Slander vs. Speaking Truth

An attempt is made in this post to reflect on (1) what is slander, and (2) what is NOT slander.

‘Ninda’ (ਨਿੰਦਾ) or ‘Chugli’ (ਚੁਗਲੀ) means to slander. It is used to describe a defamatory or negative statement made about someone. The derogatory account is usually made when the person about whom the venom is being spat is not present or is not within ear-shot of the conversation.

The Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS directs us against bad mouthing others — ‘Nindaa‘, slander, slur, backbite or smear, defamation, spreading of lies about a person or a group, false accusation or charge, calumny etc.

What is slandering?

In a nutshell, slander is spewing untruth, filth, malicious gossip, lying, backstabbing, talking ill of somebody in any way in order to create a negative impression of them etc. .

The purpose behind knowingly spreading falsehood about a person or a group is to make them feel belittled, ashamed, guilty, humiliated; make them lose their self-esteem; and so on.

Hence slandering is the action or crime of making an untrue spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation. It’s to victimize or ridicule the other person.

  • ਨਿੰਦਾ ਭਲੀ ਕਿਸੈ ਕੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੁਗਧ ਕਰੰਨਿ ॥ ਮੁਹ ਕਾਲੇ ਤਿਨ ਨਿੰਦਕਾ ਨਰਕੇ ਘੋਰਿ ਪਵੰਨਿ ॥੬॥ : It is not good to slander anyone, but the foolish Manmukhs still do it. These slanderers earn disgrace, and they suffer horrible hellish life (Here and Now). ||6|| (sggs 755).
  • ਨਿੰਦਕੁ ਐਸੇ ਹੀ ਝਰਿ ਪਰੀਐ ॥ ਇਹ ਨੀਸਾਨੀ ਸੁਨਹੁ ਤੁਮ ਭਾਈ ਜਿਉ ਕਾਲਰ ਭੀਤਿ ਗਿਰੀਐ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਜਉ ਦੇਖੈ ਛਿਦ੍ਰੁ ਤਉ ਨਿੰਦਕੁ ਉਮਾਹੈ ਭਲੋ ਦੇਖਿ ਦੁਖ ਭਰੀਐ ॥ ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਚਿਤਵੈ ਨਹੀ ਪਹੁਚੈ ਬੁਰਾ ਚਿਤਵਤ ਚਿਤਵਤ ਮਰੀਐ ॥੧॥ : O Brother, listen: This is the distinctive sign of a slanderer the spiritual life of a slanderer crumbles down; like a wall of sand collapses. When the slanderer sees a fault in someone else, he is pleased. Seeing someone’s Virtues, he is depressed. Twenty-four hours a day, he plots (to harm someone), but nothing works. (Even if he cannot succeed in his planning) the evil man spiritually dies, constantly thinking ill of others. ||1|| (sggs 823).

Certainly, if you are ever slandered by an another individual or a group, one option is to just to ignore and walk away from that situation.

Also, as the Gurbani points out, we can make it to work to our advantage if we want!

In this context, Baabaa Nanak’s life teaches us very important lesson. For example, foolish Manmukhs contemptuously would call Baabaa Nanak names such as Bhootanaa‘ (ਭੂਤਨਾ, spirit), ‘Betaalaa‘ (ਬੇਤਾਲਾ, demon), ‘Vechaaraa‘ (ਵੇਚਾਰਾ: wretched, helpless, poor, etc.), etc. They also called Baabaa Kabeer ‘Bauraanaa’ (insane, mad, foolish…). Here are Baabaa Nanak and Baabaa Kabeer’s own words:

  • ਲੋਗੁ ਕਹੈ ਕਬੀਰੁ ਬਉਰਾਨਾ ॥ : People say that Kabeer has gone insane (for he rejects Karamkaand…). (sggs 1158).
  • ਕੋਈ ਆਖੈ ਭੂਤਨਾ ਕੋ ਕਹੈ ਬੇਤਾਲਾ ॥ ਕੋਈ ਆਖੈ ਆਦਮੀ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਵੇਚਾਰਾ ॥੧॥ : (For not following the worldly ways…) Some call (Nanak) ‘Bhootanaa’ (a ghost…); some call ‘Betaalaa’ (demon…); Some call ‘Vaechaara’ (wretched, helpless, poor…). ||1|| (sggs 991).

Did this sort of worldly nonsense cause Baabaa Nanak or Bhagats to give up Bhagti or the Path of Truth? No!

  • ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਛਾਡਉ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਭਾਵੈ ਨਿੰਦਉ ਲੋਗੁ ॥ : I will not forsake Raam Bhagati even if people slander (sggs 1366).
  • ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਤਿਨ ਨਿੰਦਹਿ ਨਿਗੁਰੇ ਪਸੂ ਸਮਾਨਾ ॥੨॥ : People who slander those who engage in divine Bhagti are like beasts. (sggs 1138).
  • ਨਿੰਦਕੁ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਕਰਿ ਮਲੁ ਧੋਵੈ ਓਹੁ ਮਲਭਖੁ ਮਾਇਆਧਾਰੀ ॥ : By slandering, the slanderer washes other’s filth, but in the process a Mayadhaaree (one attached to Maya himself becomes used to) eating the filth. (sggs 507).

Behavior of an Enlightened person (Gurmukh Mindset) is beyond the understanding of an ordinary human being of limited vision (the vision impaired by the cataract of Maya).

