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. Very nice message from Veer Sukhwant Singh ji,
    In this context there is a very clear Quote as
    “O ,NANAK, anyone wishing for permanent happiness one should always do the Simran of NARAYAN.
    But still there is a Quote as
    “Sukh Dukh Poorab Janam ke Kiye,So Jaane jis Daate Diye
    Kis ko Dos deh tu Praanee Sah Apnaa Kiyaa Karaara Hae”……..RAG MAROO
    Thus the meaning of NANAK DUKHIYAA SUB SANSAAR is still very deep and its context is perhaps very specific with NAAMu. as one can also understand this from a quoteas

  2. Gurmat says suffering is universal
    ਨਾਨਕ ਦੁਖੀਆ ਸਭੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥: O Nanak! The whole world is suffering (sggs 954).
    Before the above line the following lines comes –
    ਸਹੰਸਰ ਦਾਨ ਦੇ ਇੰਦ੍ਰੁ ਰੋਆਇਆ ॥ ਪਰਸ ਰਾਮੁ ਰੋਵੈ ਘਰਿ ਆਇਆ ॥ ਅਜੈ ਸੁ ਰੋਵੈ ਭੀਖਿਆ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਐਸੀ ਦਰਗਹ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਜਾਇ ॥ ਰੋਵੈ ਰਾਮੁ ਨਿਕਾਲਾ ਭਇਆ ॥ ਸੀਤਾ ਲਖਮਣੁ ਵਿਛੁੜਿ ਗਇਆ ॥ ਰੋਵੈ ਦਹਸਿਰੁ ਲੰਕ ਗਵਾਇ ॥ ਜਿਨਿ ਸੀਤਾ ਆਦੀ ਡਉਰੂ ਵਾਇ ॥ ਰੋਵਹਿ ਪਾਂਡਵ ਭਏ ਮਜੂਰ ॥ ਜਿਨ ਕੈ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਰਹਤ ਹਦੂਰਿ ॥ ਰੋਵੈ ਜਨਮੇਜਾ ਖੁਇ ਗਇਆ ॥ ਏਕੀ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਪਾਪੀ ਭਇਆ ॥ ਰੋਵਹਿ ਸੇਖ ਮਸਾਇਕ ਪੀਰ ॥ ਅੰਤਿ ਕਾਲਿ ਮਤੁ ਲਾਗੈ ਭੀੜ ॥ ਰੋਵਹਿ ਰਾਜੇ ਕੰਨ ਪੜਾਇ ॥ ਘਰਿ ਘਰਿ ਮਾਗਹਿ ਭੀਖਿਆ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਰੋਵਹਿ ਕਿਰਪਨ ਸੰਚਹਿ ਧਨੁ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਰੋਵਹਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਗਵਾਇ ॥ ਬਾਲੀ ਰੋਵੈ ਨਾਹਿ ਭਤਾਰੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੁਖੀਆ ਸਭੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥
    From above it is clear that every one is suffering …

  3. Har is who is –‘Har Jagga’ (everywhere
    I think here we are misunderstanding the meaning of the word ਹਰਿ.
    This word is with a matra of siharee Its meaning in my understanding should be as “OMNIPOTENT”
    The beauty of this word ਹਰਿ is that the word is NOUN as well as ADJECTIVE.
    In fact we must wrire Gurmukhi words in Roman script correctly then only we can have correct understanding of Gurbaanee. This is a big mistake that while writing gurmukhi words (with matra of Sihaaree ),in Roman script we elliminate the indication of this matra.
    In this context It would be worth considering a nother word HAREE(This is a word HAR with matra of Bihaaree) and there is a Quote in SGGS ji as
    Now what should be the meaning of the word HAREE?

