Gurmat Recommends Shabad Based Householder’s Life

Sikhi of Guru Nanak is a ‘Miri-Piri’ (ਮੀਰੀ-ਪੀਰੀ) way of life — ‘Miri-Piri’ is a Punjabi word meaning worldliness-cum-spirituality. Having said that, reality in Sikhi is the logical or orderly unity of worldliness and spirituality (enlightenment) — the Sikh unites both the worldly corporeal path and the incorporeal mystical path. Uniting both paths means the pleasures of the world are not to be made the aim of life but nor are they to be forsaken or renounced — pleasure is to be sought in moderation.

  • ਸੁਆਦ ਲੁਭਤ ਇੰਦ੍ਰੀ ਰਸ ਪ੍ਰੇਰਿਓ ਮਦ ਰਸ ਲੈਤ ਬਿਕਾਰਿਓ ਰੇ ॥ : Individual who thirst after the pleasures of the sense organs and (addictive) substances is evil (vices-filled). (sggs 333).

The Unique and Revolutionary spirituality of Guru Nanak is practical, logical and commonsense. That being said, in Guru Nanak’s Sikhi, THERE IS NO ROOM FOR PRETENSE — Pakhand or Dikhaavaa-ਦਿਖਾਵਾ) etc. Also, since Sikhi or Conscience (Surt-ਸੁਰਤ) relates to the mind, it the very essence of a Sikh’s practical life, hence is NOT a part time job!

  • ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਰਿਦ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਧਾਰੈ ॥ ਪੰਚ ਜਨਾ ਸਿਉ ਸੰਗੁ ਨਿਵਾਰੈ ॥ ਦਸ ਇੰਦ੍ਰੀ ਕਰਿ ਰਾਖੈ ਵਾਸਿ ॥ ਤਾ ਕੈ ਆਤਮੈ ਹੋਇ ਪਰਗਾਸੁ ॥੧॥: A person who abides the Guru’s Shabad within (i.e. the Guru’s Wisdom); removes his connection with the ‘Five’ (Bikaar); he keeps the ten senses under his control; and his soul (i.e. mind) becomes Enlightened (he gets the insight of spiritual life). ||1|| (sggs 236).

In a nutshell, instead of renouncing the world, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) urges its Sikhs to engage in it as a householder (Grihast-ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤ), but with a detached attitude inculcated through Internalization of the spiritual Message of the Gur-Shabad (Enlightenment).

  • ਸੋ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਜੋ ਨਿਗ੍ਰਹੁ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਜਪੁ ਤਪੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਭੀਖਿਆ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਪੁੰਨ ਦਾਨ ਕਾ ਕਰੇ ਸਰੀਰੁ ॥ ਸੋ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਗੰਗਾ ਕਾ ਨੀਰੁ ॥ : He alone is a true householder who restrains his sensory organs from desires; and practices Jap (Internalizing the Gurbani), Tapa (to make the mind live the Gurmat…), and Sanjam (self-discipline, to restrain the mind from vices/Bikaar). Charitable and virtuous deeds become the very nature of that person’s body. Such a family person is pure like the water of the Ganges (idiomatic use of Ganga Water). (sggs 952).
  • ਧੰਨੁ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਪਾਏ ਜੀਉ ॥੫॥ : The one who has become Gurmukh (Enlightened, Guru Shabad-Oriented being) is the blessed householder, the blessed renunciar. Only a Gurmukh realizes the worth of human life. ||5|| (sggs 131).
  • ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਮਹਿ ਸਦਾ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥੨॥ : (Those who have become Gurmukh: Enlightened, Guru Shabad-Oriented beings) even while taking care of their households and families, remain detached. ||2|| (sggs 232).

Praising household life, Bhai Gurdas ji called it the best Dharma — the best of all religious ways of life. The main reason is that the household is the central axis of the fulfillment of all the needs of the world, from social, economic, religious, political etc.