Due to corrupted psyche, a slanderer develops evil instincts toward others such as faultfinding, backbiting, hatred, resentment, cruelty, and so on.

The Gurbani asks us to abandon our own faults, and form a partnership with Virtues.

However, the slanderer can neither share in goodness of others nor abandon his own faults. Like a serpent’s venom; this habit of his destroys his body, nature, and personality.

  • ਅਰੜਾਵੈ ਬਿਲਲਾਵੈ ਨਿੰਦਕੁ ॥ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਪਰਮੇਸਰੁ ਬਿਸਰਿਆ ਅਪਣਾ ਕੀਤਾ ਪਾਵੈ ਨਿੰਦਕੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਜੇ ਕੋਈ ਉਸ ਕਾ ਸੰਗੀ ਹੋਵੈ ਨਾਲੇ ਲਏ ਸਿਧਾਵੈ ॥ ਅਣਹੋਦਾ ਅਜਗਰੁ ਭਾਰੁ ਉਠਾਏ ਨਿੰਦਕੁ ਅਗਨੀ ਮਾਹਿ ਜਲਾਵੈ ॥੧॥ : The slanderer cries out and bewails. The slanderer has forgotten the creator and suffers the consequences of his own deeds. ||1||Pause||if anyone associates him also gets into the habit of slandering The slanderer carries such a heavy load (of slandering) as a dragon and keeps burning in the fire of slandering others. ||1||(sggs 373).

If people can call Baabaa Nanak demon etc. then what to speak of us! The Gurbani says that an aspirant should not be concerned about being slandered by ‘Manmukh Mugadh‘ (foolish Manmukh-Saakat- Mayadhaaree – those in love with Maya). Because, according to the Gurbani, being slandered or criticized is in fact beneficial! How’s so?

Slanderers help one become aware and alert of his negativity and defilement — one’s weaknesses become magnified when slandered.

If taken constructively, once aware of his weaknesses, one can do something about them. Thus, in a way, the person who talks trash about someone helps him remove his demerits.

However, if one reacts negatively to the act of being calumniated by someone, then obviously he has nothing to gain (because then he is no different than the slanderer).

For one’s negativity + other’s negativity is not equal to positivism!

The key is to use it (1) to see our shortcomings; and (2) then remove them without any prejudice or partiality. In this context, consider the following Shabad:

  • ਨਿੰਦਉ ਨਿੰਦਉ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਲੋਗੁ ਨਿੰਦਉ ॥ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਜਨ ਕਉ ਖਰੀ ਪਿਆਰੀ ॥ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਬਾਪੁ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਮਹਤਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਹੋਇ ਤ ਬੈਕੁੰਠਿ ਜਾਈਐ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਮਨਹਿ ਬਸਾਈਐ ॥ ਰਿਦੈ ਸੁਧ ਜਉ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਹਮਰੇ ਕਪਰੇ ਨਿੰਦਕੁ ਧੋਇ ॥੧॥ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਕਰੈ ਸੁ ਹਮਰਾ ਮੀਤੁ ॥ ਨਿੰਦਕ ਮਾਹਿ ਹਮਾਰਾ ਚੀਤੁ ॥ ਨਿੰਦਕੁ ਸੋ ਜੋ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਹੋਰੈ ॥ ਹਮਰਾ ਜੀਵਨੁ ਨਿੰਦਕੁ ਲੋਰੈ ॥੨॥ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਹਮਰੀ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਹਮਰਾ ਕਰੈ ਉਧਾਰੁ ॥ ਜਨ ਕਬੀਰ ਕਉ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਨਿੰਦਕੁ ਡੂਬਾ ਹਮ ਉਤਰੇ ਪਾਰਿ ॥੩॥੨੦॥੭੧॥ : Slander me, slander me – go ahead, people, slander me (by telling lies about me). Slander is pleasing to ‘Jana’ (Gurmukh, Daas, Bhagat…)… (sggs 339).

On the other hand, the slanderer bears total loss — increases his false ego-sense (Haumai) demerits, sinful propensities, pollution of the mind, foolishness, suffering …)! Like a janitor or a dragon, a slanderer carries his huge loads (of slandering), and burns in his own fire (of slandering habit). ||1||

  • ਨਿੰਦਕ ਕਉ ਫਿਟਕੇ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਨਿੰਦਕ ਕਾ ਝੂਠਾ ਬਿਉਹਾਰੁ ॥ ਨਿੰਦਕ ਕਾ ਮੈਲਾ ਆਚਾਰੁ ॥ : The world curses the slanderer. (Because the world knows that) false are the dealings of the calumniator. (By calumniating) the calumniator’s own lifestyle becomes filthy (corrupt, Bikaaree…). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 1151).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਲੋਭੁ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਹਲਕਾਏ ॥ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਕਰਹਿ ਸਿਰਿ ਭਾਰੁ ਉਠਾਏ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੂਠਾ ਚੇਤੈ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ ਭਰਮੇ ਭੂਲਾ ਬਹੁਤੀ ਰਾਹੀ ॥੨॥ : Within (the Pujaaree) is greed and they wander about like mad dogs. They slander others and carry loads of (slandering) upon their heads. Beguiled by Maya, he does not think of the (Divine Wisdom, Virtues). Deluded by doubt, he goes astray in many ways. ||2|| (sggs 372).
  • ਐਸੇ ਝੂਠਿ ਮੁਠੇ ਸੰਸਾਰਾ ॥ ਨਿੰਦਕੁ ਨਿੰਦੈ ਮੁਝੈ ਪਿਆਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਜਿਸੁ ਨਿੰਦਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਬਿਧਿ ਜਾਣੈ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦੇ ਦਰਿ ਨੀਸਾਣੈ ॥ : Such is the falsehood (worthless activities, corrupt thinking etc.) that’s plundering the worldly people (of their spiritual life). The slanderer slanders me, but even so, I love him (because he helps me improve). ||1||Pause|| He alone knows the Way of life, who is being slandered. By internalizing the Message contained in the Shabad, he realizes the Creator. (sggs 1330).
  • ਮਿਥਿਆ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ਧੜੇ ਬਹਿ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ ਪਰਾਇਆ ਛਿਦ੍ਰੁ ਅਟਕਲੈ ਆਪਣਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਵਧਾਵੈ ॥ : People create alliances with false duality in mind. One makes wild guesses about the fault of others and inflames his own ego by thinking himself superior than others. (sggs 366).

