with Pakhand, foolishness, illusion, doubt (ਭਰਮ), deception, falsehood, utter ignorance of the Way of the SGGS or the Gurbani’s Wisdom.

  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਲਗੀ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੈ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਮਲਿ ਮਲਿ ਧੋਵੈ ॥: (But he is) unaware of the inner filth staining (his mind), (while he) ties and tries to wash off the outer (dirt of the body). (sggs 139).
  • ਜਿਨ ਕੈ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਕਪਟੁ ਹੈ ਬਾਹਰੁ ਧੋਵਾਇਆ ॥ ਕੂੜੁ ਕਪਟੁ ਕਮਾਵਦੇ ਕੂੜੁ ਪਰਗਟੀ ਆਇਆ ॥: Those whose hearts are filled with the filth of deception, wash themselves on the outside. They practice falsehood and deception (in daily life), and their falsehood becomes apparent. (sggs 1243).

Such trickery of the Mayaic mind is out-rightly rejected by Baabaa Nanak in the outset of the SGGS.

  • ਭਰੀਐ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਪਾ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਪੈ ਨਾਵੈ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ ॥: But when the intellect is stained and polluted by sin (acting opposite to the Wisdom, Virtues…), it can only be cleansed (internal cleanliness) by the Love of the Divine Naam (Giaan or Divine Wisdom, Virtues, Truth, Shabad…). (sggs 4).

The Gurbani is “Brahm Beechaar” (“ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰ”). There is no place for Karamkaand (rituals) in Brahm-Vichaar (Reflections on the Universal Energy or Rabb).

  • ਲੋਗੁ ਜਾਨੈ ਇਹੁ ਗੀਤੁ ਹੈ ਇਹੁ ਤਉ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥: People think that the (Gur-Shabad) is (an ordinary) song, but it is a “Brahm Beechaar”. (sggs 335).

Those who think otherwise apparently take the Gur-Shabad to be just a song or “ਗੀਤੁ” — who either don’t understand the Gurbani, or don’t want to understand it, or don’t consider SGGS as their Guru (Giaan-Guru…). 

Furthermore, apparently, such people blindly follow the manufactured stories (ਗੱਪ ਕਹਾਣੀਆਂ) or Karamkaand (rituals) propagated by the illiterate and greedy Pujaaree-groups or the Pujaaree system, which has assertively been rejected in the Gurbani by all the Gurus and the Bhagats centuries ago…).

In the following verses, Baabaa Nanak says: (1) Chully for a Wise person consists of the Divine Wisdom or Knowledge (Brahm Vichaar…); (2)  Chully for a Yogi is Jatt (freedom from Bikaar, self-control…); (3) Chully for a Brahman is contentment; (4) Chully for a householder is remaining truthful and generous; (5) Chully for a king (ruler, leader…) is justice for all; and (6) Chully for an educated or a learned person is Reflection on Truth.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਚੁਲੀਆ ਸੁਚੀਆ ਜੇ ਭਰਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਸੁਰਤੇ ਚੁਲੀ ਗਿਆਨ ਕੀ ਜੋਗੀ ਕਾ ਜਤੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਣ ਚੁਲੀ ਸੰਤੋਖ ਕੀ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਕਾ ਸਤੁ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਰਾਜੇ ਚੁਲੀ ਨਿਆਵ ਕੀ ਪੜਿਆ ਸਚੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥: Nanak chullyaa sucheeaa jae Bhar jaanai koi… (sggs 1240).

Thus, in nutshell, washing, Ishanaan (bathing), Chully, etc., as recommended in the Gurbani is of the mind, for the mind, and by the mind!

  • ਹਰਿ ਜਲੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਮਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੀ ਮਜਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਭਾਈ ॥: Hari (Naam: Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) is the immaculate Water; the mind that has bathed (in this immaculate Water of Hari Naam, such Ishnan) bath  is pleasing to the Satiguru. (sggs 505).

Only such washing, Ishanaan (bathing), Chully, etc., can bring the inner purity (Divine Life, Gurmukh Lifestyle – ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਿਚ ਸੁੱਚ …)!

Therefore, the Gurbani has painstakingly explained the need to understand the difference between one’s external or gross body (“ਬਿਦੇਹੀ”-Bidehee; Pindaa-ਪਿੰਡਾ…), and the Inner body (i.e., mind, “ਦੇਹੀ ਗੁਪਤ”-Gupat Dehee or Kaaiaa, subtle body…). The external body has a temporary existence.