  • ਗਿਆਨਨ ਮੈ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਅਰੁ ਧਿਆਨਨ ਮੈ ਧਿਆਨ ਗੁਰ ਸਕਲ ਧਰਮ ਮੈ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤੁ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਹੈ ॥੩੭੬॥ : Just as the Knowledge imparted by the Guru is supreme of all knowledge, and concentration of mind on this Guru’s Knowledge is superb concentration, so is the family life ideal and superior of all the religions (i.e. all the religious ways of life). (Kabit Bhai Gurdas, 376).
  • ਕਿਰਤ ਬਿਰਤ ਪਰਸੂਤ ਮਲ ਮੂਤ੍ਰਧਾਰੀ ਸਕਲ ਪਵਿਤ੍ਰ ਜੋਈ ਬਿਬਿਧਿ ਅਚਾਰ ਹੈ । ਤੈਸੇ ਗੁਰਸਿਖਨ ਕਉ ਲੇਪੁ ਨ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤ ਮੈ ਆਨ ਦੇਵ ਸੇਵ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਜਨਮੁ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਹੈ ॥੪੮੩॥ : Attending to the household chores, bearing children, bringing them up, keeping them clean and neat is all sacred for a dedicated wife. Similarly, the Sikhs (learners, students) of the Guru are never blemished while leading a householder’s life. Like dedicated wife, they consider indulgence of worshiping of any other god (over the ONE Creator) as a condemnable act in the world. (Kabit Bhai Gurdas, 483).
  • ਮਨਹਠਿ ਜਿਸ ਤੇ ਮੰਗਣਾ ਲੈਣਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਮਨਾਇ ॥ ਇਸੁ ਭੇਖੈ ਥਾਵਹੁ ਗਿਰਹੋ ਭਲਾ ਜਿਥਹੁ ਕੋ ਵਰਸਾਇ ॥ : To beg from somebody by forcing one’s will using coercive methods, is to inflict pain both on one-self and the donor. Better than such persons who put on beggar’s garbs is a householder, because he can satisfy the needs of others. (sggs 587).

Shabad Based householder life

We routinely hear this assertion that the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS recommends family life — householder’s life (ਗ੍ਰਹੀ, ਘਰ-ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤੀ ਵਾਲਾ, ਘਰ-ਬਾਰੀ).

However, that’s only half the story. To live as a householder, the Gurbani has very specific Instructions.

The Sikhi or Gurbani’s (SGGS) definition of renunciation is Shabad Based — Internalization of the Enlightening Message of the Gurur’s Shabad while engaging in domestic life (the Gurmukh Mindset).

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜੋਗੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਅਉਧੂ ਜਤੁ ਸਤੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ॥੨੦॥ : (O yogi),the one who has become Gurmukh (Enlightened, Guru Shabad-Oriented beings) practices Yoga, celibacy and truthful living only by Reflecting on the Shabad. ||20|| (sggs 908).
  • ਐਸਾ ਜੋਗੁ ਕਮਾਵਹੁ ਜੋਗੀ ॥ ਜਪ ਤਪ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਭੋਗੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : O Yogi! Practice such a Yoga, that while living as a house-holder, if you become the Gurmukh (Enlightened, Guru Shabad-Oriented) then this would be your Japa, Tapa, and Sanjam. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 970).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਖੋਜਤ ਭਏ ਉਦਾਸੀ ॥ ਦਰਸਨ ਕੈ ਤਾਈ ਭੇਖ ਨਿਵਾਸੀ ॥ ਸਾਚ ਵਖਰ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਵਣਜਾਰੇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਉਤਰਸਿ ਪਾਰੇ ॥੧੮॥ : (My) renunciation is the Internalization of the Shabad (the State of Gurmukh-hood). (My) adopted spirituality is aimed towards getting to the Message of the Shabad (i.e. mere seeing or reading of SGGS will not work). My advocated spirituality is to connect to Creator who is in Permanent Existence. Nanak, adherents of the Message within the Shabad (Gurmukh-hood) Realize the Creator. ॥18॥ (sggs 940).

Since the Gurbani (SGGS) addresses the human mind, it’s beyond organized religions (ਮਜਹਬ) and Pujaaree system — fanaticism, antagonistic adherents, religious robes (Bhekh), religious paraphernalia, race, social status, Jaat Paat, color of skin, ancestry, region or geography, heredity, and so on.

The Guru’s Shabad is meant to Awaken the mind from the perpetual slumber of its worldly temptations and their corrupting influences (Maya) — Enlighten the mind and change its thinking.

  • ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਕੇਵਲ ਬਖ੍ਯ੍ਯਾਨੁ ॥ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤ ਮਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਨਿਰਬਾਨੁ ॥ : In daily life, Viaakhiaa (elucidation, explanation, discussion etc.) of the deeper meanings (of the Gurbani) is the Kirtan. (A person who engages in such Vichaar of the Gurbani) remains detached (from Maya) even in the midst of household. (sggs 281).
  • ਮਨ ਰੇ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਹੀ ਮਾਹਿ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥ ਸਚੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਕਰਣੀ ਸੋ ਕਰੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਇ ਪਰਗਾਸੁ ॥ : O mind! Remain detached (from attachment to Maya) while living in the midst of your household. Only who has become the Gurmukh (EnlightenmentGuru Shabad-Oriented beings) realizes Creator, self-discipline (avoids vices/Bikaar) and nobility (perform deeds that are worth doing). (sggs 26).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਭਰਮ ਭਉ ਭਾਗੈ ॥ ਵਿਚੇ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਸਦਾ ਰਹੈ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਜਿਉ ਕਮਲੁ ਰਹੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਪਾਣੀ ਹੇ ॥ : Through the Guru Shabad, doubt and fear are dispelled. Just as the lotus remains unaffected by the water it exists in, such a person remains detached from the world, while living a householder’s life. ||10|| (sggs 1070).
  • ਇਕਿ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਸੇਵਕ ਸਾਧਿਕਾ ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਲਾਗੇ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਦਾਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜੁ ਹਰਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਸੁ ਜਾਗੇ ॥ ॥੭॥ : There are the householders who being the seekers of the truth serve and attach themselves to the Gurmat Wisdom. Imbibing in Bhagti and inspiring others to imbibe in Wisdom is their ablution. ||7|| (sggs 419).

As asserted in the following verses, if one chooses the life of a householder, he must practice his householder’s Dharma — household duties performed with the Shabad based Wisdom / Virtues):

  • ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਧਰਮੁ ਗਵਾਏ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਨ ਭੇਟੈ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਘੂਮਨ ਘੇਰੈ ॥ : (A Manmukh – unenlightened who is disconnected from the Guru’s Shabad) forsakes his Dharma as a householder and by doing so, does not realize the Satguru (True Wisdom-ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ) and consequently remains trapped in his evil mindedness. (sggs 1012).

In short, a true householder’s life is to live a Virtuous life while transacting with the outside world of objects and emotions, remember Naam, not to hate anyone, recognize Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature), live with a Gurmukh Mindset (Enlightenment), Realize the Creator within, remain firmly linked to the mind’s Jot Saroop within (Mool), live a social and truthful life controlling desires and vices for sense-gratification, remember God within, earn living with honest means and share it with the needy, live according to the spirituality of the Shabad, equal treatment of women, unity of wife and husbands mind, and so on.

  • ਸਭ ਕੈ ਮਧਿ ਸਗਲ ਤੇ ਉਦਾਸ ॥ … ਇਹ ਫਲ ਤਿਸੁ ਜਨ ਕੈ ਮੁਖਿ ਭਨੇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਬਚਨ ਮਨਿ ਸੁਨੇ ॥੬॥ : Remain in the midst of all, and yet detached from all, … These blessings come to the one, Nanak, who remains linked to Naam (Giyan-Wisdom / Virtues), and attentively listens to and live accordingly. ||6|| (sggs 296).
  • ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਜਿਨਾ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਤਿਨੀ ਵਿਚੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ : Says Nanak: By the Gur-Grace (Grace of the Gur-Giyan or Wisdom…) who remain connected (to their Mool, True Nature or Jot Saroop, Aatam Giaan or Wisdom…) realize (Bliss, Mukti or liberation etc.) while using Maya. (sggs 921).
  • ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਅਲਿਪਤੋ ਵਰਤੈ ਤਿਉ ਵਿਚੇ ਗਿਰਹ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥ : As the lotus flower floats unaffected in the water, so does one must remain detached in his own household. (sggs 949).