What is NOT slandering?

Speaking truth is not slandering.

Starting from Baabaa Nanak, in-depth analysis of compositions of all Gurus and Bhagat makes it clear that their thoughts are centered on the Eternal Truth:

  • ਮਨਹਠ ਬੁਧੀ ਕੇਤੀਆ ਕੇਤੇ ਬੇਦ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥ ਕੇਤੇ ਬੰਧਨ ਜੀਅ ਕੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮੋਖ ਦੁਆਰ ॥ ਸਚਹੁ ਓਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਉਪਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਆਚਾਰੁ ॥੫॥ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਊਚਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਨੀਚੁ ਨ ਦੀਸੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਇਕਨੈ ਭਾਂਡੇ ਸਾਜਿਐ ਇਕੁ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਤਿਹੁ ਲੋਇ ॥ ਕਰਮਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਚੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਧੁਰਿ ਬਖਸ ਨ ਮੇਟੈ ਕੋਇ ॥੬॥ :  There are so many stubborn minded (self-centered) people who perform austerities and so many who deliberate on the Vedas to obtain liberation. They create so many obstacles and entanglements for themselves whereas a Gurmukh (Enlightened being…) obtains liberation. Truth is higher than everything, but higher still is truthful living. ॥5॥ Regard everyone high for none is lowly. The One Creator has fashioned all alike, and His Light pervades all creation. It is the immutable Hukam (Cosmic Law) that one realizes the Creator through one’s deeds only. ॥6॥ (sggs 62).
  • ਬੋਲੀਐ ਸਚੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਝੂਠੁ ਨ ਬੋਲੀਐ ॥ : Speak the ‘Sachu’ Dharma (i.e. to speak Truth is Dharma), and do not speak falsehood (sggs 488).
  • ਬੋਲਹਿ ਸਾਚੁ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਨਹੀ ਰਾਈ ॥ : (Gurmukh: Enlightened Mindsets) always speak the truth without a tinge of falsehood. (sggs 227).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਿਆ ਮਿਟੀ ਧੁੰਧ ਜਗ ਚਾਨਣ ਹੋਆ ॥ ਜਿਉਂ ਕਰ ਸੂਰਜ ਨਿਕਲਿਆ ਤਾਰੇ ਛਪੇ ਅੰਧੇਰ ਪਲੋਆ॥ : The Advent of Satigur Was the Lifting of the Fog of Spiritual Un-enlightenment. His Coming was the Rising of the Sun (Light of Giaan), meaning it was the Dawn of Enlightenment that led to the Removal of Inner Darkness. (Bhai Gurdas, Var 1).

However on account of our ignorance, falsehood, greed and selfishness – with the exception of a ‘rare‘ one – we do not want to distinguish between slander and truth. The result is that we end up protecting and shielding the guilty in the name of reputation of Sikhs or ‘Panth‘ at large thus allowing the guilty to carry on with their harmful ways without any fear of accountability and consequences. In short, due to lack of interest in reading etc., we do not concern ourselves with what’s going on in the Sikh community. We just follow the crowds (mob or herd mentality: sheep follow sheep), adopting the behaviors and actions of the people around.

The Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS asserts if any person doesn’t speak Truth then his/her claim of being Dhaarmic, religious, Virtuous or righteous etc. is a blatant Pakhand and fraud.

  • ਬੋਲਿ ਸੁਧਰਮੀੜਿਆ ਮੋਨਿ ਕਤ ਧਾਰੀ ਰਾਮ ॥ : O you, who call yourself of the sublime Dharma, why are you silent — from speaking TruthNaam, life’s experiences etc.? (sggs 547).
  • ਕਰਿ ਆਚਾਰੁ ਸਚੁ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਈ ॥ : Sukh (Joy, Peace…) is obtained by living the Truth (sggs 931).

Sikhi or Sikh thought (ਸਿਖੀ ਵਿਚਾਰਧਾਰਾ) came into being logically questioning Brahmins (Clergy), Jains, Yogis, Mullahs, Kazi, Pandits, leaders, sants, rulers, Khatris, religious rituals (Karamkaand), religious paraphernalia, traditions (ਪਰੰਪਰਾ), Sannyaasee (renunciates), Pujaaree-Vaad and Pujaaree systems etc.

Hence the Gurmat Wisdom of Baabaa Nanak or Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) is full of logical questionings (ਤਰਕ ਦੇ ਅਧਾਰ ਤੇ)!