  • ਦੇਹੀ ਗੁਪਤ ਬਿਦੇਹੀ ਦੀਸੈ ॥: Dehee (ਦੇਹੀ – subtle body within) is hidden; Bidehee (ਬਿਦੇਹੀ – gross, external body) is seen (sggs 900).

Upon dying in Shabad, it Awakens to Wisdom transcending Maya or duality, Bikaar, worries, disaster, calamity, violence, distress, tumult, etc. 

  • ਸਹਸੈ ਜੀਉ ਮਲੀਣੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਤੁ ਸੰਜਮਿ ਧੋਤਾ ਜਾਏ ॥ ਮੰਨੁ ਧੋਵਹੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਲਾਗਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਉ ਰਹਹੁ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ: So long the mind is in the grip of ਸਹਿਮ (doubt, worry, skepticism, etc., born of from our love for Maya), it is rendered filthy. By no ਸੰਜਮਿ (Jugati – external tact, skill, device, knack, etc.) this filth of the mind can be cleansed. Attach yourself to the Shabad (Gur-Giaan…), continue to fix your consciousness on Hari (-Naam: Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…), and (like this) wash your mind (sggs 919).

Then he knows what the true ‘Chully’ is, which brings about purity of the mind (thinking), Aatmak, or Gurmukh Lifestyle, Wisdom (Amrit-Giaan) and Virtues (ਗੁਣ) — Truth (ਸਤ), honesty (ਇਮਾਨਦਾਰੀ), contentment (ਸੰਤੋਖ), mercy (ਦਯਾ), patience (ਧੀਰਜ), Sahaj (ਸਹਜ-Natural State of Being), Wisdom (ਗਿਆਨ), humility (ਮਨ ਨਿਮਾਣਾ, ਬੁਧਿ ਗਰੀਬੀ), sweat speech (ਮਿਠ ਬੋਲੜਾ) …

  • ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਭਾਗਹੀਨ ਮਤਿ ਫੀਕੇ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੁਨਤ ਆਵੈ ਮਨਿ ਰੋਹੈ ॥ ਕਊਆ ਕਾਗ ਕਉ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਰਸੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤੈ ਵਿਸਟਾ ਖਾਇ ਮੁਖਿ ਗੋਹੈ ॥੩॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸਤਿਵਾਦੀ ਜਿਤੁ ਨਾਤੈ ਕਊਆ ਹੰਸੁ ਹੋਹੈ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਧਨੁ ਧੰਨੁ ਵਡੇ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਮਲੁ ਧੋਹੈ ॥੪॥੨॥: Evil-minded are unfortunate, they remain shallow-minded, and they feel anger in their minds, when they hear the Naam, (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…). You may place Amrit before a crow and a raven, but they will be satisfied only by eating excrement (ਗੰਦਗੀ). ||3||  The true speaking Satguru (i.e., True Giaan or Knowledge) is the “Amrit Saru” (the pool of Giaan-Amrit); bathing within it, the crow-like  (MIND) becomes a swan-like (i.e., pure, enlightened, virtuous, etc.). O Nanak! Those people are blessed and fortunate who wash away the filth of their Heart with the Naam (Wisdom, Truth, Virtues…) obtained through the Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS). ||4||2|| (sggs 493).

Simply put: For a Sikh (student, learner or ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ of the SGGS), the Wisdom of the Gurmat is the Way of life.

10 replies on “Chully – Handful Of Water”

Dear T. Singh,

I googled “vital breath” and ended up on your article on vital breath on this website. I am no Sikh and never heard of the sacred scripts and teachings you refer too. My spiritual teacher is Nisargadatta Maharaj. It was pure joy to read your teachings on vital breath. They totally match with those of Nisargadatta Maharaj and other profound teachings I received through my life. The joy lies in the universality of all true and ultimate teachings – they never clash, never argue – simply the same beautiful flower described in different poetic words and languages. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You brought me closer to the true purpose of life. May god bless you.

Thanks for sharing such nice vichaars….With waheguru kirpa, I am doing paath and daily going to gurudwara for last 15 years. I am an engineer by profession and yet to marry…

Since last 4 months, I started suffering from this OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)…lots of hand washing, lots of mouth washing..using so much soap.. repeating gurbani hymns again & again thinking that i missed the last line or pronounced it wrong….and its really taking a toll at my life, my mental peace… with god’s grace, even then somehow waheguru is making me do morning and evening nitnem and visit gurudwra sahib daily….but this ocd is ruining my life…

And my issue is i don’t have that much ocd in my normal life…almost all of ocd starts with paath and gurudwara sahib…in my mind, always, there is a feeling now, that mere kolon guru and gurbani ch kitte koi galti na ho jaye….

