Gurbani Stresses on the Importance of Internal Cleanliness and not the External One

The greatest denial or rejection (Khandan-ਖੰਡਨ) of bathing at the so called shrines of pilgrimage is given by the Gurbani – the Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS).

But surprisingly, the greatest hypocrisy of bathing at numerous ‘Sarovar’ built at the so called shrines of pilgrimage is happening in Sikhi! Entire SGGS is full of Shabads repudiating nonsense Pakhand or circus of our deluded and doubt ridden minds. For example:

  • ਵਸਤ੍ਰ ਪਖਾਲਿ ਪਖਾਲੇ ਕਾਇਆ ਆਪੇ ਸੰਜਮਿ ਹੋਵੈ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਲਗੀ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੈ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਮਲਿ ਮਲਿ ਧੋਵੈ ॥ ਅੰਧਾ ਭੂਲਿ ਪਇਆ ਜਮ ਜਾਲੇ ॥ ਵਸਤੁ ਪਰਾਈ ਅਪੁਨੀ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਨੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਦੁਖੁ ਘਾਲੇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਤੁਟੈ ਤਾ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥: (The man who daily) washes his clothes and his body (and only by keeping the clothes and body clean) thinks himself as he has becomes an ascetic, (but he is) unaware of the inner filth staining (his mind), (while he) tries and tries to wash off the outer (dirt of the body), (that foolish, mentally) blind man is lost (from the straight Way of life) and he is trapped in the trap of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.). He suffers in egotism (Haumai) because he thinks (this fleeting body) and other objects are his own. O Nanak! (When) by becoming the Gurmukh (man’s) false ego-sense (Haumai) is dispelled, then he remembers the divine Naam (Wisdom), (sggs 139).

The Gurmat of Baabaa Nanak or the SGGS has attached paramount importance to the necessity of Internal Cleanliness or Purity, not the religious Karamkaand (rituals) associated with the external cleanliness and religious paraphernalia.

  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਮਲੁ ਧੋਵੈ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਜੂਠਿ ਨ ਜਾਏ ॥: Outwardly, he (hypocrite) washes off the filth, but the impurity of his mind does not go away. (sggs 88).
  • ਮਨਿ ਮੈਲੈ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਮੈਲਾ ਤਨਿ ਧੋਤੈ ਮਨੁ ਹਛਾ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: When the mind is filthy, everything is filthy; by washing the body, the mind is not cleaned. (sggs 558).

The Gurbani does not advocate not to keep the external body clean. However, on account of lack of understanding of the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS, many have turned the external cleanliness into a religious ritual – equating the outer neatness and cleanliness with the internal cleanliness (mental Purity, Divine or Gurmukh Lifestyle, Spiritual Life, etc.)! The Gurbani exposes the folly of emphasis on such Brahmanical ritual of external cleanliness:

  • ਇਸੁ ਦੇਹੀ ਕਉ ਬਹੁ ਸਾਧਨਾ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਮਨ ਤੇ ਕਬਹੂ ਨ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਟਰੈ ॥ ਜਲਿ ਧੋਵੈ ਬਹੁ ਦੇਹ ਅਨੀਤਿ ॥ ਸੁਧ ਕਹਾ ਹੋਇ ਕਾਚੀ ਭੀਤਿ ॥: (You) may subject body to all sorts of ‘Saadhanaa’ (practices, disciplines, etc.), but the mind will never be rid of its ‘Bikhiaa’ (Maya). (One) may wash this perishable body with plenty of water, (still) this wall of mud (i.e. gross body) cannot be washed clean. (sggs 265).

Hence, for most of us, the real problem is that these external cleansing actions tend to be misconstrued as ‘necessary and sufficient’; thus presenting a slippery slope descending us down to a point where the need for internal cleanliness (of the mind) is deemed completely obliterate. Such trickery (‘ਚਤੁਰਾਈ’) of the deluded or ego-mind (Haumai) as propagated by the crafty and illiterate Pujaaree-Vaad is out-rightly rejected by the SGGS.

  • ਬਾਹਰੁ ਉਦਕਿ ਪਖਾਰੀਐ ਘਟ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਬਿਬਿਧਿ ਬਿਕਾਰ ॥ ਸੁਧ ਕਵਨ ਪਰ ਹੋਇਬੋ ਸੁਚ ਕੁੰਚਰ ਬਿਧਿ ਬਿਉਹਾਰ ॥੪॥ : (One can) externally wash (outer side of his body) with water, but all sorts of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.) remain within the Heart or mind. So how can he become pure (with this pilgrimage)? This practice of purification is like that of an elephant-bath (i.e., this process of purification is the conduct of the egoistic people). ||4|| (sggs 346).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੁਗਧ ਕਰਹਿ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ॥ ਨਾਤਾ ਧੋਤਾ ਥਾਇ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥: The idiotic Manmukhs try to be clever (claim they have performed pilgrimage and ablution, etc.), but in spite of their bathing and washing, they will not be acceptable. (sggs 114).