Compositions carrying the universal Message of all the 35 composers of the Bani (SGGS) is based on questioning with Wisdom and logic (Tarak-ਤਰਕ, Bibek – rationale, reasoning, discerning or discriminating intellect…). With Wisdom and logic, they questioned and challenged falsehood and corruption gripping the society (ਸਮਾਜਿਕ ਕੁਰੀਤੀਆਂ).

  • ਸਚ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਸਚੁ ਸੁਣਾਇਸੀ ਸਚ ਕੀ ਬੇਲਾ ॥੨॥੩॥੫॥ : Nanak speaks this Bani of Truth (Creator), and would continue to speak the Truth where its needed the most at that moment. ॥2॥3॥5॥ (sggs 723).

When you directly speak the truth, one thing is sure to happen — you will vigorously be opposed, threatened, physical hurt, killed, crucified by the self-serving Pujaaree (clergy: Granthis, Parcharaks, Ragis, Dhadees etc.) and the freeloading Deraa-Vaad Baabaas (ਵੇਹਲੜ) etc. who have turned Dharma or Gurbani into a business transactions (ਧੰਧਾ) by twisting the Gurmat to fit Bipar-Vaad, worthless rituals or Karamkaand, concocted narratives and traditions (ਪਰੰਪਰਾ), concocted myths, and so on.

  • ਜਿਨਾ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਕੂੜੁ ਵਰਤੈ ਸਚੁ ਨ ਭਾਵਈ ॥ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਬੋਲੈ ਸਚੁ ਕੂੜਾ ਜਲਿ ਜਾਵਈ ॥ : Truth does not suit those who are permeated by falsehood. If someone speaks the Truth, the false (one) is burnt (irritated). (sggs 646).
  • 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).
  • ਵਿਚਿ ਸਚੇ ਕੂੜੁ ਨ ਗਡਈ ਮਨਿ ਵੇਖਹੁ ਕੋ ਨਿਰਜਾਸਿ ॥ : Check it out and see in your mind — falsehood does not mix in Truth. (sggs 313).
  • ਸੁਨੀ ਨ ਜਾਈ ਸਚੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਕਾਥਾ ॥ ਰਾਰਿ ਕਰਤ ਝੂਠੀ ਲਗਿ ਗਾਥਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : Sunee n Jaaee Sach Amrit Kaathaa… (sggs 376).
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਕੂੜੇ ਸਚੁ ਨ ਭਾਵੈ ॥ : The false Saakat does not like Truth (Sach). (sggs 109).
  • ਅੰਦਰਹੁ ਥੋਥਾ ਕੂੜਿਆਰੁ ਕੂੜੀ ਸਭ ਖਚਾ ॥ ਬਚਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਤੈ ਖਿਸਕਿ ਜਾਇ ਬੋਲੇ ਸਭੁ ਕਚਾ ॥ : (A person engrossed in Maya) gives his word than backs out, all that person says is false. That liar is hollow from inside and that person’s talk is false. (sggs 1099).

This happened before and during the time of the Gurus and Bhagats, and this is happening today and is certain to happen in the future as well! Bhagat Kabeer Jee questions:

  • ਜਬ ਹਮ ਏਕੋ ਏਕੁ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਨਿਆ ॥ ਤਬ ਲੋਗਹ ਕਾਹੇ ਦੁਖੁ ਮਾਨਿਆ ॥੧॥ : When I realize ONE (everywhere and within everybody), why then should the people be upset? ||1|| (sggs 324).

We learn from the Gurbani that if we directly speak truth (ਸਚ-Sach), then it is not slandering (ਨਿੰਦਾ-Nindaa) or criticism; it is not condemnation or rejection of somebody’s path or religion; it is not to be taken as hurting somebody’s feelings either etc.

Instead, the Gurbani criticizes the twisters who have twisted the truth the self-serving Pujaaree-Vaad (clergy).

A connection with ‘Truth’ can only be achieved if we become the masters of the true character instead of being blatant twisters of the Truth, back-biters (ChugalKhor-ਚੁਗਲਖੋਰ) or (Meesanaa-ਮੀਸਣਾਂ, ਮੀਣਾ).

  • ਜਿਸੁ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਚੁਗਲੀ ਚੁਗਲੋ ਵਜੈ ਕੀਤਾ ਕਰਤਿਆ ਓਸ ਦਾ ਸਭੁ ਗਇਆ ॥ : A person whose mind is filled with slander (gossip, back-biting etc.) becomes known as a slanderer, whatever spiritual gains he accumulates go to waste. (sggs 308).
  • ਦਿਲਹੁ ਮੁਹਬਤਿ ਜਿੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਸੇਈ ਸਚਿਆ ॥ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਮਨਿ ਹੋਰੁ ਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਰੁ ਸਿ ਕਾਂਢੇ ਕਚਿਆ : They alone are the true lovers of God, who love Him from the core of their Heart. But those, within whose mind is something other than what they utter are called the fake or unfaithful lovers. ||1|| (sggs 488).
  • ਫਰੀਦਾ ਕੰਨਿ ਮੁਸਲਾ ਸੂਫੁ ਗਲਿ ਦਿਲਿ ਕਾਤੀ ਗੁੜੁ ਵਾਤਿ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਦਿਸੈ ਚਾਨਣਾ ਦਿਲਿ ਅੰਧਿਆਰੀ ਰਾਤਿ ॥੫੦॥ : O Farid! on your shoulder is the prayer mat, around your neck is the black scarf (Sufi robe), candy in your mouth (i.e. deceptively sweet words), but a dagger in your heart (you have disguised yourself as a pious person, you speak sweet words but your heart is deceitful). outwardly you appear as spiritually wise but in your heart is pitch darkness of spiritual ignorance. ||50|| (sggs 1380).
  • ਮੋਹਣੁ ਕਮਲਾ ਹੋਇਆ ਚਉਬਾਰਾ ਮੋਹਰੀ ਮਨਾਇਆ ॥ ਮੀਣਾ ਹੋਇਆ ਪਿਰਥੀਆ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਤੋਂਡਕ ਬਰਲੁ ਚਲਾਇਆ ॥ : Mohan (son of Guru Amardas) got insane (ਝੱਲਾ, ਬੇ-ਅਕਲ…) and Mohart (the second son) lived in a lofty house and started getting served by the people. Prithy Chand (son of Guru Ramdas) came out as dissembling scoundrel and using his oblique nature spread his mental sickness all round. (Bhai Gurdas Ji, Vaar 26, Paurhee 33).