Liberation (Mukti) from ignorance and falsehood and God-realization Within is possible while performing worldly duties, fulfilling worldly needs and enjoying worldly pleasures:

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਭੇਟਿਐ ਪੂਰੀ ਹੋਵੈ ਜੁਗਤਿ ॥ ਹਸੰਦਿਆ ਖੇਲੰਦਿਆ ਪੈਨੰਦਿਆ ਖਾਵੰਦਿਆ ਵਿਚੇ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ॥ : O Nanak! Meeting the Satigur (ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ) then one learns the perfect Way to live life. (Thus following that) he is liberated while laughing, playing, dressing and eating (i.e. one remains free from worldly temptations and their corrupting influence while living in the world). (sggs 522).
  • ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਕਲਤ੍ਰ ਵਿਚੇ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਈ ॥ : Emancipation (ਉੱਚੀ ਆਤਮਕ ਅਵਸਥਾ) is obtained in the midst of children and spouses (i.e., in the midst of family). (sggs 661).

Shabad based detachment (Bairaag)

Literally, Bairaag (‘ਬੈਰਾਗੁ’) => renunciation, detachment, absence of worldly desires, indifference towards the world etc.

Hence literally, a Bairaagee (‘ਬੈਰਾਗੀ’) => one detached from passions, world renouncer, ascetics, recluse, hermit, anchorite, renunciate, retired from the society (ਤਿਆਗੀ, ਉਪਰਾਮੀ, ਉਦਾਸੀ) etc.

According to the SGGS, a genuine Bairaagee is not who has renounced (ਤਿਆਗ) or given up what one thinks one loves or cherishes. Because, the truth is we cannot give up anything!

  • ਜੈਸੇ ਪ੍ਰਾਤ ਸਮੈ ਖਗੇ ਜਾਤ ਉਡਿ ਬਿਰਖ ਸੈ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਆਇ ਬੈਠਤ ਬਿਰਖ ਹੀ ਮੈ ਆਇਕੈ ॥ ਚੀਟੀ ਚੀਟਾ ਬਿਲ ਸੈ ਨਿਕਸਿ ਧਰ ਗਵਨ ਕੈ ਬਹੁਰਿਓ ਪੈਸਤ ਜੈਸੇ ਬਿਲ ਹੀ ਮੈ ਜਾਇਕੈ ॥ ਲਰਕੈ ਲਰਿਕਾ ਰੂਠਿ ਜਾਤ ਤਾਤ ਮਾਤ ਸਨ ਭੂਖ ਲਾਗੈ ਤਿਆਗੈ ਹਠ ਆਵੈ ਪਛੁਤਾਇ ਕੈ ॥ ਤੈਸੇ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਭਾਗਿ ਜਾਤ ਉਦਾਸ ਬਾਸ ਆਸਰੋ ਤਕਤ ਪੁਨਿ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤ ਕੋ ਧਾਇਕੈ ॥੫੪੮॥ : Just as birds flyaway from the tree in the morning and return to the tree in the evening; just as ants and insects come out of their burrows and walk about on the ground and return back to the burrow after their wandering; just as a son leaves the house after an argument with his parents, and when experiences hunger gives up his obduracy and returns repentantly; similarly, a man forsakes life of a householder and goes to the jungle for a hermit’s life. But unable to achieve spiritual happiness and after wandering here and there returns to his family (One can realize God as a householder by keeping oneself unsullied). (Kabit Bhai Gurdas, 548).

In other words, physically renouncing ‘Sansaar’ or the world is not renunciation (Tiaag-ਤਿਆਗ)! In truth, one’s mind under the negative impact of Haumai (false ego-sense) is the ‘Sansaar’ (world or Bhav Saagar).

The Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS teaches us that this deluded mind and its created ‘Sansaar’ can only be annihilated by Wisdom, NOT by its physical renunciation!

  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਮਾਰੈ ਤਾ ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਵਾਸੋ ॥ ਜਿਨਿ ਰਚਿ ਰਚਿਆ ਤਿਸੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਦਾਸੋ ॥੨੧॥ : The Enlightenment contained within the Guru’s Shabad eliminates one’s false ego-sense and vices; and create a state of Godly Realization. The Creator is Realized through the Enlightenment of the Shabad, I am thus bound to it (i.e. Shabad). ॥21॥ (sggs 940).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਸਦ ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ਜਿਨ ਏਕ ਸਬਦਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਈ ॥੪॥੯॥: Nanak I am forever sacrifice to one who realizes the MESSAGE OF THE SHABAD pertaining to the One Creator. ॥4॥9॥ (sggs 879).

