Evil Company-Kusang

The kind of Sangat (company…) we will do, the same color (i.e., good or bad effect, depending on the Sangat) has to  stick on our mind. The effect or color of the company we keep gradually penetrates in the mind; and with time becomes deep and rich. Our mind cannot escape it.

  • ਰੰਗ ਲਾਗਤ ਲਾਗਤ ਲਾਗਤ ਹੈ । ਭਰਮ ਭਾਗਤ ਭਾਗਤ ਭਾਗਤ ਹੈ । : Gradually, one gets stained with a color (of Sangat, spirituality, etc.). And with time, doubts get stamped out.

Not only animals and insects, the Gurbani also uses the examples of birds, trees and plants to impart the Wisdom to us!

For example, if a bird goes and sits on a mango tree, it can’t expect to eat apples! similarly, Our mind will get tainted with the color (effect) of the company (Sangat) it keeps. It cannot escape.

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਪੰਖੀ ਭਇਓ ਉਡਿ ਉਡਿ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਜੋ ਜੈਸੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਸੋ ਤੈਸੋ ਫਲੁ ਖਾਇ ॥੮੬॥: O Kabeer! The mind becomes like a bird (as bird flies in different directions in search for food, etc., similarly) the mind soars and flies in ten directions (i.e., wanders around chasing mirage, desires, sense objects, Maya, etc.). According to the company (a man) keeps, gets the similar reward (i.e., acquires similar thinking or Soch, qualities…) ||86|| (sggs 1369).

Mayaic mentality is a source of perplexity for all of us. These perplexities are like wild forest fire that somehow seems to blaze unceasingly!

The Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) time and again describes the pathetic condition of our doubt-ridden minds caught in the vertex of these perplexities. The good news is that the Gurbani tells us how to mend a perplexed mind.

Those in Mayaic perplexities are called by different names in Gurbani. Some of these names include Kusang (evil or bad company), Saakat,  Manmukh, Mayadhaaree, Bimukhan, and so on.

Let’s pause here for a moment before going any further. Please note that the Gurbani’s fundamental Teaching is that all human beings, at the soul-level (Aatmic level), are equal. The Gurbani asks, then ‘who is good, and who is bad?’.

  • ਏਕ ਨੂਰ ਤੇ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਉਪਜਿਆ ਕਉਨ ਭਲੇ ਕੋ ਮੰਦੇ ॥੧॥: The entire universe has taken place from One ‘Noor‘ (One Universal Energy, Hukam, System or Law of Nature, ਕੁਦਰਤ ਦਾ ਨਿਯਮ). So who is good, and who is bad? ||1|| (sggs 1349).

Simply put: Gurmat Giaan, Wisdom of the SGGS teaches that there is but One, Universal Energy. This One Reality is the substratum (support or ‘Aadhaar‘) of all. It is this Reality, the Homogeneous Oneness, which runs in and through all beings.

Than what does it mean by disassociating, avoiding, or staying away from bad association (Kusang)?

It simply means to shun the Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree mentality or thinking, habits, nature, qualities, conduct, character, tendencies (ਮਨਮੁਖ ਵਿਰਤੀ), inclinations, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed…), negativity — the useless way of life (‘ਬਾਦਿ ਆਚਾਰੁ’, ‘ਆਚਾਰੀ ਬੁਰੀਆਹ’), etc.

Therefore, when the Gurbani advises to disassociate with the Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree, etc., it does not mean to hate or dislike a person.

In nutshell, it means we become good or bad due to the quality of our mind or our thoughts — quality of our thinking (Soch), tendencies, character, dispositions, and so on.

Accordingly, the Gurbani’s instructions regarding associating or disassociating are at the level of the mind.

  • ਤੇ ਸਾਕਤ ਚੋਰ ਜਿਨਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਆ ਮਨ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਨ ਭਿਟੀਐ ॥੪॥: Saakat who have forgotten the Naam are thieves. O (my) mind! Do not draw near them ||4|| (sggs 170).
  • ਏ ਮਨ ਮੇਰਿਆ ਛਡਿ ਅਵਗਣ ਗੁਣੀ ਸਮਾਣਿਆ ਰਾਮ ॥: O my mind! Give up (your) demerits, and be absorbed in Raam (Mool, Truth, Virtues, Wisdom…). (sggs 1112).
  • ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਬ ਹੀ ਮਨ ਛੁਟੀਐ ਜਉ ਸਗਲੇ ਅਉਗਨ ਮੇਟਿ ਧਰਹਾ ॥: Says Nanak – O mind! (You will be) emancipated (from Maya…) only when (you) eradicate all (your) demerits from within. ||4||4|| (sggs 1203).

