Crowd or mob mentality — also called herd or hive mentality — is the inclination and tendency of people to be part of a large group and fit into society, often neglecting their individual responsibility and accountability in the process, and adopting the behaviors and actions of the people around them.
Fear, greed, desires, ignorance, foolishness, bloated false ego-sense (Haumai), anger, hostility, heightened emotional state, political agenda or interests, dire economic conditions, Pakhand, falsehood etc. can lead to such mentality where humans flock like sheep and birds, subconsciously following or thinking and behaving in ways that conform with minority of individuals rather than as individuals.
That being said, if one follows a crowd, one can get no further than that crowd. In other words, if one follows the narrative set by a crowd, one will not be an original success! Also, since crowd does not think, right decisions cannot be made in crowds!
Here Bhagat Kabeer Ji talks about the path of the self serving Pujaaree (clergy: Granthis, Parcharaks, Ragis, Dhadees etc.) and the freeloading Deraa-Vaad Baabaas (ਵੇਹਲੜ) etc. Since the Pujaaree’s path of falsehood, Pakhand, Karamkaand etc. is easy and thus attractive, crowds of people follow it.
Since BECOMING THE GURBANI is difficult, the majority of us take the easy way out and walk behind the crowds. But this is not all Gurmat. Crowds (‘Baheer‘) always follow the path of Brahmanical rituals (Karamkaand) Bhagat Kabeer Ji says:
- ਕਬੀਰ ਜਿਹ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਗਏ ਪਾਛੈ ਪਰੀ ਬਹੀਰ ॥ ਇਕ ਅਵਘਟ ਘਾਟੀ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਤਿਹ ਚੜਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਕਬੀਰ ॥੧੬੫॥: O Kabeer! To follow ways of the enlightened beings, one must abandon the crowd (i.e. the stale and distorted path of falsehood, Pakhand, Karamkaand, superstitions…). There is a treacherous and rugged cliff on the way to becoming ‘Raam‘ (i.e. becoming Kartaa, Hari, divine, enlightened, spiritual being…); Kabeer is climbing that cliff (ALONE!). ||165|| (sggs 1373).
- ਭਗਤੀ ਨਾਮ ਵਿਹੂਣਿਆ ਆਵਹਿ ਵੰਞਹਿ ਪੂਰ ॥੩॥: Without ‘Bhagti Naam‘ (i.e. without Awakening of Wisdom / Virtues) crowds of people come into this world and depart from this world empty handed. ||3|| (sggs 47).
- ਓਹ ਰਲਾਈ ਕਿਸੈ ਦੀ ਨਾ ਰਲੈ ਜਿਸੁ ਰਾਵੇ ਸਿਰਜਨਹਾਰੁ ॥: One who is United with the Creator within, stands out and does not blend in with others. (sggs 786).
Also, the Gurbani (SSGS) tells us selfish people cannot be trusted. If one follows them, one will have to blindly agree with every nonsense, hidden agenda or selfish interests of such crowd.
- ਆਪਨ ਸੁਆਇ ਕਰਹਿ ਬਹੁ ਬਾਤਾ ਤਿਨਾ ਕਾ ਵਿਸਾਹੁ ਕਿਆ ਕੀਜੈ ॥੬॥: One who talks excessively but to suit ones own interests; how can such a person be trusted? ||6|| (sggs 1326).
Thus those who want to do something different and important in life, the first quality of them is that they separate themselves from the crowd. Instead, they choose their path apart from the crowd.
Aptly, the SGGS teaches us to discard the Pujaaree and thus walk away from the Pujaaree’s path and crowds that follow the Pujaaree. Instead, we are asked to become ‘PAARKHOO‘ — Appraiser: person of commonsense, logic, discerning intellect, Bibek Budh, Wisdom etc. In other words, instead of blindly following crowds or mobs, Sikhs (learners-ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ) are advised by the Gurbani to become Appraisers, rational thinker, and so on.