Hence, according to the Gurbani, a genuine Bairaagee is:

  • ਜੋ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰਹਿ ਆਪਣਾ ਸੇ ਪੁਰਖ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਰਾਮ ॥ ਸੇ ਜਨ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਸਚਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ ॥ : They who conquer their minds, are ascetics (Bairaagee). Those persons of dispassion whose mind is fixated on Creator have recognized their own selves. (sggs 569).
  • ਸੋ ਅਉਧੂਤੀ ਜੋ ਧੂਪੈ ਆਪੁ ॥ : He alone is a detached hermit, who burns away his self-conceit (sggs 952).
  • ਸੋ ਸੰਨਿਆਸੀ ਜੋ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੇਵੈ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਏ ॥ : He alone is a Sanyasi, who serves the Satigur (Giaan or Knowledge of Truth) and removes his self-conceit from within (sggs 1013).
  • ਆਸ ਨਿਰਾਸੀ ਤਉ ਸੰਨਿਆਸੀ ॥ : If he is oblivious to all Mayaic desires, then consider him a Sanyasi. (sggs 356).
  • ਸੁਣਿ ਮਾਛਿੰਦ੍ਰਾ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬੋਲੈ ॥ ਵਸਗਤਿ ਪੰਚ ਕਰੇ ਨਹ ਡੋਲੈ ॥ : Nanak says, Listen O Yogi Machhinder. (A true yogi is) the one who controls his five basic Bikaar (i.e. lust, anger, greed, attachment, and pride), and never wavers. (sggs 877).
  • ਸੋ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਸੋ ਦਾਸੁ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਜਿਨਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਨਿਆ ॥ : (If the mind keeps wandering towards Bikaar, then there is no difference between the householder or the renunciate). He is a (real) householder and a (real) renunciate who has realized ownself by becoming the Gurmukh. (sggs 1332).
  • ਪਰਹਰਿ ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਝੂਠੁ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਤਜਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਚੁਕਾਵੈ ॥ ਤਜਿ ਕਾਮੁ ਤਜਿ ਕਾਮੁ ਕਾਮਿਨੀ ਮੋਹੁ ਤਜੈ ਤਾ ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ : If one renounces lust, anger, falsehood and slander; forsakes love of Maya and eliminates egotistical pride, and abandons lustful attachment to women then, while still living in the midst of Maya, one can realize God. (sggs 141).

However if one chooses to live a life of a Bairaagee, that person must not get involved in attachment of Maya, vices/Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.). If one does, then, the Gurbani says, it is his/her big misfortune.

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਜਉ ਗ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਤ ਧਰਮੁ ਕਰੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਤ ਕਰੁ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ॥ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਬੰਧਨੁ ਕਰੈ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਬਡੋ ਅਭਾਗੁ ॥੨੪੩॥ : Kabeer, if you are embracing domestic life, then practice householder’s Dharma (i.e. carry out your duties to God and family: live a life of Naam / Virtues / Wisdom) while doing worldly chores, otherwise become a renouncer. But if a renouncer entangles himself in bonds of worldly attachments, then it is his big misfortune. ||243|| (sggs 1377).

Because by being a Bairaagee if one still remains engrossed in the love of Maya or vices/Bikaar then that person misses out both Maya and God!

  • ਮਮਤਾ ਮੋਹੁ ਕਾਮਣਿ ਹਿਤਕਾਰੀ ॥ ਨਾ ਅਉਧੂਤੀ ਨਾ ਸੰਸਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ : You are entangled in mine-ness, worldly attachment and love of woman (lust). You are neither a renunciate, nor a worldly man. ||1|| (sggs 903).
  • ਘਰ ਕੀ ਨਾਰਿ ਤਿਆਗੈ ਅੰਧਾ ॥ ਪਰ ਨਾਰੀ ਸਿਉ ਘਾਲੈ ਧੰਧਾ ॥ ਜੈਸੇ ਸਿੰਬਲੁ ਦੇਖਿ ਸੂਆ ਬਿਗਸਾਨਾ ॥ ਅੰਤ ਕੀ ਬਾਰ ਮੂਆ ਲਪਟਾਨਾ ॥੧॥ : The mentally blind renounces his wife, and flirt with another woman, (he is just as happy to see the another woman) as the parrot is happy to see the Simmbal tree (but the parrot gets nothing from that Simmbal tree); in the end, such a (flawed) person dies while engrossed (in Bikaar, defects, flaws, blemish, stain etc.). (sggs 1164-1165).