In short, to directly call something or somebody as it is (i.e. truth-Sach) is not slandering. It is Fearlessness as taught by the Gurbani. It is simply being factual, truthful and honest!

Also, to call truth (ਸਚ-Sach) as truth is not the praise of truth.

To put it in a simple Punjabi: ਬੁਰਾਈ ਨੂੰ ਬੁਰਾਈ ਕਹਿਣਾ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਨਹੀ ਹੈ, ਬੁਰਾਈ ਨਹੀ ਹੈ.

The Gurbani is filled with examples in this context. However we cannot quote all of them here from a space point of view. Let’s consider a few as follows:

When Baabaa Nanak and Bhagat call the Pujaaree groups dishonest, fool, ignorant, greedy, Satan, bewildered or lost, traders of Maya, treacherous, harmful, deceptive etc., he is not criticizing or slandering their religion. They are simply criticizing the twisted Pujaaree and telling truth about them (ਸਚ-Sach)!

  • ਝੂਠੁ ਨ ਬੋਲਿ ਪਾਡੇ ਸਚੁ ਕਹੀਐ ॥ : O Pandit (i.e. Pujaaree, religious scholar etc.)! Do not tell lies, speak the Truth. (sggs 904).
  • ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੋਹੇ ਲੋਭਿ ਸਬਾਏ ॥: All Pandits are deluded by greed (sggs 370).
  • ਮਾਣਸ ਖਾਣੇ ਕਰਹਿ ਨਿਵਾਜ ॥ ਛੁਰੀ ਵਗਾਇਨਿ ਤਿਨ ਗਲਿ ਤਾਗ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਘਰਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਣ ਪੂਰਹਿ ਨਾਦ ॥ ਉਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਭਿ ਆਵਹਿ ਓਈ ਸਾਦ ॥ ਕੂੜੀ ਰਾਸਿ ਕੂੜਾ ਵਾਪਾਰੁ ॥ ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਆਹਾਰੁ ॥ ਸਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਕਾ ਡੇਰਾ ਦੂਰਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਕੂੜੁ ਰਹਿਆ ਭਰਪੂਰਿ ॥ : Those who devour humanity by plundering it (i.e. those who violate or usurp someone’s right or take away something that rightfully belongs to others – ਪਰਾਇਆ ਹਕ ਖਾਣ ਵਾਲੇ) perform Namaz (Muslim prayer). There is the sacred thread around the necks of those who wield the knife of such robbery (corruption, bribe, etc.). To whose house the Brahmin (clergy or Pujaaree) blow the conch to sanctify their doings, they also have the same taste (i.e. they are also corrupt). The capital of falsehood is the only thing they have. They only trade in falsehood. They mislead people by speaking falsehood and make living through falsehood (deception). The sense of shame and Dharma is not even close to them, it is far away from them. Nanak, in this way, there is falsehood all around in the name of religion. (sggs 471).
  • ਕਾਦੀ ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਮਲੁ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਜੀਆ ਘਾਇ ॥ ਜੋਗੀ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਅੰਧੁ ॥ ਤੀਨੇ ਓਜਾੜੇ ਕਾ ਬੰਧੁ ॥੨॥ : The clergy of the Muslim faith was corrupt, the Brahmin was murderous and the Yogi Un-Enlightened. These three (clergy) had become the root cause for the spiritual wreckage and desolation that mankind had come to endure. (sggs 662).
  • ਹਿੰਦੂ ਅੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਤੁਰਕੂ ਕਾਣਾ ॥ : The Hindu is blind (mentally blind, spiritually unintelligent, etc., who has made-up phony stories and claims god is limited only to the temple…) and the Muslim is one-eyed (i.e., who has some intelligence – but claims Allah is limited only to the mosque, etc.). (sggs 875).
  • ਬਾਰਹ ਮਹਿ ਰਾਵਲ ਖਪਿ ਜਾਵਹਿ ਚਹੁ ਛਿਅ ਮਹਿ ਸੰਨਿਆਸੀ ॥ ਜੋਗੀ ਕਾਪੜੀਆ ਸਿਰਖੂਥੇ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਬਦੈ ਗਲਿ ਫਾਸੀ ॥੧॥ : (Without the Shabad: Wisdom, Bibek, Upadesh…) Yogis in twelve sects are ruined and so are the ten sects of the Sannyaasees. Yogis in tatters and the Jains with their hair plucked out from their heads (they all keep getting ruined). Without the Shabad (Wisdom, Bibek, Upadesh…), the noose (of Maya) remains around their necks. (sggs 1332).