In nutshell, first, the Gurbani does not ask us not being hygienic. Second, the Gurbani does not promote or support ‘Frog-Philosophy’ either. But, our ‘frog-mind’ always thinks in terms of cleansing the body but not the mind:

  • ਜਲ ਕੈ ਮਜਨਿ ਜੇ ਗਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਮੇਂਡੁਕ ਨਾਵਹਿ ॥: If salvation can be obtained by bathing in water, then what about the frog, which is always bathing (always remain in water)? (sggs 484).
  • ਸੂਚੇ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਹਨਿ ਜਿ ਪਿੰਡਾ ਧੋਇ ॥ ਸੂਚੇ ਸੇਈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਨ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਸੋਇ ॥: Such people are NOT called or considered pure who only cleanse or wash their body from outside. O Nanak! Only they are truly pure whose minds abide in Rabb (Hukam: System-Rule-Law of Nature, Truth…) — their mind and conduct become pure (i.e. free of Bikaar: lust, anger, greed etc.). (sggs 472).

As revealed by the Gurbani here, one’s stubborn belief in ritual bathing is nothing but ignorance and foolishness. By doing so, as indicated in the Gurbani, such ‘idiotic Manmukhs‘ (‘ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੁਗਧ’) end up accumulating more mental filth! Inflicted by false ego-sense of external bathing or ablutions at Teerath (places of pilgrimage), the Gurbani says their ‘Dubidhaa‘ (duality, doubt…) only expands!!

In other words, The Gurbani says they become more  ‘idiotic’ and ‘Pakhandee‘ (hypocrite).

  • ਦੇਹੀ ਧੋਇ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਮੈਲੁ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਿਆਪੈ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਫੈਲੁ ॥: By merely washing the body, (one’s inner) filth is not removed. Afflicted by egotism, ‘Dubidhaa’ (duality, doubt…) only increases. (sggs 893).

The Gurbani is all about understanding and living a Gurmukh Lifestyle.

Whenever there is a mention of Ishnaan (bathing) in the Gurbani, it is only pointed toward the Inner Ishnaan; BATHING THE MIND in the Inner Pool (‘Sarovar’) of the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) located within the body. This Spiritual ‘Srovar‘ within is cleansing, purifying, and inspiring at all times!

  • ਏਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਸਰਵਰੁ ਹੈ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਈ ॥੧੩॥: O sants (good human beings, Bhagats, Gurmukhs, Guru’s Satsangi Jan etc.), this human body is a pool (i.e. Srovar); that person who keeps his consciousness paired with (his Mool within), he is, as it were, bathing in this pool. ||13|| (sggs 909).

Here the Gurmat (Divine Wisdom, Upadesh of the SGGS) makes it very clear that the true Ishnaan (bathing, ablution) only consists of bathing the mind in the cleansing water of the Shabad (Naam, Hukam…). Stubborn insistence on any other Ishnaan will only indicate no trust in the Wisdom of the SGGS, and bewilderment of the doubt-ridden mind indulged in Karamkaand.

  • ਸਹਸੈ ਜੀਉ ਮਲੀਣੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਤੁ ਸੰਜਮਿ ਧੋਤਾ ਜਾਏ ॥ ਮੰਨੁ ਧੋਵਹੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਲਾਗਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਉ ਰਹਹੁ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ: So long the mind is in the grip of ਸਹਿਮ (doubt, worry, skepticism, etc., born of from our love for Maya), it is rendered filthy. By no ਸੰਜਮਿ (Jugati – external tact, skill, device, knack, etc.) this filth of the mind can be cleansed. Attach yourself to the Shabad (Gur-Giaan or Wisdom…), continue to fix your consciousness on Hari (-Naam: Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…), and (like this) wash your mind (sggs 919).
  • ਭਰੀਐ ਹਥੁ ਪੈਰੁ ਤਨੁ ਦੇਹ ॥ ਪਾਣੀ ਧੋਤੈ ਉਤਰਸੁ ਖੇਹ ॥ ਮੂਤ ਪਲੀਤੀ ਕਪੜੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਦੇ ਸਾਬੂਣੁ ਲਈਐ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਇ ॥ ਭਰੀਐ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਪਾ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਪੈ ਨਾਵੈ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ ॥: Water cleanses my stained physical self (external body). Soap cleanses my stained garments. (Beyond the stained physical self or the garments) my intellect is stained by vices. The cleansing of which (i.e. intellect) is by imbuing in Naam (Wisdom / Virtues). (sggs 4).