Thus, the Gurbani simply urges our minds NOT to associate, take, or identify with the Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree mentality or thinking etc. Instead, the Gurbani urges us to keep the company of the Gurmukhs.

  • ਦੀਨੁ ਬਿਸਾਰਿਓ ਰੇ ਦਿਵਾਨੇ ਦੀਨੁ ਬਿਸਾਰਿਓ ਰੇ ॥ ਪੇਟੁ ਭਰਿਓ ਪਸੂਆ ਜਿਉ ਸੋਇਓ ਮਨੁਖੁ ਜਨਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਾਰਿਓ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਕਬਹੂ ਨਹੀ ਕੀਨੀ ਰਚਿਓ ਧੰਧੈ ਝੂਠ ॥ ਸੁਆਨ ਸੂਕਰ ਬਾਇਸ ਜਿਵੈ ਭਟਕਤੁ ਚਾਲਿਓ ਊਠਿ ॥੧॥: O madman! You have forgotten your Dharma (of Virtues, Sach or Truth, Duty of life-ਫਰਜ…); you have forgotten your Dharma. Like animals, you fill your belly and sleep; you have wasted and lost this human life. ||1||Pause|| You never join ‘Saadhsangati’ (Gur-Giaan-Wisdom, Truth…). You are engrossed in false pursuits (of mind’s Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, etc.). Wandering like a dog, a pig, a crow you will depart (from this world). ||1|| (sggs 1105).
  • ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਵਾਰੀ ॥: The fortunate human beings meet in the Sangat (company) of those who have become the Gurmukhs. (sggs 651).

Simply put: Bad is the ‘Soch’ (thinking, habit, nature, ਆਦਤ, ਸਭਾ, ਵਿਰਤੀ…), not the person (ਆਦਮੀ, ਬੰਦਾ)!

Unfortunately, totally contrary to the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS, all organized and institutionalized religions of the world are bent on pitting man against his fellow man!

The Gurbani indicates that the influence of the negative nature (Kusang) is such that one loses all his wisdom (Giaan) and discerning intellect (Bibek-Budhi), and thus earns only unhappiness!

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਸੇਤੀ ਸੰਗੁ ਕਰੇ ਮੁਹਿ ਕਾਲਖ ਦਾਗੁ ਲਗਾਇ ॥: Whoever associates with Manmukhs (i.e., Kusang), will have his face blackened (stigma, ਬਦਨਾਮੀ, he will lose his Giaan and Bibek-Budhi…). (sggs 1417).
  • ਕੁਸੰਗਤਿ ਬਹਹਿ ਸਦਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਦੁਖੋ ਦੁਖੁ ਕਮਾਇਆ ॥੧੧॥: Kusangat bahe… (sggs 1068).

At the time of birth, an infant’s mind is intact, undivided, innocent, free of the feeling of ‘I-me-mine-you’, etc.

But, with the passage of time, it loses all that on account of all sorts of conditioning. Just as a rain drop which does not have any impurity of its own, but when it comes in contact with the ground or dirt, it becomes contaminated. Also, just as a piece of paper does not have any smell of its own, but when the same paper is used to wrap fish or fragrant flowers, gets the smell of the object it is associated with. Similarly, one’s mind is affected by the association of qualities it keeps.

To make us recognize Kusang and beware of it, we are provided with its numerous attributes throughout the Gurbani.

Please note all verses cannot be given here from a space point of view. Therefore just a few verses are quoted here:

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੂੜੁ ਨ ਭਾਵਈ ਸਚਿ ਰਤੇ ਸਚ ਭਾਇ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਸਚੁ ਨ ਭਾਵਈ ਕੂੜੈ ਕੂੜੀ ਪਾਂਇ ॥: (Those who have) become the Gurmukhs do not like falsehood. They remain absorbed in Truth, (and remain united in the) Love of Truth (Sach). (But) Saakat does not like the Truth. False is any attainment of the false (fleeting, temporary etc.). (sggs 22).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਮੈਲਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਪਛਾਣੈ ॥: The Manmukh’s (mind) remains filthy (with Bikaar); (he) does not understand the Shabad (sggs 415).

