Darkness and Light

If there is light, darkness departs immediately. But, if there is no light, darkness appears instantly.

However, if there is no darkness, we will not know the greatness of the light!

From a Spiritual standpoint, what is this ‘darkness’, and ‘light’ talked about in the Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, Sikhiaa, Upadesh or Way of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS)?


In nutshell, from a Spiritual standpoint, darkness symbolizes spiritual ignorance, Raajas and Taamas qualities, Manmukh-hood, body-consciousness, doubt-ridden state, rule of Haumai (false ego-sense), Mayaic consciousness etc.

  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰੁ ਹੈ ਸੁਧਿ ਨ ਕਾਈ ਪਾਇ ॥: (Manmukh) is filled with the darkness of ignorance, (for this reason, he) does not understand anything (sggs 667).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਕੋਠੀ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਤਿਨ ਘਰਿ ਰਤਨੁ ਨ ਲਾਖਾ ॥: In the Hearts of the Manmukh (self-willed…) is the darkness of ignorance; (this is the reason, they have never) seen the Jewel of Naam in their Hearts (sggs 696).

In this darkness of ignorance (‘ਅਗਿਆਨੁ – Agiaanu‘) we function with an arrogant sense of false ego-sense (Haume) – the Manmukh lifestyle. Which sinks us in the ocean of suffering (Dukha).

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅਗਿਆਨੀ ਮਹਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਦੇ ਡੁਬੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿ ॥: Forgetting the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues…), the ignorant Manmukh persons suffer great pain and are drowned (in Bhav Saagar). (sggs 89).

In the darkness of ignorance, we identify with the body-consciousness instead of our Mool (Truth, Jot Saroop or True Nature…). Thus, our identification with the physical body-frame creates non-apprehension of the Reality, which in turn, creates in us the misapprehension (ignorance) that we are the finite beings as opposed to Jot Saroop. Doubt (Bharam) and duality (Doojaa Bhaav) thus created become wall between us and our Mool within. This is the blind well of Spiritual ignorance the Gurbani so much talk about.

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਕੇ ਜੋ ਅਧਿਕਾਈ ਵਿਚਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਚੈ ਪਚੀਜੈ ॥ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰੁ ਮਹਾ ਪੰਥੁ ਬਿਖੜਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਿ ਭਾਰਿ ਲਦਿ ਲੀਜੈ ॥: Those who are entirely in love with Maya, rot away in Maya (consumed by the hunger or desires of Maya…). (For such person) the Spiritual ignorance becomes darkness and (in that darkness, he) remains strayed on the path (of his life, because he ever remains) loaded with the load of egotism (sggs 1326).


On the other hand, from a Spiritual standpoint, light symbolizes Wisdom, Aatam-Giaan, Gur-Giaan or Knowledge), ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ ਦਾ ਚਾਨਣ…

  • ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਦੀਪਕ ਉਜਿਆਰੀਆ ॥੧॥: The Gur-Wisdom is the Lamp that Enlightens (the mind). ||1|| (sggs 210).
  • ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਪਰਗਾਸੁ ॥: By the Gurmat (Giaan or Wisdom, Sikhiaa, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS), recognize your ownself; the Divine Light of the Divine Naam comes to shine within (sggs 86).
  • ਭਇਓ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸੁ ਸਰਬ ਉਜੀਆਰਾ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਮਨਹਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਾਇਓ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਪੀਓ ਮਨੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਿਆ ਅਨਭੈ ਠਹਰਾਇਓ ॥੨॥: When the Guru’s Spiritual Wisdom awakened in my mind , then the Divine Light illuminated within me, and I see that Divine Light everywhere. By quaffing the Amrit (Giaan) my mind is satisfied and my fears are stilled. ||2|| (sggs 209).
  • ਮੰਦਰਿ ਮੇਰੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਉਜਾਰਾ ॥: In the temple of my Heart, shines the Light of the Shabad (i.e., the Divine Knowledge of the Shabad…). (sggs 384).

Just as when the dirt is removed, the real substance is made manifest; just as when the darkness of the night is dispelled by the light of the sun, the objects that were shrouded by the darkness are clearly seen; similarly, when darkness of ignorance of the Mool within (Truth, Jot Saroop or True Nature…) is dispelled with the Light of the Divine Knowledge, the Truth is realized.