The Gurbani is also telling the truth when it condemns those who become lazy bums (i.e. Yogis, renunciates etc.), abandon their families, go to jungles or go sit on mountain tops or in caves.

  • ਪੂੰਅਰ ਤਾਪ ਗੇਰੀ ਕੇ ਬਸਤ੍ਰਾ ॥ ਅਪਦਾ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਤੇ ਨਸਤਾ ॥ ਦੇਸੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਪਰਦੇਸਹਿ ਧਾਇਆ ॥ ਪੰਚ ਚੰਡਾਲ ਨਾਲੇ ਲੈ ਆਇਆ ॥੪॥ : You worship fire (ਧੂਣੀਆਂ ਤਪਾਂਣਾਂ) and wear saffron colored robes. Smitten by calamity (distress, trouble…), you run away from your home. Leaving your country, you wander in foreign lands. (But your Mayaic mind) brings the five pariahs (i.e., Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, etc.) with it. ||4|| (sggs 1348).
  • ਮਖਟੂ ਹੋਇ ਕੈ ਕੰਨ ਪੜਾਏ ॥ : Makhtoo hoi Kai… (sggs 1245).
  • ਜਤੀ ਸਦਾਵਹਿ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਛਡਿ ਬਹਹਿ ਘਰ ਬਾਰੁ ॥ : Jatee sdavahi…(sggs 469).

When Bhagat Kabeer Jee tells us to discard the greedy and crafty Pujaaree groups and the Pujaaree system, he is not cutinizing their religion. He is simply criticizing for they are crafty, exploit people and enslave their minds! Here is the Gurbani’s Message to all its Sikhs (learners, ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ):

  • ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਜੋ ਲਿਖਿ ਦੀਆ ॥ ਛਾਡਿ ਚਲੇ ਹਮ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਲੀਆ ॥੩॥ : ALL that the Pandit and Mullah Clergy have prescribed or presented to us, I have DISCARDED (while walking on the Path of Spirituality). I DISCARD IT ALL and have ACCEPTED NOTHING at all. ||3|| (sggs 1159).
  • ਹਮਰਾ ਝਗਰਾ ਰਹਾ ਨ ਕੋਊ ॥ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਛਾਡੇ ਦੋਊ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : (Bhagat Kabeer Ji says) I have no conflict in my mind whatsoever — no struggle within me anymore. (I have achieved this state because) I have discarded all the claims of the clergy (Pujaaree). |1|| Pause || (sggs 1158).

When the Gurbani declares these so called ‘Sant‘ as Baanaarasi-Thugs (robbers, cheats: ਠੱਗ), he is not slandering them. Because, the Gurbani is telling truth about them (ਸਚ-Sach).

  • ਗਜ ਸਾਢੇ ਤੈ ਤੈ ਧੋਤੀਆ ਤਿਹਰੇ ਪਾਇਨਿ ਤਗ ॥ ਗਲੀ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਜਪਮਾਲੀਆ ਲੋਟੇ ਹਥਿ ਨਿਬਗ ॥ ਓਇ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਸੰਤ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ ॥੧॥ ਐਸੇ ਸੰਤ ਨ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਭਾਵਹਿ ॥ ਡਾਲਾ ਸਿਉ ਪੇਡਾ ਗਟਕਾਵਹਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਬਾਸਨ ਮਾਂਜਿ ਚਰਾਵਹਿ ਊਪਰਿ ਕਾਠੀ ਧੋਇ ਜਲਾਵਹਿ ॥ ਬਸੁਧਾ ਖੋਦਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਦੁਇ ਚੂਲ੍ਹ੍ਹੇ ਸਾਰੇ ਮਾਣਸ ਖਾਵਹਿ ॥੨॥ ਓਇ ਪਾਪੀ ਸਦਾ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਅਪਰਾਧੀ ਮੁਖਹੁ ਅਪਰਸ ਕਹਾਵਹਿ ॥ ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਅਭਿਮਾਨੀ ਸਗਲ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਡੁਬਾਵਹਿ ॥੩॥ : (Freeloading/Pakhandi Sant/Sadh) they wear three and a half yard long loincloths, and triple-wound sacred threads. They wear rosaries around their necks, and glittering jugs in their hands. Just because of such religious paraphernalia they should not be called Sant of God — they are thugs of Baanaaras (i.e., religious conmen, cheats, robbers…). Fallen from human thinking, such pretentious so called Sant are not pleasing to me. Because, they rob their victims of not only their wealth, but also of their life which is like gulping down the entire tree instead of consuming just a branch. ||1||Pause|| They wash their pots and pans before putting them on the stove, and wash the wood before lighting it. (To show others how holy they are) they dig earth, and make two hearths – one for their use and he second for others to use. (But in their real life, they are so cruel) they rob their victims as if they devoured the whole person (i.e. exploit the gullible people and destroy their life). ||2|| Such sinners always keep roaming around (looking for more victims), but they call themselves “Aprass” (i.e. untouched by vices or any other person). They always live in arrogance and thus drown themselves (in vices) along with their family (i.e. those in their company also suffer for their deeds). ||3|| (sggs 476).

