Gurmat And Social Change

All Sikh Gurus and Bhagat Sahibaan were revolutionaries. The Bani of all 35 writers incorporated in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) is the proof of it.

They raised their voice against:

  1. Social ills (ਸਮਾਜਿਕ ਕੁਰੀਤੀਆਂ).
  2. Injustice and inequality.
  3. Tyrant dictators.
  4. Powerful and corrupt Pujaaree system.
  5. Religious goonism (ਧਾਰਮਕ ਗੁੰਡਾਗਰਦੀ).
  6. Nonsense rituals (Karamkaand).
  7. In addition, they even had to face opponents within their own families — opponents like Sri Chand (the son of Baabaa Nanak), Prithi Chand (the eldest son of Guru Ram Das), Ram Rai (the eldest son of Guru Har Rai), Dhir Mall (the elder son of Baba Gurditta and a grandson of Guru Hargobind), etc.
  8. And so on …!

But nothing could dampen the resolve of the Sikh Gurus and the Bhagat Sahibaan to bring about a revolution in the society to remove social evils like Jaat Paat, ignorance, abandonment of society’s advancement, corruption and fraud of Pujaaree-Vaad in the name of Dharma and counterfeit gods, dowry (Daaj or Dahej), Satee Prathaa (practice of a woman burning herself alive on her husband’s pyre), tyranny, oppression of people (“ਜੋਰ ਜੁਲਮ”), corruption (religious, political …), and so on.

The Gurmat (Giaan or Wisdom, Upadesh, Sikhiaa, Way of the SGGS) would like us to bring about real change in life — positive change in one’s intellect (Budhi), thinking, actions, attitudes, vision, mindset, entire outlook, understanding, and so on! Such positive change in each individual will result in transformation of the whole society for good!

First off, who is responsible for the ills and deterioration of the society?

According the Wisdom of the Gurbani, it’s the Pujaaree system of all institutionalized or organized religions and their Pujaaree groups that are responsible for the destruction of the fiber of the society:

  • 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).

Where there is corruption, there can be no Dharma for the falsehood cannot propagate Truth! Hence, the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS promotes one universal Dharma — the Dharma of Virtues!

Gurmat demands equality for all

The Gurmat demands all disparities be eradicated from the society. Accordingly, the Gurmat time and again asks us to transcend Maya, live by the One Hukam (Law of Nature), remove Haumai (false ego-sense), negativity, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc), and so on.

The Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS demands equality, justice, peace, prosperity, etc., for all regardless of religion, race, color of skin, creed, social status, family of birth, or on any other ground. Despite all physical differences, the Gurmat preaches Oneness.

  • ਸਭੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦੁ ਹੈ ਸਭੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦੁ ਹੈ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਈ॥: Gobind (Universal Energy) is All (i.e., in everything and everywhere), Gobind is All (i.e., in everything and everywhere); without Gobind, there is nothing at all. (sggs 485).

Gurmat Teaches Oneness

Simply put: Gurmat Teaches there is but One Reality (Universal Energy). This one Universal Energy is the substratum (support or “Aadhaar“) of all. It is this Infinite Reality, the Homogeneous Oneness that runs in and through all beings.

  • 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).

Thus, the purpose of spirituality is mainly to understand Oneness of all beings and live the life of love and harmony. In fact if we look at the glorious lives of all Sikh Gurus and Bhagat Sahibaan, they taught us to look for opportunities for giving unconditional Love.

In fact that’s all they had — selfless Love! Therefore, if we truly want to honor and spread their message then we should not look for Love or truth, deliver It! In true religion or spirituality, therefore, there is no competition with others; only cooperation in Love!

If a religion is just content with merely preaching this ideal then it is self-defeating. It must also inspire action (a life of practice, implementation, Karanee, Amal-ਅਮਲ) to make the Oneness real. Because action (practice, implementation) is needed to fulfill the intention of  the Teaching. The Gurmat inspires such life — the Gurmukh Lifestyle.

  • ਜੋਗੀ ਗੋਰਖੁ ਗੋਰਖੁ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਉਚਰੈ ॥ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ਕਾ ਏਕੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ ॥ ਕਬੀਰ ਕਾ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਰਹਿਆ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੪॥੩॥੧੧॥: The Yogi (forgetting the Divine) repeats Gorakh, Gorakh. The Hindu utters the Name of Raam (i.e., Hindu thinks his God is only in the idol of Raam). (Similarly) the Muslim considers only  the Khudaa (as their God, somewhere up there in 7th sky). (However) Kabeer’s Divine is that which is pervading all over (ਫੈਲਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ, ਤੇ ਸਭ ਦਾ ਸਾਂਝਾ – the same one in all beings and everywhere) ||4||3||11|| (sggs 1160).