Clearly, such person, on account of duality and doubts (Dubidha, ਭਰਮ…) has no real understanding (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ) of both Bairaag and household life. Consequently, as the proverbial expression goes, his condition is comparable to the launderer’s dog: ‘ਧੋਬੀ ਦਾ ਕੁੱਤਾ ਨ ਘਰ ਦਾ ਨ ਘਾਟ ਦਾ’; ‘ਨਾ ਇੱਧਰ ਦਾ ਨਾ ਉੱਧਰ ਦਾ’!

  • ਇਕਿ ਕੰਦ ਮੂਲੁ ਚੁਣਿ ਖਾਹਿ ਵਣ ਖੰਡਿ ਵਾਸਾ ॥ ਇਕਿ ਭਗਵਾ ਵੇਸੁ ਕਰਿ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਜੋਗੀ ਸੰਨਿਆਸਾ ॥ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਛਾਦਨ ਭੋਜਨ ਕੀ ਆਸਾ ॥ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇ ਨ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਨ ਉਦਾਸਾ ॥ : Some pick and eat fruits and roots, and live in the wilderness. Some wander around wearing saffron robes, as Yogis and Sanyasis. But there is still so much desire within them-they still yearn for clothes and food (i.e., sense pleasures). They waste their lives uselessly; they are neither householders nor renunciates. (sggs 140).

The Gurbani Advises the hypocrites (ਪਖੰਡੀ) to shed their hypocrisy (ਪਖੰਡ).

  • ਕਰਿ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਤੂੰ ਛੋਡਿ ਪਾਖੰਡੁ ਸੋ ਸਹੁ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਜਾਣਏ ॥ : (O mind!) Become detached, and renounce hypocrisy (of your superficial Bairaag or Pakhand); the Divine knows everything (from within you). (sggs 440).

In a nutshell, the Gurbani asks to strive for affectionate detachment (Bairaag-ਬੈਰਾਗ) while living in the middle of happenings of the world.

  • ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਭਗਵੀ ਕਪੜੀ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਮੈਲੇ ਵੇਸਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਘਰਿ ਬੈਠਿਆ ਜੋਗੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਉਪਦੇਸਿ ॥੬੪॥ : Yoga or Union with God cannot be attained by just wearing saffron robes (like a yogi or renunciate) or by wearing dirty clothes (like a beggar). Nanak, we can attain Union with God (Yog) even while sitting in our own home (leading family life) by following the Message of the Satgur (Shabad Guru). ||64||(sggs 1421).
  • ਨਾਮਿ ਰਤੇ ਘਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਉਦਾਸਾ ॥ : Attuned to the Naam, remain detached within your own Home (sggs 16).
  • ਹੁਕਮਿ ਮੰਨਿਐ ਹੋਵੈ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ਤਾ ਖਸਮੈ ਕਾ ਮਹਲੁ ਪਾਇਸੀ ॥ : Obeying Hukam, one becomes acceptable, and then unites with his Mool within (Source, Jot Saroop…). (sggs 471).

Guru Nanak teaches Yogis about Bairaag in the outset of the SGGS:

  • ਮੁੰਦਾ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸਰਮੁ ਪਤੁ ਝੋਲੀ ਧਿਆਨ ਕੀ ਕਰਹਿ ਬਿਭੂਤਿ ॥ ਖਿੰਥਾ ਕਾਲੁ ਕੁਆਰੀ ਕਾਇਆ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਡੰਡਾ ਪਰਤੀਤਿ ॥ ਆਈ ਪੰਥੀ ਸਗਲ ਜਮਾਤੀ ਮਨਿ ਜੀਤੈ ਜਗੁ ਜੀਤੁ ॥ : (O Yogi) make Godly contentment your earrings, hard work your begging bowl, and contemplation (on Naam: Wisdom/Virtues) ashes that cover your body. Such diligence enable a life time (ਖਿੰਥਾ ਕਾਲੁ) of liberation from vices (free from inflictions of vices or Bikaar– ਕੁਆਰੀ) and the spirituality (or Way – ਜੁਗਤਿ) of unflinching faith (ਡੰਡਾ ਪਰਤੀਤਿ) in (Divine Virtues). (Let Divine Virtues, universal brotherhood) as the highest spirituality for all of humanity (be your ‘Aaee Panthi‘ sect-ਆਈ ਪੰਥੀ), by controlling your mind you can Win (ਮਨਿ ਜੀਤੈ) the command or dictates of our sensory world (ਜਗੁ ਜੀਤੁ). (sggs 6).

Gurmat rejects Physical renunciation

The Gurbani teaches us that here is no virtue in renouncing the world and the necessary pleasures of life. In other words, asceticism is neither innately divine, nor it leads one to righteousness.

Having said that, there is a vast contrast between the spiritual positions of Yogis (Sidhas) and that of Guru Nanak (i.e. Gurmat). The spiritual position of Yogis or (Yogmat) is simply that physical self is of paramount importance — physical renunciation of the family, society, world; physical nature of Asanas and breath control etc.).

However, Guru Nanak teaches Yogis and rest of us that what matters in spirituality is NOT the ‘Physical’ per se, but the CONSCIENCE (the MIND) — the Conscience must remain imbued in the Creator’s Realization within.

Thus, what’s paramount in the Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS) is the State of the CONSCIENCE (the MIND) Not the physical self, location etc.

The spiritual Message of the Gur-Shabad is the Essence of Sikh spirituality. The Grace or Blessing of the Shabad is Enlightenment! That being said, the SGGS rejects the physical renunciation (ਉਦਾਸੀ).

  • ਹੋਇ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਗ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਤਜਿ ਚਲਿਓ ਛੁਟਕੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਨਾਠਾ ॥੧॥ : (One) becomes a renunciate (ਦੁਨੀਆ ਵਲੋਂ ਉਪਰਾਮ), abandons his home and walks out on (his) family, but (his) wandering impulses (ਭਟਕਣਾ) do not leave (him) ||1|| (sggs 1003).
  • 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).

A householder must know the proper way of Naam Japa

The spirituality of the Shabad is practical. Hence, there is no place for pretense, show off, Pakhnad, ਦਿਖਾਵਾ etc.

  • ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਉ ॥ ਨਾਮੇ ਰਾਤਾ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਉ ॥੫॥ : Do your acts in accordance with the Grace of the Guru’s Giyan-Wisdom. Immersed in the Naam, live the Creator’s divine Virtues. ||5|| (sggs 415).

Confused and doubt-ridden people who have no faith or proper understanding of the Gurbani in SGGS, ask the idlers (freeloaders-ਵੇਹਲੜ Baabaas etc.) about the method of contemplating the Divine Naam — those who themselves are fugitives from life, fugitives from their families, fugitives from the world, uneducated (Deraa-Vaad Baabaas, anti-Gurmat Nanak elements etc.), and so on.

However, the Counsel of the SGGS is to learn the way of Naam Japa from a householder. For example, if somebody wants to learn or know how to realize Naam or the Creator (i.e. Virtues…), the SGGS’s advise is to learn from a housewife!