The Gurbani is ‘Brahm Beechaar-ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰ’ (Reflection on Brahm). There is no place for stubborn-mindedness or Karamkaand (rituals) in ‘Brahm-Beechaar‘ of the SGGS. Those who blindly follow the Karamkaand propagated by the greedy Pujaaree-system or the paid clergy take the Gur-Shabad to be just an ordinary song (‘ਗੀਤੁ’). But, according to the Gurbani’s edict, it is ‘Brahm Beechaar‘!

  • ਲੋਗੁ ਜਾਨੈ ਇਹੁ ਗੀਤੁ ਹੈ ਇਹੁ ਤਉ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥: People think that the (Gur-Shabad) is (an ordinary) song, but it is a ‘Brahm Beechaar’. (sggs 335).
  • ਕਲਿਜੁਗ ਮਹਿ ਇਕ ਨਾਮਿ ਉਧਾਰੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬੋਲੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥੨॥੧੧॥: The Divine Naam (Giaan-Wisdom, Virtues…) of the One Creator are the Basis for Spirituality for a Worldly Mindset; Nanak thus Utters the Discourse of the Creator (Brahm Beechaar). (sggs 1138).

Only if we could understand and implement on us these teachings of the SGGS, we could truly understand the shallowness of the stubborn-mindedness and Karamkaand we so ignorantly keep on executing day in and day out as propagated by the corrupt and illiterate paid clergy.

  • ਜਿਨ ਕੈ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਕਪਟੁ ਹੈ ਬਾਹਰੁ ਧੋਵਾਇਆ ॥ ਕੂੜੁ ਕਪਟੁ ਕਮਾਵਦੇ ਕੂੜੁ ਪਰਗਟੀ ਆਇਆ ॥: Those whose hearts are filled with the filth of deception, wash themselves on the outside. They practice falsehood and deception (in daily life), and their falsehood becomes apparent. (sggs 1243).


  1. This is very general question about Guru Gobind singhji;s Prtrait or Photo or Picture by Shoba Singhji.
    My friends were arguing that Shoba singh has done worst job by painting the picure of Gurus, Where i think it is just representation, depiction, sketch of guruji through refrences of lots of books which may be read by shoba singh.
    According to them Shoba singh forces people to idealise the picture which leads to idealism.
    Sir, It is not related to Gurbani, but Please answer my question Did he made a mistake by painting a portrait?

  2. Inner Understanding is must (ਆਂਤਰਿਕ ਸੋਝੀ, ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ ) outer is not important…….
    1…ਜੇ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਭੁਲਿ ਚੁਕਿ ਬੋਲਦੇ ਭੀ ਖਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਭਾਣੇ ॥
    2..ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਪਟੁ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਗੁਦੜੁ ਤੇ ਭਲੇ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥

  3. Many thanks Veer Chitranjan Dev Ji for taking the time to respond!

    How to meditate on God?

    Let’s ask the Gurbani:
    • ਸਾਸਿ ਸਾਸਿ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ॥ ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰ ਕੀ ਉਤਰੈ ਚਿੰਦ ॥ (sggs 295).
    • ਸਾਸ ਸਾਸ ਸਾਸ ਹੈ ਜੇਤੇ ਮੈ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਰੇ ॥ (sggs 980).
    • ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਮੇਰੈ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥ ਹਉ ਕਬਹੁ ਨ ਛੋਡਉ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ (sggs 1154).

    In nutshell, meditation (Simran, contemplation…) is to constantly remember (“ਸਾਸ ਸਾਸ”, “ਏਕ ਲਿਵ ਤਾਰਾ”, ਦੰਮ-ਬ-ਦੰਮ…) the Divine Virtues or the Divine Wisdom (Naam, Shabad, Hukam…) through the Shabad-Vichaar, and then constantly live it in daily life.

    It is remembering through the Gur-Shabad or Gurmat what was forgotten. With this Inner Understanding (ਆਂਤਰਿਕ ਸੋਝੀ, ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ), the mind Awakens to its Mool within (ਅੰਤਰ ਧਿਆਨ, ਮੂਲ ਨਾਲ ਜੋੜ, ਜਾਗਰਤ ਅਵਸਤਾ).

    To say it in simple Punjabi: ਮਨ ਬੁਧੀ ਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਅਪਨੇ ਮੂਲ ਨਾਲ ਜੁੜਿਆ ਰਹਿਣਾਂ ਹੀ ਸਿਮਰਨ ਹੈ.

    Clearly, the meditation as envisaged in the SGGS (or the Gurbani or the Gurmat) is not to just sit cross-legged with half-closed (or fully closed) eyes and stare in the space!!!!!

  4. How to meditate on God? There are lots of people saying Meditation is must, important, healthy etc. Kindly advise….

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