Gurbani Teaches Speaking Truth is not Slandering

It should be noted and remembered that Sikhi or Sikh thought (ਸਿਖੀ ਵਿਚਾਰਧਾਰਾ) came into being logically questioning the so called sants, Brahmins, Jains, Yogis, Mullahs, Kazi, Pandits, leaders, rulers, religious rituals (Karamkaand), religious paraphernalia, traditions (ਪਰੰਪਰਾ), Sannyaasee, Pujaaree-Vaad and Pujaaree systems, etc.

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

Compositions carrying the universal Message of all the 35 contributors of the 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 the Word of Truth; he proclaims the Truth at the right time. ||2||3||5|| (sggs 723).

When you speak the truth, one thing is sure to happen —  you will vigorously be opposed, threatened, physical hurt or killed, crucified etc. by the corrupt and greedy traditionalists (ਪਰੰਪਰਾਵਾਦੀ); by the dishonest people who control organized and institutionalized religions (ਮਜਹਬ ਦੇ ਠੇਕੇਦਾਰ); by the Pujaaree-Vaad who make money (business, ਧੰਧਾ) in the name of Dharma and a fake god, etc.

  • 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).

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 speak the truth (ਸਚ-Sach) about something or somebody, then it is not slandering (ਨਿੰਦਾ-Nindaa); it is not condemnation; it is not rejection; it is not criticism; it is not to be taken as hurting somebody’s feelings, etc.

As a matter of fact, the SGGS challenges those who call themselves Dhaarmic person to speak the truth. If they don’t then their claim of being Dhaarmic persons is a blatant Pakhand and fraud in the name of Dharma and Sikhi of the SGGS. The connection with the ‘Truth’ can only be achieved if we become the masters of the true character (instead of the show). Consider the following Hukam of SGGS:

  • ਬੋਲਿ ਸੁਧਰਮੀੜਿਆ ਮੋਨਿ ਕਤ ਧਾਰੀ ਰਾਮ ॥: O you of the sublime Dharma! Why are you silent (from speaking Truth, Naam…)? (sggs 547).
  • ਸਚਹੁ ਓਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਉਪਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਆਚਾਰ ॥੫॥: Everything is underneath (lower than, ਉਰ੍ਹੇ, …) Truth; above the truth there is only to remain truthful. ||5|| (sggs 30).
  • ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਮਨਿ ਹੋਰੁ ਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਰੁ ਸਿ ਕਾਂਢੇ ਕਚਿਆ ॥੧॥: Those who have one thing in their mind, and something else in their mouth, are accounted false ||1|| (sggs 408).

In short, to call something as it is (i.e., true or 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 calls the Pujaaree groups dishonest, fool, ignorant, greedy, Satan, bewildered or lost, traders of Maya,  treacherous, harmful, deceptive, etc., he is not slandering them. Because, what Baabaa Nanak is saying about them is true (ਸਚ-Sach) — the Pujaaree groups are crafty by nature!

  • ਝੂਠੁ ਨ ਬੋਲਿ ਪਾਡੇ ਸਚੁ ਕਹੀਐ ॥: O Pandit! Do not tell lies, speak the Truth (sggs 904).
  • ਕਾਦੀ ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਮਲੁ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਜੀਆ ਘਾਇ ॥ ਜੋਗੀ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਅੰਧੁ ॥ ਤੀਨੇ ਓਜਾੜੇ ਕਾ ਬੰਧੁ ॥੨॥: Telling lies, the Qazi eats filth (of taking bribe and what pertains to others …). The Brahmin kills (inflicts pain on people by mistreating and misguiding them: ਆਤਮ-ਘਾਤੀ..), and then takes (cleansing, ਤੀਰਥ-ਇਸਨਾਨ) baths. The Yogi is (mentally or spiritually) blind, and does not know the way of life (ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਜਾਚ). These three are the cause of destruction of spiritual life (of their own and other people by leading them astray from the Way of Truth.) ||2|| (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 telling the truth when it condemns those who become lazy bums, abandon their families, go to jungles or go sit on mountain tops or in caves, etc.