To uphold these noble ideals taught by the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS, the Gurbani does not hesitate intervening in the affairs of even State (rulers, leaders …). For example, consider a few verses as follows:

  • ਤਖਤਿ ਰਾਜਾ ਸੋ ਬਹੈ ਜਿ ਤਖਤੈ ਲਾਇਕ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਜਿਨੀ ਸਚੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ ਸਚੁ ਰਾਜੇ ਸੇਈ ॥ ਏਹਿ ਭੂਪਤਿ ਰਾਜੇ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਦੁਖੁ ਹੋਈ ॥: That king (ruler, leader etc.) should sit upon the throne (occupy office, etc.), who is worthy of it. Those who have realized the Truth, they alone are the true rulers. These mere earthly rulers are not to be called rulers; because they are in the love of duality (Maya etc.), and thus already suffering. (sggs 1088).
  • ਭੂਪਤਿ ਰਾਜੇ ਰੰਗ ਰਾਇ ਸੰਚਹਿ ਬਿਖੁ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Kings, rulers and monarchs enjoy sense pleasures and gather the poison of Maya (sggs 1245).

Suffering is universal

The Wisdom of the SGGS says suffering is universal. This is not an overstatement. There is no doubt every individual or a society is inflicted with problems. These problems may be self-created, created by others, or created by nature, and so on. Baabaa Nanak says:

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਦੁਖੀਆ ਸਭੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥: O Nanak! The whole world is suffering (sggs 954).

Wisdom is the panacea

To eradicate universal suffering, remedy also has to be universal. In many other Shabads, Baabaa Nanak says that Naam (Wisdom, Virtues…) is the panacea for all human problems. In fact the SGGS says that without the Wisdom people become dreadful looking!

  • ਫਰੀਦਾ ਤਿਨਾ ਮੁਖ ਡਰਾਵਣੇ ਜਿਨਾ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਓਨੁ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਐਥੈ ਦੁਖ ਘਣੇਰਿਆ ਅਗੈ ਠਉਰ ਨ ਠਾਉ ॥੧੦੬॥: O Fareed! The faces of those who forget the Naam (Wiadom, Virtues…) appear dreadful. (Without Wisdom, Virtues…) they greatly suffer now and in the future. (sggs 1383).

Clearly, the institutionalized or organized world religions are supposed to have knowledge or observation of what’s happening around it, and act to alleviate human suffering.

The Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS does all of this and much more! If truly understood and lived in daily life, it can change human mindset, conduct, and character. Thereby changing lives of individuals in the society; thus changing the whole society in the process.

Hunger for Maya (ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀ ਭੁੱਖ), Haumai (false ego-sense), sinful life (the biggest sin being resistance of the Hukam), Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.), etc., causes disparities.

  • ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਵਡਾ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥: Ego is a massive disease in the world (sggs 1278).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਸਭੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਹੈ ਦੁਖਿ ਬਿਨਸੈ ਦੁਖੁ ਰੋਇ ॥: The love of Maya is total pain; in pain they perish, and in pain they cry out (sggs 316).

Gurmat asks each person change thinking

Therefore, the Gurbani’s edict is that the most wonderful miracle would be to change one’s own mind (a revolution within) — uproot it from Mayaic consciousness and root it back to its Source (Mool, True Nature or Jot Saroop…), within.

Since the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS is meant for the human mind (ਸੋਚ-thinking), it asks that the mind be reformed (“ਆਪੁ ਸਵਾਰਹਿ”) to recognize its True Nature (Mool, Jot Saroop…). Towards that end, we are given the spiritual Knowledge (Giaan, ਉਚੀ ਮਤ, ਸਮਝ… ) for mending the mind (thinking-ਸੋਚ), and thus changing our living style in the process. However, this will only happen if we thoroughly understand the Gurmat through Shabad-Vichaar and then apply it to our daily life. Hence, the SGGS asserts:

  • ਆਪੁ ਸਵਾਰਹਿ ਮੈ ਮਿਲਹਿ ਮੈ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਇ ॥: If (O man) you reform yourself, you will meet me, and meeting me, you will be at Peace. (sggs 1382).

Gurmat is NOT just a declaration of intentions…

We must fulfill those intentions of the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS!

The Gurbani demands elimination of all evil practices from the society.

Understandably, the Wisdom of the SGGS gives the utmost importance to Shabad-Vichaar (Reflections On the Gurbani churning the Gurbani for extracting the Butter of Wisdom …).

  • ਸਭਸੈ ਊਪਰਿ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਹੋਰ ਕਥਨੀ ਬਦਉ ਨ ਸਗਲੀ ਛਾਰੁ ॥੨॥: Reflection on the Gur-Shabad is above all (other notions, speculations, calculations…). I don’t care for anything else, for all else (i.e., other than the Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad) is just worthless. ||2|| (sggs 904).

There is much more to the Gurmat and social change. We will stop here to keep this post short and sweet, and may try covering more in separate posts.

For now, leave you with this thought: Whenever someone updates or reforms an existing product (e.g., car, software, tv, etc.), nobody objects to it.

However, whenever someone tries to bring about update, change, or reform in ills inflicted on the society by religions, the Pujaaree systems will be all over you! They don’t want you to mess with their freeloading and luxurious lifestyle of no-investment, but all gains (Golak, ਧੰਧਾ, ਐਸ਼-ਪਰਸਤੀ, ਗੁੰਡਾ-ਗਰਦੀ…)!