We can use the insight of the Gurbani as a tool for self-analysis — to determine as to what degree ‘Kusang’ or ‘Saakat-Manmukh-Mayadhaaree’ qualities are present in each one of us! That self-analysis will help the mind turn away from Kusang (bad association).

Accordingly, the Gurbani time and again reminds us to share in the Divine Virtues only. Because, the Gurbani tells us that Bhagti (“ਭਗਤਿ”) is not even possible without acquiring the Divine Virtues!

  • ਸਾਝ ਕਰੀਜੈ ਗੁਣਹ ਕੇਰੀ ਛੋਡਿ ਅਵਗਣ ਚਲੀਐ ॥: Share Virtues; (in this way, one can) walk (on the Path of Spiritual Life by) abandoning faults (from within himself). (sggs 766).

In short, the smell of sandalwood is so sublime, whatever plant comes in its contact gets uplifted. Similarly, the Gurbani urges us to seek the company of the divine-oriented, virtuous and wise people. In their contact, one gets spiritually uplifted, transformed, and changed from within.

  • ਜਿਉ ਚੰਦਨ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਵਸੈ ਹਿਰਡੁ ਬਪੁੜਾ ਤਿਉ ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਪਤਿਤ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥੩॥: The poor castor oil plant, growing near the sandalwood tree, becomes fragrant; in the same way, the fallen or corrupt becomes approved (if willing to change, becomes truthful, Wise…) by associating with Truth (Sat). ||3|| (861).

To the contrary, consider a sorry plight of a banana plant growing near a thorny bush — thorns of this thorny bush tear the banana leaf growing in its company!

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਮਾਰੀ ਮਰਉ ਕੁਸੰਗ ਕੀ ਕੇਲੇ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਜੁ ਬੇਰਿ ॥ ਉਹ ਝੂਲੈ ਉਹ ਚੀਰੀਐ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਹੇਰਿ ॥੮੮॥: O Kabeer! I have been ruined and destroyed by bad company (Kusang), like the banana plant near the thorn bush. The thorn bush waves in the wind, and pierces the banana plant; see this, and do not associate with the Saakat (those separated from the Divine). ||88|| (sggs 1369).


  1. ਮਨਮੁਖ ਸੇਤੀ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਥੋੜੜਿਆ ਦਿਨ ਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਇਸੁ ਪਰੀਤੀ ਤੁਟਦੀ ਵਿਲਮੁ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਇਤੁ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਚਲਨਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥ ਜਿਨਾ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਸਚੇ ਕਾ ਭਉ ਨਾਹੀ ਨਾਮਿ ਨ ਕਰਹਿ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਨ ਸਿਉ ਕਿਆ ਕੀਚੈ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਜਿ ਆਪਿ ਭੁਲਾਏ ਕਰਤਾਰਿ ॥੧॥: Manmukh setee dosatee thorrarriaa din chaar. Is pareetee tuttadee vilam na hovee it dosatee chalan vikaar. Jinaa andar sache kaa bhaou naahee naam na karahi piaar. Nanak tin siou kiaa keechai dosatee ji aap bhulaaeaye karataar ||1||: Friendship with the Manmukhs lasts for only a few short days. This friendship is broken in an instant; this friendship leads to corruption. They (Manmukhs) do not fear (respect) the True Lord in their hearts, and they do not love the Naam, the Lord’s Name; O Nanak, why become friends with these whom (as fruit of their own Karma) God Himself has forgotten (i.e. based on their own Karma they have separated themselves from God)? ||1|| (sggs 587).

    Mr. T Singh Ji,
    What does Guruji mean in this case, when he says that such Friendship leads to corruption? Is he talking about friendship/ association with the Manmukh mentality/habit/character, or is Guruji refering to an actual person?

  2. Hi ji,
    Thank you very much for your very comprehensive description of what a Saakat is. My question however, is not so much to focused on the definition of Saakat, but rather on whether or not we should disassociate/ avoid someone who may be considered a Saakat. Allow me to rephrase; lets say that I have friends who don’t necessarily believe in God, but are still good human beings. They are kind,compassionate,loving and so on. My question is, does the verse above imply that we should break our bonds/ disassociate with such people, or rather is it refering to disassociating with the mentality/habits/nature of a Saakat.

