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. What is ਸਬਦੁ ?
    as per grammar rule it is singular and Masculine beacuse of aungkar on dada!!

  2. In other words correct interpretations belong to first ‘Anubhavis’, who have experienced the Divine Truths in their daily lives.

    Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio!

  3. I would think that here Guru (ਗੁਰੁ) is (Spiritual Teacher/Gurbani or Gurus in persons); Guroo (ਗੁਰੂ) is Almighty Waheguru; and Gur (ਗੁਰ) here refers to Divine Sohjee from Gurbani/Guru as guiding Gurr/Budh-bebik).

    Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio! Well summed up Ji

  4. Veer Kirpal Singh ji,
    I fully agree and appreciate your above message.
    I believe since we have vast opportunity of interaction on such platform like this.We may not be meeting or knowing in person but thru such interactions one can enrich ones views in context of getting true and correct understanding of Gurbaanee .And this can be a treasure for coming
    generations to realise the significance of Gurbaanee in ones life. May Hari ji bless every Sikh
    a Gurmati way of interpretation of Gurbaanee.man “Gurbaanee should be understood for intrpretation fron Guroo of Gurbaanee” that is Sabadu Guroo.

    There is a need for a single interpretation of Gurbani, which meets in its real perspective the true spirit of Gurbani. Any such attempt to bring clarity in interpreting the Gurbani will be a Divine Sewa (service) and this requires ‘Anubhav’ (intuition) on the part of those involved in this exercise. In other words correct interpretations belong to first ‘Anubhavis’, who have experienced the Divine Truths in their daily lives. The role of experts in linguists follows. Interpretation is not the job of one person; it will be the collective efforts of all enlightened and dedicated Gursikhs. I would think that there are Sikhs around who are enjoying Nadr/Kirpa/Mehr/Grace/Gurparsad of Wah Guroo to undertake this task. Those occupying Sikh Chairs should pay attention to this aspect as well rather than only digging in to certain historical movements.

  6. It is really unfortunate to see that our understanding or interpretation of Gurbaanee is not based on Gurjoti (or EKANKAARu as reference but is is based on IK -ONKAAR which is not a refernce in the wholle of SGGS ji.

  7. I fuuly like and appreciate the point of view presented in your message as
    The flow of Divine Skills take the course from Guroo to Guru in the form of Gur (Gurr/Sohjee/Budh-bebik). We should be ready to bag Gurr and act accordingly in crossing the life-ocean
    This clearly show or indicate the difference in the reference meanings ofguroo/guru and gur but do we propagate this relationship.?

    I would like to bring to your kind notice how right we are in writing the word Waheguru..
    As per above relation ship this should be Wah guroo and or Wahi guroo.
    In my understanding there is also a difference in the reference meanings of the words Guroo and Wahi Guroo. This can be understood from a Quote in Gurbaanee as
    “Gur ki chaal Guroo te jaape”
    Accordingly the SOURCE of flow of DIVINE INTELLIGENCE is Guroo as Guru/Gur and within the flow of DIVINE INTELLIGENCE of Guru-gur there is presence of Guroo.
    And this Guroo present in the DIVINE INTELLIGENCE Guru-gur is being refered as Wah Guroo as Guroo is ACTIVE by the flow of Guru-Gur and ultimately the DIVINE INTELLIGENCE as Guru-Gur is Gur joti as EKANKAARu
    Thus I feel if one understands Gurbaanee in reference of Gur joti then one can have true and correct understanding of the messages from Gurbaanee.

  8. ਗੁਰੁ ਜਹਾਜੁ ਖੇਵਟੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਤਰਿਆ ਨ ਕੋਇ

    I would think that here Guru (ਗੁਰੁ) is (Spiritual Teacher/Gurbani or Gurus in persons); Guroo (ਗੁਰੂ) is Almighty Waheguru; and Gur (ਗੁਰ) here refers to Divine Sohjee from Gurbani/Guru as guiding Gurr/Budh-bebik).

    I other words it is essential to have a grasp of Gur (Gurr/Divine Sohjee/Budh-bebik) given by the Guru who in turns receives guidance from Waheguru.

    So Guru, Guroo and Gur (Sohjee/Budh-bebik/Gurr) are inter connected/related.

    The flow of Divine Skills take the course from Guroo to Guru in the form of Gur (Gurr/Sohjee/Budh-bebik). We should be ready to bag Gurr and act accordingly in crossing the life-ocean.

  9. One can see we are generally writing Gurmukhi words of Gurbaanee incorrectly in Roman script .In fact the ਗੁਰੁ should be written as Guru not as Gur By doing so we are going to have only two words as Guroo and Gur whereas the words are three to be written as Guroo/Guru and Gur
    It is surprising why the matra of AUKAD in the word ਗੁਰੁ is being omitted while writing in Roman script..This is the cause of confusion n misunderstanding.
    I appreciate writing the word ਗੁਰੂ as Guroo .One can find that this word is wrongly written as Guru
    In the Quote ਗੁਰੁ ਜਹਾਜੁ ਖੇਵਟੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਤਰਿਆ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥॥ one should clearly see the difference in the meaning of the words ਗੁਰੁ and ਗੁਰੂ In this Quote it is ਗੁਰੁ being refered as JAHAJ and ਗੁਰੂ as
    CAPTAN of this JAHAJ.
    An important point of consideration iis in the understanding of ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ here the word ਗੁਰ is to be considered as ਗੁਰੁ because of its relation with the word ਬਿਨੁ (word with matra of aukad)
    Now the meaning of the Quote is as
    Guru is boat and Guroo is its CAPTAN and without Guru (JAHAJ) no one can cross over.

  10. In the following verse Guru Guru Guroo seem interchangeable:-

    ਗੁਰੁ ਜਹਾਜੁ ਖੇਵਟੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਤਰਿਆ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥
    Gur Jehaaj Khaevatt Guroo Gur Bin Thariaa N Koe ||
    The Guru is the Boat, and the Guru is the Boatman. Without the Guru, no one can cross over.
    (ਸਵਈਏ ਮਹਲੇ ਚਉਥੇ ਕੇ (ਭਟ ਗਯੰਦ) ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ : ਅੰਗ ੧੪੦੧ ਪੰ. ੧੧)

    ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥
    Gur Prasaadh Prabh Paaeeai Gur Bin Mukath N Hoe ||
    By Guru’s Grace, God is obtained. Without the Guru, no one is liberated.

  11. Thus one can know that in Gurbaanee “ਸਬਦੁ is the word ਗੁਰੂ itself and because of the grammar of the word ਗੁਰੂ as reference for A SINGLE PAIR ਸਬਦੁ is clarified as
    1…Sabadu SATiSATi PRABHu BAKTAA…………Sukhmani Astapadi 17
    So the above quotes give clear understanding that Sabadu is reference for A SINGLE PAIR SINGULAR NOUN WORDS.
    Also a Quote from Bani Sawaee-ae M4th Ke as
    ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ KARHu ਗੁਰੂ HARi PAYEEY……………….pp1401 SGGS ji

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