Hearing Alone is not Enough!

Hearing or reading of the Gurbani must stimulate and reform thinking (ਸੋਚ).

A Maya-driven or a doubt-ridden mind is a crowd. That is, a crowd of innumerable thoughts, fancies, imaginations, voices, desires, etc.

Furthermore, each thought tortures us, pulls us, and pushes us in its own direction. Thus, as the Gurbani asserts, such Maya-driven or doubt-ridden mind possessed by the demon false ego-sense (Haumai) is a mess, a kind of craziness.

  • ਮਨੁ ਮੈਗਲੁ ਸਾਕਤੁ ਦੇਵਾਨਾ ॥: The mind of the Saakat is like a crazy elephant (sggs 415).
  • ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਬਉਰੀ ਮਨੁ ਬਉਰਾਇਆ ॥: The insanity of duality (Maya, doubt…) drives the mind insane (sggs 1342).

Ritualistic hearing (or reading) of the Gurbani (or any other scripture for that matter) with such a crazy mind is a challenge, to say the least!

Therefore, although hearing (or reading) the Gurbani is an important step, however, the Gurbani clearly tells us that mere hearing (or reading) is not enough — it’s not the end in itself. This is the Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ).

  • ਸੁਣਿ ਸਿਖਿਐ ਸਾਦੁ ਨ ਆਇਓ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਲਾਗੈ ॥: Hearing the Teaching (of the Shabad…), one does not appreciate or relish (that Teaching) so long — by becoming the Gurmukh — he is not affixed to the Shabad (i.e., so long that Teaching of the Shabad is not assimilated and lived…).(sggs 590).

A mechanical or a robotic mind becomes lazy, dull, stagnant, careless, irrational, foolish, Bikaaree (lust, anger, greed etc.), loses alertness-sharpness-watchfulness (can’t remain ‘ਸਾਵਧਾਨ’), etc.

Hearing or reading the Gurbani is a means, not the end!

The Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) asserts that hearing (or reading) of the Gurbani must be followed by assimilation of what has been heard or read (thoroughly understood; ‘ਸੁਣਿ ਮੰਨੇ’, ‘ਸੁਨਤ ਕਮਾਵਤ’: fully practiced, implemented, lived in daily life, acted on, ਅਮਲ, ਕਮਾਈ).

  • ਸੁਨਿ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਬਸਾਵਹੁ ॥: After listening to the Upadesh, enshrine it in the Heart (sggs 293).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਪੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੁਣਿ ਮੰਨੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥: By becoming the Gurmukh, understand by focusing on the Shabad. (With one-pointed consciousness or singular mindedly, the Gurmukh) hears and complies the ‘Hari Naam‘; and gets absorbed in the ‘Hari Naam’ (sggs 313).
  • ਸੁਨਤ ਕਮਾਵਤ ਹੋਤ ਉਧਾਰ ॥: Deliverance is obtained through listening (Words of the Gurbani…) and acting on them (sggs 295).

In other words, hearing (or reading) the Gurbani has to transform the mind (thinking-ਸੋਚ) for good. It is a spiritual Surgery. Much has to go under the Knife of the Divine Surgeon of the Gurbani (the Giaan-Guru, Bibek-Guru)!

Hearing or reading of the Gurbani must stimulate and reform thinking (ਸੋਚ).

A person may hear and read the Gurbani (or any other scripture for that matter), but for what purpose? Hearing and reading the Gurbani may give him a sense of satisfaction, or a feeling that he has done his duty as far spiritual matters are concerned. That is all right so far it goes. But, what have you done to realize or recognize your True Nature (Virtues, Truth,  Jot, Mool...)? That’s what the Gurbani is interested in most! Thus, the Gurbani repudiates Pakhand-Baazee (deception, hypocrisy, fraud, mental trickery, religious paraphernalia …):