When Baabaaa Nanak and Bhagats expose the fraud and corruption that had (still now) become the resting ground for the religious places of worship and religious institutions and organizations, they are not criticizing any religion. They are simply exposing the twisted and corrupt Pujaaree by telling truth (ਸਚ-Sach).

  • ਗੰਗਾ ਗਇਆ ਗੋਦਾਵਰੀ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਕੇ ਕਾਮਾ ॥ : Pilgrimages to (Teerath Asthaan like Ganges, Gaya and Godawari (etc.) are merely worldly affairs (sggs 1195).
  • ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਇ ਨ ਉਤਰਸਿ ਮੈਲੁ ॥ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਸਭਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਫੈਲੁ ॥ : Bathing at shrines of pilgrimage, filth (i.e., egotism, Bikaar…) is not washed off. Religious rituals (Karamkaand) are all just egotistical displays (sggs 890).
  • ਬਗਾ ਬਗੇ ਕਪੜੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਮੰਝਿ ਵਸੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ॥ ਘੁਟਿ ਘੁਟਿ ਜੀਆ ਖਾਵਣੇ ਬਗੇ ਨਾ ਕਹੀਅਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ॥੩॥ : The hypocrite people (Pakhandee-Pujaaree etc.) who wear holy garbs and dwell in places of pilgrimage (so called Teerath) like the white feathered herons on the banks of rivers. Like herons swallow the fish, these hypocritical people throttle the innocent human beings, therefore, they cannot be called pure or virtuous (i.e. they are crafty and scheming inside). ||3|| (sggs 729).
  • ਕਾਲੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਜੋਗੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਸਤ ਕਾ ਢਬੁ ॥ ਥਾਨਸਟ ਜਗ ਭਰਿਸਟ ਹੋਏ ਡੂਬਤਾ ਇਵ ਜਗੁ ॥ : Kaal Naahee Jog Naahee… (sggs 662).

Baabaa Nanak is not slandering Ragis (paid singers) when he tells them that it does not matter how many different ways they sing, but the Creator is not pleased by their singing in Ragas with musical instrument. Baabaa Nanak says that these mentally blind Ragis do all this for the sake of ‘bread’ (‘ਰੋਟੀਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ’). Babaa Nanak is Just telling the Ragis and the rest of us the truth. Because God has nothing to do with all this.

  • ਰੋਟੀਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਪੂਰਹਿ ਤਾਲ ॥ : For the sake of bread, they perform melodiously (sggs 465).
  • ਇਕਿ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਰਾਗ ਪਰੀਆ ਰਾਗਿ ਨ ਭੀਜਈ ॥ : Some sing according to traditional Raag, but the Lord is not pleased by these Raag (sggs 1285).
  • ਗਾਵਹਿ ਗੀਤ ਨ ਚੀਨਹਿ ਆਪੁ ॥ : You sing the songs, but you do not understand your own self (i.e., your Mool). (sggs 903).
  • ਗੀਤ ਰਾਗ ਘਨ ਤਾਲ ਸਿ ਕੂਰੇ ॥ : (Forgetting the Shabad: Vichaar, Giaan, etc., mortal indulges in) the various songs, Raag and rhythms, but these are all false efforts. (sggs 832).
  • ਅੰਦਰਹੁ ਅੰਨਾ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਅੰਨਾ ਕੂੜੀ ਕੂੜੀ ਗਾਵੈ ॥ : A person who is blind inwardly (i.e. mentally blind) and blind outwardly (from conduct or deeds: ਕਾਲੀਆਂ ਕਰਤੂਤਾਂ), sings (or recite scriptures) deceptively or falsely (ਝੂਠੀ ਮੂਠੀ). (sggs 960).
  • ਰਾਗ ਨਾਦ ਸਭ ਕੋ ਸੁਣੈ ਸਬਦ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਮਝੈ ਵਿਰਲੋਈ ।॥ : Everybody just listen to ‘Raag and Naad’, but a very rare one understands Shabad-Surti (Bhai Gurdaas, Vaar 15, Paurree 16).

Baabaa Nanak in the following verse tells us that the whole world is ‘Rogee‘ (i.e diseased – with the negative impact of egotism and its faults like lust, anger, greed etc.). By saying so he is not slandering the whole world. But just telling the truth.

  • ਜਗੁ ਰੋਗੀ ਕਹ ਦੇਖਿ ਦਿਖਾਉ ॥ : The whole world itself is sick (mind’s Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, etc.) thus whom should I seek and search to cure me? (sggs 1189).

When Baabaa Nanak declares that the leaders, religious or otherwise, are corrupt, he is not slandering them. He just telling the truth.

Also, when Baabaa Nanak says that their officials on account of greed behave as dogs and harass innocent people, he is not slandering them. Because, what Baabaa Nanak is saying about all of them is true (ਸਚ-Sach) — they plunder weak and the suppressed and the natural resources as lions plunder their pray.

  • ਰਾਜੇ ਸੀਹ ਮੁਕਦਮ ਕੁਤੇ ॥ : The kings are like tigers, and their officials are dogs (sggs 1288).

When Baabaa Nanak calls kings the butchers, thieves, sense-blind, full of hunger for Maya, corrupt, etc., he is not slandering them. Because, what Baabaa Nanak is saying about them is true (ਸਚ-Sach).

