Gurbani on the use of alcohol

The Gurbani of The Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) teaches us that in order to become intoxicated with the Naam-Amrit, we must internalize the Enlightening spiritual Message contained in the Guru Shabad.

Simply put, the Shabad must sink in Surt (ਸੁਰਤ, Conscience). As made clear by Guru Nanak, it is the mind or Conscience (Surat–ਸੁਰਤ) that has to become a ‘Sikh‘ (i.e. learner or student of the SGGS), NOT the physical body-frame.

  • ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਧੁਨਿ ਚੇਲਾ ॥: The SHABAD is my GURU, and my consciousness (Surat) is the disciple (of this SHABAD GURU). (sggs 943).
  • ਨਿਝਰ ਧਾਰ ਚੁਐ ਅਤਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਇਹ ਰਸ ਮਨੂਆ ਰਾਤੋ ਰੇ ॥ ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਸਗਲੇ ਮਦ ਛੂਛੇ ਇਹੈ ਮਹਾ ਰਸੁ ਸਾਚੋ ਰੇ ॥ : The pure stream (of the Naam) constantly flows within me, and my mind is intoxicated with this sublime elixir. Says Kabeer, all other intoxicants are hollow (empty…) and trivial; only this sublime elixir of Naam is everlasting. || 4||1|| (sggs 969).

When we hear about the dangers of drugs, most of us probably think of illicit drugs, because stories of violence and deaths related to the sale and use of illegal drugs often appear in the news. Less attention is given to the drugs that are actually responsible for the most injuries and deaths in many countries of the world – alcohol and tobacco. We will limit this blog to alcohol only. Tobacco will be dealt in a separate blog.

Here are some scientific facts about alcohol. Ethyl alcohol is the common psychoactive drug found in all alcoholic beverages. For example, one drink – a 12-ounce bear, a 1.5 ounce cocktail, or 5-ounce glass of wine – contains about 0.5-0.6 ounce of psychoactive drug “ethyl alcohol”. When a person ingests alcohol, approximately 20% gets immediately absorbed from the stomach into the bloodstream, approximately 75% is absorbed through the upper part of the small intestine, and any remaining alcohol enters the bloodstream further along the gastrointestinal. Like any other psychoactive drug, ethyl alcohol is addictive. More one drinks, more his body wants it.

Alcohol abuse and addiction (dependency) has many short term and long term effects on the user. It is a central nervous system depressant that slows down overall activity of the central nervous system. Death from alcohol poisoning can be caused either by central nervous system and respiratory depression or by inhaling fluid or vomit into the lungs. Other effects include, kidney failure, breast cancer, brain damage, liver disease, osteoporosis, damage to the digestive system (increased risk of cancers of the lip, mouth, larynx, esophagus, liver, rectum, stomach, and pancreas), impairment o the senses (less acute vision, smell, taste, and hearing, etc.), loss of life expectancy by about 15 years, damage to fetus, mental disorders, and so on. Alcohol use causes more serious social and psychological problems than all other forms of drug abuse combined. Alcohol reacts with other drugs, potentially leading to coma and death.

The combination of impaired judgment, weakened sensory perception, reduced inhibitions, impaired motor coordination, increased anger and hostility (aggressiveness), etc., that characterizes alcohol intoxication can be dangerous or even deadly (e.g., violence, automobile crashes, homicide, suicide, and so on).

The Gurbani asserts it’s the lack or absence of Naam (Giyan-Wisdom/Virtues…) that hooks one to the worldly or Mayaic intoxicants.

  • ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦੁ ਪੀਆ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਭਗਤਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਸੁਖੁ ਥੀਆ ॥੪॥ : Forgetting the Naam, (one) drinks the wine of (the love of) Maya. Without the ‘Gur’ (-Giaan or Wisdom) there can be no Bhagti, and without Bhagti there is no Happiness. (sggs 832).
  • ਲਲਾ ਲਪਟਿ ਬਿਖੈ ਰਸ ਰਾਤੇ ॥ ਅਹੰਬੁਧਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦ ਮਾਤੇ ॥ ਇਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਹਿ ਜਨਮਹਿ ਮਰਨਾ ॥: LALLA (a letter of Gurmukhi alphabet): Those who are entangled in the love of corrupt pleasures, they remain intoxicated with (love of) Maya and their intellect or wisdom remain covered by the veil of false ego-sense (Haumai). In this Maya, they are born and die (i.e., by clinging to corrupt pleasures, they suffer repeatedly throughout their life). (sggs 252).

The advice of the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS is to switch from these false (fleeting, ਝੂਠੀ, ਖੋਟੀ, ਹੋਸ਼ੀ…) and trivial intoxicants to the true Wine of Truth (Sach-ਸਚ, the ONE Creator).

The subtle ingredient for fermenting this true wine is Naam (Giyan-Wisdom/Virtues…). In other words, Naam is that Molasses which ferments this Wine of Truth whose intoxication lasts forever (ਸਦਾ ਦੀ ਮਸਤੀ). Baabaa Nanak says:

  • ਸਚੁ ਸਰਾ ਗੁੜ ਬਾਹਰਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਵਿਚਿ ਸਚਾ ਨਾਉ ॥: The Wine of Truth is not fermented from molasses — it is prepared with Naam. (sggs 15).
  • ਕਰਣੀ ਲਾਹਣਿ ਸਤੁ ਗੁੜੁ ਸਚੁ ਸਰਾ ਕਰਿ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: So let good deeds be your distillery, and let Truth be the molasses you ferment; (thus) make the most excellent wine of Truth. (sggs 553).

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  1. Thank you Gurpreet Singh Ji for your comment on this post.
    More from the Gurbani:
    •ਰਾਰਾ ਰਸੁ ਨਿਰਸ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਨਿਆ ॥ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਰਸ ਸੁ ਰਸੁ ਪਹਿਚਾਨਿਆ ॥ ਇਹ ਰਸ ਛਾਡੇ ਉਹ ਰਸੁ ਆਵਾ ॥ ਉਹ ਰਸੁ ਪੀਆ ਇਹ ਰਸੁ ਨਹੀ ਭਾਵਾ ॥੩੫॥ (sggs 342).

  2. Satkar Jog Gurmukh T.Singh ji

    Naam khumari Nanka chardi rahe din raat…
    Ram-ras(Naam) piye re, Ram-ras piye re, eh ras bisar gaye ras auran…

    Gurpreet Singh

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