This Gur-Giaan (Wisdom) annihilates the darkness of ignorance and helps the doubt-ridden mind realize its Mool within. In other words, Aatm-Giaan (Wisdom) is the mean for liberation from the darkness of ignorance of our True Nature (Jot Saroop). With the dawn of the Aatm-Giaan obtained through churning the Gurbani via Shabad-Vichaar, we can realize that our Jot Saroop (our True Nature) alone is Real and all else is fleeting (Koorh).

Couple of examples may help us further understand this. In the darkness, a rope laying on the ground may be mistaken for a snake. We know that the rope alone is real, not a snake. However, the non-apprehension of the rope gives rise to the misapprehension of a snake. Once the darkness is removed, the rope alone remains; its misapprehension as a snake disappears. Similarly, for a gold-bracelet to think it is separate from the gold shows nothing but ignorance of its own nature, which is but gold. The Gurbani explains all this:

  • ਰਾਜ ਭੁਇਅੰਗ ਪ੍ਰਸੰਗ ਜੈਸੇ ਹਹਿ ਅਬ ਕਛੁ ਮਰਮੁ ਜਨਾਇਆ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਕਟਕ ਜੈਸੇ ਭੂਲਿ ਪਰੇ ਅਬ ਕਹਤੇ ਕਹਨੁ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੩॥: As is the story of the rope and the snake (i.e., rope mistaken for a snake in darkness), some mystery has now been explained (to me). Like the many bracelets (made of gold), which were mistakenly thought (of separate or different from the gold); now, (I) do not say that (sggs 658).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਬਾਣਿ ਬਜਰ ਕਲ ਛੇਦੀ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਿਆ ਪਦੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਾ ॥ ਸਕਤਿ ਅਧੇਰ ਜੇਵੜੀ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਚੂਕਾ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਸਿਵ ਘਰਿ ਬਾਸਾ ॥: The Gur-arrow (of Wisdom or Giaan) has pierced the dark state (of my mind -imaginations, ਫੁਰਨੇ…) and the state of illumination (light of Wisdom) has dawned upon me. In the darkness of Maya, I mistook the rope for the snake, but that is over, and now I dwell in the Home (within – state of ever Bliss, Jot Saroop…). (sggs 332).

Light removes darkness

To say it otherwise, the darkness or ignorance signifies man’s bonds (of Maya), or trapped state etc. The Light or Knowledge refers to liberation from these bonds (‘Bandhan-ਬੰਧਨ’) and traps. In other words, the contrast between Light and darkness is symbolical of the Giaan or Knowledge (Gurmukh Lifestyle), and ignorance is symbolical of degradation of the mind or lack of Spiritual Unfoldment (Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree lifestyle).

  • ਕਾਮਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧਿ ਲੋਭਿ ਮੋਹਿ ਮਨੁ ਲੀਨਾ ॥ ਬੰਧਨ ਕਾਟਿ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਗੁਰਿ ਕੀਨਾ ॥੨॥: (O my mind! the human) mind remains engrossed in lust, anger, greed, attachment (i.e. all Bikaar). Breaking my bonds (of these Bikaar), the Guru (the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom)has liberated me. ||2|| (sggs 804).
  • ਬੰਧਨਿ ਬਾਧਿਓ ਮਾਇਆ ਫਾਸ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਛੂਟੈ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਗਾਸ ॥੪॥੧੪॥੩੪॥ : (Mortal) remains entrapped in Maya’s bond and noose. O Jan Nanak! he is released becoming enlightened by the Gur-Giaan (Wisdom). (sggs 162).

The SGGS is the Giaan-Guru (Giaan = Knowledge), the darkness of ignorance can be removed with the Light of the Gur-Shabad (Wisdom, Aatam-Giaan, the Divine Knowledge, Upadesh…). The SGGS tells us this is the purpose of the human birth!

  • ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਮਿਟਿ ਗਇਆ ਗੁਰ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਚਰਾਗੁ ॥: The Gur-Wisdom is (akin to) the kindled lamp that dispels darkness of ignorance (from within) (sggs 849).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਪਛਾਣੀਐ ਹਰਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪ੍ਰਚੰਡੁ ਬਲਾਇਆ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਜਾਇ ॥੨॥: By becoming the Gurmukh Shabad is realized; (and who realizes becomes) immersed in the Amrit-Naam. (Whosoever within) has lit the bright (Light or Lamp of) Gur-Giaan or Spiritual Wisdom, (from within him) the darkness of ignorance gets dispelled ||2|| (sggs 29).
  • ਗਿਆਨ ਅੰਜਨੁ ਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਆ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਅੰਧੇਰ ਬਿਨਾਸੁ ॥: The Guru has given the collyrium of Spiritual Wisdom, (by which) the darkness of ignorance is destroyed (sggs 293).

Also, with the Grace of this Gur-Giaan (Wisdom of the SGGS…), doubt is annihilated.

  • ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ਭਰਮ ਕਾ ਨਾਸੁ ॥: By the Grace of the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom, doubt is dispelled. (sggs 294).

Simply put: The Gurmukh-hood (the Divine Lifestyle…) is Light; and the Manmukh-hood (Saakat-Mayadhaaree lifestyle…) is darkness. And the Gurbani wants us to become the Gurmukh! Not easy at all, it’s an uphill climb — it needs sincere efforts!

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਮੁਗਧੁ ਗੁਬਾਰੁ ॥: The Gurmukh Knows the Divine Light, while the foolish Manmukh gropes around in the darkness of ignorance (sggs 20).
  • ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ਅਕਲਿ ਭਈ ਅਵਰੈ ਨਾਤਰੁ ਥਾ ਬੇਗਾਨਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: By the Grace of the Gur-Giaan (i.e., by the Grace of the Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad, now my), intellect has changed or become different, otherwise (i.e., before this shift, I) was quite ignorant (sggs 333).

Hence, the Gurbani urges us to bring about a storm of Wisdom in life. For this storm of Wisdom will lead to Mool-abidance by destroying the ignorance (Durmat or evil mindedness, Bharam or doubt, Abidiaa or false knowledge/Maya etc.).

  • ਦੇਖੌ ਭਾਈ ਗ੍ਹਾਨ ਕੀ ਆਈ ਆਂਧੀ ॥ ਸਭੈ ਉਡਾਨੀ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੀ ਟਾਟੀ ਰਹੈ ਨ ਮਾਇਆ ਬਾਂਧੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Behold, O brother! (When) the storm of Spiritual Wisdom comes, (then) the thatched hut of doubt gets blown away; supported by bonds of Maya (this thatched hut of doubt) cannot continue to remain behind (the storm of Spiritual Wisdom or Aatam-Giaan). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 331).
  • ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪ੍ਰਚੰਡੁ ਬਲਾਇਆ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਜਾਇ ॥੨॥: (Whosoever within) has lit the bright (Light or Lamp of) Gur-Giaan or Spiritual Wisdom, (from within him) the darkness of ignorance gets dispelled ||2|| (sggs 29).


  1. “ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰੂ” => indicates singular entity………………………Fully agreed but one can see
    that here “ਸਬਦੁ is being refered as
    Since the word ਗੁਰੂ” is the original word from SANSKRIT where its grammar is very clearly given as SINGULAR(TWIN NUMBERS) /DWEE VACHAN means this word gives the meaning of two things together as a pair. And it is this context whereby the word ਗੁਰੂ” is found written as
    ਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ.
    So in Gurbanee there are three types of wordsas
    One can also observe that the word ਗੁਰ as PLURAL is common for both SINGULAR words
    ਗੁਰੂ and ਗੁਰੁ accordingly we come across Quotes mentioning these as ਗੁਰੂ–ਗੁਰ and ਗੁਰੁ -ਗੁਰ.
    So I think it is necessary to see and understand the relation ship between these three word ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰੁ and …ਗੁਰ

  2. It is obvious that the quotes above do not clarify the grammar of the word ਗੁਰੂ as such.

    Please pay close attention:
    “ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰੂ” => indicates singular entity => Shabad-Guroo, Divine Hukam…
    “ਸਿਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ” => indicates singular entity => Shabad-Guroo, Divine Hukam…

    Now as I am graced for this understanding I find the word ਗੁਰੂ is SINGULAR…

    You are blessed! Just curious, how come you did not see grammar in the quoted verses!

    can be seen in the Bani of Bhats SWAAIAE M 4th Ke

    ” This quote ਸਿਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ…” is from “the Bani of Bhats SWAAIAE M 4th Ke”!!!!!!