  • ਕਲਿ ਕਾਤੀ ਰਾਜੇ ਕਾਸਾਈ ਧਰਮੁ ਪੰਖ ਕਰਿ ਉਡਰਿਆ ॥ : ‘Kali’ (corrupt state of the mind) is like a sharp knife. Kings (and their officers) who protect the people are behaving like butchers (ਜਾਲਮ). The true principle of Dharma is as if taken wings and flown away. (sggs 145).

Baabaa Nanak called the emperor Baabar tyrannical (ਜਾਬਰ). This is not slandering of Baabar. Because, what Baabaa Nanak said about him is true (ਸਚ-Sach).

  • ਪਾਪ ਕੀ ਜੰਞ ਲੈ ਕਾਬਲਹੁ ਧਾਇਆ ਜੋਰੀ ਮੰਗੈ ਦਾਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥ : Paap kee janjh… (sggs 722).

We will stop here, for the list of such examples in the SGGS goes on and on.

The bottom line is: To call a thorn a ‘thorn’ is not slandering of the thorn; similarly to speak the truth is not slandering of the truth.

Thus, the Gurbani is not slandering or condemning anybody. It is simply factual, truthful.

Where the Gurbani praises the good qualities (Virtues or ਗੁਣ), there a thug is strongly called a thug. Whether that person is from the religious field or from the field of politics.

There are endless aspects of Gurbani through which the Pakhand of thugs and hypocrites have been exposed and the truth has been brought to light. We do not condemn this aspect of Gurbani but bow down and salute it.

Clearly, the Gurus and Bhagats had the guts and fearlessness to speak the truth!

Since we are the learners (i.e., Sikhs) of the Wisdom of the SGGS, we are also to Awaken similar guts and fearlessness!

The Wisdom of the Gurbani wants us to Become the Gurbani — like the 35 contributors of the SGGS, and have no fear when it comes to speaking the truth! The 35 contributors of the SGGS tells if speaking truth hurts somebody’s sentiments (ਭਾਵਨਾ), so be it!

However, the Gurbani challenges us to comprehend the Divine Wisdom expounded in the Gurbani. No amount of religious garbs or symbols, no amount of hypocrisy or pretending (Pakhand), no amount of religious rituals (Karamkaand) etc. will do the trick!

  • ਬਾਣੀ ਬੂਝੈ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਵੈ ॥ : (One who) understands the Bani, gets absorbed in the Truth (sggs 412).
  • ਉਸਤਤਿ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਜੋ ਦੇਵੈ ਤਿਸ ਕਉ ਜੈਕਾਰੁ ॥ : If a person considers Shabad-Vichaar in depth, then he will understand what is praise and what is slander (i.e. he will know right and wrong, bad and good, courtesy and wickedness etc.). Glory to the one who gives this Wisdom. (sggs 1331).

The Gurbani’s truth hits deep in the heart. Therefore, it gets avoided or compromised.

Instead, people enjoy lies, gossip, back-biting, cowardice, pretense etc. Because they are very comfortable. This is the reason, the Gurbani says falsehood and Pakhand draws crowds!

To the contrary, the Gurmat Wisdom, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS says truth is always alone for it gets neglected. It gets neglected because truth is always shattering, bitter, unpleasant etc.

In this context, here is Bhagat Kabeer Jee’s one more gutsy and fearless declaration:

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਜਿਹ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਗਏ ਪਾਛੈ ਪਰੀ ਬਹੀਰ ॥ ਇਕ ਅਵਘਟ ਘਾਟੀ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਤਿਹ ਚੜਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਕਬੀਰ ॥੧੬੫॥ : Kabeer, crowds are following the same path (i.e. the stale and distorted path of falsehoodPakhandKaramkaandsuperstitions…) on which the Pujaaree people are walking; but realizing God is very difficult like climbing a treacherous hill, Kabeer is treading this difficult path. ||165|| (sggs 1373).

If we understand the true Dharma as explained in the SGGS, then the illusion of slander will not bother us while speaking against social ills, corruption and evil.

  • ਸਰਬ ਧਰਮ ਮਹਿ ਸ੍ਰੇਸਟ ਧਰਮੁ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਕਰਮੁ ॥ : Of all Dharma the most sublime Dharma is to realize the Naam (Wisdom / Virtues) and emulating them to perform deeds free of corrupting influence of Maya. (sggs 266).


  1. …the practice still continues

    Let’s find an answer from the Gurbani:
    • ਸੁਆਨ ਪੂਛ ਜਿਉ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਸੂਧੋ ਕਹਿਓ ਨ ਕਾਨ ਧਰੈ ॥ (sggs 536).

  2. Gurbaanee is very clear in context of all ritual practices established by self interested people .It is true all such practices do exist even today even as greater shows.
    When Gurbaanee tells as “HAINi VIRALE NAAHEE GHANE FAIL FUKAR SANSAAR” this state is going to exist . But only few can remain away from the effects of man made rituals who are truly graced by THE LORD.
    THE LORD itself has created two ways I…WAY TO MAYA and 2..WAY TO NAAMu
    Ultimately it is THE WILL of THE LORD controlling the whole game of Gurmukh v/s Munmukh

  3. It seems there is very very thin line that distinguishes between the Gurmat and Manmat, what is that truth, speaking that is not Ninda/Slander? It will be interesting to explore what could be that objective measurement that can encourage seekers to accept and follow the truth. For example – it has always intrigued me that even when GuR NaNK challenged the water throwing to the sun ( Suriya Namaskar), the practice still continues

  4. Nice post T Singh Ji. It seems as our masters were beyond duality, there is no good and bad in what they say, it just is.

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