  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਕਛੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਪਸੁ ਜਿਉ ਉਦਰੁ ਭਰਉ ॥: Listening to the Gurmat (Shabad-Giaan, Teaching of the Gurbani, etc.), (if) no Spiritual Wisdom (understanding of the Spiritual Life…) wells up within; (then it would be) like a beast (routinely) filling its belly (sggs 685).
  • ਪਾਖੰਡਿ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਪਾਏ ॥: Paarbraham cannot be obtained through Paakhand (hypocrisy…). (sggs 88).
  • ਕਾਪੜ ਪਹਿਰਿ ਕਰੇ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ॥: Wearing (religious) robes (the Manmukh) acts in craftiness (sggs 230).

One’s spiritual progress is not controlled by mere hearing or reading the Gurbani but how he applies it

If a person is disease-stricken, his mere reading of the medicine’s label without taking the medicine will not cure him. In order to be cured of the disease and related pain, one has to take the medicine and stop mere reading the label. Similarly, the Gurbani is only meant to be understood and applied, otherwise it has no meaning (‘ਸਬਦਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਸੁਣਿ ਮੰਨਿਆ’). Just as a medicine helps mitigate a disease, in the same way, with the stick of collyrium of the Divine Wisdom, the Gurbani helps us remove from our mind’s eyes the cataract of Maya.

  • ਮੂਰਖ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਪੜ੍ਹਹਿ ਮੂਲੁ ਨ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥: Fools read in duality, (as a result, they) do not recognize their Mool (Jot…); (thus, they) waste their lives uselessly. (sggs 1133).
  • ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥: Not by reading (books), but through Understanding, is the Mystery Realized. (sggs 148).

Mind that lacks understanding is perplexed (ਖੁਆਰ)

The Gurbani is Brahm-Vichaar. Therefore, to reform the mind, the Gurbani needs to be understood and lived with a firm resolve (‘Kamaaee-ਕਮਾਈ’: understanding, implementation…)!

  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬੋਲੇ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਜੋ ਸੁਣੇ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਸੁ ਉਤਰੈ ਪਾਰਿ ॥: Jan Nanak utters the Brahm Vichaar (Divine Wisdom…). One who listens and practices (it in daily life), is carried across (Maya-Ocean, Bhavsaagar…).(sggs 370).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਸਭ ਹੋਇ ਖੁਆਰ ॥: Without understanding, ALL are troubled (afflicted, perplexed…). (sggs 791).

The Gurbani tells us that a Gurmukh does such Shabad ‘Kamaaee-ਕਮਾਈ’ (practice, performance, gain…). To the contrary, the Gurbani tells us that a Manmukh (opposite of the Gurmukh) also does the ‘Kamaaee-ਕਮਾਈ’ in this world, but his ‘Kamaaee-ਕਮਾਈ’ is that of ‘Koorhu-ਕੂੜੁ’: falsehood, foolishness, rubbish.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਕਮਾਈਐ ਹਰਿ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥: By becoming the Gurmukh (Spiritual Being…), practice the Shabad (Divine Naam, Gurmat, Aatam Giaan, to live according to the Shabad-Giaan, ਸਬਦ ਕਮਾਣਾ, etc.), and ‘Hari’ (-Naam, Virtues) will come to dwell within the mind (i.e., the mind abides in its Mool within) (sggs 67).

With understanding, assimilation, implementation of the Gurbani comes the power of character, reasoning, fearlessness, steadfastness (ਮਨ ਦਾ ਟਿਕਾ, ਅਡੋਲਤਾ, mindfulness), etc. Then the mind’s wild wanderings — thoughts, etc. — stop torturing, pushing, and pulling us apart.

Our Mool cannot be seen for the Mool is not an object! Since the Mool is the Subject, one has to find and realize his Mool, within. Therefore hearing and reading of the Gurbani must result in Mool-abidance. If it does not, then apparently we are doing something contrary to the Gur-Shabad!