Being the social reformers, the Sikh Gurus and Bjagat Sahibaan had to face the wrath of the Pujaaree-Vaad!

Fittingly, the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS demands removal and abandonment of the Pujaaree-Vaad for better society.


  1. The Gurbani time and again teaches us, for example:
    • ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੋ ਦੇਇ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇ ॥ (sggs 759).
    • ਐਸਾ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਵਸਿ ਰਸਿ ਰਸਿ ਮਾਨੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ (sggs 831).
    • ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਬਦਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਣੈ ॥ (sggs 361).

    The Gurbai also teaches us, for example:
    • ਮੁਖਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਕਰੈ ਵਿਰਲੈ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਵਸਾਇਆ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਨ ਕੈ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਵਸਿਆ ਮੋਖ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੮॥੨॥ (sggs 565).
    • ਰਾਮ ਰਾਮ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਕਹੈ ਕਹਿਐ ਰਾਮੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਰਾਮੁ ਮਨਿ ਵਸੈ ਤਾ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਵੈ ਕੋਇ ॥1॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗੋਵਿੰਦ ਜਿਸੁ ਲਾਗੈ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਤਿਸੁ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਵੀਸਰੈ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਸਦਾ ਮਨਿ ਚੀਤਿ ॥ (sggs 491).
    • ਐਸਾ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਜਪਹੁ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ॥ ਹੋਵਹੁ ਚਾਕਰ ਸਾਚੇ ਕੇਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ (sggs 728).

    Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio and welcome to the Gurbani Blog!

    Related Posts on Naam:
    Entire Gurbani Is Naam
    Naam Padaarath and Giaan Padaarath
    Rain of Naam
    Naam Sevaa

  2. ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਖਰਚੁ ਲੈ ਜਾਈਐ ॥੧੯॥
    Khalsa Jeeo, this pangati seems very clear to me, that Hari Hari is his Naam.
    Would you agree that we are to do ‘Jaap’ of this supreme naam? Here, the outcome of the Jaap has also been given.

  3. From within Gurbaanee one should understand that ABINAASEE PRABHu is to be known as
    EKANKAARu and is described as WAHGuROO thru its NAAMu as HARi.HARi

  4. Yes, Gurbani has answer of everything, but it is our fault that we are unable to understand .because …
    ਮੇਰੀ ਮਤਿ ਥੋਰੀ ਰਾਮ.
    We have to demand Gurmat from GURU as…ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਮਤਿ ਤੂੰ ਲੇਹਿ ਇਆਨੇ ॥
    if we take ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਮਤਿ then & only then we can understand HUKHUM of God. because only GURU can tell us about God & his Hukhum.
    Ontime peoples asked from Guru Arjun Dev Ji that has he ever seen GOD ? if yes tell us about GOD ?
    Guruji said ..
    ਮੈ ਪੇਖਿਓ ਰੀ ਊਚਾ ਮੋਹਨੁ ਸਭ ਤੇ ਊਚਾ ॥
    So Guru knows about God & his Hukhum and we have to take Gurmat to know the Hukhum of God.
    Bhul-Chuk Maff Karni

  5. I refer to a message from Verr Ravinder Ji as
    “Gurmat tells us that the Hukam is beyond description
    What about this Quote from SGGS ji,
    It is clear that HUKAMU needs to be recognised now without any description how one can do so.Thus in Gurmat HUKAMu is well described but one is required to understand and accept that description given by GuRu ji.

  6. Gurmat tells us that the Hukam is beyond description.It teaches the mind to live according to the laws of the Hukam.

  7. Thanks Brother for your kind words and blessings!
    “Lagaa-Maatraa” are important (as you also have pointed out many times). Thanks again Jee!

  8. The Gurbani wants us change and become the Gurmukh.
    But untill then, one will be tortured by Haumai, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.), worries, doubts, Maya, duality, etc., and releated suffering.
    The excape from all this is in becoming the Gurmukh as the Gurbani says.
    But until than we all are in trouble (your quoted Shabad proves that)!!! Have no illusion about it.
    ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਸੋ ਆਸ ਨਿਰਾਸਾ ॥: Jo deesai so aas niraasaa (sggs 224).
    But as you quoted:
    ਜਉ ਸੁਖ ਕਉ ਚਾਹੈ ਸਦਾ ਸਰਨਿ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਲੇਹ ॥

    Our congratulations to those who have already become the Gurmukhs!

    I am greatly impressed with the transliteration of Gurmukhi to Roman as
    •ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਮਨਿ ਵਸੈ ਏਹਾ ਸਿਧਿ ਏਹਾ ਕਰਮਾਤਿ ॥੨॥: Nanak Gurmukhi Hari naamu mani vasai ehaa sidhi ehaa karamaati ||2|| (sggs 650).
    You are truly blessed by HARiJi.

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