    Thank you so much for clarifying this matter.

    Warm regards,


  3. Saakat is the one who’s mind is disconnected or separated from its Moo (Source, Jot, True Nature…).
    In words:
    Saakat is the one who is disconnected from the Divine Virtues.
    Saakat is the one who is disconnected from the Divine Wisdom.
    Saakat is the one who is disconnected from the Brah-Giaan.
    Saakat is the one who is disconnected from his True Nature as Jot Saroop.
    Saakat is the one who is disconnected from the Truth.
    Saakat is the one who is diseased with false ego-sense (Haumai).
    Saakat is the one who hungers for Maya (Mayadhaaree).

    Saakat is Manmukh (denier of Truth)…

    The SGGS gives us the invaluable Giaan (Spiritual Knowledge).
    Whether one wants learn that Giaan and then live life with the discerning intellect (Bibek Budhi) is up to the individual. Choice will determine the results and consequences.

    Thank you Mansukh Ji for taking the time to reply. Welcome to the Gurbani Blog!

  4. Hi Ji,
    I have a question in pertinence to the following passage in the SGGS : ਝੂਠੈ ਕੀ ਰੇ ਝੂਠੁ ਪਰੀਤਿ ਛੁਟਕੀ ਰੇ ਮਨ ਛੁਟਕੀ ਰੇ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗਿ ਨ ਛੁਟਕੀ ਰੇ ॥: Jhoothai kee re jhooth pareet shuttakee re mann shuttakee re saakat sang na shhuttakee re: False is the love of the false one; break the ties, O my mind, and your ties shall be broken. Break your ties with the faithless cynic (sggs 535).
    Is it right to say that the phrase Break your ties with the faithless cynic is in reference to the mentality and thinking of a faithless cynic, and not an actual person. In other words, does it imply that one should unfriend someone simply because he does not believe in God? Because I am sure that a lot of us have friends who may not necessarily believe in God but are good human beings nonetheless.

  5. Thank you Sukhwant Jio for Sharing Shabad Vichaar.

    The mind’s Original Nature (Jot Saroop, Mool…) is often depicted as the lotus flower. That is what the mind would look like if one could see his True Self (the Gurmukh state, Awakened state…).

    • ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਨਿਰਾਲਮੁ ਮੁਰਗਾਈ ਨੈ ਸਾਣੇ ॥ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਤਰੀਐ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਣੇ ॥ ਰਹਹਿ ਇਕਾਂਤਿ ਏਕੋ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਆਸਾ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰਾਸੋ ॥ ਅਗਮੁ ਅਗੋਚਰੁ ਦੇਖਿ ਦਿਖਾਏ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਦਾਸੋ ॥੫॥: Jaise jal mahi kamalu niraalamu muragaaee nai saane… (sggs 938).

  6. But ultimately any person is recognized by the company he keeps.

    Slightly amending word “COMPANY” with IDEA :-

    A man is known by the IDEA he keeps.
    some time you have to work or live in Bad Company But your IDEA’s should not be affected i.e.

    ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲ ਅਲੇਪ ॥
    ਦੀਸਹਿ ਸਭ ਸੰਗਿ ਰਹਹਿ ਅਲੇਪਾ ਨਹ ਵਿਆਪੈ ਉਨ ਮਾਈ ॥
    (He appears to keep company with everyone, but he remains detached, and Maya does not cling to him.)

  7. Yes, Bhai Sahib Jeo. You are right.
    Like minds attracts like minds.
    Like qualities attracts like qualities.
    Like character attracts like character.
    Like habits attract like habits.
    like nature attracts like nature.

    The Gurbani says:
    • ਮਨ ਕਾ ਸੁਭਾਉ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਈ ਕਰੈ ॥: Every one acts according to his mind’s nature (habit, disposition, inclination…). (1167).
    • ਵਿਆਪਿਆ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਕੁਬੁਧਿ ਕੁਮੂੜਾ ਮਨਿ ਲਾਗਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਮੋਹਾ ॥ ਠਗੈ ਸੇਤੀ ਠਗੁ ਰਲਿ ਆਇਆ ਸਾਥੁ ਭਿ ਇਕੋ ਜੇਹਾ ॥: The fool is engrossed in evil-mindedness; (because his) mind is attached (to Maya…). A Thug (cheat…), joins with similar Thug; it is a comradeship of like minds (sggs 960).

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