  • 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 ॥: The lazy bum has his ears pierced to look like a Yogi. (sggs 1245).
  • ਜਤੀ ਸਦਾਵਹਿ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਛਡਿ ਬਹਹਿ ਘਰ ਬਾਰੁ ॥: (Some) call themselves ‘Jati’ (who think have control on their senses, continent…), and abandon their homes (seeing others doing it), but they do not know the way of life. (sggs 469).

When Bhagat Kabeer Jee tells us abandoning the greedy and crafty Pujaaree groups and the Pujaaree system, he is not slandering the Pujaaree groups  or the Pukaaree system. Because, what he is saying about them is true (ਸਚ-Sach) — they are crafty, they do 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॥: Whatever the Pandit and the Mullaan have written (the path of Karamkaand, Shariyat…), I have abandoned (all of that); I have not taken any of it ||3||. (sggs 1159).

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

  • ਗਲੀ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਜਪਮਾਲੀਆ ਲੋਟੇ ਹਥਿ ਨਿਬਗ ॥ ਓਇ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਸੰਤ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ ॥੧॥: Who have rosaries around their necks, and glittering jugs in their hands, (just because of such religious paraphernalia) they should not be called the Divine’s Sant — they are thugs of Banaras (i.e., religious conmen, robbers, cheats…). (sggs 476).

When Baabaaa Nanak exposes the fraud and corruption that had (still is) become the resting ground for the religious places of worship and religious institutions and organizations, he is not slandering them. Because, what Baabaa Nanak is saying about them is true (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 herons in their white feathers inhabit in places of pilgrimage. They tear apart and eat the living beings, and so they are not called white (i.e., here the Gurbani’s wink is towards people at these places of pilgrimage). ||3|| (sggs 729).
  • ਕਾਲੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਜੋਗੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਸਤ ਕਾ ਢਬੁ ॥ ਥਾਨਸਟ ਜਗ ਭਰਿਸਟ ਹੋਏ ਡੂਬਤਾ ਇਵ ਜਗੁ ॥: Kaal Naahee… (sggs 662).

Babaa Nanak is not slandering Ragis (paid singers) when he tells them that it does not matter how many different ways they sing, but Rabb is not pleased by these. 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, Rabb 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).

Baabaa Nanak in the following verse tells us that the whole world is ‘Rogee‘ (i.e, diseased – with 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 people and 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 (thoughts, imagination, ਫੁਰਨੇ, ਕਲਪਨਾ, ਕਲਜੁਗ ਦੀ ਕ੍ਰਿਯਾ…) is the scalpel, (as a result) kings (minds…) are butchers (have become ਜਾਲਮ…), and the Dharma has 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 is saying 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 observed 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.

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 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!

  • ਕਰਿ ਆਚਾਰੁ ਸਚੁ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਈ ॥: Sukh (Joy, Peace…) is obtained by living the Truth (sggs 931).

However, the Gurbani challenges us that one MUST comprehend the Divine Wisdom expounded in the Gurbani. No amount of religious garbs or symbols, no amount of hypocrisy or pretending (Pakhndvaad), no amount of religious rituals (Karamkaand) or show off or dogmas, etc., will do the trick!

  • ਬਾਣੀ ਬੂਝੈ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਵੈ ॥: (One who) understands the Bani, gets absorbed in the Truth (sggs 412).

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

Instead, people like lies, Because lies are very comfortable.

Accordingly, the Gurbani says falsehood draws crowds!

To the contrary, the Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, 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॥: O Kabeer! The crowds follow the path which the Pandits have taken (the path of falsehood, Pakhand, Karamkaand…). (But) There is a rugged or precipitous cliff on the way to ‘Raam‘ (Mool, Source, Truth, Jot…); Kabeer is climbing that cliff (alone!). ||165|| (sggs 1373).

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

  • ਸਰਬ ਧਰਮ ਮਹਿ ਸ੍ਰੇਸਟ ਧਰਮੁ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਕਰਮੁ ॥: Of all Dharma, the best Dharma is ‘Naam(u) Japi’ (understand the Gurbani and obtain Giaan or Wisdom, Virtue…) and do Pure Karma (ਪਵਿਤ੍ਰ ਆਚਰਣ, conduct…). (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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