    It is obvious that the quotes above do not clarify the grammar of the word ਗੁਰੂ as such.
    It is important to know whether this word ਗੁਰੂ is SINGUL:AR (SINGLE NUMBER) or PLURAL(MANY NUMBERS). This understanding is of utmost importance.
    Now as I am graced for this understanding I find the word ਗੁਰੂ is SINGULAR (TWIN NUMBERS).This word ਗੁਰੂ gives the meanings to a pair of two words as (ਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ) so
    the word ਗੁਰੂ is related to ਗੁਰੁ as ਗੁਰੁ as ell as as a pair ਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ
    Such clarification can be seen in the Bani of Bhats SWAAIAE M 4th Ke

  4. the grammar of the word ਗੁਰੂ is not clarified any where.

    In that case, turn to the Gurbai – search the Gurbani through the Gurbani.

    “ਰਾਮਕਲੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ਸਿਧ ਗੋਸਟਿ” ਨਾਮਕ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਦੀ ੪੩ਵੀ ਪੌੜੀ ਦੇ ਇਕ ਸਵਾਲ – Question:
    • ਤੇਰਾ ਕਵਣੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਤੂ ਚੇਲਾ ॥ (sggs 943).
    Baabaa Nanak’s answer:
    • ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਧੁਨਿ ਚੇਲਾ ॥ (sggs 943).

    Also, from the Gurbani:
    • ਸਿਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸਭ ਊਪਰਿ ॥ ਕਰੀ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਸਤਜੁਗਿ ਜਿਨਿ ਧ੍ਰੂ ਪਰਿ ॥ (sggs 1401).

    The Gurbani is full of many more related verses, but all cannot be given from a space point of view.
    Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio!

    If ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਗੁਰ, ਗੁਰੁ ਅਤੇ ਗੁਰੂ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਇੱਕ ਹੀ ਅਰਥ ਵਿੱਚ ਆਏ ਹਨ but my views are different as
    1..These are three DISTINCT words with different Grammar so in this considerations these three words must have different reference meanings.
    2..There is a strong inter relationship between these three words which gives different understanding of Gurbanee for true and correct meanings
    I have listened to complete set of grammar courses one can find that the word
    ਗੁਰੁ …is SINGULAR as Masculine Gender
    ਗੁਰ…is PLURAL as Masculine Gender but
    the grammar of the word ਗੁਰੂ is not clarified any where.
    Thus knowing the grammar of the word ਗੁਰੂ can be a very important point in getting the correct understanding of Gurbanee.

  6. ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਗੁਰ, ਗੁਰੁ ਅਤੇ ਗੁਰੂ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਇੱਕ ਹੀ ਅਰਥ ਵਿੱਚ ਆਏ ਹਨ, ਯਥਾ- “ਗੁਰੁ ਅਪਨੇ ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ.” (ਸੋਰ ਮ;੫) “ਸੁਖਸਾਗਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਇਆ” (ਸੋਰ ਮ; ੫) “ਅਪਨਾ ਗੁਰੂ ਧਿਆਏ”(ਸੋਰ ਮ; ੫) ੨) ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਸਿਖÎਾ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਲਾ ਆਚਾਰਯ। ੩) ਮਤ ਦਾ ਆਚਾਰਯ. ਕਿਸੇ ਮਤ ਦੇ ਚਲਾਉਣ ਵਾਲਾ
    ੪) ਪਤਿ. ਭਰਤਾ “ਸੋਭਾਵੰਤੀ ਸੋਹਾਗਣੀ ਜਿਨਿ ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਹੇਤ ਅਪਾਰੁ.” (ਸ੍ਰੀ ਮ; ੩)
    ੫) ਅੰਤਹਕਰਣ, ਮਨ “ਕੁੰਭੇ ਬਧਾ ਜਲੁ ਰਹੈ, ਜਲੁ ਬਿਨੁ ਕੁੰਭ ਨ ਹੋਇ। ਗਿਆਨ ਕਾ ਬਧਾ ਮਨੁ ਰਹੈ,
    ਗੁਰ (ਮਨ) ਬਿਨੁ ਗਿਆਨ ਨ ਹੋਇ.” ੬) ਪੂਜਯ ੭) ਵਡਾ, ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ. – Bhai Kahn Singh Ji.