  • ਕਹਤ ਨਾਮਦੇਉ ਸੁਨਹੁ ਤਿਲੋਚਨ ਬਾਲਕੁ ਪਾਲਨ ਪਉਢੀਅਲੇ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਕਾਜ ਬਿਰੂਧੀ ਚੀਤੁ ਸੁ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਰਾਖੀਅਲੇ ॥੪॥੧॥ : Naam Dev says, listen, O Trilochan! Just as a mother puts her child in a cradle, and gets busy in daily chores both inside and outside of house, she keeps her mind centered on the child, (similarly even while doing my worldly duties/chores, my mind remains focus on God). ||4||1|| (sggs 972).
  • ਹਾਥ ਪਾਉ ਕਰਿ ਕਾਮੁ ਸਭੁ ਚੀਤੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨ ਨਾਲਿ ॥੨੧੩॥ : Do all the work using your hands and feet, and connect your mind with the ‘Niranjan‘ (Maya-free Rabb). ||213|| (sggs 1376).
  • ਬੁਨਨਾ ਤਨਨਾ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਕੈ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਚਰਨ ਕਬੀਰਾ ॥ ਨੀਚ ਕੁਲਾ ਜੋਲਾਹਰਾ ਭਇਓ ਗੁਨੀਯ ਗਹੀਰਾ ॥੧॥ : Abandoning ‘Bunanaa Tananaa‘ (i.e. mind’s weaving of vices or Bikaar), Kabeer imbued himself with the love of divine Wisdom / Virtues; and this weaver from a lowly family became an ocean of excellence. ||1|| (sggs 487).
  • ਸਬਦਿ ਰਤੇ ਪੂਰੇ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ॥ : Those imbued in the Shabad (Enlightenment, Upadesh or Message etc.) are the perfect renunciates. (sggs 1332).
  • ਇਕਿ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਮਹਿ ਸਦਾ ਉਦਾਸੀ ॥ ਸਬਦਿ ਮੁਏ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਨਿਵਾਸੀ ॥ : There are many people, even in the midst of their household and family are always detached from the worldly allurements. By Reflecting on the Shabad, they live as if they are dead to the love for Maya and they always remain immersed in God’s Naam. (sggs 1046).
  • ਸੁਰਤੀ ਕੈ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਚਲਿ ਕੈ ਉਲਟੀ ਨਦਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸੀ ॥ ਮਨਿ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ਦੇਖੁ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕਉਨੁ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਕਉਨੁ ਉਦਾਸੀ ॥੩॥ ਜਿਸ ਕੀ ਆਸਾ ਤਿਸ ਹੀ ਸਉਪਿ ਕੈ ਏਹੁ ਰਹਿਆ ਨਿਰਬਾਣੁ ॥ ਜਿਸ ਤੇ ਹੋਆ ਸੋਈ ਕਰਿ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਨਾਨਕ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਸੋ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥੪॥੮॥ : The vision of that person has been Enlightened with divine Wisdom, who has turned away from the love for Maya by treading the path of Conscience connected with God within. O divinely Wise person, Reflect in your mind and see, who truly is a householder and who is the renunciate? ||3|| One who surrenders all one’s worldly hopes and desires to God within who created these and lives detached from the love for these, and believes in the One Creator: Nanak, that person, whether householder or renunciate, is approved. ||4||8|| (sggs 1329).

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6 comments

  1. Gurmat does not talk about physical Baiaraag. Since the Gurbani addresses the mind, it’s talking about Bairaag at the level of the mind.

  2. Thank you for this enlightening post. I am still confused about how the householder life differs from that of a bairaagi? The two have the same conditions – if one is a householder, they must be a dharami person and uninfluenced by Maya. If they are unable to do this, they are better off being a bairaagi.. but this state of being also has the same conditions as that of a householder – they must be uninfluenced by maya but this is not possible without being dharmi first… so if a bairaagi is someone who is dharami and out of maya, and a householder is a dharami and out of maya… what is the difference? I hope this makes sense. Thank you again.

  3. is it really possible to lead a life of Bairaaga. Some people say that desire is natural and inescapable. is it possible to run from Nature??

  4. Thank you Bj Randhawa ji for taking time to comment on this post.

    is it really possible to lead a life of Bairaaga…

    According to the Gurbani, yes: though difficult(“Kathan”), but it is possible for the “Gurmukh”:
    •ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹੁ ਖੇਲੁ ਕਠਨੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਨਹੂੰ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਨਾ ॥੨॥੧॥: Jan Nanak ihu khelu kathanu hai kinahoon gurmukhi jaanaa ||2||1|| (sggs 219).

    Also, the Gurbani asserts that without Bairaag, Maya cannot be gotten rid of (cannot be liberated from Mayaic efforts, Mayaic Trishanaa, Mayaic desires, etc.) :
    •ਬਿਨੁ ਬੈਰਾਗ ਨ ਛੂਟਸਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Binu bairaag n shootasi maya ||1|| (sggs 329).

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