- ਪਾਰਖੀਆ ਵਥੁ ਸਮਾਲਿ ਲਈ ਗੁਰ ਸੋਝੀ ਹੋਈ ॥: Those Appraisers or ‘PAARKHOO‘ (persons of commonsense, logic, discerning intellect, Bibek Budh, Wisdom, appraiser…) of spiritual life who obtained the Understanding from the Guru, cherished the Wealth of Naam (Wisdom / Virtues). (sggs 425).
However, getting away from crowd-mentality is not easy and comfortable, particularly the path of the self-serving Pujaaree. As a result, people find it easier to imitate crowds and follow them — the path of Pakhand, hypocrisy, applause (praise, flattery…), desiring name and fame, fraud, self-glory, pretension, corruption, falsehood, deception, ostentatious show of religiosity, rituals or Karamkaand (formalities), pilgrimage, distorted and corrupted narratives of the self serving Pujaaree. The SGGS teaches us not to be lazy and not to accept narratives that are hurled at us repeatedly with brute force.
The Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ) is that following such path or crowd will never free anybody from foolishness, vices or Bikaar (i.e. lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride etc.), doubts (ਭਰਮ), Maya attachment., wrong resolutions, stubborn-mindedness, ignorance, fraud, false ego-sense or Haumai, ‘Parpanch’ (ਪਰਪੰਚ), blind faith (ਅੰਧ ਵਿਸ਼ਵਾਸ), and so on.
- ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ ਸਭ ਕਰੇ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੂਝ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥: The Manmukh does everything seeing (other people do, ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ, ਨਕਲ, ਦਿਖਾਵਾ…), but he (himself) has no understanding (he does not understand the true way of living. (sggs 28).
- ਜੇ ਜਾਣਸਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰ ਕਰਮੰ ॥ ਸਭਿ ਫੋਕਟ ਨਿਸਚਉ ਕਰਮੰ ॥: If (you) know the Way of the Brahm, (then you would) definitely know that all rituals are of no value. (sggs 1353).
- ਵਰਤ ਨੇਮੁ ਸੁਚ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਪੂਜਾ ਪਾਖੰਡਿ ਭਰਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥: (Mind’s) doubt does not depart with pomp or ostentation (Pakhand) such as ritualistic fasts, vows, (outer) purity, restraint and worship ceremonies. (sggs 1423).
- ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੇਖ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮਲੁ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਛਪਸਿ ਨਾਹਿ ਕਛੁ ਕਰੈ ਛਪਾਇਆ ॥: Outside (on his body) is the religious dress but in his mind is the filth of Maya (However, the filth of the mind) cannot be concealed by trying to conceal it with (outwardly wearing religious robes. (sggs 267).
- ਗਲੀ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਜਪਮਾਲੀਆ ਲੋਟੇ ਹਥਿ ਨਿਬਗ ॥ ਓਇ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਸੰਤ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ ॥੧॥: Who have rosaries around their necks, and glittering jugs in their hands, (just because of such religious paraphernalia) they should not be called the divine’s sant — they are thugs of Banaras (i.e., religious conmen, robbers, cheats…). (sggs 476).
In short, the path of Wisdom / Virtues is like walking on the razor’s edge, ‘sharper than a two-edged sword’ or like chewing steel balls with teeth of wax! As a result it does not attract crowds. Aptly, the Gurbani says only a ‘rare’ person Realizes Truth!
- ਮੁਠੜੇ ਸੇਈ ਸਾਥ ਜਿਨੀ ਸਚੁ ਨ ਲਦਿਆ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੇ ਸਾਬਾਸਿ ਜਿਨੀ ਗੁਰ ਮਿਲਿ ਇਕੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ ॥੨॥ : (In the journey of human life) looted are those caravans who have not loaded themselves with Truth. Nanak, blessed are those who by meeting the Guru and following his Giaan-Wisdom, have realized the One Creator. ||2|| (sggs 319).