Hearing of the Gurbani (or its reading) talked about in the SGGS is not in-one-ear-out-the-other! It is inclusive of its proper UNDERSTANDING and IMPLEMENTATION (practice, application, ਅਮਲ, ਕਮਾਈ).

  • ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਪੜੀਐ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: By Reflecting on the Gur-Shabad (i.e., Shabad-Vichaar), study and understand ‘Hari’ (Naam). (sggs 424).
  • ਜਿਨੀ ਸੁਣਿ ਕੈ ਮੰਨਿਆ ਤਿਨਾ ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਸੁ ॥: Those who hear and believe (Naam), become established in their Own Home within (i.e., Mool, Jot Saroop, True Nature, Truth…). (sggs 27).


  1. How exactly Naam destroys ego;

    Naam / NaMo is the ultimate understanding from Gurbani.

    ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਅਚਰਜੁ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਆਪਿ ਸੁਣਾਏ ॥
    ਕਲੀ ਕਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਏ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ Ank 666

    Ego is what is learnt through language. Think for a moment, if there was no language learnt what kind of knowledge / experience one might have had about life such as- Name, family, relations, desires, accomplishment, physical, mental or any other realms. The interdependence and interwoven knot of Conscience and Language is grounded in Gurbani.

    GuRKiRPaa – when NaMo manifests — the knot between Conscience and language opens – so no ego remains, the path get revealed how the knot got tied

    remaining questions are related to this only as when the ultimate in understanding is accomplished, humility flows unhindered, Knot( Ghanth ) seems the key word for searching more the “How” part


  2. In my understanding ,there are two words we all come across in gurbanee these two words as
    1..NAA(u) and
    It seems that for identity it the word NAA(u) whereas NAAM(u) is the reference of the inherent POWER associated with NAA(u).
    NAA(u) is COLLECTIVE NOUN whereas NAAM(u) is collective ADJECTIVE NOUN.
    For Gurmati Naamu ,NAA(u) and NAAM(u) is a common single pair of Adjective Noun word. This is crucial aspect of understanding of NAAM(u).

  3. I think it is utmost important to understand the true reference meaning of the word ‘Haumai” in context of SABAD(u).There is a Quote in SGGS ji as
    We generally understand HAUMAI as EGO but in Gurbaanee its reference is different which is very important to know.
    It is the treatment of HAUMAI thru SABAD(u) and then all connecting ailments get eliminated.

  4. Nikki Ji,

    What I understand, Naam is identity of a person or a thing which shows his qualities or virtues or attributes. We establish our ID with our ego which separates us from God. When someone do not recognize our ID or appreciate us or give us credit, then we feel frustrated or angry or troubled. A person who earns Naam or Divine qualities, he merges himself in divine then there is no need of separate ID, no need of credit or appreciation because everything is by grace of God. If we don’t take any credit or appreciation then there is no worry about lose or depress. All are from one and everything is from one to whom we can blame. If still we don’t understand anything in our life (that generally happens some times in or life) then doing Ardaas is the best thing.

    waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh

  5. The entire Gurbani is the Naam (Shabad, Hukam, Brahm Giaan, Divine Wisdom, Divine Virtus…).
    Thus, in nutshell, Naam Simran is to remember this Divine Wisdom of the Gurbani while transacting with the wold of things and beings.
    All the content here at this site (this Blog page + the parent page) is about all this. So its hard to select. Try these:

  6. Dear T. Singh Ji,

    Yet another great post. And a great analysis. I am having some trouble in understanding how the Naam helps cure the “disease” state of ego. I have read several times that in order to slowly get rid of ego, we must engage in Naam Simran. However, I am confused as to how exactly Naam destroys ego; how does Naam Simran foster humility in us? What kind of understanding does Naam provide us with that has a destructive influence on ego? And do you have any reference articles to help me understand what Mool exactly is?

    Please advise – I greatly appreciate your help.


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