  4. ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਸੰਤ ਗੋਪਾਲਾ ॥(Raag Sorath M. 5, GGS.617-13).
    Har Har Simarahu Santh Gopaalaa ||
    O Saints, meditate in remembrance on the World-Lord, Har, Har.
    ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਰਧਾ ਸੇਜ ਵਿਛਾਈ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਨ ਸਕੈ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਮਨਿ ਭਈਆ ॥੬॥(Raag Bilaaval M. 5, GGS. 836-9).
    Har Har Saradhhaa Saej Vishhaaee Prabh Shhodd N Sakai Bahuth Man Bheeaa ||6||
    I have spread out my bed of faith in the Lord, Har, Har. I cannot abandon Him – my mind is filled with such a great love for Him. ||6||
    ਹਰ ਹਰਾ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਸੁਖਹ ਗਾਮੀ ਅਨਦ ਮੰਗਲ ਰਸੁ ਘਣਾ ॥ (Raag Bilaaval M. 5, GGS. 847-15).
    Har Haraa Suaamee Sukheh Gaamee Anadh Mangal Ras Ghanaa ||
    My peace-giving Lord and Master has rejuvenated me, and blessed me with great joy, bliss and love.
    ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਸੇਵਾ ਲਾਗੈ ਸਭੁ ਦੇਖੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪਸਾਰੇ ॥(Raag Narain M. 4, GGS. 982-7).
    Har Har Saevak Saevaa Laagai Sabh Dhaekhai Breham Pasaarae ||
    The servant of the Lord, Har, Har, is committed to His service; He sees God pervading the entire expanse of the universe.
    ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਦੁਖ ਮੇਟਣਹਾਰਾ ॥ (Raag Tilang M. 4, GGS. 725-14).
    Har Har Thaeraa Naam Hai Dhukh Maettanehaaraa ||
    Your Name, O Lord, Har, Har, is the Destroyer of sorrow.
    ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਖਰਚੁ ਲੈ ਜਾਈਐ ॥੧੯॥ (Raag Tilang M. 4, GGS. 726-10).
    Har Har Thaeraa Naam Hai Har Kharach Lai Jaaeeai ||19||
    O Lord, Har, Har, Your Name is my supplies; I will take it with me and set out. ||19||

    Har is who is –‘Har Jagga’ (everywhere).

  5. If the above Universal Message is accepted Universally then all the social and political problems will evaporate off spreading only Universal Brotherhood.

    Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio!

  6. A simple message in Gurbani (Gurmat) conveyed hundreds of years ago when lived in principle can bring about peace and prosperity and remove hatred and spread love and forgiveness for one and all.

    ਤੂੰ ਘਟ ਘਟ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਸਰਬ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਜੀ ਹਰਿ ਏਕੋ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਸਮਾਣਾ ॥ (Raag Asa M. 4, GGS. 11-1 and 348-4)*
    Thoon Ghatt Ghatt Anthar Sarab Niranthar Jee Har Eaeko Purakh Samaanaa ||
    You are totally pervading within each and every heart; O Lord, You are the One Primal Being, All-permeating.

    *repeated two times in GGS.

    If the above Universal Message is accepted Universally then all the social and political problems will evaporate off spreading only Universal Brotherhood.

    The need is to become Sikh of Guru (Gur-sabd) and to see Waheguru around to produce Gurmukhs imbued in Gurmat.

    What is missing is the faith and trust in Gurmat (Gurbani).

  7. In my understanding it should be very important to analyse and grasp the significance of
    THE WORD “ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ” as this exists thruout Gurbaanee irrespective of BAANEE either thru any of our GuROO or thru any of BHAGATS. This aspect is totally being overlooked by our THINKERS/SCHOLARS or INTERPRATORS.

  8. Yes Bhai Sahib jio.
    You have correctly pointed out in your Vichaar on the previous post “the whole GURBAANEE is full of NAAMu only”.
    • ਹਰਿ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਨਿਧਾਨੁ ਹੈ ਮੇਰੇ ਗੋਵਿੰਦਾ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਗਾਜੈ ਜੀਉ ॥ (sggs 174).
    Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio.

  9. I feel there is need to understand “• ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ” very clearly .

  10. Thanks Veer T Singh ji for this Quote as
    • ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਗਿ ਅਵਖਧੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਹਰਿ ਸਾਤੇ ॥ (sggs 169).


    Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio!
    • ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਕਮਾਇਆ ਅਉਖਧੁ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਾਂਤਿ ਪਾਇ ਜੀਉ ॥ (sggs 446).
    • ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਗਿ ਅਵਖਧੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਹਰਿ ਸਾਤੇ ॥ (sggs 169).

  12. This is very true that from Gurbaanee one gets the state of human beings in this world and the way to get rid of wordly inflictions too. So there is a quote as “SARAB ROG KAA AUKHADu
    In my undersanding the basic problem is in getting the correct knowledge about NAAMu from within Gurbaanee.We must think deeply on this aspect of our general understanding.
    When Gurbaanee tells us as
    Thus there seems to be great significance of this RAAM NAAMu refered in the Quote.
    And I feel it is this NAAMu which should be considered as NAAMu AUKHADu.

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