- ਹਿਰਦੈ ਸਚੁ ਏਹ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਹੋਰੁ ਸਭੁ ਪਾਖੰਡੁ ਪੂਜ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥੬॥: Enshrine Truth (Naam, Shabad, divine Knowledge, Gurmat...) in your Heart; this is the most excellent action. Everything else is Pakhand (i.e. hypocrisy) and Poojaa (performed with Pakhand) brings only ruin (i.e. humiliation, botheration, torment, disgrace etc.). ||6|| (sggs 1343).
- ਭਗਤਾ ਕੀ ਚਾਲ ਨਿਰਾਲੀ ॥ ਚਾਲਾ ਨਿਰਾਲੀ ਭਗਤਾਹ ਕੇਰੀ ਬਿਖਮ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਚਲਣਾ ॥ ਲਬੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਤਜਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਬੋਲਣਾ ॥ ਖੰਨਿਅਹੁ ਤਿਖੀ ਵਾਲਹੁ ਨਿਕੀ ਏਤੁ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਜਾਣਾ ॥: The lifestyle of Bhagat (Daas, Jan , Gurmukh…) is unique (extraordinary…). The lifestyle of Bhagat is Unique, for they follow the most difficult Way of life. (That is, they reform themselves by) renouncing greed, avarice, pride, desire and excessive talkativeness etc. This Way of life they take is sharper than a two-edged sword, and finer than a hair (i.e., very difficult). (sggs 918).
- ਜਹ ਆਵਟੇ ਬਹੁਤ ਘਨ ਸਾਥ ॥ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਕੇ ਸੰਗੀ ਸਾਧ ॥੩॥ : That way of life in which many caravans of (spiritually dead) human beings are subjected to great pain and suffering, while the seekers remain connected with God (they do not suffer because of this). ||3|| (sggs 393).
Also the nature, thinking, habit etc. of a person immersed in worldliness is contrary to that of a Bhagt or Bhagti. Accordingly, the Gurbani reminds us that there can never be a ‘Jorr-ਜੋੜੁ’ (meeting of minds, connection etc.) between a worldly person and a Bhagat (who is engaged in the Gurmat-Bhagti)! As a result, Bhagats (Daas, Jan, Gurmukh Mindsets) are always ALONE.
- ਭਗਤਾ ਤੈ ਸੈਸਾਰੀਆ ਜੋੜੁ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥: There can never be true alliance or connection (of nature, thinking, habits etc.) between the Bhagats (Gurmukh, Daas, Jan etc.) and the worldly people. (sggs 145).
Aptly, the Gurbni asserts Bhagats or Enlightened beings are very ‘rare‘ in this world. Because, the challenges in this quest (the Way of Sach-ਸਚ, Truth…) are many and need courage to surmount them. It’s a uphill climb!
- ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਪਾਵੈ ਜਨੁ ਕੋਈ ॥੧॥: A rare ‘Janu’ (Gurmukh, Bhagat, Daas…) obtains the ‘Gurmati Bhagti‘ (understanding of the Gur-Shabad, Naam, Hukam…) ||1|| (sggs 879).
As the Gurbani asserts, they are ‘rare’ because rest of us who follow the Pujaaree’s path and crowds only know the way of ‘Phaasan Kee Bidhi-ਫਾਸਨ ਕੀ ਬਿਧਿ — the way to get trapped)!
To the contrary, the Gurbani reveals that a very ‘rare’ one knows the Way of ‘Chhootan-ਛੂਟਨ‘ — the Way to be freed from vices and become Living Liberated (JeevanMukat) etc.
- ਫਾਸਨ ਕੀ ਬਿਧਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਊ ਜਾਨੈ ਛੂਟਨ ਕੀ ਇਕੁ ਕੋਈ ॥: (Wherever you see) everyone knows the way to be trapped, but hardly anyone knows how to be Freed. (sggs 331).
- ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਨੀ ਹਾਂ ॥ ਜਪੀਐ ਸਹਜ ਧੁਨੀ ਹਾਂ ॥ ਸਾਧੂ ਰਸਨ ਭਨੀ ਹਾਂ ॥ ਛੂਟਨ ਬਿਧਿ ਸੁਨੀ ਹਾਂ ॥ ਪਾਈਐ ਵਡ ਪੁਨੀ ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : (O my mind!) God who is the possessor of all Virtues, should be Realized immersed in ‘Sahaj Dhun’ (Enlightened State of the Mind, Natural state of Being etc.). Taking the shelter of the Shabad Guru (i.e. Giaan–Wisdom), repeat it (i.e. live it in daily life). Listen, this is the only Way to escape (vices or Bikaar). O my mind, through (a spiritual life of) Virtuous or Noble deeds one learns about this Way. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 409).
In short, the path of falsehood, Pakhand etc. or to follow crowds is a ‘Phaasan Kee Bidhi‘ while the Gurmat is a ‘Chhootan Bidhi‘.
- ਸੰਤ ਜਨਹੁ ਸੁਣਿ ਭਾਈਹੋ ਛੂਟਨੁ ਸਾਚੈ ਨਾਇ ॥ : O my seeker (Satsangee) brothers listen! Our release (from the vices or Bikaar) happens only by Naam (Wisdom / Virtues). (sggs 52).
Therefore, the spiritual Message of the Shabad time and again asks us to give up the path of Pakhand or falsehood. Because, Bhagati — living Divine Life of Wisdom / Virtues — cannot be practiced through Pakhand etc.:
- ਪਾਖੰਡਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥: Through hypocrisy, Bhagti cannot be done, and Paarbrahm is not Realized (sggs 849).
Bhai Gurdas calls this herd mentality in his Vaar as ‘cawing’ of a horde of crows (‘ਕਾਵਾਂ ਰੌਲਾ‘-Kaavaan Rolaa). Furthermore, in the last verse, Bhai Gurdas calls it the gathering of the ‘fool‘ (ਮੂਰਖੁ–Moorakh)!
- ਠੰਢੇ ਖੂਹਹੁੰ ਨ੍ਹਾਇ ਕੈ ਪਗ ਵਿਸਾਰਿ ਆਇਆ ਸਿਰਿ ਨੰਗੈ। ਘਰ ਵਿਚਿ ਰੰਨਾ ਕਮਲੀਆਂ ਧੁਸੀ ਲੀਤੀ ਦੇਖਿ ਕੁਢੰਗੈ। ਰੰਨਾ ਦੇਖਿ ਪਿਟੰਦੀਆ ਢਾਹਾਂ ਮਾਰੈਂ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਸੰਗੈ। ਲੋਕ ਸਿਆਪੇ ਆਇਆ ਰੰਨਾ ਪੁਰਸ ਜੁੜੇ ਲੈ ਪੰਗੈ। ਨਾਇਣ ਪੁਛਦੀ ਪਿਟਦੀਆਂ ਕਿਸ ਦੈ ਨਾਇ ਅਲ੍ਹਾਣੀ ਅੰਗੈ। ਸਹੁਰੇ ਪੁਛਹ ਜਾਇ ਕੈ ਕਉਣ ਮੁਆ ਨੂਹ ਉਤਰੁ ਮੰਗੈ। ਕਾਵਾਂ ਰੌਲਾ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਸੰਗੈ ॥੧੯॥ : Having taken bath on the well, a person forgot his turban and returned home bare headed. Seeing his improper conduct (of being bare headed) the silly women started weeping and wailing (without questing, seeing master of the house without turban they conjectured the death of some one in the family). Seeing the weeping women, others too, began mourning. Men and women gathered and sitting in lines started condoling with the family. Now the professional Wailer woman who leads the mourning on occasions asked as to who is to be wept and whose dirge she should lead, i.e. what is the name of the dead. The daughter-in-law of family hinted towards father-in-law to elicit answer of this question (because he was found bare headed). The daughter-in-law of family hinted towards father-in-law to elicit answer of this question (because he was found bare headed. Then the fact was disclosed by him that he just forgot to wear turban!). In the gathering of the fool such cawing takes place (because crows also listening to one voice start cawing jointly). (Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 32, Paouri 19).