  7. It is observed that there are three distinct words in the above message
    2..ਗੁਰੁ and
    It is important to understand the true and correct grammatical reference meanings of these three words.We generally do not differentiate the meanings of these words.

  8. More on Guru – “ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਘੋਰੁ ਅੰਧਾਰੁ”

    ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਘੋਰੁ ਅੰਧਾਰੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਮਝ ਨ ਆਵੈ ॥: Gur Bin Ghor Andhhaar Guroo Bin Samajh N Aavai || ਸਵਈਏ ਮਹਲੇ ਚਉਥੇ ਕੇ (ਭਟ ਨਲ੍ਯ੍ਯ) ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ : ਅੰਗ ੧੩੯੯ ਪੰ. ੧੬

    ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਨ ਸਿਧਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਬਿਨੁ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਪਾਵੈ ॥: Gur Bin Surath N Sidhh Guroo Bin Mukath N Paavai ||

    ਗੁਰੁ ਕਰੁ ਸਚੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਕਰੁ ਰੇ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ॥:Gur Kar Sach Beechaar Guroo Kar Rae Man Maerae ||

    ਗੁਰੁ ਕਰੁ ਸਬਦ ਸਪੁੰਨ ਅਘਨ ਕਟਹਿ ਸਭ ਤੇਰੇ ॥:Gur Kar Sabadh Sapunn Aghan Kattehi Sabh Thaerae ||

    ਗੁਰੁ ਨਯਣਿ ਬਯਣਿ ਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਕਰਹੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਤਿ ਕਵਿ ਨਲ੍ਯ੍ਯ ਕਹਿ ॥: Gur Nayan Bayan Gur Gur Karahu Guroo Sath Kav Naly Kehi ||

    ਜਿਨਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਨ ਦੇਖਿਅਉ ਨਹੁ ਕੀਅਉ ਤੇ ਅਕਯਥ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਮਹਿ ॥੪॥੮॥: Jin Guroo N Dhaekhiao Nahu Keeao Thae Akayathh Sansaar Mehi ||4||8||

  9. Let us check ourselves every day if our eyes are opening to that light. Closed eyes will not see the light.

    Thank you Dr. Sahib Jio for sharing the Shabad-Vichaar!
    • ਬੰਦੇ ਖੋਜੁ ਦਿਲ ਹਰ ਰੋਜ ਨਾ ਫਿਰੁ ਪਰੇਸਾਨੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ (sggs 727).
    • ਦੇਖਹੁ ਪਸਾਰਿ ਨੈਨ ਸੁਨਹੁ ਸਾਧੂ ਕੇ ਬੈਨ ਪ੍ਰਾਨਪਤਿ ਚਿਤਿ ਰਾਖੁ ਸਗਲ ਹੈ ਮਰਨਾ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ (sggs 678).
    • ਮਨ ਕੀ ਪਤ੍ਰੀ ਵਾਚਣੀ ਸੁਖੀ ਹੂ ਸੁਖੁ ਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਸੋ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਭਲਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿ ਬੂਝੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ (sggs 1093).
    • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਆਪਾ ਚੀਨੈ ਮਿਟੈ ਨ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੀ ਕਾਈ ॥ (sggs 684).


    Gur here is Gurbani – “Gurbani eis jag mein chanan”.

  11. Thank you for putting it together. Actually Guru literately means the light that shines to remove darkness. Let us check ourselves every day if our eyes are opening to that light. Closed eyes will not see the light.

  12. There is a very clear message in this context from Gurbaanee as a Quote
    It is important to get the true and correct understanding of ——— GUR CHANAN GIYAN CHIRAAG

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