Now i am so fearing that i start from home by properly washing hands and mouth (kurla) 10-15 times….and after going to gurudwara sahib, i am again doing it…once, i almost cried…as others went straight to darbar sahib without any hand or mouth washing….and here i am, washing and washing hands & mouth for many minutes…am getting tortured daily…5 min di ardass karan nun kayi vaar 20 min lag rahe ne…my normal life, my job, my family all is suffering… and i know what i am doing is wrong….maybe your blog above will help me…

Many Thanks Bhai Sahib K. Singh Ji for taking the time to respond! Welcome to the Gurbani Blog Ji!

Since water cannot wash the mind (“ਪਾਣੀ ਚਿਤੁ ਨ ਧੋਪਈ”), the Gurbani wants us to remember this:
• ਬਾਹਰਿ ਮਲੁ ਧੋਵੈ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਜੂਠਿ ਨ ਜਾਏ ॥ (sggs 88).
• ਮਨਿ ਮੈਲੈ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਮੈਲਾ ਤਨਿ ਧੋਤੈ ਮਨੁ ਹਛਾ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ (sggs 558).
• ਸਹਸੈ ਜੀਉ ਮਲੀਣੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਤੁ ਸੰਜਮਿ ਧੋਤਾ ਜਾਏ ॥ ਮੰਨੁ ਧੋਵਹੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਲਾਗਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਉ ਰਹਹੁ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ: (sggs 919).

K Singh Ji, I feel your pain. Someone close to me suffered from paath-related OCD for a long time. Something that worked for her was this info I shared – Bhai Vir Singh Ji (the leading Sikh researcher and writer) was once asked as to how much ‘paath’ in a day did he recite. His answer: “Sometimes I don’t even get past Mool Mantar. I get so deeply engrossed in its veechaar that I lose track of time.” Point is Gurbani recitation is important but more important is its comprehension. After lots of persuasions, I could convince our monthly Sukhmani Sahib group to discuss the meaning of even one Ashtpadi rather than rapidly reciting entire paath in order to conclude it within an hour or so. Believe me when you dwell in Gurbani Veechaar, so many misgivings are automatically dispelled. Now the person with an OCD impact believes in discussing other paaths too – Like Japji Sahib, Rehraas Sahib etc.) My suggestion is – try discussing Gurbani Meanings .. even maybe with just one partner. Gurbani repeatedly stresses on getting rid of rituals and rather indulging in its comprehension- and as amply explained by Bhai T Singh Ji, Gurbani stresses on the importance of internal cleanliness and not the external one. I am sure with personal Indulgence in Gurbani Veechaar, your OCD will simply be eradicated. May Waheguru bless you.

Bhul Chuk Maaf.

Many thanks Veer Karamjeet Ji for taking the time to respond!

Bhai Vir Singh Ji (the leading Sikh researcher and writer) was once asked as to how much ‘paath’ in a day did he recite. His answer: “Sometimes I don’t even get past Mool Mantar. I get so deeply engrossed in its veechaar that I lose track of time.”

Thank you for sharing this!

Thanks for elaborating on the concept of Chulli as used in Gurbani.

I agree completely with you that the importance of external cleanliness can’t be denied ( common sense dictates that), but the real problem is that these external cleansing actions, for most of us, tend to be misconstrued as ‘necessary and sufficient’; thus presenting a slippery slope decending us down to a point where the need for internal cleanliness is deemed completely obliterate.

You are one hundred percent correct that Gurbani has attached paramount importance to the necessity of internal cleanliness. In fact the very first line of the very first pauri of the very first bani (Japji Sahib) in SGGS proclaims – Sochai Soch na hovaee, jay sochee lakh vaar (umpteen bathings will not make you clean). Similarly Sukhmani Sahib educates us by a similar advice – Soch karae dinas ur raat; Mann ki mael na tann te jaat (One may bathe day and night; the impurity of ‘mann’ can’t be eradicated merely by cleansing ‘tann’). Only if we could implement on us these teachings, we could truly understand the shallowness of the karamkands we so igorantly keep on executing day in and day out.

Bhul Chuk Maaf

With deep regards for your awakening endevour.

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